Join us Sundays at 4:30pm for new episodes of The Early Link Podcast. Listen live at 99.1 FM in the heart of Portland – or online anywhere at

In our newest episode, host Rafael Otto speaks with colleague, Kali Thorne Ladd, Chief Executive Officer at Children’s Institute. She has an extensive track record of working in early childhood. For one, she is also co-founder and executive director at Kairos PDX, a culturally specific organization dedicated to eliminating educational opportunity and achievement gaps for historically under-served children. As a leader in multiple positions, Thorne Ladd works to transform early learning and healthy development for children and families in Oregon. This has included serving as the chair of the board for Portland Community College, serving on Governor Brown’s Early Learning Council, and serving on the board at the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation based in Portland.

Check out her full bio here.




The episode begins with Thorne Ladd reading a poem by Clinton Smith from his book Counting Descent. She explains the significance of this poem as it relates to her work in education and social justice. She further notes how and why she has devoted her career to the well-being of children, as she believes, “all of us would be better if we paid attention to them and learned from them.” The discussion then pivots to changes made by the Children’s Institute, such as a new mission and vision statement, those specific tenets, and how they contain particular emphasis on “justice” for children. As these policies are implemented, Thorne Ladd gives us an idea of what their ideal outcome, and how there are numerous moving parts to the system of early childhood education that will always need to be addressed.



Rafael Otto, Director of Communications, Children’s Institute

~ Thanks to Children’s Institute, working to ensure that every child in Oregon has the best start in life