My professional life has been dedicated to providing accounting services to Colorado businesses and in 2002 I became one of the founding partners of the public accounting firm, Anton Collins Mitchell LLP (“ACM”). I have had the opportunity to serve in many capacities to further the progress of education within this profession and had the privilege of co-chairing the CSCPA Foundation's Centennial Scholarship Campaign which successfully raised over $1.0 million for college accounting scholarships. As a past Board Member of the American Institute of Public Accountants (“AICPA”) and the incoming AICPA Vice-Chairman, it is understood that we need continued forward motion in our educational systems to be a successful society. The AICPA has developed a free program to help Americans understand financial literacy through every stage of their life beginning as children (www.360financialliteracy.org). I have also had the pleasure of serving on the Board of Junior Achievement. The organization’s mission is to inspire and prepare young people to embrace free enterprise and succeed in a global economy.
My great-grandfather came to the United States in 1910 from Albania without a formal education. Through diligence and determination he opened a grocery store and a restaurant in Maine. Yet he always emphasized to his children and grandchildren the critical importance of a quality education. He firmly believed that the United States had the best education system in the world and wanted to give his family advantages that he did not have. He instilled in the generations that followed the desire to have a thirst for knowledge and appreciate education as a means for greater success. My mother took his advice to heart and went on to make her own contributions to the success and quality of our school systems by working as a school psychologist.
I am also inspired by my wife who has been a leader in our Parent Teacher Organization and a volunteer in our local elementary school for over ten years. Most recently she has been working in a kindergarten classroom which has allowed me to gain a greater appreciation of the importance that a quality early childhood education plays in the opportunities for kids to develop, grow and be prepared for K–12 and beyond.
There are major gaps in early childhood education in today’s society. Many families do not have the time, knowledge or resources to provide children with quality pre-k care and education. It is imperative that as a society we determine how to close these gaps. There are major shifts happening within our world right now including increased global economic competition, a shifting economic base and changing family dynamics. Establishing policies and deliverable procedures around early childhood education will positively link to later success in school, adult productivity and a more sound future economy. We have to take a holistic approach and improve our entire system including child and family focused programs beginning years before children enter the school system. The years from birth to age eight are critical in shaping the social and cognitive development of our children. While there is a tendency to focus on college graduation rates, without vast improvements to programs during the formative years of our children’s lives, they will not make it to graduation. Making a substantial investment in the early educational years will reduce the need for corrective programs at a later stage. Whereas, waiting to make improvements will lead to more costly programs and less successful results.
I am proud to be a part of EPIC and serve on the Governors Early Childhood Leadership Commission. I am looking forward to opportunities to work with fellow business leaders and advocating for children and investing in our future through improved early childhood care and education. By investing in our youth starting at birth, we will ensure a stable, educated work force enabling Colorado to attract and retain high quality talent and businesses.