Smart Start Celebrates Legislative Victories


The Smart Start coalition hosted a celebration on July 12 in order to recognize the successes in early childhood advocacy this legislative session and acknowledge the immense contributions of three outstanding leaders. Advocates, children, legislators, and community organizers attended the Smart Start celebration, hosted at the Kimball Jenkins Estate, and discussed the strides made in early childhood policy this year, including the passage of full-day kindergarten and funding for childcare scholarships.

Smart Start presented awards to three exceptional individuals who excel in advocating for New Hampshire’s children and families:

  • Judy Tautenhan was presented an award for her critical advocacy as a parent. Judy has been a real role model for advocates, with a commitment to sharing her authentic story with legislators, changing hearts & minds, leading to legislative compromise and making a difference for real New Hampshire families.
  • Jim Doremus of the Concord YMCA earned a Center Director Award. Jim connected Smart Start with YMCAs across the state, engaged community-level organizations with advocacy opportunities, and promoted positive policy for children and families across the state. Jim’s dedication to long-term advocacy for NH kids is inspiring, and he jokingly implored other NH YMCAs to continue to answer his calls, since the successes of this legislative session are only the beginning for Jim & the entire Smart Start community.
  • Lakes Region Child Care and Executive Director Marti Ilg were rewarded for their efforts for New Hampshire's children. Lakes Region Child Care served as a critical partner at the Smart Start table, and their continued advocacy was a tremendous help in ensuring the increased funding for childcare and full-day kindergarten this legislative session. Marti explained that advocacy is part of her job as the director of a childcare organization, saying, “Advocacy is not an after-hours gig. It’s the way we lead the way, the way we walk the walk.”

We at Smart Start know that we need to continue to “walk the walk,” as Marti would say, and continue to advocate for New Hampshire’s children and families. The successes of this legislative session were only the first strides on our path to keeping the Granite State a great place to live, work, and raise a family.