Operations and Evaluation
Policy and Strategy
EMERITUS BOARD MEMBERS:
Contact LET'S GROW KIDS:
Physical and mailing address:
19 Marble Avenue Suite 4
Burlington, VT 05401
Rick Davis was born in Vermont and forged his successful career in commercial real estate development beginning in 1976. When renovating the second property he'd purchased, his crew’s tools were stolen by a group of elementary and middle school children who tried to hawk the tools in Burlington's downtown marketplace. Rather than press charges, Rick opted to talk to the children and their families—and even ended up offering a few of the kids jobs at the site.
As Rick learned more about the children's lives and the power of mentorship, he was inspired to join and then direct the board at King Street Center, a nonprofit that provides children and families the life-building skills necessary for a healthy and productive future.
"It became increasingly clear to me while on the board at the King Street Center that the best opportunity to prepare children for success in life is during the first years," Rick said.
As Rick explored Vermont's early childhood system, he saw that it was an underfunded—and disconnected—patchwork of organizations that struggled to meet real needs for children and families. He realized that change was needed at a systems level. So, in 2000, Rick and long-time friend Carl Ferenbach co-founded the Permanent Fund for Vermont's Children (now Let's Grow Kids).
Rick is president of Let’s Grow Kids and president and founder of the Davis Company. He is currently a board member of Champlain College and is a past board member of the King Street Center, Mobius (now Mentor Vermont), and the High Meadows Fund. He was named Vermont Philanthropist of the Year in 2006; won the Excellence in Philanthropy award from the Vermont Community Foundation in 2015; and won the Vermont Lifetime Leadership Award from the Vermont Council on Rural Development in 2016.
Rick is a former U.S. naval officer and an avid sculptor. He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Colorado, Denver. He currently resides in Stowe, where he loves spending time with his grandson.
Jennifer Williams is a joint venture partner with Norwich Partners, a hotel development company that builds properties in New England and Florida. She is also executive director of the Children’s Fund of the Upper Valley, which benefits children’s’ charities in the local area. Jennifer worked in higher education fundraising for 13 years, 11 of which at Dartmouth College. She managed the College’s New York office for Special Gifts from 1990–96 and the Dartmouth College Fund from 1996–99; and she served as associate director of development from 1999–2003.
Jennifer has served as the overseer of the Hopkins Center for Performing Arts at Dartmouth College; chair of the board of trustees for the Montessori School of Hanover, New Hampshire; chair of the working group for the Children's Hospital at Dartmouth; chair of the advisory board of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, Upper Valley Region; trustee of the Children's Literacy Foundation; trustee of WISE; trustee of the Montshire Museum of Science; and member of the Upper Valley Land Trust Advisory Committee. Jennifer graduated from Dartmouth College with honors in French in 1985 and holds a master's degree in public administration from New York University's Wagner School of Public Service.
As chief executive officer and president of the Vermont Community Foundation, Dan Smith brings experience in public service, organizational planning and development, as well as a strong legal background.
Dan began his career as a law clerk in the Vermont Supreme Court and then practiced law at Downs Rachlin Martin before taking a position with the Greater Burlington Industrial Corporation, where he led economic development efforts while crafting state and regional strategies to make key industry sectors more successful.
Dan also worked for a business management consulting company in Stowe before moving on to serve as director of community relations and public policy at Vermont State Colleges, where he developed and executed the institution’s state and federal public policy agenda.
Most recently, Dan served as president of Vermont Technical College, where he has strengthened the college’s financial picture and led a reorganization of college curriculum while deepening partnerships with employers in key state industries.
Dan, an eighth-generation Vermonter who grew up in central Vermont, holds a bachelor's in history from the University of Virginia and a juris doctorate from the University of Virginia School of Law.
