25th Anniversary Celebration of CEO Philip Tavill

A girl with a big pink bow in her hair having fun on a seesaw
Two girls solving a puzzle in a classroom

Video Transcript

David Shapiro:

Well, Phil’s best qualities is one he is compassionate. The man has a heart bigger than life. Two, he is intelligent, which enables him to strategize how to accomplish his mission, and in this case, his life’s work is to helping children. Three, he has the persistence and determination to actually make his dream of better lives for a lot of children a reality and he inspires other people to get involved.

Hank Battie:

You start with that infectious smile that he has.

Joan Levenson:

He’s very warm and welcoming.

Ethna Wishnie:

You feel his caring from the very first time you meet him.

Katherine Martucci:

First of all, he’s a really big guy and I think his heart is just as big as he is.

Leslie Jones:

Philip’s best qualities are compassion, optimism, and a great amount of empathy, which is so rare these days.

Frederick Tavill:

He is an individual who feels very strongly about his beliefs and values.

Jeff Jackson:

He’s just full of passion, full of energy, full of vigor, and he just comes across as a very caring, heartfelt individual.

Hank Battie:

I think his integrity is a quality that I admire.

Nola Hietbrink:

He follows through not only with the surrounding people that he works, but with our children and then with the parents, the family unit, you name it. He follows through.

Lacy Ray:

He takes care of business, gets things accomplished, but in a very relaxed manner, and in doing so, he puts those who he’s working with at ease.

Caleb Tavill:

I admire his work ethic, his focus and drive, and his ability also to be laid back and enjoy life as well.

Carol Butera:

He’s smart, he’s dedicated, and he’s a lot of fun. He makes work fun and he makes the mission of children first fun.

Janice Saayman:

He is a very good listener. When you come and talk to him, he gives you his full attention and he listens to everything and he remembers it. Even 20 years later, he will remember a conversation.

Paulette Barnes:

He take your suggestions seriously, and he always doing things with a smile. I love his smile because he have a way of smiling at you, making you feel that you are very important.

Wayne Rollins:

You can’t meet him without instantly wanting to be his friend, and I think that, mixed with his abilities, what he does for Children First is kind of remarkable.

Mitch Leon:

He’s a very loyal, devoted friend and he’s a wonderful dad to his three kids.

Keith Johnson:

He’s genuine, he’s a phenomenal leader and he tells awesome stories.

Janice Saayman:

He can take a little event and make it so wonderful that you go, “Carry on. Tell me more, tell me more.”

Linda Monda:

When he speaks about children first, he really speaks from his heart and I want to go there with him.

Jo Rutstein:

For me, he’s always up. I’ve never seen Philip in 20 years be down. He’s always very, very positive, and if there’s a mission, we’ll figure out how to accomplish it.

Jack Baker:

To me, Philip is playful and he brings that playfulness to his leadership.

Elenor Maxheim:

He’s just fun to be around. He makes you feel good, and he just exudes happiness too.

Speaker 1:

Philip is not known as you may or may not know for formal attire. He diminishes the impact of what you have, wear what you have to look like. It’s more about him coming across as a true human being and you get that from him

Mark Pritchett:

So authentic. He’s the kind of person that is courageous and within himself enough that if you succeed, he’s happy for you and he’ll do anything to make sure that he can help you succeed as well.

Julie Pinkerton:

I admire his kindness.

Stan Rutstein:

He handles himself extraordinarily well and he sets a very high bar and a very high standard and that’s something that we could all follow.

Teri Hansen:

Philip is one of those icons of our community that I know is always there no matter what is needed. You can call him, you can chat with him, he’ll give you his time, his attention and his passion.

Brock Leach:

He’s somebody who you’d say, this isn’t really a job. This is a calling.

Jim Rolfes:

We were having a meeting in Philip’s office. The kids were on recess outside his window and I remember him… I remember hearing the kids, sorry, and I remember him saying, looking up out the window, and he says, “You see that? That’s why I do what I do.”

Keith Monda:

He’s got this enormous heart and his commitment to the cause is unstoppable.

Mr. Wishnie:

We just love him to death. He just directs this organization in a way that we are so proud to be a part of.

Alexandra Jupin:

I wish there were more Philip Tavills in this world. We need them.

Announcer:

Ladies and gentlemen at this time, please welcome to the podium Vice President of Philanthropy and Vice President of Programs, Jessica Rogers and Kathleen Sullivan.

Jessica Rogers:

Hello, darling. Wow. Hi everybody. Welcome everyone. Thank you so much for joining us tonight. I am so glad that we could all be here this evening together in recognition of our CEO Philip Tavill and his 25 years with our amazing agency. It has truly been a banner year celebrating both Philip’s anniversary and our agency’s 60th anniversary simultaneously, and we are so grateful for every one of you joining us along the way. It’s really wonderful to hear how Philip has formed such meaningful connections with so many of you and other members of our community.

I want to take a moment to thank our generous sponsors who have helped make tonight possible. Thank you to Artifact Design, Fontana Consulting, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, Palm Printing, Maggie and Mark Sharfe, the Strong Likable Posse, there may be some friends of Philip in the room; Joyce and Fred Tavill and Williams Parker Attorneys at Law.

If you were to translate 25 years into hours, you would find that Philip has now spent several hundred thousand hours, well over 220,000 hours as the leader of Children First. We promise tonight that we will not take quite that long to celebrate his milestone. We’re going to share some highlights with you, but buckle up. Make sure you eat while the program’s going because we’re going to be showing the program for about an hour tonight.

Kathleen Sullivan:

We’ve just heard from some of you in this room about how you think Philip Tavill truly is. It can be so difficult to sum up a person you care about in just a few words, but several key things seem to stand out. His kindness and caring, his passion and beliefs, his intelligence and leadership, and of course his dedication.

How did Philip become such a strong leader and where does this story begin? Sixty years ago, a group of women had a vision, a safe place for children to spend their day while their parents worked. This place would ensure that children had regular meals and that they could learn skills that they would need for elementary school. Most importantly, it would provide an opportunity for children and families who were struggling to succeed. The Junior League of Sarasota set the foundation for what would become Children First in 1961. It was founded as the Sarasota Day Nursery with a mission to prepare children from low income families for kindergarten.

In 1994, the organization was appointed the exclusive provider of Head Start Services in Sarasota County and Children First expanded rapidly. This growth required a new home base, and in 1995 the first agency-owned site was completed on Orange Avenue and it remains our flagship site today.

Jessica Rogers:

In 1996, a new leader emerged. Philip Tavill was hired as the Executive Director, and under his leadership, the organization continued to grow, including the award of the Early Head Start grant in 1998. This opened our doors to serving infants and toddlers. Seeing a need for more intensive services per parents the Families First Institute was born, launching in 1999 with the Nurturing Dads Initiative. Philip personally helped to kickstart this class, which has graduated now well over 2100 dads since it began, including Philip who has graduated from it twice.

Taking that step further, Philip also became trained as a facilitator and has served as a mentor to dads all across Sarasota County. The following year in 2000, Philip and his Board oversaw the name change of the organization from Sarasota Day Nursery to what we all know today, Children First. Over the years, he has led the growth of our partnerships, expanding our program from five sites in 1996 when he arrived, tripling that number to 15 sites today.

Kathleen Sullivan:

With this brief history of our agency’s 60 years in context with Philips’s time as CEO, you can see he is a force multiplier. Now we’re going to take a deeper look with reflections on his past with our next video. Please turn your attention to the screen as we prepare to take a journey back through time.

