2022 COAEYC Board of Directors Election Candidates

Thank you for your interest in the 2022 Board of Directors Election. We are very excited to introduce you to these wonderful candidates! Voting opens on May 15th and ends on June 15th. All members in good standing will receive an email ballot from Election Runner.

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Meet the Candidates 

General Seat

 

This seat is open to anyone who has an interest in helping early childhood educators develop, grow, and succeed, and who believes that all of Colorado's young children should have equitable access to high-quality care and education.

Apryl Webb

Lakewood, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Education Supervisor, Jefferson County Head Start

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

During my master’s program, I focused my studies around trauma and its longitudinal effects on children. In my current role, I support Jefferson County Head Start in facilitating a trauma informed program offering wrap-around care to some of the most marginalized children and families in Jefferson County.

Through my educational and professional experiences, I have focused on identifying contributing factors that lead to adverse childhood experiences. However, I also recognize the power of positive childhood experiences and resilience in preventing more negative long-term outcomes.

If I am selected to serve on this board, I would have the opportunity to be a voice for children and families who may feel as though they have none.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

Given that I moved into my current professional role within the last year, my professional goals are focused around external opportunities. I am currently enrolled in Relationship Based Professional Development in pursuit of a Colorado Coaching credential. In my current role, I am responsible for delivering coaching support to my teaching teams, and, by honing these skills through additional professional development opportunities, I recognize that I am not only improving my performance, but elevating early childhood education overall.

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I would like to further my reach in advocating for early childhood education and intervention in Colorado. I know that I have a strong skill set and wealth of knowledge that will benefit this team.

Barb Wacker 

Fort Morgan, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Childcare Specialist/Instructional Coach, Early Learning Ventures

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Workforce retention, lack of quality care in communities, lack of support for home childcare providers.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

To support providers as they continue to engage with systems to support their business. 

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I want to continue to be engaged in the early childhood community as well as bring the voice from the rural communities.

Caitlyn Russell

Mead, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Early Childhood Special Educator, Adams 12 Five Star Schools

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

I am a strong advocate for inclusion in early childhood settings. When my nephew was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder I became part of his team by helping my sister navigate and learn about resources. Through seeing his progress in early intervention I decided I wanted to be an advocate for other children like him and families like mine.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

One of my goals this year to create more connections across early childhood systems and programs in Colorado. I would like to be part of fostering deeper collaboration and the co-creation of communities of practice and learning.

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I want to be more involved in supporting early childhood educators and professionals through collaborative work across Colorado's ECE systems. I was introduced to NAEYC in the beginning of my early childhood career and would love to be part of what helped me grow and learn as a young professional.

Katherine (Kath) Courter

Boulder, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Head of Preschool, Extended Day and Summer Programs, Boulder Country Day 

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Equity and advocacy in early childhood, teacher well-being, and supporting new teachers with training and professional development opportunities. 

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

I am currently a Fellow in the Buell Early Childhood Leadership Fellowship Program and I look forward to applying my leadership learnings and broadening my outreach, support, and work in the field. 

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

It has been a couple of years since I've served as a board member. It is something I enjoy and I have been looking for a new opportunity to volunteer my time and energy. Serving on the COAEYC board would be a new and exciting way to give back to the field of ECE.

Leigh Carlson-Hernandez

Glenwood Springs, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Early Head Start Manager, Eagle County Department of Human Services

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

A well coordinated early childhood system that is focused on equity and supporting high quality programs and workforce development is important to me. 

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

In May 2022, I will be graduating with my Masters of Early Childhood Education, Leadership and Advocacy from the Erikson Institute. For my team, my goal is to further implement reflective practices, supervision and consultation to reduce work related burnout and vicarious trauma. I will also either pursue to finish my Master's in Public Policy and Management or begin pursuing my doctorate. 

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I moved back to Colorado in 2018 with my family from Pittsburgh, I have been gaining further knowledge and understanding of the Colorado early childhood landscape and now would like to give back to the community. 

Lindsay Kennedy

Denver, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Early Childhood Education Specialist, Catholic Charities of Denver

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Equity and access are the two most pressing issues on my mind when it comes to Early Childhood Education at the moment. I want every child, no matter their situation or location to be able to walk down any street in the state/country and find a plethora of high-quality, child-led, developmentally appropriate, 0-6 care/education facilities waiting to welcome them and their families with open arms. I want to see every preschool room offer space to every child and I want every family's story to be seen and felt throughout every center. These issues are also of course tied into the pay disparities ECE professionals face from their educational peers in elementary/middle/secondary education. These also relate to how the field isn't terribly accessible to its own team members, whether that be in cases of language exclusivity in daily practice, the extreme cost of care, uneven quality levels between programs,  the unpaid labor seemingly required to be in this profession, and everything else that is being forced onto the shoulders of ECE professionals. 

