Early Learning Fellows Class Three


Wavy blue early learning fellows logo

The 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 third round of Early Learning Fellows.

Class 3 (2014)

Meet the Fellows, Faculty and NCSL Staff  | Photo Roster


Representative Kathy Coleman, Wyoming Representative Alice H. Peisch, Massachusetts
Representative Terri Collins, Alabama Representative Harlie Eugene “Gene” Reynolds, Louisiana
Senator Tanya Cook, Nebraska Representative Tana Senn, Washington
Senator Michael E. Dembrow, Oregon Representative Milo Smith, Indiana
Representative Laura V. Hall, Alabama Assemblymember Michaelle C. Solages, New York
Representative Dan Huberty, Texas Representative Sherrie L. Sprenger, Oregon
Representative Patrick O. Jefferson, Louisiana Senator Kate Sullivan, Nebraska
Representative Edith (Edie) McClafferty, Montana Representative Jessica Vega Pederson, Oregon
Representative Jeanette M. Nuñez, Florida Representative Maureen Walsh, Washington

Representative H. Marlene O’Toole, Florida

Senator, Speaker Pro Tempore Bo Watson, Tennessee

Legislative Staff
Kelly Klundt, fiscal analyst, New Mexico
David Mandell, special advisor on early childhood to the Speaker of the House, Oregon
Padraic McCracken, legislative research analyst, Montana


W. Steven Barnett, director

National Institute for Early Education Research

Jennifer Stedron, senior program manager

Ascend at The Aspen Institute

Sarah Daily, senior research scientist
Child Trends
Amanda Szekely, senior policy analyst
National Governors Association
Tom Schultz, program directo
Council of Chief State School Officers
Albert Wat, senior policy analyst
National Governors Association
Jack P. Shonkoff, director
Center on the Developing Child - Harvard University

NCSL Staff (Denver Office)
Robyn Lipkowitz, program director, Children and Families Program
Alison May, staff coordinator, Children and Families Program
Phuonglan Nguyen, policy specialist, Children and Families Program
Julie Poppe, program manager, Children and Families Program

Kickoff Meeting | Denver, May 15-16, 2014

Group photo of Early Learning Fellows 2014 in front of Educare in Denver, COThe Fellows program kicked off with the Policy, Research & Innovation in Early Learning meeting in Denver May 15-16, 2014.


Day 1 Thursday, May 15, 2014 (1st Floor  • Ballroom A/B)
8:45-9:45 a.m.

Building a Foundation for Achievement: How Early Experiences Shape Brain Architecture
Introduction:  Julie Poppe, National Conference of State Legislatures

10:30-11:30 a.m.

Legislative Governance Examples in Early Childhood
Moderator: Julie Poppe, National Conference of State Legislatures

1-2:15 p.m.

Home Visiting:  A Legislative Primer

Moderator/Presenter: Robyn Lipkowitz, National Conference of State Legislatures [presentation]

3-4 p.m.

Pay for Success: Innovative Financing to Support Early Childhood Programs
Moderator:  John Grossman, Third Sector Capital Partners, Massachusetts

Day 2

Friday, May 16, 2014 (1st Floor  • Ballroom A/B)



8:45-11:45 a.m.

Educare Tour and Site Visit - Clayton Early Learning

Introduction: Phuonglan Nguyen, National Conference of State Legislatures

  • Charlotte Brantley, Clayton Early Learning [handout]
1-2:15 p.m.

Two Generation Strategies: The Potential for Early Childhood Programs to Support Children and Parents Together
Moderator: Jennifer Stedron, Ascend, Aspen Institute [presentation]


Second Meeting | Minneapolis, Aug. 18-19, 2014

The Fellows program had a second face to face meeting in Minneapolis Aug. 18-19, 2014, at the Minneapolis Convention Center.

Monday, Aug. 18, 2014: Day 1 / Mezzanine Level : M100-FG
9:30–10:30 a.m.

The Economic Case for Investing in Early Childhood: How to Sustain Positive Gains in Young Children

Introduction: Representative Joe Mullery, Minnesota

10:45–11:45 a.m.

