Early Learning Fellows Class One


Wavy blue early learning fellows logoThe National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is pleased to continue facilitating an intensive Early Learning Fellows program for state legislators and staff.

States have been leading efforts to improve the quality of child care, implementing preschool and innovative ways to support families with young children across the age spectrum from birth to kindergarten and into the early grades. They are also addressing challenges with governance, financing, data systems and teacher training/professional development.

Scientific and evaluation research provide new insights into both child development and programs that are showing results. Federal initiatives, such as the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge and the federal Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting, will boost early childhood and home visiting funds in the coming years.

We are pleased to offer a legislative fellows program to legislators and legislative staff at no cost. Most travel expenses for the program were paid through a grant from the Alliance for Early Success.

On this page you will find all information related to the first round of Early Learning Fellows.

Class 1 (2011-2012)

Meet the Fellows, Faculty and NCSL Staff --BIOGRAPHIES BOOK  


Representative Robert Behning, Indiana Senator Margaret Rose Henry, Delaware
Representative Linda Belcher, Kentucky Senator Terrie W. Huntington, Kansas
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, California Senator Donzella James, Georgia
Representative Mia Butler Garrick, South Carolina Senator Laura Kelly, Kansas
Senator Beth Bye, Connecticut Senator Brian Kelsey, Tennessee
Representative Thomas Carmody, Jr., Louisiana Representative Samantha Kerkman, Wisconsin
Representative Stephen F. Carter, Louisiana Senator, Nancy J. King, Maryland
Representative Kelly Cassidy, Illinois Senator Garrett Mason, Maine
Representative Connie Doepke, Minnesota Representative Michael D. McClellan, Maine
Assemblywoman Marilyn Dondero Loop, Nevada Representative Carol McFarlane, Minnesota
Representative Elaine Elliott, South Dakota Representative John H. Merrill, Alabama
Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, Nevada Assemblymember Holly J. Mitchell, California
Representative Robyn Gabel, Illinois Representative Pam Myhra, Minnesota
Representative Mary Stuart Gile, New Hampshire Senator Louis Pate, North Carolina
Senator David Givens, Kentucky Representative Nora Slawik, Minnesota

Legislative Staff
Sarah Archibald, education policy adviser, Wisconsin
Rachel S. Gudgel, senior fiscal analyst, New Mexico
Marsheilah Lyons, principal research analyst, Nevada
Patsy L. Pierce, legislative analyst, North Carolina
James Touchton, senior policy analyst, Georgia
Sharon Wenger, principal analyst, Kansas

W. Steven Barnett, director, National Institute for Early Education Research
Rolf H. Grafwallner, assistant state superintendent of the Division of Early Childhood Development, Maryland
Ron Haskins, co-director, Brookings Center on Children and Families
Representative Ruth Kagi, Washington
Geoff Nagle, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at Tulane University
Robert C. Pianta, dean, Curry School of Education Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning University of Virginia
Jack Shonkoff,  director, Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University

NCSL Staff (Denver Office)
Steffanie Clothier, Children and Families Program
Bruce Feustel, Legislative Management Program
Alison May, Children and Families Program
Phuonglan Nguyen, Children and Families Program
Julie Poppe, Children and Families Program

Kick Off Meeting in Tampa, Florida - Dec. 2-3, 2011

The year long Fellows program kicked off with the Next Steps for States in Early Learning:  Policy, Research and Innovation meeting in Tampa, Florida Dec.2-3, 2011.

View the AGENDA.

Friday, Dec. 2, 2011, Day 1

1-2:15 p.m. - Research and Policy: Understanding Foundational Learning Skills

Some of the cutting edge research in child development consists of understanding how the brain develops critical foundational learning skills –these are skills like attention and self control   that develop early and carry from childhood throughout life.  Some researchers suggest that these “executive function” skills are more important than IQ as predictors of school success. This session features Dr. Phil Zelazo, a top developmental psychologist and neuroscientist, who will illustrate the science of this area of development and Dr. Mary Louise Hemmeter, who has launched a project that helps states address the broad range of social and emotional needs of young children in classroom settings. These experts are working at the leading edge of supporting young children’s development and putting ideas into practice.  

Moderator: Steffanie Clothier, National Conference of State Legislatures

2:15-2:45 p.m. - Frontiers of Innovation
NCSL is a partner in the Early Childhood Innovation Partnership with the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, the National Governors Association and Truepoint Center to generate and test new ideas that support young children’s development of foundational learning skills particularly addressing executive function.  This session will describe the work of the new project that is engaging policymakers, scientists, researchers and practitioners in creating and implementing effective policies and programs for young children and their families.

Steffanie Clothier, National Conference of State Legislatures [presentation] [handout 1, 2, 3

3-4:15 p.m. - Emerging Ideas in Early Learning
Hear lessons learned from Dr. Barnett about how the early learning field has emerged and what the future holds.  His presentation will kick off an interactive conversation facilitated by Dr. Schultz.  The Fellows are encouraged to engage in the discussion and contribute thoughts about other emerging ideas.

Moderator: Tom Schultz, Council of Chief State School Officers

Saturday, Dec. 3, 2011, Day 2

8:30-9:30 a.m. - Leveraging Federal Initiatives to Advance State Policy
Federal initiatives such as Race to the Top and the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grants have drawn the attention of states with 35 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico applying for Race to the Top and almost every state applying for home visiting funding.  This session will highlight how states are taking advantage of federal funding to advance their early childhood efforts.

Moderator: Sheri Steisel, National Conference of State Legislatures 

9:45-10:45 a.m. - Policy Concurrent Sessions and Breakouts  - Concurrent Session I

10:45-11:45 a.m. - Policy Concurrent Sessions and Breakouts  - Concurrent Session II

1-2 p.m. - Financing Case Study:  Louisiana 
States are financing early childhood services through multiple sources.  This session will share Louisiana’s approach to financing early childhood programs.


Webinar GraphicOver the course of the Fellows program four webinars occured, each webinar had experts speaking about key issues related to early learning.

  • Date:  Friday, Feb. 10, 2012
    3 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. CT/ 1 p.m.  MT/ Noon  PT
    Best Practices in Early Learning from Other States
    Click HERE for more information

  • Date:  Friday, April 13, 2012
    Time:  Noon-1:30 p.m. ET (NEW TIME, PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE!)
    "Expanding on the Science:  Foundations of Early Childhood Development"
    Speakers will include Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution and Jack Shonkoff, Center on the Developing Child Harvard University
    Click HERE for more information

  • Date:  Friday, June 8, 2012
    Time:  3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT / 1 p.m. MT / Noon PT
    "Revolutionizing Early Childhood Teaching"
    Speakers will include Bob Pianta, Dean, Curry School of Education Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning and Adele B. Robinson, Deputy Executive Director, Policy & Public Affairs, National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC)  
    Click HERE for more information

  • Date:  Friday, Aug. 10, 2012
    Time:  3 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. CT / 1 p.m. MT / Noon PT
    "Opportunities to Partner with the Private Sector in Early Learning"
    Speakers will include Mike Petro, Acting President, Committee for Economic Development (CED) and Doug Price, President and CEO, Rocky Mountain PBS
    Click here for more information


Wavy blue fellows logo with hand printsAs a way to keep all Fellows connected a monthly newsletter will be circulated.

| January 2012 | February 2012 | March 2012 | April 2012 | May 2012 | June 2012 | July 2012 | 

Additional Resources