This has been a busy year for the First 5 LA team.

At the start of the year, we shared our goals for becoming a higher performing, higher impact organization on behalf of young children in L.A. County. We know the healthy development of our County’s children in their early years is critical to the vitality of our families and communities. Towards that end, we have been hard at work to align First 5 LA’s structure and staffing to support our strategic direction on behalf of children and their families.

We have kept a sharp focus on our 2015-2020 Strategic Plan which prioritizes those activities with the potential to impact the broadest range of children prenatal to age 5 across four interlinked focus areas — families, communities, early care and education, and health care delivery systems.

I am very pleased that over the course of the last 12 months we have crossed some important milestones in our organizational change efforts and have made significant progress in meeting the goals of our strategic plan.

Among other milestones, in 2016 we formalized a new five-member Executive Team structure to better align with our strategic direction. Our new executive team includes John Wagner as Executive Vice President, Christina Altmayer as Vice President of Programs, Kim Pattillo Brownson as Vice President of Policy and Strategy, and Daniela Pineda as Vice President of Integration and Learning. These individuals bring to First 5 LA significant experience, passion and commitment and will help lead our efforts to be a strategic public grant maker and child advocate.

Last week we crossed another important milestone in our organization alignment: the matching of program staff to the roles needed to effectively execute against our Strategic Plan. Some roles are new to the organization, some changed and some clarified – all will better enable us to advance our goals and focus on those policies and systems that will yield the greatest benefits for children in L.A. County.

This phase of our organizational change efforts represents the culmination of a thoughtful, phased approach. The entire First 5 LA team has taken part in this process, offering input at various stages throughout the year.

The alignment of our structure and staffing to our strategy, role and results is fundamental to what drives and motivates the staff and Board of First 5 LA the opportunity to make a meaningful and measurable difference in the lives of young children in L.A. County. And, given recent developments at the national level, our work as a public grant-making and child advocacy organization has never been more important.

Our organizational changes over the past year reflect the evolving nature of First 5 LA’s strategic direction – a direction anchored in partnership and focused on policy and systems change.

I am extremely proud of our work to date – I urge you to read about our latest collection of success stories in this month’s Early Childhood Matters newsletter. I am also extremely proud of the amazing professionalism and dedication of our staff, but we realize there is more work to do.

In the coming weeks and months we will be reaching out to our partners and grantees to ensure we are working smoothly and effectively together to advance our shared vision. It is through our work together that we will realize the lasting change and create the impact we seek for young children.

This is an exciting time for First 5 LA. We are proud of our accomplishments to date and see great hope and promise in the year ahead.

As Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far and away, the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

On behalf of the First 5 LA team, we thank you for your partnership and support in 2016. We look forward to the year ahead and our continued work together to advance a better tomorrow for our youngest residents and their families.

With best wishes for a healthy and happy holiday season –

Kim Belshé | Executive Director, First 5 LA