#KidsOpportunity Town Hall

An amazing line-up of experts and advocates will be joining us for the #KidsOpportunity Town Hall. We hope you can join us too!

Register to participate in the #KidsOpportunity Town Hall in person or online.

#KidsOpportunity Town Hall Moderator

pageClarence Page Pulitzer Prize Winning Columnist, Tribune Media Services

Clarence Page, the 1989 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary, is a columnist syndicated nationally by Tribune Media Services and a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board. Page is also a regular contributor of essays to The News Hour with Jim Lehrer and has been a regular on The McLaughlin Group, NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show, ABC’s Nightline and BET’s Lead Story news panel programs.

Page’s awards include a 1980 Illinois UPI awards for community service for an investigative series titled “The Black Tax” and the Edward Scott Beck Award for overseas reporting in 1976. He also received lifetime achievement awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, the Chicago Headline Club and the National Association of Black Journalists. In 1992, he was inducted into the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame.

Page was a reporter, producer and community affairs director at WBBM-TV from 1980 to 1984. Before that he was a reporter and assistant city editor for the Chicago Tribune, during which he participated in a 1972 Task Force series on vote fraud which also won a Pulitzer Prize. His book Showing My Color: Impolite Essays on Race and Identity was published in 1996 by Harper Collins.

Born in Dayton, Ohio, he grew up in Middletown. He began his journalism career as a freelance writer and photographer for the Middletown Journal and Cincinnati Enquirer at the age of 17. He graduated from Ohio University with a bachelor of science in journalism in 1969. He also has received honorary degrees from Columbia College in Chicago, Lake Forest College, the Chicago Theological Seminary and the John Marshall School of Law, among others.

Page is married, has one son, and lives in the suburbs of Washington, DC.


#KidsOpportunity Expert Panel

rizerMonique Rizer Executive Director, Opportunity Nation

Monique Rizer was appointed as Opportunity Nation’s Executive Director in September 2015. Prior to this role, Monique served as Be The Change, Inc.’s Chief of Staff, and brings an organization-wide understanding of BTC’s three bipartisan, issue-based campaigns: ServiceNation, Opportunity Nation and Got Your 6, which are focused on national service, economic mobility and veteran empowerment, respectively.

Previously, Monique served as deputy director of military spouse programs for the Military Officers Association of America, where she conceived and built Keeping a Career on the Move®. That program earned the American Society for Association Executives (ASAE) ‘Power of A’ Silver Award, was featured multiple times by the White House and continues today, having tripled in growth since its launch. Monique was recruited to direct communications for Child Care Aware of America, elevating the role that quality, affordable child care plays in early education and the workforce. She began her career as a marketer for a Top 100 accounting and consulting firm and served as a contributing editor to multiple publications focused on careers.

Monique is a first-generation college graduate and lives with her two sons, Gabriel and Asher, in the Washington, D.C. area. She frequently speaks about the obstacles she faced growing up and as a young adult through her role as an ambassador to The Aspen Institute’s Ascend Program, which aims to help children and families achieve educational success and economic security.

Click here to read The Opportunity Index, a recent report by Opportunity Nation.



Katharine B. Stevens Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute

Katharine Stevens leads the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) early-childhood program, focusing on the research, policy, and politics of early-childhood care and education. She also studies the role of early learning in expanding opportunity for low-income Americans and the implementation challenges of rapidly growing early-childhood education initiatives, especially issues of teacher quality.

Ms. Stevens has 20 years of both on-the-ground and research experience in urban education reform. Before joining AEI, she founded and led Teachers for Tomorrow, one of the first urban teacher-residency programs in the United States, which recruited and trained teachers for New York City’s lowest-performing schools. She began her career in public education as a preschool teacher in New Haven, Connecticut, and St. Louis, Missouri.

Her analyses and commentary have been published in Education Week, The Huffington Post, Los Angeles Times, New York Daily News, New York Post, US News & World Report, and The Wall Street Journal.

Ms. Stevens has a Ph.D. in education policy from Columbia University, a M.Ed. from Teachers College, an MBA from Columbia Business School, and a B.A. in US history from the University of Chicago.

Click here to read AEI’s recent report, Opportunity, responsibility, and security: A consensus plan for reducing poverty and restoring the American dream.

Click here to read AEI’s report, Does pre-K work? The research on ten early childhood programs—and what it tells us.


foxenDr. Patricia Foxen Deputy Director of Research, National Council of La Raza

Dr. Patricia Foxen is the Deputy Director of Research at the National Council of La Raza, and is currently a Research Fellow at American University’s Center for Latin American and Latino Studies (CLALS). She is a cultural and medical anthropologist who has worked extensively in Latin America and with Latino communities in the U.S. and Canada. Dr. Foxen’s areas of expertise include the migration and incorporation of immigrants and refugees, the psychosocial health of immigrant children and families, and indigenous communities in Central America.

