Linda Likins received the prestigious honor of Head Start Pioneer at this year’s 2014 National Head Start Association annual conference in Long Beach, CA. Anyone who has had the good fortune to work with Linda understands what a fitting honor this is. A pioneer is defined as “a person who is among the first to explore or settle a new area” and that is exactly what Linda has been doing her entire career. During her 17 year tenure at Audubon Area Community Services, the Head Start program grew from serving 118 children in 4 counties to serving 1300 children in 14 counties. Linda also paved the way for blending federal and state Pre-K funding which allowed Head Start and Pre-Kindergarten teachers to work together in the same classroom, thus expanding services for an additional 800 children. During Linda’s time at the National Head Start Association, she played a pivotal role in the 1994 Head Start Re-authorization Act and influenced the final version of the Head Start Performance Standards.
Linda’s role as the National Director of the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative has perhaps had the most profound influence with respect to the number of lives positively influenced by her leadership and vision. To date, more than 5 million children have been positively impacted by Devereux’s strength-based resources designed to assess and promote children’s healthy social and emotional development. Of course this work has been a team effort, with many team members responsible for Devereux’s contributions in this area. All of the team members credit Linda, however, with having the vision, passion and dedication that has made this work possible.
Linda’s pioneering work has resulted in great contributions to the field of early care and education and has always emphasized the importance of team work. When teams are strong, when trust is high, when team members play on each other’s strengths and let each other shine, teams can accomplish great things. Thanks to Linda’s pioneering spirit and leadership, many great things have happened for millions of children and families across the nation.