Jack Baker:

I think that one of Philip’s greatest accomplishments is the growth of this organization under his leadership over the last 25 years. It has been phenomenal.

Jim Rolfes:

When I was first Board Chair, we decided to merge with Helen R. Payne Day School, and that was a big, big move for this organization. We brought in an organization that was struggling financially.

Hank Battie:

There was a fight, including me fighting not to join because we wanted to keep the identity of Helen R. Payne.

Carol Hallinger:

We ended up voting to join children first. The main thing he did was promise us that our children would have Head Start advantages. He asked four or five of the Board members to join his Board, and we all did, and he followed through on everything that he promised us.

Hank Battie:

Over the years, he made a lot of great physical improvements to the buildings, brought in more teachers, more resources. I think once people saw that happening, everybody got a sense of, “Okay, this is the right thing to do.”

Julie Pinkerton:

In the beginning when I was involved with Children First, we probably served maybe 300 children. Now this organization serves 900 children in 15 different locations throughout Sarasota County, so I am just so impressed with the work that he’s done.

Janice Saayman:

There was tremendous need and he has cut down the waiting list for children tremendously. He has grown us. He has seen that families need more than just what Head Start offers, so he’s brought in new programs to help families.

Mitch Leon:

He’s expanded the services of Children First over the years to include a literacy program that’s in its fifth year. There’s a Nurturing Dads program.

Veronica Brady:

One of the inspirational partnerships that Philip brought to be is the partnership with the Sarasota Housing Authority, creating a site on their property that houses an Infant Unit, a Toddler Unit, and a Head Start class. That’s the kind of thinking that Philip does, and he does it throughout our county.

Mark Pritchett:

He’s developed a wonderful culture at Children’s First, where he’s been recognized and his organization has been recognized as one of the best places to work, and I know how hard that is to attain.

Tom Call:

When I was Board President, we were able to get this organization completely debt-free, which is a huge, huge, huge accomplishment for any organization.

Trevor Harvey:

As the president of the NAACP a few years ago, we recognized Children’s First for our highest educational award because of what they have done in the community and especially serving marginalized and underserved children. Then most recently, we’ve bestowed the President’s Award on Philip, which is the highest award that I give as a President of the organization, not only because of what he’s done here at Children’s First, but what he just means to this community in general.

Stan Rutstein:

He has put his arms out to the community. They have embraced him. The mission has become bigger over the years. For the good of Children First, Phil has brought them national recognition, which I think is very, very special in the community, the size of Sarasota.

David Shapiro:

He has taken what was a very small operation, in my view, a very small organization of very dedicated individuals, and turned it into a top Head Start program in the United States of America. That is an incredible accomplishment.

Keith Johnson:

But being recognized nationally as a top program, again, year in, year out, multiple years running, it’s not a fluke. It’s certainly a testament to his leadership.

Nola Hietbrink:

It’s been a gift. We’ve seen it grow far and above what it was way back then.

Elenor Maxheim:

He never fails, so whatever he dreams, it happens.

Announcer:

Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, please welcome to the stage Trevor Harvey.

Trevor Harvey:

Good evening. I have about 50 pages here, so we’re going to be here all night. No, I promise you we won’t be here that long. My name is Trevor Harvey, and as many have just seen from the video, there have been a number of incredible [inaudible 00:16:34] that Philip has accomplished over the past 25 years with Children’s First. Some of you in this room may not know, but my relationship with Philip goes back all 25 of those years. I can partially take the blame for us being here tonight. In 1996, I was one of five individuals, we were known as the Fab Five Sarasota Day Nursery Hiring and Search Committee doing a national search for our new Executive Director when our paths crossed.

At that time, Philip was doing a tremendous job as a CEO of another nonprofit in our local area, the Loveland Center, and although finding him in our search locally was incredible and rare, hiring him was one of the best moves we have ever made as an agency and a Board. Yes, you can applaud. I can remember thinking to myself, I can remember Ted and Bill Cunningham and Janice, me and Dick Chandler. I can remember us having these conversations and I said, “This guy is good. We will be lucky to keep him three to five years.” Twenty-five years later, here we are celebrating in this room together.

When Children’s First was merging with Helen R. Payne Day Nursery, as many have seen on the video, things were a little rocky. I’ll never forget the situation that the day nursery was going through at that time. Philip did his homework, crossed his T’s, dotted all of his I’s to get to the bottom of whatever the issues were, to make sure that we have a smooth transition. As someone who once attended the day nursery himself, this move was meaningful not just for the Newtown community, but for me and my family personally. Bringing the day nursery under Children’s First umbrella, it is now a part of one of the top Head Start programs in the entire nation out of 1800.

The successful merging of these two historic organizations in our community is just one of the many examples of Philip’s commitment to transforming the lives of others. Whether it’s creating new partnerships or opening new classrooms and taking children off the waiting list, Philip has the tenacity and the perseverance to not only ensure that the job gets done, but that it gets done extraordinarily well. Anyone who spends time with Philip would definitely learn something from him, and I’ve picked up a lot of things over the years. He’s taught me that it’s okay to be your authentic self and still be a well-respected leader. He’s also taught me that to be really successful, you can’t do it on your own. Philip recognizes that teamwork makes Children’s First such an excellent model for the Head Start and childcare communities. He might be steering the ship, but his crew is navigating the difficulty uncharted waters of early childhood education and family services and making sure everyone gets to their destination.

Philip really believes in people. He’s well known, just not in the Sarasota community, but also in the heart of the Newtown community because he’s extremely trusted. Whenever a problem anyone has, they know that they can come to Philip and he will help them to be the best of their abilities. He will sit down, listen, take notes, get to the root of the problem, and work with them to fix the issue. Because of his deep love for Children’s First and this community, I know that the sky is truly the limit for what is yet to be accomplished.

For my time attending Helen R. Payne Day Nursery, I’m probably telling my age now, to serving on the Board of Directors to having many of my own children and even grandchildren, I’m really telling my age now, graduate from Children’s First and being here now with all of you. It’s been an absolute pleasure to take this journey alongside Philip and his amazing legacy. Thank you.

Wayne Rollins:

What animal?

Nola Hietbrink:

He’s a fuzzy, furry little bear. He is.

Jeff Jackson:

Well, I think Philip is a big cuddly, curly-headed teddy bear.

Nola Hietbrink:

A cuddly bear.

Keith Johnson:

Teddy bear, cross between a grizzly bear and a teddy bear. Bigger guy, warm heart though gives the best hugs.

Leslie Jones:

A big brown bear, but not very ferocious.

Nola Hietbrink:

I’m never heard him or seen him growl.

Speaker 2:

The first time I saw him was at a Flip-flops event and he was dressed like a lobster.

Tom Call:

If you remember the Muppets, Fozzie the bear. Oh, just big and huggable, and the hair was kind of the same.

Elenor Maxheim:

He’s like a big teddy bear for starters.

Speaker 3:

Just a marvelous teddy bear.

Katressa Wilson:

Tiger. He looks like a tiger because he’s calm at his moments, but if he needs to get up and roar, he will roar, and he’s going to not back down. He’s going to stand his ground, but he’s sweet and a nurturer at the same time. You have the sweet and saltiness of the tiger.

David Shapiro:

Any and all animal that just nurtures the young, that’s who he is. He cares about the kids.

Trevor Harvey:

A bear, just a big teddy bear.

