Michelle L. Collins to receive Spirit of Erikson Institute Award

“How much better off society would be if every child had quality child care and could reach their full potential,” is a statement you might not expect to hear from a business and civic leader with degrees from Harvard and Yale. But Michelle L. Collins is not your typical business leader.

When she spoke at a recent Erikson Institute commencement, Collins — president of consulting firm Cambium LLC, long-time Erikson trustee and former board chair — didn’t focus on her accomplishments in finance or her extensive history of civic leadership. Instead, she spoke about her personal experience as an aunt, and how her involvement with Erikson gave her a deeper understanding and appreciation of her how her nephews developed from early childhood into distinct individuals with unique personalities. Collins also affirmed how “absolutely essential it is for all children to have high-quality early experiences to support their development.”

Erikson is the premier early childhood development organization committed to ensuring that all children have equal opportunities to realize their full potential. As a champion of Erikson’s mission, Collins will be honored with the Spirit of Erikson Institute Award at the Shaping Identity luncheon on October 25. The award recognizes superior volunteer accomplishments and resolve that have brought about significant and lasting change for the children, families, and communities Erikson serves.

A life-long Chicagoan, Collins has described how her own identity was shaped by her mother’s work as a teacher of young children, and how her awareness about the importance of early education is “just part of my DNA.”

This reflective point of view has made Collins a powerful leader in Erikson’s strategic efforts to transform the early childhood workforce. “During Michelle’s term as board chair, her vision helped Erikson develop new educational programs and research initiatives that support the critical needs of professionals who are impacting the early childhood field,” said Geoffrey Nagle, Erikson’s president and CEO.

“Early childhood doesn’t seem to get as much value in the world as it should,” Collins said. “When you think about the field, from an organizational or institutional standpoint, we need lots of expertise solving problems. We need people in finance, people in engineering, and people in a variety of different fields to bring those skills together, take what we know about early childhood, and elevate it to a new level.”

Collins clearly sees the role Erikson plays in that elevation. “Erikson’s work is such an important part of a child having a productive life,” Collins said. “Why not give children a good start? Our future depends on it.”

 Erikson Institute’s Shaping Identity Luncheon will be held on Thursday, October 25, 2018 at the Radisson Blu Aqua hotel, 221 N. Columbus Drive, Chicago. For more information, visit: www.erikson.edu/luncheon.