Meet the Team

With formal education in Curriculum, Special Needs and Inclusion, Business Practices, Early Childhood Education, Child Development and Wisconsin’s Model Early Learning Standards, Evaluation, Finance, Farm to ECE practices, International Child Care Models, Leadership, Reflective Practice, Educational Administration, and more, as well as years of experience doing the work of running child care programs and caring for children, our WEESSN team has a breadth and depth of education and lived experience that positions them to serve our early childhood programs well.

Paula Drew

Paula Drew

Co-Director Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN)

Paula Drew is a co-director of WEESSN. She brings to this role a strong academic and experiential background in center-based care and education. For two decades Paula has worked in the early care and education sector in Wisconsin as both an educator and a program director and is dedicating to giving back to her community through WEESSN.  

Kelly Matthews

Kelly Matthews

Co-Director Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN)

Kelly has over 20 years’ experience in early care and education, specializing in family child care business practices and professional development. She brings compassionate, provider-focused leadership to this program.  

Chanel Clark

Chanel Clark

WEESSN Team Coordinator

Chanel has over 14 years of experience in early care and education, including a decade at a nationally accredited program, where she was the director for five years. Chanel has degrees in both Early Childhood Education and Integrative Leadership Studies.  She developed a passion for outdoor learning environments through her coursework at North Carolina State University and while studying in Scotland. Chanel thrives on supporting providers throughout the state.

Amanda Burns

Amanda Burns

WEESSN Project Manager

Amanda holds a bachelor’s degree from Marquette University in Spanish language and literature and a master’s degree in early childhood education from the Erikson Institute with a certificate in bilingual/English as a second language instruction. Previous experiences include teaching for the Zoological Society of Milwaukee’s Education Department, Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development, and several schools in and around Chicago, as well as serving as an administrator for a local, non-profit preschool in Dane County. She has deep interests in anti-bias education, as well as design thinking and emerging technology curriculum.

WEESSN Finance Team

Dan Eckhardt
WEESSN Financial Coordinator

Dan brings over 20 years of experience working in early childhood education with an emphasis in group care.  He brings a strong background in financial management and a keen eye for detail.  Dan is excited to build upon relationships and collaborate with our partners to strengthen business practices and help providers reach their financial goals.

WEESSN Tiered Services

Janine Wipperfurth Program Coach Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) - Southwest Cohort

Janine Wipperfurth
WEESSN Tiered Membership Specialist

Janine was a family child care provider previous to joining the WEESSN team.  She has also worked in the schools as a special education teacher for 10 years and her family runs a dairy farm in south-central Wisconsin.

Amy Fewel
WEESSN Tiered Membership Specialist

Amy has been a center director as well as a Pre-Licensing Technical Consultant and a Certification Specialist.  She provides guidance about quality care, licensing/certification rules, policy development, staff relations, family engagement, and more.  She believes that early childhood educators are our society’s greatest asset and is excited to be able to support them.  She is part of the Tiered Services team that offers support to WEESSN programs throughout the state of Wisconsin.

WEESSN – Dane County Cohort

Amy Christianson
Director, Reach Dane Satellite Family Child Care System

Amy is the Director for Satellite Family Child Care System with Reach Dane and a partner with the Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN). Amy has worked in the field of education for 23 years and is excited to be part of this network supporting family child care providers in Dane County.  She has knowledge and skill to support English language learners and has promoted educational access to professional development intentionally in this area of her work.

 

Mary Niec
WEESSN Dane county Coach (Group Providers)

Mary has worked in the field of early care as both teacher and administrator for over eleven years.  Before joining WEESSN, Mary worked at Big Oak Child Care first as a teacher, and then later as Program Manager.  She then moved on to become Executive Director at University Avenue Discovery Center.  Mary has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Community Development from Cornell College, a Master of Fine Arts degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a Credential in Early Childhood Program Development from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Mary is interested in helping centers to develop collaborative team atmospheres, play-based arts enrichment, outdoor education for mental well-being, anti-bias communities, and youth mindfulness.

Laura Simkin, Satellite Family Child Care System Manager Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) – Dane County Cohort

Laura Simkin
Satellite Family Child Care System Manager, Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) – Dane County Cohort

Laura has always worked in the early childhood field—in Chicagoland, Boston, Janesville and Madison.  She’s held a variety of roles: early childhood teacher (infant through school age), 4K teacher, cook, center director/owner and assistant director, family child care center owner, T.E.A.C.H. scholarship counselor, and the membership services coordinator at the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association.  Laura is hugely interested and involved in advocacy related to the early childhood profession and early childhood education.

Evy Gildrie-Voyles
WEESSN Relief Squad Dane

 

Evy Gildrie-Voyles joined the WEESSN Relief Squad in September. Prior to joining WEESSN, she worked for 11 years at Creative Learning Preschool and Childcare Center. Before becoming an early childcare educator, she taught theater, creative dramatics, and improvisational acting to ages 3 to 17 and worked as a professional actress in regional theaters and children’s theaters in four different states. She has a BA in Theatre and English from Oberlin College, a MA in Theater from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, and the Program Development Credential from UW-Platteville. She is passionate about supporting children’s emotional development and intellectual growth through creativity, storytelling, and unconditional nurturing support.

