Sarah Arnold

Sarah Arnold is a lifelong educator. She currently serves as the Public Policy and Outreach Coordinator for the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America (WECAN), as well as being a member of the WECAN Board. She is also pursuing a Doctoral degree in Language and Literacy Development in Early Childhood. Prior to her current roles, Sarah served as a program director and teacher at Evergreen Garden Playschool, a Waldorf early childhood program; and as a public elementary school teacher in Nevada and Massachusetts.

Sarah is passionate about making high-quality, child-centered, developmentally-appropriate education ubiquitous in the United States. In her WECAN work, she has the opportunity to participate as a member of the Ideal Learning Round Table and as a movement builder for Education Reimagined, which both work to make that dream a reality.

Sarah’s research interests are focused on building community in early childhood classrooms through play and storytelling. As part of her research fellowship at Boston University, Sarah has visited upwards of 40 early childhood and lower elementary classrooms across Boston and Massachusetts. She has seen both the best and worst of educational environments. She is dedicated to making the best available to every child.

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Erik Clemons

Erik has devoted his career to empowering marginalized communities across the state of Connecticut and helping others see their own potential and power. He is the founding CEO and President of the Connecticut Center for Arts and Technology (ConnCAT), a non-profit organization based on the model of Bill Strickland’s, National Center for Arts and Technology. ConnCAT is dedicated to creating empowering arts-based educational environments for at-risk public school students and training programs for under and unemployed adults. Erik has an extensive background in non-profit management and organizational leadership. Prior to founding ConnCAT, Erik served as the Connecticut Executive Director of the premier national youth development organization Leadership, Education, and Athletics in Partnership (LEAP). LEAP provides academic and social enrichment programs to children and youth between the ages of five and twenty-three. Erik has also served as director of vocational training at the U.S. Department of Labor’s New Haven Job Corps Center.

A lifelong Connecticut resident, Erik volunteers significant time and energy in supporting other organizations doing good work in the local community. He serves or has served on numerous boards including: Cornell Scott Hill Health Center, New Haven Housing Authority, New Haven Legal Aid, and Connecticut Voices for children. Currently, Erik is an Education Fellow at the Aspen Institute, a member of the Connecticut State Board of Education, Board Chair of the Housing Authority of New Haven (HANH), Board of Director at START Community Bank, Board of Director at Elm City Market, and Board Trustee at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

Erik has a wife (Sharon), and four daughters (Kiara, Nyle, Nia, Kai).

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James Comer, MD, MPH

James Comer, MD, MPH is the Maurice Falk Professor of Child Psychiatry at the Yale University Child Study Center. Dr. Comer has concentrated his career on promoting a focus on child and adolescent development as a way of improving schools.

In 1968 he founded the Comer School Development Program that promotes the collaboration of parents, educators, and community to improve social, emotional, and academic outcomes for children that, in turn, help them achieve greater school success. He has improved the educational environment in more than 1,000 schools throughout the U.S. He has authored numerous publications and received many awards for his work, including 49 honorary degrees.

In 2014 President Barack Obama appointed Dr. Comer to his Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans, and in 2016 became a member of the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development. Dr. Comer received an M.D. from Howard University. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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Camille Cooper

Camille J. Cooper, Ed.D. is Director of the School Development Program’s Learning, Teaching and Development initiatives which include Teachers Helping Teachers and Balanced Curriculum programs. Teaching, Learning, and Development (T, L, &D) expands the focus of the Yale Child Study Center’s School Development Program (SDP) from relationships and school climate to student achievement and school performance.

Camille also leads the organization’s intake, implementation, and professional development activities for schools and districts. Implementation includes on-site workshops, consultation sessions, and school and classroom visits. Customized on-site professional development also supports the implementation process for schools and districts that have adopted the SDP program.

Prior to joining the SDP, Camille served as a professional educator in public schools over 25 years. Her professional experiences include special education, career/vocational education, associate director of elementary humanities, associate director elementary language arts, assistant and elementary principal, executive director/assistant superintendent for academic services, curriculum and instruction, and executive regional principal/assistant superintendent.

