Downtime with Kate Jordan-Downs

The director of KinderCare education programs talks about work, life and play.

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What I’m reading

A lot of nonfiction, primarily on early-childhood inclusion and equitable practices. I just read the first Harry Potter book to my boys. I loved hearing them beg for another chapter or page or paragraph…anything they could get so it didn’t have to end.

What I’m watching

A lot of Bravo. It is a much-needed break from reality! The most recent movie I watched was Get Out, and it was absolutely incredible: innovative, terrifying, humorous and raw. I want to see it again because I know there were so many things I missed the first time.

Latest download

Brili and ABC PocketPhonics. My son Knox, who is 6 and in kindergarten, was on spring break recently, and I was committed to making sure he still had a routine and to reinforcing some concepts from school that aren’t his favorite.

No place like …

I’ve lived in Washington, D.C.; Columbus, Ohio; and now Portland. Although I enjoy them all for different reasons, I wouldn’t call any of them my favorite. I think [my favorite] city is still waiting for me to discover it.

Family traditions

On Sundays my husband, our boys and I head to Dickey’s for barbeque dinner. It’s nice to all be together before another hectic week goes in motion, and the boys love filling up little cups with as many free pickles as they can manage.

Must-have gadget

My iPhone. I never thought I would be an iAnything junkie, but my phone and my iPad are a part of me!

What does diversity mean in the context of child care?

It’s so important that children are able to see reflections of themselves in their school community: It helps them build a strong identity and feel the security necessary to learn. Teachers and caregivers who are responsive to a child’s unique needs and interests — such as culture, language, gender, religion, economics or ability — are setting children on a positive trajectory for school and life.

What kids have taught me

Flexibility! No child, experience, routine, milestone — none of them are the same. Children need you to be agile, to be willing to learn new things and to adjust what you do to meet their needs, not the other way around. They will humble you day after day.

Memorable vacation

Last summer I traveled to Oahu, Hawaii, with my mom and my son to visit one of my best friends and his husband. It was incredible to be in such a beautiful place with my favorite people spanning several generations. We hiked, swam under a waterfall, jumped off cliffs and snorkeled.

When I’m not working

I love music — I love to play, sing and write. I also love to travel, whether it’s a small day trip to the coast or across country or across an ocean. I am energized by being in new places, being immersed in the local culture and photographing it all.

Role model

Kali Thorne Ladd and all the amazing teachers creating positive narratives for the children at KairosPDX; Charles McGee and his work empowering families at Black Parent Initiative; Kay Toran and the Volunteers of America serving Portland’s most vulnerable; Chris Otis and the opportunities that SMART offers young readers.

Why I love my job

I absolutely love my team and being able to think big about how to make the best impact on all the children we serve. Being able to empower teachers and shape children’s lives, and to create a strategy that is creative and innovative, is exhilarating and extremely rewarding.