Highlights from the 2019 Leadership Institute

October 21, 2019

2019 Leadership Institute

The 2019 Leadership Institute has come to an end, and we are in full planning mode for our 2020 Symposium – Breakthrough Barriers, Breakout Solutions on May 3 - 6 in Crystal City, Virginia. But before we put the 2019 Leadership Institute to bed, I wanted to share some of the highlights from the week.

We had record registration for our 2019 Leadership Institute. We sold out almost a month before the event, which took place October 6-9 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This year’s theme was Exceeding the Vision; Expanding the Possibilities, as attendees discussed the field’s leadership accomplishments while also focusing on the urgent work needed to be done to expand access to high-quality child care for all families.

Networking Map at Leadership Institute

Attendees mapped out the connections they made with other states during the networking lunch.


Sunday, October 5, was our pre-Institute day, which included an council meeting and two engaging sessions. During the council meeting, members held an in-depth conversation about the importance of data and a vision for our future data systems, including the National Data System (now called Child Care Aware® of America’s National Data System Powered by WorkLife Systems).

About 100 attendees attended our two engaging pre-Institute sessions. One session focused covered John Maxwell’s leadership strategies. The other session was with Sesame Street in Communities and covered trauma-informed resources and an upcoming professional development opportunity for Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agencies.

Throughout the week, attendees enjoyed optional off-site excursion opportunities in the evenings that aimed to provide space to connect with colleagues and friends, forge new relationships, and learn about the great work occurring across the country. On Sunday, after the pre-Institute sessions, attendees enjoyed a lively networking reception. On Tuesday, some enjoyed going to the off-site excursions hosted by Child Care Aware® of Minnesota.

We were excited to offer new ways for Leadership Institute participants to learn more about local culture. One opportunity included drummers from the Ain Dah Yung Center—which means “our home” in Ojibwe—who performed and educated attendees about their culture and their mission during Tuesday’s lunch. The Center is an emergency shelter for runaway and homeless Native American youth. It fills the need for a culturally relevant and safe place in the Twin Cities, one of the most concentrated urban Native American populations in the United States. 

I was blown away by all wonderful conversations with attendees from different states. Much of the talk swirled around strategies to engage with local, state and national policy/advocacy efforts. Some of the most popular session topics included workforce development, updates from Capitol Hil, and data collection. One attendee said of the Institute, “I left with at least three great strategies to replicate in my own state.” Another added, “I always leave with a hopeful attitude!”

Thank you to all the attendees for bringing your unique perspectives and sharing your views with others. I hope we keep the momentum going and move the needle forward on improving access to high-quality, affordable child care for all!

Next year’s Institute held in Dallas, Texas, from October 3 - 6, 2020. But until then, register today for the 2020 Symposium, where we will continue our valuable conversations. Our call for Symposium presentation proposals is open until November 15. I hope to see you there!


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Topics: Business Operations for CCR&Rs, Workforce, Professional Development, Policy & Advocacy

Mindy Bennett

Written by Mindy Bennett

Mindy Bennett brings over 25 years of experience in the early childhood sector including teaching for children birth – kindergarten, owning a family child care home, child care center administration, as well as directing Indiana’s largest local CCR&R agency and later the work of Indiana’s state CCR&R network. In July of 2017 Mindy joined the staff at Child Care Aware® of America and is currently the Interim Deputy Chief of Partnership where she oversees supports for our members and works with strategic partnerships.