Camille and earned a B.S. in elementary education from Kent State University and a M.Ed. in the education of exceptional individuals from Wright State University. She has completed postgraduate work at Miami University, Wright State University and the University of Dayton in the areas of supervision, curriculum and instruction, school administration and educational leadership. The doctorate degree in educational leadership and policy is from Southern Connecticut State University. Her research focus is teacher collaboration and professional learning communities.

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Karen DuBois-Walton Ph.D.

Karen DuBois-Walton, Ph.D., President, Elm City Communities/Housing Authority of the City of New Haven (HANH). Karen DuBois-Walton currently serves as the President of the Elm City Communities/Housing Authority of the City of New Haven, The Glendower Group, LLC (the development affiliate of HANH) and 360 Management Group, Co., (the property management affiliate) responsible for administrative, programmatic and policy direction of the public housing, housing choice voucher program, finance and planning and development activities. Prior to assuming this role, Dr. DuBois-Walton served as the Chief Operating Officer for HANH.

Previously, she served as Chief of Staff for Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. in the City of New Haven, CT. Appointed to this role in August of 2004, Dr. DuBois-Walton was responsible for oversight of all city administrative and political affairs. Additionally, Dr. DuBois-Walton was responsible for all collaborative work with the city’s municipal and state legislative bodies.

Prior to promotion to Chief of Staff, she served as the Chief Administrative Officer for the City of New Haven from January 2002 to August 2004. As Chief Administrative Officer, Dr. DuBois-Walton served as the Mayor’s coordinator of public services including police, fire, public works/engineering, parks, recreation and trees, library and human resources. These departments made up the largest portion of non-education city services with a budget of over $80 million. In addition to coordinating activities of these departments, Dr. DuBois-Walton oversaw the city’s emergency planning initiatives.

A trained clinical psychologist, prior to assuming positions with the Housing Authority and the City of New Haven, she served in positions with the State of Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Yale University Child Study Center. Dr. DuBois-Walton earned her BA from Yale University and MA and Ph.D. from Boston University.

Dr. DuBois-Walton resides in New Haven. She is the wife of Kevin Walton, Sr. and the mother of two sons. She co-leads the Community Leadership Program of the Graustein Memorial Fund. She co-founded Storytellers New Haven with her husband. She sits on several non-profit boards including the Melville Charitable Trust, CONNCORP, Inc., CT Association of Human Services, First City Fund Corporation, and the ACES Education Foundation. In 2014 Dr. DuBois-Walton was named one of The Network Journal’s “25 Most Influential Black Women in Business”. In 2011, 2013 and 2018 she was named one of the “100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut” by the CT State Conference of the NAACP. In 2015 she was awarded the Greater New Haven NAACP’s Community Service Award.

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Sarah Fabish

Sarah J. H. Fabish is the Vice President for Grantmaking and Strategy for the Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. She currently manages the grant making process for The Foundation and its affiliate, The Valley Community Foundation.

She has served in the Foundation for over 30 years, with a particular emphasis on youth development and education. As such, she has developed a number of initiatives and collaborations, such as an Out of School Time Collaboration of CT Community Foundations and State Departments focused for two years on building the capacity of community foundations to support positive youth development and after school programming in their communities and encourage cross community learning. She was also primarily responsible for the development of an initiative funded by Wallace Funds to create a community of learners focused on promoting interactive learning opportunities for families where parents are supported as their child’s first teachers and the community as a classroom (PACK).

She provides program support to the Foundation’s Women and Girls Fund, which seeks to improve the quality of life for women and girls in the Foundations regions and the Quinnipiac River Fund that supports research and remediation of the Quinnipiac River.

She represents the Foundation on numerous youth development and education initiatives and endeavors, including serving on the City of New Haven’s Early Childhood Council and its Executive Committee.
She serves on the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative: a group of 14 funders in the state of Connecticut supporting strategies such as the Office of Early Childhood that improve the early education opportunities for children.

