50 MIW honoree: Annemarie Valdez

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Annemarie Valdez. Courtesy 616 Media

Annemarie Valdez

President, CEO

First Steps Kent

 

Annemarie Valdez comes from a very large family, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that much of her work centers on youth in Kent County.

Her parents immigrated to the United States from Mexico, and she is the first generation in her family to attend college. Now, she wants to ensure youth who want to follow that same path have the tools necessary to do so.

“My childhood and life experiences have given me a good foundation for equity work. A recent project of mine is called ‘Equity Talks,’” she said. “It is a film series (equitytalks.org) developed to be used in local college curriculum. The film series will be used to train early childhood educators how to bring up the conversation of race and equity early and often.”

Valdez is president and CEO of First Steps Kent, which is charged with ensuring Kent County children reap the benefits of a millage proposal passed in 2018 designed to prepare them to succeed in school and life.

“As funding administrator of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage, First Steps Kent has become a trusted partner of the Kent County Board of Commissioners and administration,” she said. “First Steps Kent continues to partner with them on child care supports for both providers and families in Kent County.”

In 2020, First Steps Kent was the administrator of $450,000 in CARES Act funding, which was distributed to child care providers throughout Kent County.

“As a result of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage, the county continues to explore additional child care navigation opportunities with First Steps Kent,” Valdez said.

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