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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.
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.
Jackie Ewenstein is a co-founding partner at Ewenstein & Roth LLP, a boutique law firm focused on non-profit and tax-exempt organizations Ms. Ewenstein provides legal advice to nonprofit organizations and social entrepreneurs on issues related to tax-exempt status, governance, and general corporate and intellectual property matters. She works with a wide range of clients, from family grant-making foundations to large multinational public charities, on both individual projects and on-going matters. She particularly enjoys working with organizations at inflection points, helping to shape legal strategies for new and innovative initiatives.
Prior to Ewenstein & Roth, Ms. Ewenstein was the Assistant General Counsel of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She began her legal career as an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton in the corporate and intellectual property departments, drafting and negotiating merger, joint venture and licensing agreements and advising on copyright and trademark matters.
Ms. Ewenstein graduated from Harvard College (AB 1987) and Columbia University School of Law (J.D. 1998). She is the recipient of prizes from the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers, the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers (CISAC), and the New York Intellectual Property Law Association for her written work on copyright issues. She serves on the advisory board of the Kernochan Center for Law & the Arts at Columbia Law School and is a member of Nonprofit New York’s Government Relations Committee and New York City Bar Association Committee on Nonprofit Organizations (where she formerly served as Co-Chair). She lives in New York City with her husband where she volunteers at a Head Start program and spends her free time making ceramics on a pottery wheel, doing yoga, and hanging around with her grown sons.
Maureen Fontaine is an early childhood teacher with 33 years experience operating her family child care program in Fairfield, CT. One of Maureen’s hobbies includes preserving memories through traditional scrapbooks. She enjoys making scrapbooks for the children enrolled in her program, her two grandchildren ages 2 and 4, her two adult sons, her daughter-in-law, and her husband of 37 years. These pictures and words combine to document memories including milestones, art work, fears, joys, interests, accomplishments, feelings, and more. Those very important early years are now preserved in a cherished book.
Maureen is a strong believer in continuing education in order to grow professionally and maintain the joy in working with children and families. She earned the CDA credential in 1992 and renewed the credential, according to the requirements, through 2023. She earned a Master’s Degree in Teaching from Sacred Heart University in 1999. She earned the CT teaching certification pre-k to grade 6 in 1999, and renewed her certification, according to the requirements, through 2024. More recently she earned the NAFCC credential in July, 2020.
Maureen was raised by parents that had a strong work ethic and believed in “treating everyone as you would want to be treated”. Her parents always gave back to their community and Maureen applies that to her own life. She served as co-president of the Greater Bridgeport Family Day Care Association (GBFDCA) from 1994 to 1999. As co-president, a volunteer position, Maureen was actively involved in the association’s community outreach projects including donations to children in homeless shelters. She also served as a volunteer mentor to newly licensed providers, spoke at numerous public hearings on behalf of children and families, obtained 501(C)(3) status for the association, presented professional development workshops for members and arranged professional development and educational workshops for members based on feedback from the members.
Maureen became an active member of All Our Kin in 2013. She considers herself blessed to be a part of an organization that has such a positive impact on Family Child Care. One fact that guides her work is “a child’s brain develops connections faster in the first five years than any other time in their lives and that those first five years affect the overall trajectory of a child’s life”. This information guides Maureen in the work she does in her own family child care program, preparing and presenting recent workshops for family child care teachers, and advocating for family child care. Maureen participated in the following educator panels with AOK in the last few years: COVID Health and Safety; Outdoor Education; Children and Mask Wearing; The Books We Love; and Healthy Meals with Children.
Since the pandemic, Maureen has found a renewed desire to advocate for fair and equitable compensation for family child care teachers and quality affordable child care for all families. As such, she has participated on zoom calls with Representative Leeper, Congressman Himes, Senator Blumenthal, and Senator Murphy, and more recently presented oral and written testimony to the Education Committee on HB5465: An Act Increasing Early Childhood Educator Salaries and Expanding Child Care Opportunities for Families”.
Maureen is interested in serving on AOK’s board in order to contribute to the very valuable work that AOK does that also aligns with her goals including supporting family child care and advocating for family child care teachers, children and families.
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 Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, etc.), radio (e.g., National Public Radio), and television (e.g., NBC Today Show, CBS The Early Show, ABC World News, CNN, FOX, etc.).
Sarah is Executive Director, Data and Analytics at JP Morgan Chase where she oversees product strategy and execution for data management products in the bank.
