We Salute You, Gwen Morgan

Recently, my 2-and-a-half year old grandson was visibly upset and I asked him to talk about how he was feeling. He said, "I am very sad and I am very angry."

That is a perfect description of how I feel right now.

I happen to just check Facebook late last night and saw that a very long-time friend, the early childhood icon, Gwen Morgan died. And I am very sad and very angry.

I am sad because Gwen was a caring friend of mine for many decades. She was also a mentor to me and countless others. When I served as president of the National Association of Education of Young Childhood in the 1990s and she was a former Board member, she kept careful track of the issues the Board was grappling with. I would regularly receive letters in the mail from her. These letters were remarkable for their length -- pages long, typed single space on translucent, onion-skin type paper. Like legal briefs, Gwen laid out pros and cons of a given issue and then clearly and logically, argued for her conclusions. These letters were also remarkable for their novel solutions. She knew how to parse the evidence and look for win-wins.

Gwen kept up this drumbeat. Even as she turned 90 this summer, she was photographed sitting on the porch, reading a book that looked more like a tome than a typical book.

But I am also angry. Why was there no "breaking news" that flashed across my computer when Gwen Morgan died yesterday? Why are there no page one obituaries today? There are for actors and singers -- stars of stage and the screen. There are for politicians and corporate executives. There are for writers. There should be for Gwen Morgan.

Every parent who is looking for child care in this country owes Gwen a profound thank you. Before Gwen, if you wanted to find child care, good luck. You could ask your friends, you could ask your neighbors and hope for the best. Today, the fact that there are organizations across the country, united into a large national organization, Child Care Aware, that help parents find good child care goes back to Gwen. She was the creator, along with several other amazing women, of what's called child care resource and referral, a service to help families find and evaluate child care.

Every parent who is looking for better quality in child care also owes Gwen a profound thank you. For ten years -- between 1985 and 1995 -- Gwen compiled annual reports on each states' child care licensing standards. These reports exposed some very bad laws and led to their change. And Gwen herself worked hard tirelessly nationally and locally, to improve the quality of child care.

Every parent who uses child care at their workplace owes Gwen profound thanks too. In 1972, she started an onsite child care program at KLH in Cambridge. MA. Later, she co-founded WFD, a consulting firm, and worked with hundreds of companies in improving their family-friendly policies and then collectively in a still unique multi-corporate collaboration called the American Business Collaboration for Quality Dependent Care.

Every parent who appreciates the quality of the teaching their young children receive is also indebted to Gwen, as are teachers. Again, she was indefatigable in working to create better professional development systems. She founded and served as director of The Center for Career Development in Early Care and Education from 1991 through 2004. Long a member of the faculty of Wheelock College, Gwen mentored hundred and hundreds of today's leaders.

As a society, we owe it to ourselves to honor more than those who entertain, govern us or run our major companies. It would speak well of us to honor those who spend their lives profoundly improving the lives of children, families and the professionals who work with them. Gwen Morgan, we should and must salute you!