A morally grounded civic leader, Sherrie Lookner was a child advocate of the highest caliber. She was a deeply caring woman and, singularly focused on getting things done, she could be impatient and gruff. She spent much of her career in the vitally important but mostly thankless task of managing hundreds of millions of childcare dollars for the State of Massachusetts as Director of Child Care for the Department of Social Services. A brilliant strategist, policy analyst, and tough-as-nails contract negotiator, Sherrie understood the power and potential public investments could have when well managed. She quietly devoted herself to mastering the art of administration and designed systems that became models for states across the nation - systems to help struggling young families, to support foster families, aimed at the prevention of child abuse and neglect, and for young parents needing access to quality, affordable childcare.
She stepped away for a while to work in Washington, DC at the Children’s Defense Fund, and in her spare time helped found a national advocacy organization of child care providers. When she left the bureaucracy, she returned to direct service and helped lead and turn around some of the largest childcare and Head Start programs in Boston, Dayton and Providence. In her later years she continued to lead, serving as president of the Fensgate Cooperative where she lived and starting an organization in Boston to help others who, like herself, lived with the consequences of essential tremors, a neurological disorder that causes involuntary shaking.
Sherrie was a courageous, committed, compassionate woman who helped make this country a better place for children and families and was a generous, remarkable friend to many.
Thank you to Sherrie's friend and colleague, Joyce Butler, for writing this tribute.
To donate to the Sherrie A. Lookner Memorial Fund for Early Care and Education, follow the instructions below. Your contribution will increase the principal amount of this permanently endowed fund. As earnings on the fund accumulate, grants will be made periodically to organizations that support the vision of Sherrie Lookner for accessible, affordable, well-managed early care and education options for families.