Alverta McKenzie has dedicated her life to helping children and families.  She has become an expert in the field and spent her career mentoring others to succeed in the same field. Alverta has worked in the field of Children and Family services as a teacher and a professional. She has devoted her life’s work to bolstering the field of Children and Family Studies, bettering the foundation of our community and making the world a better place for the next generation.

Early Life and First Career

Alverta is originally from New Haven, Connecticut, where she spent time in the foster care system with her two younger sisters after losing their mother at a young age. When Alverta was in middle school, her family ventured to Flagstaff, Arizona. Eventually, Alverta moved to the Phoenix Metropolitan area where she still lives with her son, grandson, and her two sisters. While in high school, Alverta pursued her interest in nursing by being a part of a program her senior year that prepared students to become Certified Nurses Assistants.

At the start of her nursing career, Alverta worked for different hospitals through a medical personnel pool where CNA’s were assigned to different hospitals when they were short staffed. Alverta attended Phoenix College during the day and then went to her nurses assisting job at night.

Often times Alverta saw the sickest patients at various hospitals. She contracted an illness that left her sick for about a year. When it was time to return to Phoenix College after being ill, Alverta had lost her desire to pursue a career in the medical field. Her advisor suggested she consider a degree in Child Care Administration, now Early Childhood Education.

Finding Her Calling and Furthering Her Education

Once immersed in the child care program, Alverta fell in love with this field. She seemed to be a natural at it. She thinks her ability to work with children came from always caring for her two younger sisters growing up as the eldest child.

Alverta was working in the field as a director of the child care center at HonorHealth when she decided to seek a Bachelor’s degree in business management. She was very well equipped to handle all things children, but at meetings she felt that she lacked management and leadership skills.

Alverta was already extremely knowledgeable about child development but wanted to understand development throughout the lifespan which is why she decided to seek a Masters in Child and Family studies at Prescott College. There, she would attend colloquiums, where all the master’s and doctorate students would present in different disciplines. Here, Alverta would learn a plethora of information from different fields including global environmental and social justice issues that affect children and families.

Live & Learn’s Executive Director Kristin Chatsworth said, “We are so grateful to have someone as passionate, knowledgeable, and caring as Alverta on our Board. She has selflessly devoted her life to empowering families in our community, and she has touched many, many lives.”

Lifelong Advocacy for Children

Currently, Alverta teaches at Phoenix College, as well as serving as the Program Director for Child and Family Studies, and the Chair of Applied Technology Family and Consumer Sciences. In this role, she has been helping Live & Learn women as they pursue careers in early childhood education, advising them, encouraging them, and guiding them.

In addition to her role as professor, Alverta has worked for Family Service Agency where she was a child care specialist. The organization had a network of family child care homes where the specialists would go to a home and help women become certified with training and oversight. In Arizona the majority of young children are currently being cared for by family and friends in unregulated child care.

Alverta has also worked with the Association for Supportive Childcare which is a human service agency in the East Valley that offers programs for children. They provide a host of programs to enhance the care of young children.  One program, Kith and Kin, offers classes about all aspects of high-quality child care.

Alverta has been very collaborative with Southwest Human Development (SWHD), the agency that operates the child care center on campus where a lot of her students are learning. SWHD Headstart received a grant to help a number of women earn the Child Development Associate Credential (CDA) training which led SWHSt to reach out to Live & Learn to support these women and break down the barriers that could keep them from being successful.

Alverta’s Lasting Impact on Live & Learn

From this collaboration with Live & Learn, Alverta partnered with Live & Learn to help women complete their CDA and go on to earn a  two year degree at Phoenix College. Helping women continue their education leaving them better equipped to provide professional child care and better prepared to parent their own children.

Alverta hopes that  Live & Learn continues to grow and flourish. The support the program provides to women improves conditions for the entire family, and it is important that the program grow to reach more women. She knows that Live & Learn’s unique ability to follow each woman along their journey to success is really powerful.

In 2018, Alverta joined the Board of Directors of Live & Learn. She says, “Live & Learn truly has my heart and I hope to do more volunteer work when I retire next year.” 

Author Credit:
Madison Marker
Arizona State University
Live & Learn Intern