Anne Walsh Mitchell

Alumni story
Anne Walsh Mitchell 1973 1975 North Cambridge
Photo of Anne Walsh Mitchell
Anne Walsh Mitchell

VISTA shaped my life and career.

In 1972, I graduated from Wellesley College with an undergraduate degree in astronomy and a minor in education. I graduated during the first wave of the women's movement, passionate about social justice and feminism. So I joined VISTA. My job was working with families (mostly mothers), who were moving into a new low-income housing development, to create a child care center. With the supreme confidence of youth, I figured: how hard can this be – I just graduated from Wellesley College with a degree in astronomy? Wow, did I have a lot to learn…

I was inspired by the mothers and their determination, and by other women in the community who were helping people start child care centers – way before there were any official child care resources and referral agencies. We built a wonderful center, and some of the moms and I took community college courses together to learn how to teach young children. To this day the center we built is still there.

I discovered that I loved being with small children – I'm fascinated by how young children think and explore the world, and how fun and funny they are. My instincts about how to be with children were generally good AND I needed to learn a lot, to expand my knowledge base about the details of how kids learn, what motivates them, how best to set up environments and activities, what curriculum is – as well as all the basics of operating the center – managing money, people, time. I DID have a lot to learn – and it was exhilarating learning it.

For 20 years, I have been the President of Early Childhood Policy Research, an independent consulting firm specializing in evaluation research, policy analysis and planning on child care/early education issues with government, foundations and national nonprofit organizations. I co-founded the Alliance for Early Childhood Finance, a learning community on finance reform and system-building for early care and education. Previously I was Associate Dean of the Research Division at Bank Street College of Education in New York City and directed the first national study of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs.

After VISTA, I went on to direct child care centers in Massachusetts and Vermont. I have conducted national studies of state and local prekindergarten policy and early care and education finance, and written widely on child care and early education policy and practice. For 15 years I have been on the Greenville (NY) Board of Education and I was just re-elected. I served five years on the New York State Professional Standards and Practices Board for Teaching. I have received leadership awards from the New York State Association for the Education of Young Children, the Bank Street College Alumni Association, Scholastic, Inc., National Louis University, the New York State Child Care Coordinating Council and the New York and National Associations for Family Child Care. I am especially proud to be a past President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

My career began in VISTA.

Decade: 1970s