This project is driven and supported by collaborative leadership teams: a Task Force and a Core Team. A Project Coordinator, Outreach Coordinator and Implementation Coordinator provide leadership and organization within the teams.
The Task Force is made up of ECE workforce leaders who represent the diversity of Vermont’s geographic regions and ECE settings. The Task Force reviews NAEYC’s Power to the Profession Decision Cycles and Unifying Framework. Their job is to determine how Vermont might choose to align with the Unifying Framework and create consensus recommendations for Vermont.
The Core Team includes representatives from stakeholder agencies and networks, funders and consultants working to make sure the initiative to advance has the financing, strategy, support and other resources it needs to succeed.
Who we are:
Laura Butler is an early childhood professional with 30 years of experience. She owns and operates Imagination Island Child Care in Milton. Laura serves on the board of the National Association of Family Child Care. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Master’s in Organizational Management and Leadership, both degrees from Springfield College. Laura lives in Milton with her husband, surrounded by their three daughters and seven grandchildren.
Core Team: Let’s Grow Kids
Sherry Carlson is Senior Program Director at Let’s Grow Kids and holds a M.Ed. and VT Educator License with an endorsement in ECE. Before joining Let’s Grow Kids in 2017, she was an early education consultant working for school districts, local colleges and Vermont philanthropists. She also spent over 20 years as the director of the Greater Burlington (VT) YMCA Early Childhood and Family Programs.
Dianne Carter works as a consultant for non-profit organizations and is currently the Implementation Coordinator for Advancing ECE as a Profession. Dianne has been working in the field of early care and education for 25 years in a variety of roles, including Associate Director at NEKCA Head Start, Military Child Care Liaison at Child Care Aware of America, and at the VT DCF, Child Development Division. Dianne holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Mediation and Applied Conflict Studies.
Stacie Curtis is a dedicated early childhood professional with over 15 years of experience. She is the current Director of Early Education for the Burlington School District. Stacie began her career in early education as a preschool teacher, early childhood special educator and family advocate. She is a 2016 graduate of the Snelling Center’s Early Childhood Leadership Institute. Stacie lives in Montpelier with her husband, two children and two dogs.
Kim Freeman currently works as an Education/Human Resource Coordinator for Early Education Services in Brattleboro Vermont. Kim has been in the field of early childhood education for over thirty years holding several roles, including; family childcare provider, center director, VCCICC Mentor, Head Start and Early Head Start teacher, site supervisor and practice- based coach. Kim strongly believes that children are only cared for, as well as the adults who care for them, are cared for. Thus, positive child outcomes are directly linked to early childhood educators who are intentionally supported and well compensated.
Christina Goodwin is the Executive Director at Pine Forest Children’s Center in Burlington. An early childhood educator for over 15 years, she has filled many roles—from infant/toddler and preschool teacher, to food program manager, to assistant program director. She is a UVM alumnae with a degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Development & Family Studies. She has a Master’s in Education and certification in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Christina is part of the Burlington Area Shared Services Hub and a VTAEYC board member. She is excited about the momentum of this project and the future of the early childhood profession.
Alyson Grzyb is Director of the Bennington Early Childhood Center and has 22 years of experience in early childhood education. A licensed teacher with an early childhood endorsement, she holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Central Connecticut State University and has taught classes at Community College of Vermont since 2015. Alyson is a 2017 graduate of the Early Childhood Leadership Institute at the Snelling Center for Government. She serves as an Early Childhood Network grant coordinator and facilitator and as a member of the Quality Task Force of Bennington’s Building Bright Futures Council.
Kelly Hayes is a dedicated Early Childhood Professional with over 20 years of experience. She has worked as a Lead Infant Teacher, a Toddler Teacher, a live-in Nanny, an Early Interventionist, a Home Childcare Provider and is now the Owner and Director of a small Child Care Center. Kelly received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Plymouth State College in 2000. Then she received her Master of Science degree from Wheelock College in 2006 after completing two more years of intense work in a program called Birth to Three: Development and Intervention. Kelly is actively involved in a local Starting Points network and recently graduated from Vermont’s Early Childhood Leadership Institute. Kelly lives in Waitsfield with her two children, Daniel and Lily, and their dog, Bailey.
Tammie Hazlett provides early childhood education services to eight families in her registered family childcare home. Constantly striving to improve her program, she recently obtained her Child Development Associate credential and a 4-STAR rating for her program. Tammie co-leads the Early Childhood Professionals Network, based in Hartford. She serves as the facilitator between that group and the Bradford-based Connections group. She manages Facebook pages for both of these professional networks and serves as lead coordinator for the Annual Car Seat Safety Event. Tammie lives in Thetford with her husband and enjoys spending time with her two children and their families.
Rachel Hunter has been an advocate for young children in Vermont for 20 years. She was owner and teacher of a Registered Family Child Care program for 17 years. She has been on many state committees and advisory boards, including a gubernatorial appointment to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care, and led two regional Starting Points groups focused on leadership development, creating initiatives and peer support. She has authored several articles and regularly serves as a facilitator and instructor for local and regional conversations. She continues to support Vermont’s children and families through both the public and private sectors of the early childhood field.
Rachel’s passion for supporting children and families goes beyond child care. She serves on the board of Vermont Center for the Book and is president of a non-profit organization that supports children and families throughout their school years. When Rachel is not working or volunteering she is traveling or playing board games with her wife Denise and their 5 amazing children, or spending time with their pups, Rocky, Rosie and Finn.