Tom MacLeay, a former president, CEO, and chair of the board of National Life, is currently lead director of the board of National Life Group. He joined National Life in 1976 as a security analyst, rapidly advancing through the management ranks and serving in pivotal positions at critical times in the company’s growth and expansion. He became president and COO in 1996, and in 2002, he was named CEO and chair of the board. He retired as president and CEO in 2008. He stepped down as chair in 2017 and assumed the position of lead director. Tom is a past chair of the board of Sentinel Group Funds, Inc., he currently chairs the National Life Charitable Foundation, and serves on the board of directors of Union Mutual Fire Insurance Company, eSec Lending, Inc.
Prior to joining National Life, Tom served as a pilot as well as a management analyst and officer in the U.S. Air Force. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors, from Denison University in 1971 and earned a master's degree in business administration the following year from the University of Denver.
Lynette Fraga is executive director at Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA), one of the nation’s leading voices on child care in policy, practice, and research. As an authority on child development, Lynette serves in an advisory capacity on a number of national panels and committees including the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood, the Institute of Medicine Early Care and Education Collaborative, Healthy Kids Healthy Futures Steering Committee, NAEYC’s Power to the Profession Task Force, and the Early Care and Education Innovation Collaborative. In addition, she serves on the boards of Generations United, All Our Kin, and the Children’s Leadership Council.
Lynette began her career in early childhood as a teacher in infant, toddler, and preschool classrooms. She has since held positions at the local, state, and national level within the nonprofit, corporate, and higher education sectors, including vice president of early care and special populations for Care.com, chief program officer at ZERO TO THREE, and several leadership roles within the Early Head Start National Resource Center.
Lynette holds a doctoral degree in family studies from Kansas State University, a master’s degree in human relations from the University of Oklahoma, and a bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Arizona.
A pediatrician and medical geneticist, Alan was director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development from 2009 to 2015, overseeing work by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) on child health, learning, and development, and maternal and reproductive health. He earlier served as deputy director of the NIH’s National Human Genome Research Institute from 2002 to 2008, and as acting director from 2008 to 2009. From 1987 to 1999, Alan was director of the Vermont Regional Genetics Center at the University of Vermont College of Medicine where, among other projects, he founded Vermont’s only pediatric intensive care unit. He also served as board chair of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England and of the Guttmacher Institute, and as a board member of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, he is a member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Christine Dodson is the COO and co-founder of Mamava, the leading expert in lactation spaces, integrating the biological, physical, and emotional needs of nursing mamas into smart solutions. Christine launched Mamava in 2006 with her friend, colleague, and fellow mama, Sascha Mayer. In 2018, Christine and Sascha were named Vermont Small Business Persons of the Year.
Christine joined Solidarity of Unbridled Labour (Mamava’s birthplace) in 1997 as an account director and left as managing director in 2018 to join Mamava full-time as COO. Christine has over 25 years in design and advertising, working on brands like Pantene, Wolverine World Wide, Patagonia, Black Diamond, and her experience includes management positions at Grey Advertising in New York City, and State Street Corporation in Boston. She holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of New Hampshire.
Michele Asch is the vice president of leadership & organizational development within her family business, Twincraft Skincare, a custom contract manufacturer of specialty bar soap and skincare products for over 150 brands throughout North America.
Michele has a diverse background, which includes 14 years at the University of Vermont. The first 10 years she was responsible for leadership development and service learning programs for students. She then moved on to the UVM School of Business and, as the director of the UVM Family Business Program, she assisted Vermont family businesses with their succession planning. Thriving on the creativity found in entrepreneurship, she founded and sold two small businesses, a sea kayak adventure travel business and a men’s salon. Michele is a certified business/coach.
Michele is committed to serving our community. She served as chair of Vermont Children’s Trust Foundation where she was a board member for 7 years. She recently ended a 3-year appointment as chairperson of the Burlington Police Commission. Michele graduated from the UVM School of Business in 1988.
Meg Seely has served on many boards, primarily in the Woodstock, Vermont area, and at Dartmouth Hitchcock Hospital. She has served on the Vermont Community Foundation Board for the last seven years, including two as board chair, and is also on the Special Needs Support Center and Pivotal Steps Boards.
