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Board of Directors

Helen Blank, Director of Child Care and Early Learning, National Women's Law Center (Retired)
Helen Blank recently retired from her role as Director of Child Care and Early Learning, working on child care and early education issues, at the National Women’s Law Center. She led the federal Child Care and Early Learning Coalition. At NWLC, she authored numerous reports and articles including an annual report on state child care policies and "A Center Piece of the PreK Puzzle: Providing State Prekindergarten in Child Care Centers." Previously, Ms. Blank served 24 years as the director of the Child Care and Development Division at the Children's Defense Fund. While at the Children's Defense Fund, Ms. Blank spearheaded a variety of efforts for improved early learning legislation including the campaign to enact the first comprehensive federal child care legislation. She was also a leader in efforts to create an entitlement for child care for parents receiving welfare and later to expand and improve the child care provisions in the 1996 welfare law, subsequently developing guides to assist states in implementing the provisions of the laws.  While at CDF, she created and led the Emerging Leaders Program for up and coming leaders in early care and education and at the National Women’s Law Center co-directs PLAN, the Progressive Leadership and Advocacy Network for emerging leaders focusing on issues affecting low-income women and their families.  Ms. Blank has a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan and a Master’s Degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College of the City University of New York.

Vinice Davis, Venture Partner, Imaginable Futures

Vinice Davis is a venture partner at Imaginable Futures, formerly the Omidyar Network's Education initiative, where she focuses on the firm’s US education strategy and investments. Prior to joining the firm, Vinice served as the chief operating officer of Purpose Built Schools Atlanta, a partnership organization with Atlanta Public Schools that was established to turn around some of the city’s most challenged schools. She was responsible for the strategic direction of human resources, finance and accounting, facilities, and school operations for the organization. In previous roles, Vinice was vice president of improvement services for AdvancED where she led the systematic evaluation of multiple low-performing schools throughout the US. At KIPP Metro Atlanta, she served as the managing director of operations and led the implementation of talent management and school operations for more than five years. In addition, Vinice supported charter school openings at the New York City Charter Center and worked as a human capital consultant with Ernst & Young. Vinice holds a BBA from Emory University and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. She was a Career Advancement Program (CAP) Fellow with Management Leadership for Tomorrow.

Dr. Lynette M. Fraga, Executive Director, Child Care Aware®

As Executive Director of Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA), Lynette M. Fraga, Ph.D., is a passionate practitioner, advocate and leader in the field of child care and early learning, working to advance the accessibility of quality child care experiences for all children.  Dr. Fraga has over 20 years of experience as an educator, program director and executive leader working on behalf of children and families.  Since 2012, Dr. Fraga has sought to position CCAoA as the nation’s leading voice on child care in policy, practice and research. Dr. Fraga serves on several committees, boards and expert panels including: American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood (COEC), ARCH Lifespan Respite TA Center Advisory Committee, Children’s Leadership Council (CLC) Board, Healthy Kids Healthy Futures Steering Committee, Healthy Way to Grow Expert Panel, and the Institute of Medicine Early Care and Education Collaborative, and Generations United’s Board of Directors. Fraga began her career as a teacher in an infant and toddler classroom; she worked in the military child care system, and she has held positions at the local, state and national nonprofit, corporate and higher education sectors. Prior to CCAoA, Fraga served as VP of Early Care and Special Populations for where she led development of public-private partnerships to support the corporation’s services for children with special needs and a lifespan of care options for military-connected families. During her eleven years at ZERO TO THREE, Fraga was the Chief Program Officer, spearheaded Military Family Projects as its Director, and held several leadership roles within the Early Head Start National Resource Center.  Fraga 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. 

