Empowering Generations: The Legacy of TARTTs and the Sarita & Claire Wright Lucas Foundation

Newsletter Signup

"*" indicates required fields

Last Name*
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Empowering Generations Wanda Geer

As we commemorate Women’s History Month, we had the pleasure of conversing with Wanda Geer, a woman of exceptional resilience and insight. 

Wanda is the President of the Sarita and Claire Wright Lucas Foundation, empowering black women in law, and serves as CEO of TARTTs Day Care Centers, honoring her family’s commitment to childcare excellence.

We were able to learn about how she navigated challenges, her dedication to community empowerment, and her unwavering commitment to preserving a legacy. Now, let’s dive into the inspiring stories that define her remarkable career.


What is the backstory of TARTTs?

My grandmother – Bessie Tartt Wilson – who came from Alabama in the 1930’s to attend nursing school, founded our centers in 1946. Nursing was tough for her due to childhood polio, so she shifted to caring for children in her home, eventually expanding into childcare. She was a big advocate for children and wanted to make sure that she wasn’t just caring for them, but educating them as well. Music was a big part of her curriculum. She was also a fantastic cook, always providing breakfast, lunch, and snacks. 

TARTTs predates all of the child care licensing that Massachusetts ever started. Today, we keep her traditions alive by providing weekly dance and music classes. We also continue to provide hot, nutritious meals through a varied menu, which is something not a lot of centers do. Education is still an extremely important part of what we do – we blend teacher input with other various curriculums, but it’s still uniquely ours. 

Were there any obstacles that challenged TARTT’s operations, and if so, how were you able to overcome them?

The pandemic was a huge obstacle, we had to shut down for months before reopening. Parents were understandably reluctant to return to childcare due to ongoing concerns about COVID-19. This posed a unique challenge for us, but we were fortunate that the majority of our staff and parents returned, whereas some centers weren’t so lucky. 

We pride ourselves on retaining staff, with many members having been with us for 5 to 23 years, which is uncommon in this industry. There’s usually a high turnover rate, but we work very hard to retain our staff because we understand they’re the reason why people come. We treat our staff very well and try to make an environment where people enjoy working.

How has TARTTs impacted the community? 

We provide really high-quality childcare and great customer service. For many big, corporate childcare centers, it’s hard to contact the person who can truly make a difference. At our childcare centers, our owners are accessible to parents, so if there’s an issue, we can address it. We make it a point to be consistent and available because we’re here for the parents, children, and staff. 

What does it mean to you to carry on your family’s legacy? 

Carrying on my Grandmother’s legacy is an honor and a privilege. Bessie Tartt Wilson taught me the importance of hard work, and independent thinking, and instilled in all of her children and grandchildren an entrepreneurial spirit. We work hard to preserve her legacy with the quality of care we give to all of the children and families we serve.

Sarita & Claire Wright Lucas Foundation 

What’s the story behind the foundation and what inspired it? 

The foundation began in the wake of my daughter’s passing. She was a dedicated prosecutor in Delaware, six months pregnant with her first child and newly married. Her sudden loss deeply affected not only her family but also her colleagues. She was a hard worker and was very passionate about her job. We all knew that we had to honor her and make a difference in her name, because of her dedication to her work as a prosecutor. 

We conducted research and found that nationwide, only 1.5% of prosecutors were black women. We saw this huge inequity and discovered that people weren’t seeing people that looked like them in the courtroom. Did they feel represented? Did they feel like they were getting a fair shake? Probably not, because the people representing them didn’t know where they were really coming from. So we wanted to balance that out. 

We recognized that because it’s public service, the pay wouldn’t be fantastic. Imagine having to do an unpaid internship. Then, you’re coming out of undergrad and law school with a ton of loans, and on top of that you have to study for the bar, which is a full–time job in itself. 

Now, the foundation supports black women aspiring to become prosecutors through scholarships  and paid fellowships at District Attorney’s offices. We also offer an additional $5,000 to students who were awarded the initial scholarship, to incentivize people to stay at the job. 

Can you share a success story about someone who’s received a scholarship or assistance  from the foundation?

When scholarship recipients pass the bar, or join a prosecutor’s office, that’s always a success story. When that happens, we see that we’re actually making a difference and that people are going into and staying in their career. 

How are you able to establish a diverse and inclusive culture at TARTTs & the foundation? 

At TARTTs, we hire people from all walks of life. Oftentimes, people will come to us with no training in childcare or educational experience, but we really push to make sure they get educated and offer lots of training so they can understand the job and do it well. 

With the foundation, we’re still very small, but we collaborate with many different, diverse agencies to help us get to where we’re going. 

Women in Business

What is it like being a woman in a leadership position?

It’s interesting. My brother works with me as the COO of TARTTs, and when we have meetings, other people’s eyes go directly to him. It’s like I’m not even in the room. He gets asked the questions first. It’s tough, having to push or say, “Hey I’m here, I have an opinion too!”. 

One thing that you have to do constantly is make yourself present. You have to speak up, and once you get their attention, you just have to be knowledgeable about what you’re talking about. You’re able to gain some respect when you do that. 

What strategies have you found effective in navigating gender bias or stereotypes that you’ve encountered in your career? 

Just keep being present, and find ways to make people acknowledge that you’re there in the room. 

What advice would you give to other women aspiring to be in leadership roles?

Lead by example. If you’re asking your staff to come in early, come in early yourself. Show them you can get down in the trenches with them and be helpful. Do what you say you’re going to do, and don’t make promises that you won’t be able to keep. Be a leader by just talking to your staff and getting their opinions. Also, be transparent and tell them why you think something won’t work. Be friendly and supportive, but just remember that you are the one giving direction. You may not always take their advice, but you should always listen. 

How You Can Help

Wanda’s story exemplifies the transformative power of resilience and determination. No matter what obstacle was thrown her way, she made sure to show up every day, because she was committed to her version of empowering and caring for others. Through her consistent efforts, she not only overcame adversity but also created a ripple effect of positivity and empowerment in her community.

There are several ways you can support TARTTs and the Sarita & Claire Wright Lucas Foundation: 

  • Leave positive reviews for TARTTs following a visit boosts their visibility and reputation
  • Donate directly to the foundation. These are always welcomed and greatly support their initiatives. 
  • Follow and engage with their social media  – this helps broaden their reach, especially for the foundation, which currently has a limited online presence.

Spreading the word about both TARTTs and the foundation by sharing positive experiences and advocating for their mission can significantly contribute to their goals of driving positive change.

Join the Conversation

The story doesn’t have to end here – if you would like to be a part of the next conversation, whether it’s about how you’ve been supporting the community, empowering future generations, being a woman in business, or another topic you feel passionate about, we would love to hear it. 

If interested, please reach out to our media contact, Mimi Pham, at Mimi.Pham@Tonneson.com.

Let's Talk

If you’re interested in working with Tonneson + Co, please reach out to us. We look forward to hearing from you!