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Celebrating 20 Years of Johnson & Johnson Head Start Management Fellows Program

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From Conrad Person, Director, Corporate Contributions, Johnson & Johnson

Head Start and Johnson & Johnson both seem at home in a single sentence.  Both names evoke images of children and both organizations have the protection and nurturing of children at the core of their separate heritages.  But where does UCLA Anderson School of Management fit into the picture?  Let’s face it, we usually think of MBA programs as calculating, strategic, and a little cold.

At least that’s where I was mentally when I began my Head Start journey back in 1992.  I had accepted a temporary assignment in Corporate Contributions with the goal of doubling the size of the fledgling Johnson & Johnson Head Start Management Fellows Program at UCLA Anderson.  I understood the children needed teachers, nutritious food, and safe transport but I had not considered that these things entail human resources management, procurement, logistics and well-defined policies and procedures.  I quickly learned that Head Start Programs also serve as advocates for children and families and need strong communications and public relations to ensure adequate funding and community support.

In other words, I learned that running a Head Start program, sometimes serving thousands of America’s most disadvantaged families, is as much a management challenge as it is a social service challenge.  And while most Head Start managers have been educated in fields like education, early childhood development, and social work; they rarely have management training.

This is where UCLA Anderson enters the picture.  Because one key faculty member, Senior Associate Dean Alfred E. Osborne, believed that management education was as relevant in the world of community service as it was in the world of business, over 1400 Head Start managers have received an intensive two week experience at UCLA followed by real world application through a Management Improvement Project.  In this he truly led the field. In fact, the MIP concept has become a hallmark of Johnson & Johnson supported management education.

Head Start administrators attend a course at UCLA Anderson for the 2009 UCLA/Johnson & Johnson Head Start Management Fellows Program.[/caption] Over the past two decades UCLA Anderson has constantly refined and adjusted to meet the needs of today’s Head Start Director.

Perhaps most significantly, the program has created an off shoot effort that helps train parents to be more effective health care providers to their children.  Professor Ariella Herman has touched over 45,000 families through this training and has demonstrated in peer reviewed publications that educating parents can bring better care to children.  Just as important, it brings a sense of empowerment and confidence to parents, many of whom have literacy challenges than make compliance to treatment plans difficult or even impossible.

So, when you think of Management education, know that thanks to UCLA Anderson, it has helped non-profit executives provide more help, more efficiently, to more families for over 20 years.

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