David Shapiro:

Teddy bear, I mean, he’s a massive man. He loves to hug.

Jack Baker:

I’d go with panda, cuddly, and yet commanding.

Janice Saayman:

Philip loves owls. Look on his desk, he has owls. The owl is wise, and I think that is him.

Veronica Brady:

Ginormous, wonderful teddy bear who’s a wise old owl at the same time. That doesn’t really happen, so I don’t know that I have a great answer for that. He is just Philip.

Announcer:

Please welcome back to the stage, Kathleen and Jessica.

Kathleen Sullivan:

Okay, so just out of curiosity, after watching that video, how many people in this room would describe Philip as a teddy bear? Not surprising. As fellow members of the Children First leadership team, Jessica and I can definitely describe Philip as a teddy bear, but also as a tiger and also as a wise owl, among many others. If there’s one thing we’re learning tonight is that there are many different aspects to Philip that are all used together with tremendous dexterity to make our community a better place.

I have been working at Children First for 11 years and have been serving in my role as the Vice President of Programs and Head Start Director since 2014. Throughout this time, I’ve had a lot of schools of thought when it comes to what makes a great leader and chief among these qualities are exactly what I find in Philip Tavill. I just looked at him and I shouldn’t have because now I’m going to cry. He has a willingness to mentor and guide others to achieving their fullest potential. Advocacy for everyone who needs a voice, regardless-

PART 1 OF 4 ENDS [00:25:04]

Kathleen Sullivan:

Advocacy for everyone who needs a voice regardless of the circumstances at birth or in life. Courage and confidence in the face of challenges and an extraordinary level of selflessness, compassion and intelligence that is demonstrated effortlessly.

Jessica Rogers:

Although I don’t have a decade of experience working alongside Philip, the past four years that I have been working with you at Children First as VP of Philanthropy has taught me so much. Philip, you always see the best in others many times before they see it in themselves. You can envision scenarios that could be and you commit to the work needed to make that future possible. You have a unique ability to help guide others on a path to success that they never could have imagined.

What I think is most important and significant about celebrating you Philip in your 25 years of work at Children First is not necessarily the longevity you’ve achieved in your role, but the quality of care, love, and dedication to serving the people through which our mission impacts every day. These are the secrets to Philip’s success, serving as his key drivers in moving the Children First mission forward, which brings us to the present day.

Howard Berman:

I think the secret to Philip’s success is that he unselfishly cares.

Hank Battle:

When I see him interacting with the children and that big smile, and how the children relate to him I think is very special.

Jack Baker:

The first quote I remember from Philip is “Keep your eyes on the prize.”

Julie Pinkerton:

He is so mission-driven, and through the years on the board, he would always have that laser focus on the mission.

Joe Stephan:

And consequently, this passion sort of comes down and goes through the whole organization and to other activities.

John Giglio:

I mean, the secret of his success I don’t think is that big of a secret when you look at the team that he’s assembled around him.

Jeff Jackson:

But he also has a clear passion for developing leadership. He’s developed an incredible team.

Katressa Wilson:

I have a trusting relationship with him and I feel that if there’s something that I need or guidance, he’s the one that I can go to guide me through it.

Janice Saayman:

And he inspires you to do even better and better every day to learn more and to be able to serve better.

Mike Keebaugh:

He’s respected. He’s respected in the community. He’s respected by our donors. He’s respected by our partners.

Trevor D. Harvey:

There’s an old saying, “We have not because we asked not,” well, that’s not Philip. He’s going to ask. If it’s a need that Children’s First needs to have. He’s going to do whatever he can do. He’s going to bring anybody to the table to get it done.

Linda Monda:

I really admire his sense of mission. I think it comes from his genuine desire to service and to make this world a better place.

Mitch Leon:

And he’s been so creative at attracting donors to this mission because people understand his passion and they see the accomplishments of Children First.

Tom Call:

You don’t feel like he’s twisting your arm, even though you walk away and say, boy, my arm just got twisted and I didn’t even know it.

Caleb Tavill:

Yes, my dad has very strong powers of persuasion and he’s definitely able to phrase things in a way that relates to whoever he is trying to persuade. Get into your head and before you know it, you’re on his side or doing whatever he had an idea to do at that day or time.

David Shapiro:

He gathers people like a pied piper of good deeds that you want to help him, you believe in his mission and he has a way of motivating people from all walks of life.

Dr. Jacque Ray:

It is a diverse family and he has a unique ability to make us all feel wanted and special.

Brock Leach:

People want to work with him. People want to be part of what Children First is trying to do, and he throws open a big wide tent and welcomes everybody in.

Wayne Rollins:

He’s able to do so much but keep that candor and kindness and connection.

Kathy Cook:

He is able to see the big picture, but he also is able to see the details that need to be done. And I think it’s very rare that a person can do both of those things.

Nola Hietbrink:

And he’s always thinking forward, always planning forward for the better.

Stan Rutstein:

He’s just a leader at heart. You can see it, you feel it when you’re in front of him, and that makes him very unique.

Elenor Maxheim:

I have a quote that I think sums up Philip completely, and it’s from John Quincy Adams and it says, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and become more, you are a leader.” And that sums up Philip.

Tom Call:

The combination of qualities that he has are rare. I would say in my lifetime, one of a kind.

Speaker 4:

Ladies and gentlemen at this time, please welcome to the podium Brock Leach.

Brock Leach:

So I just have to do a quick poll here. The first question is, how many people here have worked for one organization for 25 years or more? That’s pretty good. How many people here are CEO of one organization for 25 years? One. Philip. I mean, I’ve just never… In my own experience have never run across this thing before of somebody not, being a CEO of an organization for 25 years.

So Trevor was asked to talk about the past and I’m going to talk kind of the run-up to the present, and I am delighted to do that because as you all know, the present is so great. But the truth is that I’ve worked with Philip more or less continuously for the last 17 years, and I’ve had the privilege of seeing firsthand from many different angles what this guy can do.

As you heard earlier, I and Carol Hallinger and Hank Battle and others got to know Philip because we were on the board of the historic Helen R. Payne Day Nursery, which for those of you who don’t know is a beloved institution since 1938 in Newtown. My church had supported Helen R. Payne for over 50 years, but the regulatory and the funding landscape for early childhood education had gotten a lot tougher, and there were a lot of barriers erected for an organization like Helen R. Payne.

So despite heroic efforts of a lot of people in the community, it was struggling to keep the doors open. I remember my first board meeting there because all the members of the board were asked to reach into their pocketbooks and pull out whatever change they had to keep the thing operating for another month.

So cutting a long story short, merging with Children First made a lot of sense because Children First served families that had many of the same needs and it had better access to funding, but there was one huge obstacle to overcome. Trust. To Newtown residents who’d seen their most beloved institutions shrivel up and disappear or be taken over by people from outside the community. This felt like it could be just one more example.

The reason the merger with Children First happened at all, was that Philip with the support of the board, Jim remembers this well, took a clear-eyed look at the situation. There were challenges and risks involved in merging these two facilities and taking on an insolvent agency. I mean, just think about that. But despite those, Philip chose to make some commitments to keep both locations open, to serve at least as many kids and families, including all the current ones. To employ the current staff. To preserve the Helen R. Payne name and legacy, making it stronger over time.

So ultimately the Helen R. Payne Board decided that they were going to trust those commitments and they approved the merger despite a lot of community history that made trust pretty hard to come by. So as you heard, and you all know, those commitments were honored. Every last one. 17 years later, the Helen R. Payne site serve more kids than ever, serve their families more comprehensively, and they do it in facilities that have been refurbished top to bottom, inside and out.

