Executive directors receive honors
The Chugiak-Eagle River community knows about the great work done by Seth Kelley and Mark Lackey.
Now the rest of Alaska does, too.
Kelley and Lackey were recently named to the 2012 Alaska Journal of Commerce “Top 40 Under 40” list. They were joined by the 38 other honorees at a luncheon March 8 in Anchorage.
Here’s a look at each man:
Lackey, 38, is the executive director of CCS Early Learning, which has four locations. Chugiak’s branch offers a head start program for children ages 3 to 5 and an early head start program for kids younger than 3.
Lackey said he was flattered to make this year’s list.
“It was a huge honor,” he said. “I was really honored to be associated with all the people [recognized] this year.”
Lackey earned a bachelor’s degree in science education and a master’s in counseling from Western New Mexico University.
Lackey started working for CCS when he and his wife, Rhonda, first moved to Alaska in 1999.
“The mission and the values that they hold are such a great fit with my own,” he said. “It’s a good job for me.”
Lackey said early learning is crucial because of how much brain development occurs in the first five years of a child’s life.
“It’s a critical period in life,” he said.
While progress has been made, the issue still needs more awareness, Lackey said.
“There is so much advocacy that needs to happen for kids before age 5,” he said.
CCS offers essential services for children, Lackey said, but it also assists parents.
“Kids don’t come with an instruction manual,” he quipped. “We’re providing the whole family with services.”
Lackey said he cherishes the fact he earns a living working for CCS Early Learning.
“Coming to a job that you love doing and that you really feel like makes a difference, it can’t be beat,” he said.
Kelley, 35, is the executive director of FOCUS Inc. (Family Outreach Center for Understanding Special Needs). Kelley said the Top 40 honor was a surprise.
“I didn’t think I’d get in,” he said. “It was a big deal.”
The honor was made even better, Kelley said, because it was FOCUS staff that nominated their boss.
“I was really grateful because mainly it was employees at FOCUS that did it,” he said.
Kelley has been the executive director of FOCUS for four years. The best part of his job is the people Kelley works with, he said.
Kelley earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications from St. Bonaventure University in New York. He previously worked as a special education teacher.
Kelley said he enjoys working with the families that FOCUS serves. Though he’s the boss, Kelley said someone in need never has to make more than two phone calls to reach him.
Everyone at FOCUS is on the same level, he said.
“We don’t have a ladder,” Kelley said.
One reason for success at FOCUS is the organization’s openness to new ideas from anyone, Kelley said.
“We really push innovation,” he said.
Kelley and Lackey know one another well. When Kelley joined FOCUS as the first male executive director, he said he turned to Lackey for guidance.
“It was nice to be able to talk to him about stuff,” Kelley said. “He’s a real good guy.”
Editor’s note: The Alaska Journal of Commerce and Chugiak-Eagle River Star are owned by parent company Morris Communications Company LLC.