About Us

The 2015 Institute of Medicine report Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation provided a blueprint for action to advance the early care and education workforce with a set of recommendations directed to stakeholders at local, state, and national levels. To facilitate the implementation of the recommendations at the state level, the National Academy of Medicine’s (NAM’s) Innovation to Incubation program launched the B8 State Pathways to Implementation Project.

In 2016, the Director of the Innovation to Incubation Program at the National Academy of Medicine, who had worked on the national report, reached out to the McKnight Foundation and asked if they would financially support a Minnesota team.  The McKnight Foundation agreed to support Minnesota’s participation in the second co-hort of states working with the Innovation to Incubation Program.  The goal of this program is to develop state-specific plans to implement some of the recommendations from the national report.  The National Academy of Medicine required that each state select a team of 8 to 10 people to participate.  That team, initially known as the B8 Workforce Core Team, began meeting in September 2016.

The National Academy of Medicine also required that each state convene a larger advisory committee.  Minnesota chose to use the existing P3 Design Team as the advisory committee.  The McKnight Foundation, together with the West Central Initiative, continued to support this work to transform Minnesota’s early childhood workgroup.

As participants in the B8 State Pathways to Implementation Project, self-assembled state “teams” met regularly to discuss challenges and opportunities for implementing the report’s recommendations in their specific state contexts. Participants learn from each other and from experts in the field to inform the development of tailored state action plans and generate strategies for stakeholder engagement.  Minnesota worked with teams from Colorado and Nebraska.

So far, eight state and regional teams have participated in the B8 State Pathways to Implementation Project: California, Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia, Washington State, and a regional team representing Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, DC.

The work of Transforming Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce project is currently led by a Leadership Team.

Current Transforming Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce Leadership Team Members:

Christa Anders, J.D., M.A., is a partner at Advance Consulting and Project Coordinator for Transforming Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce.

Sara Benzkofer, is the Executive Director of MnAEYC

Oriane Casale,  Assistant Director of the Labor Market Information Office of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

Layna Cole PhD.,  is an Associate Professor in the Department of Professional Education at Bemidji State University. Professor Cole represents MnAECTE, the Minnesota Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators, the professional association for early childhood faculty from 4-year colleges and universities.  

Nick Henderson, is the Social Service Program Advisor at the Minnesota Department of Human Services

Debbie Hewitt, is an Early Childhood Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education.  Debbie is the Team Leader for Transforming Minnesota’s Early Childhood Workforce.  

Nancy Jost is the Director of Early Childhood at the West Central Initiative and the fiscal sponsor for the project.

Cisa Keller, M.A., is the Senior Vice President of Early Childhood Quality Development at Think Small.

Alex Liuzzi, is the Executive Director of Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board (PELSB)

Nikole Logan, Ed.D, represents Voices and Choices for Children and Children’s Defense Fund MN

Ann McCully, Executive Director of Child Care Aware of Minnesota.

Jennifer Moses, Children’s Cabinet Manager of Governor Tim Walz’s Children’s Cabinet

Kelly Monson, M.Ed., Director of Programs, Child Care Aware of Minnesota

Zina Noel, M.Ed, Early Childhood Policy and Research Assistant for the Early Childhood Workforce Leadership Team and the Financing Subcommittee.

Scott Parker, is a Supervisor in Child Development Services at the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

Milton Rodriguez, is the Center Manager for the Tri-Valley Opportunity Council in their Head Start program.

Deborah Schierbeck, MA, is a Child Development Instructor at Hennepin Technical College.  Professor Schierbeck represents ACCESS, the professional organization for early childhood faculty from two-year colleges.

Michelle Hersh Vaught, JD, is a Rulemaking Specialist at the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board.

Past  Team Members:

Sharon Bergen, PhD., is an Instructor in Early Childhood and Youth Development at Dakota County Community and Technical College.

Melvin Carter, M.A., participated on the B8 Workforce Core Team as the Executive Director of the Minnesota’s Children’s Cabinet.  Melvin took a leave from the Core Team to run for Mayor of Saint Paul and took office in  January of 2018.

Hope DoernerM. Ed., Early Education Faculty at Minneapolis Community and Technical College.

Christine Empanger, was the former B8 Workforce Graduate Student Intern from Augsburg University.

Rae Jean Hansen,  Vice President at the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

Molly Harney, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota Duluth. Molly served as a co-team lead.

Dianne Haulcy, M.A., Director of Family Engagement at Think Small. Dianne served on the B8 Workforce Core Team through September of 2018.

Temi Ogunrinde, was a former B8 Workforce Graduate Student Intern from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Rozalyn Zuest M.A., was the Early Childhood Workforce Development Specialist with the Minnesota Department of Human Services and served on the B8 Workforce Core Team until September of 2017.  

Provided Technical Assistance:

Kimber Bogard, PhD., is the Former Director of  Innovation to Incubation at the National Academy of Medicine.  She provided technical assistance to the B8 Workforce Core Team through September of 2017.

The P3 Design Team served as the Advisory Council for the work of the B8 Workforce Core Team within the year of the NGA.

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