Movers & Makers asked organizations involved in early childhood education to introduce their notables to our readers, part of a regular feature highlighting people making a difference in Greater Cincinnati’s nonprofit community.
Terri Betts leads effort to ensure kids are ready for kindergarten
Terri Betts joined United Way of Greater Cincinnati in late 2022 as senior manager of Success By 6. A results-driven leader with more than 20 years of management and operational experience, she leads United Way’s collaborative efforts to ensure all children from birth to age 6 are healthy and ready to succeed by the time they start kindergarten. Betts focuses on research, data and policies while building strong relationships with parents/caregivers, schools and community partners, including libraries, faith-based organizations and businesses. She is a strong supporter of preschool and kindergarten teachers. Betts previously was quality program specialist at 4C for Children and director of Early Childhood Services at Lighthouse Youth and Family Services. When she’s not working, Betts enjoys traveling, concerts and comedy shows. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and Les Birdies Golf Club Inc., which introduces African American women and girls to the sport.
Catrena Bowman expands programs for NKY families
Catrena Bowman, executive director of the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission, has worked in the Community Action Network for over 22 years. During that time, she has worked in early childhood education through the Head Start programs in Lexington and in Northern Kentucky. Bowman has worked in the classroom, working directly with the children and parents for Head Start, helping them to create comprehensive plans and ensuring they followed the plans. She has also served in leadership roles in the Head Start program, ensuring program compliance, creating programming, collaborating with local businesses, conducting community forums, conducting neighborhood assessments, developing annual outcome-based community plans, staffing an advisory council and a parent committee, and making sure that best practices ensured that Head Start children received the best education possible. As executive director at NKCAC, she has led the organization to a 100% budget increase, expanding programs for families and children.
With experience and creativity, Carolyn Brinkmann brings help
Carolyn Brinkmann, vice president of CoStars Early Childhood Services at Best Point Education & Behavioral Health, is an innovative program director with over 30 years of nonprofit leadership and clinical experience. Under her strong and flexible management style, 2,500 children and their families annually work to achieve optimal development, readying children for school, and positioning parents to meet ever-changing family needs. Her career includes serving two years as chair, vice-chair and member of the Joining Forces for Children Steering Committee and member and acting director of Consortium for Resilient Young Children, leading the Resilient Children and Families Program. With a Master’s degree in art therapy, Brinkmann has an art studio and loves to paint, draw and create beauty. She brings her creative spirit into her work and loves to innovate and help others step into their full light.
Brinkmann enjoys spending time with friends and family – especially her nieces and nephews. She loves being outdoors – sporting events, concerts, hiking, bicycling or being on the beach.
Dellisa Ford Edwards stands up for early childhood programs
Dellisa Ford Edwards has been a champion of early childhood education throughout her 26-year career at Brighton Center, where she is family and child development director. During her tenure, she has led two home visitation programs (Every Child Succeeds and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) and two early childhood education centers (Bright Days Child Development Center and Early Scholars Child Development Center), ensuring our youngest learners are ready when they enter kindergarten. Edwards passionately leads educators who ensure learning that narrows social, economic, and racial inequality.
She loves spending time with her family; traveling, exploring, and learning the history, culture, and languages of different places. She loves broadening and exposing her two children to new experiences. Her voice is also heard as she leads the Saint Martin De Porres Choir and sings in the Kent State Gospel Choir, the University of Cincinnati’s African American Culture and Research Center Choir, and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center Choir, which led to her performance in a “Lion King” production.
Jennifer Frey helps little children through key time for young brains
Jennifer R. Frey, president of Every Child Succeeds, is most notable for her tireless work to ensure an optimal start for children. Addressing the critical period of brain development, ages 0-3, ECS is based on the principle that parents are their children’s first and best teachers. ECS equips 2,000 low-income pregnant women and new parents each year with the educational tools and information needed to succeed in school and life. The program also connects families to community services, linking them to quality preschool when they graduate from ECS. During her first 2½ years at the helm, Frey led ECS through the global pandemic and launched its first strategic planning process. She has championed trauma-informed care, community partnerships, and cultural responsiveness as keys to ensuring children have an optimized path for reaching their potential. When not working, Jennifer enjoys playing with her 3-year-old son.
