Marian Wright Edelman Transitions from President of the Children’s Defense Fund to new role of President Emerita in the Office of the Founder
Dear colleagues, supporters, partners and friends,
After 45 years as President of the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), I have decided to transition into a new role as President Emerita in the Office of the Founder. I will step away from CDF’s day-to-day responsibilities and will focus all my energies towards building a lasting movement for children to end child poverty and inequality through servant leadership development at key spiritual retreats and convenings at CDF’s Haley Farm and continue to provide a moral compass for CDF.
The mission of CDF has never been more important than it is today during these perilous times for children and for our nation. Though we face unprecedented challenges and threats to the safety and well-being of America’s children, we refuse to go backwards. No matter who holds the reins of political power, CDF will move forward in our mission to Leave No Child Behind® and ensure that every child has a Healthy Start, a Head Start, a Fair Start, a Safe Start and a Moral Start in life and successful passage into adulthood.
I am proud of CDF’s groundbreaking work over the past 45 years and the significant progress we have made for millions of children and families, but there is still much work to be done. I look forward to supporting the Board of Directors in the search for a new President to lead CDF into its next chapter; someone who is committed to taking on the challenges children face today and those that will emerge in the future. I am confident that CDF will not miss a beat during this transition and as the national search commences for a new CDF President. On December 31, 2018, CDF’s Chief of Staff, Max Lesko, will become National Executive Director overseeing CDF’s day-to-day operations and reporting to the Board of Directors.
I am grateful for your support of and partnership with CDF. I hope you will continue to join CDF and me as we provide a strong, independent and unwavering voice for all the children of America who cannot vote, lobby or speak for themselves.
With a positive light looking to the future,
Marian Wright Edelman
“This organization would simply not be, were it not for Marian Wright Edelman, and it would not have created the framework of federal and state laws that now protect children and families had she not led us every day for the last 45 years. All we are and all we do starts with her, and that is a tremendous legacy, but she is not done yet and we, thankfully, are not yet done receiving the benefit of her wisdom and leadership.”
“I have been inspired by Marian Wright Edelman since I first met her in 1969. She has spent her life as a crusading legal activist devoted to children, service and social justice. Watching and working with her is one of the greatest gifts anyone has ever given me. The mission of the Children’s Defense Fund is more important today than ever, and as she transitions to this new role and continues her mission to end childhood poverty in America, I look forward to watching her guide CDF with the same grace, determination and grit that she’s embodied her entire life.”
“Over the last half-century, no one has done more to help the most vulnerable children in America than Marian Wright Edelman. After meeting starving children in the Mississippi Delta in the 1960s, she became the most passionate, strategic and effective advocate for helping poor children and their families in the nation. Her leadership and tenure at the Children’s Defense Fund has created rights and services that have aided millions of families. We owe her an enormous debt.”
“When the history of the past half-century is written, in the section focused on the rights of children, Marian Wright Edelman and the Children’s Defense Fund will be front and center. Marian and the Children’s Defense Fund inspired me and thousands of others across the country and around the world to dedicate our lives to child advocacy and in this new role, she will continue to inspire and to lead the children’s movement.”
“Since the moment I read The Measure of Our Success on my way to college, Marian Wright Edelman has been a guiding light in my life. Her words are powerful but her actions are even more so. I feel extremely honored to have been part of her tireless work on behalf of our nation’s children at the Children’s Defense Fund. Her passion for children’s rights will always burn bright in my heart.”
“I first heard of Marian back in 1960, when she was a student. And people would say, ‘Ask Marian. Get in touch with Marian.’ She emerged as a leader. Brave, courageous, just smart. She wanted to do something not just about civil rights but about children—all children. I don’t know what our country would be like without the Children’s Defense Fund. If Martin Luther King, Jr., could come back and see what Marian Wright Edelman is doing, he’d be very proud.”
“Marian’s work on behalf of our nation’s children will be remembered for decades to come. She has always been a tireless advocate for kids and her determination and persistence helped Congress enact numerous landmark laws to better children’s lives. I am forever grateful for her partnership as we worked together to improve children’s health, protect kids from abuse and increase adoptions. I know Marian’s efforts will continue even as she transitions into a new role.”
“Marian Wright Edelman’s unwavering commitment to our most vulnerable children is, quite simply, without equal. For almost half a century, she has fearlessly led the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) in helping secure health care, early childhood education, and supportive services for countless young people. Not only that, she has been a guiding light through some of our nation’s hardest times, fighting intolerance, inequality and injustice to ensure a bright future for the next generation. Her legacy is felt everywhere, but I am particularly grateful for the 10 CDF Freedom Schools that empowered students in the Second District of Los Angeles County this summer. They reflect an educational model that can be traced back to the Civil Rights Movement, with the important mission of dismantling the cradle-to-prison pipeline. As they say in those Freedom Schools, I have a recognition! I want to recognize my dear friend, Marian, for showing us what it means to be a true advocate, and for inspiring us all to live up to her tremendous example. As CDF embarks on this new chapter, I look forward to working with Marian in her new role as President Emerita.”