Leadership Logo copyThe 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 and partner with state leaders and organizations to build a more unified, equitable, and efficient state birth through third grade early childhood system. The CEELO Leadership Academy includes four in-person sessions, interim online learning opportunities, and intensive coaching for each fellow.

Cohort 5 FellowsCoachesAgendas | MaterialsLeadership Resources

Demetria Joyce, Georgia

Demetria is the Instructional Learning Manager at Bright from the Start the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning. Her work focuses on overseeing the agency initiatives and projects related to instructional learning including standards, curricula, and assessment. Previously, she served as a Georgia’s Pre-K Consultant. She has worked for Bright from the Start since 2014. She received a B.S. degree from Brewton-Parker College, her M.Ed. from Troy University and is a doctoral student at Georgia Southern University.


  • M.Ed., Troy University, Foundations of Education
  • B.S., Brewton Parker College

Job-Embedded Project Presentation – A Metamorphosis of Learning and Leading

Erika Kelley, New Jersey

Erika began her tenure with the NJ Department of Education in 2002. As Senior Program Officer she managed federally-funded grant programs. Years later she served as Senior District Liaison leading a team of four in the rollout of preschool expansion. Most recently, Erika assumed the position as State Advisory Council Director for the reinstated, governor-appointed New Jersey Council for Young Children, which is in but not of, the NJ Department of Education. Leading the Council, Erika coordinates early childhood programs and services across the state, cultivating existing and new stakeholder partnerships to create a deeper and more meaningful coordination of early education and care state systems in NJ.


  • MPA, Rutgers School of Graduate Studies, Public Administration
  • BA, Rutgers, The State University of NJ, Political Science

Erin Carroll, Virginia

Erin s the Director of Early Childhood for the Virginia Department of Education. In this role, Erin supports the implementation and improvement of early childhood care and education through the Virginia Preschool Initiative and quality expansion efforts. Prior to this role, Erin worked with the Louisiana Department of Education as the Director of Classroom and Workforce Improvement, assisting with the launch and operationalization of a unified birth-to-five early childhood system. Previously she has worked as a teacher in both pre-K and second grade classrooms.


  • B.A., Pennsylvania State University
  • M.Ed. in Education Policy and Management, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Job-Embedded Project Presentation – A Winding Path in Virginia

Heather Lucas

Heather is an Education Consultant at the Michigan Department of Education in the Office of Great Start.  In her role with the Department, Heather provides support and oversight for the Great Start Readiness Program (GSRP), Michigan’s state-funded preschool program for four-year-old children with factors which may place them at risk of educational failure.  Last year GSRP served over 37,000 children.  In addition to her work with GSRP, she also participates in various initiatives and workgroups across the Department and with partner agencies working to improve early childhood education and opportunities for young children in Michigan.  Before coming to the Department of Education, Heather was an early childhood teacher and administrator, adjunct faculty, NAEYC validator, and most recently worked in curriculum development for a national early childhood education provider.

  • MA, Michigan State University, Child Development
  • BAA, Central Michigan University, Child Development and Family Economics and Management

Job-Embedded Project Presentation – Monitoring Re-Imagined: From Compliance to Continuous Quality Improvement

Kimberly Villiotti, Iowa

Kim serves as the Administrative Consultant for Early Childhood Programs and Services at the Iowa Department of Education.  Her primary role is the coordination of internal and external efforts to address programming and services for children birth to five and their families.  This work also involves extensive collaboration efforts among various stakeholders.  Within IDE, Kimberly leads several internal groups including the Early Childhood Team, Preschool Team, Birth to Three Team among others. She also serves as the early childhood liaison to the IDE Administrative Team and Office of the Director. Externally, Kimberly co-leads the Early Childhood State Leadership Team representing statewide membership and focusing on the implementation of various system efforts, professional development, and technical assistance in monitoring activities. Prior to joining IDE in 2009, Kimberly worked for 14 years as an early childhood classroom teacher and in Head Start grantee administration.

  • BA, Central College, Pella, Iowa, Elementary Education, emphasis in Reading and Social Sciences
  • MSE, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Early Childhood/Early Childhood Special Education
  • Ed.S, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Educational Leadership
  • Doctoral Candidate, Drake University, Des Moines, Iowa, Educational Leadership

Job-Embedded Project Presentation – A Theory of Change for Iowa’s Early Childhood Team

Misty Moody, Tennessee

Misty is the School-based Support Services director at the Tennessee State Department of Education, as well as the Preschool Development Grant director and Early Literacy Matters director.  She works with a team of 29 to improve quality early learning for all children birth- five years old through monitoring, technical assistance, training and support. Before coming to the State Department of Education, Misty worked at Martha O’Bryan Center, a local non-profit serving inner city children in Nashville for ten years.  She began her teaching career in the early 2000’s where she taught both public and private pre-k, kindergarten, and first grade children.  In addition to Misty’s work at the State Department of Education, she serves as online Adjunct Faculty for Pacific Oaks College of California working with teachers and leaders to obtain their master’s degree in Early Childhood.

