President, First Steps Kent

K. Sujata

Grand Rapids, MI


More than 20 years ago, a coalition of concerned Kent County parents, families, service providers, funders and business leaders gathered to say, “We need to do better for our children.” This effort and vision have grown over the past two decades, and First Steps Kent has led the way in strengthening and coordinating the system of early childhood care and education in Kent County, Michigan. First Steps Kent is a national leader in early childhood system building, particularly after the passage of a publicly supported funding mechanism for programs and initiatives that support young children and their families. In 2018, First Steps Kent led the passage of the state of Michigan’s first millage solely dedicated to early childhood.  


While leading this and other innovations far beyond Kent County, First Steps Kent is committed to creating a community where children are a priority, and a collaborative, integrated early childhood system is in place that ensures all young children and their families can thrive.  


The next President will have the opportunity to lead First Steps Kent with a committed staff of 10 professionals in partnership with a dedicated Board of Commissioners with 20 members. The President will work in partnership with recipients of funding generated through the county millage; First Steps Kent is responsible for the distribution, monitoring and evaluation of the approximately $5.7 million in annual millage revenues. The next leader will step forward as a thought leader, a strong advocate and incubator of new approaches in early childhood development in the county and beyond.


Relationship building with diverse groups of stakeholders to gain support for early childhood development will be a key component of the President’s role. In the near term, they will focus on the renewal of the Ready by Five Early Childhood Millage as well as ensuring sustainability of First Steps Kent. The President will nurture and support a culture that encourages innovation, creativity and strong collaboration both among staff as well as with external partners.


First Steps Kent seeks a systems thinker and collaborative leader, who helps to inspire, and serves as the face of the organization to external partners, legislators, families, donors, and the general public. The President provides executive management of board relations, resource development (including fundraising), advocacy and policy, external collaboration, and community building. The President invests in staff diversity and development, continuing the team-based approach. The next President will think strategically and systemically while focusing on mission, managing the organization, and serving as a champion for early childhood system development in Kent County.


A bachelor’s degree or equivalent work experience is required; expertise in early childhood education is preferred.


This position will be based at First Steps Kent located in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with some flexibility for hybrid work. The salary range for the position is $120,000 – 140,000.


For more information about First Steps Kent, please visit





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