Sherri Valdez

Position: Chief Executive Officer

  • Organizational Leadership and Envisioning
  • Guide Strategic Plans, Goals, Policies, Budgets and Programs
  • Strengthen Community / State / National Partnerships
  • Leverage Funding, Human Resources and Policy

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I work in the field of early childhood because as a young mother I struggled to find quality pre-kindergarten services for my own children and made a commitment to influence change. After twenty years, I continue to work on this social-economic issue, because our youngest children and their families deserve better! Access to quality early childhood services has positive impacts on child and family outcomes, leading us to a strong and healthy community. The responsibility to create a robust early childhood system falls upon us all.

“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.” – African Proverb

Donielle Van Gieson

Position: Contracted Chief Financial Officer, Key Business Solutions, Inc.

  • Consultant to senior leadership team and Board of Directors on all financial matters, making recommendations and suggesting pro-active strategies to keep the Early Childhood Council of the SLV on track
  • Drive best financial practices
  • Participate in internal planning regarding proposed program expansion, to ensure alignment of program, outreach and training plans with financials projections
  • Align procedures to meet critical regulatory and legal compliance

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

Working in the Early Childhood not-for-profit sector is rewarding and intellectually challenging. Being an effective partner to the senior leadership team is guiding the organization to fulfill an ambitious mission is gratifying. Children are the future of our community, providing them with the tools they will need to be successful is imperative.

“Time is the most valuable commodity, make sure where you are investing is worth the cost.”

Lindsay Meredith

Position: Chief Operating Officer

  • Human Resources Management, Administrative & Fiscal Support
  • Oversee Business Operations, Ensuring Organizational Budget Targets are Met
  • Compliance in HR Practices and Grant Requirements
  • Provide overarching staff support to promote employee satisfaction and staff well-being

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I started my journey with the EC Council in 2012, working as an Accountant with Key Business Solutions, and providing fiscal support to ECC SLV. In 2013, I began a career in Human Resources with a local healthcare organization. After gaining nearly 8 years of HR expertise, I was welcomed back to the EC Council and afforded the opportunity to contribute to leadership, and support those who positively impact the lives of young children. I am proud to work for an amazing organization and alongside wonderful professionals who are passionate about ensuring children succeed in school and in life.

“We can’t help everyone, but everyone can help someone” -Ronald Reagan 

Bryan Lindert

Position: Chief Program Officer

  • Establishes a comprehensive, locally supported plan for providing early childhood and family support programs equitably
  • Manages implementation of the new Universal Pre-K program for the San Luis Valley
  • Serves as a liaison between families, the local early childhood system, and the state
  • Partners with families and local providers to grow childcare capacity across early childhood

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

We know investing our time and resources in children is the best way to improve our collective future.  Too often, however, our society focuses on rescue instead of prevention. I returned to early childhood because I spent many years in the child welfare and juvenile justice fields where intervention is more difficult and more expensive.  My experience and the data led me to a clear conclusion: early childhood is the best time to foster the social and emotional skills that will help children become better citizens, workers, and parents themselves.

 “The question is not whether we can afford to invest in every child; it is whether we can afford not to.” -Marian Wright Edelman

Chelle Wells

Position: Administrative Assistant

  • Administrative support to the Business Manager and ECC SLV programs
  • Facilitates for the organization serving as the point of contact for childcare providers and families
  • Support the Business Manager with billing and invoicing
  • Provide effective staff support to promote employee satisfaction and staff well-being

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I was granted the opportunity to enter the Early Childhood field during my pursuit of a rewarding profession. I am grateful for the opportunity to assist and support such an influential team of people who are dedicated to the well-being and development of children. I am proud to be considered part of the ECC SLV family and strive to be an essential part of the organization for years to come!

“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi 

Lindsey Witz

Position: LCO Resource & Referral Manager

  • Provide support to local families with a wide variety of referral needs and help them connect to resources.
  • Support implementation of the new Universal Pre-K program across the San Luis Valley
  • Partner with local providers and families to continue to strengthen the early childhood network of the San Luis Valley
  • Help families understand and successfully navigate the transition to Pre-K or kindergarten

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

As a mom of four beautiful daughters, we as a family, started our IEP journey with absolutely no understanding of what that path held for us.  The more I l realized what an amazing resource the early childhood programs are to families. I quickly fell in love with helping other families know and understand that early childhood intervention is an amazing support system. It can help your child, and family, reach goals that sometime seem impossible, help set our sweet babies up for the best chance at success in school, at home, and their lives in general, and to reassure families that as scary as that journey may seem they have support and are not alone. My experience with my own family, and the countless other families I have been luckily enough to know and help, reassures me daily that starting when our babies are young is the best place to build them up for success.