Meg holds advanced degrees in special education related fields. From 1975 to 2001, she worked and eventually directed the Woodstock Learning Clinic/Trust. Meg co-founded the Mt Tom School in 1988, which provided families with quality child care and nurturing, including infant care. Subsequently, she served in many capacities at the Woodstock and Reading Elementary Schools, including interim principal at both.
For the last 15 years, after launching her children into independence, Meg volunteered as a patient family advisor at Dartmouth-Hitchcock. She helped to develop Patient Family Voices and the Family Advisory Board at the Children’s Hospital at Dartmouth. Meg has spoken locally and at national and international conferences about the importance of patient family centered care.
Despite being a proud, born-and-raised, fifth generation Californian, Meg and her husband live in Bridgewater, Vermont by choice. Their three adult children and four granddaughters are Meg’s pride and joy.
Aly draws on her extensive experience in state and national politics and her leadership in education policy to spearhead Let's Grow Kids' mission. Prior to joining the organization in 2015, Aly served as the deputy chief of staff for Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin where she led several efforts to support early childhood education, including winning competitive federal grants totaling $70 million and supporting the passage of universal prekindergarten. Aly was selected as a 2013 Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments and as the 2014 Vermont Champion for Education by the New England Secondary School Consortium. She also served on the 2008 Obama campaign and graduated with honors from Brown University. Aly currently serves as a Trustee of University of Vermont Medical Center and the Vermont Council on Rural Development and was recently named a Changemaker for Children by Save the Children.
Aly grew up in Newbury, VT and now lives in Montpelier with her husband, James Pepper, twin babies Beau and Wesley and dog, Bella.
Hannah is a seventh-generation Vermonter and a graduate of Middlebury College. After school Hannah spent several years teaching and traveling in Sub-Saharan Africa before landing in San Francisco where she worked for the Bridgespan Group, a non-profit consulting firm. After moving home to Vermont in 2011, Hannah honed her communications and design skills at the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets, and at her family’s specialty food company, Fat Toad Farm. In her spare time Hannah enjoys gardening, running, skiing, reading, eating sushi, and playing wiffle ball with her sons. Hannah lives in Montpelier with her husband, two sons (one in child care) and an extra-friendly chocolate lab.
While studying journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, Nicole wrote feature obituaries for the Boston Globe and interviewed celebrities like John Malkovich and Tori Amos for feature stories in the university paper. Nicole worked as a newspaper reporter for weekly and daily papers before translating her love of storytelling into the world of nonprofit communications at Perkins School for the Blind, Helen Keller’s alma mater. After moving to Vermont in 2012, Nicole worked as an editor at the Burlington Free Press where she oversaw the Arts and Weekend sections of the paper before returning to nonprofit work at the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties. Through her fundraising and communications work at the VNA, Nicole worked closely with the VNA Family Room Parent Child Center and developed a passion for the importance of quality early experiences for all children. Joining the team in April of 2016 allowed Nicole to combine her interests in communications, storytelling and early childhood issues. Outside of LGK, Nicole loves to experiment with combining textures and colors through collage art and fashion.
When Seth was in 4th grade, he impressed his Voorheesville, NY elementary school classmates by writing a short story that spanned eight sheets of paper. From that moment on, it was clear his life and career would revolve around the written word. He graduated with a BA in English and an emphasis on creative writing from the University of Hartford in 1999 and was thereafter firmly entrenched in the Vermont publishing world as an editor for Dartmouth Journal Services and Ashgate Publishing. With his young son serving as his inspiration, and feeling the pull to put his writing skills to good use, he answered the call from Let’s Grow Kids in 2015. When he’s not in the office, you’ll find Seth exploring antique and salvage shops with his wife, in the yard with his two brown dogs, losing graciously on the volleyball and dodgeball courts or giving his son a raspberry.
