About us

CO-FOUNDERS

Neva Bandelow’s career in early care and education has spanned over 30 years as an educator and administrator. She is a fierce advocate for young children and their families, teachers, and educational systems change. Neva serves as adjunct faculty at local community colleges where she teaches early education students on topics focused on social justice, anti-bias analysis of curriculum, educational standards and assessment, and teaching practice. Neva is passionate in raising equity issues and is honored to be a graduate from Build’s Equity Leaders Action Network, a national fellowship. She holds degrees in liberal studies, early childhood education, and human and community services, and a Master of Arts degree in 21st Century Leadership.


Brooke Giesen is currently the Director of a small, intentionally socio-economically diverse preschool. In its 12th year, the preschool prides itself on its anti-racist and social justice work with both children and families, along with being a dynamic inquiry learning based, high quality program. Family engagement and development, along with building community is one of her strengths. Brooke is also really passionate about helping Families guide all children to develop a healthy and anti-racist racial identity. She holds a BA in Women’s Studies and has been a Teacher and Administrator in ECE for 19 years. She is a Board member of Early Care Educators of San Francisco (ECE SF) and served as a Mentor for the Equity Leadership Fellowship. She is also a member of the Equity Leadership Project and has facilitated trainings for BANDTEC and First 5 SF.


Tuwe Mehn has twelve years of Early Childhood Education experience spanning from her work with Head Start and the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). She is a current OUSD Early Childhood Educator who is an advocate and a liaison for children, families, and teachers. She serves as the Early Childhood Education Caucus Chair for the Oakland Education Association (OEA), representing preschool teachers at OUSD Labor-Management meetings, OEA Executive Board, and OEA Finance Committee. Ms. Mehn has over fifteen years of nonprofit work background ranging from her work with United Nimba County Citizen Council (UNICCO), where she worked in other capacities of the organization before serving as the President for the California chapter and as the Education Committee Co-Chair for UNICCO, National. Her nonprofit involvement also includes serving as a Board Member on the Center for African Peace and Conflict Resolution (CAPCR). She is the Founder and President for the Foundation for African Children Education and Health Services (FACEHS) organization that serves as a liaison for resources, education, and health services for children in Africa. As an entrepreneur, she established, owned, and operated a limited liability company. She has her MSBA in International Finance from California State University, Stanislaus, and is currently carrying out her research study to complete her candidacy for the Doctorate in Educational Leadership for Social Justice at California State University, East Bay.


Carol Barton, MPA- Continuing to learn and grow from studies, professional development, and reflective practice, Carol’s current role as ECE Project Coordinator of county-wide quality improvement programs is informed by years of rich, varied experience at many levels in the field of early care and education. An Adjunct Instructor in Early Child Development at Chabot College, she owned a small private childcare program in Oakland and was the Director of the Child Development Program (State, Head Start, Special Ed, feebased) for Alameda Unified School District. Past Mentor Director for the California Enhanced Mentor Project, Parent Educator and Consultant, Chair of the Alameda County Local Planning Council, and trainer with the Program for Infant Toddler Caregivers (PITC), these days she represents a county agency in the North Bay Regional HUB and Teaching Pyramid Statewide Leadership Team. Carol is most proud her work to prioritize Anti-Bias practices by providing yearly, extensive professional growth workshop series in Anti-Bias in Early Childhood. Participants are ECE practitioners who focus on Anti-Racism, Inclusive Practices, Gender Diversity, Dual Language Learners, Trauma Informed Practices, Class, Immigration, White Privilege, and Social Emotional Development, with a growing understanding of the intersections we witness daily. In addition, she wholeheartedly encourages and supports joyful practices with the ECE community who study Movement, Dance and Development, always through an equity lens. She led the work to sponsor a 2019 Teacher Voices SEQUAL Study, highlighting and documenting the equity challenges before our field. Carol is honored to be a partner in the CLEREL mission, journey and community, and believes that effective, equity-based Leadership in Early Care and Education is imperative for the well-being of children, their children and our society in the years to come.


Soodie Ansari is the Early Learning Dual Language Support Coordinator at San Mateo County Office of Education (SMCOE). For almost two decades, she has developed tools, professional development and peer learning opportunities to introduce, expand, and challenge early learning professionals’ thinking about DLL (dual language learner) and family engagement practices and program-wide policies. Soodie has over sixteen years of experience in leading SMCOE’s Early Childhood Language Development Institute from an idea to a successful capacity building model for early learning administrators and teaching teams, family engagement practitioners, and families of DLL children. Through the Institute’s offerings, Soodie and her team support capacity building in cultivating culturally and linguistically relevant early learning experiences and environments for every child. She continues to passionately advocate for equitable DLL and family engagement practices and program-wide policies at statewide and local Committees. Her work experience spans from Child Care Resource & Referral agencies and a Neighborhood House in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Program Director at the Perinatal Council in Oakland and an adjunct instructor at the San Mateo County Community College District, to a proud fellow in the inaugural nationwide early learning ELAN (Equity Leaders Action Network) from 2015-2018. Soodie holds a Master's Degree in Child Development from UC Davis. She is bilingual and bicultural, originally from Iran.


Angela Cabrera is currently working as the ECE Quality Manager, at the County of Alameda Early Care and Education Program. Her primary responsibilities are to support state funded preschools in their path to quality, to help shape the work around Dual Language Learners and to support mapping a strong workforce development system in Alameda County. With over fifteen years of experience working in Child Development and Early Childhood Education, Angela has been a first grade, K-4, and K-5 teacher, a Licensed Kindermusik® Business Owner, an Inclusion Specialist, and a Resource and Referral Program Manager. Angela holds a B.A in Psychology from Saint Thomas University in Bogota, Colombia and a Masters in Educational Leadership from Mills College.

Neva Bandelow

Brooke Giesen

Tuwe Mehn

Carol Barton, MPA

Angela Cabrera M.A

Soodie Ansari

OUR BOARD


Madonna Stancil

Jessica Avendano

Dr. Yar Donlah Gonway-Gono

Dr. Aneela Amer

Patricia Flores

Matt White

Dr. Sherri Killins

Dr. G.