List of Members

Sherry M. Cleary, Co-Chair

New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute - Executive Director
Sherry M. Cleary is the Executive Director of the New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, housed at the City University of New York. Ms. Cleary has worked in the field of early childhood education as a classroom teacher, a program administrator, and as both a faculty member and higher education administrator for more than 35 years. She is the founder of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood Education. Currently, she serves as President of the New York State Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NYSAECTE) and on the Board of the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators.

Patricia E. Persell, Co-Chair

New York State Head Start Collaboration Office - Collaboration Director
Patricia E. Persell is New York State Head Start Collaboration Director, working to ensure that Head Start is included in state programs and policies. She began her career as a nursery school teacher, worked as Education Coordinator for Albany County Head Start and then served as Director of the Bank Street Head Start in New York City. A longtime La Leche League Leader volunteer, she also serves on the Obesity Prevention in Child Care Partnership, a state level steering committee.

George Askew, MD

Division of Family and Child Health - Deputy Commissioner of Health
New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Dr. George Askew is a pediatrician who has spent the majority of his professional career addressing the health and well-being of young children and their families. He joined the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene in November 2014 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, where he was the first Chief Medical Officer for the Administration for Children and Families. Dr. Askew previously served as the Deputy CEO and Chief Development Officer for Voices for America’s Children and as CEO and President of Jumpstart for Young Children. Additionally, he is the founder of Docs for Tots, a pediatrician-led child advocacy organization that helps doctors advocate beyond their clinical practices on behalf of our youngest children. With a longstanding history of innovative work in child and family advocacy and executive leadership, Dr. Askew now oversees the Health and Mental Hygiene Department’s Division of Family and Child Health which includes the Bureaus of Administration, Maternal, Infant and Reproductive Health, the Office of School Health, and the Bureau of Early Intervention.

Evelyn Blanck

New York Center for Child Development - Associate Executive Director
Evelyn Blanck is the Associate Executive Director of the New York Center for Child Development and Program Director for the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Treatment Program. She is Co-President of the New York Zero to Three Network and Chair of the New York City Early Childhood Mental Health Strategic Work Group, an advisory committee to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Evelyn has focused much of her work on the integration of mental health in education, primary care and all child serving systems. She has a New York City mayoral appointment to the Community Services Board Subcommittee on Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities.

Kate Breslin

Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy - President & CEO
Kate Breslin is the President & CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, a statewide nonprofit organization working to shape policies to improve health and human services in New York State. Kate has spent her career working for policy solutions that improve the lives of low-income and vulnerable people. She serves on the Capital Region Advisory Committee for the Health Insurance Exchange; Medicaid Evidence-Based Benefit Review Workgroup; and Behavioral Health Services Workgroup. She helps lead several statewide coalitions, including Winning Beginning NY; Medicaid Matters New York; Health Care for All New York; and the New York State Coalition for Adult Home Reform.

Phillip Cleary

North Syracuse Central School District - Special Education Teacher
Philip Cleary is a special education teacher in the North Syracuse Central School District. He teaches preschool special education at the North Syracuse Early Education Program at Main Street School. In addition, Philip is an active advocate on behalf of children and working families as the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT) Political Action Coordinator in Central New York.

Pedro Cordero

Goddard Riverside Community Center - Director of Child Development Services
Pedro Cordero is Director of Child Development Services at Goddard Riverside Community Center in Manhattan. He previously served the City of New York, with positions in the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS)/Division of Community Planning and Development, Human Resources Administration (HRA)/Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and the Mayor’s Office for Children and Families. A certified Federal Evaluator for Head Start programs, he is also a member of the Latino Early Care and Education Coalition and teaches in the Professional Development Institute’s Child Program Administrator Credential (CPAC) initiative at City University of New York.

