Skip to main navigation Skip to main content

Early Childhood Advisory Council (ECAC)

Council Members

The 25​ member Early Childhood Advisory Council is broadly representative of the ​ early childhood networks and initiatives across the state. ​Members are appointed to a four-year term and broadly representative of early childhood fields and regions. The chair of the Early Childhood Advisory Council is Rick Hulefeld.

 Christa Bell

Christa Bell

Director, Kentucky Division of Child Care

Christa has been employed by the Department for Community Based Services for the past 20 years. She currently serves as the Director of the Division of Child Care. She has previously served as the Assistant Director of the Division of Protection and Permanency, and has many years of direct practice and administrative experience in child protective services, foster care, adoption and adult protective services. Christa has spearheaded many collaborative initiatives and appreciates opportunities to strengthen relationships with community partners in order to improve services to children and their families. Christa received her Bachelor's degree from the University of Louisville. She obtained her Master of Social Work from the University of Kentucky in 2001. Christa lives in Georgetown with her husband and two sons. She and her husband also have two adult daughters and a grandson.

 Representative Tom Burch

Tom Burch

Kentucky House of Representatives, District 30 in Southeastern Jefferson County

A Jefferson County native, Rep. Tom Burch served in the United States Navy and graduated from Bellarmine College with a degree in business administration. He retired after nearly 40 years with General Electric Corporation. Rep. Burch is married to the former Patty McDevitt. He has five children, six grandchildren and two great-granddaughters. As a devoted family man, he has focused much of his public service career on strengthening government services for families and children across the Commonwealth. Representative Burch was first elected to the Kentucky House of Representatives in 1972 and is currently the longest serving House member. He has served as Chairman of the House Health and Welfare Committee since 1985. He also serves as a member of the Licensing and Occupations Committee, the Seniors, Veterans, Military Affairs, and Public Protection Committee, and the Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources. His early childhood development bill, House Bill 706, has worked to increase children's opportunity for success both in school and in life. Rep. Burch has been active in the Kentucky Welfare Reform Coalition, the National Organization for Women, the Kentucky Domestic Violence Association, the Home of the Innocents, the Lions Foundation, Kosair Children's Hospital, and the Kentucky Organ Donor Council. He is a board member of Brooklawn Youth Services and helped establish Day Spring, a facility for special-needs residents.

 Senator Danny Carroll

Danny Carroll

Kentucky Senate District 2 in Ballard, Carlisle, Marshall and McCracken Counties

Senator Carroll graduated from Marshall County High School in 1981 and completed his education at Murray State University, where he obtained a bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. In 1986, he began his career in law enforcement with the Paducah Police Department. During his 24 years with Paducah, Senator Carroll served as a patrol officer, public relations officer, DARE officer, detective, detective Sergeant, detective Captain, Administrative Captain, and Assistant Chief of police. During his years of service he received several awards; and was selected to the 205th session of the FBI National Academy. Following his retirement from the Paducah Police Department in 2010, he was selected to serve as President/CEO of one of the area's largest non-profit organizations, Easter Seals West Kentucky. Under Senator Carroll's leadership, Easter Seals West Kentucky is now a financially stable and growing organization. In October of this year the organization opened the doors to the region's first Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care (PPEC) center designed to provide medically based child care services to 48 medially fragile children in the District 2 region. Senator Danny Carroll was first elected to the Kentucky State Senate in 2014. At the beginning of the 2015 legislative session, Senator Carroll served on the following committees: Appropriations & Revenue, Education, Health & Welfare, and Judiciary. Senator Carroll has been very involved in the community over the years. His civic group memberships include: Member of the Paducah Lions Club - Served as a Director; Member of the Briensburg Masonic Lodge; Member of the Jackson Purchase Fraternal Order of Police Lodge; Graduate of Leadership Paducah; Member of the Leadership Paducah Alumni Association; Former President of the Child Watch Children's Advocacy Center Board of Directors; Former member of the Paducah/McCracken County Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Council; Former member of the Marshall County Adult Education Council; Former President of the Paducah/McCracken County Drug Education Council; and Former Police Coordinator of West Kentucky Crime Stoppers Board of Directors. Senator Danny Carroll, his wife, Teressa, and two children, Seth (21) and Maggie (14) are life-long residents of the 2nd District of Kentucky. Senator Carroll has devoted his entire adult life to serving others in our region.​

