Mary Reed Photo: Courtesy of MADCA
Mary Reed
Photo: Courtesy of MADCA

Next week, on Monday, May 5th, Mary Reed will be awarded a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement in Early Education Award from the Massachusetts Association of Early Education & Care (MADCA), a trade association for child care providers that was founded in 1972. The event begins at 7 p.m. It is part of MADCA’s annual Administration and Management Conference.

“Reed has spent more than 40 years in the early education field, growing up working with her mother, Bessie Tartt Wilson, who opened the first black-owned day care center in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood,” MADCA explains in a press release.

Reed’s career grew beyond early education. She became the first black woman to head the Boston YWCA; and she served as vice president of Goodwill Industries.

In 2002, as MADCA explains, “Reed founded the Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children (BTWIC) in honor of her mother and developed it into one of the most effective advocacy organizations on behalf of early education and care in Massachusetts.”

BTWIC’s mission is: “To strengthen early education and care for children with the greatest need through research, policy development, communication, and advocacy.”

Reed’s advocacy has taken her to the streets and the State House. As the Boston Herald reported, she campaigned successfully for children to get one-year child care vouchers, so that children would be “held harmless:” even if they were no longer eligible for a voucher, they could remain in their early education and care program.

Reed has also called on Massachusetts to improve conditions for early educators. “As incomprehensible as it might be – especially for a state with such a powerful academic heritage – Massachusetts has fallen well behind when it comes to retaining quality workers in early childhood education,” Reed wrote in a 2009 Patriot Ledger opinion piece.

“The state has a 26 percent turnover rate in the early childhood education workforce – a shocking number when compared to the national turnover rate of 9.8 percent.

“But there are solutions. There are ways to improve that retention rate.” Reed suggested a student loan forgiveness program, more flexibility in scholarships, career counseling, and the dissemination of professional development materials printed in multiple languages. “Above all,” she wrote, “compensation and benefits have to improve.”

In a 2011 AARP video hosted by Jane Pauley and featured on the Today Show, Massachusetts Senator Paul Kirk said of Reed, “Her vision and her commitment to this cause is so sincere and so real, that she’s given the term community service a new definition.”

Commenting on her upcoming award, Reed said, “I am humbled to have been selected to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Massachusetts Association of Early Education & Care.” Reed retired as president of BTWIC last fall. The organization’s new president is former Massachusetts State Representative Marie St. Fleur.

MADCA Executive Director William J. Eddy said of Reed’s upcoming honor, “This award is well deserved – a generation of Greater Boston children and their families have led a far better life due to your tireless efforts on their behalf.”

We join the field in congratulating Mary Reed for her achievement and thanking her for her dedicated years of service.