Early Learning

Donna Dervishian-Aldred

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Donna

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Dervishian-Aldred

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Donna Dervishian-Aldred specializes in project management, business development, marketing, successful multi-disciplinary team collaboration, and project delivery. She brings this expertise to a wide range of innovative projects that promote children’s well-being and school readiness by enhancing early learning, strengthening whole child support, and engaging families. 

Dervishian-Aldred is a project associate for two initiatives that are giving early childhood teachers new tools and strategies to improve outcomes for preschool children. As a member of EDC’s Literacy and Academic Success for English Learners through Science (LASErS) team, she is supporting the implementation and scale-up of a model that builds the capacity of preK, Kindergarten, and Grade 1 teachers to enhance dual language learners’ science and literacy learning and support families in fostering children’s learning.  

For EDC’s Center for Early Childhood Professionals, Dervishian heads up operations and marketing, plays a key role in budget and contract management, and contributes to the Center’s virtual learning video experiences—including video production and webcasting. Since 2014, the Center has provided 51,000 hours of professional development to 2,100 early childhood staff from 802 center-based and family child care homes in Rhode Island.

Dervishian-Aldred works with colleagues across EDC to advance development goals, including managing the production of grant proposals to federal agencies, and corporate initiatives. Recently, she has served on committees charged with leading improvements in systems of procurement and fostering cultural competence and diversity in early childhood work.

Previously at EDC, Dervishian-Aldred coordinated the technical assistance, professional learning, and information dissemination efforts of national and regional centers focused on early childhood continuous quality improvement. Much of this work sought to close opportunity gaps for young children who live in low-income communities and are members of underrepresented groups. To this work, she brought a strong sense of devotion to the nonprofit early childhood sector as a personal beneficiary of Head Start services.

Donna holds a B.A. in Business Communications from Southern New Hampshire University and has PMD Pro certification as a project manager.

Staff: 

Staff Profile

Job title: 

Project Associate

Program: 

Early Learning and Development

Mailing Address: 

43 Foundry Avenue
Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-8313

Telephone: 

617-618-2335

Regan Vidiksis

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Regan Vidiksis

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Regan

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Vidiksis

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Regan Vidiksis is an early education researcher with extensive experience in advancing effective strategies to promote children’s early science and mathematics learning and support teachers in integrating technology into early childhood settings in developmentally appropriate ways. She specializes in deepening understanding of effective, systematic approaches to improving teaching and learning, especially among underrepresented and underresourced teachers and families.

As a researcher and project manager for EDC’s evaluation of Ready to Learn, Vidiksis contributes to studies that measure children’s learning from literacy, math, and science public media learning resources and provide new insight into ways to enhance the school readiness of preschoolers in high-need communities.

Vidiksis serves as a researcher on the Next Generation Preschool Science project, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In the project, she is working with a team to develop, iteratively refine, and evaluate the promise of an innovative early science curriculum that promotes science practices, concepts, and discourse in preschool classrooms serving children from low-income backgrounds.

Currently, Vidiksis contributes to several other EDC STEM education initiatives. She is advancing the goals of IDEAS: Inventing, Designing, and Engineering on the Autism Spectrum, an NSF-funded project aiming to develop an Engineering Design program for middle school children on the autism spectrum and their general education peers. Vidiksis is also working on Monkeying Around, an NSF-funded initiative to design, produce, and research animated and live-action videos, along with parent-child engagement resources, that seek to build preschoolers’ computational thinking skills.

Vidiksis was named a 2014-2015 CADRE Fellow, for her work in NSF Discovery Research K-12 STEM research. She regularly presents her findings at the annual conferences of national organizations, including the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics and the National Head Start Association. She has also served as a proposal reviewer for the American Educational Research Association.

Before joining EDC, Vidiksis worked as a preschool special educator through the New York City Committee for Preschool Special Education and as a special instructor through the NYC Department of Health’s Early Intervention program, providing individualized services to young children and families in school, community, and home-based settings. She also worked as a special education evaluator for these agencies, conducting developmental assessments to assist in the determination of service qualification.  

Vidiksis received a BA in English Literature and Rhetoric from Binghamton University, and an MS in Early Child Education and Special Education from Hunter College.

