The following message from Board President Gabriela Quintana was sent to Children's Alliance members Thursday, July 18. Get more details and answers to anticipated questions about Paola and Jon's transitions.
Dear Friends, Supporters and Child Advocates:
I’m writing with bittersweet news that two of Children’s Alliance long time leaders have decided to transition from their current roles at Children’s Alliance. Jon Gould, Deputy Director, hardcore child advocate and policy guru will be transitioning from his position at the end of September 2019. Paola Maranan, Executive Director, equity and racial justice leader, and team leader extraordinaire will transition at the end of May 2020.
On behalf of the Board of Directors: Paola and Jon—thank you—thank you for your tenacity to make change for Washington’s children, for infusing yourselves deeply into the work for racial equity, and for your unwavering commitment to the mission of the Children's Alliance. You have led important work and we are proud to have worked by your side.
This transition brings an exciting opportunity for growth. The board, together with the staff and our strong network of community partners and child advocates, is excited for the next visionary leader to build upon this legacy. Be assured that our active board is already strategizing and planning to ensure a smooth transition and plans to find and welcome stellar new leadership. In the meantime, we are grateful for Paola’s continued leadership well into 2020.
As we move forward, you can count on us to keep standing alongside you as we raise our powerful, collective voice for Washington’s 1.6 million kids. Our commitment to racial equity and Undoing Institutionalized Racism is ongoing. This work is multifaceted and hardwired into board-adopted strategic planning, operational policies, and both staff and board commitments. The organization’s work will continue to be led by staff members who every day bring a robust set of skills coupled with a fierce commitment to justice for all of Washington’s kids.
There are no words to express how grateful we are for the hard work, commitment, vision and leadership Paola and Jon provided over the years. Together, they have supported an outstanding staff of child advocates (this staff is a force to be reckoned with!) and helped move policy changes that will forever have a positive impact on Washington kids, including health care coverage for all kids, food that helps kids learn and grow, and historic investments in early learning. As a result, the Children’s Alliance is recognized as a leader in its field—one that walks its talk.
Saying goodbye to Jon and then Paola will not be easy. Each of them has more than 20 years at the Children’s Alliance. The board will use this change as an opportunity to drive the organization forward. We have always depended on advocates like you, and we hope you will continue to stand with us during these transitions and beyond.
Please feel free to reach out with any questions. I can be reached at Board@childrensalliance.org.
Gabriela Quintana, Board Chair
on behalf of the Children’s Alliance Board
Letter from Paola:
Dear Friends –
I love words. And yet I cannot find quite the right ones to capture my love for this organization, my pride in our work together, or my gratitude to everyone who made my 26 years at Children’s Alliance so personally and professionally rewarding and fulfilling.
This has been my home and my family. It has been the place where people were generous enough to teach me and gracious enough to walk alongside me as I learned and grew in my roles here—first as a Public Policy Coordinator then as the Public Policy Director, next as a Board Member, and, for the last 15 years, as the Executive Director.
I’m proud of the role that I’ve played as Executive Director in building a racial equity-focused public policy practice. That role – the most challenging and rewarding of my career—was only possible because I could stand on the shoulders of those who came before me and because I get to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with so many others every day. With a board that affirms the conviction that we serve all children best when we focus on those furthest from opportunity. With a staff team that steps forward with urgency and courage on racial equity and anti-racism even when there is no clear path. With the organizations and communities who help us understand what it means when we do or don’t do right by all our children. With policymakers who put their power on the side of kids. And, most of all, with the families who entrust us with what’s most important: the future of their children.
Yes, it has truly been that amazing! So why would I ever leave?
Two questions always guide me: How do I best serve the mission? How do I best serve the movement?
I’ve had the privilege of serving in two national networks, KIDS COUNT and The Partnership for America’s Children. Over time, my work with my child advocacy colleagues across the country has become centered on the internal organizational development work needed to sustain racial equity-focused policy change work – how we make our “insides match our outsides.” A significant part of that work is building more racial and ethnic diversity in the field of child advocacy, including a robust leadership pipeline. One part of that pipeline is to attract and support emerging leaders, particularly those of color. By necessity, the other part must be creating opportunities for them to lead.