The proud Helen R. Payne legacy has not only been preserved, but it has been enhanced and built upon these last 17 years. I tell this story, this one story because for me it demonstrates all the qualities of Philip’s extraordinary leadership. They’re the qualities that have made Children First as a whole, the thriving institution it is today. It involves centering mission first and foremost, every single day. I don’t mean mission in an analytical kind of way. I mean mission in a matter of heart and soul kind of way.

It involved confronting problems in opportunities head on with clear eyes and complete transparency. It involved taking some reasonable risks. It involves serious commitments to people, and then over-delivering on those. It involved bringing skeptical people and partners of all kinds under the tent and earning their trust. It involved broadening our reach across the entire Sarasota community. It involved continuity of leadership that is invaluable. All that combined with this continuous improvement mindset that has no end date, except on the day sometime in the future when all of our families are thriving.

Those are exactly the qualities that are on display right now as we work night and day to meet the needs of families, struggling to make it through the pandemic and come out whole. The capacity of this organization to respond creatively to a rapidly changing situation with kids and families front and center, it didn’t just happen in this moment. It was built over 25 years of rising to all kinds of challenges and opportunity.

Now, Philip will be the first to tell you that the Children First we see today is the product of incredibly talented senior leaders, like Kathleen and Jessica and many others across the organization. And our great board and our dedicated family advocates and teachers and the dozens of partner organizations across the community. And that is all made possible by an incredible group of supporters that actually we could not have begun to imagine 17 years ago. And he would be right.

But we all know that the one essential ingredient in making all that happen is the leadership of one Philip Tavill. Philip, I am here to testify from my position in the peanut gallery that this would not have happened to anywhere near the same degree without your unwavering, inspiring, big-hearted, all-inclusive, all in, leadership every day for 25 years.

You have built an institution that has helped transform more lives, in more profound ways, than any other I can imagine. I know I speak for all of us in saying we are just proud to be a part of it. We feel blessed to know you. We love you, and we’re planning on another 25 years, give or take.

Ethna Wishnie:

In another time Philip would’ve been a tree hugger. He hugged everybody.

David Shapiro:

And he’s got a great sense of humor. He has an infectious grin all the time, and you got to wonder a little bit about that.

Nola Hietbrink:

He’s so calm that you wonder what we can do to be like Philip.

Mitch Leon:

Sometimes when we have breakfast or lunch together, people around us will see these two grown men giggling and wondering what in the world is going on?

Speaker 5:

I don’t think I could repeat a couple other things that he said, so no.

Nola Hietbrink:

He’s got a sense of humor that just makes you start to laugh.

Caleb Tavill:

Mostly grown worthy dad jokes, which I’ve been subject to ever since I learned to talk. It would be something like I would say, “Dad, I’m hungry,” and he’d be like, “Hello, hungry. I’m Dad.”

Speaker 6:

He’s very honest whether I want to hear it or not.

But he does it in such a way that you can’t get upset with him, you know?

Leslie Jones:

At our outdoor event, the Flip-flop Luncheon, which is on the beach under a tent and it’s usually 80 degrees or so, and he’s walking around shaking hands, being so gracious, thanking everyone for attending as the perspiration is just coming down his face and down his back and he just laughs it off and he’s just real. So it’s so genuine, which is so nice.

Janice Saayman:

When I first started working here, my very first day, he said, “Do you think you could commit to two years to Children First?” Here it is. I don’t think he meant that he wanted me to stay for 21 years and I have. He hasn’t said too many times, “God, when’s she leaving?”

Joe Stephan:

He does not necessarily want to be very brief.

Speaker 5:

When something can be said in a few words, Philip will say it in many words.

Katherine Martucci:

He does love to talk.

Julie Pinkerton:

There’s no short conversation with Philip.

Jo Rutstein:

When you ask Philip a question, be prepared, you’re going to have a long answer.

Keith Johnson:

The simplest question might be asked of him, and five minutes into the answer, you realize that we’re somehow coming around to the point which ends up being his story.

Katressa Wilson:

I think his captivating storytelling would be the most uniqueness with Philip, the way he starts a story and you’d be like, “Philip, what are you talking about? Where are you going with this?”

Brock Leach:

And usually he gets around to the point where it occurs to him exactly what it is that he wants to say. And he’ll say, “So here’s what I do know.” Everybody recognizes that as, “Okay, here it comes,” and he proceeds to tell you.

Katressa Wilson:

And then by the end you’d be like, “Oh, I got you. That’s where you’re going.” It’s some kind of lesson or some kind of motivation that’s normally in the storytelling.

Jack Baker:

See now I talk as much as Philip. So it’s a hazard when we’re both in a meeting,

Dr. Jacque Ray:

We each talk a lot. Ordinarily what might start out as a 15-minute meeting goes to 45. What might start out as a 30-minute meeting goes to an hour and a half and we laugh about it.

Lacy Ray:

Talk both of them and eat both of them.

Dr. Jacque Ray:

Yeah.

Tom Call:

But I suppose if I had a silky baritone voice like that as well, I would speak a lot also. So I guess that’s really not a bad thing.

Kwame Alexander:

One of the things I think that’s unique about Philip is his voice. He’s like, E.F. Hutton, when he speaks, you shut up and listen.

Jack Baker:

I could listen to him all day.

Nola Hietbrink:

You can tell I love him.

Jack Baker:

Well, Philip, I’d just like you to know… I’m wearing pants.

Speaker 7:

Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait…

Speaker 4:

Welcome back to the stage Jessica and Kathleen.

Jessica Rogers:

Well, as we have seen, there are truly so many unique things about Philip that we’ve all come to know and love. It’s clear that in addition to growing Children First as an agency, he has done a phenomenal job of growing the entire Children First family. That includes each and every one of us in this room tonight.

Kathleen Sullivan:

As members of the Children First Family, you have helped to make a major impact on our community. And as Philip loves to say, and you may have read in your program tonight, “Many hands make light work.” It is truly a team effort to transform the lives of young children and their families, and you help to bear the weight of this incredibly heavy lifting.

Jessica Rogers:

To celebrate 60 years with an organization with the same CEO marking 25 years as its fearless leader is a remarkable feat that few can say they have taken on as successfully as Philip and Children First. A four time nationally rated Head Start program of excellence, one of just two agencies to receive this coveted designation four consecutive times. That’s 14 years of Philip’s 25 years here in being the top 1% of over 1800 programs nationwide.

Kathleen Sullivan:

Philip’s unwavering leadership and devotion to our mission has built a legacy like no other. From our children and families, to our staff, to our board of directors and volunteers, as well as our broader community, his inspiration and commitment reaches far and wide. With so much accomplished, we are all eager to participate with him in what comes next. Let’s take a look back to the screens to hear more about what many of you have had to say about what the future holds for Philip as Children First’s continued leader.

Katherine Martucci:

Under Philip’s continued leadership, I see Children First growing by leaps and bounds. I see the expansion of our programs, the expansion of our facilities, and the expansion of our connection with the children and their families.

Carol Hallinger:

His impact has been very, very positive. I mean, everybody knows him and everybody admires him and respects him. I think that’s… For doing that for 25 years is really quite impressive.

Tom Call:

Really anywhere, being somewhere for 25 years is a tremendous accomplishment. And the way that this organization has grown under his leadership over those 25 years, it is pretty astounding.

