WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Patricia Browne is the outgoing president and chief executive officer of the National Children’s Center (NCC) in Washington D.C. She has been a part of the effort for more than a decade and served as a board member and chief operating officer over the years.

She said that early on, she fought hard to let people know that NCC was not set up for babysitting.

“My goal was to improve our early learning and intervention program,” said Browne. “Children were not going sit around and play games and use coloring books.”

Browne says the program caters to children 8 months to 5 years of age.

“Those are the critical developmental years,” said Browne. “It’s important to create that early foundation.”

Browne said many children experience trauma in their neighborhoods and in their homes, and NCC has a lot of resources in place to help in many areas. The center has a full staff of professionals, including speech and occupational therapists, along with physical and behavioral therapists.

Browne says a big part of the effort is teaching the students and their families about the importance of healthy eating. She has been the driving force behind the food orchard that provides healthy and fresh food options.

“They are learning to enjoy fresh vegetables,” said Browne. “We don’t want them to deal with some of the health issues that many are saddled with today, including hypertension and diabetes.”

Browne will step down from her leadership role in early October. She plans to stay on in an advisory capacity and help with the transition of new leadership.