Reflections on Transitional Leadership Part I | The Exiting Leader

by Paula Jorde Bloom

August 29, 2014

Today marks an important milestone in my life—my retirement from National Louis University. I came to NLU 30 years ago, lured from a faculty position at Mills College in Northern California with the exciting opportunity to develop and implement a new graduate program in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy. I had been a center director so I knew firsthand the challenges of administration and the need for leadership training in the field. No one else in the country was doing it.

I think of my work at NLU as a unique partnership. From my perspective, it has been the perfect fit for my entrepreneurial spirit and scholarly interests. Shortly after joining the faculty I received a small $600 grant from NAEYC to launch the Early Childhood Professional Development Project and conduct a reliability and validity study of a new organizational climate assessment, the Early Childhood Work Environment Survey (ECWES).

Fast forward 30 years. That small grant-funded Project has morphed into the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership, a vibrant and innovative organization with an expanded mission, an exciting array of initiatives to support the early childhood workforce, and a $5 million annual operating budget.

It’s been an exhilarating and professionally fulfilling ride. I look back with immense pride on the impact the McCormick Center has had in bolstering the confidence and competence of early childhood leaders across the country. And I am excited about the future of the McCormick Center. Sue Offutt and I have worked closely for four years to ensure a smooth, seamless transition. She has assembled an awesome leadership team and professional staff whose dedication and commitment to the field is unsurpassed.


Folks have asked me what I will miss the most in my retirement from NLU. Clearly the camaraderie, laughter, and playful spirit of my colleagues at the McCormick Center is at the top of my list. Today was a classic example of why. This morning I arrived to find some creative additions to my office—a goose sitting on my printer, Slinkys and assorted critters hanging from the ceiling, and a typewriter instead of my computer. Lots of laughter and warm hugs to send me on my way. Yes, I have been so blessed to have been part of such a great place to work.


Paula Jorde Bloom


Read Part II 

4 Responses to “Reflections on Transitional Leadership Part I | The Exiting Leader”

  1. Jean Nathanson says:

    Interesting to read because I am on the cusp of retiring. I have been in the Early Childhood Field for 34 years. I am literally starting my 21st year with The Country Childrens Center, a not-for-profit day care organization and will retire @ the end of June 2015. I rose to the rank of Site Ditrector and am in my 13th year. Preparing to retire is no easy feat. There is a teacher on staff who will take my duties over and we have a year in which this will happen. There comes a time when one knows that one has given all that she can and it’s time for someone else to take over the reigns and take the site to a new level. I am most grateful to have the opportunity to work in this field that I dearly love. For me, working in Early Childhood has been a calling, one that I realized when I was 8 years old. I have most fortunate to have been allowed to work my craft, skill, and pleasure for all these years! I wish you continued success as you retire and will think of you. Your name has been one of the icons in the Field and I think it so interesting that I have this opportunity to wish you well on something I am embarking on too.

  2. Paula Bloom says:

    Hello Jean,
    Congratulations on your impending retirement! You refer to your work in early childhood as a “calling.” I can certainly relate to that even though my entry into the profession was total serendipity. Enjoy these next few months as you savor all the rich memories of your career.

  3. Lyris Clark says:

    Hello, Paula!
    I must say I have looked up to you and your work for a long time now. Your publications have been my “go to” resources for years. I came to Taking Charge of Change just as Sue was arriving and have immensely enjoyed the training, education, resources and networking your programs have provided. My journey as a site director was made better because of the programs you and your team have provided and I am much more competent and confident simply because there was someone who knew what we were missing and what we needed. I look forward to the Leadership Conference every year and can’t wait to see how much further your dream goes because of the people you have entrusted its growth to, especially Sue. Congratulations and best wishes!

  4. Paula Bloom says:

    Hi Lyris,
    I remember you well from Taking Charge of Change. Thank you for your thoughtful comments. It is so gratifying to hear now participants in our training go on to achieve great things. I definitely plan to attend Leadership Connections next year. Hope to see you there.