It was with many tears all around that Director of Communications, Dianne Reed, announced her retirement this year. For six years, Dianne has been a force in the organization, as well as in the community. She has championed the cause, brought board members into the organization, and performed countless hours to ensure that CCCR was well-recognized in the community. She was not only an employee, she was also part of the CCCR family.
Yesterday, CCCR hosted a lunch at the administrative offices to celebrate Dianne’s commitment to the organization, and many of our board members stopped by to wish her well. We are so thankful for everything she’s contributed over the past years, and wish her the utmost joy in this new phase of her life.
Though this is by no means a good-bye, she will be missed on a daily basis by all in the organization, and the impact of her departure is already being felt by some. We took a few minutes to catch up with Dianne to recap the importance of her contribution, and to find out what she has in store next.
WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DEPARTURE WITH CCCR?
That’s a hard question to answer. It was not a quick or easy decision to leave. The idea has been on my mind for a long time. The work I have done for CCCR as Director of Communications has been very satisfying and rewarding. The people I have worked with are the best! I found myself torn between wanting to continue yet feeling a pull towards trying to relax and pull back to enjoy some simple pleasures more, like taking long walks, enjoying the weather, sun and clouds, and having time to explore what kinds of things I might be interested in. All of my life I have taken care of my family, worked, and so forth. Now, I want to see what other kinds of things might be challenging for me. I want to be able to use some of my teaching and writing skills and find a way to help others. Plus, it will allow more time to visit my children – a daughter in California, who I will see next month, and a son and daughter-in-law, in addition to my three grandchildren, who reside in Massachusetts.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WITH THE ORGANIZATION?
Seems like I started yesterday, but it has been over six years since I joined CCCR.
HOW HAS THE ORGANIZATION CHANGED AND EVOLVED?
For one thing, when I arrived, the organization did not have any name recognition. Now, people know what we are talking about when we say “CCCR.” They are familiar with the basics of what we do. There are many individuals who have helped with this name-building, branding business, from our leader and Executive Director, Niccole Howard and the board, to the members of the CCCR Business 100. We have received some excellent media coverage to boot! We thank the local media for that. It has taken time to accomplish, but we have diligently and strategically planned and carried out the vision of gaining a solid reputation in our community for our high-quality early childhood education programs.
Not to sound trite, but they say “it takes a village.” There is truth to that. The addition of extra professional staff, a strategic plan, and a supportive board have all contributed to an organization that has become synonymous with excellent early care and education.
HOW DO YOU FEEL YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO IMPACT COLLIER COUNTY WHILE HERE?
Little by little, we have made gains in Collier County. Attention has been drawn to the importance of a high-quality early childhood education in terms of a child’s future success. It all boils down to having that good, early experience that will help the child be ready for kindergarten and beyond, resulting in lower crime rates, fewer high school dropouts, and more students furthering their education after high school.
We have touched individuals, small and large companies in the county for support and raised the awareness of the importance of early education throughout the county. The impact, I believe, is immeasurable. I believe that the hundreds and thousands of children who have passed through the programs at CCCR will have instilled in them the qualities of respect for others, negotiating skills, and a passion for learning, and curiosity about the world, among other things. These children will be our future citizens, tax-payers, voters and elected officials.
WHAT DOES THAT IMPACT MEAN TO YOU?
I am proud that I have had some small part in all of this, when you look at the big picture of the growth of CCCR.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO SEE IN THE FUTURE IN COLLIER COUNTY?
It is my hope that CCCR will continue its mission and be supported by the residents and business owners in Collier County. I hope that the interest and passion for early childhood education will continue. People need to understand that the root cause of some of the problems in our society stem from people who did not have the opportunity to experience this high-quality early education. Many come from lower-income, poverty level families who struggle just to survive. By the time these children reach kindergarten and grade school, they are already falling behind academically. Children’s brains are 90% developed by age 5, so it is of utmost importance that their language, social and cognitive skills are nurtured and encouraged before this age. The county could help by allocating more tax dollars to help fund early childhood learning programs.
WHAT DYNAMIC WILL YOU MISS THE MOST?
The interaction with our staff and the people in the community. I just loved being able to bring people into the organization and help them become members of our board, the Business 100, offer to hold events for us, or donate their time as a volunteer. It was great to be part of that. Writing is my other passion. And what could be better than writing about something you love – it’s always about the children! It all tied in together.
WHAT IS ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE INTERACTIONS WITH A CCCR STUDENT?
There are many special moments with the children, but the times I enjoyed most were visiting the centers to take photos of the children for our marketing purposes. They were so expressive and spontaneous! They would make goofy faces, or try to show off, while some were shy about the whole thing and hid from the camera.
WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO MOST IN RETIREMENT?
That’s another tough question. I have lists of very practical things that need attention, that have been neglected. Then there is my desire to paint again in my life time. The process of creating something visual interests me. That includes doing some writing as well. The other day I obtained my 2018 beach parking sticker, so, more walks on the beach, of course. Lots of unstructured time to try to fill. But I want it to be meaningful and fun, too!
WILL WE SEE YOU AS A VOLUNTEER AT FUTURE EVENTS POSSIBLY?
Ahhh… hah. This must be a trick question! Of course, I will volunteer for future events. As long as someone carries my bags! 🙂
WHAT ELSE SHOULD WE KNOW ABOUT YOU?
In my past experiences, in addition to being a second and fourth grade teacher, I have worked for a number of non-profits such as the YMCA, the American Red Cross and the United Way, plus volunteered for ten years with the American Cancer Society. These were all well-established, known organizations. I truly enjoyed working with CCCR, a small, local organization, and playing a part in making it better known and supported in the community. The thing that I appreciate the most, however, are the many people I have met who shared the same passion to grow the organization. It has been exciting to watch it grow into something much more over the years.