Dr. Walter S. Gilliam, Director, The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy; Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine
Walter S. Gilliam is the Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy and Associate Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine. He is on the board of directors for the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (NACCRRA); a fellow at Zero to Three and the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER), and served as a senior advisor to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Dr. Gilliam is co-recipient of the 2008 Grawemeyer Award in Education for the coauthored book A Vision for Universal Preschool Education

Dr. Gilliam’s research involves early childhood education and intervention policy analysis (specifically how policies translate into effective services), ways to improve the quality of prekindergarten and child care services, the impact of early childhood education programs on children’s school readiness, and effective methods for reducing classroom behavior problems and reducing the incidence of preschool expulsion. His scholarly writing addresses early childhood care and education programs, school readiness, and developmental assessment of young children. Dr. Gilliam has led national analyses of state-funded prekindergarten policies and mandates, how prekindergarten programs are being implemented across the range of policy contexts, and the effectiveness of these programs at improving school readiness and educational achievement, as well as experimental and quasi-experimental studies on methods to improve early education quality. 

Dr. Gilliam actively provides consultation to state and federal decision-makers. His work has been covered in major national and international news outlets for print (e.g., New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington PostUSA Today, etc.), radio (e.g., National Public Radio), and television (e.g., NBC Today ShowCBS The Early ShowABC World News, CNN, FOX, etc.).

Rebecca Gonzalez, CEO and Founder of Time to Learn Daycare

Rebecca has a bilingual Child Development Associates (CDA) credential in infant and toddler care and has operated her family child care program in the Bronx, New York City for ten years. She is a proud mother of four children who inspire her and teach her how to love and care for children, and encourage her to be imaginative in creating exciting and memorable learning experiences with the children in her program. The decade Rebecca has spent caring for and educating young children in her program has influenced her passion to help others and advocate and support new providers in the child care field. As a family child care educator, she is committed to continuous learning and professional growth. She actively pursues opportunities to enhance her professional development. Most recently, she became a certified National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC) accreditation trainer, to support other educators seeking this highest credential in family child care. She is also an executive board member of ECE On The Move, an organization for early childhood educators. Raised to be a humble person, Rebecca enjoys helping others in need. In her spare time, she and her family prepare and distribute meals for people experiencing homelessness, an action that brings peace to her heart. As a family child care educator, her goal is to continue educating herself so she can help children expand their knowledge and move forward in life. Her message to the world is: Always keep in mind that children are our present and our future

Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, Chief Policy Officer, ZERO TO THREE
Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor is the Chief Policy Officer at ZERO TO THREE. She is the former founding Commissioner of the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood, one of four cabinet-level state agencies in the nation dedicated to serving young children and their families. Governor Dannel P. Malloy appointed her to lead the new agency in June 2013. Subsequently, Dr. Jones-Taylor was the Dalio Family Foundation’s inaugural Entrepreneur-in-Residence, where she helped the Foundation to develop a long-term early childhood strategy.

Previously, Dr. Jones-Taylor served as an assistant professor-faculty fellow at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. Her research focused on the effects of early care and education reform on child care providers in low-income urban communities and the children and families who were intended to benefit from those reforms. Dr. Jones-Taylor received a joint doctorate in American studies and anthropology from Yale University, where she also received two master’s degrees: one in African American studies and the other in American studies. She is a Pahara-Aspen Institute Fellow as well as an Aspen-Ascend Fellow, and is a former Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy Fellow and a recipient of the Ford Foundation Pre-doctoral Fellowship.

Don M. Kendall, Jr., Executive Board Chair of Social Venture Partners-Connecticut 
Don Kendall was the catalyst and driving force in the creation of SVP Connecticut.  He has been instrumental in partner recruitment, the establishment of a close working relationship with Fairfield County’s Community Foundation, and was co-lead Partner for SVP-CT’s initial Investee engagement. Currently he chairs SVP-CT’s Executive Board.

Don is a seasoned entrepreneur and private investor, with a passion for creating and leading startups in new, rapidly evolving market spaces.  He started his career at McKinsey & Company, then co-founded American Restaurants (“AmRest”), which opened the first Pizza Hut franchise in the Republic of Poland.  Today, AmRest is the largest restaurant company in Central Europe with over $1 billion in revenues and 20,000 employees. He went on to co-found (acquired by Health Central) and was a founding board member of (acquired by Expedia).