A native Vermonter, Natalie graduated from the University of Vermont in 2001 with a BA in English. Before joining the team at Let’s Grow Kids, she worked as a production coordinator, studio manager and event photographer in New York City. She also volunteered as an ESL tutor with Literacy Volunteers of America, and spent time abroad as a documentary photographer for Citta in their partner schools across western Nepal. She returned to Vermont in 2015, excited to start a family among the same green mountains and farmlands of her childhood. She now lives in Williston with her husband Patrick, daughter Scarlett, and dog Tank. She is grateful for the opportunity to advocate on behalf of all Vermont kids, ensuring them the strong start that they deserve.
Lucia connects investors to impact within a high-risk, high-reward social movement in Vermont to secure affordable access to high-quality child care for all Vermont families by 2025. Lucia is passionate about her work, which sits squarely at the intersection of government partnerships, philanthropy, and advocacy. Prior to her career in the nonprofit sector, Lucia was a management consultant with Public Consulting Group, Inc., where she worked with health, education, and human services agencies nationwide designing and implementing programs that supported vulnerable populations.
Lucia received an MS in public affairs from the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at University of Massachusetts Boston and a BA from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY.
Lucia and her husband enjoy spending time outdoors with their two young daughters and can often be found at one of many Burlington playgrounds, on the bike path, or at Lake Monster games!
Hannah brings years of fundraising and communications experience to Let’s Grow Kids and is thrilled to be channeling her passion for social justice and community building to benefit Vermont families. Hannah studied global health and medical anthropology at Middlebury College and spent a few years working in health systems strengthening across Africa before receiving her MBA with a focus in marketing and social entrepreneurship from Northeastern University. She moved back to Vermont in 2015 as the associate director of annual giving for academic health sciences at the University of Vermont Foundation. Hannah is on the board of directors of the Janet S. Munt Family Room, a parent-child center in Burlington, and serves on the Middlebury College Alumni Association Board. When she’s not working, Hannah enjoys adventuring around Vermont with her husband and rescue pup Harvey, reading, skiing, traveling and trying out new recipes.
Zoe is grateful to call Vermont home. A graduate of Middlebury College, Zoe served for two years as an AmeriCorps member at a college-access non-profit in Portland, OR, supporting low-income students get into and graduate from college. After finishing her term of service, she moved back to Vermont and served as executive director of Addison Central Teens, which supports the Teen Center in Middlebury in providing a safe, healthy, and fun afterschool space for youth. She then transitioned from direct service work to her role at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England as a philanthropy officer. She's excited to bring her love of philanthropy, relationship building, and strategy to Let's Grow Kids.
Zoe's commitment to equity and access to opportunity drives her professional work and personal life, and she serves on the Vermont Women's Fund Council and was a member of the Racial Equity Learning Community for leaders at feminist organizations in Vermont. She lives in Vergennes with her husband, two cats, and eight chickens.
Erin joined the programs team in 2017 to develop and implement systems to transform them into a data driven team. She brought with her expertise from nine years of community-based research and evaluation at the Center for Rural Studies at the University of Vermont (UVM). She has published widely in areas of child health (especially childhood obesity), rural economic development and quality of life. She was a Peace Corps Fellow and Transportation Research Fellow while completing an MS in community development and applied economics at UVM. Before moving to Vermont in 2006, she provided go-to-market strategies for technology companies and spent three years traveling, primarily with the US Peace Corps in the South Pacific.
Cathy tracks and disseminates financial and programmatic information to track performance, identifies challenges and outcomes, and provides support to ensure effective use of technology by the program team. Her contributions allow program team staff to ensure positive results for Vermont’s youngest children. Over the past 15 years, she has worked with Bloomberg Financial Markets in the role of database management and with organizations such as PrO Unlimited and Vermont Community Foundation in roles of financial operations support. She has also held volunteer board positions including at Evergreen Preschool in Vergennes. Her experience helps the team ensure that the data followed is timely and accurate and the service related to data and technology for the team is a top priority. She is a graduate of the Snelling Center Early Childhood Leadership Institute Class of 2016.
