For Immediate Release: October 5, 2018
Contacts: Office of the Governor: Ofirah Yheskel, Ofirah.Yheskel@governor.virginia.gov | Office of the Secretary of Education: Chidi Uche, Chidimma.Uche@governov.virginia.gov

Northam Administration Announces New Members of School Readiness Committee

RICHMOND—Today the Northam Administration announced the addition of 13 new members to Virginia’s School Readiness Committee.

Originally established by House Bill 46 and signed into law by Governor McAuliffe in 2016, the committee’s purpose is to enhance and align early childhood education professional development and credentialing to support the needs of children in the Commonwealth. New committee members were selected by Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

The School Readiness Committee will continue to track and promote the alignment of existing professional development funding streams and the development of innovative approaches to increase accessibility, availability, affordability, and accountability of the Commonwealth’s workforce development system for early childhood education teachers and providers.

“I am delighted that such a strong cohort of new members will be joining the School Readiness Committee and look forward to the work we will be doing together,” said Secretary of Education Atif Qarni.

In addition to examining the funding landscape for early childhood care and learning, the School Readiness Committee will provide an important forum for the discussion and vetting of challenges and reforms related to school readiness in Virginia. The committee also will offer recommendations on how Virginia can unify and strengthen its early childhood care and education system to improve outcomes for children and families and serve as a national model.

“We are grateful to the School Readiness Committee for addressing the needs of our youngest and most vulnerable citizens,” said First Lady Pamela Northam. “We are excited to welcome new members and we thank all who have dedicated their time and energy to giving students the tools they need to succeed.”

“The School Readiness Committee includes those closest to Virginia early childhood educators, families and children,” said Chief School Readiness Officer Jenna Conway. “I look forward to learning from the committee and hearing their invaluable insights as we work together to strengthen our early childhood system.”

The School Readiness Committee will hold its first meeting of the Northam administration on Thursday, November 8, 2018 in Richmond, Virginia.

New Members of the Committee:

  • Suja Amir, Healthcare Policy Consultant and Henrico Parent Representative
  • Laurel Aparicio, Director, Early Impact Virginia
  • Maryam Ben-Omran, Principal, Washington International Academy
  • Nora Bryant, Early Childhood Special Educator; Adjunct Faculty, University of Richmond; Owner, Little Nomad
  • Lisa Specter Dunnaway, President and CEO, Families Forward Virginia
  • Shikee Franklin, Director, Head Start at Hampton Roads Community Action Program; President, Virginia Head Start Association
  • Kim Hulcher, Executive Director, Virginia Childcare Association
  • Aleta Lawson, Director, Head Start Collaboration Office, Virginia Department of Social Services
  • Dr. Hughes Melton, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services
  • Hunter Moore, Owner and Birth Doula, The Mindful Birth, LLC
  • Cecilia Suarez, Director and Owner, Creative Learning School
  • Maria Williams, Bright Stars Family Coordinator, Albemarle County Department of Social Services
  • Saadia Yasmin, Owner, Saadia’s Juicebox and Yoga Bar

Reappointed and Continuing Term Members of the Committee:

  • Maritsa Alger, Principal, Norfolk Public Schools
  • Dr. Irene Carney, Executive Director, Sabot at Stony Point
  • Dr. Christopher Chin, Director of Community Partnerships, Robins Foundation
  • Dr. Walter Clemons, Superintendent, Gloucester County Public Schools
  • Navine Fortune, Assistant Program Director and Instructor, Norfolk State University
  • Kathy Glazer, President, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation
  • Dr. Bonnie Graham, Professor and Program Head, Human Services and Early Childhood, New River Community College
  • Phillip Hawkins, Jr., Teacher, Norfolk Public Schools
  • Lisa Howard, President and CEO, Elevate Early Education
  • Gail Johnson, President and CEO, Rainbow Station
  • Henry Light, Member, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia
  • Dr. Sara Miller, Assistant Professor, Longwood University
  • Dr. Craig Ramey, Professor of Human Development, Psychology and Pediatrics, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute
  • Dr. Christine Schull, Professor, Northern Virginia Community College
  • Gary Thomson, Regional Managing Partner, Mid-Atlantic, Dixon Hughes Goodman
  • Barry Weinstein, Retired Teacher, Fairfax County Public Schools

The committee includes representatives from the General Assembly. Members of the House of Delegates are appointed by the Speaker of the House and members of the Senate appointed by the President of the Senate.

Members of the Virginia House of Delegates:

  • Delegate John Bell
  • Delegate Roxann Robinson

Members of the Senate of Virginia:

  • Senator Siobhan Dunnavant
  • Senator Adam Ebbin
  • Senator David Suetterlein

Dr. James Lane, State Superintendent of Public Instruction; Duke Storen, Commissioner, Virginia Department of Social Services; Atif Qarni, Secretary of Education; Dr. Daniel Carey, Secretary of Health and Human Resources serve on the committee as ex officio members.

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