b Vickie L. Allen MPA - President & CEO of Educational First Steps, Best CEOs of 2021 | IERA Women Leaders
Vickie L. Allen MPA - President & CEO of Educational First Steps Profile

Vickie L. Allen MPA
President & CEO of Educational First Steps

Vickie L. Allen MPA - President & CEO of Educational First Steps, certificate

Leading with Integrity

The qualities that set Vickie Allen apart are that she leads with love, love for her team, board members, partners, clients, and kids. If asked, her team will say that the organizational values are built on giving love and showing the same amount of grace. “I think work environments that deliver exceptional results like ours; lead with the belief that people are your most important asset—and when they are valued, celebrated and appreciated for their contributions they will express the same feelings to our stakeholders,” explains Vickie. “I am brutally honest with myself; a quality that allows me to celebrate my gifts while also being highly aware of my areas of growth. I am confident and humble; driven and values self-care and most importantly I lead with integrity.” Integrity is integral to everything she does.

It is Vickie’s life’s work to inspire and empower women by elevating their voices—women are a powerful force and bring a unique set of skills to the workplace—and if this is harnessed properly, they can drive innovation and productivity that can’t be matched. From her years as a professor at a women’s university to her work now supporting women who own community-based child development centers—Vickie’s message is the same, “Lead fearlessly and take as many people with you as you climb.” I love seeing others grow and evolve into the best version of themselves” Armed with this commitment, Vickie has been leading Educational First Steps (EFS) towards greater heights; a mission that began 30 years ago.

EFS was founded with the idea the children only get one chance at a great childhood; and it is Vickie’s passion to ensure they are equipped with the tools, knowledge, and support from birth to age five; which is the period in their lives when 90% brain development takes place. For children in under-resourced communities, the community must rally around them to ensure they have as many opportunities as others with greater resources. “In our society, there is unlimited talent but not the same access to opportunity—and EFS’s goal is to advance educational equity for children through our Four Steps to Excellence framework.”

Four Steps to Excellence is an evidence-based training, mentoring, and comprehensive resource support system that is provided at no cost to educators, families, and communities, needed to help childcare centers achieve national accreditation. In turn, childcare providers provide the high-quality, high-impact care required to create and support early learning environments. Our program is delivered by EFS coaches who are highly respected leaders with years of experience as teachers, child development directors, and industry experts. The people and framework combined are key drivers to address long standing challenges in the early childhood education system within the population we serve.

According to Vickie, poverty, systemic racism, and a lack of community resources prevent many children from receiving access to high-quality early childhood education. The impact can transform the trajectory of a child’s life socially, emotionally, economically, and intellectually. EFS knows that children that do not receive exposure to high-quality early childhood education can experience vocabulary deficits; in which they potentially recognize only 1/3 to 1/6 of the words necessary to succeed beginning with kindergarten. Such deficits can be insurmountable, and in the later years of the child's education, these deficiencies require remediation that is only partially successful. Low-quality early learning environments leave children with underdeveloped social-emotional skills that further inhibit their ability to be equal and full participants inside the classroom. The subsequent achievement gaps become debilitating and reinforce the social, economic, and political inequalities that plague society over time. The organization is focused on creating long-term impact that will transform current and future generations.

EFS’s long-term goal is to continue serving as many communities as they are invited to do so and finding the right opportunities to grow the number of centers they serve, grow the number of collaborations with other like-minded organizations, and grow their relationships with donors as well as volunteers. IEWL


Educational First Steps


Vickie L. Allen MPA
President & CEO of Educational First Steps


The mission of Educational First Steps (EFS) is to create and support high-quality early learning environments that ignite the minds of children from birth to age five. EFS was established in 1990 to help transform low-performing childcare centers in communities with the greatest need across North Texas into nationally accredited, high-quality early learning environments.

CEOs Special Magazine