Elaine Zimmerman testifying at a State of the American Child hearing before a U.S. Senate subcommittee in Washington D.C., June 2010.
As executive director of the Connecticut Commission on Children, Ms. Zimmerman reviews children's policy and reports to the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of state government with recommendations for children's legislation.
She is recognized for her policy acumen and commitment to community capacity. She brings in broad and unexpected stakeholders to child policy discussion and ensures strong media dissemination to advance public information for families. Keenly focused on both civics and public policy, she weaves the two together in her leadership role for Connecticut children.
Ms. Zimmerman consulted with the speaker of the House of Representatives on Connecticut's nationally recognized preschool legislation. She co-designed Connecticut's School Readiness Campaign, which involved business, mayors, parents, the legislature, and early childhood educators. It has become a state model of policy and public education for young children including model state policy; upbeat public education; community capacity building; business leadership and parent leadership. She also served as chief consultant to the Early Reading Success legislation, which created full-day kindergarten, smaller class sizes, after-school programs and summer reading programs, and teacher training in early literacy and language acquisition. She guided legislation that established Connecticut's Blueprint in Reading, which documents and codifies what children need to learn in each grade to meet literacy standards and what teachers need to know and do to ensure these outcomes.
Ms. Zimmerman facilitated the first state legislation in the nation on prevention that creates a Prevention Council, budget, benchmarks and a prevention framework for the state. Author of a report on bullying, she guided the legislature through the passage of the Safe Learning Act, providing dollars for schools to create a whole school culture change on safety. Similarly, she brought focus to a model state policy on children and terrorism with attention to their physical health, mental health, and safety needs. This is the only such state legislation, addressing the needs of children in homeland security.
Ms. Zimmerman created the Parent Leadership Training Institutesm (PLTI) to offer parents the capacity to lead for children. Testing whether change for children is understood and whether these understandings can be taught to families, she created a democracy initiative focused on family civics. This school is now in 14 cities in Connecticut. It has moved nationally and is to be tested in Virginia, Rhode Island, Florida, and Colorado. For this work, she was given the Good Housekeeping Award for Women.
She established a partnership with the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, helping mayors lead on child policy. She serves on the Governor's Early Education Cabinet, the State Poverty and Prevention Council, the Adoption and Foster Care Task Force, Connecticut's Reading Panel, and the Children's Health Foundation. She consulted with the federal government on both Reading First and Early Reading First and served as staff vice-chair to the Children, Families and Health Committee of the National Council of State Legislators, planning policy forums for the states on child and family concerns.
Ms. Zimmerman is a regular on the news programming of WVIT-TV, Channel 30 in West Hartford, leads and moderates forums on family policy, and speaks routinely throughout our cities and towns on what parents and community can do to lead for children. Ardent on the importance of family civics, she trains on parent and youth leadership and the critical role that community must play in children's policy and accountability.
Previous to employment with the Connecticut legislature, Ms. Zimmerman was the director of the California legislature's Committee on the Changing Family. She organized a statewide effort on family policy which issued the first state family policy agenda in the country. This was focused on optimal child development, family self-sufficiency, care-giving and intergenerational policy. Elaine was also senior consultant to California's Human Services Committee.
Ms. Zimmerman is the author of several articles on family and work, child development, parent leadership, and community building. Most recently, she authored a report on Children and Terrorism, which highlights children's needs in this fragile time. She is a published poet, essayist, and political analyst. She resides with her husband and two children in Hamden, Connecticut.
Commission on Children Executive Director Elaine Zimmerman spoke October 20, 2011 at the United Way of Greater Waterbury's annual Tocqueville Society Luncheon about the challenges facing Connecticut's children. Here she gives a brief video interview to the United Way, summarizing her speech.
This page was last updated: July 26, 2012