Photo: Courtesy of Laura Healy
Photo: Courtesy of Laura Healy

Strategies for Children is happy to welcome Laura Healy, our new research and field associate, to the staff. Although Laura’s official first day on the job was last Tuesday, she’s already spent a year working for Strategies as a Boston College intern.

A June 2014 graduate of Boston College and a native of Long Island, NY, Laura arrived on campus with an interest in elementary education and English.

“I envisioned myself in the classroom being a teacher in first, second, or third grade,” she explained in a recent interview.

To this end, Laura has worked as a teacher’s assistant for the infant/young toddler room of the Brookline Schools Staff Children’s Center; and she was a tutor for third and fourth graders of the Read Boston afterschool program at Saint Columbkille Partnership School.

But as her college education progressed, Laura found herself attracted to the world outside the classroom. She majored in English and Applied Psychology and Human Development, which allowed her to focus on a broader range of mental and emotional issues and their affect on the way children learn and develop.

In her senior year, Laura took an applied psychology class that required her to complete an internship in any field of her interest. That class and a list of internship options from her professor lead her to Strategies and the work of advocacy in the nonprofit world.

Over the past year, Laura’s work has included helping to organize last fall’s Boston Mayoral Candidates Forum and this summer’s Gubernatorial Candidates Forum as well as maintaining Strategies’ legislative contacts by following elections, updating internal databases, and managing mailings.

“Though it might not seem as glamorous as the mayoral forum,” she says of her behind the scenes work, “it’s equally as important if not more,” because “fostering relationships with senators, representatives and political leaders” helps open the door for Strategies to serve as a resource and advance the conversation on early education and reading proficiency by the third grade.

The 2014 Rising Stars campaign was one of her favorite projects because it showcases “the heart of this early education vision – children.”

“Families and early education providers are able to directly influence legislators by sharing photos, future ambitions, and most importantly the stars illustrating the direct impact policy has on future generations,” Laura said. She found the involvement from across the state both overwhelming and inspiring.

Going forward, Laura will be involved in a wide range of organizational projects and processes, such as analyzing policy and research reports; tracking state and federal budget developments; monitoring the Department of Early Education and Care’s programs and policies; coordinating meetings, forums, and events; and assisting with communications and social media.

What’s struck her during the past year at Strategies?

“The political side of things,” she said, commenting on how much work goes into outreach and raising awareness about the birth to third grade continuum. It’s work that has a strong impact in Massachusetts and nationally, Laura notes, especially now during election season as voters go to the polls to elect new leaders.

As we frequently do, we asked Laura to name a favorite children’s book.

“ ‘Corduroy,’ ” she said, naming the classic book by Don Freeman and adding that she reads it to her young cousins.

As for the start of her job, Laura says the timing couldn’t be better now that the whole country is focused on early education and giving children a strong start.

“I feel so lucky to be in this arena,” she said, adding. “I am so excited to see what happens in Massachusetts.”