Member Spotlight

Do you love your job, have you benefited from a membership in Iowa AEYC, or are you a new member wanting to introduce yourself? Iowa AEYC started a new feature in our Weekly to spotlight members. Simply go to our Member Spotlight Questionnaire, enter your name and email,  and answer a few questions you select. Members will also be spotlighted here on our website so that both members and non-members can see the importance of our members and our association to the early childhood field.

For previous articles check out the archives

Mary Airy

The Board of Iowa AEYC annually selects a recipient for the Friend of Young Children award from among our membership. This person typically has exemplified our vision and mission throughout a career, truly impacting the lives of young children in Iowa. The award often goes to someone who has had a profound impact on the work of the Association as well. This year the Iowa AEYC Board is honoring Mary Airy with the 2017 Friend of Young Children Award.

Mary came "up through the ranks" as a Kindergarten teacher, mentor trainer, and consultant. She has always been a leader in the early childhood field. She has served on numerous leadership teams at the Area Education Agency (AEA) and across Iowa supporting young children. Read More.

NOTE: The remainder below will be on the Member Spotlight page of our website. I’m keeping the current and the next spotlight on the website. After the new weekly goes out I plan on pdfing the last Member Spotlight with a link to it on the website, like an archive. FYI, Mary wrote all of this herself, taking some from the award bio etc. that was in the Institute Program.

Mary has served on the Iowa AEYC Governing Board for seven years, six as an officer for the Governing Board. Since the Fall of 2011 she served a two-year term as Vice President, and a four-year term as President Elect, President, and Past President of the Executive Board. She is thorough and patient in her leadership; her passion for children has always been evident. She knows board procedure, embraces change, and supports board members on a regular basis. Her attention to detail is a huge benefit to the advancement of Iowa AEYC’s Strategic Plan. She served as President during the recent NAEYC affiliate restructuring and is proud that Iowa AEYC’s application for reaffiliation was approved by the NAEYC Governing Board.

Mary has been an Iowa AEYC/NAEYC member for over 30 years. The articles in Young Children and Teaching Young Children provided useful information while Mary pursued her Master’s degree and as she coached preschool and early elementary teachers. As President, Mary participated in numerous NAEYC conferences and Professional Learning Institutes. Presenting during several of these national conferences, as part of the Iowa AEYC team, were memorable experiences for Mary. NAEYC’s professional books, part of the Comprehensive Member (now Premium Level) benefit, also provided up-to-date information that Mary used while working with her colleagues and preschool staff.

In retirement, Mary continues working with Iowa AEYC as Iowa’s Power to the Profession Project Facilitator. Power to the Profession is an early childhood workforce development initiative involving fifteen co-equal national early childhood membership organizations. These organizations participate in a National Task Force which is designed to create the framework for an Early Childhood Education Profession.

Cherie Kennedy

Children's Champion Bio and Synopsis
Cherie Kennedy began completion of an early childhood education degree at a junior college as a non-traditional student. She completed her degree in record time, with the highest honors, while working a full-time job, volunteering, and taking on additional responsibilities to cover the cost of her education. Cherie's commitment to early childhood education and passion for helping children was evident then and now. Her dedicated work in providing consultation services to area providers has greatly impacted public awareness of the need to invest in these services.
Cherie plays a vital role volunteering at many public events related to early childhood education. Her commitment to joining committees, providing trainings, and serving as a resource to anyone who needs her has been an asset statewide. Colleagues in the field regard her with high esteem as a mentor, educator, and champion of children.
Cherie has also been involved with many early childhood initiatives and served on many committees in the Dubuque area, including the governing board for Iowa AEYC. She has been part of the Dubuque Quality Care Alliance, Dubuque County Empowerment, Dubuque County Early Childhood, Quality Rating System, Iowa Preschool Quality Program Standards, and the list goes on and on. If it involves Early Childhood Care Education, she is there to share her vast knowledge and experience as well as to add support.
Cherie facilitated the Iowa Preschool Quality Program Standards with the Dubuque Montessori schools and made the intense process thought provoking and fun. With her profound knowledge of early childhood development, schools were able to identify their strengths and challenges and implement changes. The result was better practices to more effectively meet the needs of the children entrusted to their care.
Cherie has a gift when it comes to teaching and mentoring adults who work with children. She is kind and respectful in every situation. She challenges you to do your best and always reflect. Her dedication to the field has impacted thousands of providers and her support of young children is unparalleled.
Cherie's Member Spotlight Q&A
Why did you become a member?
   - My supervisor encouraged me to join NAEYC and attend the local chapter meetings.
   - At the local chapter meetings, the enthusiasm for quality childcare was contagious!
   - I knew I wanted to be a part of making a difference and ensuring our voices were heard.
   - Since that first meeting, many years ago, I have seen so many positive changes in the Early Childhood field.
   - NAEYC and Iowa AEYC have always been at the forefront of those changes.
Which NAEYC benefit to you most value?
   - I value the opportunity to work childcare providers daily.
   - I look forward to reading my Teaching Young Children magazine too!
My favorite NAEYC/Iowa AEYC memory?
   - I was able to attend the NAEYC conference in Chicago, IL years ago.
   - What a phenomenal experience!
   - I met Dr. Jean, and of course, purchased several of her resources! J
   - I was motivated by the hundreds of childcare providers, advocates, and early childhood professionals in the room!
   - My knowledge of the childcare profession increased as NAEYC had engaging, informative presenters.
   - On the statewide level, I have attended the Fall Institute for several years and have always enjoyed the keynote speakers and the breakout sessions.
   - I am able to take the information I learn at the institute and share it with my colleagues and the childcare providers I work with on a daily basis.


Jill Uhlenberg 2017.11.7
Cherie Kennedy 2017.11.14