List of Members

Dr. Ralph Marino, Jr.

Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools - School Superintendent
Dr. Ralph Marino is the Superintendent of Hewlett-Woodmere Public Schools, a District comprised of approximately 3,100 students. Dr. Marino's background in education spans nearly 24 years. He has served as Superintendent of both Horseheads and Hunter-Tannersville School Districts. In addition, Dr. Marino served as the Middle and High School Principal at Hunter-Tannsersville, as well as the Middle School Assistant Principal at the Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk School District. He also has classroom teaching experience. Currently, Dr. Marino serves on the Governing Board of the American Association of School Administrators. He also is an active member of the National Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and the New York State Association of School Business Officials.

Lisa Mars

CA Technologies
CA Technologies has offered childcare to employees since 1992. These programs are fully-accredited Montessori Children's Centers located in Islandia as well as several other sites in the United States, the United Kingdom Australia and Hyderabad, India. Young school children around the world accompany their mothers and fathers to CA Technologies offices and it is the only corporation to have onsite Montessori programs that simultaneously are recognized by the Association Montessori International and accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Barbara-Ann Mattle

Child Care Council, Inc. - Chief Executive Officer
Barbara-Ann Mattle is the CEO of Child Care Council, Inc., a Child Care Resource and Referral service for Monroe, Wayne and Livingston Counties. The agency provides direct and supportive services to parents seeking out-of-home care for young children; educational programs for child care providers, parents, and the community, and CACFP administration. She also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Early Care and Learning Council, and is an appointed member of the National Association for Family Child Care Accreditation Council and U.S. Senator Kristin Gilibrand’s Children’s Health Committee.

Jim McGuirk, Ph.D.

Astor Services for Children & Families - Executive Director and CEO
Jim McGuirk, Ph.D., is the Executive Director and CEO for Astor Services for Children & Families. Astor provides early childhood and behavioral health services to over 6,000 children annually in the Hudson Valley and the Bronx. In addition, Dr. McGuirk serves as President of the Board of Trustees of The Children’s Foundation of Astor.

Janice M. Molnar, Ph.D.

New York State Office of Children and Family Services - Deputy Commissioner, Division of Child Care Services
Janice M. Molnar, Ph.D. is Deputy Commissioner of the Division of Child Care Services in the New York State Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS), providing oversight and monitoring of more than 21,000 regulated child care providers and another 47,000 legally-exempt providers in New York State. Trained as a developmental psychologist, her 30-year career includes work in the public and non-profit sectors, concentrating on program and policy issues affecting children, youth, and families.

Jenn O'Connor

Prevent Child Abuse New York - Director of Policy and Advocacy
Jenn O’Connor is the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Prevent Child Abuse New York, where she focuses on impacting the root causes of abuse through policy change, thereby strengthening families and the systems that serve them. She also co-chairs Winning Beginning NY and sits on several nonprofit boards. Over the last two decades, Jenn has acquired expertise in maternal and child health, mental health, and early learning. From championing the expansion of health insurance coverage at the National Conference of Insurance Legislators; to creating the mental health program at the National Governors Association; to advocating for a comprehensive home visiting system at the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy; to leveraging the voices of law enforcement, business, and retired military leaders as NYS Director of Council for a Strong America; she has demonstrated her effectiveness in affecting policy change. Jenn has served as staff for both the Senate Majority (Republican) and the Assembly Majority (Democrat). She has a degree in Creative Writing Arts and a minor in Sociology, as well as a certificate in non-profit management and leadership from Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy. Last but certainly not least Jenn is the former (but still active!) foster parent of a teenage girl and pet parent to Zelda.

Tina Rose-Turriglio

New York State Education Department - Project Coordinator for the Federal Preschool Development Expansion Grant
Tina Rose-Turriglio is a Project Coordinator for the federal Preschool Development Expansion Grant at the New York State Education Department. Prior to working at NYSED , she worked as a trainer for the Capital District Child Care Council. Additionally, she has worked at Head Start as an Education Coordinator and Director and has taught courses in teacher education at the College of St. Rose, Schenectady County Community College and the Community College of Vermont in Bennington. She has an ED in Early Childhood Education from Northcentral University in Arizona.

Carol Saginaw

Center for Children’s Initiatives - Chair‎
Carol Saginaw retired from the Early Care & Learning Council (ECLC), in 2010 after nine years as Executive Director. In her tenure, ECLC initiated what has become New York’s quality rating system, QUALITYstarsNY. Carol served as the first Executive Director for the Alliance for the Mentally Ill of New York State (NAMI NYS), and served as Assistant Director in the Bureau of Forensics Services, New York State Office of Mental Health. She is a founder and co-convener of Winning Beginning NY and served on Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board under Governors Spitzer and Patterson. She currently serves as Board Chair of the Center for Children’s Initiatives in New York City.

Mary A. Shaheen

United Way of New York State - Vice President
Mary A. Shaheen is Vice President of United Way of New York State, serving 40 local United Ways statewide. She first joined UWNYS as Director of the Early Childhood Investment Fund, a state-wide public/private partnership aimed at finding local solutions to early childhood priorities. She chaired the committee that developed criteria for 2-1-1 designated regional call centers and continues to serve on the 2-1-1 New York’s Application Review and Oversight Committee. She is also a member of the Leadership Group for New York State Partners for Children, the USNY Early Childhood Cabinet and OASAS’ State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup. Prior to joining UWNYS, Ms. Shaheen worked for 10 years in local youth programs and as staff member to Assembly Majority Leader James Tallon.

