By Brian Richmond, Technical Assistance Specialist, Office of Child Care
When Carolyn Codopony, Child Care and Development Fund administrator for the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma, received an invitation to present at the 2014 World Forum on Early Care and Education in Puerto Rico, she was a bit nervous—but felt she was ready for the challenge!
For the past year and a half since March 2013, Carolyn and 14 other tribal Early Childhood Development administrators participated in a Peer Learning and Leadership Network (PLLN) training for emerging leaders. The Office of Child Care’s National Center on Tribal Child Care Implementation and Innovation (NTC) provided support and instruction to these PLLN Fellows:
Carolyn was asked, could she perhaps do a cultural presentation at the World Forum? To an audience that included all conference participants? Perhaps at a plenary session…to open the Forum? (Um, sure, why not?)
Remembering the teaching of her elders and the support of her PLLN Fellows, Carolyn stood up in front of 840 international representatives from 81 different countries and delivered a song in her native Comanche. (No problem!) Becoming a leader means putting yourself out there, taking on new challenges, and accepting that each challenge offers a new learning opportunity.
Over the last year, the PLLN Fellows took on various challenges and supported each other in their peer-to-peer learning process, taking advantage of continued opportunities to expand their knowledge base. They worked diligently to highlight the importance of tribal child care within American Indian/Alaska Native communities, and, paraphrasing Frederick Douglass, they emphasize “It is easier to build a child than to fix an adult!” The PLLN Fellows strive to educate others about the importance of high quality, early childhood services, with the goal of Carolyn’s team’s group project to market this important message nationwide.
The PLLN program, supported by the Office of Child Care, will soon begin recruiting for its second cadre of Fellows, as the first group transitions into a mentorship role to support their emerging leader peers. Developing PLLN Fellows benefits children, families and their communities as these leaders become better informed and stronger advocates for their early childhood development programs. For more information on ACF’s PLLN Fellows program, please contact Laurie Hand at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-456-9708.