 Barbara Colter

Barbara Colter

Business Owner

Barbara Colter is a business owner in Hyden, McKee and Manchester, Kentucky. Ms. Colter served as an elected State Legislator for Clay, Leslie and Laurel Counties from 1994-2002. She previously worked for the Clay County Board of Education. Ms. Colter has also been a Kindergarten teacher, as well as a Head Start Director. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Cumberland College, a Master of Science in Education from Union College and Rank I Certification in Elementary and Secondary Education from Eastern Kentucky University. Her awards include: Legislator of the Year by the Southern Health Association, Legislator of the Year by the Kentucky State Health Department, Outstanding Legislator by Kentucky Coalition of Nurse Practitioners and Midwives, Educator of the Year by Clay County Jaycees, Kentucky School Media Association Award of Merit, 2000-2001, Kentucky Mental Health Coalition and KY Association of Regional Programs Outstanding Service to Kentuckians with Mental Illness, 2001. Currently, Ms. Colter is President of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, Cumberland Valley Council on Aging, Manchester City Council, President of Clay County/Manchester​ Chamber of Commerce, Republican Local Caucus Committee and the Clay County School Local Planning Committee. However, aside from her many outstanding duties, Barbara Colter is also a family gal. Ms. Colter is married to John Colter and has 3 children, 7 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren.

 Anita Dowd

Anita Dowd

Executive Staff Advisor

Profoundly deaf since childhood is the Executive Staff Advisor at the Kentucky Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Frankfort, KY. Anita Dowd is not only an advocate for the deaf and hard of hearing community in her professional life, but as the mother of two girls who also have a hearing loss, she is extremely passionate about promoting awareness of various deaf and hard of hearing issues in her personal life as well. Though Ms. Dowd has lived with a hearing loss since a young age, it wasn't until she became an adult and had two children with a hearing loss that she truly recognized and understood the diverse issues that deaf and hard of hearing individuals face today. She is passionate about working with families who have deaf and hard of hearing children and is the current president of the Kentucky Chapter of Hands & Voices, a non-profit organization that offers support to families with deaf and hard of hearing children. Anita attended Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. and graduated from Eastern Kentucky University.

 Amy Duvall

Amy Duvall

Business Manager / School Board Member

Amy Clardy Duvall of Bowling Green is a board member for Warren County Public Schools. She has a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Western Kentucky University, and has a long resumé of professional experience and community involvement. Mrs. Duvall works as a business manager for Precision Eye Care, and previously served as Education Director for Huntington Learning Center in Birmingham, Alabama, as well as a Human Resources Specialist at the former TransFinancial Bank. She is actively involved in student ministry at Living Hope Baptist Church, and she and her husband, Robert, have 3 sons (Alexander, William, and Grayson). On the Kentucky Early Childhood Advisory Council, Mrs. Duvall will represent citizens at-large and will serve a four-year term expiring June 30, 2020.

 Dreama Gentry

Dreama Gentry

Executive Director, Partners for Education at Berea College

Dr. ​Dreama Gentry provides leadership and vision to Partners for Education at Berea College. Partners for Education utilizes a place based, student focused approach to improving educational outcomes in Appalachian Kentucky. Through a suite of programs including Gaining Early Awareness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP), Investing in Innovation (i3) and the nation's first rural Promise Neighborhood, Partners for Education leverages more than $24 million annually to provide interventions to 35,000 students and their families. Gentry shamelessly advocates for rural students living in poverty to ensure that the national dialogue around educational success includes the voices of rural students. She was recognized with the Outstanding Alumnus of Kentucky award during the 2013 Governor’s Conference on Postsecondary Education Trusteeship and received the 2012 University of Kentucky College of Law Community Service Award. A first generation college graduate from rural Appalachia, Gentry holds a B.A. in Political Science from Berea College and a Juris Doctor from the University of Kentucky College of Law. She resides in Berea with her husband Hasan Davis and their sons, Malcolm and Christopher.

 Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson

Cabinet for Health & Family Services

Vickie Yates Brown Glisson was appointed Secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services (CHFS) by Governor Matthew G. Bevin on December 9, 2015. An attorney with extensive experience in health care law and finance with special expertise in the privacy, security and technology transfer of health information, Secretary Glisson served as a special assistant to University of Louisville President James Ramsey beginning in 2006 and worked closely with the University of Louisville Foundation and President Ramsey on planning development, building partnerships and securing Tax Increment Finance (TIF) funding for Nucleus: Kentucky's Innovation Center at the University of Louisville. In 2008, Glisson was named President and CEO of Nucleus and oversaw its mission of fostering the growth of innovative research and technology companies in the Louisville area. A nationally recognized health care and health insurance attorney, Glisson served as the co-chair of the Health Law Section of the American Bar Association. She also served as Vice Chair of the Health Enterprises Network and was a member of the editorial board of the BNA Health Law Reporter. She has often written and lectured on health law topics. particularly the Affordable Care Act and the privacy and security of health information. She has delivered numerous national and international presentations and co-authored three publications on health care law and government regulation. Secretary Glisson has held a number of government appointments, including serving as a member of the National Institutes of Health's Advisory Council for the Human Genome Project and the Advisory Council of the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestion and Kidney Disease as part of the National Institutes of Health. She has also served on the board of directors of the UL and Kentucky One Health Cardiovascular Innovation Institute. Secretary Glisson has received a number of honors, including selection in The Best Lawyers of America, Kentucky Super Lawyer and The Guide to the Leading Healthcare Lawyers in America. In 2013, Glisson was named the Woman of Influence by Louisville's Business First magazine. She also received the 2013 Martha Layne Collins Leadership Award for Women Leading Kentucky. Glisson was selected as the Ernst & Young 2013 Supporter of Entrepreneurship for South Central Ohio and Kentucky and was a finalist for Business First's 2013 Business Leader of the Year Award. She also received the 2013 Silver Fleur​ de Lis Award for fostering technology research and innovation from Greater Louisville Inc., the Metro Chamber of Commerce. A Spencer County native, Secretary Glisson is a magna cum laude graduate of Georgetown College and the University of Kentucky College of Law. She resides in Louisville with her husband.

 Paula Goff

Paula Goff

Part C of IDEA Coordinator

A graduate of the University of Kentucky and University of Tennessee, Paula has worked in the field of early childhood education for over 20 years. Her classroom experience includes child care settings and a mental health outpatient preschool program, specializing in the early childhood sections of the Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act. She has worked at the state level developing systems for children Birth-5 with disabilities and their families in Missouri, Louisiana, North Carolina and Kentucky. Paula has also provided technical assistance to over 20 states while working with the National Early Childhood Technical Assistance System. Her college teaching experience includes child development at the University of Missouri and pediatric sections of allied health courses at Louisiana State University. Paula is a member of National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Division for Early Childhood (DEC).

 Tracy Haddix

Tracy Haddix

Tracy has a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Communication Arts from Georgetown College and a Masters in Organizational Communication, with an emphasis in Management, from Murray State University. Tracy is a member of, and the Youth Leader at, Southside Baptist Church in Glasgow and the chair of the Crossroads Pregnancy Center in Glasgow. She is also a member of the Warren County Early Childhood Council and a member of the Regional Training Center Advisory Board. Tracy is a proud supporter (mom) of Little League Football, Softball and Baseball. She is married to Ray Haddix and has two children, Cameron (11) and Rebekah (9).

