Project Leadership

These are the individuals leading the work to advance early childhood education as a profession in Vermont.
All service is 2020-present unless noted.

The Task Force

The Task Force is made up of early childhood educator leaders who represent the diversity of Vermont’s regions and ECE settings.
We determine how Vermont might align with The Unifying Framework and create consensus recommendations.

The Task Force seeks a few new members. Interested in joining us? View details and self-nominate here:


Alyson Grzyb

Bennington Early Childhood Center

Bennington, VT


April Zajko

April's Teaching Tree

St. Johnsbury, VT


Christina Goodwin

Pine Forest Children's Center

Burlington, VT


Jen Olson

Preschool Teacher
Wren's Nest Forest Preschool

New Haven, VT


Kelly Hayes

Learning Garden

Moretown, VT


Kim Freeman

ECE Career and Technical Educator
Windham Regional Career Center

Brattleboro, VT


Laura Butler

Imagination Island

Milton, VT



Lorraine Vernet

(through Nov. 2022) Logistical Support

Morrisville, VT


Marla Ionello

(through June 2021)
Coordinator Early Education Student Services Orange East Supervisory Union


Meghan Meszkat

Early Education Services/Head Start

Bennington, VT


Stacie Curtis

(through June 2022) Director of Early Education Burlington School District


Staci Otis

Little Allstars Childcare and Preschool

Springfield, VT


Su White

Quarry Hill School

Middlebury, VT


Susan Torncello

Emerit Faculty
University of Vermont

Burlington, VT


Tammie Hazlett

Family Child Care Provider

Thetford, VT

Project Outreach and Coordination

The Outreach Coordinator and Project Coordinator engage Vermont's early childhood education workforce and facilitate Vermont's work toward alignment with The Unifying Framework. We are involved with the Task Force, Core Team, and other teams.

Rachel Hunter

Rachel Hunter

Outreach Coordinator

Rachel is an early childhood educator and career-long advocate for young children. She has supported quality initiatives in both private and public education systems. Her service on state committees and advisory boards includes a gubernatorial appointment to the Blue Ribbon Commission on Financing High Quality, Affordable Child Care. Deeply engaged with Vermont’s early childhood educators, Rachel leads Advancing as a Profession info sessions throughout the state.


Susan Titterton

Project Coordinator

Susan is a consultant who led the original workforce engagement project to gauge Vermont early childhood educators’ will to advance as a profession, and has since managed the project to advance ECE as a recognized profession. Over a career in education she worked as a para-educator, teacher, counselor, principal, and trainer, and with populations ranging from preschoolers to principals.

The Core Team

The Core Team includes representatives from stakeholder agencies and networks, funders, and consultants
who make sure our initiative has the financing, strategy, support, and other resources it needs to succeed.

becky millard headshot

Becky Millard

Northern Lights at CCV

Montpelier, VT


Dianne Carter

(through June 2022)
Project Implementation Coordinator


Janet McLaughlin

(through March 2023) Executive Director, VTAEYC


Kaitlin Northey

Assistant Professor of Early Childhood
University of Vermont

Burlington, VT

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Katie Titterton

Clear Spot Communications Consulting

Richmond, VT


Lorraine Vernet

(through Nov. 2022)
Logistical Support

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Maria Estlund

NAEYC State Policy Specialist


Paula Nadeau

VTAEYC ECE Workforce Development Specialist


Waterbury, VT


Sharron Harrington

Executive Director

Arlington, VT


Sherry Carlson

Chief Programs Officer
Let's Grow Kids

Burlington, VT

"We have our eye on Vermont."

 Vermont is one of a handful of states NAEYC recognizes as an “early adopter” in our work to implement the recommendations of The Unifying Framework. And unlike our sister states, Vermont’s project is workforce-led.

In 2021, then-NAEYC CEO Rhian Evans Allvin told Vermont early childhood educators, “From the beginning, we’ve had our eye on Vermont.”

NAEYC and its affiliates are watching to see how our workforce-led, consensus-based efforts could be used as a model in other states.

Design Teams

Five Design Teams convened in 2021 to create, test, and make recommendations on model components of a professional early childhood education system. Design teams are made up of project leaders and stakeholders from Vermont's early childhood education ecosystem. Most teams were active 2021-2022; the Establishing Equivalence Process is ongoing.

Establishing Equivalence Process

Facilitator: Jenny Stearns

Designs a process that fairly and accurately values the work experience of today’s early childhood educators, with additional flexible supports to help educators meet the professional qualifications for ECE I, ECE II, or ECE III. Advisors are listed below; many more early childhood educators volunteered to participate in the pilot.

Career Pathways

Facilitator: Dianne Carter

Reimagines a streamlined career ladder with a structure of three professional early childhood education designations (ECE I, ECE II, ECE II)

  • Dianne Carter
  • Becky Millard
  • Betsy Rathbun-Gunn
  • Alyson Grzyb
  • Sonja Raymond
  • Staci Otis

ECE Preparation Pathways Study Group

Facilitator: Kaitie Northey

Collaborates across institutions to create seamless pathways for early childhood educators within Vermont institutions of higher education.

  • Kaitie Northey, University of Vermont
  • Angela Sillars, Castleton/VSU
  • Becky Millard, Northern Lights at CCV
  • Diane Hermann-Artim, Community College of Vermont
  • Heather Duhamel, Northern Vermont University/VSU
  • Jenny Stearns, St. Michael’s College
  • Laurel Bongiorno, Champlain College
  • Manuela Fonseca, Vermont Higher Education Collaborative
  • Marina Cole, Step Up to Childcare
  • Robin Ploof, Champlain College

Minimum Compensation Standard

Designs a minimum compensation standard that appropriately compensates early childhood educators at each designation (ECE I, ECE II, ECE III).

  • Janet McLaughlin
  • Sherry Carlson
  • Jen Horwitz, Let’s Grow Kids
  • Katie Salina, Let’s Grow Kids

ECE I Preparation Pathways

Facilitator: Dianne Carter

Strategizes outreach, partnerships, and support to help future early childhood educators find their way into the profession.

  • Dianne Carter
  • Kim Freeman
  • Diane Hermann-Artim
  • Sharron Harrington
  • Paula Nadeau

Additional Teams

Communications Team

Developing strategy and materials to inspire participation in the work to advance ECE as a profession.

Ambassadors for Advancing as a Profession

Ambassadors are early childhood educators highly engaged with this work and dedicated to sharing updates with their teaching communities. This project has more than 60 workforce ambassadors. The educators listed below lead “Getting Up to Speed” professional development sessions throughout the state.

Want to get even more involved?

Become an ambassador for Advancing ECE as a Profession.