There are numerous reasons why the Vermont Early Childhood Alliance’s new Executive Director Matt Levin is a great fit for his job. There’s the fact that he earned his wings as a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., where he regularly strategized over federal issues with legislators and “fellow policy wonks.” Then, upon moving to Montpelier over a decade ago, he took his experience, administrative know-how and persuasive powers to the State House, where he lobbied for environmental causes.
Last but not least, he’s logged years of observing and interacting with young children in his role as parent, with wife Allison, to sons Eli and Simon, ages five and two.
VECA, previously known as Kids Are Priority One, has been around since 1994 as an early child care and education advocacy nonprofit. In 2013, the organization was reformed under its current name with a broader mission, an expanded coalition and an more urgent mission. From a narrower focus on child care and education, VECA now defines itself as a “statewide coalition of early childhood professionals, parents, businesses and strategic partners working together to realize the promise of every Vermont child.”
“We’re an evolving coalition,” Levin says of the transformation. “We’re now focusing on a diverse range of issues including nutrition, health, safety, education and the overall well-being of children and families,” he adds.
That entails, Levin explains, reaching out to a larger network of coalition members and coming together to identify the various issues leading to advocacy, action and – hopefully – legislation that will forward their mission.
Levin’s extensive experience comes in handy as VECA currently works to set out priorities. “There are a number of initiatives in early childhood right now in Vermont, and the Alliance is working to determine our niche,” Levin says.
“Being Executive Director of VECA provides me with the opportunity to contribute to the well-being of Vermont’s children and families,” explains Levin when asked what drew him to the job. “It’s a chance to make a positive difference on issues that I care deeply about.”