THE ALLIANCE FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD, Executive Director, Winnetka, IL • 8/2013-Present
Community collaborative not-for-profit providing educational programs, resources, and supports to parents, educators, and children.
Leadership snapshot: $170K budget • $152K expenses • Transitioned from Board of Directors to leading the Executive Board to define and exceed annual programming, audience development, and fundraising goals.
- Reversed annual deficit, increasing revenue by 41% through grant writing, new event sponsorships, and 34% school and organization membership increase.
- Bolstered programming to 140+ events – cost-free parent programs, professional workshops, and webinars – attended by 12,000+ individuals. Continuously evaluated events to make data-driven decisions and grant reports.
- Doubled program attendance by leading rebrand of organizational materials and writing event promotions including social media posts.
- Initiated and managed 2 new annual all-day, revenue-generating conferences, both selling out, one within 2 weeks, at capacity with 200+ educators.
- Built strategy and vision to implement more free outreach events to boost agency reputation in community and open doors to ongoing relationships with families and early childhood educators.
- Achieved record-setting attendance after partnering with Chicago area institutions (Chicago Botanic Garden, Kohl Children’s Museum, Lincoln Park Zoo and others) to establish free, seasonal community play days.
- Co-presented at 5 National Association for the Education of Young Children conferences (NAEYC), sharing The Alliance’s strategies to raise awareness of overscheduling, increased media, and lack of play in childhood.
- Co-authored chapter in Playing It Up With Loose Parts, Playpods, and Adventure Playgrounds (The Alliance for Childhood, 2017), explaining The Alliance’s community initiatives to restore child-initiated play.
ERIKSON INSTITUTE, Assistant Director of Continuing Education, Chicago, IL • 1/2013-8/2013
The nation’s premier graduate school in child development, offering professionals new research, techniques, and continuing education credits.
Leadership snapshot: Designed quarterly and customized continuing education workshops, webinars, and training series for professionals in the field of early childhood care and education.
- Wrote and oversaw revenue-generating professional development proposals, budgets, and contracts with external partners, including Anchorage Museum, Archdiocese of Chicago, Big Shoulders Fund, Dolores Kohl Education Foundation, and Ounce of Prevention Fund.
KOHL CHILDREN'S MUSEUM, Interim Vice President of Programs, Glenview, IL • 10/2012-12/2012
Museum with 17 interactive, hands-on exhibits for children ages birth to 8 serving 330K+ people annually.
Leadership snapshot: Recruited from the Museum’s Program Advisory Council (PAC) to serve on the Museum’s Senior Team and supervise personnel in the Exhibits, Education, and Exhibit departments. Remains a member of the PAC.
THROUGHPLAY, Co-Founder | Program Director, Chicago, IL • 1/2010-1/2013
A partnership offering workshops and consultation services on understanding and advocating children’s learning through play.
Leadership snapshot: Co-facilitated workshops at schools, libraries, and community centers, attended by 500+ educators and parents. Developed website and a collection of online resources, activity ideas, and area playspace maps.
Public Speaking and Influence
- Presented nationally and locally on promoting play: two U.S. Play Coalition conferences at Clemson University, CBS Radio series World Leaders and Thinkers In Their Own Words, Chicago Wilderness Congress, and a Family Action Network event in Winnetka, IL.
- Documented the Ultimate Block Party, Central Park, New York City (2010), a free event attended by 50,000 children and parents, demonstrating STEM learning through play. Photos featured in Design, Make, Play: Growing the Next Generation of STEM Innovators (Routledge, 2013).
ERIKSON INSTITUTE, Adjunct Faculty Member, Chicago, IL • 10/2009-4/2011
Leadership snapshot: Led bi-weekly tutorial meetings with Master of Science in Child Development graduate students to establish and meet required goals for internship experiences. Coached students to exceed in their internship projects.
CHICAGO CHILDREN'S MUSEUM (CCM), Chicago, IL • 3/2006-1/2009 and 11/1999-11/2004
One of Chicago’s top cultural attractions and the nation’s second most visited children’s museum, serving 400K+ annually.
