Former Executive Director
Stephanie Wick-Child described the work style and commitment of FCE’s tiny staff, volunteers, and families as a “spiritual coming together of people.” That’s why, when Sarita Berry was considering retirement, Stephanie instinctively said, “I will give the ED position a try.” Families knew her and trusted her, just as she did them, and before she could second guess her offer, in 1998 Stephanie became Executive Director of FCE.
“In the early days, we made it a priority to listen to the parents’ experience; they wanted the same things for their children as every other parent – a good education and a chance to go college,” remembers Stephanie. “I knew that it was critical to really listen to our families; having them participate fully in FCE was essential to our work.” Engagement was important for families who often felt marginalized in their students’ educational process. This openness and trust set the tone for FCE’s core values, those still espoused by FCE today.
Stephanie and the Parent Leadership Team expanded the program to meet the broader needs of students and families. Together, they developed program policies and standards, increased staff, and created student leadership and expert advisory teams. Under Stephanie’s leadership, FCE, along with other college access and city programs, built college awareness throughout the community by sponsoring events like the first-ever EPA-based college fair. From her background in college admissions, Stephanie knew that most colleges were not addressing issues of retention. She understood the climate of exclusivity on many college campuses and wondered whether FCE students would get the support to thrive in college. After identifying this significant gap in support, Stephanie is most proud of formalizing FCE’s programmatic support all the way through college. “FCE was one of the leaders in the college access field to ensure pipeline support from grades 9 to 16, which resulted in increased college graduation success rates!”
Stephanie considers her time with FCE as one of the most important professional and personal experiences of her life. FCE is endlessly grateful for her contribution!