Gary Burris | Executive Director
As Assistant Director for Quality at the Department of Early Learning, Gary led licensing policy and continued quality efforts begun in the DSHS Division of Child Care and Early Learning. He worked to professionalize the early learning workforce by easing access to college courses, providing scholarships, and delivering wage enhancements tied to higher education. He worked to improve the quality of licensed homes and centers and school age programs through national accreditation efforts and facility grants and loans. At the Oregon Children and Families, Gary’s unit provided state level support such as best practices, staff training and program consultation for community home visiting, positive youth development, child care, family centers, court advocates and relief nurseries. He played a leadership role in carrying out the Oregon’s Children’s Plan – a comprehensive interagency effort to coordinate services for children and families. Most recently with EOI in Seattle, Gary researched and advocated on early learning, asset building, and retirement policy. He has a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a BA from Evergreen.
Steve Hyer | Director of Finance and Operations
I grew up in Olympia and received my degree from the University of Washington. I spent my first career working as a Park Ranger for Washington State. I moved back to Olympia and gained much of my business skills working in our family business for fourteen years. I then moved to the nonprofit world, working for over four years as the Senior Business Manager at the Hands On Children’s Museum. I have continued my involvement in conservation, serving on the board of the Capitol Land Trust. I am thrilled to be at CCAC, supporting the staff in all the Early Learning endeavors.
Melanie Kincaid | Development and Communications Manager
I have over 15 years' experience working with nonprofit organizations to not only grow their organizational capacity but also find their voice within the community. My experience has given me the opportunity to make an impact on nonprofits across the country and even in Japan; working on a variety of causes from affordable housing to the environment to workforce development. I have a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and a Master's degree in Environmental Studies. I am excited to work with CCAC and their efforts to provide early learning opportunities for all children.
Allison Woody | Office Manager
"I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be."
Early Achievers Staff
Kristin Gomez | Early Achievers Regional Coordinator
I have been passionate about early learning ever since holding my first child in my arms back in 1993! Little did I know of the joys and challenges that lay ahead of me! Professionally, I have worked in the early learning field since 1999, beginning as a pre-school teaching assistant. Since then I have enjoyed serving in various roles: lead teacher, center director, CCAC trainer, CDA observer, Early Achievers coach and supervisor. I am thrilled now for the opportunity to advocate for children, families and early learning professionals here at CCAC in the Regional Coordinator position. It is such an exciting time of growth and recognition for our field! Our work IS important and hugely impactful in the lives and development of children and families. Let’s be proud of all the great work and progress we have made in partnership with our hard working child care providers but remember there is so much more to do!
Lee Ann Bryant | Early Achievers Consultation Manager
I am honored to be an Early Learning Consultant Manager. The benefits of high quality care and learning opportunities for our youngest children are profound and I love being a part of helping to achieve it. I bring over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood Education to my work here with CCAC. I have worked as an ECE Instructor, Parent Educator Advisor to Cooperative Preschools and most recently as an Education and Disabilities Coordinator for Head Start/ECEAP programs. By working together, we CAN make a difference in the lives and futures of children and families.
Terri Sutovich | Early Achievers Consultation Manager
I have been dedicated to the Early Childhood Development field for over 20 years and I am just as passionate about it as I was when I received my CDA in 1992! Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with children and families all over our great country as an Assistant Teacher, Teacher, Assistant Director, Director and Program Supervisor. I am very excited about working with the providers in our community as a Technical Assistance Specialist with the CCAC team!
I was drawn to the Early Childhood Education field more than fifteen years ago. As a parent, toddler teacher, child care center director and now as an Early Achiever Consultant/Lead I can draw from varied experiences and perspectives. It is a joy to watch children grow in rich, nurturing environments. I am constantly humbled by the dedication I see in the early learning professionals I work with. My greatest passion is connecting children and their caregivers to nature, one of our greatest teachers.