Rachel de Long, MD, MPH

New York State Department of Health - Policy Associate, Center for Community Health
University at Albany School of Public Health - Co-Director, MCH Catalyst Program
Dr. Rachel de Long works both as a policy associate at the Center for Community Health at the New York State Department of Health and as a co-director of the Maternal Child Health Catalyst Program at the School of Public Health at the State University of New York at Albany. She previously served as the Director of the Department’s Bureau of Maternal and Child Health and former Bureau of Child and Adolescent Health. Board certified in Preventive Medicine and Public Health, Dr. de Long is also a faculty member in the Department of Health Policy, Management, and Behavior at the SUNY Albany School of Public Health.

Karla Digirolamo

New York State Community Action Association - Chief Executive Officer
Karla Digirolamo is the Chief Executive Officer of the New York State Community Action Association (NYSCAA.), which supports Community Action Associations statewide in improving the quality of life for low income people and communities. She brings more than 25 years experience in advocacy, social action, non-profit management and public policy in New York State, having served as Chief Operating Officer at Unity House of Troy, NY; Director of Policy and Programs at the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence; and founding Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.

Denise Dowell

CSEA - Director Early Learning and Care Programs
Denise Dowell currently directs the Civil Service Employees Union’s (CSEA) Early Learning and Care Programs. She brings more than 20 years experience in early childhood education a family child care provider, classroom teacher, center director, educator, and advocate. In 1998, she co-founded the Philadelphia Worthy Wage Campaign, the United Child Care Union, and the Philadelphia Area Jobs with Justice Coalition. As Coordinator of Child Care Providers Together, a project of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), she provided support and technical assistance to AFSCME affiliates and Child Care Providers United, a new union for family child care providers in Pennsylvania and California.

Andre Eaton

The Parent-Child Home Program - New York State Regional Coordinator
Andre Eaton is the Regional Coordinator for The Parent-Child Home Program, a home-based literacy and parenting program for at-risk families. Before joining The Parent-Child Home Program, he worked for Covenant House New York, as Southeastern Regional Director for Jumpstart for Young Children, Inc. and served as Executive Director of Covenant House Georgia. He is currently a candidate for a Masters of Divinity at The Interdenominational Theological Center and works as a student supervisor to those studying social work.

Maggie Evans, C.P.A.

Agri-Business Child Development (ABCD) - Executive Director
Maggie Evans joined Agri-Business Child Development (ABCD) in 1995 as Director of Finance and became Executive Director in 1999. ABCD serves over 1,500 children annually, with 12 Migrant and Seasonal Head Start centers throughout New York State, a traditional Head Start Program in Seneca County and an Early Head Start Program in Orange County. Maggie began her career in the corporate world, working at both KeyBank and Earst & Young. She is a member of the CEO/Community Partner Affiliate of the National Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Association’s Board of Directors and the New York State Community Services Block Grant Advisory Council.

Robert G. Frawley

Early Childhood Policy Consultant
Bob Frawley's work has been directed at building effective systems of supports and services for children and families. This includes working on a variety of research and policy initiatives, including projects addressing such issues as runaway and homeless youth, child abuse and neglect, juvenile justice, prevention programs, and services for children with disabilities. For the last 23 years, he has focused his efforts primarily on issues related to young children and their families. Bob has led many statewide early childhood initiatives. On ​t​he ECAC, he Co-chairs the Coordinated and Responsive Systems Focus Area, which is comprised of six work teams. He also co-chairs the Data Development Work Team. Outside of the ECAC, he supports the Adirondack Birth to Three Alliance, which is a project of the Adirondack Foundation.

Dana Friedman, Ed.D.

Suffolk County Department of Social Services - Deputy Commissioner
Dana Friedman is a nationally-recognized researcher and policy analyst for children, family and women’s issues. She has worked for several national organizations and served as a consultant to major corporations, government agencies and foundations. She founded The Early Years Institute on Long Island, was the co-founder and co-president of the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and a Senior Research Associate at The Conference Board. Dana is currently working with the Suffolk County Executive to create an early childhood initiative that brings together community coalitions around the early years. Dana is published widely and recently co-authored the School Readiness Playbook and wrote “The Juggling Act,” a monthly column in Working Mother from 1990-1997.