 Cindy Heine

Cindy Heine

Cynthia J. (Cindy) Heine worked for the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence for 25 years until her retirement in 2014. She served as a volunteer on this citizen’s group, working to improve education in Kentucky, prior to joining the staff as associate executive director. Heine was born and raised in Sturgis, MI and received a Bachelor’s degree in nursing from the University of Michigan in 1969. Prior to her work with the Prichard Committee, she worked at the University of Kentucky Medical Center. She has served on numerous boards and task forces at the school and district level in Fayette County, as a parent volunteer. At the Prichard Committee, she provided information to parents and the public about Kentucky’s standards-based education system and the reforms of 1990 and led the Committee’s Strong Start Kentucky: Quality Pre-K for Every Child campaign. She has served on a number of statewide committees including the Kentucky Teacher Internship Program (KTIP) Task Force, the Master’s Redesign Review Committee for the Education Professional Standards Board and the Commissioner’s Race to the Top Advisory Council. She has served on the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education and was appointed to the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council at its creation. Heine is currently a board member of both the League of Women Voters of Kentucky and League of Women Voters of Lexington, and is involved in numerous community and church activities including serving as chair of its child care committee. She has lived in Kentucky since 1970 and resides with her husband, Richard T. Heine, in Lexington. They have two grown children and three grandchildren.

 Hal Heiner

Hal Heiner

Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary

Secretary Hal Heiner has firsthand experience in bringing jobs to the Commonwealth and keeping jobs in the commonwealth. As a successful businessman with a passion for education and public service, Secretary Heiner has long been focused on shaping civic policy and improving education and career opportunities for all Kentuckians. He now brings that focus to his new role as Secretary of Kentucky's Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, where he oversees the work of educating, preparing and training Kentucky's current and future workforce. Heiner is a longtime Kentucky resident and has been an active community leader. He has served as a vice chair of Greater Louisville, Inc. and in 2002, he was elected to the Louisville Metro Council where he spent eight years focusing on finding efficiencies in services, government transparency and innovative ways for the community to grow and prosper. Secretary Heiner's greatest civic passion has been involvement in numerous educational organizations. These have included serving as founding chairman of Kentuckians Advocating for Reform in Education and Kentucky Charter Schools Association and as chairman of the Christian Academy of Louisville School System. He also served on the Asbury University Board of Trustees, University of Louisville Board of Overseers and Summit Academy Board of Trustees. Currently Secretary Heiner serves on the Metro Leadership Foundation Board, an organization focused on after-school instruction for elementary school children. Secretary Heiner's private sector career began after receiving a master's degree in engineering from the University of Louisville. He then became a partner in a civil engineering firm that worked across Kentucky. His interest in real estate led him to the position of president of the commercial division of a multi-state development company. In 1997, Heiner founded Capstone Realty which has developed more than five million square feet of new office and industrial buildings and helped to attract and keep more than 5,000 jobs in the region. He and his wife, Sheila, reside on a corn and soybean farm in Jefferson County. They ha​ve four grown children.

 Amy Hood Hooten

Amy Hood Hooten

Infant/Toddler & Early Childhood Specialist for Training and Technical Assistance Services at Western Kentucky University

Dr. Amy Hood Hooten is currently the Infant/Toddler & Early Childhood Specialist for Training and Technical Assistance Services at Western Kentucky University. Amy has worked with Head Start and child care since she began her career in 1988. She has an extensive educational background in early childhood development, with a Bachelor of Science in Child Development from Murray State University, a Master's degree in Early Childhood from Western Kentucky University, and her doctorate in Child and Youth Studies from NOVA Southeastern University. Amy currently serves on a variety of local and state committees including the Butler-Edmonson Counties Community Early Childhood Council and the Butler County Family Resource Center’s Advisory Council. In March 2009, Amy was invited to join Governor Beshear’s Early Childhood Task Force. In November 2010, Amy was elected as the third district representative for the Butler County School Board and began her term in January 2011. She is currently an adjunct Professor at WKU teaching early childhood education courses and classes, required for the Associate Degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE), the Bachelors Degree in Child Studies, as well as the Kentucky Director's Credential. Amy lives in Morgantown, KY. She is married to Bobbie J. Hooten Jr. and has one son, Case William, who is five-years-old and started kindergarten this year. As a family they enjoy quality time together and they like to travel.

