The NCSL Blog


By Alison May

The NCSL Early Learning Fellows program is at it again.

Early Learning Fellows logoNCSL Early Care and Education project staff are excited to kick off the program and to meet the fifth group of Fellows at the first meeting of the year, May 18-20 in Omaha, Neb.

The Early Learning Fellows program is designed to support legislators and legislative staff who are experienced or emerging leaders on early childhood and early learning issues.

The program is specifically designed to:

  • Build knowledge among legislators and staff about new research and policy.
  • Promote exchange of ideas and solutions related to early learning, the early achievement gap, and many other issues.
  • Introduce and connect legislators to other legislative early childhood leaders.
  • Provide Fellows with a practical early learning plan they can use in their state.
  • Facilitate access to leading researchers and policy experts.

The selection process for the 2016 Early Learning Fellows began in early January with letters and nomination requests being sent to the leader’s office in almost every state and chamber. If you are interested in learning more about the nomination, application and selection process visit the Early Learning Fellow Selection Process on our website.

This year we received a record setting response and unmatched level of interest! A total of 110 legislators and legislative staff were nominated to apply and 48 individuals submitted applications for our selection committee to consider.

The 2016 NCSL Early Learning Fellows class is composed of legislators and staff from 18 states and the District of Columbia. The class of 29 includes 24 legislators and five legislative staff.

The Fellows are: 

  • Bethany Anderson (Wis.)
  • Representative Chad Caldwell (R-Okla.)
  • Senator Donna Campbell (R-Texas)
  • Representative Joseph D. Deshotel (D-Texas)
  • Abbey Fabick (Wis.)
  • Representative Hellen Giddings (D-Texas)
  • Representative Jodi Hack (R-Ore.)
  • Assemblymember Pamela Harris (D-N.Y.)
  • Liz Hruska (Neb.)
  • Assemblymember Alicia Hyndman (D-N.Y.)
  • Representative Donny Lambeth (R-N.C.)
  • Senator Peggy Lehner (R-Ohio)
  • Kimber Liedl (Wis.)
  • Senate Majority Whip Gayle Manning (R-Ohio)
  • Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Calif.)
  • Senator Ann Millner (R-Utah)
  • Senator Rebecca Millett (D-Maine)
  • Councilmember Brianne Nadeau (D-District of Columbia)
  • Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self (D-Wash.)
  • Senator Stephan Pappas (R-Wyo.)
  • Representative Carla Piluso (D-Ore.)
  • Representative Patricia Haynes Smith (D-La.)
  • Senator John Stinner (Neb.)
  • Senate Assistant Minority Leader Charleta Tavares (D-Ohio)
  • Senator Steven Thayn (R-Idaho)
  • Representative Paul Tucker (D-Mass.)
  • Senator Wayne Wallingford (R-Mo.)
  • Jenna Watts (Texas)
  • Senator Brice Wiggins (R-Miss.)

Fellows are expected to participate in two face-to-face meetings and two webinars during the course of the program. The face-to-face meetings will take place in Omaha, Neb. May 18-20 and Chicago Aug. 8-9. The first webinar Equity Starts Early: Strategies to Consider in Promoting High-Quality Early Education will be on Thursday, June 30 at 2 p.m. ET. The second webinar Linking Social-Emotional Skills in Children to Long-Term Success in Life will be on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. ET.

Be sure to bookmark and visit the 2016 Early Learning Fellows web page often. This page will continually update with meeting materials and specific work being done by Fellows in the states to improve the lives of children and their families. Additionally, NCSL staff will blog about the meetings shortly after their conclusion.

NCSL’s Early Learning Fellows program is made possible by grants from the Alliance for Early Success, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Heising-Simons Foundation and Mattel, Inc.

Alison May is a staff coordinator with the NCSL Children and Families Program.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.