Stephen P. Zwolak, M.Ed.Chief Executive Officer – Steve has more than 40 years of experience in early childhood education as a teacher, a parent and family educator, a program and school administrator, and a community leader.

Steve is the CEO of LUME Institute and Executive Director of University City Children’s Center. His years as a classroom teacher, a leader in various educational arenas, and a student of children have enabled him to build an approach to education for which there is preliminary evidence of closing the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap. The Approach brings together theoretical, observational, and neuroscientific research that emphasizes that the emotional development of children is critical to future success.

Over the course of his career, he has played leadership roles at many educational institutions, including St. Louis Public Schools, Ladue Chapel Nursery School, McCare, a daycare facility for employees of McDonnell Douglas, and MICDS. As a young teacher, Steve studied at the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute. Through LUME, Steve heads Child Care Aware® of Eastern Missouri, which is responsible for providing professional development for thousands of early childhood teachers annually. 

He has a Masters of Education, and has received numerous awards for his work with children, most recently the Educational Achievement Award from The American Psychoanalytic Association in 2015.  

The hallmark of Steve's career has been his work at University City Children's Center, the founding and lab school of LUME.  When he joined UCCC as Executive Director, the program had only 25 children enrolled. Since 2000, the UCCC program has grown to be one of the most highly regarded early childhood programs in Missouri because of its unique teaching approach and demographic mix of families.  It is because of the success of UCCC that Steve led the founding of LUME, and now uses UCCC as a home base for innovation while he and his staff go out into the community to change the face of early childhood education.


Phone: 314.726.0148 ext. 113