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

I want to become a louder advocate for the teachers at my school as well as all those in CO. I want to get better at using my voice to make sure the people who are often ignored (both ECE professionals and the children we serve) are able to get what they need and deserve from society at large. I want to see ECE respected as a field and I'd like to see UPK as the standard in our state. 

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I know how NAEYC can and has benefitted the Early Childhood field and I want to help COAEYC continue to do that here in Colorado. I firmly believe that COAEYC can and will change the course of events for the entire field in this state if given the chance to and I'd like to help. 

Sara Brown

Denver, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Lead Education Coach, Mile High Early Learning 

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

An issue most concerning to me right now is the teacher shortage. Not only are centers struggling just to retain and find enough workers, the teachers and staff hired are not meeting qualifications. I work in partner sites in the Greater Denver area and I watch staff aides struggle with minimum wage pay while also attending night training weekly just to make a few dollars more as an assistant teacher by obtaining their ECT certificatin. These people have their own families at home, children in schools or on quarantine, and those who've just lost housing and they struggle to make the schedules work, but we need each and every one of them.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

My professional goal for 2022 is lead my coaching team to a more confident position than today. I want us to lead our centers past sup-par and to the high quality programming that we've designed and know that we can implement. Coaches are in fear as teachers are overwhelmed and drained, but we have to be that ray of light helping them to get back to those days of less stress and feeling confident in their classrooms and with families.  

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I have a passion for supporting the growth of early childhood programs systemically. In my most recent work positions I've gotten to see first hand what is truly happening with teachers, program staff and other EC professionals pre- and now post pandemic.Teachers and admin staff are in crisis mode, and so many centers have closed in our neighborhoods. Our state is actively working to support growth amongst our newest department, the Department of Early Childhood Education, but it will take time, collaboration and a lot of support to get to where we want to be.

Vicki Maestas

Northglenn, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Specialist, Early Learning Ventures 

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Recognition and value of the Early Childhood Educators through the justice, equity, diversity and inclusion of their learning environments

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

A professional goal is to continue enhancing my facilitator skills with the use of universal design within the technology world due to COVID 19. Advocate and supporting my coaching partners on their goals for their professional development and their teaching practices. 

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

Advocate for all Early Childhood Educators on a variety and current topics that we are facing in the current economy. 

Teacher Seat

The teacher seat is reserved for an early childhood educator who is employed in a child-facing role in a licensed program or who operates a family child care home.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sonia Semana

Fort Collins, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Director/Teacher Early Childhood Center, Colorado State University

Adjunct Faculty Early Childhood, Grossmont College

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Anti-bias  work is a passion of mine and inclusion. 

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

I would like to help improve the landscape of early childhood education for children, families and educators. I would like to contribute to organizations who have a goal of making a difference in the field of early education. 

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I would like to help improve the landscape of early childhood education for children, families and educators. I would like to contribute to organizations who have a goal of making a difference in the field of early education.

Jessica Scott

Longmont, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Preschool Teacher, Wildflower Preschool

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Teacher training and retention

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

My professional goal for 2022 is to complete the steps to become a trainer or ECE coach.

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

It is a professional development goal of mine to serve in an organization that advocates for early childhood education. Early childhood education is a passion of mine.

Meg Brake

Denver, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Lead preschool teacher, St. John's Lutheran Early Learning Center

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Teaching social and emotional skills at this early age is important to me.  It is important because our students needs skills to handle conflict, strategies for handling their big emotions, and learning ways to communicate with others.  

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

I am hoping next school year that I can take some coaching classes to help coach my fellow teachers.  

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I am interested in taking more of a leadership role in education.  I want to empower current and future teachers.  Children are our future, and it is important we are reaching and serving our youngest generations.  This in turn reaches and serves their parents and families as well.  

Sarah Hewitt

Arvada, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Owner/Director/Teacher, Angel Hugs Daycare LLC

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

It is hard to pinpoint just one early childhood education issue that is important to me. High-quality childcare is what is needed to set the foundation for every child in Colorado so that a child can be successful in their future. To achieve high-quality childcare, there much be connections with early childhood practices, policies, and research. In Colorado, we are facing many issues that build the infrastructure of high-quality care such as workforce, all-inclusion classrooms, cost of childcare, and much more to reach high-quality childcare for every child.