Maria is excited to join the Let's Grow Kids team as the Data Specialist. As part of the Operations and Evaluation team, Maria works to support the organization's technology needs. Maria's education and career have revolved around addressing structural inequality. She received her undergraduate degree in women's studies from The Ohio State University and a graduate degree in humanistic/multicultural education from the State University of New York at New Paltz. In Maria's career she has worked in the fields of advocacy, human services, and secondary and higher education. Most recently, she managed an educational software at the collegiate level, connecting students with individualized resources. Maria's experiences helped fuel a passion for exploration of proactive interventions to disrupt the cycle of institutionalized and historic marginalization. Maria believes Let’s Grow Kids embodies the kind of comprehensive intervention that is necessary for positive social change.
Maria recently moved to Vermont with her husband and three daughters. She married into an enormous Vermont family spread throughout the state and is overjoyed to be closer to them all.
Rhea grew up in Montpelier and graduated from Davidson College in North Carolina with a BA in Latin American studies. She served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Dominican Republic for two years, then as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with USDA Rural Development in Montpelier. She has worked and volunteered in the education field for many years, and is grateful for the opportunity to help support LGK’s important mission. Rhea recently moved to Burlington and is excited to continue to explore her beautiful home state.
Trey is an experienced leader, advocate and problem solver who joined Let’s Grow Kids in 2019 to oversee its legal, policy and political strategy.
Prior to Let’s Grow Kids, Trey was a director at Downs Rachlin Martin PLLC where his practice included administrative law and government affairs. Trey also served as official in the Administration of Peter Shumlin, including appointment as secretary of administration. Before attending Vermont Law School, he was a classroom teacher and school administrator from 1996 to 2005, including stints with kindergarten-aged students in Covington, Kentucky and Oakland, California. It was during this time that Martin witnessed firsthand how access to high-quality early care and learning environments transforms lives and communities.
Trey is an adjunct faculty member at Vermont Law School, where he co-directs the Entrepreneurship and Legal Laboratory. He also serves on the boards of the Vermont Bar Foundation and the Trust for Public Land. Trey and his wife, Roberta, live in Calais with their four children and their dog, Sola. He enjoys gardening, hiking, skiing and mountain biking.
Sarah grew up in a log home in the woods of Essex, VT. She went to St. Michael's College and then earned an MA from the University of Hawaii. On her return to Vermont she worked for then-Congressman Bernie Sanders before joining the movement to end domestic and sexual violence, working first at the Women’s Rape Crisis Center in Burlington and then doing statewide public policy regarding violence against women. She is a 2002 graduate of the Vermont Leadership Institute at the Snelling Center for Government. Sarah has served on a number of nonprofit boards and is active in local political campaigns, and just completed ten years of service on the Burlington Police Commission, the last two as chair. She lives in the Old North End of Burlington with her partner David and tries to keep up with their ten-year-old son.
Emilie leads the campaign efforts for Let’s Grow Kids and the Let’s Grow Kids Action Network to secure access to high-quality, affordable child care for all Vermont families by 2025. Emilie grew up in Hartford, Vermont and recently returned home with her husband and two small children.
Emilie’s expertise focuses on creating and managing effective, results-driven fundraising operations and campaigns for state-wide initiatives and non-profit organizations with a strong emphasis on building coalitions with the public, non-profit and private sector. Emilie spent the past 14 years in New Orleans where she served as a senior consultant to Governor John Bel Edwards and to Rebuild Louisiana, a 501 (c)(4) focused on supporting the governor’s legislative agenda. Previously, she served as a director of investor relations for the New Orleans Business Alliance and director of development for the SBP, a non-profit disaster organization. Emilie worked with organizations as they recovered from Hurricane Katrina and learned firsthand the importance of taking bold action and making transformational investments in systems to build communities back better.
