Washington State Early Learning and Development Benchmarks

Team Members from the National Center for Children and Families at Columbia University

Sharon Lynn Kagan, Ed.D.
Sharon Lynn Kagan is the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, Co-Director of the National Center for Children and Families, and Associate Dean for Policy at Teachers College, Columbia University and Professor Adjunct at Yale University's Child Study Center. Author of over 150 articles and 12 books, Kagan's research focuses on the institutions and policies that impact child and family life. Kagan consults with numerous international, federal and state agencies, congress, governors, and legislatures; is a Distinguished Senior Fellow with the Education Commission of the States; is a member of 40 national boards; and is Past President of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Family Support America. Known nationally and internationally for her ground breaking work in early childhood systems, learning standards and accountability, and parent and community engagement, Kagan is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including an honorary doctorate from Wheelock College and the Distinguished Alumna Award from Teachers College, Columbia University. She augments her research and policy work with experience as a Head Start teacher and director, an administrator in the public and state education system, and a fellow in the U.S. Senate.

Pia Rebello Britto
Pia Rebello Britto is known nationally for her work on young children's literacy development and, more recently, internationally for her work on developing early learning standards for young children. She earned her doctoral degree in Developmental Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Britto earned her bachelor's degree from Delhi University (in India) in Psychology and her Masters and Education Specialists' degrees in School Psychology at the University of South Florida. She is the recipient of several academic accolades and awards, such as the AERA (Division E) Early Career Award, the International Reading Association's Outstanding Dissertation Award. Over the past 12 years, Dr. Britto has published numerous books, articles, chapters and reports. She has presented extensively at both academic and non-academic conferences and meetings. Dr. Britto sits on the advisory board of the Rita Gold Center (an early learning center) and Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters (HIPPY, a national educational home visiting program). Dr. Britto has also been a consultant with non-governmental organizations such as Save the Children, USA and the International Catholic Child Bureau. In addition to her professional accomplishments, Dr. Britto is the mother of two young children (ages 5 and 3) and, being a first-generation immigrant, is sensitive to the cultural aspects and challenges of child rearing in America.

Kristie Kaurez
Kristie Kauerz is pursuing a doctorate in early childhood education policy from Teachers College, Columbia University where she is a graduate research fellow at the National Center for Children and Families. She has extensive experience working with state-level policymakers on early childhood issues. Since 2000, she has been program director of early learning at Education Commission of the States (ECS). Her work with governors, legislators, chief state school officers, and other state decision makers combines research and analysis, policy development, public education, and state-based technical assistance to bring early childhood care and education into state policy discussions about education reform. Prior to joining ECS, Kristie was the director of public policy analysis at the Center for Human Investment Policy at the University of Colorado-Denver where she was the co-principal investigator on the statewide evaluations of Colorado's Consolidated Child Care Pilot Program and Colorado's Expanding Quality Infant/Toddler Care Initiative. Ms. Kauerz also worked in Colorado Governor Roy Romer's office as director of community development for families and children. She holds a bachelor's degree from Colorado College in political science and a master's degree in international development from The American University. Her research interests include re-forming public education for children birth through 3rd grade ("P-3 education"), the unique role of kindergarten as a link between early learning and early elementary school, and the state policy infrastructure required to establish seamless systems of early care and education. Kristie has been named an "emerging leader" in early care and education by the Children's Defense Fund.

Kate Tarrant
Kate Tarrant is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Administration at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs, with a concentration in Social Policy. Kate is also a research assistant for the National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University. She previously worked as the Public Policy Specialist for Good Beginnings Alliance - Hawaii, an intermediary organization working to shape public policy, increase public awareness, and mobilize action to improve the lives of Hawaii's young children. In this role, she coordinated the Hawaii Interdepartmental Council School Readiness Task Force and its work groups on early learning standards, assessment, transitions, family and community readiness, and practitioner and administrator education. Kate also facilitated legislative advocacy efforts for organizations serving Hawaii's children. Kate's research interests include and the application of school readiness policy to informal care settings, parents, families, and communities. She is also interested in the development of a comprehensive system of care for young children.