Yasmine Daniel Vargas
Director, Head Start National Center on Program Management & Fiscal Operations
Yasmine Daniel Vargas previously worked for FHI 360 managing the Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Center for American Indian and Alaska Native programs. With a rich career in early childhood, she also worked with Marion Wright Edelman for the National Children’s Defense Fund as director of the Early Childhood Development Division.
Ms. Vargas received a master’s of public administration from Drake University and a bachelor’s of arts from Rutgers University.
Fiscal Specialist (ZERO TO THREE)
Chris Barnes has more than 10 years of experience in managing multi-agency organizations and overseeing the fiscal operations of non-profits. He has significant expertise in finance, board development and relationships, human resources, training and technical assistance, and deep knowledge of federal funding for children and youth. Prior to joining ZERO TO THREE, Mr. Barnes participated in the development and presentation of workshops on fiscal operations and governance as well as the use of Head Start and child care subsidy funds and its impact on quality programming. His background also includes experience as a Head Start grantee specialist; fiscal training and consulting for non-profit organizations throughout the country; and serving as senior director of Child & Family Services at St. Vincent de Paul of Baltimore.
Mr. Barnes holds a master's of public administration and a bachelor's of science in business administration. He is a graduate of the Johnson & Johnson Head Start management training program at the Anderson Business School at UCLA and the NIKE Leadership Fellows Program.
Director, UCLA Johnson & Johnson Sponsored Programs
Content Development Specialist
Michelle Brown previously worked for ICF (Inner City Fund) as a member of the Head Start Region XI Training and Technical Assistance Center Management team, supporting American Indian and Alaska Native programs. With a rich career in early childhood, she also served in a lead role on the Office of Head Start’s Supporting the School Readiness and Success for Young African American Boy’s Project.
Ms. Brown received a bachelor’s of science and a master’s of science in early childhood special education from Bowling Green State University.
Professional Development Manager Program Management & Governance Specialist (FHI 360)
Jacqueline Davis brings years of experience as director, project manager and training, and technical assistance specialist for early care and education. Ms. Davis assumed a lead role in developing and publishing a suite of products for emerging leaders in early childhood as well as a series of interactive homelessness lessons for staff who work with families. Recognition by the California State Senate, the City of Los Angeles and Administration for Children and Families Assistant Secretary’s Partnering for Excellence emphasize her passion for building partnerships and collaborating across organizations. Ms. Davis’ work took her to the Outer Pacific regions including Guam, Saipan, Yap, the Marshall Islands, Palau, and Pohnpei where she had the opportunity to work with programs to support their growth specifically focused on family and community engagement.
She earned a master’s in public administration from California State University, Dominguez Hills and a bachelor’s of science from Louisiana State University.
Finance and Administration Manager
Pamela Dion is experienced in the areas of finance, accounting, auditing, payroll while working in such varying industries as non-profit, retail, and construction. Her professional career has included seven years at each the American Red Cross as the Director of Finance and Conservation Services Group as an Internal Auditor and Accountant.
Ms. Dion has a bachelor’s of science in business administration from Nichols College.
Program Management, Governance Specialist
Louise Eldridge served as the Regional Program Manager for the Region 1 (New England) Office of Head Start for nearly 20 years. Previous positions in her 35-year federal career at the Administration for Children and Families, USDHHS and the US Department of Agriculture included management responsibility for the Child Welfare, Child Care and Food Stamp Programs.
Ms. Eldridge earned a master’s of science in management from Lesley University and a bachelor’s of arts from Clark University.
Program Management, Governance Specialist
Lionel Espinoza has over 15 years’ experience working in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. For the initial four years of his career, Lionel oversaw Head Start comprehensive services as a program manager and as a director. Most recently, he led a start-up team for an Early Head Start grantee agency in Colorado. Mr. Espinoza Lionel is also an active leader in the broader early childhood education community where he was appointed as the board president for the Institute for Racial Equity and Excellence as well as serves as a Teachstone Ambassador.
Mr. Espinoza received a master's and bachelor's of arts in education from Adams State University and is currently completing a master's of science in organization development from Regis University.
Hannah Katzen has gained experience in project management, financial support, content development, and executive assistance through her work at the Family Online Safety Institute.
She earned a bachelor’s of arts in communication studies from American University.
Program Management, Governance Specialist (FHI 360)
Elizabeth (Betsy) Laverdure-McDougall previously worked for FHI 360's Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Center for American Indian and Alaska Native programs as a Program Specialist I/Grantee Specialist. She has worked in the field of education and administration throughout her professional career. She is an American Indian, enrolled in the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Tribe from Belcourt, North Dakota.
Dr. McDougall received her doctorate in education from the University of North Dakota.
Product Development Manager
Charles McQuillen began his career in education teaching in a Yupik village on Alaska’s Yukon Delta. For over 20 years Mr. McQuillen has worked in the educational publishing industry developing and promoting a range of literacy curricula that make best practices accessible and scalable.
Dr. McQuillen earned a doctorate in education at Boston College and a master’s in fine arts from the Museum School of Fine Arts.
Nekeya O’Connor has over 10 years of extensive experience in accounting and finance, ranging from corporate audits, budgeting, grant management, and nonprofit accounting. Prior to joining PMFO, Nekeya served as the chief financial officer for a Head Start & Early Head Start program, specializing in staff management, budgeting, financial analysis, strategic planning and implementation, management training, and grant management.
