Thirty-Nine States Represented at Fourth Annual Early Childhood Leadership Summit

September 23, 2021

Cary, NC – On Thursday, September 23, The Hunt Institute hosts its fourth annual Early Childhood Leadership Summit virtually. Gubernatorial staff, state lawmakers, and key early childhood leaders join to discuss the most pressing issues facing early childhood education.

The Hunt Institute has a long history of working in the early childhood space – the organization’s namesake, Governor Jim Hunt, has been a long-time advocate for early childhood education. His Smart Start program received the prestigious Innovations in American Government Award from the Ford Foundation and the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

The Hunt Institute takes a prenatal to five approach to early learning, noting that these years are the most crucial in brain development. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, during a child’s earliest years, more than one million neural connections form every second.

“As we see more evidence illustrating the necessity of early learning, we have seen more states show up to our convening,” said The Hunt Institute President and CEO Dr. Javaid Siddiqi. “We began in 2018 with policymakers from just eight states. Last year, 27 states were represented, and this year, we are thrilled to see 39 state teams. It’s not just about showing up though, we hope to see all attendees walk away ready to invest in our youngest learners, and in their futures.”

Elected officials and state system leaders within these 39 state teams will hear about cutting edge research and public policy efforts to better support young children and their families. Resources experts include:

  • The Honorable Bethany Hall-Long, Lieutenant Governor of Delaware  (2017- Present)
  • Mrs. Pamela Northam, First Lady of Virginia (2018-Present)
  • The Honorable  James H.  Douglas, Governor  of  Vermont (2003-2011)
  • The Honorable Juliana Stratton, Lieutenant Governor  of  Illinois  (2019 – Present)
  • Samantha Aigner-Treworgy, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department  of Early Childhood  Education and Care
  • Dr. Leah Austin, President  & CEO, National Black Child Development Institute
  • Jack Brennan,  Former CEO and Chairman Emeritus, The Vanguard Group
  • Alyssa  Chatterjee, Director, Oregon Early Learning Division
  • Gerry Cobb, Director, Pritzker Children’s Initiative
  • Tonya Coston, Deputy  Assistant Commissioner for Early Childhood Education, New Jersey Department of Education
  • Dr.  Stephanie Curenton, Associate  Professor,  Boston  University  Wheelock College of Education & Human Development; Director, Center for the Ecology of Early Childhood Development (CEED)
  • Dr. Phil Fisher, Philip H. Knight Chair and Professor of Psychology, University of Oregon
  • Barry Ford, President & CEO, Council for a Strong America
  • Dr.  Lynette Fraga, CEO, Child Care Aware of America
  • Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, Associate Secretary for Early Childhood, Delaware Department of Education  Office of Early Learning
  • Ellen Galinsky, Chief Science Officer, Bezos Family Foundation
  • Chris Jones, Director, North Dakota Department of Human Services
  • Dr. Nonie Lesaux, Co-Director, Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative at Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Dr. Michael Lopez, Vice President of Education and Child Development Department at the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), University of Chicago
  • Dr. Geoff Nagle, Chief of External Impact, Clayton Early Learning; Former President & CEO, The Erikson Institute
  • Rachel Schumacher, Senior Early Childhood Advisor, The Hunt Institute
  • Dr. Jack Shonkoff, Director, Harvard Center on the Developing Child
  • Katie Wehr, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Megan Wyatt, Managing Director, Bezos Family Foundation

Conversations with resource experts will explore state systems, the impact of COVID-19 on child care and how federal funding can provide some relief, positive racial-ethnic identity formation, achievement gaps, and more.




About The Hunt Institute

An affiliate of the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, The Hunt Institute is a recognized leader in the movement to transform public education. Marshaling expertise from a nationwide partner network since its establishment in 2001, The Institute brings together people and resources that help build and nurture visionary leadership, and mobilize strategic action for greater educational outcomes and student success. For more information, please visit:

Share This