Fernanda Laporace

Fernanda Luciana Leporace
WEESSN Bilingual Program Coach, Dane and Green County

Fernanda grew up in Argentina, where she lived for nearly three decades. There, she initiated her studies in the field of visual arts to become an art teacher. In 2001, Fernanda came to the United States and her journey in early childhood education began in 2004 when she became an Infant and Toddler Teacher at a child care center. She started a licensed and accredited child care program after the birth of her son.

Thanks to WECA and T.E.A.C.H., she earned a degree in Early Childhood Education and learned best practices through their training and support.

“I am truly honored to be part of the WECA team,” Fernanda shared. “I hope to, as a WEESSN bilingual coach, be able to bring much-needed resources and support to the Spanish-speaking community of early childhood educators in running their unique family child care programs.”

Currently, Fernanda is training as a mindfulness facilitator through the University of California, Los Angeles’ Mindful Awareness Research Center with the desire to bring awareness to the importance of self-care practices to the early educator community.

 

Fernanda nació y creció en Argentina donde inició sus estudios en las artes visuales. Tres décadas después, Fernanda viajó a Estados Unidos y continuó su carrera en la educación temprana y el cuidado infantil maternal como maestra en un centro de educación preescolar y luego, al nacer su hijo, desarrollando y operando su propio programa infantil bilingüe familiar con licencia del estado y acreditación de la ciudad de Madison.

Gracias al apoyo de WECA y T.E.A.C.H., Fernanda completó sus estudios en educación infantil.

“Es un honor formar parte del equipo de WECA”, dice Fernanda. “Mi deseo, como asesora bilingüe de la Red de Servicios Compartidos de Educación Temprana de Wisconsin (WEESSN), es servir de apoyo y bridar recursos a la comunidad de proveedores de cuidado y maestros en la enseñanza infantil, de habla hispana”.

Actualmente, Fernanda está siendo entrenada como facilitadora de prácticas contemplativas/atención plena, con el deseo de concienciar la importancia del auto cuidado y sus beneficios.

 


WEESSN – Milwaukee County Cohort

Jeanne Labana Lead Program Coach Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) - Milwaukee County Cohort

Jeanne Labana
Lead Program Coach, Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) – Milwaukee County Cohort

Jeanne Labana has experience as a classroom teacher, director, higher education instructor, and master trainer has supported programs and staff through many challenges helping them to be stronger and more determined to succeed.  Jeanne also has demonstrated expertise in bringing the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards to life, helping programs embrace Farm to ECE practices in ways that really work for them, and facilitating skills in solid business practices, staff development, brain development, and curriculum. She has been an educator, advocate, and defender of Early Childhood, supporting staff and programs to be the best they can be and always envisioning more.   As the Lead Program Coach for the Milwaukee Cohort of WEESSN, she provides support, guidance, and services for strengthening both group and family early education programs.

Kaelin Whitley Program Coach Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) - Milwaukee County Cohort

Kaelin Whitley
Program Coach, Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) – Milwaukee County Cohort

Kaelin brings over 20+ years of experience in Early Childhood Education working with both family and group child care programs.  She is very passionate about children and the quality of care they are receiving and has served as a consultant to help support new childcare providers. She is a certified Shaken Baby Trainer. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Kaelin is eager to help provide support to child care providers in her role with WEESSN Milwaukee as a Program Coach.

WEESSN - Southwest Cohort

Mari Beth Valley Lead Program Coach Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) - Southwest Cohort

Mari Beth Valley
Lead Program Coach, Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) – Southwest Cohort

Mari Beth has 37 years of experience in the early childhood education field with the last 25 years in licensed group child care.   Mari Beth is a SIDS and Shaken baby trainer. As a WEESSN Program Coach, Mari Beth provides in-depth support to group child care programs, specializing in program policy and procedures.

WEESSN - West Cohort

JoAnn Hayden

JoAnn Hayden
Program Coach, Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN)- West Cohort

JoAnn was a family child care provider for over 10 years. For the last 25 years, she has worked oneonone with providers throughout the state through her work with the Wisconsin Early Childhood Association (WECA). JoAnn is eager to help advance the child care experience in her role with WEESSN. 

Nicole Schabow
WEESSN West Program Coach

 

Nicole has worked in the early childhood field for over 16 years, primarily in group center settings as a teacher, director, and administrator. She also worked as a 4K teacher in a community-based setting and as a rating observer for the YoungStar program. Nicole’s most recent role before joining WEESSN was as a director of a large group center in La Crosse. She has her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and Early Childhood from Viterbo University. She is currently on track to finish her master’s degree in the spring of 2022 in Early Childhood Studies, focusing on administration and leadership. Nicole is passionate about children’s social-emotional development, fostering staff development through relationships, and creating and implementing efficient and effective systems in child care settings.

 

 

WEESSN - Jackson County

Mari Beth Valley Lead Program Coach Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) - Southwest Cohort

Mari Beth Valley
Lead Program Coach, Wisconsin Early Education Shared Services Network (WEESSN) – Southwest Cohort

Mari Beth has 37 years of experience in the early childhood education field with the last 25 years in licensed group child care.   Mari Beth is a SIDS and Shaken baby trainer. As a WEESSN Program Coach, Mari Beth provides in-depth support to group child care programs, specializing in program policy and procedures.