Another issue that is important to me is the gap within marginalized communities. Many marginalized communities do not have the opportunity to receive the quality care that every child and family deserve. One struggle within marginalized communities is the learning gap that can be seen within the Native American Reservation system. They are not provided with the same tools and information that students elsewhere are provided, and therefore, there is a learning gap that needs to be closed to better serve all communities as one.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

For 2022, the goal that I have set for myself, and my business is to become nationally accredited. This plan can be achieved by requesting to be observed by the National Association of Family Childcare. The best way to achieve this goal is by setting daily goals for myself that will allow me to accomplish this by the end of the year. Some of those daily goals are ensuring that proper diapering/hygiene procedures are always followed and ensuring that mathematics and science are talked about in many different forms throughout the course of each day.

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I believe by being a part of the COAEYC Board of Directors it will allow me to strengthen my passion for early childhood education, child advocacy, and support for early childhood professionals. I can also bring connecting practices to the board to help grow the early childhood field. Judith Billings once said, “Children are the priority, Change is the reality, Collaboration is the strategy.”

Monica Somner

Greenwood Village, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Program Director / Teacher, The Children's World School

 

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

Equality of education for all children.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

To learn more about how I can give back as an educational consultant in the future.

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I would like to share my wealth of experience and optimism with the greater community.

 
 
 
 
 

Student Seat

The student seat is reserved for a student who is enrolled in an early childhood education program at a Colorado institute of higher learning or someone who is in the process of obtaining or renewing their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential.

 

Alexander Kogstad

Littleton, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

Master Teacher, Fisher Early Learning Center

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

An important issue in ECE for me is to help establish a more respected and honored workforce.  In supporting a stronger workforce I feel that there needs to be a focus both on providing teachers with greater access to continued education, as well as, find ways to place greater value on the lived experience of teachers already established within the field.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

My current professional goals have included leading a professional development with my center's staff, leading a family forum event and presenting at the NAEYC Annual Conference.

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I want to be able to extend my impact on the ECE field beyond the walls of my center.  I am very passionate about continuing to provide support to teachers across as many settings as possible.

Cameron Fall

Aurora, CO

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What is your occupation or job title? Who is your employer or institution?

ECE Scholarship/Career Navigator & Full-Time Student at CU Denver, Early Childhood Council Leadership Alliance (ECCLA) & University of Colorado Denver

What is an issue in early childhood education that is important to you?

There are two issues that I have noticed in my time in the early childhood field: training for directors and administrators and lack of livable wages for professionals. The issue of director and administrator training continuously comes up in my work. Teachers have access to so many different kinds of training and professional development opportunities, but I have not seen this kind of robust training offered specifically for directors, assistant directors, and administrators. From what I have gathered from those in the field, a recurring issue is that staff turnover has a lot to do with how administrators are working with and managing their staff and I think that offering trainings on human relations would be extremely beneficial to our administrators, teachers, programs, and ultimately, children. The issue of lack of livable wages also comes up continuously in my work. There are several early childhood teachers I have worked with that are currently working multiple jobs just to make ends meet. Many, if not all early childhood teachers across the state (and nation) feel the same exhausting weight on their shoulders when they have to choose between buying food and paying bills. During the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers have been considered “essential workers.” However, early childhood teachers have been more likely to be working in-person than their K-12 counterparts, yet are grossly underpaid. I think that our essential workers should not have to work multiple jobs just to be able to put food on the table for their families.

Tell us about a professional goal that you have for 2022.

A professional goal of mine that I am very passionate about is to help create and finalize our new Justice, Equity, & Belonging Collaborative with the ECCLA team. We are working to formalize the collaborative by creating an action plan and working to include professionals from various diverse organizations. I also wanted to add that another professional (and personal) goal of mine is to graduate with a Bachelor's Degree in Education & Human Development from the University of Colorado Denver.

Why are you interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors?

I am interested in serving on the COAEYC Board of Directors because I have a strong passion for the early childhood field and would like to be part of COAEYC's mission and vision. Early childhood educators and professionals are the most important people in the world as they teach, develop, and advocate for our future generations. Being on the COAEYC Board of Directors means that I would get to contribute in a very meaningful way to an organization that is a partner in the development of early childhood professionals. As the administrator of a scholarship program for early childhood professionals and a student myself, I see the value and importance of professional development, continuous learning, and advocacy.