Skip to Main Content
Online MSECE Leadership Advocacy

Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows

Build your public policy knowledge to safeguard early childhood resources.

LEARN MORE See Who Participated In The Program

Building a Pipeline of Early Childhood Advocates

Meet the 2023 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows.

Erikson Institute is proud to announce the new cohort of Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows (BBLF) program, which runs October 2023 through July 2024. These leaders will leverage their field expertise to develop policy recommendations designed to ensure Illinois’ publicly funded programs and resources are equitable, accessible, and of high quality for young children and their families. Meet the current cohort

As a senior-level early childhood professional, this program takes an anti-racism approach to public policy knowledge and pairs it with your experience in the field to fortify your skills and elevate your advocacy on early childhood policy. This program considers nominated candidates who are reflective of the communities they serve in Illinois.

Named after one of Erikson’s co-founders, Barbara T. Bowman, the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows (BBLF) program is designed to enrich the perspective and enhance the capacity of diverse early childhood leaders committed to advancing racial equity through policy and systems change.


Policy Fellows Lead Change in Illinois

Sonja Clark
Director of Operations for Birth to Five Illinois
“ The Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellowship shaped my foundation of knowledge in Illinois policy and ignited my drive to lend my voice and diverse experiences toward policy change leading to a more equitable early childhood system in the state. ”

Empowering Leaders Through Dynamic Learning Experiences

A 10-Month Professional Development Opportunity to Amplify Advocacy

Early childhood leaders participate in full-day seminars once a month October through July. You can expect an engaging, rigorous, and reflective experience with a thoughtful balance between theory and practice.

Monthly sessions further your skills to analyze critical issues and cultivate a broader understanding of how policy and systems affect children and families in Illinois.


Signature elements of the program include:

Icon of classroom with teacher and students.

Expert guest lectures from early childhood policymakers and advocates

icon of mother and child

Navigating Illinois’ child and family-serving systems

Helpful hands icon.

Developing and applying a critical lens with respect to racial equity

icon of person with chatbox

Coaching from policy experts

Icon of faces with brains.

Fostering an enduring network among fellows

requirements list icon

Developing policy recommendations for a current issue

Providing You with Tools to Implement Change

With a deeper understanding of key early childhood policy issues and comprehensive insight into the intricacies of policymaking, you will complete the program ready to initiate change on a local, state or federal level. This program also boosts your capacity to ensure your organization is responsive to community needs, cultivating quality programs and ensuring equitable access to resources.

Erikson Institute Policy Pitches
Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows Program Policy Pitches 2019 - 2020

Contribute to Policy Change with Solutions

Examine Current Issues and Develop Policy Recommendations

During the course of the program, you will identify an issue in the early childhood field and, based on your experience and relevant data, develop policy recommendations that contributes to resolving the problem. Past recommendations focused on workforce issues, barriers to programs and services, systems alignment and more.

2019-2020 Policy Memo Book
2018-2019 Policy Memo Book
2017-2018 Policy Memo Book
2016-2017 Policy Memo Book

Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows Program
Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows Program

Fellows In Action

FaKelia Guyton
BBLF, 2018-2019
Guyton led a workshop for infant early childhood mental health consultants, amplifying how their work in emotional well-being is a collective effort that reduces family crisis and advances racial equity.
Debra Vines
Debra Vines
BBLF, 2018-2019
Vines was appointed to the Illinois Governor’s Advisory Council on the Education of Children with Disabilities where she draws on her experience and expertise to advise the governor, legislature and the state board of education on educational affecting children and youth with disabilities.
Lesley Schwartz
Lesley Schwartz
BBLF, 2018-2019
Schwartz’s recommendations on improving Illinois’ home visiting data collection and reporting system were included in the Prenatal to Three Policy Agenda developed by Raising Illinois—a coalition advocating for a cohesive support system for expecting families, infants, and toddlers.