  • B.S., Middle Tennessee State University, Elementary Education (K-8)
  • M.Ed., Middle Tennessee State University, Reading (pre-k through 12)
  • Ed.S. Middle Tennessee State University, Education Leadership

Job-Embedded Project Presentation – Tennessee’s Path to Quality

Tara Dwyer, Pennsylvania

Tara’s current position exemplifies her long-term commitment to bringing professionalism and strengthening the Early Education field. As the Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL) for Workforce Development, Tara builds partnerships with Higher Education Institutes to increase opportunities for early learning professionals. Her work includes designing and implementing data-driven leadership strategies to ensure workforce sustainability and early childhood educator and leadership quality.  Tara approaches her work with curiosity and is dedicated to collaborative approaches.  She is particularly interested in how collective impact and public will can shape the early childhood field into the profession it warrants.

  • Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, Distinguished, Arcadia University
  • Post- Bac Certification in Infancy and Early Childhood Trauma Informed Education, St Joseph’s University
  • Bachelor of Science, Psychology Temple University

Taylor is the Director of Early Childhood Accountability and Access at the Louisiana Department of Education. In this position, she leads the work to implement and strengthen the state’s unified quality rating system and to ensure families are supported to make informed decisions about the care and education for their young children. Previously, Taylor worked as a policy fellow in the Department’s Office of Policy and Governmental Affairs where she supported the Department’s efforts to develop its Every Student Succeeds Act state plan. Before coming to the Louisiana Department of Education, she worked as a high school English and special education teacher.


  • BA, The University of Texas at Austin
  • MPH, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Deb Adams is a workforce specialist at the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood where she is working on professional development and technical assistance systems development for early childhood settings.  Deb formerly managed the state-funded School Readiness preschool program under the Connecticut State Department of Education before moving to the newly organized Office of Early Childhood.  Prior to engaging in state policy and systems work, Deb was first a preschool teacher for twelve year in community-based settings, assistant director, then turned director of the University of Connecticut Child Development Laboratories working with college students and professional staff as coaches.  Deb served six years on the NAECS-SDE executive committee and follows the NAEYC Power to the Profession and the NAEYC higher education standards work as it relates to state policy and systems development.

  • Ph.D., Adult Learning, University of Connecticut
  • M.S., Early Childhood Education, Eastern CT State University
  • B.S., Early Childhood Education, Eastern CT State University

Penny Milburn is a consultant to NIEER and CEELO, and was an Early Childhood Specialist at the Iowa Department of Education, where she oversaw the development, implementation and evaluation of the state’s universal preschool program. Her work guided policy, professional development, family education, literacy, assessment, and kindergarten entry assessment. She facilitated a technical assistance network of early childhood and early childhood special education professionals from across the state. Prior to her position at the Iowa Department of Education, Penny worked as a specialist for Iowa State University Extension, an adjunct professor, group home administrator and coordinator for individuals with disabilities, child care provider, teacher, and an Area Education Agency early childhood specialist. She taught early childhood special and general education for more than 20 years.

  • M. S., Iowa State University, Child Development, Early Childhood Special Education
  • B. S., Iowa State University, Child Development

James SquiresJim 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

Tracye Strichik is the Senior Director of the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education, where she leads departmental efforts and coordinates all aspects of research and program evaluation, and oversees professional learning and efforts concerning Higher Education. She serves on various statewide committees and advisory groups that support the development and enhancement of the early childhood system in Alabama, including as project director for PDG B-5. Dr. Strichik participated in the second cohort of CEELO leadership academy. Prior to becoming Senior Director, she was a coach, Professional Development Manager and the state lead for the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation program. She is a National Board Certified (Early Childhood Generalist) teacher who spent 16 years in the classroom.

  • PhD, Early Childhood Education and Teaching, University of Alabama at Birmingham
  • MS, Early Childhood Education and Teaching, Auburn University at Montgomery
  • EdS, Early Childhood Education and Teaching, Auburn University at Montgomery
  • BA, Early Childhood Education and Teaching, Auburn University


March 14, 2019 – Interim Webinar

April 2-4, 2019 – Face-to-Face Meeting – Washington, DC

Homework for May 9 Webinar

May 29, 2019 Face-to-Face Meeting – Long Beach, California

July 30-August 1, 2019 Face-to-Face Meeting – Washington, DC

Thia meeting of the cohort focused on systems thinking .  Expertise and tools were provided by the Waters Foundation. Tools and presentations provided are included below.  Additional useful information can be found on the Waters Foundation’s Systems Thinking Tools and Strategies page and their new Thinking Tools Studio.

September 17-19, 2019 Face-to-Face Meeting – Washington, DC

This meeting of the cohort focused on strategic communications.  Expertise and tools were provided by Advocacy and Communications Solutions. Tools and presentations provided are included below.  Additional useful information can be found on their tools and resources page.


Close Menu