Outside of her work at LGK, Emilie hopes to get back to her love of cross-country skiing, hiking, and re-discovering the Green Mountain State through the eyes of her kids.
Emily grew up in Brattleboro, VT and earned her BA in women’s studies from Brown University. She returned to Vermont to attend Vermont Law School and has worked as an attorney, advocate, and policy advisor on behalf of low income families and survivors of domestic and sexual violence.
In 2010, Emily opened Clementine, a store on Main Street in Middlebury featuring the products of small makers and artists. She was featured in American Express national Small Business Saturday Campaign, she worked closely with Etsy to support their wholesale engagement, and developed her own consulting practice to support creative product designers as they worked to grow their wholesale businesses. Her son was born during her first year of business ownership, and the next six years involved endless conversations with customers, peers, and friends about how to successfully grow a career and a child. She was eager to make the leap back into the advocacy world to ensure all Vermont children and families receive the care they deserve.
She lives in Middlebury, VT in a house with many boys and dogs.
Beverly brings her passion for children and families—and a background in health care planning, policy and administration—to this new role at Let’s Grow Kids. She has public and private sector experience from a variety of planning and policy roles in Pittsburgh, PA and Vermont. This includes a variety of responsibilities at the Visiting Nurse Association of Chittenden and Grand Isle Counties (now known as UVM Health Network Home Health and Hospice) where she most recently led agency-wide strategic planning and government relations. In that role she worked closely with the Family and Children’s Services Division including Family Room, their Parent Child Center in the Old North End of Burlington. Beverly has served as the chair of the board of directors for Pine Forest Children’s Center, where she helped to transition to a freestanding, nonprofit organization; and as director of planning for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, where she was introduced to children and family advocacy.
Beverly earned a MBA at the University of Pittsburgh and a BS in health planning and administration from Pennsylvania State University. Vermont has been her home since 1995 and she is happy to be able to raise her two daughters here. Beverly and her family live in Shelburne and enjoy hiking, swimming, kayaking and taking advantage of the natural environments and activities that make Vermont such a great place for children and families.
Jen has lived and worked in Vermont off and on throughout her life. Prior to joining Let’s Grow Kids, Jen worked in the public policy and advocacy field, most recently serving as director of public policy & advocacy with WOMEN’S WAY in Philadelphia. Jen has also worked with organizations including Amnesty International USA, the ALS Association of Western Pennsylvania and the American Cancer Society. Jen received her MS in public policy and management from Carnegie Mellon University and her BA in government and legal studies from Bowdoin College. Jen lives in Oregon with her husband, Chris, and dog, Honey, and enjoys skiing, mountain biking, going on adventures and curling up with a good book.
Anna moved to Vermont in 1997 to pursue a degree in early childhood education at Champlain College. After graduating, she worked at several child care centers throughout Vermont and eventually opened a small preschool in her home in Burlington’s Old North End. Her family made the tough decision to move out of the state in 2007 and she became the director of a small Montessori preschool in Arizona. Their love of Vermont quickly brought them back to Burlington at which point Anna knew she had to get involved in making a bigger difference in the lives of children. Her experience working in a variety of child care settings made her passionate about the problems facing Vermont’s families. She has been working to bring more attention to the challenges facing parents with young children for the last 8 years, so joining the Let’s Grow Kids team was a natural fit. Anna is often found enjoying the beauty of Vermont with her son (17), daughter (10) and amazing husband.
Ansley joined the LGK Policy Team as the Strategy Manager to help develop and implement strategies to support policy for high-quality, affordable child care for Vermont’s children. Ansley spent 5 years as the assistant director of the non-profit trade association Renewable Energy Vermont, advocating for cleaner, greener energy solutions. Of the many hats she has worn over the years, business management, accounting, event planning, and policy are the ones that fit the best. Ansley has a B.A. in Biological Anthropology from Colorado State University.