At NCLR Patricia oversees policy-oriented research across issue areas and focuses on developing new research on Latino children and youth, race/ethnicity, and discrimination. She has published several reports including Speaking Out: Latino Youth on Discrimination in the United States (2010) and America’s Future: Latino Child Well-Being in Numbers and Trends (2010, with Mark Mather). Her work has been cited by Spanish and English media such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, CNN Español, Fox News, Univision, and Telemundo.  She is the author of the book In Search of Providence: Transnational Mayan Identities (Vanderbilt University Press, 2007), and has published articles in journals such as the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, the Journal of Refugee Studies, and Anthropology and Medicine, among others.

Dr. Foxen holds a doctoral degree in anthropology and a master’s degree in medical anthropology from McGill University in Montreal, a master of public health degree from Colombia University, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Bryn Mawr College.

Click here to read NCLR’s recent report, Toward a More Equitable Future: Trends and Challenges Facing America’s Latino Children.


duranaAlieza Durana Policy Analyst, New America

Alieza Durana is a policy analyst in the Better Life Lab at New America. She provides research, analysis, and programmatic support for the Family-Centered Social Policy initiative and New America Care Report. Alieza’s work focuses on barriers to social and income equity, especially at the intersection of housing, education, and family policy.

Before joining New America, Alieza’s work spanned the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Promise Zones initiative, social services in the Washington metro area, and Fulbright research on European Union integration. Alieza has a master’s in public policy from the Hertie School of Governance (Germany) and a BA in international and area studies, Spanish and German from Washington University in St. Louis.

Click here to read The Care Index, a recent report by New America and Care.com.


#KidsOpportunity Advocates Panel

grantJodi Grant Executive Director, Afterschool Alliance 

Jodi Grant is the Executive Director for the Afterschool Alliance. As Executive Director, Grant oversees all aspects of the Afterschool Alliance’s work – setting its goals and strategies for reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, working with the field to help programs tap into federal funding streams, and supervising research to help national, state and local afterschool advocates and providers support, create and expand quality afterschool programs.

Prior to joining the Afterschool Alliance, Grant served as Director of Work and Family Programs for the National Partnership for Women & Families.  In that position, she worked to protect and expand the Family & Medical Leave Act and was a member of the team that successfully defended the law before the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, she worked on Capitol Hill as General Counsel to the Senate Budget Committee and as Staff Director for a Senate Committee. Her legislative accomplishments include expanded support for the child tax credit, the Child Health Insurance Program and class size reduction. She also served as liaison to the National Governors’ Association, where she worked closely with Republican and Democratic governors.

Grant graduated from Yale University with honors and was elected senior class president. She received her law degree from Harvard University, where she was elected class president (First Marshall). As a student, she volunteered at an afterschool program. She currently serves as a Trustee of the America’s Promise Alliance and as an Advisory Board Member of Time Warner Cable’s “Connect a Million Minds” campaign. Grant, her husband and two children live in Bethesda, Maryland.


wahiBharti Wahi Executive Director of CDF-Minnesota, Children’s Defense Fund

Bharti Wahi is the Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund – Minnesota. She has 20 years of professional experience as an advocate in the nonprofit world and more than a dozen years in education.

Prior to joining Children’s Defense Fund, Ms. Wahi spent three years with Greater Twin Cities United Way where she oversaw several grant portfolios related to early childhood education, two-generation interventions and literacy. Previously, she led the Children and Family Program for the Minnesota Literacy Council for five years, building the home visiting program and overseeing two early learning centers.

As an active community member Ms. Wahi serves on the Board of Directors of the Hale-Field Schools Foundation and Women Organizing Women. In addition, she sits on the McKnight Foundation’s Pre-K – Third Grade Design Team and is currently serving on the Minnesota Department of Education’s ESSA Accountability Advisory Committee and the Department of Human Services Parent Aware Advisory Council.

Ms. Wahi holds a Bachelor of Arts from the Saint Catherine University and a Master of Arts in public policy and nonprofit management from the University of Chicago.


schmidtRandi Schmidt Executive Director of Children’s Leadership Council

Randi Carmen Schmidt joined the Children’s Leadership Council in 2013. She brings 18 years of legislative and advocacy experience, including experience analyzing, researching and advocating for public policies at the federal state and local level.

