April 13, 2:15 – 3:15 p.m. Afternoon Breakout Session

Session Description

Jennifer Myers of Monroe Smart Start, an early learning initiative, will share strategies and tools for building an early learning coalition in your community. A panel of coalition leaders from Uplands communities will highlight innovative efforts to increase access, quality, and engagement in local communities. Information on upcoming opportunities to expand access to care will be shared, as well as information on employer efforts to help offset childcare costs.

Who should attend: Educators, parents, community leaders, employers, government officials, healthcare providers, and others

Session Presenters

Jennifer Myers has over a decade of experience as the director of Monroe Smart Start, a leadership initiative of the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, increasing access to high quality education and recently launching a shared services hub. She works alongside early childhood educators, advocates, and business/non-profit leaders who are catalysts for change and true inspiration. Advocacy and education are immeasurably important to her. Parenting a child with Autism has shaped her perspectives, advanced advocacy skills, and forged paths that have proven advantageous. She is extremely grateful for the opportunity to connect caring people to causes that strengthen the community and allow children and their families to thrive. 

Amanda Lopez, Transform Consulting Group.

For over twenty years, organizations have hired Amanda for transformational projects that include program expansion strategies, organizational alignment, strategic planning, program feasibility studies, fundraising strategies, and bringing together community leaders and individuals to drive meaningful and intentional change and outcomes for all.

Amanda Lopez took the leap in 2008 to move from a top practitioner in her space to launch Transform Consulting Group (TCG). Today, TCG is one of the most sought-after national consultancies for organizations looking to transform their people, communities, and the lives of those they serve. As President and Founder of TCG, Amanda speaks nationally about putting the power of data to work to drive change and accelerate impact.

Guided by the best practices and standards TCG has developed, organizations like the Boys and Girls Club of America, YUSA, the National Head Start Association, United Way of Central Indiana, the Community Foundation of Greater Ft. Wayne, and Welborn Baptist Foundation to continue to experience measurable outcomes; ultimately driving funding, mission awareness and outreach, and sustainability to ensure their critical work continues to advance and drive transformational impact.

Previously, Ms. Lopez worked for the Association of Community Human Service Agencies in Los Angeles, California, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Budget, the Children’s Bureau, and the Head Start Bureau in Washington, DC. She holds a Masters of Social Work with a focus on policy and evaluation from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor’s degree in Law and Society from Purdue University.

Amanda was the first recipient of the Purdue University Emerging Voice Alumni Award for outstanding young professionals under 40 years old in 2007.

Amanda now resides with her family in Wabash, Indiana – her hometown. As a firm believer that change starts within your community, she passionately volunteers and serves on multiple boards and committees in her community.

Brandy Terrell, Clinical Therapist/Chair Thrive Orange County, Southern Indiana Community Health Care. Brandy is an Indiana Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She received her MSW degree from USI in 2004. She’s currently pursuing a DSW degree at Spalding University with a May 2023 completion date.

Brandy is trained in Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). She is also the Thrive Orange County Chair for Southern Indiana Community Health Care, where she practices grassroots community organizing focusing on building trauma-informed care frameworks. Additionally, Brandy builds lasting relationships with community members, encourages, and supports coalitions that work for norms change based on social determinants of health.

Debbie Beeler is the Director of Children’s Services for Hoosier Uplands in Mitchell, where she has been employed for 35 years. Debbie oversees the federally funded Head Start and Early Head Start programs as well as the Child and Adult Care Food Program in Lawrence, Martin, Orange, and Washington Counties. 

Debbie has served on numerous local, regional, state and national boards and task forces throughout her career in early childhood education.   he served as a member of the Indiana Commission for Early Learning and School Readiness and assisted with writing the Foundations for Young Children.  She also served on the advisory group that created Indiana’s Early Learning Developmental Framework Aligned to the 2014 Indiana Academic Standards. Debbie also served 16.5 years on the Mitchell Community School’s board of trustees.

Currently, Debbie is a member of the Lawrence County Workforce Coalition, the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Merit Board, and the Lawrence County Extension Board. She serves as a Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Development, where she assesses Child Development Associate candidates’ competencies as part of the credentialing process for the most widely known and valued credential in early childhood education.

Ed Cole is in his ninth year as President of Dubois Strong (the county-wide economic development organization for Dubois County), and is beginning his 20th year in the economic development field. 

His previous professional experience includes working with the Vermillion County Indiana Economic Development Council, the Lawton-Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, and the Oklahoma Department of Commerce.

Ed was recently recognized by the Dubois County Chamber of Commerce, as the 2023 Business Person of the Year.

Dr. Jerry Sanders is the Superintendent of Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corporation, a position that he has held for four years.  Dr. Sanders came to RBBCSC in 2017 as the Assistant Superintendent.  Previously, he was Dean of the School of Education at Kentucky Christian University between 2015 and 2017.  Dr. Sanders spent most of his career with the MSD of Martinsville, where he served as a classroom teacher, elementary principal, and assistant superintendent for a combined 28 years.  Dr. Sanders earned his Bachelor of Science Degree at Kentucky Christian University, his teaching credentials at Youngstown State University, his Master’s Degree from Indiana University, and his Ph.D. from Indiana State University.  Dr. Sanders has enjoyed serving on many community organizations, boards, and foundations.  He currently represents the school corporation as a board member on the Bloomington and Monroe County Community Foundation, as an ex-officio member of the Ellettsville Area Chamber of Commerce, and as an Executive Board Member for Envision Ellettsville.