By Linda K. Smith, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development
The Office of Head Start will soon be under new leadership.
Today, HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced that Dr. Blanca Enriquez will lead this important program at the Administration for Children and Families.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of Head Start. Dr. Enriquez will be leading one of our nation’s most essential early care and education programs and one in which she has been deeply involved with for almost 28 of those years. I am confident she will prove to be an inspirational leader for children and families.
Dr. Enriquez brings with her an energy and passion for early learning that started when she was teaching English as a second language to kindergartners and first graders in the El Paso, Texas, school system. She has been involved in early care and education since the early 1970s in various positions throughout her home state. She has been an administrator and supervisor of Head Start programs, elementary schools and bilingual education programs since 1973. Most recently she has served as the executive director of the Texas Education Service Center Region 19 Head Start program, based in El Paso, with an annual budget of $32 million. During that time, the program has grown from 1,200 preschoolers at 10 sites to more than 4,000 children at 30 sites and has won many local, state and national awards.
Dr. Enriquez holds a master's of education degree from the University of Texas at El Paso and a doctorate of philosophy in education administration from New Mexico State University. She has served as a member of the Texas State Secretary's Advisory Committee on Early Childhood Education and was appointed by former President George W. Bush as an advisory board member for the National Institute for Literacy. She is a member of the National Head Start Association, the National Association for the Education of Children, the Texas and National Associations for Bilingual Education and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
As we welcome a new director, I want to offer my appreciation and thanks to Ann Linehan who has been serving as acting director of Head Start since December 2013. Ann has devoted more than 30 years to this program and her knowledge and leadership has been valuable. She is truly one of Head Start’s biggest champions. Ann will resume her position as deputy director of the Office of Head Start when Dr. Enriquez begins at ACF.
I know you all join me as we welcome Dr. Enriquez to the ACF team as our new director of the Office of Head Start.