Early Childhood Leaders Selected for the 2018 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows Program

Erikson Institute is proud to introduce the 2018 class for the Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows (BBLF) program, now in its third year. Sixteen professionals working in the early childhood sector, providing direct service and advocacy were selected to take part in the 10-month fellowship. The program begins October 12, 2018, and is designed to deepen their understanding of public policy as it relates to the field. Fellows gain insight on the policy-making process, and on how to respond and recommend changes that will benefit young children and their families.

“The program provides the tools and knowledge for early childhood professionals to optimize their voice, challenge current policy and provide evidence-based solutions to change it,” says Geoffrey A. Nagle, President and Chief Executive Officer of Erikson Institute.

Erikson believes building the capacity of early childhood leaders can create transformational change at the policy and systems level. The Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows Program provides evidence-based information and the analytical framework to apply a racial equity lens to early childhood policy. Monthly seminars cover the public policy life cycle, federal and state policy, advocacy vs. lobbying and other related topics that provide fellows with a solid foundation to champion issues that affect the populations they serve.

“The experience you gain takes you to another level. It takes you beyond directing programs. You leave feeling you can actually make decisions in the field. You can inform the practice,” says Carisa Hurley, former fellow and director of early childhood for the Illinois State Board of Education .

Fellows have access to a cadre of respected and experienced leader in the field who guide them on developing a policy memo on pressing topics – a memo they can take to the floors of the Capitol, boardrooms and public hearings. Access to field experts and the synergy build amongst one another during the program expands the fellows’ network and generates spaces for future collaborations on policy and systems change.

The program was named in honor of Barbara Taylor Bowman, who co-founded Erikson alongside Maria Piers and Lorraine Wallach. Barbara’s legacy as an education activist, policy adviser, and early childhood practitioner matches the characteristics of individuals this program aims to attract. It is one of three leadership programs offered through Erikson’s Early Childhood Leadership Academy (ECLA), a signature initiative that provides knowledgeable leaders with dynamic, cohort-learning experiences to enhance their capacity to influence early childhood policy.

This program is generously supported by the Irving Harris Foundation.

The 2018 Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellows are:

Eliza Bryant, Director, Academic Programs and Enrichment, Big Shoulders Fund

Veronica Cortez, Early Childhood Staff Attorney, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law

Catherine Enright, Director of Early Childhood, ChildServ

Jeffrey Gawel, Chief Information Officer, Illinois Action for Children

Wannetta Kinsey, Manager of Child Care Assistance Program Support Services, Illinois Action for Children

Sherri Moore, Statewide Program Director of IB3 Title IV-E Waiver and Early Childhood Court Teams, Dept. of Children & Family Services / University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work

Rodrigo Paredes, Director of Family Engagement, Chicago Commons

Marianne Pokorny, Senior Manager of Strategic Engagement, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago

Emily Powers, Staff Counsel and Director of PreK-K Transitions Program, Business & Professional People for the Public Interest

Lesley Schwartz, MIECHV Project Director, Illinois Governor’s Office

Karina Slaughter, Director of Programs, One Hope United

Barb Szczepaniak, Vice President for Programs, DuPage Foundation

Linda Terrell, Prevention Initiative 0-3 Director, Pembroke Early Education Program

Debra Vines, Executive Director, The Answer Inc.

Oriana Wilson, Head Teacher/Site Director, Edwards Center for Young Learners

Julia Zhu, Community Systems Policy Director, Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development

Read the bios for the 2018 fellows.