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Deb writes in memory of Marni

written by PIC Executive Director Deb Green

Remembering a Visionary

Last week marked the ninth anniversary of the death of former Executive Director Marni Sweet, who stood at the helm of PIC for 28 years. 
 
Marni was such an icon and visionary for the life of PIC, that I always try to find some moments at this time of year to reflect on where we have come from and on our movement forward. With any decision made at PIC, I often wonder “What would Marni think?”
 
Marni loved everything related to nature, from pitching tents to gardening. Her 50th birthday was spent at a campground, with a large gathering of friends singing songs around a campfire. The Acadia Woods Magic Circle Nature Playground was given its name in honor of the childhood location where Marni loved to play outdoors in Michigan. I know how very happy Marni would be. I just wish she were here now to help figure out how to keep grass growing!  
 
Marni spent significant time on the local and state level advocating for ALL families to have access to high quality child care. Low income families were enrolled with middle income families at PIC at a time when that was not the norm. Now high quality child care is in the news at every turn and the importance of providing access to children of all income levels is finally understood. I know Marni would urge PIC on in our vision to make room for more preschool-age children. She knew then and we strongly believe today that welcoming families from all income levels (and backgrounds) is what young children need in order to break down societal bias.
 
Marni always advocated for PIC staff. She wanted everyone to increase his or her education, and there are many stories of Marni driving staff members to enroll in early childhood courses and assisting with the purchasing of books. When teachers completed their degrees, she took pride as if they were her own family members. Marni would be delighted to see that many of the teachers she hired now have degrees in the field, and that even with a significantly larger staff, every single one of our teachers either has a degree or is well along the path to earning one.  
 
Marni advocated early on to raise the salaries of early childhood educators to a level that at least mirrors those who work with school-age children. While Marni would be thrilled that the importance of early childhood education has gained wide recognition, she would remain frustrated by how little of that importance is reflected in the compensation of those dedicated to the field.
 
Marni’s vision helped establish PIC’s direction 38 years ago. My predecessor, Executive Director Cindy Roberts continued the center on that path.
 
Today, my job is to remain true to our core values and keep PIC at the forefront of high quality child care.