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North Bay Business Journal

Wednesday, October 30, 2013, 2:00 pm

Nonprofit Leadership Awards 2013: Susan Gilmore, North Bay Children’s Center

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    Executive director

    North Bay Children’s Center, 925 C Street, Novato 94949; www.nbcc.net

    Age: Are you kidding? Ageless of course!

    Residence: Petaluma

    Professional background: Early Childhood Educator, Executive Director

    Education: degree in Child Development

    Staff: 72

    Describe your organization: NBCC is widely recognized as a leader in early care and education providing high-quality child care services for children from 6 weeks through 12 years old. We are well known in our communities for establishing proven, effective early childhood education (ECE) programs that focus on school-readiness and foster health and wellness for families across the income spectrum.

    In addition to high quality child care services for more than 360 children on a daily basis, NBCC’s programs address two nationally recognized problems that threaten the futures of our most vulnerable children: the education achievement gap, and the childhood obesity epidemic.

    Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am a San Francisco native now living in Petaluma where my husband and I have raised our family for the past 20 years. I have been involved in the ECE field for more than 35 years as a teacher, agency director, and advocate for children’s issues. As the founding director of the North Bay Children’s Center in 1986, I am responsible for the oversight, growth and development of the organization. I have served in leadership roles on various boards and commissions throughout the North Bay further linking our child care community to numerous resources in Marin and Sonoma County.

    What is your role in the organization?: Founder, Executive Director

    What achievement are you most proud of?: Beside my two wonderful kids? Starting the North Bay Children’s Center at the age of 28 and seeing what it has become. From one small site serving just a handful of children, it has grown into a regional organization that now serves more than 350 children and their families on a daily basis. Negotiating an acre and a half of land for $1 at Hamilton Field in Novato (through the base-reuse plan) is a key component of our growth plan that I am particularly proud of. Looking back on the early days I think about everyone who tried to talk me out of quitting my teaching job to start a non-profit, or suggesting that my desire to build a campus on a former military base was pure fantasy. Being told my visions are impossible seems to be a catalyst for driving ideas toward success.

    What is your biggest challenge today?: Being everywhere at once! Luckily I am now an empty-nester so work/life balance is becoming easier. Through NBCC’s recent growth into Sonoma County, I have learned the importance of creating and empowering the next level of leadership within the organization, along with building a strong board. We have attracted some amazing skill and talent and my challenge now is staying a step ahead of all of them!

    What is the next major project either under way or on the horizon?: Keeping our curriculum fresh and meaningful is always what’s next. But we are getting underway to create a vibrant, 21st-century campus that will serve as a headquarters for NBCC’s expanding programs in Marin and Sonoma Counties. It will serve as a classroom, program lab, training center and offices. It will be part of our mission to promote early education and healthy eating to as many young minds as possible.

    What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively?: A complete technology overhaul that comes with comprehensive training for staff is definitely on my wish list.

    How do you think your profession will change in the next five years?: This is a very exciting time for early care and education. It has become widely accepted on a national level that high quality early childhood education is crucial to academic success. To that end, there is a movement underway throughout our North Bay counties that encourages partnerships between the K-12 and ECE systems, and is looking into strategies to eventually fund preschool for All. Through our school-readiness partnerships with three school districts across our six school sites, NBCC is thrilled to be at the forefront of this movement.

    Most admired businessperson outside your organization: Lynne Twist, the founder of the Soul of Money Institute. She is a visionary leader committed to alleviating worldwide poverty and hunger and supporting social justice and environmental stability. She an inspirational business leader who shares her expertise through coaching, presentations, and non-profit board service.

    Current reading: Who has time? I recently finished Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and have The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley on my night stand. Unfortunately, Netflix is on my ipad and is starting to take up some of my recreational reading time. I can tell you anything you want to know about House of Cards!

    Most want to meet: Several obvious high profile people that come to mind like Oprah. I know if we met I could convince her to take a tour of our campus, and a show on the importance of the work we do would likely follow. Who I really can’t wait to meet however would be our NBCC students when they are adults. So many of the kids we served come back to us in high school to complete their community service. They have great memories of their NBCC friends and teachers, and I would love to see where they all end up.

    Stress relievers: laughter, pilates, and anything outdoors, on the water, or in a restaurant

    Favorite hobbies: cooking, hiking, entertaining, waterskiing, collecting-shoes

    Words that best describe you: Visionary, passionate, relentless, funny, innovative, go-getter, creative problem solver,

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