Ms. O’Connor holds a bachelors of business administration with a concentration in accounting from Howard University, a masters of public administration and an advanced graduate certificate in nonprofit management from Long Island University-Brooklyn. She is also a 2017 UCLA Head Start Management Fellow.
Robert E. Pfeffer
Fiscal, Program Management, Governance Specialist (FHI 360)/Fiscal Consultant Initiative Coordinator
Robert Edward Pfeffer is a former Grantee Specialist for the Head Start Training and Technical Assistance Center for American Indian and Alaska Native programs. Mr. Pfeffer is also a former Head Start, childcare, and after-school director of twelve years in upstate New York. He also served as steering committee member on the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center at the University of Colorado Denver, regional alternate for the National Indian Head Start Directors Association board, and participated in various research projects and consultations within Head Start.
Mr. Pfeffer holds a master’s in English and a bachelor’s in education from the State University of New York at Fredonia. Currently, he is pursuing his MBA at St. Bonaventure University.
Assistant Director & Fiscal Team Lead (FHI 360)
Arnold Ramirez has over 37 years of Head Start experience at the local, state, regional, and national levels in grants management/administration, contract negotiations, community partnerships, governance, fiscal management, program planning/development, and human resource management. Mr. Ramirez has worked with Head Start Program Performance Standards from a service delivery standpoint, as a technical assistance provider, and an advocate for change. He has directly operated programs and assisted agencies in meeting both program and fiscal compliance standard requirements.
Mr. Ramirez received a master's of public administration and a bachelor's of arts, both from Arizona State University.
Finance, Administrative and PMFO Resource Specialist
Sarah Robinson has over 10 years of experience in fiscal and administrative functions, personnel effort allocation and certification, budget review, travel administration, office management, and executive support. Ms. Robinson previously provided direct support to the Institute's Applied Research and Program Evaluation group via account management, financial reporting, budgeting, personnel management, and program support and planning.
Ms. Robinson received her bachelor's of arts in business and advanced legal studies from Bay Path University.
Fiscal, Management and Governance Specialist
Mr. Russell previously gained extensive experience leading and managing early care and education programs including Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care services. He also has experience consulting with early care programs on organizational and leadership applications as a consultant, technical assistance provider, and trainer.
Mr. Russell earned his bachelor's of arts from Springfield College and his master's of arts in early childhood education from Wheelock College. He was also a Head Start/Johnson & Johnson Management Fellow at the University of California, Los Angeles and holds certificates in management and supervision from the University of Maine.
Filiberto Sigala has worked with Head Start programs for the past 27 years in various capacities. Most recently, Mr. Sigala worked with programs in Head Start Region VI, California and Washington, DC assisting programs in reviewing and analyzing their programs and providing direct technical assistance with fiscal compliance issues.
Team Leader, Governance and Program Management
Susan Sponheimer has over three decades of experience in early childhood education including work as a social service coordinator in both child care and Head Start programs. She also served as a Head Start/Early Head Start director and has been providing training and technical assistance for many years.
Ms. Sponheimer received a bachelor's of arts in sociology from Boston College, a masters in social work from Florida State University, and masters in education in early childhood administration from National Louis University.
Program Management, Governance Specialist
As a Head Start director for over 25 years, Karen has used her management skills to expand enrollment, acquire facilities, oversee multiple funding streams, and develop systems to monitor and enhance program services. She has worked extensively with Boards and Policy Councils, providing the training and technical assistance needed for meaningful decision making. Karen has held leadership positions on state and regional boards and has developed partnerships at the local level to strengthen services for children and families.
Karen received a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology from UMass Dartmouth and a master’s in education from Bridgewater State University with a focus on educational leadership.
Program Management Specialist
Donna Veatch is experienced in the field of early childhood education, specifically as a Head Start teacher, family advocate, and education and operations manager. Ms. Veatch has 20 plus years of extensive experience in planning and implementing professional training for the Head Start and the early care and education community. Donna is regionally and nationally known, having served on the National Head Start Association Board of Directors for eight years. Most recently, Ms. Veatch served as executive director for the Region VII and Missouri Head Start Associations. She is a past Head Start federal reviewer, logistical training contractor for Danya International and mentor coach.
Ms. Veatch received her bachelor's of arts, magna cum laude in early childhood and family development from Ottawa University and is currently completing her graduate credential in executive leadership development from Avila University. Ms. Veatch is also a Johnson & Johnson Head Start Management Fellow, University of California, Los Angeles.
Abigail Wendell was previously a graphic designer for the Office of Head Start (OHS) National Center for Cultural and Linguistic Responsiveness. She also previously served as a consultant for the Open Society Foundation designing curriculum manuals for Liberia and Bangladesh. Ms. Wendell has worked for numerous educational and non-profit organizations as a designer including Bank Street College, Dartmouth Medical School, American Breast Cancer Society, and the University of Pennsylvania.
She earned her bachelor's in political science and international studies from Wheaton College and completed further coursework in design and early childhood studies at Keene State College, NH, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, and Bank Street College graduate school.
John R. Williams, II
IST Manager/Governance, Program Management Specialist
John Williams previously worked for Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC) as a Senior Training and Technical Assistance Associate. Mr. Wiliams has also been active in early childhood systems building as a senior consultant with Development Communications Associates, Inc. and as a program director with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
Mr. Williams received a master’s of public administration from the University of Southern California and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.