Who We Are

Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative is more than a concept, it’s a community, and we couldn’t make any of it work without the passionate professionals bringing our vision and mission to life. This team has matched not only our rigorous standards of experience and care, but has exceeded our hopes with their compassion in action.

Shannon Cotsoradis

Chief Executive Officer

As the organization’s first President & CEO, joining the team in 2016, Shannon Cotsoradis is the architect of the vision and the overall strategy at the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative. Prior to joining the team at NECC, Shannon served as the President & CEO at Kansas Action for Children, a statewide organization that advocates for children and families. Shannon is a native Kansan who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Sweet Briar College, a master’s degree in child development from Sarah Lawrence College, and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Kansas.

Over the years, Shannon has served as a voice for children through numerous appointed and other leadership roles including serving on the Kansas Children’s Cabinet, Kansas Blue Ribbon Panel on Infant Mortality, Preschool Development Grant Nebraska Leadership Team, and the Nebraska Early Childhood Governance & Financing Task Force. She is a graduate of the Sunflower Foundation’s Advocacy Fellowship, a member of the Leadership Kansas Class of 2008, and a member of the Promising Ventures Fellowship Class of 2020.

Sarah Ann Kotchian

Chief Operating Officer

Sarah Ann Kotchian serves as Chief Operating Officer, the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative’s internal leader, managing growth and ensuring sustainable operational excellence. Sarah Ann brings to this role deep experience in nonprofit strategy, corporate development, and early childhood care and education. Sarah Ann has worked extensively for nonprofits for more than twenty years to drive program, practice, and policy improvements for women, children, and families. She has served in multiple appointments on local and state commissions, task forces, and boards of directors. She has been recognized as a State Children’s Champion by the Nebraska Head Start Association and was named 2018 Public Citizen of the Year by the Nebraska Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. She is a graduate of Creighton University and the University of Nebraska College of Law.

Dwight Lang

Vice President of Finance & Administration/CFO

Dwight Lang oversees financial and administrative services for NECC as well as for our member centers, and as Vice President of Finance & Administration/CFO, brings more than 30 years of experience in financial oversight for nonprofit organizations. He earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting and business administration from Briar Cliff University in Sioux City, where he lives with his wife and three boys, ranging from ages 7 to 20. The majority of his work in the field has been with nonprofits in federal funding and grant funding. When he’s not crunching numbers, Dwight enjoys golfing and riding his Harley Davidson.

Fawn Taylor

Vice President of Family & Community Services

As the Vice President of Family & Community Services, Fawn oversees the work of the Teen & Young Parent Program (TYPP) and the Douglas County Community Response Program (DCCR). Fawn earned her Master’s in Public Administration with a concentration in Personnel Management. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with minors in Behavioral Science and Business Administration. Fawn has a vast amount of experience and knowledge in working with children and families, including oversight of an Early Head Start Program, Head Start Program, Comprehensive Adolescent Residential & Educational Services (CARES) for teen parents, and an accredited childcare center. Fawn’s previous experience includes the development and implementation of a substance and mental health program intended to engage and encourage minority participation in services. She is also a former Nebraska Probation Officer and served as a Review Specialist for the Nebraska Foster Care Review Board. While working there she implemented an Adoption Review Board designed to help young children obtain permanency in a timely manner.

Deb Winkelmann

Vice President of Early Education

In her role as the Director of Quality and Practice Transformation at Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative, Deb Winkelmann is responsible for ensuring compliance with the Head Start monitoring protocol, assisting in the development of the Program Information Report, and developing long-range program goals and the steps to achieve them. She works closely with NECC member centers on compliance with state licensing, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, Sixpence, and ensures that developmentally appropriate practices and curricula are implemented. Deb earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from Concordia University before receiving her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Doane College. She also holds a Nebraska Teaching Certificate and is endorsed in Early Childhood, Elementary Education, and Special Education. For 17 years Deb owned and operated her own child care center prior to teaching elementary education for 10 years and early childhood special education for over two years. She was hired on and spent three years as a Master Teacher for Educare Omaha a site director for Educare Omaha for more than eight years before joining the Nebraska Early Childhood Collaborative leadership team.

Brandee Lengel

Vice President of Quality Child Care Partnerships

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.

Board of Directors

  • Mary Balluff

    Program Chair
    Community Consultant

  • Jesse Brickner

    Finance-Admin Chair Elect
    Manager, Hancock & Dana

  • Wayne Brown

    Finance-Admin
    Vice President, Programs & Policy, Urban League of NE

  • Patricia Carter

    Program
    Sr. Dir. of Accounting, Auditing, Douglas Co. Treasurer’s Office

  • Jean Douchey

    Board Chair, Finance-Admin
    Founder, Alumna House

  • Jan Esteraich

    Program
    Consultant for Children’s Media, Education, and Research, Leap Into Learning, LLC

  • Mikki Frost

    Program
    Community Volunteer

  • Betty Harris

    Finance-Admin Board Chair Elect
    Board Chair Elect, Finance-Admin

  • Andrea Jahn, JD

    Finance-Admin
    Associate General Counsel, University Privacy Officer, Creighton University

  • AnnMarie Marlier

    Program
    Director of Institutional Effectiveness, Doane University

  • Dr. Debora Sepich

    Finance-Admin
    Director Graduate Business Programs, Associate Professor of Business, Doane University

  • Dave Shrader

    Board Treasurer, Finance-Admin Chair
    Employee Benefits Trust Officer, Wealth Management, Security National Bank

  • Laura Thomas

    Program
    Independent Consultant for International Mission Driven Organizations, La Mancha Ventures, LLC

  • Christian Espinosa Torres

    Program
    Program Administrator, Small & Emerging Small Business Program, City of Omaha, Human Rights & Relations Department