Laenne K. Thompson
Senior Manager, Field Services
Laenne’s three passions are education, food and environmental conservation. In all three fields, she has played a variety of roles: fundraising and grant-writing, print and electronic communications, management, and event planning and workshop facilitation. All of those skills come into play for her at the Weikart Center, where Laenne oversees internal systems, manages a portfolio of quality improvement systems in cities and states throughout the country, and contributes to product development. Laenne has long-standing connections to the Weikart Center’s work: She was a field consultant on projects in Washington and Alaska (where she also worked to protect large-scale ecosystems), and at HighScope Educational Research Foundation’s Youth Development Group, she co-developed the Weikart Center’s Youth Work Methods workshops and coordinated the validation study of the Youth PQA. Her most formative experience, she says, was attending the HighScope elementary school: “The key developmental experiences, along with the skills, sense of autonomy and participatory inquiry I developed there, have served me every day of my life.” She now seeks to help others create the same high-quality learning environments she experienced, so youth can nurture their interests through authentic experiences that help them lead fulfilled, meaningful lives. Laenne’s education was unconventional. She received a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan in Resource Policy and Behavior – after studying Italian language, literature, cinema, and history in Florence, Italy, with Sarah Lawrence College, and Italian Studies and Educational Studies at Wesleyan University. The rest of her education was gleaned in kitchens and dining rooms, where she pursued her penchant for local vegetables and artisanal products and sharing them with people.