07: Families, Children, and Youth

Though Amy knew from the start that she wanted the foundation to focus heavily on early childhood education, she gave the small staff of her fledgling foundation latitude in choosing which organizations to fund, as well as in putting a name to the whole program.

“I was very intentional about calling it families, children, and youth,” said Lynda Parmely, who became the foundation’s program director for that area of grants. “Amy was fine with that.”

Parmely grew up on Long Island, spent several years living in New Orleans, and had an eclectic, progressive history in nonprofit and advocacy work—including the New York State Martin Luther King Institute, the Long Island Student Coalition, and the Long Island Crisis Center. The connection that ultimately led her to the foundation was an internship at a new entity that grew into Sustainable Long Island, whose mission was to advance economic development, environmental health, and social equity. This organization was a favorite of Amy’s, which she generously supported through her own fund—not through the new foundation. It was housed in the same building as the Long Island Community Foundation, where Sandow worked. One day, Parmely noticed a job posting for a program assistant at LICF and asked Sandow if she could apply. He said yes, she applied, and she landed a part-time job, working mostly with grantees of the Long Island Unitarian Universalist Fund, which LICF administered.

Ultimately, Parmely’s responsibilities at LICF grew into a full-time job, the position she held when she learned about the creation of a new entity. “It was while I was out on maternity leave that Darren called me to see if I wanted to come work for the Hagedorn Foundation,” Parmely said. Not long after her return from maternity leave, she started at the new foundation, at the beginning of 2006.

Her work over the years since then has focused, as she said, on families, children and youth. That includes such major goals as building effective advocacy networks, including a program that trains parents to speak out for their children; pushing for paid family leave, and enhancing the home visits that help promote literacy and develop the parent-child relationship.

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