On December 24th, 2020 children, families, and quality child care providers lost a tireless advocate due to complications of the COVID-19 virus. Her name is Kathy Cronemiller. She was my friend and my mentor. She taught me and so many others how to manage a successful high-quality child care business that was good for kids! She also taught us how to be an advocate that would be welcomed at decision making tables both with regulatory agencies and legislators for licensed child care centers in Oklahoma. I want to tell you her story in hopes that you will be inspired as I was to be an advocate like Kathy.

In 1984 Kathy made her first purchase of a child care center in Midwest City, OK. She eventually grew her child care business to include ownership of 6 centers in Oklahoma. As an owner of centers, she was instrumental in bringing other owners and operators together in an effort to support each other and improve the child care system. Her belief that all children, regardless of income, were entitled to affordable high quality child care drove her to partner with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) Child Care Licensing Division to make the changes needed to make this happen. She encouraged me and others to be an active member of the Oklahoma Child Care Association to help promote the changes needed to see her vision come to life. She worked hard to gain the trust and respect of her fellow providers, leaders at OKDHS, and members of the Oklahoma Legislature to promote affordable early childhood training for child care staff, national accreditation for centers, and child care assistance rates that could help sustain high quality centers. She also was a long-time active Board Member of the NCCA and the NECPA for many years. She pulled me into her vision and as a result I was able to be a part of making some of these changes and implementing them in the many centers that I managed for one of the major child care companies. Furthermore, she introduced me as a potential Board Member to NECPA and the NCCA. Both of which I continue to serve on to this day. Her confidence and support of me continues to motivate me today to serve in these roles and in the position of the Director in NCCA.

Kathy’s presence as a child care provider and advocate will be sorely missed. It is my hope to honor her memory by doing what she did for me and that is to motivate more providers and ECE educators to be tireless advocates for our industry. Additionally, in the very near future NCCA will be announcing a scholarship opportunity in her name.

Cindy Lehnhoff
Director of the NCCA
Policy Advisor to the NECPA