More recently, Don has devoted his time to philanthropy, impact investing and working with founders in the EdTech space. He co-founded and serves as Board Chair of Social Venture Partners Connecticut and the Smart Tech Challenges Foundation, and also serves on the boards of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and American Giant. For 10 years  he was also an active member of the Young Presidents Organization (YPO).

A graduate of Stanford University, Don lives with his wife and three children in Weston where he is a volunteer EMT and coach.

Paige MacLean, Executive Director, AF Accelerate, Achievement First

Paige MacLean is the Executive Director of AF Accelerate, a division of Achievement First.  She is responsible for developing and implementing AF’s “open source” strategy to share the network’s tools, practices, and lessons learned with both traditional districts and charter schools.  Prior to joining Achievement First in 2010, Ms. MacLean was a Senior Manager at Wellspring Consulting, a nonprofit strategy consulting firm, and a consultant at the Boston Consulting Group. After graduating from Princeton University with an A.B. in Public Policy and a certificate in Afro-American Studies, Ms. MacLean was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in the former East Germany. She received her MBA from the Yale School of Management.  Ms. MacLean is the chair of the board of All Our Kin, an organization that trains and supports high-quality, sustainable, family childcare programs.

Dr. C. Nicole Mason, President & CEO, Institute for Women's Policy Research
C. Nicole Mason, PhD is the author of Born Bright: A Young Girl's Journey from Nothing to Something in America (St. Martin's Press). She is also President and CEO at the Institute for Women's Policy Research. Prior to her position at the Institute, Mason served as Vice President of Programs at the Washington Area Women's Foundation and Director of the Center for Research and Policy in the Public Interest. Mason also served as Executive Director of the Women of Color Policy Network at New York University's Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. There, she held the distinction of being one of the youngest scholar-practitioners to lead a major U.S. research center or think tank. 

She is also an Ascend Fellow at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC. She has written hundreds of articles on women, leadership development and economic security. Her writing and commentary have been featured in MSNBC, CNN, NBC, CBS, Real Clear Politics, The Nation, The Washington Post, Marie Claire, The New York Times, The Progressive, ESSENCE, The Root, The Grio, The Miami Herald, Democracy Now, and numerous NPR affiliates, among others. She also delivered a TEDTalk at TEDWomen 2016 on the courage to disrupt and the gift of being difficult.

Sammy Politziner, Co-Founder, Arbor Brothers
Sammy co-leads Arbor Brothers, a grantmaking organization that supports promising social entrepreneurs. Sammy graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to New York City, where he taught second grade in the Bronx with Teach for America and founded a small academic summer camp for his students. Afterwards, he moved north for a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and then down south to teach at a KIPP school in North Carolina. Sammy returned to New York for a job in investment banking at Kildare Capital, a boutique firm, where he spent five years providing sell-side M&A and capital formation advice. In addition to co-leading Arbor Brothers, Sammy serves as a director on the board of Exponent Philanthropy, the nation's largest association of funders.   

Jessica Sager, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, All Our Kin
Jessica Sager received her B.A. from Barnard College and worked as an artist-in-the-schools in New York City before attending Yale Law School, where she was a Coker Teaching Fellow. In 1999, she received her J.D. from Yale. Upon graduation, she was awarded both the Mary McCarthy and Liman Public Interest Fellowships. She founded All Our Kin with Janna Wagner in the fall of 1999. In addition to her work at All Our Kin, Jessica co-teaches, with Janna, a college seminar on “Child Care, Society, and Public Policy” at Yale. She is a trustee of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund, and is active in numerous local, state and national initiatives to improve the quality and sustainability of child care in low-income communities. In 2001, Yale University and the City of New Haven awarded Jessica a Seton Elm-Ivy Award for her efforts to strengthen partnerships and understanding among the New Haven and Yale communities. Jessica’s honors include the US Small Business Administration’s “Women in Business Champion” award (2012), the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame (2013), New Profit’s “Extraordinary Female Social Entrepreneur” designation (2014) and the Roslyn S. Jaffe Award Grand Prize (2015). Jessica  has provided commentary on child care issues for TimeThe Hill, and Education Week.  She is a Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellow and a 2016 Pahara Aspen Fellow.

