The CEELO Leadership Academy is designed to strengthen leadership and management competencies of individuals with responsibilities for early childhood education programs in state departments of education (SEAs), early learning agencies and other state early childhood education agencies. The Academy will introduce concepts of leadership development tailored to state early education administrators designed to:

  • Build SEA leadership and management capacity to advance state agency visions for early childhood education.
  • Improve effectiveness of publicly-funded programs for children from birth through age five
  • Advance SEA policies and initiatives that improve Kindergarten through third grade teaching and learning opportunities
  • Partner with state leaders and organizations to build a more unified, equitable, and efficient state birth through third grade early childhood system.

The yearlong CEELO Leadership Academy includes four in-person sessions, interim online learning opportunities, and intensive coaching for each fellow.

2015-16 Fellows2015-16 Coaches2015-16 Agendas | MaterialsLeadership Resources

Anna Severens, Nevada

State Pre-K Administrator
Nevada Department of Education

Bryan Stokes, Illinois

Preschool Expansion Policy Director
Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development

Debbykay Peterson, Minnesota

Early Childhood Education Specialist
Minnesota Department of Education

Lauren Zbyszinski, Arizona

Director of Professional Development and Early Childhood Quality Program Specialist
Arizona Department of Education

Lisa Wasacz, Michigan

Education Consultant and 619 Preschool Special Education Coordinator
Michigan Department of Education

Mary Earick, New Hampshire

State Title I Director and Administrator of the Bureau of Integrate Programs
New Hampshire Department of Education

Tracy Jost, Maryland

Education Program Specialist and Federal Pre-K Grant Manager
Maryland Department of Education

Tracye Strichik, Alabama

Director of the Office of Early Learning
Alabama Department of Children’s Affairs

Lindy Buch, Early Childhood Education Consultant Lindy retired in May 2014 after nearly 20 years as an early childhood specialist with the Michigan Department of Education. During that time, she served as director of early childhood education and family services, as well as the supervisor of school accountability and curriculum. Her specific responsibilities included overseeing the expansion and evaluation of the state prekindergarten program, early childhood special education, early intervention, parenting, family education and family literacy programs, the kindergarten entry assessment, early literacy, and out-of-school time programs K-12, as well as a number of state curriculum and accountability projects. Prior to joining the Department, Lindy served in higher education and as a preschool general and special education teacher and administrator. Lindy has been a leader of professional organizations throughout her career. Education:

  • Ph.D., Wayne State University, Curriculum and Instruction (Elementary Education, Early Childhood Education); minor in Developmental Psychology
  • M.A., University of Michigan, Early Childhood Education
  • B.A., University of Michigan, English


Jim Squires, Senior Research Fellow (National Institute for Early Education)/Senior TA Fellow (Center on Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes) Jim conducts research on national and state early education policy and practices, focusing on prekindergarten through third grade, and provides technical assistance to state leaders. He was formerly the early childhood programs coordinator at the Vermont Department of Education and past president of the National Association of Early Childhood Specialists in State Departments of Education. Jim has taught and directed programs in child care, Head Start, public schools, migrant education, and university lab schools, and served as adjunct faculty at the University of Vermont, Champlain College, and Community College of Vermont. Education:

  • Ph.D., Child Development and Public Policy, The Union Institute
  • M.S., Child and Family Development. University of Georgia
  • B.A., Psychology, Lake Forest College


Jim Lesko, Project Manager, Preschool Development Grants Program (PDG); AEM Corporation. Jim works as a project manager and TA Expert for federal technical assistance contracts within the Education Division, AEM Corporation including PDG, RTT-Early Learning Challenge TA and Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy.  Prior to joining AEM, Jim was the director, early development and learning office in the Delaware Department of Education.  His specific responsibilities included overseeing the state prekindergarten program, early childhood special education, home visiting, professional development office, Head Start Collaboration, and quality rating and improvement program.  In addition to his TA and SEA work, Jim is involved in providing professional development to a cohort of European and Middle Eastern countries on the topic of inclusion of children with disabilities.  Education:

  • Ed.D., University of Delaware, Educational Leadership and Policy
  • M.Ed., University of Washington, Early Childhood Special Education
  • B.A., William Paterson University, Elementary and Special Education


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