Dear Friend of Child First,
After much consideration, I have formally accepted a new role as President and CEO of Maryland Philanthropy Network (MPN). This means I will be concluding my extremely rewarding seven-year journey as the proud Executive Director at Child First on Oct. 6.
I never saw myself as the Executive Director of any organization because I thought it was one of the toughest jobs on the planet, and I had great respect for those that do it well. But when the job became available at Child First in 2016, I said “yes” because I loved the mission, I knew the work, and I respected the leadership. I also knew that I had a lot that I could bring to the organization — AND I had a lot to learn. I wanted to stretch my professional muscles and do a new thing.
These have been the BEST seven years of my professional life. I leave Child First stronger than I inherited it. We have grown our staff and board, increased the number of community schools that we support, grown the number of sites providing afterschool and summer learning, and built a strong infrastructure to support that growth.
Gayl M. Brooks, who rose from being a parent volunteer at Child First to become our first Deputy Director, is a perfect example of that stronger infrastructure — and of the parent leadership approach that makes Child First so special. With over 24 years of experience in the education, non-profit, and youth development sectors, Gayl will step in as Acting Executive Director and will manage all administrative and leadership decisions as the board of directors conducts a search for our next Executive Director, ensuring a smooth transition for our staff, our programs and for you, our valued friends and partners.
And I will not be far away. MPN, a statewide membership organization representing more than 100 philanthropic entities, acts as an intermediary by collaborating, supporting, and coalescing its members to maximize their impact and strengthen the nonprofit sector and the communities that they serve. I consider my new role an opportunity to apply all that I’ve learned at Child First and all that we do to build our community to a broader stage, convening and supporting partners who are working to strengthen Baltimore and Maryland. I am excited to be returning to philanthropy in this new role.
I want to close by sharing my gratitude with all of you. Thank you for your partnership. Whether you are a school principal, an out-of-school time (OST) or community school partner or a friend and funder of Child First, this is work that we do together, and I am so thankful for all your contributions. You are in good hands with Child First’s strong staff and board, who will continue to shepherd the organization through this transition and communicate with you as this new chapter evolves. I will never forget your support and this incredible opportunity to work with you.
Toward a bright future for our young people,
Danista E. Hunte
Executive Director|Child First Authority, Inc.