Early Childhood Policy Fellowship Welcomes Second Cohort This Fall

This fall, Bank Street’s Learning Starts At Birth initiative will welcome its second cohort of fellows for the Early Childhood Policy Fellowship. Launched for the first time in September 2022, this 10-month professional learning opportunity supports leaders committed to building strong early childhood education systems that center quality and equity.

Running from September 2023 through May 2024, the new cohort will include 13 leaders who hold roles at local and state government agencies, as well as several agencies that directly support early childhood systems. During the program, the fellows will participate in a comprehensive set of learning opportunities focused on systems change, policy design, and leading for equity anchored in the examination of real-world challenges and problems of practice.

“We look forward to providing another group of talented systems leaders with the opportunity to reflect on their leadership, deepen their understanding of early childhood systems, and network with colleagues from across the nation to drive critical change in the early childhood field,” said Emily Sharrock, Associate Vice President, Bank Street Education Center. “We hope the fellowship continues to serve as a catalyst for the development of new approaches that better promote equity and deliver high-quality support for all families.”

The fellowship draws on Bank Street College’s deep expertise as a leader in early childhood education and demonstrates Learning Starts At Birth’s commitment to strengthening investments in the professionals who work with our nation’s youngest children. The 2023-24 fellows listed below represent a diversity of voice and lived experience that is inclusive and representative of the early childhood workforce.

Members of the new cohort are: Andi Bales Molnar, Professional Learning System Specialist, Oregon Department of Early Learning and Care; Denise Bermudez, Director of PHLpreK, Office of Children and Families, City of Philadelphia; Lauren Brown, Director of Family Services, Early Childhood Education Division, District of Columbia Public Schools, Suzette Espinoza-Cruz, Senior Early Education Programs Specialist, Early Learning and Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), City of Seattle Department of Education and Early Learning (DEEL); Aruna Gilbert, Chief Program and Policy Officer, Early Learning Coalition of Palm Beach County; Kassandra Gonzales, Program Coordinator, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) Initiative, New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Departments (NM ECECD); Lara Kyriakou, Associate Director of Early Childhood Policy & Advocacy, The Education Trust–New York; Nakilia McCray, Regional Program Specialist, Office of Child Care, Administration of Children and Families; Ana Nieto, Coordinator of Prenatal to School Entry Partnership Alignment and Grant Development, Somerville Public Schools; Binal Patel, Chief Program Officer, Neighborhood Villages (NV); Gabriela Rojas, Program Manager for Early Care and Education, First 5 Alameda County; Payal Seth, Vice President of Second Generation Programming, Jeremiah Program; and Tierah M. West, Associate Director of Early Childhood Data Systems, Division of Early Childhood Care & Education, Virginia Department of Education.

To learn more about each fellow, please visit our Meet the Fellows page