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Announcing The 2023 Prenatal-to-3 Leaders Fellows

By March 7, 2023No Comments


Rockwood is proud to announce our inaugural 2023 Prenatal-to-3 Leaders Fellowship cohort in partnership with the Pritzker Children’s Initiative. Leaders working in the prenatal to age three field play an integral role in maintaining the overall health and wellness of our young children, families and communities. The work that these public and private sector leaders do at the national, state and local level on issues related to childcare, family support services, healthcare and economic security, is moving us all toward a healthier, more equitable future. Rockwood is honored to offer this transformative fellowship to build a strong, supportive national network of emergent and established leaders across sectors.

Please join us in welcoming and congratulating the Prenatal-to-3 Leaders Fellows.

Aiesha Rahn | Assistant VP Early Childhood Programs, Sixpence Administrative Education Specialist, Nebraska Children and Families Foundation

Aiesha has devoted the last 20 years to Early Childhood Education, working with children and families that have been the most vulnerable, like herself. A native of the North Omaha community, Aiesha spent five years with Early Childhood Services under the umbrella of Building Bright Futures as an Early Childhood Specialist. She conducted training with the Department of Education while transitioning to the State of Nebraska Step Up to Quality Initiative as an Early Childhood Specialist. Moreover, Aiesha was a part of the last two years of the ten-year research project with the University of Nebraska at Lincoln’s Getting Ready Infant and Toddler study. In addition, she has been an Adjunct instructor with Metropolitan Community College for the past three years, teaching Early Childhood Education courses. Aiesha received her Master’s of Education from Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska, in 2013. She pursued her Ed.S, Educational Specialist Degree from Northcentral University in San Diego, California, in 2017.

Charrise Hart | Chief Executive Officer, Ready for School, Ready for Life

Charrise is the Chief Executive Officer of Ready for School, Ready for Life (Ready Ready), a collaborative effort to build a connected, innovative system of care for Guilford County’s youngest children and their families. In this role, Charrise works with over 100 partner organizations to improve early childhood development outcomes for children at every stage, starting with prenatal care and continuing through school entry. Charrise leads Ready Ready’s close partnerships with other initiatives, which confront institutional and systemic inequity by building an early childhood system that offers targeted high-quality interventions and provides ongoing support to all young children born in Guilford County. Charrise serves on the boards for Teach for America of the Charlotte-Piedmont Triad and the United Way of Greater Greensboro. She is recipient of the Triad Business Journal’s C-Suite Award and the UNC School of Social Work’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Colleen Roan | Coordinator, McKinley County Early Childhood Coalition

Colleen is a member of the Navajo Nation, residing in Window Rock, Arizona. Her maternal clan Naneesht’ ézhi Tábąąhá (Zuni Waters Edge People Clan), paternal clan is Kin ł ichii’nii, (Red House Clan), maternal grandfathers are Tótsohnii (Big Water Clan), and paternal grandfathers are Kinyaa’áanii (Towering House). Her interest and focus have been in the field of early intervention, the system of services that helps families with babies and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. She also held a special education teaching position at the local public school integrated preschool. Her current position as the McKinley County Early Childhood Coalition Coordinator entails partnering with stakeholders and creating a more cohesive, equitable and effective early childhood system and coordinating a continuum of family driven, community based, high quality prenatal to five programs and services that are available and accessible to all families in the county, as outlined in the New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department, Local Early Childhood Systems Building Grant.

Danielle Anderson-Reed | Community Engagement Coordinator, First 5 Humboldt

Danielle is a graduate student of Social Work at Erikson Institute, where her studies focus on infant and early childhood mental health. Her work as a coordinator for various projects for both First 5 Humboldt and Two Feathers Native American Family Services incorporate this focus through community partnerships, strengthening family connections, and prioritizing culturally responsive care. She is passionate about serving her community and believes that the answers to many, if not all, current social health issues live within the wisdom of the land and its original caretakers. Danielle is a Ponca woman, and mother to a fierce, loving Hupa, Karuk, and Yurok daughter whom she and her husband are surviving toddlerhood with in Humboldt County on the unceded territory and current homelands of the Wiyot People in California.

