2017 EarlyEd Talks

We bring a blend of educators in the field and cutting-edge researchers to share their perspectives. Let's engage with compelling, short "EarlyEd Talks" on six core themes.

Friday Features

Janean Dilworth-Bart

Racial and Social Justice with Janean Dilworth-Bart, PhD., University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Janean Dilworth-Bart – is an associate professor and chair of the graduate program committee in the School of Human Ecology at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her research focuses on the intersection of children’s early developmental contexts and neurocognitive development, including how these factors interact to promote children’s academic and social competence. She is particularly interested in studying contexts of socioeconomic risk and race-ethnicity using an ecological model.

Watch Janean's welcome video.

Dimitri Topitzes

Social and Emotional Development with Dimitri Topitzes, PhD, LCSW, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Dimitri Topitzes - is co-founder and associate director of program design and clinical services at the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being and also serves as an associate professor in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. He directs the Trauma-Informed Care Graduate Certificate Program at UWM and teaches three courses within the certificate program.

Watch Dimitri's welcome video.


Sue Offutt, Ph.D.

Leadership and Change with Sue Offutt, PhD., former executive director of McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership

Sue Offutt Ph.D. has a robust history working on behalf of young children and their families. Most recently, Dr. Offutt was the Executive Director of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership. The McCormick Center empowers individuals to build the leadership and management skills they need to create and sustain exemplary programs for young children. In over 35 years, she has engaged in many ways in our ever-changing and ever-challenging profession. Among her contributions to our field, she has taught at the university level, designed Head Start programs, supported professional development of staff, and has worked in areas of both rural health and traumatic brain injury. She attributes her success to both having a vision and knowing how to get the work done to get there.


Saturday Spotlights

Pam Bennett and Cheryl Heiman

Infant and Toddler Development with Pam Bennett, Consultant, Steps Along the Way and Cheryl Heiman, Infant/Toddler Teacher

Pam Bennett, MS Child & Family Studies, is an ECE instructor and consultant, passionate about growing the quality of programs for our children - particularly our littlest ones. Pam has served in many roles in the ECE field, and for 20 years served as director of a NAEYC accredited program that followed a Continuity of Care relationship model in the infant/toddler program. Pam is absolutely smitten with babies and young children, vehement about the significance of our role with children and their families, and passionate about our responsibility to hold this generation of children in loving arms. 

Cheryl Heiman has been an Infant Toddler Lead Teacher at Red Caboose Child Care Center since 1981. She serves on many committees at the center including Board of Directors.

Cheryl has been a part of the Infant Toddler Community of Practice Group, and the Bebe Café trainings with Pam Bennett for the past 4 years, leaving each feeling inspired to be the best teacher possible for toddlers in her care.

In 2014, she was named the Early Childhood Teacher of the Year at the WECA Conference.

“There’s no better place to spend time, than with infants and toddlers. I love inspiring others to appreciate the many rewards of working with young children.”

Watch their welcome video.

Jeanne Labana and Gina Flynn

STEM + ART= STEAM with Jeanne Labana, Master Trainer, and Gina Flynn, 4K Teacher

Gina is an Early Childhood practitioner with over 29 years of experience in early childhood classrooms spanning diverse settings and populations from urban to suburban to special education. She is a self-studied lifelong learner and follows the literature and key voices in early childhood development and education. Her passion, creativity, and advocacy for all children has made her a sought-after mentor and has led to multiple leadership roles in her Early Childhood community in Milwaukee. She teaches 4 year old Kindergarten and has several professional blogs on project-based learning, early emergent writing. She presents vibrant and energized talks on the state level. Her ideas and practices in her own classroom are awe inspiring!

Jeanne has been an Early Childhood leader for over 40 years! She has taught in birth to 1st grade classrooms in a diverse wide variety of venues. She shares her passion for high quality early care and education with parent, teachers and programs all over the state. She brings life to the Early Learning Standards in course work, workshops, coaching and mentoring for WECA-Milwaukee.

Watch Jeanne's welcome video.

Kelly Matthews and Billie Slade

Play-based Learning with Kelly Matthews, Master Trainer, and Consultant, and Billie Slade, Executive Director of Green Mountain Camp for Girls

Kelly Matthews, owner of A Place For You Consulting, has been with WECA since 2011 in a number of roles. Kelly has been in the field for over 20 years and earned her MA from Pacific Oaks College - both her experience and her education tell her: kids learn best through play.

Billie Slade has been in the field of Early Childhood for 37 years, wearing a variety of hats from teacher to family child care director to mentor to college instructor. A playful spirit has been the quality that has served her best in every role. All those experiences have led her to believe that we have so much to learn from children and from each other, if only we are listening! She is currently the executive director at a beloved century old summer camp in Vermont. She also spends her days with children and families at her nature based family child care program "Wonder in the Woods" creating community and exploring the idea that true quality is measured best by relationships!

Watch their welcome video.