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Chrisanne Gayl

Chrisanne Gayl is an education leader with more than fifteen years of policy experience at the federal, state, and local levels. As Senior Director at Trust for Learning, Chrisanne oversees the organization’s investment portfolio and overall grant-making strategy. Chrisanne served as a Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education, where she was responsible for developing new policies and programs to expand high-quality learning opportunities and supportive services for the nation’s children. She has also worked as the Director of Federal Programs for the National School Boards Association and as an education advisor to the governor of California. Chrisanne has testified in front of Congress and has authored numerous publications. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and received her undergraduate degree from Colby College in Waterville, Maine.

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Eliza Halsey

Eliza is the Executive Director of Elm City Montessori School. She was born and raised in New Haven and attended New Haven public schools. In 2011, she co-founded New Haven Parents, a parent group working to ensure all children in New Haven have access to excellent public schools and high-quality preschools. These efforts led her and a group of parents to create Elm City Montessori School. She has previous education and non-profit leadership experience as the New Haven Director for All Our Kin and the Director of Quality Assurance and Evaluation for Public Allies, a national leadership development organization whose Connecticut chapter she helped found. Eliza began her career in youth/leadership development at a small NGO in Kathmandu, Nepal and at Leadership, Education & Athletics in Partnership (LEAP) in New Haven. She currently serves as a member of the New Haven Early Childhood Council and of the City Transformation Plan Early Childhood Work Group. Eliza has a BA from Yale University and a Master’s in Public Administration from New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
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Jennifer Heath

Jennifer Heath is the President and CEO of United Way of Greater New Haven (UWGNH). She assumed that position in July 2016, after serving the organization for the past 10 years as Executive Vice President and Vice President of Community Impact. During her tenure at UWGNH, Jennifer has been the key architect of the organization’s work in the community. She led volunteer teams and staff to identify community issues and design and implement collective solutions. She helped secured new and diversified revenue streams for the organization to support key impact strategies, including over $2 million annually in federal funds for regional Early Head Start programs. After being named as the incoming President and CEO in January 2016, Jennifer led the Board and senior staff in developing a new strategic plan for the organization.

Jennifer has an extensive background working in the non-profit sector. Prior to joining UWGNH, Jennifer was a non-profit consultant working with government, foundations, and not-for-profit organizations on strategic planning, grantwriting, and program development. Earlier in her career, Jennifer managed a national program based out of Yale University helping communities around the country create community schools. She also worked at CT Voices for Children, a statewide research and advocacy organization focused on improving children’s lives. She has experience in government, having managed school reform programs within the Maryland State Department of Education and worked at the US Department of Education on higher education issues. She has particular expertise in early childhood education and education policy, new program design and implementation, and group facilitation.

Jennifer has a Master in Public Affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University and a BA from Davidson College. A North Carolina native, she has lived in the New Haven area for more than 20 years. She served on the Hamden Board of Education for almost seven years, and is an active member of Spring Glen Church. She lives in Hamden with her husband, son, and stepson, and enjoys reading, hiking, playing the piano, and eating New Haven pizza, which is the best pizza anywhere.

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Peg Oliveira Ph.D.

Dr. Peg Oliveira is the Executive Director of the Gesell Program in Early Childhood at the Yale Child Study Center. As a psychology undergraduate Dr. Oliveira worked in a Head Start site, an experience that set her on the path of researching and advocating for essential improvements in the early care and education system. Dr. Oliveira received her doctorate in Psychology from Brandeis University and has worked with state agencies, nonprofit advocacy coalitions and local initiatives on issues of affordable child care, fair pay and paid family leave. Currently, as Director at Gesell, Peg partners with schools and early childhood education providers to translate new research into an immediate positive impact on how educators see and teach children.

Dr. Oliveira is also a beloved yoga teacher in her hometown of New Haven, CT and founded a nonprofit yoga service organization called 108 Monkeys. In this role she trains clinicians, educators and yoga teachers in trauma informed mindfulness and yoga for use in outreach settings.

