National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) • Dr Leah Austin, President

BCDI Philadelphia & Vicinity • Lola M Rooney, President

LOLA M ROONEY, PRESIDENT • Philadelphia and Vicinity


Mrs Lola M Rooney, retired from the Greater Philadelphia YMCA on January 4, 2019 after 28 yrs. Having served as the Director of the YMCA Family Child Care Network, Director of ECE & SACC Programs and finally as Senior Director of Child Care Compliance. She came to the YMCA after retiring from the School District of Philadelphia after having taught for 25 yrs.; ending as one of three founding teachers of a phenomenal Alternative Program known as GAMP – Girard Academic Music Program.

She represented her association YMCA and her field on city, regional, state and national forums around Child Care and Early Childhood Education. She was selected by the Y USA as one of 25 individuals across the country to serve in an advisory capacity to help the Y USA to strategize their response to community needs around service to families with Infants and Toddlers and currently remains in this capacity.

 With the State of Pennsylvania she has served on the Advisory Council to the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), helped write the initial Early Learning Standards for Infants and Toddlers for the State of Pennsylvania and locally in Philadelphia, serves on the Mayor’s Advisory Council for Early Childhood Education and the United Way of SEPA ECE Advisory Committee She is responsible for the YMCA of Philadelphia & Vicinity, becoming a key partner with the School District of Philadelphia in its Pre-K initiative, and serves on the School District’s Pre-K Counts Advisory Committee. Additionally has served as a Grant Reviewer of Head Start Grants under the office of Administration of Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) in Washington, D.C.

 She has served as an Afterschool Ambassador for the State of Pennsylvania and spoke at the 2013 21st Century Conference with the theme "Leave the Lights On" for children. In 2017, she was featured by NAEYC in their Early Childhood Publication.

Mrs Rooney is currently serving as the President of BCDI Philadelphia & Vicinity, one of 25 affiliate chapters for NBCDI. She volunteers within her community: Cedar Park Neighbors where she is on the scholarship committee. Mrs Roony is the Chairman of the Trustee Board of the Greater Community Bible Tabernacle Church and also leads the Praise & Worship team. She is a choral member of the 2 time Grammy award winning Rev Ernest Davis Jr's. Wilmington-Chester Mass Choir; the choir recently celebrated 35 years in the music ministry. Mrs Rooney is the proud mother of 4, grandmother of 8, and an Ordained Minister of Greater Community Bible Tabernacle Church.


After conducting a national search, we are pleased that Dr. Austin will join NBCDI on August 2, 2021. She will bring over two decades of experience in education; philanthropy and social justice advocacy; to guide the
implementation of the #50Forward initiative designed to build momentum and chart a course for NBCDI’s next 50 years of impact on the lives of Black children and families.

“The dynamics of life have changed drastically in one year as a result of the pandemic and our Black communities, especially our children, have experienced cumulative trauma, loss of loved ones, hunger, and social isolation from quarantine and virtual learning,” said Board Chairman T. Anthony Waller. “As we support our communities’ recovery, Leah is a heavy-hitter in education and policy, who will lead the fight to change outdated systems that perpetuate disadvantages.”

No stranger to NBCDI, Leah served as an intern under NBCDI’s founder Ms. Evelyn Moore, and as one of its Policy Fellows. Most recently, she worked at The Schott Foundation for Public Education, supporting education justice organizing, and has also worked at the United Way of Greater Atlanta and the Annie E. Casey Foundation, among other organizations and educational institutions. Dr. Austin’s immediate focus will be to align NBCDI’s strategic vision against the unique needs of Black families today; and to expand and deepen the organization’s influence and footprint.

“I am honored and excited to serve in this role,” said Dr. Austin. “The mission of NBCDI “to improve and advance the quality of life for Black children and families through education and advocacy” is as relevant today as it was in 1970 when the organization was established. At the same time, this is an opportunity to shape how this great organization serves them in this new day.”

During 2021, NBCDI is celebrating its 50th anniversary, which was delayed due to the pandemic. A new cohort of NBCDI Policy Fellows, revamped programs, and a stronger brand presence are key initiatives underway at the organization. To learn more about NBCDI, donate, or become an affiliate, visit or @NBCDI on social media.