Public and Private Partnerships for Early Childhood

Some states have leveraged the resources and expertise of private businesses and foundations in furthering early childhood education programs and services in their states while achieving better outcomes for young children. The session will highlight two state perspectives of partnering with the private sector. Hear about how pay-for-success approaches can be used in conjunction with social impact financing tools to engage the investment community in your state to make progress in addressing early childhood issues.

Moderator:  Julie Poppe, National Conference of State Legislatures

Backgrounder: Public-Private Partnerships by the Ounce of Prevention Fund

1:15–4:30 p.m.   

Jeremiah Program Site Visit

Sponsor: Annie E. Casey Foundation

The Jeremiah Program provides single mothers and their children with a safe and affordable place to live, quality early childhood education, life skills training and support for career-tracked, adult education. A tour of the Jeremiah Campus and Child Development Center will also demonstrate ways that two-generation programs such as this address family and child needs as well as work to reduce generational dependence on public assistance. A policy discussion following the tour will deepen the understanding of the intersection between healthy child development, adult education and workforce development, and state policy initiatives.   
Introduction:  Rochelle Finzel, National Conference of State Legislatures


Two-Generation Approach Fact Sheet by the Annie E. Casey Foundation


Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014: Day 2 / Mezzanine Level : M100-FG
8:30–9:30 a.m.

Math in the Early Years

Children’s knowledge of math in the early years is a strong predictor of not only later math achievement but also of later literacy.  Learn about the foundational building blocks of early mathematics and their importance for young learners. Hear about recent research and development work, including highlights from recent national reports on early math. These featured one effective instructional approach — basing standards, curricula, and instruction on learning trajectories. Clements will conclude by drawing implications for policy.
Moderator:  Tom Schultz, Council of Chief State School Officers

9:30–10:30 a.m.

State Child Care Policies and Quality
Quality child care is a critical component for low-income families to find and maintain work and it also supports the child development needs of very young children. Hear a presentation of child care subsidy flexibility, an update on state child care policies, and highlights from a recent study on quality improvements for child care centers serving low-income working families.
Moderator: Robyn Lipkowitz, National Conference of State Legislatures

CCDBG: What’s in the Law? by CLASP

Child Care Assistance: Helping Parents Work and Children Succeed by CLASP

Pivot Point State Child Care Assistance Policies 2013 by NWLC


webinar graphicOver the course of the Fellows program two webinars took place, each webinar will had an expert speaking about key issues related to early learning.

Webinar 1: State Prekindergarten Programs:  A Decade of Progress / Tuesday, June 24, 2014 at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m.  PT
This webinar is the first of two webinars specifically designed for the Early Learning Fellows. Over a quarter of America’s 4-year-olds currently participate in a state-funded preschool program. Hear from Steve Barnett with the National Institute for Early Education Research about the key findings from the annual State Preschool Yearbook. He will highlight the data and national trends for enrollment in, quality of, and spending on state-funded preschool programs. Learn about the decade of progress since the first Yearbook collected data on the 2001-2002 school year and the opportunities for improvements in quality and availability. There will be time set aside for questions and discussion.
Speakers: W. Steven Barnett, Ph.D., Director, National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

Webinar 2: Dual Language Learners: The Latest Social & Emotional Research 
Tuesday, Sept. 30, 2014, at 2 p.m. ET/ 1 p.m. CT/ Noon MT/ 11 a.m.  PT
This webinar is the second of two webinars specifically designed for the Early Learning Fellows. The demographics of the United States are changing. Along with this change is an increase in the number of children considered Dual Language Learners (DLL) in early care and education programs. There are a number of states that have experienced two-fold growth of dual language learners during the previous two decades.  Learn about the latest in social and emotional development research of dual language learners, which can provide useful guidance for lawmakers when considering policies and understanding practices for young DLL children. There will be time set aside for questions and discussion.
Speakers: Tamara Halle, senior research scientist and co-program area director, Early Childhood Research at Child Trends

*Learn more about other NCSL sponsored webinars.

Early Learning Fellows Legislative Corner

Fellows blue banner with image of children and capitolAs a way to keep all Fellows connected with one another and to highlight the terrific work being done in your state. NCSL staff will  periodically highlight a Fellow and the work they are doing.

Early Learning Fellows Legislative Corner - Oct. 2014

Early Learning Fellows Legislative Corner - Feb. 2015

View other Early Learning Fellows Legislative Corner Posts

If you have something to share please be sure to email Alison May.

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