Frederick Tavill:

And it is not simply a question of eternal pride in what Philip has achieved and is being celebrated, but it is a more in-depth understanding and being aware of the contribution to guide the development of programs, to have an impact not only on individuals, but on families and communities.

Leslie Jones:

I see Children First going in a direction that’s only up, up, up.

Janice Saayman:

I think it’s going to keep looking for new challenges. He loves the challenge. He loves to problem solve. So I think the more problems there are in the community, the more that challenges him to find ways to improve the lives of others.

Kwame Alexander:

I know he’s very passionate about this community and making a positive lasting impact on this community.

Hank Battle:

Children First is a shining star in the community, and with the collaborations with other organizations that Philip has made throughout the years, I only see it getting stronger and better.

Stan Rutstein:

Philip has brought the nonprofit organizations to a higher level in the community. His professionalism, his ability to execute, and his consistency over many, many years has made Children First a very special environment.

Keith Johnson:

It’s obviously a high bar to hurdle when you’re already, you’re such a great organization and we’ve hit those, but I think the best is yet to come for Children First, and Phil will certainly be leading that.

Lisa Giglio:

For Philip the sky’s the limit. I mean, I think he’s done a fabulous job for 25 years and he can really take this far.

John Giglio:

There’s no limit on where he can take this, and it’s going to be exciting to watch.

Janice Saayman:

He has wonderful way to look outside the box, see way into the future, and like a chess player, be 20 steps ahead.

Lacy Ray:

Whatever he sees as the need, as the priority, he will find a way to go after it and build it into the program and find the people to service those particular program and bring it to Children First.

Linda Monda:

The community would be very lucky if it kept growing Children First, growing and expanding and needing the needs of the community.

Ethna Wishnie:

I hope he stays at least another 25 years and continues this success.

Ted Wishnie:

I promise him I’ll be in the front row celebrating.

Nola Hietbrink:

Oh, of course, he can’t leave. He cannot leave.

Joe Stephan:

But I just cannot think of the organization without Philip at the top. These assumptions are not acceptable.

Wayne Rollins:

Yeah, no. Can we say that again, Philip? You can’t leave. You cannot leave. I don’t think there’s a ceiling to Children First. I think that just helping more and more children, and I think that is what everyone’s driving for here.

Tom Call:

I know that his goal is not to stop until every single kid that needs this program has it, and he’ll get there.

Speaker 4:

And now…

PART 2 OF 4 ENDS [00:50:04]

Speaker 8:

And now ladies and gentlemen, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, your teddy bear, your tiger, your owl. And if you don’t believe the teddy bear, you got to get a hug from this man because they are a bear hug. Please welcome to the stage the man of the hour, your president and CEO of Children First, Philip Tavill.

Philip Tavill:

Thank you. Thank you very much. I’m going to try and be done before dessert hits the tables. So you know that part of the conference where the speaker says, “Stand up and stretch. We’ve got to reinvigorate. We need to.” We’re going to do something a little bit different. But first I want to give you a premise and the premise… Oh, I think we’re breaking from the program. If there’s one person that I would never ignore, ever, it would be my father, Fred Tavill, who’d like to say a few words.

Fred Tavill:

Can you hold it?

Philip Tavill:

I will.

Fred Tavill:

I’m sorry to intrude on the scheduled program. However, I am getting concerned about listening to the praise, the accolades, the compliments that you are paying, various individuals are singling out Philip for recognition for his 25 years of service as the head of Children First. And I am concerned that he’s getting or will get smug and complacent. And as a parent, it is my duty to make sure that he knows his limitations and bounds. I want you to know that as the speakers were making their remarks, I was watching the family, the family sitting around this table and the adjacent table.

Joyce, my wife, the matriarch of the family, on hearing the remarks, smiled, nodded, and applauded at every word of praise and compliment. She was using a very expressive Yiddish word, kvelling, which means infused with pride. I also watched his brothers, Jonathan and Michael, and they were smirking. And they were giving him, in front of me, a thumbs down. And then I overheard what his children were saying. His children, Caleb, Misha, and Lily were saying, “Who the hell are they talking about?” What I want to do is raise a glass, first and foremost, to toast each and every one of you who have gathered here this evening joining in the celebration of Philip’s and 25th anniversary, and for your support, ongoing support, essential support for the worthy course of Children First. And secondly, I want to express on behalf of Joyce and myself, our love and happiness to be able to be here this evening to enjoy with you and our family, this wonderful celebration. Thank you.

Philip Tavill:

Thanks, Pops.

I’d like to point out that about five minutes ago, my father said, “Will you bring the mic down?” There are moments that you might regret in life. And he corrected me on something the other day when I referenced that he’s 96 years old. And that correction was, actually this I think would be the applause line, he said, “I’m two months shy of 97. That’s how you should refer to my age.”

So here’s something we should all remember. Can you hear me? Thank you. Well, if I do another 25 years at Children First I will be three years younger than when my father retired from his work as a physician. So he has set a very high bar. Let’s remember something important. Let’s remember that everybody, everybody is born with potential, but not everybody is born with opportunity. That’s why we’re here. Good evening. That’s where you say good evening back. This is our version of the stretch. This is how I’m going to reenergize you. I will say children and you will say first. So let’s try that. We’re going to practice once because I know it won’t be adequate. I say children, you say…

Audience:

First.

Philip Tavill:

Wow, better than I… Is there any liquor left in the bar? You guys have been… I want to begin by expressing my gratitude to the board of directors for making this evening possible. If you’re currently on the board or if you have served on the board in the past, please stand to be recognized for your invaluable commitment to our children, to our families, and to our mission. I’d in particular like to recognize our immediate past chair, our current chair, and our chair elect. This has been a tough time during this pandemic. Mike Keebaugh, Katherine Martucci, Jackie Ray, you are truly incredible leaders. Thank you. Thank you.

Mike and Katherine have both been classroom volunteers. Unbelievable watching them with the kids. Jackie, by the way, who is our incoming chair, I’m going to give you a word of advice, when she’s coming at you, just say, “Yes.” You’re going to take the tour, so just say yes. You’re going to get involved. Just say yes. And speaking of board of directors who have been classroom volunteers, Lisa Giglio, thank you for your work in the classroom as well. Brock and Trevor, thank you so much for your kind words and for our friendships over so many years. It’s a wonderful thing to have two of my brothers from another mother in the room with us tonight.

So now to begin, I think there’s some PowerPoint stuff. Did they say something about talking for a while? This is chapter one of 39. Actually, next PowerPoint. Just kidding. Let’s launch with blessings. I think it’s a very good place to start. My mother of blessed memory who brought me into this world 59 years ago in Casablanca, Morocco where my father was working as a physician. Also, Fred and Joyce Tavill, my father and stepmother, and Joyce has been like a mother to me for over 40 years. In fact, yesterday she and I went together for a mani-pedi. I love the color, Joyce.

Thank you both so much for all of your love and support. My children, Caleb, Lily… Hey, pay attention. My children, Caleb, Lily, and Misha, I love you more than any words could ever express. My older brothers, Jonathan and Michael, my dad stole my thunder on this by the way, whom I aggravated to no end as a little kid. In fact, until I was eight years old, I thought my name was, get the hell out of here. My younger sisters, Lisa and Jennifer, who I might’ve once or twice said, get the hell out of here too. Let’s just call that a learned behavior.

