Local Early Childhood Champion Receives National Award

April 21, 2018

Joy Lyon of Juneau, Alaska, has been selected as the 2018 Sandra J. Skolnik Public Policy Leadership Award recipient. This national award is given by Child Care Aware® of America each year to honor and recognize the accomplishments of an outstanding individual who contributes to realizing Child Care Aware of America’s vision: “Every family in the United States has access to a high-quality, affordable child care system.”

Joy is the Executive Director of the Association for the Education of Young Children—Southeast Alaska (AEYC-SEA), a thread Network Partner. She has been a champion for early childhood in Alaska for over 20 years, providing leadership and awareness of the need for more resources and supports for families, early childhood educators, and early learning programs to bring about the positive and healthy development of young children.

For many years, Joy has been one of the faces of early childhood advocacy in Alaska. She has testified to the Legislature countless times and has done numerous interviews with the media highlighting the need for quality child care in Juneau and throughout the state. Joy has led initiatives such as the annual Step Up For Kids rally; the Kids in the Capital annual event; and local advocacy campaigns in Juneau year after year.

Because there is a high demand for child care and a very small supply in Juneau, Joy has worked relentlessly to think creatively and bring together community members to brainstorm how to increase the number of programs while also ensuring their quality. She has been a key player in Best Starts for Juneau’s Kids, a community effort to improve the health and well-being of children in Juneau by investing early to develop strong academic and social-emotional skills in young children, sustaining the gain through high school graduation, and ensuring the most effective outcomes using evaluation, oversight, and data. She is a worthy recipient of this award, which puts a spotlight not only on her hard work but also on the work being done throughout our state to support young children and their families.

The Sandra J. Skolnik Public Policy Leadership Award was established in 2008 to honor the life and work of Sandra J. Skolnik. Sandy was a recognized leader at local, state, and national levels. As the Executive Director of the Maryland Committee for Children for over thirty years, Sandy was instrumental in growing the organization from a part-time staff of two to a staff of over 75 working on behalf of children and families. Sandy pioneered the development of the Maryland Child Care Resource & Referral Network, a private-public partnership that continues to provide needed services for Maryland’s families with young children. Above all, Sandy was a passionate visionary and a dedicated advocate for quality child care and education for young children.