 Rick Hulefeld

Rick Hulefeld

Executive Director, Children Inc.

Rick holds a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs from Georgetown University, a Master of Arts in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and a Masters in Education from Xavier University. He has studied at the University of Madrid and was an exchange student in Peru. Along with his wife he began Children, Inc. in 1979. He has served as Children, Inc.’s executive director since its beginning. Over the past three years Rick has built the Children, Inc. Service Learning Project to 25,000 participants. Rick and his wife, Mary, have reared their five children in an inner city Covington neighborhood.

 Jennifer Miller

Jennifer Miller

Director, Head Start Collaboration Office

Jennifer facilitates collaboration between Kentucky’s 32 Head Start grantees and State and local partners. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Morehead State University and her Master’s degree in Education from Georgetown College. Most recently, Jennifer was the Regional Program Manager for the Office of Employment & Training. Previously, she worked for seven years with the Department of Education where she was the State Future Educator’s Association coordinator. A former kindergarten teacher and principal of a private Christian school for seven years, Jennifer is passionate about building relationships with community partners and advocating for children. Jennifer is a native to Franklin County and resides with her husband Chad and her two children Brayden(15) and Braxten (​8).

 Tamra Parker

Tamra Parker

Director of Special Education and Preschool​

Tamra Parker graduated fro Murray State University (MSU) in 1998 with a BS in Agriculture and then fell in love with education while substituting one winter during a lay-off from a seasonal job. Through an alternative route to education, Ms. Parker obtained her MS and teaching certificate for teaching students with learning and behavior disorders. She began her teaching career for Fulton County Schools in 2003 where she taught 6 years as a high school special education teacher while working towards a Rank 1 in School Counseling. When a position became available in 2009 at the elementary level, she began that endeavor. After adopting 3 children in 2013, Ms. Parker took a leave of absence, but helped the district with special education reports and legal paperwork for the school system for the next two years. Finally, Ms. Parker finished the coursework for Director of Special Education in the summer of 2016 and is currently serving in that role as well as Director of Preschool. Ms. Parker stated, "I have never been happier in education than I am now working with special education and preschool." Outside of school, she is an active member of West Hickman Baptist Church where she has fun serving in the nursery on Sunday mornings and taking singles and widows on occasional outings throughout the year. Her heart is heavily burdened for the unborn pregnant teenagers and infants. Ms. Parker serves on the board of directors with Hope Center, a crisis pregnancy center and much more, based in Mayfield, KY. Her professional memberships include: The Council for Exceptional Children. Ms. Parker is married to Lt. Chad Parker (KDFWR). Together, they enjoy a very active life with their 6 children.

 Stephen L. Pruitt

Stephen L. Pruitt

Commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education

Commissioner Pruitt started his education career as a high school chemistry teacher in Fayetteville and Tyron, Georgia. He later served as the science and mathematics program manager and director of academic standards with the Georgia Department of Education. Subsequently, he was named associate state superintendent for assessment and accountability and ultimately chief of staff for the Georgia Department of Education. Most recently, Commissioner Pruitt served as senior vice president for Achieve, Inc., a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization based in Washington, D.C. During his tenure with Achieve, he coordinated the development of the Next Generation Science Standards. Commissioner Pruitt also served as president of the Council of State Science Supervisors and a member of the writing team for the College Board Standards for College Success (Science). In addition, he served on the National Academies of Science committee on Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards which developed the Framework for K-12 Science Education - a Foundational document for the Next Generation Science Standards. A native of Georgia, Commissioner Pruitt holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from North Georgia College and State University, a master's degree in science education from the University of West Georgia and a Doctorate of Philosophy in chemistry education from Auburn University.

