Oklahoman article profiles Parent Promise, Executive Director Sherry Fair

By Paula Burkes
The Oklahoman

When veteran communications professional Sherry Fair first went to work for a school district and there was a problem between personnel and students or the students’ parents, she used to wonder simply, “What’s wrong?”

But Fair soon learned the real question is: “What happened?” What neglect or physical, verbal, sexual or emotional abuse occurred in the child’s, or their parents’, background? Often, there was poverty, drugs and/or alcohol addiction, or a loss in the family through death, divorce or incarceration, she said.

Today, Fair, as executive director of the nonprofit Parent Promise, said she welcomes the opportunity to get in front of such problems and influence the early development of children for better outcomes at school — and in life.

Parent Promise, founded in 1988 by the National Exchange Club service organization, offers evidence-based, voluntary home weekly or more visitation programs to educate and support expectant and new parents or those with children 12 and under. The nonprofit serves up to 200 families a year across Oklahoma County; clients are referred by hospital social workers and others.

Fair manages a staff of 16 and oversees an annual budget of $1.2 million, 55 percent of which comes from state and federal grants funded through the Oklahoma Health Department and 45 percent through private grants.

From her second-floor offices at 4323 NW 63, Fair, on the threshold of April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month, recently talked with The Oklahoman about her life and career, along with her organization’s advocacy efforts.