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NEWSMAKERS: Rick Hulefeld, a visionary and dreamer, founded Children Inc. and built it to matter

Staff report

This is part of a series on the NKyTribune’s NEWSMAKER award winners who will be recognized and celebrated at the Community Celebration annual event on Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at RECEPTIONS in Erlanger. The award honors those who have commanded headlines throughout the year and brought positive attention to Northern Kentucky. Tickets are available here.

Rick Hulefeld is a lifelong visionary and a dreamer, always thinking about the next great thing and putting his intellect and energy behind it. The children of our region are better off as a result.

Early on, Hulefeld had an enduring fascination with faraway countries, so as a senior at Xavier High School he chose Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington D.C. as his next stop and earned a bachelor of science degree in International affairs. Plus major concentrations in history, economics, political science, international organizations and more, of course.

For full measure, he spent a summer building a school in Mexico, his junior year at the University of Madrid and some time in Peru as an exchange student.

Along the way, he discovered a love of teaching and the joy of working with diverse students. He worked as a reading specialist for court-ordered juveniles in Kansas City, taught comparative economic systems at Xavier High School and was the director of the social science department at Aquinas College in Nassau, Bahamas, where he created and taught a year-long course on the history and economy of the Bahamas.

Then it was back to school – after four months of hitchhiking through France – at the University of Chicago studying psychology and theology. There he lived at the International House which was home to students from 114 countries and was soon elected president by his fellow residents. His master’s thesis which was a theory of longing for the in nite as experienced in the writings of Soren Kierkegaard.

He taught at an all-boys Catholic high school in Baltimore for two years.

He became Director of Housing for Xavier University and during these four years he earned a second masters, in Adult Education, convinced his wife to marry him, and they had their first child.

Life had become serious so he became director of Cathedral Child Development Center in 1979, joining his wife who was teaching preschool there while working on her masters in Montessori from Xavier.

That job became the driver of a 39-year passion for working with children and the founding of Children Inc.

One early learning center led to another and to conferences on early brain development, employer-sponsored child care, home visitation programs, before and after school programs and more.

Today Children, Inc.’s budget is 60 times larger than in 1979.

Today it partners with over 50 schools to help 9,000 students each year help others as a part of their school curriculum.

Children Inc. has created 19 CDs of original children’s music that is distributed all over the world. It is a major advocate for young children in Kentucky. It develops new curriculum for teachers, helps thousands of high school students develop a post-high school plan in tune with their talents and dreams and helps families be more effective.
Soon Children Inc. will publish a break-through book on building the unique character strengths of each young child.

How did this miracle happen? How did an amazing group of talented people come together to make the lives of children and families better?

His name is Rick Hulefeld.

He is a fellow who dreams no small dreams.

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One Comment

  1. Patricia Richards says:

    Had the privilege of working with Rick Hulefeld over many years in various collaborative partnerships to bring children, parents, caregivers, books, and the importance of reading to families throughout early childhood preschools/daycare centers and after school programs, prior to my retirement from the Kenton County Public Library, at the end of 2014. So happy to see him honored in this way! Well deserved on so many levels! Congratulations, Rick!

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