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June 12, 2001

Universal Pre-School Task Force Holds First Meeting

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today welcomed the members of the Universal Pre-Kindergarten Task Force to the Executive Mansion for their first meeting.

"Today we are beginning an exciting process that will result in a five-year blueprint for achieving the goal of access to quality early education opportunities for three-to-five year olds whose families want them to participate," Mrs. Ryan told the group.

"We know that the extent to which children's social, emotional, intellectual and physical growth is nurtured and encouraged by parents and others during their early years has an enormous impact on their ability to function well in school in later years."

The task force was established by executive order signed by Governor Ryan in April to develop a plan for voluntary universal preschool access in Illinois. It is comprised of 33 members who are active in and knowledgeable about early child development, child welfare and education. They will submit their plan to the Governor and the General Assembly by January 1, 2002.

Establishing the task force was the number one recommendation from the early care and education assembly that was convened last September by First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan as part of the state's Futures for Kids Initiative. The final recommendation report was released today.

Futures for Kids was developed by Governor and Mrs. Ryan as a statewide resource to coordinate programs and policies related to health, safety and education of infants, children and teenagers. Mrs. Ryan serves as Chair of Futures for Kids and also will chair the Task Force on Universal Access to Pre-School.

"With so many parents working today, many young children participate in some type of out-of-home care before entering kindergarten," Mrs. Ryan said. "We must make sure that these often long hours away from home nurture children and promote their healthy development. "This Task Force holds great promise for moving us forward."

A list of Task Force members is attached.


  • First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan, Chair
  • Brenda Arksey, Chinese American Service League
  • Linda Renee Baker, Secretary, Department of Human Services
  • Barbara Bowman, President, Erikson Institute
  • Ann Davis, President, Illinois Education Association
  • George Davis, Director, Rockford Head Start
  • State Representative Monique Davis (D-27th, Chicago)
  • Marvin Edwards, Superintendent, Elgin District 46
  • Jackie Garner, Director, Department of Public Aid
  • Barbara Grace, Southern Illinois University
  • Bev Gully, Dean of Education, St. Xavier University
  • Gordon Johnson
  • Bridget Lamont, Director of Policy, Governor's Office
  • Rose Mary Lipinski, Attorney at Law
  • Dr. Hazel Loucks, Deputy Governor for Education
  • State Senator Lisa Madigan (D-17th, Chicago)
  • Jane Garza-Mancillas, Executive Director, El Hogar del Nino
  • Jess McDonald, Director, Department of Children and Family Services
  • Pam McDonough, Director, Department of Commerce and Community Affairs
  • Glenn "Max" McGee, Superintendent of Education, Illinois State Board of Education
  • Harriet Meyer, President, The Ounce of Prevention Fund
  • John Millner, Chief of Police, Elmhurst
  • State Representative Jerry Mitchell (R-73rd, Sterling)
  • Susie Nall, President, Illinois Assoc. of Early Childhood Teacher Educators
  • Sister Catherine Mary Norris, Executive Director, St. Vincent de Paul Center
  • Virginia Nurmi, Illinois Family Institute
  • Jim Palos, Project Impact
  • George Ranney Jr., President/CEO Metropolis 2020
  • Steve Schnorf, Director, Bureau of the Budget
  • Kathy Selcke, Parent
  • Jerry Stermer, President, Voices for Illinois Children
  • State Senator Frank Watson, (R-55th, Greenville)
  • Maxine Wortham, Early Childhood Director, Peoria Public Schools
  • Martha Zurita, El Valor Children's Center


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