Carolyn E. Wylie Center
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The Wylie Center is was formed by the merger in 2006 of two longstanding and well-respected nonprofit agencies, the Youth Service Center and the Children’s Center of the Inland Counties, which together have more than 50 years of experience helping families with unique needs. The new organization was named in honor of Carolyn E. Wylie, a long-time friend and advocate for children and youth in Riverside County.

Who was Carolyn E. Wylie?


Carolyn Ekdahl Wylie, a native of Moline, Ill., spent most of her working career in Riverside. She was the initial executive director of First 5 Riverside (the Riverside County Children and Families Commission). a position she held from 2000 until her death in 2004; she spent 20 years with the Riverside County Office of Education, rising to Assistant Superintendent for Children’s Services, and served two years as an advisor to Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge.

When we look back at Carolyn’s service, what stands out is her vision, her collaborative spirit and her skill at laying the groundwork to turn big ideas into reality. She was adept at working with people in different spheres; her primary concern was to make life better for the children and families of this area. She shunned the spotlight and willingly credited others for theiraccomplishments.

A graduate of a small liberal arts school, Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill., she volunteered for the Peace Corps in 1961 and went to the Philippines to teach in a small, rural primary school. After her Peace Corps service, she was invited to join an innovative teaching project in Washington, D.C., where she worked for a master’s degree at Howard University while teaching English in a large inner-city high school.

After half a dozen years teaching at junior and senior high schools, she realized that children needed a more positive start in life. Coming to Riverside in 1973 with her journalist husband, Deane Wylie, and two young children, she became director of the UCR Children’s Center, a post she held till 1978.

She was a board member of the Youth Service Center and a strong supporter of the Children’s Center of the Inland Counties, the two organizations that merged to form The Carolyn E. Wylie Center for Children, Youth & Families. She was an advocate for the 211 program of family referral services, and helped position the Volunteer Center of Riverside County as the provider agency for this simpler referral service launched in 2005.

A member of the School Readiness Working Group, Carolyn was instrumental in seeing that the state’s 2002 Master Plan for Education included early, pre-kindergarten education. She led First 5 Riverside in launching the Healthy Kids insurance plan for children who do not qualify for MediCal or Healthy Families insurance.

Carolyn’s spirit lives on in the results of her leadership and in the many lives she touched in education and public life.