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That’s a Wrap! Start Early’s 2021 *Virtual* Annual Luncheon

Start Early President Diana Rauner shares a recap from our annual fundraising event and expresses thanks to all who made this year’s program possible.

Diana Rauner April 22, 2021
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Earlier today, we hosted our Annual Luncheon — a virtual, nationwide celebration of the transformational power of starting early. Through the inspiring stories of families, educators and early learning champions, we witnessed how quality early learning and care programs lay a positive foundation for our youngest learners and provide necessary supports for all families.

Presented by LaSalle Network and the Zell Family Foundation, our Luncheon welcomed more than 3,000 individuals from coast to coast, many first-time attendees who are new to the Start Early family, along with some of our longest supporters. If you were unable to join us, you can watch a recording of the full program below.

Through this powerful program of diverse voices and experiences, we hope you can see the role we each have as parents, family members, friends or colleagues to support our children, families and early childhood workforce. From spreading the word about early learning’s impact in our communities, to contacting your legislator in support of an advocacy campaign or sharing the gift of financial support, your investment of time or resources will make a difference. Learn more about ways to get involved.

I am overwhelmed with appreciation for the families, educators and early learning champions, including our Luncheon Co-Chairs Kelly King Dibble and Diana Sands, who shared their personal and inspirational stories to help demonstrate the importance of early learning and care programs. Thank you to:

Michelle Obama
Former First Lady of the United States

Dr. Clinton Boyd, Jr.  
Postdoctoral Associate, Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity

Diana Barrios
New Mother

Patricia Ceja-Muhsen
Doula, Healthy Parents & Babies

Danielle Jordan  
Senior Master Teacher, Educare Chicago

Michelle Morris  
Family Support & Community Engagement Manager, Educare Chicago

Kelly King Dibble
Senior Vice President, The Northern Trust Company; Board Member, Start Early

Diana Sands
Board Member, Start Early

Curt Bailey
President, Related Midwest; Board Chair, Start Early

We are so grateful for the overwhelming generosity of our donors and event sponsors, who helped us surpass our fundraising goal of $1.2 million. Each dollar invested in this mission will change the course for our youngest learners and their families. You can still show your support by making a gift. When we come together and invest in early childhood education, we can transform the lives of our future generation.

Thank you for joining us at our virtual 2021 Annual Luncheon, and we hope to see you again soon.

About the Author

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Diana Rauner


Diana Rauner, Ph.D., is president of Start Early, a national nonprofit with over 40 years of experience advancing quality early learning and care to help close the opportunity gap.

More About Diana

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