Ansley moved to Vermont in 2012 from her home state of Colorado with her husband Mike and their two dogs. When not trying to solve the world’s problems, Ansley can be found backcountry skiing, mountain biking, running, in her garden, or in her stained glass studio.
Drake received her BA in political science from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, and moved to Vermont in 2011 to pursue her masters of public administration at UVM. After graduating, she spent seven years at Hunger Free Vermont, first on the development team and then as the food security advocacy manager, working to protect and improve access to 3SquaresVT and the programs that keep Vermonters well-nourished and thriving. She is thrilled to be a member of the team at Let’s Grow Kids, working to expand access to high quality, affordable early care and education for all Vermont families.
Outside of LGK, you can find Drake skiing, hiking, running, eating tacos, or teaching spin classes at REV Indoor Cycling. She lives in Burlington with her cat and an abundance of houseplants.
Before joining Let's Grow Kids, Katie attended the University of Edinburgh and graduated with her master’s degree in human rights law. While studying there, she focused her research on children’s rights and education policy. She prepared a report on children’s rights in Scotland and presented findings to members of the Scottish Parliament to assist in the drafting of the Children’s Rights (Scotland) Bill. Prior to pursuing her master’s degree, Katie worked in partnership development for Zearn Math where she analyzed school and district data to inform conversations about learning outcomes. Katie is passionate about promoting access to early childhood educational opportunities and is thrilled to channel that passion into the LGK movement.
Outside of her professional interests, Katie loves running, skiing, hiking, and listening to music.
Shayla grew up in Saranac Lake, NY in the Adirondack Mountains. She graduated from St. Lawrence University with a BS in psychology in 2004, and then moved to Vermont to start working in the field of autism. Prior to working with Let’s Grow Kids, she served as the volunteer and community outreach manager for the Humane Society of Chittenden County, where she managed a highly-active volunteer program of more than 200 people. She has also worked as a health service administrator for an outpatient drug treatment facility. Shayla lives in Colchester with her husband, their super adorable sons, Nolan and Corbin, and Ludo the Loveable Wonder Dog. She enjoys any outdoor activity spent with her family and loves spending time with her horse
Rex and his wife Karen learned in 2015 that they were going to be grandparents. When their son explained how challenging it was to find high-quality, affordable child care, they decided to leave their teaching positions and move to Vermont. Karen took on the role of full-time in-home caregiver for their granddaughter—and, more recently, their grandson as well.
Rex has served on nonprofit boards, trained and coached volunteer leaders in nonprofit settings and presented workshops and trainings at conferences across the nation. He has also coached dozens of families through difficult circumstances, helping parents and children focus on how they can assume agency to create positive results. The challenges from the move to Vermont reinforce Rex’s commitment to LGK’s work. He is excited to be part of the field team and to connect with Vermont families.
Emily is a passionate educator with ten years of experience as a classroom teacher and administrator of early education and elementary programs. After graduating with a BA in psychology and visual art from Marlboro College, Emily went on to study curriculum and instruction in the visual arts and received an MEd from Union Institute & University. Along the way, Emily has taught art classes and displayed artwork, and managed an after-school program as well as early education centers in Vermont and Virginia. Emily’s experience is diverse, including work in public schools in addition to Waldorf and Montessori schools, giving her a strong understanding of the educational landscape, education philosophy and child development. Emily is a committed child advocate and an artist who loves to spend her free time outdoors with her husband and two children.
Noah was born in Burlington and grew up in White River Junction. Noah attended Kenyon College, where he received a bachelor of arts in English and film. He subsequently received a teaching license from the Upper Valley Educator’s Institute and has worked in public education for most of the last eight years. Noah has organized for several electoral campaigns for the last four years, and is excited to organize for Let’s Grow Kids. Outside of LGK, Noah loves to travel, go backpacking, and make short films.
