By: Bob Bryant, Education Director & Mary Ruth Coffey, Executive Director
You definitely want to meet Lisa Penny, Mary Crane’s Director of Partner Sites! Lisa is celebrating her 20th anniversary with Mary Crane in May this year, and Mary Crane and our families are so fortunate she is here!
In May 1999, Lisa worked as a parent volunteer while both of her children attended the Lathrop/North site in West Lakeview. After Lisa’s amazing volunteer work, not to mention her fabulous smile, she was hired as a Teacher Aide and a caregiver for Mary Crane. She continued her education and her excellent experience led her to be promoted over the years to the positions of Teacher Assistant, Lead Teacher, Family Worker and Site Director.
Currently, as Mary Crane’s Director of Partner Sites, Lisa oversees our Head Start Program in nine classrooms at 6 sites. Her team includes two fantastic Family Workers, Denise and Magaly, and an incredibly skilled and compassionate Health Aide, Cynthia.
Lisa experiences and shares so many heartwarming stories of families she has served throughout the years. She recently told us about Farebe Poole, a parent at Mary Crane’s partner site, Little Kids Village. Ms. Poole shared with Lisa, “I am so glad to be in the program. My child is finally receiving the help he needs.” Lisa had recruited this family from the Garfield Park community and enrolled Farebe and her son, Tristan Hays. Working with the Mary Crane Disabilities Coordinator, Lisa was able to facilitate a service pathway for Tristan.
When asked why she has remained with Mary Crane for 20 years, Lisa commented, “I like the many opportunities that are provided for staff. We are a family and we grow great, positive relationships with each other. Those relationships support families because we show confidence and helpful energy, and mostly we show that we are happy to be here and happy to support families. I feel, as do my team, appreciated by our families.”
Lisa continued, “Cynthia, Denise, Magaly and I are well-known by our partners and by partner staff. We are welcomed in schools because we do our best to support communities. My vision for the future of this program is to expand even more and help more communities throughout Chicago. I proudly share the benefits of Mary Crane and Head Start.”
Mary Crane is incredibly grateful to Lisa and hope she stays with us for another 20 years!