 Brigitte Blom Ramsey

Brigitte Blom Ramsey

Executive Director, Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence

Brigitte Ramsey, of Pendleton County, holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Kentucky and undergraduate degrees in economics and international studies from Northern Kentucky University. She served on the Pendleton County Board of Education for ten years before accepting an appointment to the Kentucky Board of Education in 2008, serving there for six years, until 2014. Brigitte has worked in various research and advocacy capacities focusing on the importance of investments in education and supports for low-income families; including Northern Kentucky University, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, the University of Cincinnati, Kentucky Youth Advocates and United Way of Greater Cincinnati. Brigitte is the chair of the ECAC Data Workgroup.

 Nicki Patton Rowe

Nicki Patton Rowe

Early Childhood Consultant/Trainer, Simpson County Regional Training Center

Nicki graduated from the University of Kentucky with a BA in Vocational Home Economics and a Masters in Family Studies with an emphasis in early childhood. She later completed over 50 post-graduate hours in a doctoral program focusing on adult education and staff training at the University of New Orleans. Nicki’s professional memberships include: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), and American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). She chaired Governor Patton’s Early Childhood Task Force and the Early Childhood Professional Development Council. She is a Kentucky credentialed Early Childhood Trainer and one of five Kentucky Master Trainers. Nicki is married to Barry J. Rowe and has three step-sons, Ben, John and Adam Rowe.

 Rita Williams

Rita Williams

Owner RE Williams, Inc.

Rita Williams attended the University of Kentucky 3 years and the Univerisy of Louisville 1 year School of Banking. Ms. Williams has held the following positions: Director/Treasurer Lincoln Museum; Former President of Hodgenville Rotary; Former President and Executive Director of LaRue County Chamber of Commerce; Treasurer LaRue County Cooperative Extension District; Past Chair/current Secretary LaRue County Literacy Adult Education Council; Chairperson Living Well in LaRue County; Board member and Member of the CIT and Chair of Small Business Campaign 2015 United Way; Member of LaRue County Board of Adjustments; Director of Music/Organist and Board chair of Hodgenville Christian Church. Ms. Williams is retired and resides in Hodgenville, Kentucky.

 Amy Wooldridge

Amy Wooldridge

IECE Preschool Teacher

Amy Wooldridge is a 1989 Graduate of Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in Child and Family Studies. She received her IECE Certification and Graduate degree from EKU in 2007. Ms. Wooldridge worked as a private contractor for Kentucky's First Steps program from 1997-2006 as an Early Interventionist. During that time,1997-2006, she was a member of the Lake Cumberland District Early Interventi​on Committee and is now a current member of the Pulaski County Community Early Childhood Council. Ms. Wooldridge is an active member of Ferguson Baptist Church in Pulaski County. She enjoys teaching a middle school Sunday School Class, leading music for the AWANA children's ministry, and singing in the choir.

 Rachel Yarbrough

Rachel Yarbrough

Superintendent, Webster County Schools

Dr. Rachel Yarbrough is a proud graduate of Webster County High School and is in her second year as the Superintendent of Webster County Schools. Her twenty-seven year professional career path has included middle school language arts/social studies teacher, guidance counselor at Sebree and Slaughters Elementary Schools, K-8 principal of Sebree Elementary, Assistant Superintendent of Webster County Schools, and Superintendent of Crittenden County Schools (6 years). Dr. Yarbrough serves as vice-president of the Kentucky Association of School Superintendents, chairperson for the Western Kentucky Educational Cooperative, member of the Governor's Early Childhood Task Force, representative of the Kentucky Department of Education's Superintendent Advisory Panel, and a four year member of the New Kentucky Superintendent Mentor Cadre. She is excited about the great possibilities happening right now in Webster County on behalf of all students!