Jessica Beckett | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Clallam & Jefferson Counties
I am a small town girl from Northwest Washington. My husband and I have been married for three years and have three amazing children. I have been in the child care profession for seventeen years. I started in high school taking a child care class for high school credits and it was then that realized working with and for children was my passion. I have been a child care facility director, preschool teacher and my greatest accomplishment is being a mommy! I was hired on with Child Care Action Council December 19, 2016 for Clallam and Jefferson counties. I look forward to working with our providers and helping them gain the tools needed to guide our children to be successful through life’s journey.
Kelsi Millet | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Clallam & Jefferson Counties
I joined the Child Care Action Council team in 2017. I have an A.A.S. in Early Childhood Education and a Preschool Teaching Certification. I have over 12 years of experience in the early learning field in a variety of areas, including, Tools of the Mind Preschool Teacher, Home Visitor & Parent Educator, Family Life Education Instructor, and Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Facilitator. I am passionate about teaching young children and that all children have the opportunity for fun, safe and quality learning experiences and growth. I enjoy spending time with my husband and our four children, gardening, art, reading books and spending time in the beautiful outdoors.
Kathryn Arthur | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Thurston County
I joined Child Care Action Council in October of 2015. In the past, I have worked with children and families as a child care provider, a counselor and a behavior intervention specialist. I love working with Early Achievers because I get to partner with early learning professionals so we can learn and grow together. I have lived in Yelm my entire life and I enjoy the small town lifestyle. Any chance I get, I am out in the barn with the horses … cleaning, feeding, brushing or riding!
Nattie Diaz | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Thurston County
My first experience with young children began in 1986 while working for the Board of Education in New York City. Since then, my experiences in early childhood have come from various job experiences to include Home family Childcare, public schools and the Armed Forces Child Youth Services. My husband and I are originally from New York City, but we have lived in many areas of the country including Europe. We moved to Washington State in 2001. My husband retired after 20 years of military service and we decided to settle here and raise our two handsome sons. I have recently completed my bachelors in Early Childhood. I’m grateful and honored to be working in an organization that focuses in quality work by training and mentoring teachers to help reach their full potential.
Kelsie Curtis | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Thurston County
Hi, I'm Kelsie Curtis and I joined the Child Care Action Council team in December 2015. I have a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood and Family Studies from the University of Washington. My last position was as a Center Director here in Olympia and prior to that I taught Pre-K. I am an active school board member and church board member in my community and really enjoy being involved. I love learning and I believe in giving all children that same opportunity to learn and grow in an environment that is safe and loving. I am proud to be a professional in a position where I can make a positive difference in the life of a child.
Michael Snow | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Thurston County
I joined Child Care Action Council in the Fall of 2016 and have a passion for educating. I have a Bachelor's degree in English from WSU and just recently received my Master of Education degree from St. Martins. I have been an educator for roughly 7 years as a tutor and teacher in training and I have worked directly in Early Childhood Education for the last 4 years as a preschool teacher, ECE Special/Coach, and Parent/Child Education Manager for Head Start. Nothing excites me more than collaborating with other educators to create quality learning environments and lasting impressions within the local community and beyond. I believe all children are resilient in their own way and can all learn to LOVE learning!
“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” ― Benjamin Franklin
Kerry Sanders | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Thurston County
I began my Early Childhood career as a parent in a local co-op preschool. When they couldn’t find a toddler teacher, I was coaxed into taking the position. The fire was ignited…. and here I am 30 years later! I was a co-op toddler teacher and a child care preschool teacher for 10 years and have worked for Head Start/ECEAP the last 20 years as a Center Director, Area Coordinator/Ed & Disabilities Lead and a Child Care Partnership Manager. I have a BA in Elementary Education with endorsements in ECE, Special Ed (K-12) and ECE Special Ed. Joining CCAC feels like a natural progression and a sort of ‘coming home’ to where I began. I am very excited to be here.
Sabrina Perry | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Grays Harbor County
I live, work in and love Grays Harbor County. I have been working in Early Learning for 15 years. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in early childhood education. My experiences include being a center based preschool teacher lead and agency trainer for preschool GLAD. I am passionate about the work that is happening with our youngest learners. I joined Early Achievers because I know that with the right supports in place for providers, the quality of experiences for children and their family’s increases. We may only have children in our care for a few months or years but the impact of that care lasts throughout their lifetime. I look forward to being a strong support to you as we work together throughout your Early Achievers journey.