“If something stands between you and your success, move it. Never be denied.” –Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson

Rita Archuleta

 Position: Universal Preschool (UPK) Implementation Specialist

  • Supporting, mentoring and coaching Participating UPK providers
  • Quality improvement
  • Quality rating preparednes

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I have chosen to work in the Early Childhood field when I was on the parent committee and volunteered in my 2 boys Head Start classes.  I really enjoyed watching what the teachers were teaching and how my boys learned.  It all made sense!  I then was offered a position and from there it all took off for me as I completed my AA and then continued to receive my BA while I was working full time and raising children.  The quality care they received and learning experience they got made them who they are today.  I also attended Head Start as a child myself so that has had a positive impact on me.  After 27 years in the Early Childhood field, I have seen great things happen and I strive to continue to provide support for quality care and positive experience to families.

 “It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.” ― Roy T. Bennett

Erica Cervantez

Position: Mental Health Consultant/Team Lead, Early Childhood Mental Health

  • Provide social emotional strategies to early learning professionals and families
  • Provide reflective supervision to early learning professionals
  • As team lead, I assist with some administrative duties
  • Build  the social emotional capacity of all the people who are in a young child’s life

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

My hope is that I can give these young people all the skills they need and to have the confidence and knowledge to achieve all they want in life.

“At the end of the day, we can endure much more than we think we can.” – Frida Kahlo

Kathryn Trujillo

Position: Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant

  • Building skills to problem solve and encourage positive group interactions.
  • Providing consultation to process work with children and families.
  • Guide families in their mental health journey and create referrals when necessary.

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I am not sure I chose Early Childhood as much as it chose me. I had a child in Head Start and I was involved in every aspect of his experience. My child has special needs which propelled me to learn about all the resources available for children and families will disabilities. I became an advocate, and strived to learn as much as I could, which turned into a passion for Early Childhood. I value relationships and understand the important role they play in our lives. I also understand the importance of mental health and how it impacts the way we show up each day. I consider myself a lifelong learner who hopes to make a positive impact on my community through early intervention.

 “Sometimes things don’t work out as planned, they work out better” unknown

Kristen Love

Position: Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

When children are comfortable and free to learn, they gain invaluable and irreplaceable experiences. Learning involves more than just the brain- it involves experiences, habits, engagement, and relationships. I am focusing on reflective ways to approach and support classrooms in exploring best practices to foster a growth-based learning environment for children and families. I work to support relationship building and collaboration with providers and families. My goal is to share my love of learning and growth with other early childhood providers, families, and children so, together, we can all help them be successful.  

“There is no standard normal. Normal is subjective. There are seven billion versions of normal on this planet.”  –Matt Haig, Reasons to Stay Alive

Juanita Maestas

Position: FFN Coordinator – (FREE) Fostering Resilience in Early Education

 The FREE program is a multi-strategy, multi-generational early childhood education (ECE) program focused on ensuring that ECE caregivers prioritize their own self-care and well-being and have access to resources and supports that improve their skills to have stable and responsive relationships with young children.   

Why did I choose to work in the Early childhood Field?

Families and children are my WHY!!!  Working in Early Childhood is one of the most satisfying journeys in life.  Observing children and families grow, and reach milestones is a wonderful experience.  Every day, working in Early childhood gives you a new purpose in life. 

“Success is best when it is shared.” –Howard Shultz

Veronica Cisneros

Position: Social and Emotional Skill Building Coordinator

  • Coordinate and facilitate SESBI community-wide meetings
  • Pyramid Model Coach and Trainer
  • Reflective Coach
  • Work with ECE programs implementing social and emotional strategies to increase positive behavior in classroom settings
  • Facilitate Positive Solutions for Families trainings

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

My journey in this evolving field started 23 years ago. Working with young children has always been my passion since I was a kid. As my mother was a leader in this field, watching her, learning from her, and becoming inspiring to others in this field has had a positive impact on me. It has been a humbling and rewarding career and I feel honored to have had a positive impact and touch the lives of numerous children, teachers, families, and communities across the SLV.

 “Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control of the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage”. Brene Brown

Amy Bolt

Position: Infant Toddler Classroom Support Coach and Trainer

  • Reflective coaching with Early Head Start Infant and Toddler Teachers
  • Facilitate Early Head Start Teacher Connections/Trainings
  • Expanding Quality for Infants and Toddler (EQIT) Trainer
  • Support Early Childhood Teachers to implement positive developmentally appropriate practices.
  • Provide classroom and teacher assessment
  • Coordinate, Facilitate, Coach EQIT

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I chose to work in the Early Childhood field because I enjoy working with young children and early childhood teachers. My experience and education in the early childhood field, for over 25 years, has taught me this is the most important learning time in a child’s life. Therefore, providing young children with positive learning experiences during these years, increases their success in school and throughout life. The teachers who work with these children need continued education and support so they can provide the best learning environment for each child to succeed.

