Fraser Hammersly | Digital Content Specialist

March 30, 2021

Reflections on the first year of First 5 LA’s 2020-2028 Strategic Plan implementation, the organization’s values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and updates on First 5 LA’s Capital Improvement Project (CIP) were the focus of the March 11 Board of Commissioners meeting. 

“Living our values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion … requires a lot of intentionality. It requires a lot of learning and listening, asking again and listening again,” L.A. County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl stated in her opening remarks. “But most of all, it requires a commitment… to be there for each other, to understand, as well as we can, and to improve. We’re on the journey together. And I’m very happy to be a part of this Board and a part of this organization.”

Before diving into presentations, Executive Director Kim Belshé announced the departure of Center for Child and Family Impact Senior Vice President Christina Altmayer, who has played a critical role in shaping First 5 LA’s systems and practice change efforts, as well as the development and refinement of the 2020-2028 Strategic Plan. 

“I think the Board has seen what the staff has seen, which is: Christina’s really pushed us all to see ourselves in more dynamic and high-impact ways –– that really is envisioned by our Strategic Plan in terms of the emphasis on systems change,” Belshé said. 

Moving onto presentations, the Office of Equity, Strategy and Learning’s Chief Learning Officer Antoinette Andrews-Bush and Portfolio Manager Kaya Tith shared progress and reflections from First 5 LA’s first year of 2020-2028 Strategic Plan Implementation. 

“Progress in the first year of implementation reflects an evolution of the work First 5 LA has been doing for a number of years now. The dynamic changes in the external environment propelled much of this work forward in ways that we might not have imagined,” Andrews-Bush said. “What we learned is what’s possible when intentions, resources and processes align across stakeholders.” 

Tith uplifted key learnings to the Board, categorizing examples by First 5 LA’s four strategic priorities: 1) strengthen public and community systems; 2) advance and build on community experience; 3) expand influence and impact with data; and 4) optimize our effectiveness. 

“What we’re learning is that when public agencies work in collaboration with nonprofit organizations and communities as partners, new insight shapes the design and implementation of solutions so that they’re responsive to the conflicts and challenges faced by young children and families and their communities,” Tith said, highlighting one of the learnings related to Strategic Priority 1. 

Andrews-Bush shared how insights from the first year of Strategic Plan implementation would be applied to First 5 LA’s work, sharing that First 5 LA acknowledges that it is not a “spectator” looking at systems “out there,” but is part of the system, too. 

“So our emphasis on systems change means that we must change, too,” Andrews-Bush said. 

For the complete list of learnings from the first year of Strategic Plan implementation, please click here. 

Next, Andrews-Bush was joined by Workplace Management Team Operational Excellence Manager TaMesha Williamson and First 5 LA’s consulting partner, Seed Collaborative Co-Founder Evan Holland, to present “Living First 5 LA’s Values of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.”

In October 2020, the Board approved a contract with Seed Collaborative to walk alongside First 5 LA as it deepens its knowledge and commitments to DEI. In January 2021, the contract with the Seed Collaborative began. The presentation introduced the consulting agency, as well as informed the Board of the steps Seed Collaborative would be taking to help First 5 LA embrace DEI in its work. 

Recalling what Andrews-Bush has stated earlier, Williamson told the Board that while First 5 LA has embodied the DEI value in its systems change work, a critical part of the systems change journey is turning the lens back on itself, which involves examining the role DEI plays in First 5 LA’s work environment and internal policies and practices.

“Seed is here to help facilitate the process and lend their DEI expertise, but the work to do is ours,” Williamson said. 

Holland presented an overview of Seed Collaborative as well as the work they are doing to facilitate this process, including an assessment of First 5 LA’s organizational and contract procurement practices as they relate to DEI, as well as a reflection process where First 5 LA staff share their experiences with DEI within the agency. The result of these efforts will be an organization-wide equity plan that Seed Collaborative will support in its first steps of implementation.

“Our work with First 5, as well as … with many institutions, is focused on bringing about organizational, structural and cultural change within institutions, in order for equity work to be long-lasting and to be able to evolve over time,” Holland shared. 

To learn more about First 5 LA’s DEI work with Seed Collaborative, please click here. 

Lastly, Executive Vice President John Wagner and Workplace Management Senior Director Carl Gayden presented on First 5 LA’s CIP. 

Advancing First 5 LA’s Strategic Priority of “optimizing our effectiveness,” Wagner explained how the purpose of CIP is to renovate First 5 LA’s physical space to align to the organization’s new structure and to facilitate collaboration across the organization. Additionally, the project will address the immediate and longer-term needs for the maintenance and support of First 5 LA’s facilities. 

However, these efforts have been delayed due to COVID-19, and Gayden explained how he is leading a phased approach to the CIP, with Phase 1 focusing on immediate facility needs and preparing the building for a safe reentry to in-person work, and Phase 2 covering the interior redesign to align to First 5 LA’s new structure. 

For more information on the CIP, click here. 

The next Board of Commissioners meeting will be held on April 8. More information will be made available closer to the date at