Marta Rosa Honors Gwen Morgan as Friend and Role Model

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Gwen Morgan Dinner-23The following words were delivered at a memorial service for Gwen Morgan on Saturday, September 19, 2015 by Marta Rosa, Senior Executive Director, Department of Government & External Affairs, and Community Impact/Chief Diversity Officer at Wheelock College.

I am humbled to have the opportunity to share this moment with Peg Sprague and Beth Fredericks and represent the Wheelock College community’s deep respect and admiration for our colleague and friend Gwen Morgan, along with my own. For Wheelock students, faculty, staff and alums Gwen was a friend, a teacher, a role model, and an embodiment of our mission—to improve the lives of children and families.

We are proud of having known and worked with Gwen Morgan, one of the most influential contributors to the development of child care in the United States. Gwen played a vital role in the development of many people in this room and I know I echo sentiments from Wheelock and across the country that we will forever be grateful. I consider Gwen our very own national treasure.

To me and many gathered here today, Gwen was a Heroine: an amazing, feisty advocate, a great mentor and coach, a good colleague and a wonderful friend. An inspirational visionary who just never gave up the fight; she truly believed that every child should have better and that we, the community of adults, had the responsibility to ensure they got better—she wanted every family to have accessible, affordable, quality and holistic early childhood services—and that every practitioner receive excellent professional development and adequate compensation.

I will personally always hold a special place in my heart for Gwen. Like many of you who worked with her, I feel extremely honored and privileged to have had the benefit of a close relationship for over 30 years in various roles and places. She always pushed me to think the unthinkable, to challenge the status quo, to speak up when things felt wrong in my gut, to question—”there is no stupid question” she told me. She taught me how to dissect policy, think systems, and create strategy that was inclusive and gave voice to even divergent views. “You’ve got to think like they do,” she would remind me.

Over the years Wheelock College has lost many integral leaders in many fields. However, our relationship with Gwen Morgan spans almost 5 decades when care and education for young children was first gaining national attention. As one of my Wheelock colleagues shared with me, “she was a key thinker, voice, and actor in creating innovative national and local responses to how children would be cared for and educated outside the home.” She did not shy away from Kith and Kin care. “It’s where the children are that we must be. Some families do not have the luxury of choice; we must make quality available where ever the children and the families are.”

At Wheelock College we were fortunate and blessed to have known her so personally, and children today and in the future to come, are fortunate for the enormous impact she had on ensuring quality services for their young lives.

We miss her in our meetings where she always said, “You know in 19…when we researched that issue…” or in the early days when she would run to her car to get the paper she had written on a particular topic. Her Wheelock national Child Care Seminars and CCR&R gatherings gave birth to so many innovative practices and policies; and for many of us they gave us the opportunity to grow as professionals, to dream big, to explore our own visions, to expand our knowledge and build our leadership. She contributed greatly to many professional careers and encouraged each of us to not take no for an answer-“There is always a way.” She pushed us to think and work strategically toward institutional change. “Well, plan A is our best strategy, but plan B could also work. We just need the right people at the table—and when she was feisty—Remember it’s about relationships-stupid! & laughed.

I had the opportunity to plan many policy and discussion gatherings with Gwen. Her ability to think strategically, to stop just long enough to make sure we were caught up with her thinking and to analyze policies with such ease was admirable.

Gwen Morgan was a force: Always energized in the midst of complex and often overwhelming needs and demands.  Right from the start in the 1970s when child care was hardly in the vocabulary of the early childhood field, Gwen was an inclusive builder and unifier of the child care field through her in depth understanding of the many complex layers that had to be incorporated into positive solutions for the wellbeing of all children, families and society.

We will forever miss Gwen; we will forever admire her strength; we will forever keep her wisdom; and we will forever keep her in our hearts.

Thank You

Marta RosaMarta Rosa oversees Wheelock’s efforts related to the external community, public relations, strategic partnerships, government affairs, and diversity initiatives. She was formerly the college’s Senior Director, Office of Government Relations and Civic Engagement, where she engaged public officials, community leaders, and decision makers on issues of interest to the college and its mission to improve the lives of children and families.