Peg writes for national publications and education texts. She has contributed chapters on mindfulness to published work, including the essay “Practicing Yoga. Practicing Justice” published in 2019 in the book Stories of School Yoga.

Dr. Oliveira participates in numerous community initiatives including serving on the Board of Directors of the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA. She is married to an urban educator, and together they have two children, two decades apart.

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Jessica Powell, Ph.D.

Jessica Powell is an Assistant Professor of Early Childhood and Elementary Education in the department of Curriculum and Learning at SCSU. She is the Early Childhood Education program coordinator and co-director of the Educational Justice Collective at Southern Connecticut State University. She has a bachelors in inclusive education, a masters in early childhood education, and a PhD in educational justice. Her research and work with pre-service teachers focuses on equity, culturally responsive teaching, and racial justice in education. Prior to becoming a professor, she worked as a first grade teacher and was a site coordinator for a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School.

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Ellen Roche

Ellen joined Trust for Learning in 2018 after graduating from a Montessori preschool and with many years of experience working in and with schools, nonprofits, and foundations.

Prior to recent leadership roles at two strategy firms, Ellen taught music, English, and humanities and earned an M.Ed. from Harvard, where she focused on progressive, antiracist, and civic education and spent many afternoons in the archives exploring progressive school history. She’s been lucky enough to teach and develop curricula across age ranges (from toddlers to adults), settings (public, private, and charter) and approaches (from high-stakes to experiential), and is fascinated by the dynamic relationship between American schools, democracy, and culture. Outside of schools and classrooms, she has led workshops and talks around the country on racial equity, storytelling for social change, democratic communications, and the hidden histories of American progressive teachers. Most recently, over eight years as a strategist and researcher for progressive causes ranging from climate change to human rights, she became more and more oriented toward root-cause problems and structural solutions, focusing for the last three years as much as possible on racial equity efforts. Ellen is honored to continue learning from the Ideal Learning community and deeply committed to equity in early education as a critical investment both in children and are more just, democratic future.

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Helen Rosenberg

Helen Rosenberg has assisted a variety of New Haven businesses with meeting various needs over her 30 years employment in the City of New Haven’s Office of Economic Development. A particular focus of her work has been the identification of expansion and relocation business sites and facilitation of environmental remediation of those sites when needed. In the early 1990s she oversaw the establishment of the Mill River Day Care Center, managed by LULAC Head Start, at 355 James Street in the City’s Mill River Municipal Development Project Plan area.

Previous professional experience includes assisting new homeowners acquire and renovate houses in New Haven and surrounding towns through the Regional Housing Rehabilitation Institute from 1979-1980 and working for the city of New Orleans on a neighborhood commercial revitalization project in the late 1970s. From 1981-1989 she owned and operated Book World in New Haven.

Helen graduated in 1974 from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree and in 1977 from the University of New Orleans with a Master of Urban and Regional Planning. She is a long-time resident of the Westville neighborhood in New Haven and has served on the boards of Westville neighborhood organizations and New Haven Jewish institutions.

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Allyx Schiavone

Allyx has 28 years of experience in early childhood development and elementary education – as a teacher and administrator in CT and NY. She holds dual Masters’ degrees from Bank Street College of Education in Early Child Development and Elementary Education and a Bachelor’s degree from Union College. A third-generation New Haven native and long-time resident of Fair Haven, Allyx maintains ownership in a New Haven real estate development corporation which she managed from 1998-2009.
Allyx has served as Program Coordinator for New Haven-based Area Cooperative Educational Services (ACES); Early Childhood Classroom Observer for Southern Connecticut State University; and Budget Coordinator for the New Haven Board of Education facilitating a $2 million grant. Allyx has taught in NYC, New Haven and Greenwich in several elementary schools and pre-school settings, directed summer camps and written and supervised curriculums at elementary, middle and high school levels with an emphasis on literacy, math, science, and multidisciplinary studies.

