What We Learned at DELHI

Reflections from our guests on DELHI 2016: “Cultivating the Next Generation of Early Childhood Leaders – Pathways to Leadership”


“We are a voice to be heard, strengthened by working together.”

“Advocacy is not as hard or scary as it may initially appear.”

“[It is] always good to remind ourselves that reflection is self-care. With proper self-care, we take better care of the children in our classrooms.”

On September 30th, we gathered together with nearly 100 guests and presenters to talk about Cultivating the Next Generation of Early Childhood Leaders at our 5th annual Denver’s Early Learning & Health Institute (DELHI).Juana Bordas speaking at DELHI

Keynote speaker Juana Bordas, President of Mestiza Leadership International and best-selling author (to name only a couple of accomplishments!), kicked off the event, sharing her remarkable story of emigrating from Nicaragua to the United States with her family as a young girl in the 1940’s and being the first in her family to go to college. Her early years instilled in her a lifelong desire to give back, and she ultimately became part of an instrumental movement, building culturally responsive support to women and families to help foster economic success. In her keynote address, she emphasized the critical job we all have as leaders of young learners in building the multi-cultural, partnership-based society of “we” leadership.

Sankofa activity

She also guided participants through an exercise based on the concept of Sankofa, a word in the Twi language of Ghana which translates directly as “go back and get it.” Sankofa has been adopted as an important symbol in African-American and African Diaspora contexts to convey that in order to build a successful future, one must first honor and learn from the past.

This exercise helped set the stage for the remainder of the day, where participants spent time diving into reflective leadership, along with sessions on policy, advocacy and business administration for professionals working in early childhood.

As always, we were grateful for a day filled with powerful insights from our speakers and guests. We picked a handful of takeaways, in the words of DELHI participants, to recap some learnings from the day’s events!

From “The Future of Learning: Community Advocacy & Leadership” with Lauren Weather and Ellen Hall of the Boulder Journey School:

“Anyone can effect change! There is always something [in which] you and children can have a say!” 

From “Early Childhood Advocacy: It’s Not Just for Lobbyists!” with Dr. Alissa Rausch and Dr. Diana Schaack, of the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Colorado Denver:

“Identity trumps belief – how someone feels is more important than what you believe about them.” 

“Advocacy should be disruptive. To create the change, we need to be the change.”

From “The 5 Essential Ingredients You Need to Create Impact and Lasting Change in Today’s World” with Jennifer Olson, founder of DVLP Solutions:

“[I learned] to look inward and recognize what my leadership abilities might be.”


We are already making plans for next year’s DELHI, where we hope to pick up where we left off and dive deeper into understanding and developing our multi-cultural approach to learning and leadership.

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