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The Cindy Harrington Heart & Mind Award



Past Recipients


The recipient of the 2017 Cindy Harrington Heart & Mind Award is Samantha Adams. She was selected for this award because she demonstrates the same “heart & mind” style leadership that Cindy defined. Opening her TLC Child Care in 2006, she has made a commitment to providing the highest quality of care for the children under her care and does this through a play-based curriculum with many new and exciting adventures for her children. It is her philosophy to provide high-quality service in a safe, nurturing environment. Ensuring her children are exposed to a variety of experiences, she takes the children on trips to the Folk Fest, various theatre performances, The Children’s Dental Health Fair and many other local events or activities, along with the adoption of several goats and a couple sheep.  She is described in her nomination as having the motto – Messy is Magic!

An active advocate for the early care and learning profession, Samantha is a member of AEYC, participant in The Hearts Initiative, Best Beginnings and Strengthening Families and active in her local community.  Samantha is focused on hiring and retaining a qualified staff and strives to help them grow professionally through training and educational opportunities. 

Samantha Adams (middle) with Joy Lyon (left) and thread CEO Stephanie Berglund (right)



The recipient of the 2016 Cindy Harrington Heart & Mind Award is Patty Meritt. She was selected for this award because she has demonstrated throughout her career the same "heart & mind" style leadership that Cindy defined. For more than 40 years, Patty has brought her passion and expertise to the early childhood field—first working directly with young children in several early care & learning programs, including one she co-owned and operated. She later became the Executive Director of the Play N Learn Corporation in Fairbanks, which is now known as Thrivalaska and is part of the thread Statewide Network delivering services to the Northern/Interior region. Eventually Patty started sharing her extensive knowledge with other early care & learning professionals as a professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks where she was hired as full-time faculty and program coordinator in 1997. She was responsible for bringing the UAF Early Childhood Education degree 100% online. And, since starting at UAF, she has been nominated for the Usibelli Teacher of the Year award six times, including this year. She is the co-founder of KIDPAC in Alaska; she is the chair of the Governor's Interim Commission on Children & Youth; she has worked throughout rural Alaska as a CDA rep and has delivered early childhood courses onsite in Barrow, Kotzebue, Nome, Bethel, and Cantwell; she co-authored the textbook Constructive Guidance & Discipline; PLUS she has been the president of her local AEYC affiliate 3 times!!

Patty Merritt



The recipient of the first annual Cindy Harrington Heart & Mind Award is Jennifer Clark. Jen was selected for this award because she displays the same "heart & mind" style leadership that Cindy defined. She has over sixteen years of experience working directly with Alaskan children and families of diverse cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, and seven years of experience leading teachers, caregivers, support staff, and para-professionals in both residential and traditional child care and early learning settings. She is currently the Director at Bright Horizons, where she has been providing outstanding leadership since 2008. 

Jennifer Clark

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