Natalie Chavez | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Grays Harbor County
I am beyond excited to serve my community as a member of the Early Achievers team alongside caring and committed providers who strive to provide excellent care for children. I am passionate about supporting children in the early childhood years-a time that is so precious and so important. Grays Harbor is my home; I grew up here and returned after college to work hard to meet needs in my community. I currently live in Aberdeen with my husband, our baby girl, Fiona, and our fluffy dog, Roscoe. I look forward to working with the network of providers in Grays Harbor to support our youngest community members during this crucial period of growth and development. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Western Washington University with additional credits in Early Childhood Education. I served as a Center Director for nearly 5 years before transitioning over to Early Achievers in December 2016. I have also worked as a volunteer teacher in the 2-3 year old classroom at my church for the last 4 years. Hablo español y sería un placer trabajar con Proveedoras que se dedican al cuidado y a la enseñanza de niños en ambos lenguajes español e inglés.
Yvette Dear | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Kitsap County
I joined Child Care Action Council in October of 2015. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Social Services. I previously worked in various Social Services roles which include teaching The Incredible Years parenting class and working with foster children with behavioral aggression and developmental disabilities. Prior to that I volunteered at an adult day center working with adults and elderly with developmental disabilities. I enjoy working in this field because I enjoy having a hands on approach to making a difference in young children's lives and how that connects with their families and the community I serve in. I live in Bremerton with my husband and two children- Stella, a precocious preschooler, and Harper, a sweet and tender toddler.
Alissa Murphy | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Kitsap County
Hello, my name is Alissa, and I am elated to join the Child Care Action Council team! I earned a Bachelor's Degree in Child and Adolescent Development and have vast experience working with children and child care centers over the last 10 years. Before joining Child Care Action Council, I worked in various licensed child care centers and also held positions to collaborate with teachers and directors to implement a range of new practices to enhance the children's learning and development. Drawing from my background in child care centers and working with directors, I am excited to begin assisting providers in their journey through Early Achievers!
Emily Long | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Kitsap County
Hi there! My name is Emily and I joined Child Care Council Team October of 2016! I acquired my Bachelor’s degree in Human Services at Western Washington University, where I was able to work in a Montessori setting, and where built my passion for education for the “Early Achievers” that are constantly changing and deserve support through these years of impression. I recently came from an extensive background working with Foster Youth and Families in the Kitsap and Pierce Counties where I focused more on expediting goals case by case in order to ensure family preservation. I am currently an active instructor for the Incredible Years Parenting Program, and advocate for this curriculum. I also have a vast experience working with children and child care providers since I was 16 years old, to the present. My passion is children and their education, while supporting them through their mental and emotional growth. I believe that we are all constantly growing, no matter the age, and as much as we pour into these children, they are in return pouring into us! The more we foster this investment, will it be nothing short of beneficial and rewarding in future!
Debbie Roberts | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Thurston County
I am new to the CCAC team, but not new to the early learning field. I began my career as a teacher for a state funded preschool program, which eventually became a demonstration site. Following that I served as a multisite director for state funded preschool and family support programs. Later, I served as a professional development trainer for early education teachers and administrators. Over the years I have worked my way through school and have a master’s degree in human development, a teaching credential with a special emphasis for birth through third grade, and an administrative services credential. My mission is to grow and stretch myself and to grow teachers. I love to see how proud teachers are of themselves when they achieve their goals. I have two children and two grandchildren and they are the delight of my life.
