Gratitude Stories

Pike Place Market Foundation
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Ilene Stark, Executive Director of Pike Market Child Care and Preschool

  • Ilene Stark
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  • Executive Director of Pike Market Child Care and Preschool

Month of Gratitude, Day 30: Ilene Stark, Executive Director of Pike Market Child Care and Preschool

Today’s gratitude story comes with a bittersweet ending. We are humbled and honored by the impact Ilene Stark has made on the Market family at the Pike Market Child Care and Preschool dating back 35 years. Early next year, she will leave the Market to join her growing family in Portland, OR in a new chapter as grandmother to a newborn baby girl!

Ilene’s impact can be felt in the hearts and minds of thousands of Market families she’s touched over the years. Ilene first started working with us in 1983 as teacher coach from Seattle Central Community College. Six years later, Ilene became Executive Director and led the preschool through a period of growth and redevelopment. She left in 1994 to implement her teachings in the Market as Coordinator of Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program for Snohomish County, bringing free preschool to families in 20 programs.

In 2012 Ilene returned “home” to lead the Market’s preschool once again. “I came back because it was a place where I could truly live my values,” said Ilene. “We are creating a truly diverse community – not only diverse in race, culture and family composition, but also socio-economic diversity. This is so rare and so important in our society. Our families form life-long relationships in this program, and that forever changes our ability to function as a whole, healthy and inclusive community.”

Ilene is extremely proud of the unique combination of child-centered philosophy and equity work that is core to the mission of the Market Preschool.

“Our children, especially children of color, need to be able to go out into this world with emotional sturdiness – that’s the feeling of pride in their race and culture, their family, who they are and who they want to be in this world,” said Ilene.

Ilene has been an incredible gift to the Market community. We’re excited for her next journey in life where she’ll spend ample time with her new granddaughter and continue her advocacy work on behalf of families and children.

With tears welling up in her eyes, Ilene feels deeply about what she has received in return, “One of the greatest gifts I received is these children – watching them grow up is an honor and a joy. I love every single one of them.”

Thank you Ilene, for bringing such kindness and heart to the youngest generation of our Market community!