Beth Starks

Teacher Education program at Jamestown Community College - Assistant Professor and the Early Childhood Education Coordinator
Founder and Executive Director of Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center
Beth Starks is an Assistant Professor and the Early Childhood Education Coordinator on the faculty in the Teacher Education program at Jamestown Community College, Founder and Executive Director of Chautauqua Lake Child Care Center, and a Level 3 NYS Early Learning Credentialed Trainer. She recently received Child Care Exchange magazine's Exceptional Emerging Leader award. Beth has her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education with an Early Childhood Annotation and her Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Beth has many years of experience with young children and their families in the public school, in-home child care and center-based child care. She also has over 10 years of experience facilitating professional development for providers, teachers and pre-service educators. Beth also spends time consulting and serves on many local boards, coalitions and committees, including the NYAEYC board, the Winning Beginning steering committee, and the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council. Beth lives in Mayville, NY with her husband and 3 children (Ethan - 14, Aiden - 10, & Ella - 5).

Lauri Strano

Children's Institute - Director of Programs
As the Director of Programs and Services at Children’s Institute, Lauri Strano manages large-scale community-wide collaborations and assessment systems serving young children and youth. Her experience includes working with providers, parents, and policymakers in the context of local, state, and federally funded grants and initiatives. She holds BS degrees from University of Rochester in Psychology and Political Science, and an MS in Elementary Education and NYS certification with specialization in early childhood from Nazareth College. Lauri also has fifteen years of experience in early childhood development programs as an administrator, teacher, and caregiver.

Vanessa Threatte

State University of New York Charter Schools Institute - Executive Deputy Director for Best Practices and Partnerships
Vanessa Threatte serves as Executive Deputy Director for Best Practices and Partnerships at the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute. Ms. Threatte is responsible for highlighting effective models of practice through the documentation and dissemination of existing and/or new evidence-based practices, research, and innovations from the SUNY portfolio of charter schools. Additionally, she is responsible for identifying and maintaining strategic partnerships that support the exchange of good practice and further the effectiveness of the Institute. Ms. Threatte previously served as the Executive Director of the NYS Cradle to Career (C2C) Alliance, a SUNY effort focused on strengthening New York’s education pipeline by improving outcomes for students from birth, through college, and to career. She brings to the Institute her leadership and education experience helping to found a charter school, and her work as a classroom teacher, administrator, and principal, where she worked to ensure the quality of educational experiences for high-risk, high-need, urban populations. Additionally, Ms. Threatte brings her understanding of social, emotional, and mental health needs from her clinical training as an art therapist and her work with children and adults with a variety of special needs. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Dartmouth College, a Master of Arts in Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and dual Master of Science degrees in both Special Education and Literacy from the University at Albany.

Todd Tranum

Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce - President/CEO
Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier
Todd Tranum serves as President/CEO of the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and Executive Director of the Manufacturers Association of the Southern Tier. In addition Mr. Tranum serves as President/CEO of Dream It Do It Western New York (DIDIWNY) and President of a for profit insurance brokerage company, Chautauqua Benefit Specialists (CBS). During his tenure with the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce and the Manufacturers Association, Todd has provided leadership and championed innovative solutions to the challenges faced by businesses in Western New York. In an effort to align resources and expand the capabilities of the Chautauqua County learning system, Todd is part of a team that launched the Chautauqua County Education Coalition. The Coalition has united over 60 stakeholder organizations including business, primary, secondary and post-secondary education and a variety of not for profits in Chautauqua County with a focus on enhancing Chautauqua County’s learning system.

Patricia Uttaro

Director of the Rochester Public Library and Monroe County Library System
Patricia Uttaro is the Director of the Rochester Public Library and Monroe County Library System. Ms. Uttaro's current work is focused on early learning and literacy. In addition to teaching reading, she works with young families on parenting skills. Ms. Uttaro, a passionate reader herself, believes that the ability to read is the most important skill needed to live a productive, successful life.

Lorelei A. Vargas

Deputy Commissioner for Early Care and Education - Administration for Children's Services
New York City
Lorelei A. Vargas serves as the Deputy Commissioner for Early Care and Education with New York City's Administration for Children's Services. In this role, Lorelei is responsible for administering all aspects of the city's publicly-funded early and education system, which serves the needs of close to 110,000 children with a $1.1 billion annual budget. Lorelei has over two decades of professional experience working in the non-profit sector with a focus on improving education and helping to strengthen the lives of children and families.

Dixie Yonkers

NYS OPWDD - Director of Advocacy Services
As Director of Advocacy Services for NYS OPWDD, Dixie assists individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families to obtain the supports and services they need to pursue their greatest independence and fulfill their personal goals and ambitions. She is also the parent of a young adult child who received Early Intervention services, Special Education services and currently receives services from OPWDD. Over the past 12 years, Dixie has held several positions with OPWDD, including within the agency’s Division of Person-Centered Supports and Division of Service Delivery.