Prior to joining the CLC, she was the director of economic policy for the YWCA USA and their nearly 300 local associations. In that position she led efforts on issues important to women, children and families, including: federal budget, tax and appropriations; child care and early education; and violence against women and girls.

In addition to her work with the CLC, and her nearly 10 years with the YWCA USA, her experience includes: serving a Legislative Aid for Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI); working for a variety of research and advocacy organizations, such as the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, a member of the Partnership for America’s Families, and working directly with low-income mothers on, and transitioning off of, TANF.

Ms. Schmidt received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


maxwellDr. Michael Maxwell President-Elect of the Nevada Association for the Education of Young Children

Dr. Michael Maxwell is the President-Elect of the Nevada Association for the Education of Young Children. For Dr. Maxwell, joining the Board was a natural fit for a career that has been dedicated to young children. Dr. Maxwell is the Director of the Las Vegas Urban League’s Early Childhood Connection, delivering Child Care Subsidy and Resource & Referral services for southern Nevada. He is also Senior Vice-President for Agency Innovation at the Las Vegas Urban League. He started his career as a Title-1 Pre-K teacher and spent 11 years teaching Preschool and Elementary classes before becoming a Middle School Assistant Principal at Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy.

Dr. Maxwell received his B.S. in Education, his M.Ed. in Educational Administration, and his Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Dr. Maxwell is married with three children.


jeraldJudith Jerald Senior Advisor – Early Childhood Education, Save the Children Action Network

Judith Jerald is the Senior Early Childhood Advisor for the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN). Before joining SCAN in January 2016, Ms. Jerald served as the Early Childhood Senior Director for US Programs at Save the Children. In this role she had oversight of early childhood initiatives and was the Executive Director of the six Early Head Start and Head Start programs which Save the Children administers, serving 3000 children.  In 2006, when she joined Save the Children, she designed and directed the home based Early Steps to School Success, a signature program of Save the Children which operates in 14 states.

Before joining Save the Children she served as the National Director of the Early Head Start Program at the Office of Head Start (OHS) from 1999 -2006. In her work at OHS she was charged with early childhood policy planning and implementation, managing national training, research and technical assistance contracts, initiating special program initiatives, and supporting the Administration for Children and Families’ federal regional offices in their work with Early Head Start grantees.

Previous to her Head Start appointment Ms. Jerald was the founder and director of Early Education Services, an umbrella agency that provides comprehensive services to young children and their families throughout Windham County, Vermont. She administered a variety of early childhood and family support programs, including Early Head Start, preschool Head Start, Even Start, state welfare reform and child care contracts, and school district preschool programs.

Click here to read Save the Children Action Network’s Early Childhood Principles.


levinShanequa Levin Director, Every Child Matters on Long Island

Shanequa Levin lives in the Huntington area of New York. She is and has been the Campaign Director for Every Child Matters on Long Island for the past six years. Through the campaign she speaks to groups and community members, encouraging them to converse with lawmakers about children’s issues.

Shanequa is the Founder for the Long Island Chapter of Mocha Moms, and a founding member of the South Huntington Mothers Center. She is in the process of finishing her memoir about surviving childhood poverty. An excerpt of it has been published in a book titled, “All I Ever Wanted”. Shanequa also provides energy assessments that connect people to their life purpose. One of her visions is to help people gain more acceptance of themselves and others, while empowering them to feel more connected to their own unique inner light.

Shanequa attended Lincoln and Hofstra Universities. She is certified in leadership through Rockwood Leadership Institute, Adelphi University, and she is currently enrolled in a leadership course through the University of Connecticut.

Click here to read Closing the Opportunity Gap for Long Island’s Children, a recent report by Every Child Matters.


denise-tanataDenise Tanata, J.D. Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy  Alliance of Nevada

Denise is the Executive Director of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance – a private nonprofit that serves as an independent voice for children and families in Nevada, seeking to improve policies and practices in the areas of children’s safety, school readiness and children’s health.  She has been working in the field of child advocacy in Nevada since 1998 and has extensive experience conducting applied research and policy analysis on children’s issues, with an emphasis on translating research and data to improve policy and practice.  Denise previously served as a Senior Scholar at the Lincy Institute at UNLV and also served as the Executive Director of the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy (NICRP) in the School of Community Health Sciences at UNLV.

Denise received her Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies from UNLV, with a minor in Sociology and received her Juris Doctorate from the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.  She serves on numerous boards and coalitions aimed at improving the lives of children and families in Nevada and is the recipient of the US Congressional Flag by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for her commitment to the children of Nevada as an academic, advocate and volunteer.

Register to participate in the #KidsOpportunity Town Hall in person or online.