 

 

 

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Job title: 

Research Associate II

Mailing Address: 

96 Morton Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY  10014

Telephone: 

212-807-4229

Loraine Lucinski

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Loraine Lucinski

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Loraine

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Lucinski

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Loraine Lucinski brings extensive experience in designing, implementing and evaluating child wellness programs and systems change initiatives at both the local and state levels.  She is committed to motivating others to tackle complex challenges, drive transformational innovations, and develop and implement systems solutions that positively impact children’s health, development and well-being.

Lucinski serves as Senior Project Director for the Home Visiting – Improvement Action Center Team (HV-ImpACT), which provides training and technical assistance—including site visits, webinars, and communities of practice—to Federal Home Visiting Program grantees at the state and territorial level.

Previously, Lucinski served as Deputy Director for Child Health for the Division of Family Health and Wellness in the Tennessee Department of Health, where she was responsible for the leadership, operational oversight, and evaluation of the state’s Early Childhood Initiatives; Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs; and Perinatal, Infant and Newborn Care Sections. She represented the Tennessee Department of Health on the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet and related committees, and was appointed to serve on a number of high-level interdepartmental advisory committees.

Lucinski began her career as an early interventionist, providing family-based therapy to children from birth to age three with developmental disabilities or at risk for delays due to environmental factors. Prior to joining state government, she started one of the first Early Head Start programs in the country and provided training and technical assistance to a number of federally funded early childhood programs in the six Midwest states. She was named the 2017 Jim Pryor Child Advocate of the Year by the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth, in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of children in Tennessee. 

Lucinski received a BA in Developmental Psychology and Biology from the University of Illinois in Chicago, and an MPH in Public Health and graduate certificates in Child Development and Maternal and Child Health Epidemiology from Emory University.

Staff: 

Staff Profile

Job title: 

Senior Project Director

Mailing Address: 

1025 Thomas Jefferson Street, NW, Suite 700 West
Washington, DC  20007

Telephone: 

202-572-3714

Yen Thieu

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Yen Thieu

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Yen

Last name: 

Thieu

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Yen Thieu, an EDC research associate, brings a strong background in early childhood education to her work on the Games for Young Mathematicians research project, where she coordinates the large-scale data collection process, manages the extensive datasets, and contributes to the data analysis. Currently, Thieu is leading three large teams of data collectors who are conducting child assessments in early math knowledge and skills with over 700 preschoolers in Head Start centers. She is also spearheading the communication and dissemination efforts of the project, as well as contributing to the writing of reports and professional development materials. Thieu holds a BA in Economics and International Studies from Albion College and an MS in Sustainable International Development from The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

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Job title: 

Research Associate

Mailing Address: 

43 Foundry Avenue
Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-8313

Telephone: 

617-618-2528

Ashleigh Bickerstaff

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Ashleigh Bickerstaff

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Ashleigh

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Bickerstaff

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Ashleigh Bickerstaff applies her experience as an early childhood teacher to her role as a trainer and coach for educators working with children from birth to eight years old.  She is committed to improving the early care and education experience of young children.

Bickerstaff is on the staff of The Center for Early Learning Professionals, where she provides technical assistance and professional development services to Rhode Island’s early childhood care and education programs. In this role, she also works with the state’s pre-kindergarten programs, supporting classroom implementation of high-quality programming for the state’s four- and five-year-olds.

Before joining EDC, Bickerstaff was a professional development specialist for Ready to Learn Providence and a literacy coach in an Early Reading First project, providing professional development and classroom support for teachers. Bickerstaff began her career as a kindergarten teacher, gaining experience in providing high-quality curriculum and instruction to young learners.

Bickerstaff received a BS in Early Childhood Education from Salve Regina University and an MEd in Curriculum and Instruction from Southern New Hampshire University.

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Staff Profile

Job title: 

Training and Technical Assistance Associate II

Mailing Address: 

535 Centerville Road, Suite 201
Warwick, RI 02886

Telephone: 

401-736-1284

Maria Velasquez

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Maria Velasquez

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Maria

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Velasquez

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María Velásquez has a wealth of experience in the fields of early childhood education, K-12 education, and health, along with expertise in providing innovative, effective, and responsive training and professional development. Driven by her deep commitment to improve the quality of early childhood programs, she brings extensive knowledge of effective assessment, evaluation, research, use of technology to enhance teaching and learning, program management, and policy reform to all of her early childhood development work at EDC.