Donna Wade | Senior Program Director, Early Childhood Investment Corporation

Donna is the Senior Program Director at the Early Childhood Investment Corporation, which collaborates to increase public and private investment in the earliest years, to elevate issues affecting young children and their families in Michigan. Donna’s career specializes in advancing the quality of care for young children. Previously, she served as Director of Quality Services for a non-profit organization supporting the early care and learning field in Alaska. Donna’s portfolio includes: managing statewide childcare initiatives, improvement systems, leading Alaska’s implementation of QRIS, and supervising staff. Prior to her work in Alaska, she also worked in a range of roles on quality assessment, professional development and technical assistance, center director, family provider, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and ECE instructor in higher education. Donna holds a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education from West Chester University of PA and a BA in Organization Management from Immaculata University.

Erica Crawley | County Commissioner, Franklin County

Erica is a mother, advocate, and veteran. She is the first Franklin County Black woman Commissioner and is a U.S. Navy Veteran. She is also a proud first-generation college graduate, holds a J.D. from Capital University Law School and M.P.A from Walden University. Before her service as a Franklin County Commissioner, Crawley served in the Ohio House of Representatives representing the 26th District. There, she worked on maternal health, infant mortality, birth-to-five initiatives, housing and food insecurity, and veterans’ issues. She also served as the Ranking Member on the House Finance Committee, among other legislative committees. Prior to her service in elected office, Commissioner Crawley advocated on behalf of children and families as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for Children (CASA), and in positions with the YMCA Head Start/Early Head Start Program and the Black Child Development Institute.

Jatesha Madden-Wilson | CEO/Executive Director, Melinated Moms

Jatesha “Jaye” is a multifaceted social entrepreneur. Born and raised in Buffalo, NY, she moved to NJ at the beginning of her nursing career and began her journey through marriage and motherhood. As she grew in her career as a Community Health Nurse (LPN), she transitioned from marriage to divorce and found herself as a single solo mom of 2 young girls. She searched for a supportive community that could understand who she was as a woman, mother and professional that was self-reflective and culturally aligned with who she was. When she could not find that support, she decided to create her own supportive network and Melinated Moms was born. Over the last 5 years, Jaye has grown as a serial social entrepreneur that focuses on building community for moms, women and birthing people who look like her. Of all of her titles and accolades, the proudest title she holds is mother. She is the mother to two brilliant girls who motivate her to continue to change the world every day through community building, advocacy, education, awareness and entrepreneurship. That desire continues to serve as her personal dedication and foundation and legacy for her organization.

Jesenia Angeles | Policy Manager, Prenatal to 3 Policy Impact Center at Vanderbilt University

Jesenia seeks to bridge the disciplines of technology, epidemiology, health policy and management, utilizing multidisciplinary approaches to support health equity through strategic monitoring and evaluation. Passionate about making population-level impact in health access, her diverse experiences have driven her program management work at organizations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as a Data Scientist. She is currently a Policy Manager at the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at Vanderbilt University where she leads the Child and Parent Health team in conducting rigorous research reviews on state policy choices and contributing to the annual Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap. She is also the founder & CEO of Cósmica Consulting, offering monitoring and evaluation expertise, technical assistance, and high-impact solutions for communities of color. Jesenia resides in South Florida where she regularly enjoys spending quality time especially with her loved ones going on trips to the beach, doing yoga, kayaking, biking and exploring new places.

Justin Blakely | Public Policy Associate, Crystal Stairs, Inc.

Justin is the Public Policy Associate for Crystal Stairs, Inc., one of the largest nonprofit child development agencies in California. His role is to advocate, shape and influence early child care and educational policy that will have a direct impact on over 50,000 children and families in Los Angeles County, who are predominantly African American and Latinx. Justin has a keen interest in advancing equity in the South LA community while increasing civic engagement amongst communities of color in the effort to achieve systemic change. Justin was appointed in 2021 by Supervisor Holly Mitchell to serve as a Los Angeles County Commissioner for the Policy Roundtable for Child Care and Development, a commission that develops policy recommendations to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors. In 2023, he was appointed to serve on the Strategic Advisor Council for Education Trust West, a nonprofit educational equity organization focused on educational justice in California. Justin is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., and is a life-long Compton resident and community activist.

Kisha Shanks | Policy Director, Black Child Development Institute – Milwaukee

Kisha is a creative, passionate, and outspoken advocate who has spent the last 13 years dedicated to the psycho-social advancement of women, children, and families in Milwaukee, WI. She holds a BA in Community Education from UW-Milwaukee. However, it was completing the Graduate Capstone in Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health at UW-Madison that transformed her work with families. Through her home-visiting program which encourages early childhood interventions as a vehicle to community health and wellbeing, she prioritizes connection in fostering healthy parent-child relationships. Additionally, Kisha consults with community-serving organizations and government agencies to curate culturally sensitive programming and industry specific DEI trainings. In her current role as Policy Director for BCDI-Milwaukee, she uses both her lived and professional experiences in addition to academia to inform legislation, programming, and policy at the local, state and national levels to ensure equity for Black children and families.