My nieces, Shoshana and Olivia, who traveled here with their families. My longtime friends, including the strong-like-bull posse, three of whom traveled to be here tonight. Thank you Jordy, Jack, and Matt. And to my chick, Christine Laramie. These are blessings. Next, let’s have a little history lesson. After moving to the United States from Casablanca, I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. All right. I’ve often thought that’s pretty much the response when you get Milwaukee. Unless you’re really into kielbasa and bratwurst and Schlitz beer. I’ve always wondered if to somebody from Morocco, Milwaukee might feel like an exotic location.

I moved here 42 years ago. I came here in 1979. And I attended a school called New Directions High School, the alternative high school for Sarasota County School Boards. And here’s the deal. It might be fair to say, this is my gift of understatement, that I was a square peg who didn’t fit into the round hole. And thankfully New Directions was there and Ms. Louise, who now lives four houses from me, was my teacher there. And she’s the reason that I stuck it out and was able, quite literally, to finish high school. My early career here in Sarasota included working in restaurants and construction. Some of my illustrious jobs in my early career included working. Do you guys know where Five Points Park is downtown? There was a bar and restaurant there called Rockies. And thankfully when they tore it down, all of the stories went with it. And I worked as a laborer at 888 Boulevard Of The Arts.

I would be there at 6:30 in the morning, hauling around cinder block and worked overtime hauling around wet cement. I finally figured out I ought to go to college. And long story short, I finished my formal education at Case Western Reserve University where I received my master’s in social work and my master’s in nonprofit administration. I think I might’ve been built for this work.

25 years ago, in February 1996, the board of directors, as you know then called Sarasota Day Nursery, who he appointed me executive director. Trevor already said it, but if you’re looking for some folks to blame, I think Scott Dunlap might be here tonight. Trevor, blame them. They’re the ones who made the mistake. I’m not sure if any of us might’ve anticipated where we would be now. Here’s what I found when I got here. We began serving children at the age of two. From two years of age to five years of age. Family services were minimal. We were in, again my gift of understatement, a precarious financial position. And at one point our wait list was 450 children, income eligible. As of yesterday morning, we had 11 preschoolers and 80 infants and toddlers. Still too much, but we’ve come a long way.

Here are the few of the many things that have happened over the last 25 years. In June of ’96, we began serving our first six babies. Department of Children and Families called us on a Wednesday. They were closing down a program. And I can’t quite remember the words, but it was something like, “We think you might just be stupid enough to take this on.” That was a Wednesday. We opened on Monday with those six babies who were in DCF’S care. This was a major step for us. And it’s still an area of significant need that we will meet that vision of serving all of them.

We’ve made family strengthening a cornerstone of our mission. You’ve heard about the nurturing dads class. In 1999, when we established that, it was the cornerstone of launching our family’s first institute with classes ranging from English as a second language to career readiness for women to supporting grandparents who are raising grandchildren. Any grandparents in the room who are exhausted when your grandkids leave? Imagine raising them. We’re there to help them. You heard about Brock and thank you Brock. One of our proudest moments was the merger with the Helen R. Payne Day Nursery. A big shout-out to Carol Hallinger, who was president of their board at that time.

Hank Bati and Brock Leach who’ve remained very, very involved. And I can’t remember, American Bandstand and the hits just keep on coming. Our Raise Your Hand campaign in 2015 and 2016 raised $3.8 million for critical behavioral and mental health services in other areas of priority for our children and families. And a big shout-out, thank you Elenor Maxheim and thank you Brock Leach for co-chairing that incredibly successful campaign. I think you might’ve been the only two board members who thought we would actually achieve it. It was awesome. They were incredible.

We launched Children First Forever, our legacy society, which is critical to ensuring our future. I want to thank Al and Norma Cohen who are here tonight because they were leaders and they have been ambassadors. And Al gave us a new target earlier today. My heart stopped for two beats, but we’re going to realize it. You’ve heard about The Program of Excellence. We became a Program of Excellence in 2007. Many hands make light work of heavy lifting. Our board, our staff, our volunteers, our community of supporters, and we’ve maintained that designation for consecutive times.

It’s something that all of us in this community should really be very proud of. And this year we undertook our most ambitious challenge match yet in honor of our 60th anniversary, the Challenge for Changing Lives. And thanks to our Diamond Circle and every single one of you in this room. We raised over $2.3 million to support our children and families. Finally, and most importantly, we have, to put it in the colloquialism, stuck to our knitting, always focusing on our children and our families. And mission, mission, mission. All of that said, did you see that I have spent 66% of my adult life at Children First, rarely acting like an adult. But it’s been 66% of my life chronologically. As the saying goes, the rest is history. End of history lesson.

I don’t know what they were saying about that part where I like to talk. I like the teddy bear and tiger and owl thing a lot better. But here’s a partial list of some of the things that I like. No surprise, I like hanging out with my family and friends. I love the great outdoors and being immersed in nature. Some of you may know I love beekeeping. And periodically I get to blow glass and I love glassblowing. I love The Beatles. And I love seeing the Cirque de Soleil Beatles love production. Where’s that PowerPoint? With Christine Laramie where she took me on a surprise trip for my 25th anniversary. Thank you so much Christine.

And finally, as many of you know, music, music, music, especially live and when it’s in person. Here’s a partial list of what I love about Children First. The visionary women of the Junior League for founding our agency in 1961 and maintaining our incredible partnership. Thank you Leslie Jones, a past board chair, for all you have done for this partnership. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Volunteers, many of you are in this room. You are in, so many ways, the lifeblood of our agency. I know it’s been spoken about, but the Children First Nurturing Dads class. Classes 220 and number 221 will graduate next week. This will result in men who are stronger and more involved dads. It’s an amazing thing.

And a big shout-out to Jim Rolfs, who is also a past board chair who became involved by taking the Nurturing Dads. How’s he doing, Jackie? Pretty good Dad. Fantastic. And thank you. Little did you know that class would get you here tonight. Here’s something else that I love about Children First. Our incredible staff, including Kathleen Sullivan, who’s spoken tonight, our VP of Program. Four of her program directors are here tonight. Melania, Brigette, Wendy, and Meredith. Thank you all so much for what you do.

Jessica Rogers, our VP of Philanthropy and her incredible staff. I want to say thank you to Linda and Evan and Alyssa for helping make this, no actually making this evening happen. Thank you all so much. And if you really want to know what’s going on, don’t even come into my office. Just talk to Janice. Saayman. She has been invaluable. 21 years. She made the mistake last year of telling me she was thinking about retiring. I put a boot on the wheel of her car. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the three of you. Here’s something else I like. Our staff of over 200 strong, including educators, family advocates, cooks, mental health specialists, disability services specialists, our facilities guys who keep it all looking good, and many other passionate and dedicated folks who are driven by one thing and one thing only, mission.

And by the way, 20% of our staff have come from the families we serve. That’s walking the talk, guys.

Our incredible partner agencies, bear with me. It’s a great list. Barancik Foundation, Community Foundation of Sarasota County, Gulf Coast Community Foundation, William G and Marie Selby Foundation, United Way Suncoast, United Way of South Sarasota, the Suncoast Foundation. Thank you Dawn Fisher. I know you are here this evening. Suncoast Charities and thank you Lucy, I know you are here this evening. Program partners. First Presbyterian Church, Catholic Charities, the school board of Sarasota County, and the Sarasota Housing Authority where we opened our 14th and 15th sites over the last couple of years. We appreciate their board. We appreciate you William Russell. Thank you so much.

