Erikson Commencement to honor education leaders

On Monday, May 6, Erikson Institute’s 2019 Commencement ceremony will be held at Chicago’s iconic Field Museum. This year, 85 graduates will receive their master’s degrees in child development, social work, or early childhood education, and three will receive doctoral degrees in child development. During the momentous occasion, Erikson will also award honorary degrees to two individuals whose work has made a significant and positive impact on children, families, and communities.

Joan Lombardi, an author and leading expert on early childhood education and social policy, will receive an honorary degree and deliver the keynote address. Over the past 40 years, she has made significant contributions in the areas of child and family policy as an innovative leader and policy advisor to national and international organizations.

Marjorie Pelino is a Chicago-area civic leader and donor committed to supporting children and families. In 1996, Pelino, along with her three daughters, founded the Pelino Charitable Foundation to provide education, health related and social service grants focused on strengthening children and families, improving quality of life and providing opportunities to the disadvantaged.

“We are honoring two outstanding women this year, each of whom shares Erikson’s mission in different ways,” said Geoffrey Nagle, PhD, President and CEO of Erikson Institute. “No one has been more influential in helping to create policies that support very young children and their families than Joan Lombardi. Across her 40-year career, Joan has been an innovative leader, policy advisor, author and public servant. Her work, and her perspective, encompass the whole child to include family and community influences on child well-being. Marjorie Pelino’s passionate support of scholarships that allow deserving students to access our master’s degrees is critical to the success of our new online master’s in early childhood education. Marjorie’s generosity is truly life changing for many students — and the families they will serve — across the course of their careers.”

Joan Lombardi

Joan Lombardi, PhDLombardi currently directs Early Opportunities LLC, a philanthropic advisement service focused on the development of young children, families, and the communities that support them. In this role, she provides overall advisement to the Buffett Early Childhood Fund and to the Pritzker Children’s Initiative, among others. She is a Visiting Scholar at the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University. She also serves as the Guest Editor of Early Childhood Matters, the journal of the Bernard van Leer Foundation which annually chronicles leadership, innovations, and scaling in early childhood taking place around the world.

Lombardi served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development (2009-2011), as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and External Affairs in the Administration for Children and Families, and as the first Commissioner of the Child Care Bureau among other positions (l993-1998). She is the author of numerous publications including Time to Care: Redesigning Child Care to Promote Education, Support Families and Build Communities, and co-author of Beacon of Hope: The Promise of Early Head Start for America’s Youngest Children.

Marjorie Pelino

Marjorie “Margie” B. PelinoMarjorie “Margie” B. Pelino, along with her late husband William Pelino, and their three daughters, Ann Fazio, Patricia “Patty” Maleczka, and Carol Powers, has always believed in the importance of giving back to the community and to those in need. Born and raised in Chicagoland, she is a long-time supporter of organizations serving families in the Chicago area. Pelino is passionate about the positive impact of early childhood, music and post-secondary education, as well as combatting domestic violence.

At Erikson, The Pelino Family’s philanthropy has provided $2M in scholarship funding. To date, 62 students have been able to receive Erikson degrees through her generosity. Pelino Family scholarships are awarded to students dedicated to working in the field of early childhood education.

To learn more about this year’s commencement ceremony, click here.