After three decades, his leadership continues to improve the lives of children and families.
“I knew that I wanted to go to one of the best graduate schools for early childhood. Everyone said, ‘Erikson.’”
Leon Denton entered the early childhood field thanks to his daughter. Each day, he took her to a Head Start program and built such a strong rapport with the other children that the director offered him a part-time job.
From there, he became a teacher and an Erikson student. At Erikson, Denton got the encouragement he needed to become a thoughtful advocate for Chicago’s children and families. Professors pushed him to become an administrator so he could make a difference in the lives of even more children. They also helped connect him with a job at the Salvation Army.
Nearly 30 years later, Denton remains at the Salvation Army, overseeing a staff of 80 across many child care sites. Under his leadership, the Salvation Army has launched innovative programs, including the first Head Start program in the Chicago Park District, a Head Start program for homeless families, and an on-site Head Start program at the only school in Chicago serving young mothers and pregnant students.
“Even after all these years, I still feel such a reward when I see children’s smiles and work with them and their families,” Denton says. “Even better is to receive a call years later from a former client inviting me to her college graduation or telling me about making the honor roll.”