“Play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.” – Mr. Rogers 

Tina Esquibel

Position: Infant Toddler Classroom Support Coach and Trainer

  • Provide Training in Child Development, Responsive Care and Social-Emotional Skill Building
  • Provide Coaching in Quality Environments, Teacher-Child Interactions and Reflective Practice
  • Provide Supports in Building Capacity and Awareness for Self-Reflection
  • Coordinate, Facilitate, Coach EQIT

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

My Early Childhood Educational journey began over 25 years ago.  Interacting with young children has always been a gifted skill of mine.  I love the curiosity, ideas, presence, humor, love, and honesty children bring to interactions, naturally, and I always learn much about myself when hanging out with children.  The Early Childhood Profession is important to me because I believe being part of the facilitation of learning for children is one of the MOST important and rewarding journeys, I’ve been fortunate to travel in this life, and I truly cherish every moment I spend with children.

“If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” – Mother Teresa

Erica Maldonado

Position: Parent Family Community Engagement Manager

  • Early Head Start Enrollment Management
  • Program Recruitment
  • Family Engagement
  • Resource Referral

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

Early Childhood is the most important and crucial years for little ones. This is the age where the brain develops the most, and where we as caring and loving adults can mark and make a difference in a child’s life.

“The beginning is always today.” – Mary Woolstonecraft

“Keep your eyes on the stars and your feet on the ground.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Ramona Silva

Position: Parent Family Community Engagement Manager

  • Recruitment for Early Head Start
  • Application process for Early Head Start
  • Enrollment for Early Head Start

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I think Early Childhood is important because young children deserve to grow and learn in a nurturing and safe environment and I love being able to help provide that space for them.

“Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. That is why I love you with my whole heart.”

Annette Martinez

Position: Education/Disabilities Manager

  • Responsible for education and curriculum training of Head Start teaching staff to meet and/or exceed Head Start Performance Standards and Colorado Child Care Licensing requirements and ensure that children are ready to start school.
  • Ensure compliance with classroom parent-teacher conference requirements.
  • Responsible for ensuring that the children are provided with learning environments and opportunities that will help them develop physically, socially, cognitively and emotionally, and that parents are supported in their role as the child’s primary teachers.
  • Responsible for identifying children who may have a disability, assuring appropriate intervention and services, and for managing, implementing and evaluating comprehensive programs for children with disabilities and their families enrolled.

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I chose to work in the field of early childhood because watching children develop and grow through their early years is amazing. It is a very rewarding field, where you can truly make a difference.

Amanda Garcia

Position: Health, Safety and Nutrition Manager

  • Assist parents and partner sites in keeping EHS children up to date with health checks and immunizations to keep them healthy and thriving
  • Make sure that children are being offered healthy nutritious meals and snacks.
  • To help provide the children with a safe place to learn and grow.
  • Provide parents with resources for medical care to have healthy thriving children.

Why did I choose to work in the early childhood field?

I choose to work with young children because they are our future. I feel like every child should have access to a safe warm place to learn and thrive and for parents to confidently have a place to take their children. I have worked with families in providing education on healthy eating and in accessing health foods from pregnancy to infant feeding to toddlers and now I am still helping with helping families with all that and early education and development for children.

 

Denise Benavides

Position: Professional Development Manager

  • Advise/Coach Early Childhood Professionals with pathways; credentials; educational opportunities, including scholarships
  • Provide technical assistance to professionals in navigating Colorado’s Professional Development Information System (PDIS)
  • Coach/Support Family Child Care Home providers with licensing, grant applications, PDIS, and trainings

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

After 20 years of teaching public education, I decided I would love to work at the foundational level for children. Since I joined the Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley, I have supported educators with their growth and development to improve the overall quality of child care. I want all parents to have an educationally safe place to take their children so they can thrive, grow, and learn.

Monique Bosch

Position: Provider Service Manager and Quality Improvement Navigator 

  • Support childcare / preschool programs and family childcare home providers of the San Luis Valley to improve their programs quality along with their PDIS and QRIS accounts. 
  • Assess environments and provide coaching aligned with the Environmental Rating Scale and provide support with the Colorado Shines Level 1-5 rating.
  • Assist providers and directors with purchases utilizing quality Improvement funds and support with State Grants

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

Early childhood is important because it is the basis of setting up the foundation for the next generation.  As an educator, they play a big part in the development of each child.  It is important that they are offered support and guidance as they support the children in achieving each milestone.

