Celebrating Paula Gates, 2019 Visions Honoree

Celebrating Paula Gates, 2019 Visions Honoree
Linh M. Sasser, Marketing Coordinator, Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits

The Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits (OKCNP) is honoring seven nonprofit leaders in six categories on December 3, 2019 at Visions: A Celebration of Nonprofit Leaders. Over the next few weeks, we will spotlight the honorees in each category.

Paula Gates, the Inasmuch Special Recognition Award Recipient, has spent most of her career in early childhood services with Sunbeam Family Services (Sunbeam) after receiving her B.S. in Early Childhood at the University of Oklahoma.

“With a background and experience in the for-profit world of early childhood, I learned the value of serving and working with families and young children from a mission-driven perspective that is not always present in other organizations,” said Paula. “To really do this work well, it takes a mind-set of service, rather than profit margins. While I entirely expect and value a balanced budget, the non-profit sector gives us the opportunity to truly utilize all possible resources to support our children and families.”

In 2004, Paula joined Sunbeam as the Director of Early Childhood Services, after owning her how child-care organization in northeast Oklahoma. In 2010, Paula had the opportunity to share her knowledge and learn more about Early Head Start programs across the state of Oklahoma.

In 2015, Paula returned to Sunbeam, where she continues to grow the early childhood program. She served on the committee that developed Educare OKC, helping at risk youths, children ages birth through five-years-old and their families.

Paula’s work with her team has earned Sunbeam three consecutive Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grants totaling $53 million over five years, allowing them to serve 680 children and their families across the Oklahoma City metro area.

“I don’t do this work for recognition, and I cannot imagine anyone would,” said Paula. “It is hard, important work that can take up your energy and thoughts all hours of the day and night. But to be receiving this award feels really good because it is validation—not just to me, but to my entire team—that the extraordinary effort is valued. We see that value in the children’s faces, and the parents’ thank yous, but to know our community sees is something that my team and I didn’t have on our radar. I am humbled and grateful for this recognition of my passion.”

The Inasmuch Special Recognition Award goes to a nonprofit employee who has exhibited excellence throughout the past year. The recipient has demonstrated a dedication to mission above and beyond his or her call to duty, changed the lives of those they serve and shown leadership to peers.

To learn more about the 2019 Visions Awards or to purchase tickets, visit https://www.oklahomacenterfornonprofits.org/connect/visions/.

Read about each of the 2019 Visions Honorees:
Bill Citty, President’s Award
Paula Gates, Inasmuch Special Recognition Award
Christie Luther, Rodney Bivens Innovation Award
David and Jean McLaughlin, Lifetime Achievement Award
Joanna Trimble Smith, Pat Potts Visionary Award
Jean Winfrey, Pat Potts Visionary Award

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