By the way, I know you noticed that I listed the foundations in alpha order. I love the squeaking of wings outside of my office window. I love the squeals of children who are on the playground having the best time ever. And many of you have heard me say this before, but I love the feel of holding a six-week-old baby, holding her in my arms when it’s her first day at Children First.

Knowing what her potential is. Knowing that her family has entrusted her to us, their most precious asset. That’s one of the things I love about being at Children First. Here’s what I know. It’s been said to me that early childhood education is like the first or the bottom totem on the totem pole upon which the rest of our educational system is built. So when I first heard that, I looked up low man on the totem pole. It didn’t seem to make sense when I thought about that. But here’s what I learned about that position. It’s been misinterpreted. That phrase is used the wrong way. That low totem, it’s the closest to the earth. It’s the one with the most balance to support those above. It has the strength to hold up the rest. This is how we should all visualize and understand the critical importance of high quality early childhood education. And a shout-out to Howard Berman who put that image in my mind. And I love it and I’m glad to share it with you. I know-

PART 3 OF 4 ENDS [01:15:04]

Philip Tavill:

… I love it, and I’m glad to share it with you. I know that we are led and governed by an incredible board of directors, a dedicated group of individuals who bring their time, talent, and wisdom to the mission of Children First. I know that volunteers oftentimes tell me that they feel they get more out of volunteering than what they are giving to the children. Most if not all of you know, I am always direct. Most, if not all of you know that while I am always direct, I am almost always diplomatic in how I do it. Not tonight. Volunteers, you’re flat-out wrong. The love and caring that you give to our children is immeasurable. It is immeasurable. It is that brain growth that you are fostering. It is that character and personality that you are fostering. You are setting them on a lifetime of success. Volunteers, we celebrate you.

I know that 90% of brain growth happens before kindergarten. At birth, the average baby’s brain is about the quarter of the size of an average adult. Incredibly, it doubles in size in that first year. It keeps growing to about 80% by the age of three and 90% nearly fully grown by age five. I know. I know that when we support families with very young children who are so economically vulnerable, they move from coping and sometimes not coping with the toxic stresses of poverty to dreaming of what they can be for their children and for themselves. I know that when we nourish our very youngest, their tummies, their minds, their souls, we set them on a firm path for a lifetime of success. I know that we together have the privilege of doing this incredibly important and rewarding work. Next chapter is fortune telling. It’s not 39.

We’re getting close. I try to avoid fortune telling because, at best, my crystal ball is cloudy if not broken. That said, here are some things that I have absolute clarity on. With the global pandemic, the need for our services is greater now than ever. While we have grown significantly over the last 25 years, there is still much to do. Our current waitlist for infants and toddlers is too large. We must continue to address unmet need. We are maxed out for space at our 15 sites. We must continue to create state-of-the-art best practices environments for our children and families. It is what they deserve. Our children and families struggle with those toxic stressors of poverty. We must continue to provide the behavioral and mental health support that we have taken such a deep dive into. There’s more that we can do for them.

And finally, fortune telling, no matter how we’ve grown, our organizational chart will never change. It’s very simple. In the middle are our children and families and all of us surround them. That’s our success. That’s what we get to do together. Here are some things that others have said that have impacted my life. “Love recognizes no barriers. It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.” I love this. “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” That’s who we are. And finally, “It is easier to build strong children then to repair broken men.” The last thing I want to tell you that was said to me that’s impacted my life is one of the nicest things that has been said to me during my tenure at Children First. I was asked the question what led me to this kind of work?

And my answer included my parents raised me this way. My father set an example in his work. I had formative experiences as a young man working at a wonderful summer camp. And I thought I gave a pretty good answer, and then the gentleman just turned to me and he said, “It’s in your genes.” Thank you, Frank Martucci. It’s one of the nicest thing that was ever said to me. Here’s what I want to leave you with. Do I hear any sighs of relief? Is my ice cream melting? Is the dessert out? This is a fabulous dessert. It’s gone. My daughter ate it. Oh, look at the guilt written on her. Oh, Ruth, are you protecting mine? Thank you. It’s my grandniece, Ruth. She’ll probably eat it too. I believe my path to Children First was a serendipitous one. This is where I’m meant to be.

I have the honor and privilege of serving as a voice for children and families who oftentimes are invisible and don’t have their own voice. I have the honor and privilege of working with an incredible group of people to help empower those children and families. I have the honor and privilege of watching our children become successful and vital members of our community and seeing their families achieve their dreams. We together are critical to the success of the mission of Children First. We together must continue to be advocates for our children and families tirelessly. We must never cease to do so. And we together must stand as one and accept nothing but the best for our children and families. Thank you. And here’s to the next 60 years of Children First.

Speaker 9:

Please welcome back to the stage Vice President of Philanthropy, Jessica Rogers, and our Board Chair Katherine Martucci.

Jessica Rogers:

Okay, so we all know Philip is a very, very tough act to follow, but I’m going to say, Frank, you are so right because it is in his genes. Can everybody please give a round of applause for Mr. Fred Tavill, Philip’s dad. For those of you who just met Mr. Tavill tonight, I think we all see where Philip gets it from very, very clearly. So now that we have had the opportunity to hear from the man of the hour, we have to keep the excitement going.

Katherine Martucci:

Philip, it has been an absolute pleasure being here, celebrating you tonight. As chair of our board, I have enjoyed getting to know you so incredibly well, and it has been an honor serving with you every step of the way. For my term… For my time serving on the board of directors, of which I am currently finishing up my wonderful term as board chair, to the many years of being a supporter and classroom volunteer, I have seen firsthand the life-changing work that happens every day.

I truly feel that it is because of this great work Philip has put in for the past 25 years that we have had the opportunity in 2021 as an agency to have had such a successful 60th-anniversary celebration. And now, Philip, we celebrate you. On behalf of the entire board of directors as well as many past members of the board, we are so proud to share with you that we are contributing a collective gift of $150,000 to name the executive suite at the Dr. Elaine Marieb Early Learning Center in your honor for your steadfast service to our community for the past 25 years. This gift will also help seed our endowment as a tribute to your commitment to the future of Children First. Congratulations on this momentous achievement.

Jessica Rogers:

Congratulations, Philip, and thank you, Katherine. And thank you to our entire board of directors and our past board members who are helping to make this significant recognition possible for Philip. Your honor is truly, truly well deserved. I’m so excited to share as well that many people in the room tonight, as well as those that could not be here, have made gifts in your honor tonight, Philip. So we’re going to present you with a rather dramatic tray of cards that we’ve been waiting for many, many weeks and months to give you in your honor, and it has the names of everybody who’s on there who has contributed in your honor this year a gift to Children First.

Children First has grown so much under your leadership, and we could not think of a better way to mark this momentous occasion for our agency and in your life in leadership for us. I also want to thank each and every one of you again for being here as part of Philip’s legacy to Children First and in our community. When thinking about not only the past 25 years and all the years yet to come, the possibilities for building upon this legacy and our endowment seem truly endless. At Children First, the commitment to those we serve is a commitment for life. For us, and for especially Philip it’s not just about seeing a child through to kindergarten. It’s about what comes next. It’s about their futures and the futures of the children and the families that we serve. How many more lives are yet to be transformed, and what challenges have yet to be overcome?

