By Marisa Albanese, CEO of KIDS COUNT
Elizabeth Burke Bryant, who in her 28 years as Executive Director of KIDS COUNT has made the organization Rhode Island’s premier children’s advocacy group, is stepping down as Executive Director, the organization announced this afternoon.
“During her tenure, Elizabeth was one of Rhode Island’s most influential leaders and the greatest advocate for the well-being of children and their families,” said Marisa Albanese, CEO of KIDS COUNT.
Elizabeth has served as Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT since its inception in 1994. Under her leadership, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT has earned a national reputation for working to improve the health, education, early childhood development, economic wellbeing and safety of Rhode Island children, with a commitment to justice. The annual Rhode Island KIDS COUNT Factbooka widely shared source of data and policy information for 70 child wellbeing indicators, informs data-driven advocacy groups across the state.
She and the organization have consistently focused on the glaring and unacceptable disparities in children’s outcomes by race, ethnicity and income – and called for the dismantling of the racism that has led to these injustices.
Political achievements Rhode Island KIDS COUNT has contributed to during her tenure include establishment of the RI Pre-K program (ranked first nationally for quality), day care center, children’s health insurance (RI is fourth) . in the nation and provides health insurance for eligible children regardless of immigration status), a significant reduction in childhood lead poisoning, an expansion of DCYF services to children in foster care through age 21, and a repeal of a law that allowed 17-year-olds to be adults be tried and sent to adult prison.
Under her leadership, Rhode Island KIDS COUNT has had a strong focus on equitable policies and investments to advance early learning and development from birth, to improve K-12 education, third grade reading literacy and the need for quality multilingual learning opportunities Schooling, child welfare and juvenile justice reforms, and children’s mental health. From the inception of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT, a primary focus has been reducing child poverty and improving access to child feeding programs and affordable housing.
Elizabeth was a tireless leader and advocate for legal and political reform. She has testified many times before the RI General Assembly that she supports important investments and policies that improve the lives of the state’s children, youth and families. She has worked with the executive branch, including governors, state agency directors and employees, on strategies for the effective implementation of programs for children and families. She has also worked closely with the Rhode Island congressional delegation on a variety of federal issues affecting children.
Elizabeth has also built an exemplary team of child advocates within the organization who work with other advocates, community-based organizations and partners inside and outside of government to promote fair policies and the voices of those most affected by those policies, including parents to exalt and youth.
Albanese said the board is conducting a search for a new chief executive, beginning with an internal search.
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