March 5, 2018
To Whom It May Concern:
I am delighted to write a recommendation on behalf of Liza Sullivan.
I first met Liza when I joined the Board of Directors of the Chicago Children’s Museum in 2007. Liza was the Associate Vice President of Education and we worked together on the Education and Exhibits Committee, of which I was Co-Chair. Liza was very well-respected at the museum. In 2009, when she announced that she was leaving the museum to stay home with her young children, I asked her to join the board of the Winnetka Alliance for Early Childhood.
Liza quickly plunged into the work of the Alliance, serving on a Task Force to consider many issues including changing the organization’s name to The Alliance for Early Childhood because of its growth well beyond Winnetka. She agreed to co-chair the newly formed Let’s Play Initiative with its mission to preserve, protect, and promote child-initiated play. Under Liza’s leadership, the Let’s Play Initiative resulted in such programs as the week-long Park-a-Day Challenge and bringing nationally-known experts on children’s play to speak to both parents and educators. Liza’s deep knowledge of child development and her connections to the national play movement, as well as her tireless hard work and endless energy, helped the Let’s Play Initiative grow quickly and have almost immediate impact.
In 2013, when I announced that I would be retiring as Executive Director of the Alliance, Liza’s name quickly moved to the top of the list for my replacement and she was hired as the Alliance’s new executive director. Since then, Liza has led the Alliance to new levels of impact and importance to the early childhood community. Some of her many accomplishments include:
· Expanding the Alliance’s membership from schools and organizations in Winnetka, Northfield, and Kenilworth to communities up and down the North Shore, from Evanston to Highland Park.
· Leading a partnership of preschools and school districts to found the Preschool-Kindergarten Summit in 2015. The Summit provides an outstanding day-long conference for preschool and kindergarten educators, held at the Chicago Botanic Garden, featuring nationally-known speakers, who provide the latest research and thinking about early education. Each year, the Summit has been sold out, with a lengthy waiting list. While the Summit is put on by a steering committee made up of educators from several area schools, Liza is its chair and driving force and it never would have succeeded without her leadership.
· Enhancing the Early Childhood Directors Roundtable which brings together directors of area preschools several times a year for conversation, support, and educational opportunities.
· Founding and leading the Inspiring Nature Play Conference, first held in 2014, also at the Chicago Botanic Garden. Again, this conference is always sold out, bringing participants from several neighboring states.
· Securing many sizable grants from area organizations. The Alliance had had limited success until Liza imparted new strategies and energies that have been most successful.
· Liza has continued to oversee many other Alliance programs and services throughout the year, including: ScreenBreak; the Annual Networking Dinner; editing Early Childhood, the Alliance’s biennial newsletter; the Networking Breakfast; several parenting speakers and workshops; the biannual preschool survey, and the transition to kindergarten meeting.
Liza is a knowledgeable, dedicated, hard-working educator and administrator. She is organized and thorough in her work and always makes the extra effort that insures that her work is the best that it can be. Any organization would be lucky to have Liza and I strongly and enthusiastically recommend her!
Blakely Bundy, Executive Director Emeritus and Senior Advisor to the Alliance