Collaborative for Children said goodbye to devoted advocate Dee Dee Guzman, who is leaving Texas. Over the years, she worked tirelessly to help in our mission to improve the quality of early education.
Her work with Collaborative for Children dates back to the 1990s, when the organization was named “Initiatives with Children.” Guzman is credited with helping create Collaborative for Children’s Early Childhood Education Industry Committee and serving as chair since 2006. The committee aims at helping improve the early education industry, and is made up of education professionals from a number of agencies, including the Houston Independent School District and Head Start. The group helps identify gaps and works to close in early education.
During a surprise reception, Collaborative for Children staff shared their fondest memories of Guzman. “She set an example in her company on what needs to be done for families and for children,” Collaborative for Children President and CEO Carol S. Shattuck said. “She is a passionate advocate for early childhood education.”
Guzman reflected on a specific moment that impacted her desire to advocate for quality early childhood education. While visiting a child care center several years ago, Guzman said she was shocked by the lack of resources available at the center.
“I had never seen a center lacking so much,” Guzman said. “Children were alone, sitting in high chairs, watching TV. There was nothing else. I was shocked there was no caregiver interacting with the children. They just though it was OK. It made me understand what we were fighting for or fighting against.”
Guzman was instrumental in an initiative in 2013 to provide free in-service training to pre-K teachers. She also helped create http://txgulfcoastearlyed.org/, an online resource site for early educators in the Texas Gulf Coast. The site allows child care administrators to address any human resources needs they may have.
Collaborative for Children commended Guzman for her ability to use her professional corporate skills with her passion to fight for early education. “The combination of passion for children and the business world has been so helpful to us,” Collaborative for Children Vice President of Programs & Collaboration Development Sul Ross said.
Guzman said she draws some of her inspiration to help the public from her former position in the workforce. “I do think there’s a corporate social responsibility,” she said. “I think the corporations of the world have a responsibility to raise everyone around them. There is a role for corporations to do good.”
Another source of motivation for Guzman is our own President and CEO, Carol S. Shattuck. “Carol does a really amazing job at pulling together this cause,” Guzman said. “Early education is a very complicated issue. She has perfectly walked that tight rope and has been able to move that complicated ball of issues on a very steep mountain—with very incredible determination. She’s an incredible leader and incredibly smart.”
Guzman is moving to Atlanta, where she will reside with her husband and three teenage boys.