Florida’s 2023 Head Start Father of the Year a Homegrown Success Story

Community & Services

Darnellion Brown has been named the Florida Head Start Association’s 2023 Father of the Year. An Orlando native and Orange County employee, Brown was chosen for his ongoing efforts to increase parental engagement within the County’s 23 Head Start centers.

He was recently recognized by the Orange County Board of County Commissioners and at the FHSA’s annual awards luncheon in Cape Coral.

“Becoming a father changed my life and how I view the world,” said Brown, whose 4-year-old son, Darwin, is a student at the Callahan Head Start Center in Parramore. “Raising Darwin to be a man is the biggest responsibility I’ll ever have. I take pride in being a great dad, and I want to help other Head Start fathers do the same.”

As a child, Brown and his seven siblings were students of Orange County Head Start. The early childhood education program made a profound impression on his childhood, and he considers his work with the program’s parents to be a personal calling.

Brown serves as the Fatherhood Parent Liaison for Head Start. In this role, he spearheads a series of initiatives to encourage fathers to take a more hands-on approach to parenting. He is also a co-facilitator for the National Fatherhood Initiative’s 24/7 Dad Program, which emphasizes  personal and professional growth, and has provided one-on-one mentorship to more than a dozen fathers since accepting the role in 2021.

Brown was recently elected the chairperson for Orange County Head Start’s Policy Council, the local branch’s governing board. Last year, he served as vice chair for the council, which works closely with Head Start’s director and local officials on the program’s overarching direction and annual goals.

More than 1,500 children annually enroll in Orange County Head Start, a division of the Community and Family Services Department. Across the state, more than 42,000 children benefit from the program’s award-winning curriculum and resources, which include nutritional daily meals and healthcare services.

“Darnellion is one of our many homegrown success stories and a testament to what’s possible through our programs, resources and services,” said Sonya Hill, director, Orange County Head Start. “His work has made an impact on our centers and will be felt across Orange County for many years to come.”

For more information, go to Orange County Head Start.

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