“As Chair, I am most proud of helping grow the BRT into an organization with champions from the business community in every part of the state. As an organization, we were able to help effectuate an increase in Nebraska’s public investments in early childhood initiatives by engaging BRT’s members in support of those initiatives.”
On behalf of the members of the Nebraska Early Childhood Business Roundtable (BRT), I want to thank Jim Krieger for his time and service as Chair of the BRT. Jim has been involved with the BRT since its inception and has been instrumental in growing it into what it is today—the leading voice of Nebraska’s business community in support of early childhood care and education opportunities for our state’s youngest children at risk.
I regret not having the opportunity to work with Jim; however, I was recently able to enjoy a cup of coffee and talk with him about his time as Chair and his views on the importance of early childhood.
Looking back, Jim said he gained an early understanding of why providing high-quality early childhood education and developmental opportunities is important. In 1965, his mother, Helen Krieger, was named the Director of Health Services for Head Start within Lincoln Public Schools. Head Start is a national program designed to help kids and their parents break the cycle of poverty. Lincoln was one of the first three cities nationwide to have a Head Start program which is indicative of Nebraska’s long history of emphasizing children, families and education.
Jim remembers tagging along with his mom on her visits to meet with parents participating in Head Start. At these visits, his mom talked with the parents about the difference they could make in their kids’ lives by recognizing appropriate child development milestones and being engaged in the children’s education.
Although Jim has spent his career in business administration and is now the Chief Financial Officer of Gallup, he has direct experience on the business side of developing an early childhood program. At the outset of his career, he was tasked with facilitating the business planning and housing for a child care development program for his then employer. Due in part to Jim’s contributions, the child care facility opened and later went on to receive national recognition for excellence in early childhood education, workplace contribution and developmental results.
In 2010, Pete Festersen asked Jim to join him in establishing a group of business leaders who would become the business voices supporting quality early childhood care and education. Jim liked the idea and wanted to make sure that the group would have statewide membership. He also wanted to communicate the message that early childhood investments are long-term economic and workforce development investments that will pay significant scholastic, social and economic dividends over time.
Since Jim and Pete began the BRT, they have advocated for a number of strategic early childhood policies focused on quality and accountability. The first big accomplishment was the Early Childhood Endowment Fund, more commonly known as Sixpence, which expanded early childhood opportunities statewide using a funding model that incorporates local partnerships to meet local needs of families with infants and toddlers. Another big accomplishment was supporting legislation to establish accountability of public early childhood funding. This legislation created Step Up to Quality, Nebraska’s quality rating and information system for early childhood care in Nebraska. Step Up to Quality also provides opportunities for career development in the early childhood profession.
Pete and Jim have operated the BRT with a focus on the economic and workforce development outcomes that occur from having high-quality, accountable early childhood opportunities. Although we are losing Jim in his capacity as Chair, he has assured me that his passion for early childhood remains and he intends to continue making the business case for our kids. I, for one, know that our state and our children will be better off for it.
Thank you Jim.