Heidi Scott | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Kitsap County
I joined CCAC in May, 2016, after nearly 17 years of working in the field of Early Childhood Education. After receiving my B.A. in Social Work in 1996, I almost immediately began working for a local Head Start program, which initiated my love for ECE. As a military family, my husband and I moved frequently. From Connecticut to Hawaii, and many places in between, I worked in various Head Start programs and private child care centers as a preschool teacher. I taught in traditional, as well as inclusive classrooms before spending a few years as an Early Head Start Home Visitor for Infants and Toddlers. As a Training and Curriculum Specialist for Naval Base Kitsap Child and Youth Programs, I spent 5 years training and mentoring teaching staff in all aspects of child development and curriculum. I am grateful that my travels gave me the opportunity to engage with families from many different cultural, developmental and socioeconomic backgrounds, and I gained a deep appreciation for the importance a child’s family and culture play in their development and education. I learned that wherever you go, families want the same thing for their children, which is high quality care and education. I am thrilled to be working for the Early Achievers program where I can use the skills I have gained to help child care providers in Kitsap County do exactly that, which is to ensure that quality care and education is available to all children.
Tracy Mitchell | Early Achievers - Early Learning Consultant - Thurston County
I am so excited to be working here! I come to Child Care Action Council with over 20 years’ experience in Early Childhood education. I began my career as a parent volunteer when my youngest son was in Head Start. That experience led me to a career opportunity where I worked as a teacher's aide in a child care center/ Head Start and progressed into a position where I served as the bus driver, lead Pre-K teacher, education coordinator/trainer, and transportation manager for many years. I also took on the role of interim Head Start/Child Care director on several occasions. I have an AA in ECE and Administration and a BS in Child Development. I am passionate about learning new things and teaching others. I look forward to working in a new role and expanding my horizons and helping others reach their full potential in the ECE field!!
Connie Dougherty | Professional Development Administrator
I am the Professional Development Coordinator and an instructor for the Child Care Action Council. I've been with the agency since 2008 and I love my job because our training and consultation programs allow me to empower early childhood professionals even as I learn from them. I believe everyone who works with children has something to offer others! My background includes time as a licensed family child care provider, a preschool teacher, and a private school principal.
Heidi DeVries | Infant & Toddler Coach/ Early Learning Consultant/ STARS Trainer
Hi my name is Heidi DeVries and I have just recently joined the Child Care Action Council and cannot say enough about how excited I am to be taking the next step in my professional career by working and learning from such an amazing staff dedicated to children and teachers. Previously I have worked as a preschool and toddler teacher, nanny, and I also lived at an orphanage in the Philippines for three years working with children of all ages. I have always had a passion for working with children and am especially passionate about students with behavior challenges. My role here at the Child Care Action Council will be to work as an infant/toddler mental health and early learning consultant. I will also be teaching classes at CCAC. I look forward to mentoring teachers to better support their students and provide high quality, meaningful learning environments and opportunities.
I currently hold a BA in ECE and Administration and a MA in Education with specializations in ECE and Special Education. I look forward to meeting and working with all of you!
Rose Tiller | Infant & Toddler Coach/ Early Learning Consultant/ STARS Trainer
Hi, my name is Rose Tiller. I have worked in the early childhood field since 1989. I was the first student to receive an Early Childhood Certificate from Centralia College. Since then I have achieved an AA in early childhood from Centralia College and a BS from Concordia University. For 25 years I was a lead teacher at the Centralia College Children's Lab School. For three years I taught cooperative preschool. On the side, I mentored for the Bridges to Education Classes and taught workshops and parenting classes. I believe in early childhood education. I am passionate about social/emotional development for children. This gives them the tools to be successful for life. I have two children and three grandchildren.
Susan Burnham | Infant & Toddler Coach/ Early Learning Consultant/ STARS Trainer
I believe adults and children learn best through hands-on experiences. I strive to create a learning environment that is safe and stimulating, providing learners with many opportunities to practice new ideas and challenging each us to see multiple perspectives. I have worked as both a teacher and a manager in a range of education programs, including public schools, private preschools, museums, and community programs. In these setting I've created early learning environments that are child centered, play based, and developmentally appropriate. The curriculum I’ve developed focuses on creating a classroom learning community, building language and social skills, and integrating the arts and STEM learning throughout. As an early learning coach and trainer, I provide hands-on learning experiences, best practices and research, support, and appropriate challenges to help providers reach their goals.