Renee Daniel supports growth, ensures quality of many programs
Renee Daniel is vice president of early childhood education for the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Head Start Program. She is passionate about her work with families of young children and supporting the growth and development of children from birth to 5 years old. Her greatest impact in the Early Childhood field has been ensuring the quality of the Head Start program and supporting the growth of early childhood education in our community. The wonderful thing about Daniel is that she understands that this work cannot be done in isolation, it takes a village and she is intentional about building relationships in the community that will make a positive, long-lasting impact on our children and families.
Her favorite thing to do is make quilts. Daniel is a mother of three adult children. Two were married in the last year and she cannot wait to be a glam-ma.
Karen Patrick went from JCC camper to early childhood teacher
Karen Patrick, a teacher at the Mayerson JCC Early Childhood School, has been at the ECS for four years but has been affiliated with the J for much longer. Karen began her journey at the JCC when she was 10 years old as a camper at the J. She transitioned to a camp counselor and worked in this role for eight years. Karen is a kind, loving and caring teacher who focuses on creating a high-quality learning environment while creating strong bonds with each of the children in her classroom. When Karen is not teaching in the classroom, you can find her spending time with her dog, enjoying a good meal, and connecting with her friends. Karen is celebrating her five-year anniversary as a volunteer at the Crisis Text Hotline.
Katrina Proud’s dedication creates supportive places for children
Katrina Proud is director of children’s services at Easterseals Redwood. Her dedication and passion for providing exceptional education and service to children are unparalleled. Throughout her remarkable 23-year career there, Proud has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to children with significant medical needs, developmental/intellectual disabilities, and typically developing children in integrated classrooms. Her expertise in creating inclusive and supportive environments has resulted in her program being awarded the highest rating of five stars in the STARs program. Proud will soon be expanding her program to Boone County. She has the ability to manage complex initiatives, build collaborative relationships, and drive positive outcomes. She will continue to excel in her career and positively impact the lives of countless children and families.
Jaime Mutter is advocate and educator in improving early childhood outcomes
Jaime Mutter is a prominent figure in Cincinnati’s early childhood education sector. With over 22 years of experience in education and nonprofits, she has served 15 years at Santa Maria Community Services. Mutter began as a home visitor for the Promoting Our Preschoolers program and became a program supervisor in 2014. Her outstanding contributions led to her appointment as Every Child Succeeds director in 2021 and early childhood program director in 2023. Alongside teaching elementary education and preschool, she also instructed English composition and literature at Brown Mackie College. Mutter’s expertise encompasses family advocacy, education, early childhood development, school readiness, and leadership. Her exemplary leadership qualities and dedication make her an influential figure in the early childhood education sector. Mutter, mom of two and stepmom of one, likes to travel and affectionately refers to her minivan as The Muttership!
Pandemic didn’t stop Sandra Woodall from opening new agency in NKY
Few individuals would found a nonprofit agency during a global pandemic, yet that is exactly what Sandra Woodall, executive director and CEO of the Early Childhood Learning Education Assessment Resource Network, did in Northern Kentucky. EC LEARN launched in June 2020 as a manifestation of her belief that quality early childhood experiences build the foundation for success in school and life. Woodall leads her team to inspire families, early childhood professionals, and community leaders to prioritize early childhood experiences. With her appointed seat on the Kentucky Child Care Advisory Council, Woodall advocates for issues influencing early childhood experiences. Established as the local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, Woodall secured a $375,000 state contract in 2021 to increase access to family child care. Woodall loves spending time with her husband, John, her two sons, five grandchildren and friends. She enjoys camping and finding treasures in her thrifting adventures.
Patti Gleason involved in range of early-childhood initiatives
Prior to becoming chief program officer of Learning Grove, Patti Gleason was the CEO of Cincinnati Early Learning Centers. Over her 30 years at CELC, she grew the program from one site to eight and added outside services, offering parent engagement and coaching to community programs. Gleason has been at the table for nearly every community initiative in our region, serving on the planning committees of many, including Success by 6, Cincinnati Preschool Promise, the Homeless Solutions Early Childhood Committee and the Consortium for Resilient Young Children. She has also represented our region at the state level on many occasions. Gleason is on the CPP cost of quality groundwork advisory committee, and the Ohio Job and Family Services’ early childhood task force. Gleason’s contributions to the field of early childhood education have been recognized by 4C for Children and the Ohio Association for the Education of Young Children. Patti enjoys entertaining and watching British mysteries.