Meet the Speakers at Elevate22

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We couldn’t be more excited to bring Elevate back in person! This year’s summit features speakers from all corners of the industry – from technology and public policy to business coaches and mentors. Get to know them below and save your spot for Elevate22 today! 

Chris Bennett, CEO and Co-Founder at Wonderschool

Chris Bennett is a serial entrepreneur with expertise in finance, operations and team building. Prior to establishing Wonderschool, Chris founded Soldsie, a social commerce platform that allows customers to purchase products through comments on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. Chris’s appreciation for education goes back to his parents, Honduran immigrants who did whatever they could to ensure that he had access to an excellent education—from attending quality preschool to graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. He wanted to ensure other children had the same opportunities to reach their full potential.

Tracey Pearson, LMSW, LIMHP and Life Coach/Psychotherapist

Tracey helps clients who feel stressed, anxious and overwhelmed, develop a lasting mindful practice according to their values, personality, and lifestyle to experience a refreshed, nurtured, and peaceful life.  As a psychotherapist for almost 20 years, she began her mindfulness journey and implemented mindful resources in her counseling practice.  While she still provides counseling, mindfulness coaching has expanded to work with those who desire more wellness, peace, and happiness.

Dana Dyksterhuis, Co-Founder of HERE: For You, For Them

Dana Dyksterhuis is the co-founder of HERE: Here For You, For Them, whose mission is “A world where no child, family, and the network around them feels alone in their mental health.” HERE provides proprietary mindfulness programs to families in the UK and US, as well as for the providers who support them. HERE also offers free mindful activity packs on its website for anyone who needs them.

Anne-Marie Sullivan, Team Member of HERE: For You, For Them

Anne-Marie Sullivan is a HERE team member, a registered youth and adult yoga instructor (E-CYT, E-RYT), is a certified hypnotherapist with the International Association of Counselors and Therapists, and is trained through Mindful Schools in Los Angeles to teach mindfulness and meditation to youth. She specializes in working with the trauma-informed community, at-risk children and veterans.

Albert Wat, Senior Policy Director at the Alliance for Early Success

Albert Wat is a Senior Policy Director at the Alliance for Early Success, where he supports the organization’s strategy and goals for early education, including increasing access to high-quality pre-k and child care, improving the early learning workforce, and enhancing alignment with K-12 policies. Before joining the Alliance, Albert was a Senior Policy Analyst in the Education Division of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, where he helped governors’ staff and advisors improve their early care and education policies, from early childhood through third grade. Before NGA, Albert was the Research Manager at Pre-K Now, an advocacy campaign at the Pew Center on the States, where he authored a number of policy reports, managed research activities for the initiative, and provided analysis and information about the latest pre-k and early education research and policy developments to Pre-K Now staff and its network of state partners. Albert has served on two National Academies committees: Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation and Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice, and Policy to Advance Health Equity. He also serves on the board of the Council for Professional Recognition.

Molly Sullivan, Director of National Initiatives at First Children’s Finance 

Molly Sullivan is the Director of National Initiatives at First Children’s Finance (FCF), leading systems-change efforts for early care and education with states, communities, and Native nations with a growing team at FCF. Molly received a Master of Public Policy degree from Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Secondary English Education from New York University. 

Brandee Lengel, VP of Quality Child Care Partnerships at NECC

As the VP of Quality Child Care Partnerships at NECC, Brandee Lengel provides visionary leadership and inspired direction by managing and developing programs that enable both family and center-based child care providers to become successful, independent, and dynamic small business owners. Brandee has worked in early childhood education for over 30 years in many roles including an assistant in a family child care home, a child care center teacher, an early childhood education specialist, and in nonprofit administration. Brandee earned a master’s degree in Management with an emphasis in Leadership, a bachelor’s degree in Human and Social Service Administration, and an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. Brandee is the recipient of the Nebraska Family Child Care Association Advocate of the Year Award, Sally Wysong Excellence in Early Childhood Award, and Southeast Community College ECE Honored Graduate Award.

Geeta Surti, Product Marketing & Research Specialist at Pie for Providers

Geeta Surti is a Product Marketing & Research Specialist at Pie for Providers, driving initiatives to build awareness and adoption of software that automates government childcare subsidies for childcare providers, unlocking billions of dollars to help businesses that are predominantly owned by women, and largely women of color.  Geeta has a history of leadership in the integration of marketing and sales initiatives within the medtech, manufacturing, and nonprofit sectors.  Geeta has a B.S. in Economics from Baylor University.

Iheoma U. Iruka, Ph.D., Research Professor in Public Policy and the Founding Director of the Equity Research Action Coalition at the FPG Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill

Iheoma U. Iruka, Ph.D., is a Research Professor in Public Policy and the Founding Director of the Equity Research Action Coalition at the FPG Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill. Dr. Iruka is leading projects and initiatives focused on ensuring that racially minoritized children and children from low-income households are thriving through the intersection of anti-racist and culturally grounded research, program, and policy. Dr. Iruka serves on numerous national and local boards, including the National Advisory Committee for the US Census Bureau, National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and Scientific Advisor for the National Research Conference in Early Childhood.

Thank you to our 2022 Elevate sponsors