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Children First Leader and Former Head Start Parent Wins National Award

Children First Vice President of Programs Kathleen Sullivan has received the 2023-2024 Aubrey Puckett Memorial Award from the National Head Start Association.

The annual award “celebrates a Head Start alumna, alumnus, or parent now working for a Head Start or Early Head Start program who demonstrates their passion for serving through advocacy, career growth, and being actively involved in their program, community, or at the state or national level.”

Ms. Sullivan is a former Head Start parent who has worked for Children First for nearly 14 years. She won the Dr. Arvern Moore Memorial Award earlier this year, a regional award that advanced her to the national level as a finalist for the Aubrey Puckett Memorial Award. She was first nominated at the state level by the Florida Head Start Association.

"I am deeply honored to receive the Aubrey Puckett Memorial Award from the National Head Start Association. My journey with Head Start began with my own children, who all benefited from this incredible program. What inspired me to stay involved is the extraordinary dedication of the people who tirelessly advance this crucial work across our nation. I am proud to dedicate my life’s work to a mission that has given so much to me and continues to profoundly impact the lives of children and families," says Ms. Sullivan.

Children First is the exclusive provider of Head Start and Early Head Start services for Sarasota County, Children First, serving nearly 1,100 individuals daily at multiple sites across Sarasota, Venice, and North Port. The agency has been ranked in the top 1% of more than 1,800 programs nationwide and is a four-time designated Head Start Program of Excellence.

About Children First:

Founded in 1961 and ranked in the top 1% out of over 1,800 Head Starts nationwide, Children First strengthens children and families by improving the quality of their lives through a comprehensive approach to development, education, health, and well-being. At multiple sites throughout Sarasota County, Children First offers full-day preschool, infant and toddler care, and nutrition and health care assistance to children ages birth to five years old from low-income families. Through Children First, the children receive the social and cognitive skills needed to enter kindergarten and elementary school on track. For more information, call (941) 953-3877 or go to


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