Velásquez is advancing the goals of EDC's Center for Early Learning Professionals in Rhode Island. She specializes is providing bilingual, bi-literate (Spanish/English) professional development and technical assistance to early education programs that are interested in improving their services for children and families and progressing along RI’s quality continuum. In this capacity, she works closely with EDC's Center for Early Learning Professionals team, as well as the RI Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the RI Department of Human Services, the RI Department of Health, the RI Department of Children, Youth, and Families, BrightStars, and Rhode Island's early childhood care and education programs.

Previously, Velásquez was a State of Rhode Island Programming Services Officer/Contract Manager, in which capacity she served as the state's liaison to EDC on the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge contract of $17.5M. For nine years, she was the Director of Education Services for WSBE-RI PBS. She introduced video-streamed technology and online curriculum in RI’s classrooms increasing teacher capacity of classroom virtual learning, technology use, and knowledge of curriculum standards. She also participated in the development of the National Digital Library funded by PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She began her career as a Program Manager for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island, where she had an early start in programming and quality management operations.

Velásquez earned a BS in Psychology from Rhode Island College, an MA in Education from the University of Rhode Island, and an EdD in Educational Leadership from Johnson & Wales University.

Staff: 

Staff Profile

Job title: 

Training and Technical Assistance Associate II

Mailing Address: 

535 Centerville Road, Suite 201
Warwick, RI  02886

Telephone: 

401-734-1292

Marcy Raska

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Marcy

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Raska

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Marcy Raska specializes in fostering creative collaborations and integrating early childhood home visitation services to address health disparities and improve outcomes for young children and their families. She brings extensive experience in public health nursing, continuous quality improvement, motivational interviewing, and maternal, infant, and child health.

Raska is a Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate for the Home Visiting Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (HV CoIIN).  A collaborative project between the U.S. Health Resource Services Administration (HRSA) and EDC, HV CoIIN brings together a select group of Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) grantees and teams from local home visiting service agencies to seek improvement in specific topic areas of concern to home visiting programs. Drawing upon her expertise in continuous quality improvement, Raska is advancing grantees’ and teams’ efforts to enhance client outcomes related to maternal depression and child development.  

As a member of the Home Visiting - Improvement Action Center Team (HV-ImpACT), Raska is providing technical assistance and professional development, including site visits, webinars, and communities of practice, to Federal Home Visiting Program grantees. This capacity-building support is helping grantees ensure that at-risk pregnant mothers and families in low-income communities have the resources they need to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn.  

Before joining EDC, Raska was a Nursing Supervisor for the Oakland County, Michigan Health Division Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) Program, which was one of the best-performing NFP programs in the state. Previously, she was an Early On infant developmental assessment evaluator.

Raska holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Eastern Michigan University.

Staff: 

Staff Profile

Job title: 

Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate

Mailing Address: 

43 Foundry Avenue
Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-8313

Telephone: 

586-215-5109

Elaine Fitzgerald Lewis

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Elaine Fitzgerald

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Elaine

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Fitzgerald Lewis

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Elaine Fitzgerald Lewis is an expert in leadership and management development, quality improvement, systems building, and maternal and child health. She is deeply committed to improving the health and well-being of our most vulnerable populations through early intervention and prevention. 

Fitzgerald Lewis is the Senior Project Director/Technical Assistance (TA) Manager for EDC’s Home Visiting – Improvement Action Center Team (HV-ImpACT). In this initiative, EDC and its partners are providing training and TA to Federal Home Visiting Program grantees in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories to ensure that pregnant mothers and families in high-need communities have the resources they need to raise children who are physically, socially, and emotionally healthy and ready to learn. As HV-ImpACT's Senior Project Director, she is responsible for planning and directing TA staff and partners in delivering virtual and in-person TA.

Previously, Fitzgerald Lewis was the Project Director of the Infant Mortality Collaborative Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN), a national initiative to reduce infant mortality and improve birth outcomes by addressing health disparities. She also served as faculty with the Home Visiting CoIIN as a breastfeeding subject matter expert. Fitzgerald Lewis formerly directed an early childhood system of care that included delivering TA to develop the infant mental health workforce in Connecticut and implementing an evidence-based home visiting model. 

Fitzgerald Lewis is an author of several publications contributing to the field of home visiting including Building Perinatal Case Manager Capacity Using Quality Improvement, The HV CoIIN: Implementing Quality Improvement to Achieve Breakthrough Change in Exclusive Breastfeeding Rates within MIECHV Home Visiting, and Improving Maternal Mental Health after a Child’s Diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Results from a Randomized Clinical Trial.

A veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard, Fitzgerald Lewis received multiple service medals and was awarded the U.S. Coast Guard Academy Achievement Award in 2008.

Fitzgerald Lewis holds a BS from US Coast Guard Academy, a Masters in International Affairs with a focus on Children’s Rights and Economic Development from Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, and a DrPH in Maternal Child Health from Boston University School of Public Health. She earned certifications in motivational interviewing, problem-solving education, lactation science, and professional coaching.

Staff: 

Staff Profile

Job title: 

Senior Project Director

Program: 

Early Learning and Development

Mailing Address: 

43 Foundry Avenue
Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-8313

Telephone: 

617-618-2723

Tobie Barton

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Tobie Barton

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Tobie

Last name: 

Barton

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Tobie Barton is committed to improving the health and wellness of children and their families, and has a passion for helping organizations build their capacity to improve child health outcomes using evidence-based tools. She has extensive experience in public health, maternal and child health, and early childhood health and safety and is skilled in managing state-level public health programs, developing curricula, and planning and implementing training and technical assistance programs.

Barton works on the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness, advancing best practices for linking health and early childhood systems by developing evidence-based and science-informed resources and providing training on best practices to support children’s healthy growth and development with a special focus on injury prevention. She also provides expertise on child care health consultation. She also serves as Product Manager for The Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation.

Previously, Barton was a project manager for the Mountain Plains Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Practice and Implementation Center and National Rural and Frontier Addiction Technology Transfer Center. She has also served as manager of the STD and HIV Prevention Programs for the state of Idaho, worked as a Quality Assurance Specialist for the Idaho Immunization Program, and was Curriculum Developer for the National Training Institute for Child Care Health Consultants.

Barton has served on the Advisory Council for the Seattle HIV/STD Prevention Training Center, the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Advisory Committee for Healthy Futures: Improving Health Outcomes for Young Children, and is a current member of the Committee on the Status of Women at the University of Nevada, Reno.

She received a BA in Political Science from Swarthmore College, an MA in Social Sciences-Health and Culture from the University of Amsterdam while on a Fulbright Fellowship to the Netherlands, and a certificate in Maternal and Child Health Public Health Leadership from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Staff: 

Staff Profile

Job title: 

Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate

Program: 

Early Learning and Development

Mailing Address: 

43 Foundry Avenue
Waltham, Massachusetts 02453-8313

Jessica Auerbach

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Jessica Auerbach

First name: 

Jessica

Last name: 

Auerbach

Bio: 

Jessica Auerbach brings expertise in child development, early childhood mental health consultation, evidence-based teacher training, children’s and parents' mental health, and promoting protective factors and reducing health disparities. She specializes in strategic planning, implementation, and evaluation of early childhood comprehensive systems that coordinate all child- and family-serving programs, in order to strengthen services and improve outcomes for children and families.

As a member of EDC’s national Home Visiting - Improvement Action Center Team, Auerbach provides technical assistance to Federal Home Visiting Program grantees—through needs assessments, site visits, webinars, and communities of practice—as they implement evidence-based home visiting models to support families and enhance young children’s health, well-being, and school readiness.

Auerbach is a developer of health promotion resources and is co-author of articles and chapters on early childhood development, including “Identifying Developmental Risks and Delays in Young Children” (NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene) and “Mental Health Integration in Pediatric Primary Care Practices in NYC” (Behavioral Health News). From 2011 to 2013, under the Bloomberg Administration in New York City, she was a member of the City Hall Early Care and Education Steering Committee and Co-Chair of the Family Engagement subcommittee. She continues to serve on numerous advisory committees and councils focused on young children’s wellness.

Before joining EDC, Auerbach served as Senior Program Manager for Young Child Wellness at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, where she led initiatives to improve workforce development, parenting support, and developmental screening. Earlier in her career, she held posts with public health departments in Seattle King County, Boston, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Auerbach received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MPH in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is a Registered Parent Educator in the Circle of Security Parenting Program and is certified in Mental Health First Aid.

Staff: 

Staff Profile

Job title: 

Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate

Program: 

Early Learning and Development

Mailing Address: 

96 Morton Street, 7th Floor
New York, NY 10014

Telephone: 

212-807-4291

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