Tennille Smalls, CEO and Founder of Gentle Hands Academy Daycare

Tennille first gained experience with children and families working as a Family Advocate in 2004. While collaborating with school educators, social workers, and other community helpers, she became more eager to educate and empower families through local network connections. While serving families, she obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Human Services in 2009 and then a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership in 2014. In 2015, she decided to pursue a career as a family child care educator to further expose families to the importance of a robust early learning curriculum. She reached out to All Our Kin for support and gained every resource necessary to become effective in her new career. She obtained her license in early 2016 and opened her program, Gentle Hands Academy Daycare in New Haven. A firm believer in remembering your beginnings, she is honored to serve on the All Our Kin Board Of Directors and sees her role as a representation of what it means to “pay it forward.” All Our Kin and the staff have and will always be an intricate part of her life. She intends to remain connected with All Our Kin for many years to come.

Janna Wagner, Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer, All Our Kin
Janna holds a B.A. in psychology from Yale University and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She taught in the South Bronx through Teach for America, and then joined the staff of the Boston Public Schools' Center for Leadership Development before founding All Our Kin with Jessica Sager in 1999. In 2001, Yale University and the City of New Haven awarded Janna a Seton Elm-Ivy Award for her efforts to strengthen partnerships and understanding among the New Haven and Yale communities. Active in the New Haven community, Janna is an Associate Fellow of Jonathan Edwards College at Yale University and founder of The Group with No Name, a social, civic organization that turns New Haven's residents into citizens. Janna serves as chair of the board of the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, a sixty-four year old academic enrichment summer program, which brings together Yale and New Haven students on Yale's campus. She is chair of the advisory board member for the Community Fund for Women and Girls, a component fund of the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. In 2014, Janna was selected as a Class of 2014-16 Zero To Three Fellow. Most recently, she was awarded the Yale Jefferson Award and was a Grand Prize recipient of the Roslyn S. Jaffe Awards with Jessica. In addition to her work at All Our Kin, Janna co-teaches, with Jessica, a course on “Child Care, Society, and Public Policy” at Yale. Janna is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow with the Fall 2017 cohort.

Bronx Advisory Council

Angelica Velazquez 

New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) Director, Informal Family Child Care Project

Dr. Yasmin Morales- Alexander
Lehman College, Assistant Professor - Department of Early Childhood Education

Lucian Cohen
Lonicera Partners, Vice President, Finance

Anna Mullen
Brave Warrior Advisors, Principal

Elisabeth Cappuyns
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLC, Senior Counsel

Fairfield County Advisory Council

Merle Berke-Schlessel
President & CEO, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County

Jennienne Burke
College and Career Readiness Consultant

Linda Franciscovich
Executive Director, Grossman Family Foundation

Cynthia Gorey
Director of Development, Fairfield Country Day School

Mary Pat Healy
Executive Director, Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition

Elif Kongar
Associate Professor, University of Bridgeport

Amanda Rieben
Associate, Broder & Orland, LLC

Cynthia Learned Russell
Executive Director, The Goodnow Fund

Adrienne McAteer-Santiago
Viking Global Foundation

Heather Mokotoff
Community Member

Carolyn O’Brien
Partner, MissionBridge Philanthropy LLC

Ken Paul
Vice President, Development, Achievement First

Laura Saverin
Managing Director, Golden Seeds

Mara Siladi
Project Manager for the Cradle to Career Initiative, United Way of Western Connecticut

Eileen Swerdlick
Educational Consultant

New Haven Advisory Council

Sarah Boone
Manager, Guilford Racquet and Swim Club

Dr. Carla M. Horwitz
Director Emerita, Calvin Hill Day Care and Kitty Lustman-Findling Kindergarten
Lecturer, Yale Child Study Center and Department of Psychology 

Stephanie Jacoby
Principal, Everit Consulting, LLC

Jason Price
Principal, Exaltare Capital Partners 

Cynthia Rojas
Management Consultant, To Your Growth

Dr. Marjorie S. Rosenthal
Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine

John Wareck
Principal and Realtor, Wareck Real Estate