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Recognizing 100 CEOs & C-level Executives
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Pamela Harris

President & CEO

Mile High Early Learning

Location: Denver, CO

Founded: 1972

Industry: Early Care and Education

It took a pandemic and two years of seven-day work weeks to give Pamela Harris the push to learn to let go. The board of directors at Mile High Early Learning, where Harris is president and CEO, gave Harris a six-month sabbatical.

“After months of planning with my senior leadership team and a mentor friend who agreed to provide support, I did let go,” Harris said. “Initially, I checked my email just out of curiosity (or so I told myself). Then one day I realized that I hadn’t checked it for a while, and when I tried, I was locked out! Surprisingly, I wasn’t bothered. My team had agreed to contact me via text if they needed anything from me. Unsurprisingly, they didn’t need me. Although we discussed ahead of time certain projects and potential issues that may arise during this time, I gave my team the autonomy and authority to make decisions that they believed best fit with our organization’s mission. And so, the greatest risk I took was letting go.”

Mile High Early Learning “ensures children thrive by cultivating every child’s potential, engaging families and championing our early learning workforce,” the organization said. “We provide high-quality early care and education with comprehensive education and health services, comprehensive educational programming for parents and family, friend and neighbor caregivers and a diverse set of professional development programs for early learning professionals.”

Mile High Early Learning celebrated 50 years of operation in 2022. Harris said that there are five pillars that transcend the years and guide the future of the organization: Equity — centering our work with children, families and staff with an equity lens; Innovation — growing new ways to provide our services; Quality — ensuring exemplary services; Family and Community Engagement — working closely and authentically with our partners; and Advocacy — using our voice and position to guide policy and decision-making.

In 2022, the organization was awarded The Succeeds Prize in Early Childhood Education, presented by PNC Bank and Colorado Succeeds, which celebrates education innovators and exemplars across Colorado. Mile High Early Learning was the first early childhood education organization to be recognized with this honor.

Harris attributes the growth and success of Mile High Early Learning to forging partnerships with 12 community early childhood education providers, including Mercy Housing at the Rose on Colfax, an affordable housing project with on-site, affordable early childhood education; Lifespan Local at Westwood Redeemer, a hub for community well-being and lifelong learning; and Mile High United Way, a new center that includes employer-based child care.

“I believe that the growth of early care and education services comes through partnerships. Mile High Early Learning has a deep and rich history of partnering,” Harris said. “I am excited that we have been able to be partners with 12 community early childhood education service providers to reach underserved and under-resourced communities.”

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I think that people are endlessly fascinating. Being part of the Titan 100 has provided me with opportunities to meet and hear about others’ industries, experiences, and motivations. I believe that this access to new and varied perspectives has expanded my way of thinking and approach to my work.

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