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A Message from Kim Belshé, the New Executive Director of First 5 LA

Dear Colleagues -

As I complete my first month as Executive Director of First 5 LA, I want to share with our broader community of grantees and partners how grateful I am to be a part of the Los Angeles County-wide effort to improve the quality of life for our County's youngest children and their families.

I come to First 5 LA by way of public sector positions in health and human services, having served in a number of senior leadership roles in state government. Most importantly, I come to First 5 LA with a deep appreciation for the importance of the first five years of a child's life. There are few issues more important to the social, economic, and civic health and vitality of our state and counties than the healthy development of our children in their early years.

As the largest funder of early child development in California and operating in the most populous and most diverse county in the United States, First 5 LA is well-positioned to accelerate its influence and impact on the most important issue before us - early child development.

I am excited by the opportunity to work with the First 5 LA Board, staff, grantees and broader community to ensure that all L.A. County children are born healthy and grow to reach their full potential. I recognize I have a lot to learn and I intend to invest time and attention to get to know and understand the First 5 LA staff, processes and procedures; our diverse stakeholder partners; and community issues and factors that influence early child development outcomes in L.A. County.

The First 5 LA Board of Commissioners and I believe our transition in leadership provides an opportunity for the organization to look back on First 5 LA's work to date and look ahead and explore our role going forward. Towards that end, over the next 3-6 months, I intend to work with staff to undertake a "Listening, Learning and Leading" exploration in how First 5 LA can most effectively advance our mission and achieve better outcomes for children. We will employ three prongs of inquiry:

  • To clarify and sharpen our strategic direction and explore potential new partnerships, one prong will focus on reviewing our work to date and assessing progress toward our program goals.
  • A second prong will examine our internal processes, procedures and organizational structure to strengthen our internal capacity and maximize impact.
  • And to understand the critical forces that affect the environment in which we work, a third prong will consider the external context within which we do our work and its implication for First 5 LA's goals and our County's young children and families.

The intent of this exploration is not to revisit our current strategic plan. Rather, it is to take stock of where we are with an eye toward building a common understanding among staff, Commissioners, grantees and other interested stakeholders of the status of implementation of First 5 LA's strategic plan for 2009-15, understanding what we are learning through our work with our community partners, and identifying opportunities to sharpen our focus and achieve greater impact.

I am eager to hear and learn from our wide array of community partners who share our aspirations for L.A. County's young children. Early in the new year we will be providing more detail regarding the approach and timing of our "Listening, Learning and Leading" exploration. In the meantime, I invite you to share your comments and thoughts via the comments section below.

Working together, we can make meaningful and measurable improvements in the health, safety and school readiness of our County's youngest children. I'm delighted to partner with you in this important undertaking.


Kim Belshé

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