Lynn B. Wirta
Executive Director of Small Faces from 1985-2009.
Lynn joined Small Faces Child Development Center in 1979 after having earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of Maine. The school had been operating as a non-profit for just 4 years at that time and was located in an old church building in Ballard. In 1981, Small Faces moved operations into the Crown Hill Elementary School building.
In 1985, at a time when Small Faces was struggling to remain open, Lynn took on the role of Director. Under her leadership, Small Faces began to thrive and was accredited by NAEYC in 1987.
Lynn was a fierce advocate for child care workers and for the professionalism of the field. Lynn was on the board of directors of the Child Care Directors Association of Greater Seattle (CDAGS) from 1987-2009 supporting their work to create networking opportunities for child care leaders, host supervisor level child care trainings, promote the work of undoing institutionalized racism in our world, and advocate for changes to professionalize the early learning field. In that time, she supported the Worthy Wages movement that was pushing for living wages for child care workers, culminating in the groundbreaking Washington State Wage Ladder for child care workers (sadly unfunded since 2008). Lynn regularly advocated in the state legislature for the needs of children and their teachers. Under Lynn’s leadership, Small Faces was one of 12 centers who unionized under SEIU 925 in 2000.
During her three-decade career at Small Faces the center grew from serving 55 children with 8 employees to a faculty of 30 serving 175 children. In 1998, Small Faces became the master tenant for the Crown Hill Elementary school building, overseeing operations on behalf of Seattle Public Schools. In 2007 Seattle Public Schools decided to sell 5 surplus school buildings including the former Crown Hill Elementary School. Under Lynn’s leadership the community spent tireless hours writing letters, hosting fundraisers, writing grants, and advocating with legislators to secure a permanent home from which the non-profit could continue its long history of supporting the children and families in this community. Small Faces finalized the purchase of the building in 2008, a crowning achievement to a long career.
In 2009 Lynn ended her 30-year career at Small Faces, staying on the board of directors till 2013. Lynn continued to volunteer supporting child care providers in her retirement. In 2016, she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s. Lynn and her husband Sonny moved back to Maine to be near family. On November 13, 2022, Lynn passed away from complications of Parkinson’s and Pneumonia at 70 years old.
The difference she made in the lives of children, families and teachers will be felt for decades to come. Her legacy lives on in Small Faces, the child care center she took from near closure to a thriving, professional child care center operating out of the 103-year-old elementary school building that she so loved.