Associate Vice President of Education (2006-2009) | Director of Student and Educator Programs (2002-2004)
Manager of Student and Educator Programs (2001-2002) | Extended Learning Coordinator (1999-2001)
Leadership snapshot: Contributed Income: $550K ∙ Earned Income: $230K ∙ Expenses: $270K ∙ Staff: 10FT, 45PT • Initially hired as Coordinator of Student and Educator Programs, then promoted twice, and after earning M.A. recruited back as Associate Vice President of Education. Supervised Guest Connections, Student and Educator, and Family Programs teams, serving 260K+ children and adults annually. Strategized with senior staff on operations, budget, and policies.
- Hired, coached, trained, performance planned, and managed staff, interns, and fellows. Successfully handled individual performance issues and resolved team conflicts. Co-authored CCM Play Position Paper, translating current research into institutional policies, decision-making criteria, and new hire training procedures.
- Pioneered a two-year peer training exchange program with Chicago Shedd Aquarium to strengthen teaching practices and field trip programs.
- Prepared and oversaw Education Department annual plans, goals, budgets, and grant proposals. Designed program evaluation plans with goals, measurable objectives, and outcomes, to communicate impacts to Board, funders, and other key stakeholders.
- Developed new approaches to annual Student and Educator Program promotional materials, including showcasing documentation from area teachers assessing impact of facilitated programs on student learning.
- Collaborated in the development of a new yearlong professional development program focused on informal learning and strengthening the classroom-CCM connection, increasing impacts on area teachers.
- Led Wonder Kids, a new partnership with Allstate Corporation and the Museum of Science and Industry (a component of a $10M Allstate gift). Planned and evaluated Spring Into Science Day, attended by 1,500+ guests.
- Co-developed the Boeing Company grant to CCM ($75K), to establish a methodology for designing resources with child, educator, and community input, later published as A Kid’s Guide to CCM.
- Contributed to Institute of Museum and Library Services grant to create a cost-free curriculum, titled Learning Together: Families in Museums Staff Training Curriculum, for front-line staff to meet diverse needs of visitors. Co-presented preliminary results at Association for Children Museum’s conference in Denver, CO.
- Increased annual student program revenue 41% after developing and managing annual program budgets and strategic plans, including creating strategies to increase numbers during low attendance periods.
- Directed new revenue-generating Museum and Public Schools (MAPS) project, including teacher and principal training, student field trips, and family events, increasing attendance from Chicago Public Schools.
Master of Arts, Learning Sciences, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Bachelor of Arts, Elementary Education and Psychology, The University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA
COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP: BOARDS AND AFFILIATIONS
Family Action Network. Early Childhood Chair (2010-present). Assists in curation of free, high-quality human development speaker series hosted in downtown Chicago and North Shore suburbs.
Kohl Children's Museum Program Advisory Council (2012-present). Provides input into the development of on-site and traveling exhibits, onsite and outreach educational programs, and the capital campaign building expansion project.
The Alliance for Early Childhood. Board Member and Let’s Play Co-Chair (2009-2013). Established new initiative to support child-initiated free play on Chicago’s North Shore.
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Member (2015-present).
North American Reggio Emilia Alliance. Participated in two weeklong study groups in Reggio Emilia, Italy, to tour and learn about its internationally lauded early childhood schools, and attended lectures on Reggio Emilia pedagogy and philosophy (2009 and 2013).
2012 Children & Nature Network Gathering of Grassroots Leaders. Invited to gathering in West Virginia of 140 leaders to share local, regional, and national strategies to connect children and nature.
KaBOOM! Volunteered for a national non-profit dedicated to bringing play into daily lives of all kids.
- National Park-A-Day Summer Challenge Participant (2010). Visited 50 Chicagoland playspaces in 50 days with my children. Blogged about value of children’s play.
- KaBOOM! Playmaker of the Month Award (2010).
- Nominated by KaBOOM! and awarded U.S. President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition Community Leadership Award (2012).
- One of six play advocates featured in KaBOOM!’s Family Play, Family Well-Being video (2012).