“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” -Proverbs 22:6

Amanda Atencio

Position: Early Childcare Reference and Referral Coordinator.

  • Primary source of data about childcare
  • Free referrals to quality child care programs that meet individual family needs
  • Can help you find quality child care and connect you with other community resources.

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I choose to work in the early childhood field because when my children were too young to go to kindergarten I had to stay home with my children because I did not know of all the resources that could have been available to me.  My dream is to be able to let families know that there are valuable resources here in the San Luis Valley for them to utilize. 

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Esther Vasquez

Position: Lead Parent Educator, Parents as Teachers (PAT)

  • Deliver Home Visits to families
  • Support other Parent Educators
  • Help keep the program running and make sure everything gets done.

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

Early childhood is important to ensure that all children get a quality and healthy start. My passion is working with children/families and help them in any way I can to see them reach their full potential and succeed in life.

“Humility is the solid foundation of all virtues.”

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you don’t stop.”

Pauline Palacios

Position: Parent Educator, Parents as Teachers (PAT)

  • Home visits
  • Evidence basis activities for learning
  • Supporting families to understand milestone and working to help parents understand what areas of development are needed to build on
  • Advocate for families with resources to keep
  • We test with assessments for child growth

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I enjoyed being with my children when they were little. When they went to school, I wanted to learn more about how I could help my children grow and build in all areas of development.

“Every person’s a person, no matter how small.” – Dr. Seuss

Silvia Martinez

Position: Parent Educator, Parents as Teachers (PAT)

  • Work with families supporting their child development
  • Finding resources for family needs
  • Submitting the ASQ-3 SE and other screenings
  • I love helping children learn new skills
  • Taking materials to home visits

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

Early Childhood is so important because a child’s development starts when they are young. Helping these kids will better set them up for success as they go on to pre-k and later onto high school and hopefully college. I chose this field because I love working with children and giving them a better opportunity for success.

“To make a difference in someone’s life, you don’t have to be brilliant, rich, beautiful, or perfect. You just have to care.” – Mandy Hale

Benita (Alex) Vialpando

Position: Parent Educator, Parents as Teachers (PAT)

  • Provide personal visits to help understand the stages of child development

  • Offer screenings of overall development

  • Provide group connections for parents to get together and share experiences

  • Help with referrals to link families with services if needed

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I chose to work in the field of Early Childhood because as a very young mother I didn’t know what to expect having a child of my own. Not knowing what to do or how to raise a child I wished I would have known programs like these were available. To me it was a big struggle not knowing what was next or if my child was on the right track. Now that I’m here helping families including young families it gives me the opportunity to share what I have learned throughout the years. As a home visitor not only do I bring what is best to my knowledge but also build relationships with our parents and children. The best part and why I love what I do is that it gives me the opportunity to not only work with children but to see both the child and the family grow together every day. 

“Why Fit In When You Were Born To Stand Out” -Dr. Seuss 

Amanda Vigil

Position: Parent Educator, Parents as Teachers (PAT)

  • Serve children and families from pre-natal to 5 years old.

  • Provide Personal Visits, Group connections, Screenings and help with referral networking and connecting families and children to community resources.

  • Help parents understand their child’s development & milestones in all areas of (Cognitive, Language, Social-emotional, and Motor) along with parent-child interactions, child-development, parent behaviors and the over-all family well-being.

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I choose to work in the Early Childhood field because about 20 years ago when my daughter was in preschool, I started working in her preschool classroom as a volunteer and from that point on, I realized I enjoyed working with children and choose to continue my education in Early Childhood, as I was interested in their development and my own child’s growth as I was a young mother. I learned and wanted to share with others that providing children and families with DAP quality care and enriching their lives through understanding each child and family’s individual needs, interests and cultural beliefs. I believe that the care, guidance and experiences a child receives growing up is crucial to their successes later in life. I also believe that a child’s behaviors and relationships is impacted by their interactions and influences with and from others in their early years of development and with the proper tools, supportive environment to explore through play and discovery, children and their families have positive outcomes in life.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Destiny Sisneros

Position: Parent Educator, Parents as Teachers (PAT)

  • Increase parent knowledge of early childhood development and improve parenting practices.

  • Provide early detection of developmental delays.

  • Increase children’s school readiness and school success.

  • Finding resources for family needs

Why did I choose to work in the Early Childhood field?

I started volunteering at a Head Start my nephew’s and Niece attended, when I started volunteering in the classroom, I then was hired on as a seasonal bus aid.  Once I started volunteering in the classroom, I knew I found my career path in Early childhood 18 years ago. I love teaching, I have taught ages from 6 weeks to 5 years old.  Children need teachers who are invested in them and their learning.

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” -Benjamin Franklin