Alicia Garcia

Position: Operation Clerk

  • Welcoming Visitors
  • Assist Executive Director
  • Assist Associate Director
  • Assist Fiscal Manager
  • Assist QI Navigator

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

It is important, because it gives children from 0-3 to learn and develop early skills that will follow them throughout their life. Also help build relationships with other children their own ages.

“Start each day with a grateful heart.”

Amberly Atencio

Position: EHS Health and Safety Manager

  • Plan, coordinate, and monitor all phases of health, safety, and nutrition components within EHS guidelines.
  • Complete health screenings within mandated deadlines.
  • Coordinate health services to include medical, dental, mental health, and nutritional services for children, pregnant moms, and nursing mothers.

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

Early Childhood is the foundation for setting up a child to become a successful adult. I love working with children because it brings so much joy to me, as I get to watch them grow from infants to adulthood. All children need love, regardless of their upbringing. We are needed to teach children, but in all reality, we always learn from children.

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

Amy Bolt

Position: EHS Coach/Disabilities Manager

  • I coach teachers to improve developmentally appropriate teaching classroom practices.
  • I support teachers on the Ages and Stages developmental screenings for children.
  • I support teachers with strategies for children that have disabilities.
  • I facilitate trainings for Early Head Start teachers.
  • I review lesson plans, child observations, and child assessment reports on the Teaching Strategies Assessment System for Early Head Start.

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 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.

“Time spend playing with children is never wasted” – Dawn Iantero

Azeneth Heredia

Position: EHS Coach/Disabilities Manager

  • Provide professional parent instruction and delivery of information to participating families implementing the curriculum provided by the National Parents as Teachers Center.
  • Actively recruit volunteer families with children 0 to 5 years of age to participate in the program
  • Parent Educator Certification
  • Help organize family-centered events once a month
  • Coordinate services with other community programs with similar purposes and promote family and community engagement.

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

I have always considered myself an advocate for children and their families. In the seven years that I worked for Save the Children, I was able to witness the difference and impact that family and community involvement in early education makes. I strongly believe that patents are their children’s first and most influential teachers, and we are here to help coach and empower them. I also believe that as Parent Educators, we need to be intentional about our work and everything we do, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

Cindy Harris

Position: EHS Assessment Coach

  • Conduct classroom observations using Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale
  • Conduct classroom observations using Teaching Pyramid Infant/Toddler Observation Scale
  • Plan and present trainings in I am Moving I am Learning, Environment Rating Scales, and Pyramid Approach
  • Coordinate Annual Kite Fly Event
  • Participate in ECCSLV Council Staff, Team, and Reflective Supervision Meetings

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

With my 29 years of experience in the early childhood field, as a Licensed Family Childcare Provider, Director Family Child Care for Army Child and Youth Services, Lead Teacher in large and small centers, Director of large and small centers, Professional Development Coordinator and Quality Improvement Coach for the Early Childhood Council of the San Luis Valley, I utilized my B.A. in Elementary Education and extensive training/credentials in Early Childhood to be an integral part of the early childhood field. I am passionate about this work because of the critical development of children in these earliest years of their lives.

“Two men looked out through prison bars, one saw the mud, the other saw stars.” – Dale Carnegie

Debra Benalli

Position: Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant, Behavioral Health

  • Focus on building the capacity of the adults in children’s lives in all settings
  • Begins with the premise that all relationships matter in a child’s life and work to promote the building of strong relationships and supportive environments.
  • Assess classrooms using the PRE-K CHILD for Social Emotional Capacity
  • Assess child behaviors using DECA and provide appropriate behavioral intervention such as PSFF parent education classes.
  • Child Care Center staff trainings and reflective process groups.

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

Having worked in clinical mental health and substance abuse for over 30 years in a variety of settings and positions, I have truly come to believe that the greatest impact for behavioral/emotional change occurs in early childhood and that is why I choose to do the work that I do.

“Warriors are not what you think of as warriors. The warrior is not someone who fights, because no one has the right to take another life. The warrior, for us, is one who sacrifices himself for the good of others. His task is to take care of the elderly, the defenseless, those who cannot provide for themselves, and above all, the children, the future of humanity.” – Sitting Bull

Donielle Van Gieson

Position: Contracted Fiscal 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 interanl 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.”

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
  • BuildĀ  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

Erica Maldonado

Position: PFCE 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 important because it’s 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

Esther Gamboa Mendoza

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.”

Jerica Gonzalez

Position: Child and Family Service Team Lead

  • Coordinate robust parent education program
  • Support Early Head Start PFCE Manager(s) and Health and Safety Manager in their service to families and programs
  • Collaborate with program and community partners

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

Most of what children learn is during the early years and it is so amazing to watch. Working with families and children has become my passion. I value the relationships I have made and learn something new from those I work with every day.

“Always go with the choice that scares you the most, because that’s the one that is going to help you grow.”

Mara Hsu

Position: Outreach and Advocacy Coordinator

  • Counsel and Coach professionals along individual career paths
  • Manage and streamline Early Childhood Council’s Child Development Associate Credential program and coach individual participants
  • Trainer for Pyramid Plus Approach and Expanding Quality in Infant Toddler Care
  • Manage Professional Development Scholarship Program

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

I grew into this field; as a volunteer for my boys’ preschool and evolved into my current position. Over the years, I have learned that all children deserve these 4 elements from adults: we need to be able to connect with them, serve and return during interactions, children need a sense of belonging, and have opportunities to grow. As I learn and grow, I want to help others learn and grow along this journey.

“Human relationships are primary in all of living. When the gusty winds blow and shake our lives, if we know that people care about us, we may bend with the wind…but we won’t break.” – Fred Rogers

Nicole Neufeld

Position: Associate Director

  • Administrative Team
  • Primary oversight of Early Head Start
  • Primary oversight of Parents as Teachers

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

My passion for ECE is fueled by an interest in child and family development and how these are impacted by the unique circumstances of our rural communities

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” – Maya Angelou

Othon Mendez

Position: Parent Educator, PAT Program

  • Provide professional parent instruction and delivery of information or district families implementing the curriculum provided by the National Parents as Teachers Center.
  • Coordinate services with other community programs with similar purposes.
  • Support the philosophy and mission of Derby Public Schools
  • Comply with all district policies, rules and regulations.

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

Positive and educational early childhood experiences are the foundation of successful students. Early childhood education is important because it is when children learn how to interact with others and form their character to become responsible persons. In case of being diagnosed with a delay, they can help with early interventions.

“Knowledge is power!” – Kofi Annan