Allyx is a founder of the New Haven Children’s Ideal Learning District (NH ChILD). NH ChILD is a coalition of local and national early childhood proponents that have come together to create a place-based pilot program in New Haven. NH ChILD proposes to revolutionize the early care and education landscape by bringing the community together around a common vision of Ideal Learning with a focus on equity. The goal of NH ChILD is to provide high-quality early care and education experiences for all 15,000 New Haven children ages zero to eight.

She currently serves as an advisory member of the University of New Haven’s Nonprofit Certificate in Leadership, Innovation and Organizational Sustainability and on the Mayoral Appointed New Haven Early Childhood Council. She is a 2019 recipient of the Southern Black Nurses Association Community Service Award and the 2019 Amity Club Distinguished Italian-American Lifetime Achievement Award. She is also Exchange Magazine’s Master Leader award and the recipient of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence Marvin Maurer Spotlight Award. She is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and is a former; board member for Connecticut Voices for Children; appointee to the Mayor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Reading; and leader of the William Caspar Graustein Memorial Fund Community Leadership Program. She is the mother of two fantastic teenaged children and has a lovely black dog named Blue.

Emily Sharrock

In her role as Associate Vice President of Strategy and New Program Design for Bank Street college, Emily collaborates with divisions across the college to spur innovation and create new partnerships that expand Bank Street’s public impact and commitment to equity. Recently new partnerships include early childhood policy and programs, blended in-service professional learning, and alternative pathways to certification. Emily has spent the majority of her career working in urban education management and public school reform, including close to 10 years at the New York City Department of Education. As a Network Leader in New York City, Emily oversaw the leadership, instructional, and operational supports provided to more than 25 schools spanning K-12. She also served in different district-level policy, strategic planning, and management roles overseeing a variety of district reform efforts for the city. Emily has also worked as an instructional coach in early childhood settings. Additionally, Emily served as a school designer supporting curriculum, instruction, and leadership development in NYC Outward Bound Expeditionary Learning schools. Previously, she held different roles in the philanthropy, nonprofit management, and community development sectors. Emily holds an MPA from Columbia University’s School for International & Public Affairs and a BA from Wesleyan University.

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Fahd Vahidy

Fahd Vahidy currently serves as a Philanthropic Advisor to the Graustein Family and manages the family’s charitable giving work and programmatic initiatives including the Community Leadership Program.

Fahd has held management and executive management positions in the nonprofit sector, and as a consultant, he’s advised on startups and turnaround work, talent development and organizational culture, and systems-level advocacy and impact. He is currently on the board of CT Council of Philanthropy and has served on several state-wide organizations in CT over the last 20 years.

Fahd received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Connecticut. When he’s not fly fishing on the Farmington River, you can find him at home in West Hartford with his wife and their two cats, Kubla and Romeo.

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Janna Wagner

Janna Wagner is co-founder and chief learning officer of All Our Kin, Inc., a nonprofit organization that trains, supports, and sustains family child care providers to ensure that children and families have the foundation they need to succeed in school and in life. All Our Kin’s network of caregivers has been proven to provide high-quality infant and toddler care to working parents in low and middle-income communities. Janna was born and raised in New Haven and attended the New Haven Public Schools. Janna holds a B.A. in psychology from Yale University and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She taught in the South Bronx through Teach for America and then founded All Our Kin with Jessica Sager in 1999. In addition to her work at All Our Kin, Janna co-teaches a seminar on “Child Care, Society, and Public Policy” at Yale University.

Active in the New Haven community, Janna is an Associate Fellow of Jonathan Edwards College at Yale University and founder of The Group with No Name, a social, civic organization that turns New Haven’s residents into citizens. Janna serves as chair of the board of the Ulysses S. Grant Foundation, a sixty-six-year old academic enrichment summer program, which brings together Yale and New Haven students on Yale’s campus. She is the former chair of the advisory board for the Community Fund for Women and Girls, a component fund of The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven. Janna was a Grand Prize co-recipient of the Roslyn S. Jaffe Award and received the Yale Jefferson Award. She was a Zero to Three Leadership Fellow and a Public Voices Fellow at Yale. She is a Pahara Aspen Education Fellow, and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network.

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