Heather Martin is the owner of Baby Steps Childcare, an early childhood consultant, and member of the VTAEYC Board of Directors. She has over 20 years of experience in the early education field, serving as an assistant, lead teacher, and center director. Heather has dedicated a great deal of time to expanding capacity in existing programs as well as establishing new programs by offering consultation around technical assistance, financial planning, business development, grant writing, coordination with stakeholders and funding sources. Most recently she has worked closely with Castleton University, serving as a liaison to the early education world. Heather’s favorite role thus far has been as an advocate for early educators on the local, state and national level and she is encouraged by the raised public awareness regarding the importance of early education. She truly believes that a well-supported early education profession can not only transform the lives of the children it serves, but also the dedicated teachers in the field.
Meghan Meszkat is an early education administrator who has worked in corporate, nonprofit and public education systems. Currently, Meghan is the Associate Director of Early Education for the Southwest Vermont SU in Bennington, supporting public preschool programs and early childhood special educators. Meghan is a graduate of the Snelling Center’s Early Childhood Leadership Institute and is enrolled at Castleton University to receive her Vermont Principal’s endorsement. Meghan is also a trainer for Vermont Northern Lights at CCV. She lives in with her husband and two sons in Londonderry, where they enjoy skiing, camping and sailing.
Core Team: UVM
Kaitlin Northey is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood at the University of Vermont. Her research focuses on policy implementation and leadership in early childhood education (ECE), as well as issues related to the ECE workforce. She started her career as an art teacher in a public K-8 school and then became an early educator for children birth to five. After witnessing how policies significantly shaped teaching and learning in these settings and how often teachers’ voices were excluded from research that informed policy, Kaitlin earned her PhD in early childhood. Her research aims to highlight the perspectives of those implementing policies and her teaching encourages teachers to become active advocates in the early childhood community. Currently, she is facilitating a group exploring the alignment of ECE professional preparation pathways in higher education.
Jennifer Olson is a Preschool teacher at the Wren’s Nest Forest Preschool in New Haven. Jennifer received her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from UVM in 2004, and her M.Ed. from UVM in Educational Leadership in 2020. Her commitment to the field is demonstrated by her twelve-year tenure as a classroom teacher and her participation in state-wide efforts to advocate for policies impacting early childhood education.
Staci Otis owns Little Allstars Childcare and Preschool in Springfield. She has operated her Family Child Care program for 15 years, including the last five years as a Pre-K partner. Staci has an Associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education and Human Services. She has been the co-leader of her local Starting Points network for the past seven years and enjoys supporting other providers in the network to enhance and strengthen, not only their programs, but also themselves. Staci and her husband live in Springfield and have five children and one grandchild.
Core Team: VTAEYC
Sonja Raymond is the Executive Director of VTAEYC. Read more about her here.
Core Team: Communications Consultant
Katie Titterton is a writer and consultant who provides communications content and strategy to Vermont nonprofits. She is a 2016 graduate of the Snelling Center’s Vermont Leadership Institute and worked in nonprofit fundraising and communications for many years. She’s interested in improving equity, access and inclusion. As a freelance writer, she contributed several articles about early childhood education to KidsVT and other publications. She lives in Richmond, where her two young children attend a family child care program.
Susan Titterton works as a consultant for non-profit organizations and is currently the project manager for VTAEYC’s Advancing as a Profession. Over her career in education, she has worked with children from pre-kindergarten through high school in various roles—para-educator, teacher, counselor and principal. As a Responsive Classroom program consultant, she trained teachers and principals around New England. Susan holds a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with a minor in Child Study, as well as Master’s degrees in Counseling and in Mediation & Applied Conflict Studies. She lives in Elmore with her husband, where they raised two sons and a daughter and now enjoy four grandchildren.
Susan Torncello, formerly a pre-school and kindergarten educator, prepares pre-service teachers in UVM’s Early Childhood Birth-Grade 3 Program. During her 20 years in this role, she has focused on enhancing the understanding that aspiring teachers have of infant, toddler and preschool contexts, as well as of the transition children and families make as they move into kindergarten and the primary grades, often in public school settings. Susan is passionate about bridging those worlds and is a tireless advocate for joyful, meaningful learning for all children. Susan lives in Shelburne. She has 3 children and 2 granddaughters.
Core Team: Let’s Grow Kids
Lorraine Vernet is currently a Senior Manager at Let’s Grow Kids, supporting the field of early childhood education in a variety of ways including workforce development, leader development and increasing capacity. Previously, she served as the resource development specialist for the Lamoille Family Center for thirteen years, the Lamoille Starting Points coordinator, and was a member of the Lamoille Building Bright Futures Council. Earlier on and for over two decades, she was a center director, a preschool teacher and a toddler teacher.
Su White is the longtime teaching Director at Quarry Hill School, a private PreK program in Middlebury. As a member of a 6 person teaching team, she is committed to equity and collaboration. She is currently a co-leader of the Early Childhood Directors Network in Addison County, a group that has been educating and promoting the importance of quality early care and education in the region. Su is a 2018 graduate of the Snelling Early Childhood Leadership Institute. She lives in Lincoln with her family, staying active in local public school issues and climate action.
April Zajko, M.Ed., works as an educational consultant and a faculty member of the Community College of Vermont. April has worked in early childhood education (ECE) throughout her career in a variety of roles, including: public school teacher, Universal Prekindergarten teacher in a partner program, and founder & director of a nature-based preschool. Over the last nine years, April has led ECE professional development with hundreds of providers around the state of Vermont. April has a Master’s of Education degree from the University of Virginia and is a 2019 graduate of the Early Childhood Leadership Institute from the Snelling Center for Government.