Early Childhood Policy Fellowship
Meet the 15 leaders from across the United States who are working towards creating high-quality, equitable early childhood systems.
Adriana Reis is an educational administrator with the Division of Early Childhood Education at the New York City Department of Education (NYCDOE). She supports instructional coaches across all five boroughs. Previously, she taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten and worked for six years as an instructional coach with the NYCDOE, providing pedagogical support to all early childhood programs, infants, toddlers, 3-K, and pre-K. She received a Master of Science in Teaching from PACE University and a Master of Science in Leadership from Bank Street Graduate School of Education, including the School Building Leader and School District Leader Certification with the New York State Education Department.
Alisa Burton, MA, (she/her) is a program supervisor for the City of Oakland Head Start program, where she supports management systems, leads workforce development initiatives, and supports community partnerships. She has over 25 years of experience in Head Start, developing and administering programs and providing early childhood instruction to community college students. She holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education with an Infant Specialist certification from San Francisco State University, California and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia.
Carol Orji is the Director of Early Childhood Initiatives with Wake County Smart Start. She has been in the field of early care and education for over 20 years with experience as a Quality Enhancement Specialist, Lead for the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership, Technical Assistance Collaborative (TAC) Coordinator, Early Childhood Initiative Manager, and Wake Three School Manager. Prior to joining Wake County Smart Start, Carol gained classroom experience as an early childhood teacher. She holds a master’s degree in Educational Administration from Baylor University and a Bachelor of Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka.
Dr. Danielle Johnson
Dr. Danielle Johnson serves as the executive director of Durham’s Partnership for Children based in Durham, North Carolina. She is the first Black leader in the history of the organization. Under her leadership, the organization has grown in both staffing and program delivery. She received a Master’s in Education from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, a Master’s in Public Health from Hunter College, City University of New York, as well as a Bachelor of Science. Danielle is currently a UNCW Watson College of Education EdD candidate. Her research focuses on collaborative action research, culturally responsive and sustaining instruction, and program design with an emphasis on globalization within the early childhood sector.
Elena Barreto is the regional coordinator for the NW Early Learning Hub and NW Parenting Hub, where she works at the intersection of social justice and education. She works with partners to build capacity and implement early learning and parenting support opportunities rooted in equitable practices across Clatsop, Columbia, and Tillamook counties. Additionally, she works with families to elevate their voices, desires, and needs to decision makers in the region to effect change. She has a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington and a BA in Elementary Education and Human Development from Boston College.
Jamie Bonczyk (she/her) is a program officer for 80×3: Resilient from the Start at Greater Twin Cities United Way. She is an awarded early childhood education leader known for creating social-impact networks, change initiatives, and partnerships that create sustainable health and education outcomes for children, families, and educators. Her background includes the roles of executive director of an early learning non-profit, Head Start administrator, adjunct instructor, author, professional development content creator, and preschool teacher. Jamie has a bachelor’s degree from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Leadership from Roosevelt University.
Kaeleigh Hernandez is a research fellow at the Center on the Ecology of Early Development (CEED) at Boston University. Prior to joining, she served as the Assistant Director of Early Education Policy for a statewide advocacy non-profit in Texas. At CEED, she conducts research on sociocultural classroom interactions and explores ways to embed equity measures across various early care and education systems. Kaeleigh completed her graduate degree in Social Work with a concentration in Public Policy and Administration at the University of Missouri.
Kimberly Moua is the Early Childhood Equity Fund Program Manager in the Early Learning Division of the Oregon Department of Education. Kimberly is a proud, passionate, and avid advocate for equitable and inclusive systems practice and is committed to developing innovative, creative, culturally appropriate, and safe environments for all communities. She is currently working on her dissertation as she pursues her Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership focusing on Adult, Post-Secondary Higher Education. She has a master’s degree in Teaching from Pacific University and a Bachelor of Science from Oregon State University.
Margo Ford Crosby
Margo Ford Crosby is beginning her second year with ABSS Early Learning Community for the 2022-23 school year as the Director of Pre-K and Before/After School. She has worked in the non-profit sector, completed 12 years in the public-school arena, been an instructor at community colleges, and worked with the Children’s Developmental Services Agency (CDSA) as an early intervention services coordinator. She majored in Birth – Kindergarten Education at Winston-Salem State University, where she earned her degree and established her passion for family engagement and literacy. She later attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, receiving a master’s degree in Early Childhood Leadership and Administration, while gaining her passion for policy and advocacy.
Neda Hall is currently an adjunct early childhood education instructor and a child development consultant for the California Department of Education, Early Education Division on the Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grant overseeing the education content. She began working in the field of early learning as a student assistant in a Head Start classroom. Since then she has worked as a teacher, center director, education coordinator, and T&TA specialist for the Office of Head Start. Neda earned her BA and MA in Child Development from California State University, Sacramento.
Dr. Nikki Kovan
Dr. Nikki Kovan is the interim director of the Early Learning Services Division at the Minnesota Department of Education. She oversees public preschool programs, special education, family education, early learning scholarships, and early childhood screening. She previously held a leadership role in the Child Safety and Permanency Division at the Department of Human Services. Prior to that, she worked at the University of Minnesota, translating early childhood research into practice for early childhood and child welfare practitioners. Nikki received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota.
Rowena Kamo is the Senior Program Administrator for Early Care and Education at First 5 Alameda County, where she oversees the planning and management of First 5’s ECE initiatives, including Quality Counts, the county’s local Quality Rating and Improvement System. Previously, she served as the research director at the California Child Care Resource & Referral Network, where she has worked for over eight years documenting the changing child care landscape through the California Child Care Portfolio. Her work also included the development of a statewide child care consumer education database and referral website to increase parents’ access to child care information. Rowena has been in the ECE field for over 10 years. She received her BA from UC Santa Barbara and an MPA from The Maxwell School at Syracuse University.
Dr. Tamilah Richardson
Dr. Tamilah Richardson is the Director of Early Childhood Learning for the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE). She has served the early childhood and elementary education fields for over two decades as a former pre-kindergarten teacher, early childhood administrator, and school library media specialist. Dr. Richardson’s passion and work has primarily focused on high-quality early care and education systems building, early literacy development, family engagement and empowerment, and equity and excellence in education. She has earned degrees from Hampton University (BS in English with an ECE concentration), Old Dominion University (MSEd), and The George Washington University (EdS and EdD in Education Administration and Policy Studies).
Taundwa Jeffries is the Head Start State Collaboration Office Director for the Virginia Department of Education (VDOE), where she facilitates partnerships with Head Start agencies and state entities that provide services to vulnerable children and families in the Commonwealth. Prior to joining VDOE, Taundwa was the administrator of the state Professional Development IMPACT Registry for the Virginia Department of Social Services, supporting early childhood professionals through educational pathways available for state recognition. She worked for Richmond Public Schools Early Head Start/Head Start Program for over 20 years as an early childhood educator, a lead family advocate, and a kindergarten teacher. She holds a CDA with an Infant/Toddler endorsement, a Bachelor of Science in Liberal Arts, and a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction.
Dr. Tracey Black
Dr. Tracey Black is an education manager for the City of Oakland Head Start/Early Head Start Program, a comprehensive early care, education, and family services program that serves families with children prenatal to age 5. She has worked for over 20 years in the fields of early care, education, and family services and holds a Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership, with an emphasis on Early Childhood Education, from Mills College in Oakland, California. She is an adjunct faculty member, teaching core courses in child development in Peralta Community College District, and serves on the boards of Lotus Bloom Family Resource Center in Oakland and Black Women in Early Childhood Collective.