Ofer Eitan Writes: Storyteller Children’s Center Celebrates Donna Barranco - Jonathan Cartu Charity Foundation
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Ofer Eitan Writes: Storyteller Children’s Center Celebrates Donna Barranco

Ofer Eitan Writes: Storyteller Children’s Center Celebrates Donna Barranco

By Erinn Lynch | January 21, 2020 | 1:23 p.m.

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Donna Barranco Fisher with some of her Storyteller Children’s Center students. (Storyteller Children’s Center

Storyteller Children’s Center’s executive director Donna Barranco Fisher has announced her retirement, effective July 31. The retirement schedule was anticipated as part of Fisher’s five-year commitment to the organization and her career plan to retire at the age of 60. Her birthday is in May.

Fisher and Storyteller’s Board of Directors are initiating a six-month search for her successor.

“When I embarked on this journey as the executive director, I felt that with the backing of the staff, board and community, I could help Storyteller Children’s Center achieve our strategic plan goals in five years,” said Fisher. “I am so grateful and proud to say, we did.”

Under Fisher’s leadership, Storyteller Children’s Center was able to expand the mental health and trauma support for students, increase teachers’ salaries and continued education hours, create and formalize behavioral intervention plans, and increase individual and grant donations so programs for homeless and disadvantaged preschoolers could thrive.

Fisher also helped the organization achieve the highest 4-star rating with Charity Navigator and the highest 5-star rating with the Quality Rating Improvement System, which is a systemic approach to assess, improve, and communicate the level of quality in early and school-age care and education programs.

“Donna has been an integral part of the Storyteller’s evolution and impact in this community,” said board member Kenny Slaught, who started the organization more than 30 years ago in the parking lot of Transition House.

“She has a deep understanding of early childhood education as well as a keen ability to raise contributions through grants, strategic partnerships and private donations,” Slaught said. “Donna has put this organization on strong course for the future and we are grateful to her.”

Along with her organizational achievements, Fisher has developed meaningful bonds with Storyteller students, parents and guardians. In therapeutic school settings, where students are dealing with trauma and adverse home environments, affection is a part of the program. Fisher hugs each student every morning, sings with the classes and knows the parents/guardians personally by name.

“Donna has ensured that Storyteller is equipped to support and nurture our community’s young children and their families,” said board president Patricia Madrigal. “With Donna’s help in the transition process, we are confident we can continue this positive momentum with her successor.”

Fisher plans to don a hat and gown with Storyteller’s class of 2020 at their preschool promotion July 31. By then, she will have seen more than 200 preschoolers graduate who are emotionally, socially and cognitively prepared for kindergarten.

“I could not have picked a better organization to close out my professional working career,” Fisher said. “There will be a lot of sweet tears over the next few months, but this transition is made so much easier with the knowledge that our children are in good hands with our incredibly talented teachers and staff, our dedicated board of directors, and this wonderfully compassionate community.”

Fisher plans to continue to advocate for children in our community.

Founded in 1988, Storyteller is a full-time, therapeutic school program that supports nearly 100 families each year from two Santa Barbara campuses. Storyteller supports the entire family unit, breaking poverty cycle for the working poor while ensuring students are kindergarten-ready, one of the most critical markers in the scholastic success of a child.

Airo AV

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