Lawrence Witherspoon | Director, Center for Family Voice, Groundwork Ohio

Lawrence is a product of the Central Ohio area, where he grew up as a child. He attended Antonelli College, University of Cincinnati and Ashford University receiving Degrees in Commercial Arts, Graphic Design and Behavioral Science. He also received a National Trainer Certification in Parenting Education and is also a certified Fatherhood Practitioner. Lawrence has also earned accreditations as a Qualified Mental Health Specialist and Emotional Intelligence Implement Strategist. Lawrence has over 14 years of child welfare experience, serving the Central Ohio community as a    Support Service Supervisor for The Buckeye Ranch. Lawrence also worked extensively in the DEI space at the Buckeye Ranch and served as Chair of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council for more than three years. As Director of the Center for Family Voice at Groundwork Ohio, Lawrence leads the Center’s work to elevate the voices of families with young children in early childhood policy and advocacy to achieve programmatic, policy, and practice changes at local, regional, and state levels. 

Marchel Marcos | Political Director, APANO Action Fund

Marchel was born and raised on O’ahu, Hawai’i and currently resides in Hillsboro, Oregon. Marchel is currently the Political Director for APANO Action Fund (AF) and co-leads the Childcare For Oregon Coalition that led the efforts to pass a historic $100M investment in childcare for Oregon families and providers. Marchel recently founded Voice for Survivors the first survivor led, survivor focused 504(c)(4) in Oregon to ensure survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault voices are included in policies and electing candidates who will champion these policies. And through her consulting firm, Mars Consulting LLC, she has managed multiple candidate campaigns that have passed progressive policies to support our most impacted communities. Marchel has two children that both attended and graduated from the Head Start and Healthy Families programs in Oregon. Their family enjoys traveling back home, being foodies, and cheering for the Blazers!

Martina Santesteban | Community Alignment Manager, United Way for Greater Austin

With over 20 years of experience in 5 different countries, Martina has dedicated her work to improving the lives of others through teaching, life coaching and in the nonprofit world. She is the Community Alignment Manager for the Success By 6 team at United Way for Greater Austin and supports the Family Connects Austin/Travis County team. By engaging community leaders, families, activists, and service providers, her focus is on creating collaborative efforts to establish connections and access. Through her work leading the Central Texas Perinatal Coalition and with Family Connects, Martina has become an expert in challenges families with young children face and strives to have equitable access at the forefront of conversations and program management. She aims to bring all voices and perspectives to the table (i.e. immigrants, uninsured, families of color, limited English speakers, etc.) in order to create a continuum of care that serves all families.

Mia Jones | Early Childhood Coordinator & Pritzker Fellow, Children’s Trust of Alachua County

Mia serves as the Early Childhood Project Coordinator and Pritzker Children’s Initiative Fellow with Children’s Trust of Alachua County located in Gainesville, Florida. She is responsible for joining forces with other passionate early childhood community system leaders to better coordinate services and connections that improve the outcomes of children prenatal to eight years old in her community. She brings to this position a wealth of experience in the field of social services and child welfare that spans over 20 years. Mia is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention Practitioner (TBRI) from Texas Christian University. In her free time she volunteers with a local non-profit Genesis Family Enrichment as a Nurture Group Co-Facilitator for families and children who experienced early trauma.  Mia is a mom, aunt, sister, cousin, niece, daughter, friend, and a neighbor. Raised in the rural area of North Central Florida, community and family are her north star.

Mishawne Carrington | Program Administrator for Nurse-Family Partnership, Children and Families First

Mishawne has dedicated her personal and professional career to the care of women and children’s health. She has served as the Administrator for Guilford County Nurse-Family Partnership for the past 10 years. Prior to her taking this position, she was a nurse home visitor with NFP. She manages the program to include overseeing the budget and providing direct supervision to two supervisors. She holds a Master’s Degree in Nursing with an emphasis in Midwifery and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner from the University of Cincinnati. She also earned her bachelor’s degree in Nursing from NC A&T State University, and she is currently in school at Campbell University to earn her Doctorate degree in Health Science. She has been a nurse for 36 years and served for 18 of those years in Labor and Delivery where she enjoyed assisting to bring new babies into the world. She has been a nursing instructor and has worked in numerous avenues of nursing. Her passion has and will always be with the well-being of child-bearing families. Mishawne is a wife of 33 years, a mother of two and a grandmother of one incredible 10-year-old grandson named Aiden Jacob.

