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Expanding Child Care Aware’s Public Policy Leadership

State Capitol of Minnesota at Sunrise

In August, Nikki Graf started a new position as Child Care Aware of Minnesota’s (CCAoMN) Public Policy Specialist. In this role, Nikki supports the CARE Fellows program and will provide help tracking legislation, organizing testimony, and networking with advocates during legislative sessions. Our Communications Director, Diane Benjamin, recently spoke with Nikki about her new role.

Nikki feels that her position supports CCAoMN’s mission as a statewide organization because of public policy’s broad impact on the field – it happens at many levels (local, regional, state) and touches every early educator and program. Nikki says, “The thing that makes me most excited is that I was a CARE Fellow four years ago, and my life drastically changed. Now I get to watch people in the same place that I was and experience the magic. I’m part of their journey and get to see what they do with what they learn.”

Nikki is also excited to be part of conversations about rebuilding the early childhood workforce after the losses caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. How do we bring the workforce back and how do we build a better system? She is also engaged in conversations about equity, and how to ensure that all families have access to quality child care.

Nikki closed the conversation by noting, “There’s a lot of isms in the history of America – sexism, racism – but the “ism” that is least practiced is activism. It’s intimidating to think about changing public policy, but we all have the power to do it. We just have to practice.”