Advisory Board


Rhian Evans Allvin, Executive Director, National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Allvin is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the organization as well as overseeing the daily operations. With more than 70,000 members and 300 Affiliate components across the U.S., NAEYC serves as the leading voice on behalf of young children and early childhood educators.

Kimberly Brenneman, Assistant Research Professor, National Institute for Early Education Research and the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (Rutgers Graduate School of Education). Brenneman conducts research on early science and mathematics learning and supports for preschool educators, with a focus on the development and validation of assessments and the design of professional development resources to improve teaching in science and mathematics. She also has co-authored Preschool Pathways to Science with Rochel Gelman, Gay MacDonald and Moises Roman and served as consultant for Sid the Science Kid.

Bryan Brown, Professor of Teacher Education, Stanford University. Brown’s research focuses on the social connotations and cultural politics of science discourse in small-group and whole-group interaction. His work in science education in urban communities focuses on developing collaborative curricular cycles and classroom pedagogy based on developing discourse intensive instruction for urban learners.

Kevin Clark, Founding Director, Center for Digital Media Innovation and Diversity, George Mason University. Clark has extensive experience as a designer and consultant in the areas of educational game design, online and interactive media, and issues of diversity and inclusion in digital media.

Sharon Darling, President & Founder of the National Center for Family Literacy. Darling’s organization's most recent work includes creating the award-winning Wonderopolis®, an interactive, online community that uses technology to infuse wonder into daily learning activities.

Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard University. Dede’s fields of scholarship include emerging technologies, policy, and leadership. His funded research includes grants to design and study immersive simulations, transformed social interactions, and online professional development. In 2007, he was honored by Harvard University as an outstanding teacher, and in 2011 he was named a Fellow of the American Educational Research Association.

Nell K. Duke, Professor, School of Education, University of Michigan. Duke’s work focuses on early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Her specific areas of expertise include development of informational reading and writing in young children, comprehension development and instruction in early schooling, and issues of equity in literacy education.

Allison Frometa, Kindergarten Teacher, Chelsea Public Schools (MA). Frometa has taught in an inclusion classroom for the last three years. She also taught in the Caminos Two-Way Bilingual Program, a Spanish/English emersion program offered by CPS in which children alternate weeks learning in each language.

Larry Irving, President & CEO, Irving Group. Irving’s consulting firm provides strategic advice and assistance to international telecommunications and information technology companies, foundations and non-profit organizations. He is widely credited with coining the term the digital divide and sparking global interest in the issue.

Vikki Katz, Assoc. Professor, School of Communication and Information, Rutgers University. Katz’s research explores how immigrant families address communication challenges related to social incorporation into the U.S. She has investigated how children of immigrants broker language, cultural norms, media content, and connections to local institutions when they are the primary English speakers in their households. Katz is author of Kids in the Middle: How Children of Immigrants Negotiate Community Interactions for their Families (Rutgers U Press, 2014) and co-author of Understanding Ethnic Media: Producers, Consumers, and Societies (Sage, 2011).

Joan Lombardi, International Expert on Child Development & Social Policy. Lombardi served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as the first Deputy Assistant Secretary for Early Childhood Development in the Obama Administration, and as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and External Affairs in Administration for Children and Families and the first Commissioner of the Child Care Bureau during the Clinton Administration. She currently serves as Senior Advisor to the Bernard van Leer Foundation on global child development strategies and to the Buffett Early Childhood Fund on national initiatives. She also directs Early Opportunities LLC, focusing on innovation, policy and philanthropy.

Michael Conn-Powers, Center Director, Indiana Institute on Disability and Community’s Early Childhood Center. Conn-Powers has been extensively involved in research and product development in the areas of early intervention, service coordination, school readiness, and universal design. He has also been involved with designing and implementing Indiana's First Steps child and family outcome evaluation system.