Nicole Looper | Executive Director, Nelson Mandela Early Childhood Development Center

Nicole has served as an Early Childhood Champion for over 20 years in various underserved communities. Nicole’s passion is ensuring that all children deserve an equitable opportunity to start school with the love of learning regardless of their zip code. Her educational background includes a Bachelor’s in Child Development and a Master’s in Education with an emphasis on Urban Education from Langston University in Langston, Oklahoma. Nicole is an alumnus of Nebraska’s Policy Leadership Academy. She leverages her established relationships with families and other providers to lead a grassroots effort to connect the voice of providers in the community with leaders at DHHS to establish two-way communication. She was instrumental in creating a plan and working with those leaders to address the challenges associated with childcare subsidy practices and policies.

Raquel Bueno-Morales | National Senior Advocacy Consultant, Voices for Healthy Kids, American Heart Association

Raquel was born and raised in Berkeley, CA to an immigrant mother from Cuzco, Peru. At the age of sixteen Raquel began dedicating herself to social justice causes volunteering in East Oakland for African American candidates who were running for state and federal politics. After college, Raquel migrated to Portland, Oregon for graduate school, stayed and then co-founded and co-directed Upstream Public Health. There she led a team dedicated to creating meaningful dialogue, engaging the community, and using the tools of research and advocacy to support public health policies. At Voices for Healthy Kids, she is responsible for providing strategic guidance to policy campaigns on a variety of issues including increasing access to hydration stations in schools, SNAP incentive programs such as Produce Rx, and decreasing sugary drink consumption. She also Co-Leads Voices Equity Cohort work. Raquel enjoys spending time with family, swimming, hiking, wine tasting, and traveling just about anywhere.

Sadia Batool | Early Childhood Family Lead for Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems, Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning

Sadia, born and raised in Dubai, is a physician by qualification with a current focus on supporting families and professionals in Early Childhood Systems. Her passion for Early Childhood systems stems from her personal experience of receiving life changing Early Intervention services for her daughter with Autism. She is a recipient of several leadership trainings in Pennsylvania and at the national level. As the 1st parent representative to graduate from the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning Policy Fellowship, Sadia serves as a family and professional representative on a variety of local, state-wide, and national organizations serving families and children. She serves as the Governor appointed parent Co-chair to the Pennsylvania State Interagency Coordinating Council. In 2021, she joined the Pennsylvania Office of Child Development and Early Learning as the Early Childhood Family Lead for ECCS Health Integration Prenatal-to-age-Three Project, a Federal grant Pennsylvania received from the HRSA to focus on cross-sector collaboration and partnership, health system transformation, state-level policy and fiscal innovation, family leadership, and advancing equity.

Samantha Thompson | Associate Director of Early Learning Policy, The Education Trust West

Samantha is the Associate Director of Early Learning Policy at The Education Trust—West. Samantha served as the Early Education Program Manager and was a member of the Leadership Team for the Merced County Office of Education – Early Education Department for more than 14 years. Her oversight included a variety of state and federal funded programs to support the county’s early learning community, including the Centralized Eligibility List, Local Child Care and Development Planning Council, Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge Grant, California’s Quality Counts (Quality Rating Improvement System), and Caring for Our Black Children. She was raised with an emphasis on values such as education, hard work, self-discipline, honesty, integrity, and ambition. She has carried these values into her professional life as an advocate for ensuring systems and programs are rooted in equitable, diverse, and inclusive practices, especially for children of color. While educational equity is Samantha’s passion, her greatest love is her family as wife to Herschel and mother to Alexis and Desmond.

Tiffini Smith | Help Me Grow North Texas Community Alignment Coordinator, My Health My Resources

Tiffini is an early childhood professional from Fort Worth, Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech with a M.S in Human Development and Family Studies in 2020. She currently works in a program that supports healthy child development, specifically focusing on children under the age of 6 and their families. Tiffini loves working with the children and families within her community in hopes of learning more about their needs, providing them with resources that may support the growth and wellbeing of their family, and supporting them as they navigate community systems. Her hope is that as we continue to identify ways that our systems can grow and evolve, more families will have equitable access to resources and knowledge to advocate for themselves and their children. For Tiffini, it is highly imperative for her to immerse herself in spaces that will equip her with the tools to further advocate for individuals, groups, and communities that have historically had limited access to the programs and knowledge that could transform their lives.