So, it’s time to “pass the mic,” as the kids say. I believe that I will best serve the mission and the movement by creating space for a new leader.
I am choosing my moment well. The organization is financially strong. The staff bench is deep. The board is energized. The movement to build opportunity and justice for all kids has grown even stronger in this policy mix of national threats and local opportunity.
For the next ten months, I will be focused on supporting the staff and board through these transitions even as we keep our work for kids moving forward. Our eyes are on the prize – equitable outcomes for 1.6 million Washington kids.
For the next ten months and beyond, I will reflect on how blessed I have been to work with so many fierce child advocates, particularly our Children’s Alliance staff. You all live in my heart. And there is a special space there reserved for two: Jon Gould and Nancy Norman. For 15 years, we have shared the leadership of this organization. From the day I returned to the organization’s staff to serve as Executive Director, they have been the other two legs in my stool, giving me stability and strength. Any credit offered me, I give them. Thank you, Nancy. Thank you, Jon.
Thank you to everyone who has touched this organization. You’ve given me the opportunity of a lifetime. I can never thank you enough.
Letter from Jon:
Contributing to the mission of Children’s Alliance has been a tremendous honor. My 22 years at Children’s Alliance have been vibrant, dynamic, and fulfilling beyond my wildest dreams!
Working with staff and partners, it has been a privilege to shape and advocate for public policy in health, early learning, racial equity and other domains of child and family well-being. Apple Health for Kids, growing our state’s approach to early learning, family health coverage and oral health access, and increasing food and nutrition assistance for families—these advancements and so many others have enriched me beyond words. I am proud of what we have accomplished together for the children and families of Washington State. And, as we all know, there’s so much more to do.
Learning about and practicing racial equity-oriented policy and advocacy has transformed my career. My learned awareness about the role that structural racism plays in public policy is, in large part, due to the commitment of Children’s Alliance to craft and support an equity-oriented policy practice. I am grateful for the many opportunities I have had to work with staff and partners in pursuit of racial equity.
What a joy it has been to learn from and belong to the child advocacy community in our state and nation!
First and foremost, I have benefited from Paola Maranan’s strong and principled leadership. From the day I walked in the door of Children’s Alliance in 1997—overdressed and overeager—Paola has been, and continues to be, a brilliant and visionary leader, setting direction, challenging me, and giving me opportunities to excel. I am proud to have served for 15 years as Deputy to Paola.
I’ve been blessed on this journey with stellar co-workers, past and present—I have learned from and grown immensely from the teamwork and partnership with Children’s Alliance staff. Thank you, all, for trusting me to guide, lead, and supervise. One of my proudest professional accomplishments has been the supervision and mentorship of staff, interns and volunteers over the years. And, my sustainability over two decades wouldn’t have been possible without the excellent financial management, administrative support and board governance in the organization. Much credit and appreciation go to Finance Director Nancy Norman for her expertise and consistent leadership of our finance and operations. Much gratitude to the current and alumni volunteer board members whose service keeps Children’s Alliance strong.
I will miss working with Children’s Alliance staff, child advocates around the state and nation, community partners, public sector leaders, and our public policy council members. I cherish our experiences together and I will celebrate your continued successes as I transition into another role in this work.
My focus for the next 10 weeks is my transition. This includes implementing a detailed transition plan, including supporting Paola and the current staff. I look forward to lots of time with my team and partners, passing along relationships, knowledge, and perspective.
Later this summer, I will begin looking for a new professional opportunity in the community. I plan to stay in Washington State and would love to continue working for kids, families, and racial equity. While I am leaving my role at Children’s Alliance on September 30th, I intend to continue contributing to social, economic, and racial justice.
I will always appreciate and value the Children’s Alliance for the opportunity to have a rewarding, dynamic and transformative career. As I transition to alumni status, I look forward to contributing to the mission of Children’s Alliance as an enthusiastic supporter.
Forever grateful and forever a fan,
Jon Gould, Deputy Director