Sabaa Rehmani, Interactive Game Producer. Rehmani is a game industry veteran with extensive experience developing digital and physical products for mobile, web, and retail. Her specialties include the optimization of internal operations (production management and inter-departmental workflow), as well as senior product management (growth and management of top-grossing live content) for mobile and web games.

Flor Retamal, Head Start/Pre-K Teacher, Chicago Public Schools. Retamal teaches in both English and Spanish, and has had a particular interest in making science fun and approachable for preschool-age children. She was instrumental in the implementation of CPS’ Virtual Pre-K program, designed to bring preschool teachers and parents together as partners in a child’s education.

Michael Rich, Founding Director & Assoc. Professor, Center on Media and Child Health, Harvard University. Rich combines his creative experience with rigorous scientific evidence about the powerful positive and negative effects of media to advise pediatricians and parents how to use media in ways that optimize child development.

Rebecca Silverman, Assoc. Professor, College of Education, University of Maryland. Silverman is a former elementary school teacher who specializes in language and literacy development and instruction, and she focuses on children with learning differences and children from low-income and English-learning backgrounds.

Renee Wilson-Simmons, Director, National Center for Children in Poverty. Before joining NCCP in 2012, Simmons served as the senior associate for adolescent health and development at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she managed foundation initiatives and related grants and activities focused on reproductive health. She also served as associate director of the Evidence-Based Practice Group, which identifies, develops, and scales up evidence-based interventions for children and families involved with public social service systems.

Ralph Smith, Senior Vice President, Annie E. Casey Foundation; Managing Director, Campaign for Grade Level Reading. With his involvement in the Campaign for Grade Level Reading, Smith manages an effort to increase rates of third grade reading proficiency for children from low-income families that includes a network of than 160 Campaign communities in 42 states, over 200 local Funders and more than 50 civic and private sector partners.

Sowmya Subramanianj, Engineering Director, YouTube Verticals. Subramanianj has driven YouTube’s vertical strategy, encompassing YouTube Kids, YouTube Music & YouTube Live. She also plays an active role with Women in Engineering@Google and is currently working on initiatives to change the perception of women in the media.

Sara Sweetman, Director of Education for the University of Rhode Island’s ‘Guiding Education in Math and Science Network’ (GEMS-NET). Sweetman developed a partnership between University of Rhode Island, scientists and engineers, and local school districts to support STEM teaching and learning for children in kindergarten through grade 8. She also has consulted for and starred in science-oriented Sesame Street episodes.

Yuuko Uchikoshi-Tonkovich, Assoc. Professor, School of Education, University of California-Davis. Uchikoshi’s research interests include bilingualism and bilingual education, educational television and multimedia, language acquisition, and literacy development. Yuuko serves on the education advisory board of Disney Junior, and is a consultant for the Center for Early Care and Education Research – Dual Language Learners.

Rachael Walker, Educational Outreach & Children’s Literacy Consultant. Walker consults on a wide variety of educational programs and multimedia projects with a special focus on children’s literacy. She has more than twenty years of experience in developing key partnerships with nonprofit organizations, corporations, and public agencies to benefit at-risk children and families. She currently consults for Reading Rockets and is an advisor for Tales2Go, an award-winning audio story service for families, and serves on The Reading Connection Advisory Council.

Julie Wood, International Digital Literacy Consultant. Wood is a creative expert in digital learning for kindergarten through grade 12. She works with media developers, publishers of educational content, designers, and educational organizations, as a consultant, speaker, and specialist in literacy and digital media. She is currently co- authoring a book with British educator Nicole Ponsford, titled TechnoTeaching: The Ultimate Guide to Taking Control of the Global Classroom.

Karen Worth, Chair of Elementary Education, Wheelock College. Worth teaches courses in elementary education and science education for both pre-service and in-service teachers at the graduate and undergraduate levels. A current focus is developing teacher skills in the use of language in science as a critical tool for scientific reasoning. She consults nationally and internationally on the implementations of inquiry-based science programs for children at pre-school and elementary levels and has served as an advisor to several informal science organizations, public television stations, and national science reform projects.


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