We hope you’ll join our board and our past board members tonight in helping to seed that future, whether it’s through an outright gift or with a planned gift to our legacy society. You can give every child the opportunity to dream big and achieve their full potential and make a difference in the lives of the families we serve for generations to come. If anyone is here tonight, and I wouldn’t be doing my job as VP of Philanthropy. You know the ask is coming. If anyone here is interested tonight in making a commitment to the future of Children First in our community in honor of Philip by supporting our endowment, please see the gift designation cards on your table, or please come speak with me or a member of my team.

Katherine Martucci:

So this is not where we will say the end. Philip’s story at Children First is not over. It is still being written, and we all have the chance to add a new chapter. So this is where we will say this is just the beginning.

Jessica Rogers:

So before we get to our last video, I want to share a few words from Philip’s daughter, Lillie. Lillie, I’m just putting your past self on the spot here. So these are words that Lillie wrote when she was just a little girl about her dad’s happy job at Children First. So Philip shared this with me several years ago, and it has stuck in my mind. It was clear to him that he kept, and it touched his heart so much that he has kept these words close to his heart every day.

So Lillie’s past self says, “My dad has a happy job because he helps little kids. He gives them a place to be happy in hard lives where the parents have full-time jobs to get money. He has a lot of friends at work. Some employees are his best friends. He can be put under pressure sometimes, but he gets over it. This is my dad’s happy job. Thank you past Lillie. Please turn your attentions to the screens one last time as we celebrate Philip together.

Katherine Martucci:

Philip, I want to wish you all the best warmest congratulations for your outstanding service for the past 25 years and for the next 25 years ahead.

Julie Pinkerton:

Philip, it has been an honor and a pleasure to know you all these years.

David Shapiro:

I admire all your accomplishments, and I’m so proud to be among your so many friends.

Mitch Leon:

Philip, my good buddy. I wish you many more years of success at Children First. You stand for children, and that is part of why we all love you.

Leslie Jones:

Keep up the good work. Use that enthusiasm to raise up the children, raise up your staff. I’m so proud of you.

Kwame Alexander:

Congratulations, Philip, on reaching your 25th anniversary here at Children First. I think that’s an incredible accomplishment, and I’d also like to thank you personally for being my mentor here at Children First. Thank you.

Mitchell Epstein:

Congratulations, Philip. You’re changing the world.

Dawn Epstein:

We love and appreciate you for the magnificent being you are.

Jeff Jackson:

You’re a leader. You’re a passionate caregiver, and your vision for the future is outstanding.

Roxie Jerde:

Wow. You should be so proud, and I hope you take a moment to reflect and have a heart filled with pride for all you’ve accomplished and the lives that you’ve impacted.

Caleb Tavill:

Great job. Congratulations on the 25th anniversary, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you had another 25 years in you for Children First.

Elenor Maxheim:

Thank you, Philip, so much for your 25 years, and I’ve loved being with you through 20 years of it. And look forward to 25 more. So keep up the good work.

Lisa Giglio:

Congratulations, Philip on 25 years.

Mike Keebaugh:

Thank you for your dedication, for your commitment, for your efforts, and for being a friend.

Brock Leach:

Thank you for your friendship these last 17 years. Thank you for what you’ve done for our kids and families. I wish you all the best and what I hope is maybe another 25 years.

Hank Battie:

Continue to love the children, continue to have that same passion and compassion that you have for them, and not only that for their families, and you and Children First are going to go greater and greater and greater things in the community.

Bart Levenson:

The sky is the limit as to what can be accomplished.

Howard Berman:

Been great work that you’ve made real for thousands of kids. On behalf of those who can’t thank you, let me thank you.

Alexandra Jupin:

Bravo.

Jim Rolfes:

We are such a much better organization to have you as our leader for the past 25 years.

Joe Stephan:

Hey, Philip, congratulations on this milestone. You deserve all the credit for where Children First is today.

Paulette Barnes:

Mr. Philip, I just want to thank you for all the help that you’ve done for the years that you have been here. And I just want to say I love you.

Tom Cook:

And Philip, I would like to thank you for the great job that you have done with Children First.

Katressa Wilson:

Philip, every day when you come to Children First, you always hear me say, “It’s a great day at Children First.” Remember that.

Mesha Tavill:

Hey, dad. Happy 25th anniversary. You’ve been working at Children First pretty much the entire time I’ve been alive, so that’s got to count for something. I just wanted to say I love you. I’m proud of you, and I even thought this was important enough to go get a haircut. So I look somewhat presentable. I love you, pops.

Christine Laramee:

[inaudible 01:33:57], when I think of you, admiration comes to my mind. I wish you many more years of hard work and dedication because this is what makes you the best CEO. And this is why I love you.

Mark Pritchett:

I congratulate you on your 25th anniversary, wonderful achievement. And I know the future is bright for you and Children’s First.

Teri A. Hansen:

So thank you for everything you’ve done for our youngest, most vulnerable children, for our community, and for me personally.

Linda Monda:

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Stephanie Hochfelder:

You are an amazing person, and you’ve done an amazing job.

Wayne Rollins:

Philip just wanted to say congratulations. You’re amazing. We love you and don’t ever leave and keep doing this forever. Thanks.

Frederick Tavill:

Keep in mind that your doddering father worked full time for 63 years. So let’s begin with the 25 years. And remember that your next goal is another 25 years. And I’ll let you loose at that point without necessarily having to put in the full 63 years.

Carol Hallinger:

Philip, you know I love you. I’ve always loved you, and I appreciate what you’ve done for me personally and for all the community.

Janice Saayman:

Thank you for believing in me 21 years ago. Thank you for giving me the chance to grow and for all the things that you’ve taught me.

Jack Baker:

I really appreciate your support and your service, my friend.

Tom Cail:

My life is better, and I’m a better person from having known you. And I mean that from the bottom of my heart. I love you, man.

Trevor D. Harvey:

I love you dearly. Words cannot express that enough how Teresa and I feel about you. And we’re looking for the future here with you still at the helm of Children’s First. God bless you. I love you, my brother.

Veronica Brady:

Thank you. Thank you for all you have done, all you are doing and all you will do.

Dr. Jacque Ray:

Happy, happy anniversary. You mean so much to us personally, but certainly as the leader of the Children First family. Thank you for letting us be a part of it too.

Carol Butera:

Philip, we all want to make the world a better place, and every day you are doing that.

Nola Hietbrink:

You’ve been a lifesaver, and we see it over and over again. You’ve given a wonderful life to many.

Ethna Wishnie:

We love you, Philip. And you know what you remind me of? Crazy glue. We both thought that. Why? You are the glue that holds everything together, and we are crazy about you. Happy, happy 25th anniversary.

Jessica Rogers:

Wow. Okay, so we’re reaching the end of our speaking program, and Mr. Fred Tavill kind of stole my thunder earlier. We were going to raise a glass. I’m going to say, let’s all stand up and give Philip a round of applause. Congratulations, Philip. For anyone that would like to continue to share your well wishes to Philip for a personal tribute we’re going to share with him later on, you can see our videographer over there by the holiday tree.

And some of you may have noticed there’s some postcards with Philip looking dapper on your tables. And so you can write Philip a little note on the postcard if you so wish. And then you can put it in your pledge envelope. They fit perfectly. It just worked out so wonderfully. And now we’re going to enjoy some dancing. So we hope you stick around, spend some time with Philip, and fellowship with each other. It’s been so wonderful to see you. Thank you all so much for being here. Happy holidays.

PART 4 OF 4 ENDS [01:38:42]