Cross-sector Group of Illinois Leaders Selected for 2018 Class of McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows

Composed of judges, state representatives, top educators, and other civic leaders, the 2018 class of McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows (MFEF) will begin a two-month executive education series at Erikson Institute on August 8. A project of Erikson’s Early Childhood Leadership Academy (ECLA), MFEF brings together leaders in the legislative, judicial, educational, and civic sectors to participate in a dynamic learning experience that provides a comprehensive understanding of the long-term benefits of investing in early child development. The MFEF experience helps participants more effectively lead, intervene, and advocate on behalf of children and families in Illinois.

“Our MFEF program is essential to Erikson’s strategic goal of influencing leadership and policy to positively impact children, families and communities,” said Geoffrey A. Nagle, PhD, president and CEO. “MFEF educates and encourages key decision makers to implement policies and systems that promote equitable solutions benefitting all children in Illinois.”

Now in its second year, the MFEF program has already yielded results. Equipped with the latest early childhood research, last year’s fellows applied their learning by informing plans for a family and community engagement center in East St. Louis, serving as an impetus for one fellow to run for local office, deepening the early childhood platform of another, and inspiring an elected official to launch an education advisory committee within his district.

“The experience of looking at early childhood development with my colleagues from such varying fields as medicine, legislative, and politics gives me a broader and more holistic view of how courts can assist in strengthening families,” said 2017 fellow Patricia Martin, presiding judge of the Child Protection Division in Cook County.

The program’s systems approach informs decision-makers—who can influence policy, advocate for public resources, and shape the educational experience of children—about the return on investment in quality early childhood programs and services, which can reduce the need for costly interventions later in life.

National experts will present on critical issues such as the science of brain development; the connection between adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress; components of the Illinois early childhood system; demographic considerations of the Illinois child population; and the implications of recruiting and retaining a qualified and diverse early childhood workforce.

Additionally, fellows participate in a Service Day in local early childhood settings, working in the same capacity as early care and education professionals. The fellows will read to children, serve meals, engage with families, lead learning activities, and talk with staff to gain a first-hand perspective on resources, funding, staff compensation, and family needs.

ECLA programs reach a broad range of leaders within the field of early childhood as well as those working outside the field who influence sectors that impact children and families. To date, 84 individuals have successfully completed ECLA programs designed to inform and connect leaders to a growing network of early childhood advocates who can identify opportunities to leverage investments, improve the quality of services and programs, and influence meaningful change.

The 2018 McCormick Foundation Executive Fellows are:

Samuel Aguirre, Division Supervisor-Division of English Learners, Illinois State Board of Education
Rep. Avery Bourne, Illinois State House of Representatives, 95th District
Judge Andrea M. Buford, Child Protection Division, Circuit Court of Cook County
John Burkey, Executive Director, Large Unit District Association (LUDA)
Rebecca Cacayuran, Program Officer, Evanston Community Foundation
Judge J. Imani Drew, Associate Judge, Juvenile Division of the Circuit Court of Kankakee County
James Duggan, Director of Instruction, Bourbonnais Elementary School District 53
Superintendent Paul Goren, Evanston/Skokie School District 65
Judge Maxwell Griffin Jr., Associate Judge, Child Protection Division, Cook County Juvenile Court
Rep. Elizabeth Hernandez, Illinois State House of Representatives, 24th District
Felice Hybert, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum, Kankakee School District 111
Shawn Jackson, Interim President, Truman College
Sunith Kartha, School Board President, Evanston/Skokie Elementary School District 65
Ernesto Matias, Chief of Office of Language and Cultural Education, Chicago Public Schools
LaTanya McDade, Chief Education Officer, Chicago Public Schools
State’s Attorney Michael Nerheim, Lake County State’s Attorney Office
Judge John O’Gara, Associate Judge, 20th Judicial Circuit, St. Clair County
Cara Pavlicek, Village Manager, Village of Oak Park
Ald. Ameya Pawar, 47th Ward, City of Chicago
Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Rodemeyer, Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office
Superintendent James Stelter, Bensenville School District 2