MacArthur Fellows Program

Sophia Bracy Harris

Child Care Leader | Class of 1991

Child Care Leader
Montgomery, Alabama
42 at time of award
Published July 1, 1991

About Sophia's Work

Sophia Harris works to improve child care in Alabama and around the country, with the goal of creating democratic systems of high-quality, inclusive care.


In 1972, Harris co-founded the Federation of Child Care Centers of Alabama (FOCAL), now known as the Federation of Community-Controlled Centers of Alabama.  Harris’ devotion to institution-building at the grassroots level and to the recognition of the needs and issues of African-American families and young children was crucial to FOCAL’s formation and has fostered its growth and program development.  She was appointed executive director in 1974 and continues to lead the organization in this role.

Since its inception, FOCAL’s mission has broadened from simply providing day care for low-income families, to setting standards for quality care, making training and professional development available, and furthering black community development.  Harris’ efforts focus on advocacy at the state and national levels, lobbying for increased funding for childcare.  In 1984, Harris organized the Black Women’s Leadership and Economic Development Project, an institution that provides training in leadership and marketing, and technical help in starting a business.

Harris received a B.S. (1972) from Auburn University, where she also pursued graduate studies.

Last updated January 1, 2005

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