DC Action Honors District Champions for Children and Youth

Shining Stars in Early Education, Youth Development, Health, and Youth Leadership
Press Release
For Immediate Release: November 3rd, 2021

Contact Info

Tawana Jacobs

(October 26)—  Tonight, DC Action shined a light on five extraordinary Black women who are making a difference in the lives of thousands of District families during its inaugural Fall Reception and Awards Ceremony. By way of the merger of DC Action for Children and DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, DC Action, a newly created entity, honored community leaders on the front lines in early education, youth development, health, and youth leadership. The gathering celebrated the honorees for their advocacy to improve the lives of young people, from cradle to career. Alethea Etinoff of Point of Care Childcare was named Early Educator of the Year (home-based). Barbara Lankster of Kennedy Institute Child Development Center was named Early Educator of the Year (center-based). Samantha McDaniel of the Healthy Babies Project was named Home Visitor of the Year. Destiny Sharpe of SPACEs in Action received the Shooting Star Award for her leadership as a young adult aged 16-24. Audrey Walker of Jubilee Housing was named Youth Champion of the Year.

The honorees were selected from nearly one hundred nominations submitted by their peers, colleagues and neighbors. Each awardee received $2500. Their inspiring personal stories were so moving that standing ovations occurred more than once during the evening.

Thanks to generous support from the DC Association for the Education of Young Children, DC Action was able to acknowledge two superstar early educators–one from home-based child care and another from a larger center. Alethea runs a Ward 8 child care business, fiercely advocates for strengthening early education in the District while coaching other teachers through her company, Point of Care Childcare Staffing, and hosts a podcast called, The Business of Early Childhood EducationBarbara’s 40-year career in early childhood education is legendary. She has reached so many that she trained Audrey, who worked as an early childhood educator early in her career before expanding her reach to include school-age children and older youth.

Samantha grew from being a 19-year-old mom seeking support from the Healthy Babies Project to wearing two hats as a single mom–one as a highly experienced home visitor and another in a full-time property management position. Destiny found her voice as an advocate while taking a Youth Justice class as an 11th grader at a DC public charter school. After college graduation and after interning on Capitol Hill, she is working as an economic justice organizer focused on securing funding for the District’s Birth-to-Three for All DC law to strengthen the child care system.

In addition to the awards ceremony, DC Action announced they recently established the  Diane Bernstein fellowship in Child and Youth Advocacy. Named after one of the five DC Action for Children co-founders who passed away earlier this year, the paid internship provides college students interested in learning about the intersection of racial justice and public policy with a focus on children and youth with a hands-on experiential learning opportunity. Its goal is to inspire more young people to enter the field of public interest advocacy. Each fellow will receive a stipend of $3,000 per semester. The organization selected the inaugural fellow, Gali Laska, a sophomore at The George Washington University pursuing a double major in psychology and sociology and hopes to one day work on behalf of children with special needs.


About DC Action

DC Action is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization making the District of Columbia a place where all kids grow up safe, resilient, powerful and heard. DC Action uses research, data, and a racial equity lens to break down barriers that stand in the way of all kids reaching their full potential. Our collaborative advocacy campaigns bring the power of young people and all residents to raise their voices to create change.