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Early Childhood Education

First 5, LA's Top Early Childhood Funder, Names New Leader

A dark skin-toned young girl writes letters on a whiteboard in the outdoor classroom of a home-based daycare in Hawthorne, California.
First 5 LA funds early childhood programs throughout the county in a variety of areas including dual-language, workforce development, home-visiting and the effort to reduce Black infant and maternal death.
(Mariana Dale
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Karla Pleitéz Howell will be the next executive director of Los Angeles’ largest funder of early childhood programs. First 5 LA’s Board of Commissioners unanimously approved Pleitéz Howell’s appointment at a meeting last week. She starts in January.

Why it matters:  The nonprofit manages and distributes tens of millions of dollars of tobacco tax money for L.A.'s early childhood programs— last year it was $78.9 million. First 5 LA is by far the largest organization of its kind in California and funds everything from Black maternal and child health initiatives to home-visiting programs. Soon-to-be former Executive Director Kim Belshé announced in June thatshe would step down at the end of the year.

Who is Pleitéz Howell? She most recently oversaw the Child Care Development Division in the California Department of Social Services. Pleitéz Howell has also held a senior leadership position at Advancement Project California, now known as Catalyst California.

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Send us your questions: LAist is planning to sit down with Pleitéz Howell for an interview later this year. Send your questions for the new executive director to

Go deeper: Less Money, New Leadership: LA's Largest Funder Of Early Childhood Programs Hits A Crossroads