She succeeds Lyn Hankins, who retired from the position earlier this year.
In her previous role, Arey managed media and marketing for the partnership — including its website, social media and publications — and was instrumental in planning the organization's annual fundraiser. Before that, she held a number of positions, including executive director of the Lee County Arts Council, program manager for the Coalition for Families of Lee County and owner-manager of Added Accents, a gift and home accessories boutique.
“We’re extremely excited that Kristy will be directing the Lee County Partnership for Children,” said Dicke Sloop, chair of the partnership’s board of directors. “She's done an exceptional job already helping Lyn move the partnership ahead over the last few years, and she offers a lot of valuable experience with other nonprofits. With her leading the organization, we know there are more great things ahead.”
Though Arey has experience with nonprofits of all kinds, she was attracted to the Lee County Partnership for Children because of its mission, which is to prepare children for success in school. With most children entering school roughly 2,000 days after being born, Arey feels a sense of urgency to provide a solid foundation for success during this significant time in their lives.
“My goal is to help everyone understand why this time is so important, whether they have a child or not,” Arey said. “I know it sounds like a cliche, but children really are the future. And these early years are the critical time to have the biggest impact on their education, health and, ultimately, their economic prosperity.”
To do that, Arey intends to reinforce some of the partnership’s more visible initiatives — things like the Imagination Library that gives free books to children 5 years old and younger. But she also wants to make sure people have access to other less-known offerings like Reach Out and Read, an innovative partnership with Sanford Pediatrics.
Reach Out and Read brings literacy into the medical practice by providing parents with the knowledge and tools needed to make sure their children are ready to learn when they walk into the classroom.
Another priority: increasing the quality of early care and education provided through Smart Start. Lee County Partnership for Children administers child care subsidies, also referred to as scholarships, for local families who qualify for assistance under the statewide program.
“Our goal is to promote high-quality, early care that is focused on the child, works for families and is a fair arrangement for day care providers,” Arey said. "In Lee County, we have 46 child care centers and child care family homes, and most of them are rated four to five stars, which means they’re of the highest quality. We work with these providers to make sure local families are receiving the best care at an affordable cost."
Arey holds a Master of Business Administration from Appalachian State University and received her B.S. in Business Administration, with a concentration in marketing and communications, from Meredith College in Raleigh. She began her new position officially on Nov 1st.
Lee County Partnership for Children builds partnerships and organizes initiatives throughout the community that help young children reach their full potential. Among other projects, the nonprofit offers NC Pre-K to prepare at-risk children for success in school, operates the Lee County Imagination Library that gives free books to children under age 5, and collaborates to operate the Books at a Steal bookstore to support its literacy outreach.