Policy Resource

In Memoriam: A Tribute to ZERO TO THREE Co-Founder J. Ronald (Ron) Lally

"He was a source of infinite knowledge about early development and a clarion voice for babies in public policy."

Editor’s Note: January 22 marked the passing of a giant in the field of infant and toddler development and a special member of the ZERO TO THREE family, J. Ronald Lally. Ron was the last living founder of ZERO TO THREE more than 40 years ago and remained actively involved in the organization as a Director Emeritus. In this special Board Member Spotlight we share words of remembrance and tribute from Board Members and our executive director.

Source: WestEd

Matthew Melmed, Executive Director “I first met Ron 25 years ago, when he joined to conduct my first interview here at ZERO TO THREE. Over the years, I came to appreciate and value Ron’s intellect, expertise, passion for babies, and commitment to the field. He was a source of infinite knowledge about early development and a clarion voice for babies in public policy. His wise counsel, impassioned advocacy, and visionary leadership will be sorely missed. And personally, I will miss him as a colleague, a mentor, and a friend. On behalf of all of us here at ZERO TO THREE, our thoughts and prayers are with Ron’s family and loved ones at this time.”

Ross Thompson, Past President of the Board of Directors “Ron put together a passionate advocacy for our youngest children with a commitment to enlisting science into state-of-the-art programming and policy. He was, in a sense, a microcosm of what ZERO TO THREE is and does, so it cannot be surprising that he was one of our founders and leaders. One could not help but be moved by his big heart and motivated by his big ideas.”

Tammy Mann, Board Member “We have indeed lost a giant, colleague, and dear friend. Ron’s commitment to changing the quality of early care and education for our nation’s youngest children was unwavering. I have such fond memories of the work we did together to support the rapid expansion of Early Head Start more than 25 years ago. He was one of our most passionate advocates for babies. His work at WestEd through the Program for Infant and Toddler caregivers laid the foundation for understanding the central importance of relationships, routines, family, and culture in building quality early learning experiences.”

Walter Gilliam, Board Member “Ron was (and indeed still is) a GIANT. He was always ’For Our Babies’ in everything he felt, thought, and did. A giant in so many respects, but also perhaps the most genuinely gentle giant I’d ever met. I treasure my brief time with him, and wish I’d had more of it.”

Editor’s Note: We invite you to share your own words of tribute to Ron on Member Connect. Look for the discussion thread titled, “In Memory of Ron Lally.”