Bertram Lawson II Appointed to Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission

Bertram L. Lawson IIBertram L. Lawson II, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine, addresses state legislators and members of the press during a press conference in January 2024, announcing the expansion of the state's Child and Dependent Care tax credit. /Submitted Image

WEST CHESTER, PA — Chester County’s own Bertram L. Lawson II, President and CEO of the YMCA of Greater Brandywine (YGBW), has been appointed to the Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission. The commission is a diverse group of leaders from various sectors across the state, including higher education, healthcare, finance, energy, technology, and others. Their shared goal is to expand access to affordable, high-quality childcare and early learning programs for all Pennsylvanians.

Lawson’s appointment is particularly fitting given the Y’s significant role in early childhood care and education. The YGBW, which comprises nine YMCA and Program Centers in Chester County, is the largest childcare provider in the county. The association offers early learning centers, before and after-school enrichment programs, and summer camps. Collectively, YMCA associations across the state serve over 65,000 children, making the YMCA the largest provider in the Commonwealth.

Lawson is keen to underscore the importance of childcare to the overall economy. “Childcare is often dismissed as an issue affecting only the portion of the population with young children. That’s a big misconception,” Lawson said. “Childcare is the backbone of a thriving economy and matters to children, families, businesses, our economy, and all Pennsylvanians.”

The Pennsylvania Early Learning Investment Commission reports that the ongoing childcare crisis costs the state’s economy $6.65 billion annually in lost earnings, productivity, and revenue.

Lawson brings firsthand experience to the issue. “I’ve experienced the childcare crisis from all sides – as a working parent, as a major employer in the region, and as the leader of the largest childcare provider in Chester County,” Lawson said. “The issue is very real and very pressing. Without access to affordable and quality childcare, parents aren’t able to hold jobs, employers aren’t able to fill roles, and Pennsylvanians aren’t able to thrive.”

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Lawson stood alongside Governor Shapiro, state legislators, and community leaders in support of the expansion of Pennsylvania’s State Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit. He brings 27 years of experience in nonprofit leadership, education, and youth development to the Early Learning Investment Commission. Lawson has devoted 25 years to the YMCA movement and previously served as Chief Operating Officer for Mastery Charter Schools Network.

Nathan Brant, CEO of the Pennsylvania State Alliance of YMCAs, praised Lawson’s appointment. “Bertram’s expertise and leadership will be an asset to the Early Learning Investment Commission,” said Brant. “His passion for youth development is contagious. I can’t think of a better leader to represent YMCAs across the state, all childcare providers in the Commonwealth – and the needs of Pennsylvanians.”

Lawson expressed gratitude for his appointment to the commission. “Education has mattered to me throughout my life. My mother is a retired Head Start teacher and instilled in me the value of a good education at an early age. I’ve devoted my career to building and growing quality youth development programs for children and families – and know firsthand the challenges facing residents of our great state.”

Lawson’s appointment signals a significant step toward addressing the pressing issue of affordable, quality childcare in Pennsylvania. His wealth of experience and commitment to youth development are sure to be invaluable assets to the Early Learning Investment Commission’s mission.

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