Timothy Hathaway

Prevent Child Abuse New York - Executive Director
Tim Hathaway has served as the Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse New York since 2014 and in this position he has focused on promoting proven child abuse prevention strategies such as home visiting, community based sex abuse prevention, advocacy and public awareness. Tim is passionate about eliminating racial disparities, promoting best practice standards to prevent child abuse, excellence in non-profit administration and advancing place based, partner-driven solutions. He also believes in the value of professional development and has been a trainer and consultant to early childhood professionals for 25 years.Prior to his work with Prevent Child Abuse New York, Tim was the Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse in North Dakota and for almost 20 years before that he worked with Head Start programs in a variety of capacities. Very early in his career, he managed and directed early care and learning programs for the YMCA and faith-based communities. In sum, Tim brings nearly 30 years and a great range of experience working with children and families.

Vicky Hiffa

New York State Office of Children and Family Services - Director of the Bureau of Program and Community Development
Vicky Hiffa is the Bureau Director for the Bureau of Program and Community Development at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services. This Bureau is responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of a wide range of community based program initiatives, including the Healthy Families NY Home Visiting Program and the Children and Family Trust fund prevention programs. Vicky began her career in New York State working as a budget examiner in the the Division of the Budget. She is also an advocate for children with disabilities and has served on the Early Intervention Coordinating Council, Development Disabilities Planning Council and Best Buddies Board, and is currently a member on the Wildwood Foundation Board.

Mark K. Jasinski

Newfield Central School District - Director of Curriculum and Instruction
Newfield Central School District Mark K. Jasinski serves on the New York State Prekindergarten through Grade 3 Administrators’ Association Board of Directors and brings over 20 years of experience as an educator and school district administrator. As a certified special education teacher and father of two children with special needs he has a keen understanding of the importance of quality early childhood programming. In 2007, he served on the Temporary Task Force on Preschool Special Education.

Ira Katzenstein

Cattaraugus County Project Head Start - Director
Ira Katzenstein is Director of Cattaraugus County Project Head Start, which expanded to serve Wyoming County in 1990, and to include Early Head Start in 1998. Eleven years ago, Head Start became the local Success by Six program lead. In his tenure, the program has partnered with many agencies and school districts on projects that include Universal Pre-K programming, Cavity Free Kids, and Early Reading First as well as accreditation of all sites by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Ira is a member of the Town of Olean planning board and Olean Board of Education. He also serves on the boards of the Cattaraugus County Arts Council, Teacher Resource Center and New York State Head Start Association.

Kristen Kerr

New York State Association for the Education of Young Children - Executive Director
Kristen is the Executive Director of the New York State Association for the Education of Young Children, (NYSAEYC), a membership association for early childhood professionals. She first joined NYSAEYC as Public Policy Coordinator and as a longtime member of the association, brings more than 20 years of experience as an early care and education professional. She represented NYSAEYC as co-convener of the Winning Beginning NY coalition.

Patti Segal Lieberman

A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, Inc. - Trustee
Chair, Child Care and Early Education Fund
Patti Lieberman is a Trustee and former Chair of the A.L. Mailman Family Foundation, Inc., a private national foundation focused on early care and education. She is a founding member and current Chair of the Child Care and Early Education Fund in New York City (CCEEF), a multi-year funders collaborative that partners with city and state agencies to improve the quality of the early care and education system. In 2005, Patti helped lead the Fund’s work to establish the NYC Early Childhood Professional Development Institute (PDI) at City University of New York (CUNY). A founding board member of CUNY’s School of Professional Studies, she has also served on the boards of Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families (GCYF), Philanthropy New York, Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the Child Care Action Campaign.