She has a wide-ranging background in large-scale transformational change programs ranging from finance and data, to philanthropy, tech start-ups and fundraising. Prior to going JPMC, Sarah was based in London serving as Executive Director in Data Engineering at Goldman Sachs where she helped build their data governance and product management practice, both internally and for open-sourced software solutions.
Previously, she was the President of the Foundation at Viking Global Investors where she oversaw the Foundation’s work to help break the cycle of poverty by investing in organizations and initiatives that promote early childhood development. She managed the company’s grantmaking portfolio as well its volunteerism and education programs. Prior to Viking, Sarah worked in the K-12 education space at the national afterschool nonprofit B.E.L.L. and the EdTech startup Reasoning Mind. Her work on the Chicago Policy Research Team helped lead to the creation of the Woodlawn Promise Community replicating the Harlem Children's Zone.
Sarah holds a degree Public Policy and Latin American Studies from the University of Chicago. She is involved in board service and fundraising for the Opportunity Network based in NYC and the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust based in Kenya. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and dog.
Chris Kelly is an investor at Voyager Global Management, a New York-based investment fund focused on investing in companies within industries undergoing significant technological change. Chris started his career at The Blackstone Group, a global private equity firm with over $500 billion total assets under management. During his time at Blackstone, Chris worked primarily within the technology, industrials, and financial services industries. Chris then went on to join Arena Holdings Management LLC, an investment holding company founded by Feroz Dewan that focuses on making long-term equity investments in high quality public and private technology businesses. As a partner at Arena, Chris was responsible for the sourcing, diligence, and execution of investments in market-leading software companies. Chris graduated from Georgetown University with dual majors in Economics and Mathematics. Chris has been involved in various non-profit organizations, including serving as Chief Executive Officer of the Georgetown University Alumni & Student Federal Credit Union, the largest student-run financial institution in the United States. Chris also serves as a trustee on the Arena Foundation, which focuses on partnering with non-profit organizations dedicated to improving educational outcomes.
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 More.com (acquired by Health Central) and was a founding board member of Hotwire.com (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).
Chair of the Board
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.
Lee Oxman is a Director and Vice President of Silverbird Fund, a Connecticut foundation which works to improve the lives of children, families and communities in Connecticut and nationally. Lee has helped shape the mission and procedures of the Fund since its inception in 2017. His role involves the identification, evaluation, and selection of grantees and prioritizes early and mid stage organizations led by highly talented social entrepreneurs with strong potential to improve outcomes at the program and system levels.
Lee works to connect grantees with other funding and capacity building sources and collaborates in fundraising efforts and media projects that advance their missions. Prior to this role with Silverbird, Lee worked for fifteen years in the private tutoring and test preparation business for Carnegie Prep in Fairfield County Connecticut. He developed curriculum, vetted and trained new employees, developed remote tutoring practices, and helped grow the business.
He also worked pro bono to conduct classes and tutor students without financial resources to prepare them for standardized tests.
Lee is a graduate of Williams College, where he majored in economics.
Ruth Osei Eweleko Polley has been a Family Child Care Educator for approximately ten years. It all began when her eldest child moved from his family day care setting to Kindergarten in public school. Much to her delight and surprise he was able to read! This experience changed how she viewed the work of the Family Child Care Program.
She began to recognize that Family Child Care had the potential to change and improve the lives of children. She knew that her child’s ability to read was directly related to the time spent in Family Child Care and compared this with the first, second and third graders who attended the afterschool program where she worked. Many of these children struggled to complete their homework and faced so many learning challenges.
She was so moved by the “more than babysitting” realization that she started a program of her very own. Ruth is excited to be the Educator Advisory Council representative on the All Our Kin board. She is excited for the responsibility and for the chance to be the voice of Family Child Care Educators in the Bronx.
Lutonya Russell-Humes is Vice President of Grants and Programs at the Fairfield County Community Foundation where she is responsible for engineering and implementing the strategic programmatic goals of the foundation. Prior to assuming that role she was the Senior Director of the Fund for Women and Girls at the foundation, the largest of its kind in the northeast.
Lutonya has championed youth and families throughout her career. She has worked in the foster care systems of New York City and Bexar County, Texas.
Lutonya has successfully managed programs throughout Westchester County and New York City. As a consultant, Lutonya has assisted school districts, municipalities, a local college and non-profits with program design, professional development, and budget management. More recently, she was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of New Rochelle serving more than 4,000 young people annually.
She is also a member of the advisory committee to the Elias Foundation!" Activist Fellowship Program, and treasurer of Parents for Public Education Board of Directors.
Lutonya and her husband Whitley have two daughters, Frances and Julia.