Sherry is an integral voice and advocate for young children. With an “advocacy by doing” philosophy, she has been an effective driver of universal prekindergarten, school/community partnerships, and early childhood workforce initiatives. She has leveraged her consulting roles with the programs team, the Early Learning Partnership of Chittenden County, and the Northern Lights Career Development Center for Early Childhood Professionals to facilitate change. She joined the programs team full-time in the fall of 2017 and leads the Quality Program Expansion and Workforce Development Initiatives. Before beginning her consulting career in 2008, She spent over 20 years as the director of the Greater Burlington (VT) YMCA Early Childhood and Family Programs.
Throughout her career, LouAnn has focused on advocacy, consulting, and teaching with a goal toward workforce development for the child care profession. She most recently worked as a STARS coordinator and prior to that she was the director of Robin’s Nest Children’s Center in Burlington. In her current role, she supports the development of networks using a collaborative, community approach to increasing the quality and viability of Vermont child care program.
After serving as the regional manager for the Bennington, Brattleboro and Rutland regions, Sharron is now the strategic initiatives manager for southern Vermont. Most recently she was the resource development and referral specialist for Bennington County’s Community Based Child Care Support Services housed at BCCCA / Sunrise Family Resource Center. She has been an active member of the Quality Task Force Committee of the Bennington Building Bright Futures Council and the statewide Professional Preparation and Development committee. Prior to this work, she was a toddler and preschool teacher, advertising sales director and professional photographer.
Didi is a strong advocate for enhancing professional opportunities for child care providers and increasing high-quality care for Vermont’s young children. As a strategic initiatives manager, her support and leadership will focus on the northern Vermont region. She has 30 years of experience in the early childhood field having held teaching and administrative positions in a variety of settings including 20 years at the Greater Burlington (VT) YMCA.
Lorraine’s considerable experience in the child care profession has positioned her well for her work on child care viability strategies. Previously, she served as the resource development specialist for the Lamoille Family Center (2000–2013), 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.
Rachel has been an advocate for young children in Vermont for nearly 20 years. She is the owner and teacher of a registered family child care program as well as a leader with Starting Points groups. She has sat on many committees and advisory boards including the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality Affordable Child Care. She has successfully supported many programs as an early childhood mentor and is the president of the Springfield Booster Club supporting children’s athletics. Rachel also has a background in business management and marketing.
Tanya joined the programs team in 2016 to mentor center-based programs. For Tanya, mentoring was a vital extension of her work supporting strong business practices and early childhood professionals. For many years she served as a teacher and director at Robin’s Nest Children’s Center. She also worked in the public-school settings, for Head Start and is a member of the Building Bright Futures Council of Chittenden County. As a community and program support specialist, Tanya is eager to impact the capacity for quality programming across the state.
Brenda has been actively engaged in early childhood education for almost 30 years—as a classroom teacher of children from birth through kindergarten, as a program director and as a program mentor. In addition to supporting young children as they grow, learn and develop through play and discovery in nurturing and stimulating environments, Brenda also thoroughly enjoys supporting other early childhood educators through mentoring, technical assistance and formal instruction.
Brenda has a BS in education from Millersville University of Pennsylvania and an MA in liberal studies from Dartmouth College.
Chris has been involved with the early childhood profession for over 20 years as the owner and educator of a 5-star home-based program, the first program in the state to achieve stars. She has provided support to peers and the profession as an instructor, a professional development specialist for the Council of Professional Recognition, a qualified observer for the Northern Lights career ladder and a member of the VTAEYC board. In 2016, Chris was recognized as an Early Childhood Superhero as well as a VTAEYC Magnificent Mentor. Her current role as community and program specialist allows her to continue her passion of working with the profession to ensure all children have the opportunity for high-quality, affordable early childhood care and education.
Jen has worked in the early childhood field for more than 20 years as a teacher, director, mentor and, most recently, as a STARS assessor. She has been active in the early childhood community, working with the Peer Review Project as a mentor and as an adjunct instructor for CCV. She joined the programs team to continue her work advocating for increasing access to high-quality early childhood programs.