Fran Williams | Family Services Program Manager
I have worked at Child Care Action Council since 2008. I have a MA in Counseling, Infant Toddler Endorsement, and I have worked with families and children birth to teens. I have seven years of experience as a teacher of my own preschool. I worked with preschool classrooms with "Tools of the Mind", and advocated for professionals in the Early Learning field. My current duties include services to Family, Friends, and Neighbor caregivers including facilitating Kaleidoscope Play & Learn groups; and program manager to Raising A Reader. We have a great CCAC team to help manage all our wonderful programs. Quality early learning and childhood experiences help children and families thrive. I love to help make this happen!
Maira Ramirez | Kaleidoscope Play & Learn Group Facilitator
I've recently joined Child Care Action Council as a Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group facilitator. I hold a Bachelor's degree from The Evergreen State College where I studied Sociology and Cultural Studies through interdisciplinary curricula. For the past three years I have been working with, and advocating for K-12 youth. I am very excited about expanding my work into early childhood education! My goal as a Kaleidoscope Play & Learn group facilitator is to create more accessibility of our program and share resources with communities that are too often under served. I am passionate about equitable education and helping children soar!
Isabel Escobar | Parent Educator/Home Visitor
I am a bilingual parent educator for Parents as Teachers with a BA degree and many hours of early learning professional development classes. I have great ideas and activities that will strengthen the parents and children’s (birth to five) knowledge and attachment. I am able to connect families to the resources they may need for healthy life and successful Kindergarten entry. I love being with kids and helping families in the Parents as Teachers program.
Hola, mi nombre es Isabel Escobar. Soy la nueva educadora de padres/visitadora personal bilingüe para el programa de Padres Como Maestros mantenida por el sin ánimo de lucro Child Care Action Council. Yo administrare visitas personales en casa para guiar a los padres de familia en el aprendizaje sobre las tres áreas de énfasis. Las tres áreas de énfasis son interacción de padre eh hijo, desarrollo central de padre, y bienestar de la familia. Varias veces los padres se enfocan bastante en cómo asegurar que todo se mantenga bien en casa, que se olvidan que los niños pequeños todavía ocupan la mayoría de su atención para que sean exitosos en su desarrollo y en la escuela. Yo tengo varias ideas y actividades divertidas que ayudaran a fortalecer al aprendizaje de no tan solo los hijos (de nacimiento a cinco) pero también los padres para que sean una familia unida.
Jessica MacLeod | Raising A Reader Program Coordinator
I am happy to join the amazing team at the Child Care Action Council as the Raising A Reader Coordinator! I get to combine two of my favorite things with this program; promoting a love of reading with preschool age children and their families as well as work with a great community of early educators and child care professionals. I am lucky to call Olympia home where I live with my two sweet boys and our cat Oliver! My background as a preschool teacher and Bachelor’s in Human Development from The Evergreen State College influences my love for the work I am doing with early literacy! I am currently a student in the Master’s in Counseling Program at Saint Martin University.
Nancy Hobson | Provider Services Coordinator
I have worked at Child Care Action Council Resource & Referral for over 16 years. Before that I had worked in child care centers in the Olympia area for over 25 years. I started out as an aide and worked up to being a director. In my present position I work with parents and providers through Margies Crisis Nursery and the Homeless Child Care Program. I keep our NACCRRA provider data base up to date. I enjoy helping people and if I don't know the answer I am willing to try and find the answer for you. I enjoy working with providers and helping them get excited about training and now EA and QRIS. It will help us all do a better job for children.
Danielle King | Safe Kids Thurston County Coordinator
I have been the Safe Kids Thurston County Coordinator since 2011. I have many years’ experience with children: first, with my own; then years volunteering at school; and also as a preschool teacher and director. I would tell the preschool staff that our top priority was to ensure our students were in a safe environment - then we could get to our vital work. This is essentially why I love coordinating the Safe Kids Coalition in Thurston County. No child should be harmed due to the lack of knowledge or funds to provide safety devices - whether it be car seats, life jackets, bike helmets, or smoke detectors. I have a degree in Art and Art History. Besides painting in my spare time, I care for my three boys, my husband, and Max - the world's most perfect dog.