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Jessica Sager is the co-founder and chief executive officer of All Our Kin. A graduate of Barnard College and Yale Law School, Jessica co-teaches a Yale University seminar on “Child Care, Society, and Public Policy,” and is a trustee of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund. She has provided commentary on child care issues for Time, The Hill, New America, and Education Week. Jessica’s honors include the Seton Elm-Ivy Award, the US Small Business Administration’s “Women in Business Champion” award, the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, New Profit’s “Extraordinary Social Female Entrepreneur” designation, the Roslyn S. Jaffe Award Grand Prize, and the Ashoka Changemakers/Robert Wood Johnson Champion of Children's Wellbeing award. She is an Ashoka Fellow, a Fellow of the 14th class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship, and an Aspen Braddock Scholar. Most recently, she was named to the CARE 100 list of the Americans doing the most to re-imagine and re-humanize our care system.
Co-Founder and Chief Learning Officer
Janna was born and raised in New Haven and attended the New Haven Public Schools. A graduate of Yale College and Harvard Graduate School of Education, Janna taught in the South Bronx through Teach For America. 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. Active in the New Haven community, Janna is an Associate Fellow of Jonathan Edwards College at Yale University and a founder of The Group with No Name, a 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-seven-year old academic summer program, which brings together Yale students and New Haven middle school students on Yale's campus. She is the former chair of the advisory board of the Community Fund for Women and Girls, a component fund of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Janna was awarded the Yale Jefferson Award and the Roslyn S. Jaffe Grand Prize Award. She was a Zero to Three Leadership Fellow and a Public Voices Fellow at Yale. She is a Fellow of the 19th class of the Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship and a Promising Ventures Fellow. Janna was recently awarded the Peter Jennings Award for Civic Leadership given annually to a Teach For America alum whose work has led to significant progress toward educational equity and excellence.
Co-founder of Women's Policy, Inc.
Marjorie Sims is the managing director of Ascend at the Aspen Institute. In her role, Marjorie works closely with the executive director on the strategic direction of the program’s vision, leads convent development related to Ascend’s areas of expertise, and oversees the development and implementation of all operations in support of achieving team goals.
Marjorie has more than 20 years of experience in advancing the status of women and families at local, state, national, and international levels, as well as in expanding women’s roles in leadership positions within philanthropy. Before joining Ascend in 2018, she served as program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation with a specific focus on family economic security programs and managed a $65M grant portfolio. Prior to joining the Kellogg Foundation, Marjorie held the positions of chief operating officer, interim president, and vice president of programs and operations at the Washington Area Women’s Foundation, where she helped launch Stepping Stones, a $5 million, multi-year, regional initiative to increase the income and assets of women-headed families. In addition, Marjorie served as the executive director of the California Women’s Law Center and as a policy analyst with the International Center for Research on Women. She is a co-founder of Women’s Policy, Inc., an organization that emerged from the Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues to provide unbiased analyses and educational briefings about federal legislation affecting women and families.
Marjorie lends her insights and expertise through a number of roles with external partners:
What’s your favorite part of your role?
“I love that my role gives me the opportunity to work with a deeply committed and brilliant team, talk with leaders from around the world, and learn about the ways that systems can be transformed to support families with their aspirations in mind.”
New York Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) Director, Informal Family Child Care Project
Brave Warrior Advisors, Principal
Dr. Yasmin Morales- Alexander
Lehman College, Assistant Professor - Department of Early Childhood Education
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLC, Senior Counsel
Lonicera Partners, Vice President, Finance
Viking Global Foundation
Associate, Broder & Orland, LLC
Partner, MissionBridge Philanthropy LLC
Cynthia Learned Russell
Executive Director, The Goodnow Fund
Director of Development, Fairfield Country Day School
Associate Professor, University of Bridgeport
College and Career Readiness Consultant
Vice President, Development, Achievement First
Managing Director, Golden Seeds
Executive Director, Grossman Family Foundation
Project Manager for the Cradle to Career Initiative, United Way of Western Connecticut
Mary Pat Healy
Executive Director, Bridgeport Child Advocacy Coalition
President & CEO, United Way of Coastal Fairfield County
Management Consultant, To Your Growth
Dr. Carla M. Horwitz
Director Emerita, Calvin Hill Day Care and Kitty Lustman-Findling Kindergarten Lecturer, Yale Child Study Center and Department of Psychology
Dr. Marjorie S. Rosenthal
Department of Pediatrics, Yale University School of Medicine
Principal, Exaltare Capital Partners
Principal and Realtor, Wareck Real Estate
Manager, Guilford Racquet and Swim Club
Principal, Everit Consulting, LLC
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