Taking Early Learning Indiana to the Next Level: An Interview with President & CEO Maureen Weber
Opening Doors and Driving Outcomes for Hoosier Children
Growing up in Connersville, Indiana, in the 1980s gave Maureen Weber a perspective that transformed her future. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, the Fayette County seat served as a hub for the Midwest’s automotive supply chain. The town was also the world’s top producer of dishwashers. At its peak in 1980, the community of Connersville had around 28,000 people and 12,000 manufacturing jobs. But by the end of the decade, computers and automation began replacing people in factories. Maureen’s home town experienced a major decline in high-paying manufacturing jobs. Many in this small town struggled to adapt. Without the depth of education required to succeed in this new environment, the shift was hard. So, from an early age, Maureen had a front row seat to the devastation this had on her community.
“I watched a lot of families, including my own, struggle,” said Maureen. “My parents owned a business supported by the factory employees. I realized at an early age that those who thrived in this changing environment were those with educational opportunities available to them.”
Education became a priority for Maureen. Many people, including her mother, siblings and teachers, provided her with educational opportunities that ultimately opened doors for her academic success. “I have always been surrounded by phenomenal teachers who found ways to challenge me,” says Weber. That academic success landed Maureen in Washington D.C., where she earned a bachelor’s of science from Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and a law degree from Georgetown University Law Center.
The Power of Educational Opportunity
Her personal experience with the power of education is what drew her to the CEO position at Early Learning Indiana.
“We open doors for children,” said Maureen. “At the age of 5 or 6 children can already be disadvantaged in their academic career and beyond. We have the ability to change that.”
During her short tenure leading Indiana’s oldest early care and education organization, Maureen is becoming familiar with the nuances of Indiana’s early learning industry. After one month on the job, she accomplished a lot. She met most of Early Learning Indiana’s 341 employees, spent time getting to know Day Early Learning families, and held meetings with numerous industry partners.
Through these conversations, she is reminded daily of what attracted her to Early Learning Indiana.
“Each encounter reinforces my belief that our mission is critical to our community and state,” said Maureen. “My focus over the next few months is on confirming our organizational strategy to ensure our activities are optimally suited to achieve our mission and take Early Learning Indiana to the next level.”
A Background Built for a Focus on the Future
She will devote the rest of 2018 learning the organization and expanding her understanding of Indiana’s landscape of early care and education. She will relentlessly refocus the organization on those things most important to ensuring the success of Early Learning Indiana’s mission. At the top of the list are driving learning outcomes, ensuring quality programs and continuing to innovate.
Her experiences groomed her well for this undertaking.
“Early Learning Indiana’s activities have grown increasingly diverse and complex as we work to not only set the standard for early care and education through our own centers, but to advocate for the needs of children and families and to enhance the quality of care provided throughout Indiana,” said Maureen. “I’m grateful that my career has afforded me the chance to build skills that will help our organization negotiate this complexity.”
Her background as a lawyer allowed her to break down problems and to make a compelling case for change. Previous roles in government and at IU Health gave her experience in large-scale operations and how underlying processes impact customer experience. At Project Lead The Way, Maureen explored the sustainability of non-profits and how organizations evolve to stay relevant.
Maureen is excited about the future of Early Learning Indiana. She identifies the organization’s core strength: a very talented workforce aligned around Early Learning Indiana’s mission and very committed to achieving the mission. “We all agree on the ‘what,’” said Maureen. “Now we need to work together to determine the ‘how.’” Her own background nurtured Maureen’s passion and appreciation for education. Beyond that, it gave her a strong desire to ensure that all children have access to early care and education. Curious by nature and always results-oriented, Maureen Weber’s leadership is writing the next chapter for Early Learning Indiana. And the future certainly looks bright.