Speakers and State Partners


Christopher Botsko is serving as the Evaluation Consultant for HKHF TAP. Mr. Botsko has over 20 years of experience in evaluating and supporting systems change efforts with a strong focus on improving the health and well-being of children and families and preventing chronic disease through early intervention efforts. He has evaluated multiple initiatives focused on promoting healthy eating and physical activity in child care and early learning programs including evaluations of YMCA national initiatives and initiatives led by state agencies. He has had the opportunity to work closely with state leaders on evaluations and as a technical assistance provider for the State Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems Initiative and the Preschool Development Grant.

Dr. Dina Burstein is the Healthy Outcomes for Positive Experiences (HOPE) Project Director at the Center for Community-Engaged Medicine at Tufts Medical Center. Dr. Burstein is an experienced physician, healthcare project designer, and leader with over twenty years of success in scientific research, grant writing, analysis, training, and clinical practice. Previously, Dr. Burstein was an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, directing injury-prevention focused community outreach programming and community-based research projects, as well as teaching and mentoring undergraduate, graduate, and medical students. She is a graduate of Tufts University and holds an MD and MPH from the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Abby Charles is a Program Director at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), providing leadership and coordination for the Community Health Worker Initiatives, overseeing a network of Community Health Workers and a portfolio of programs in which the Institute for Public Health Innovation addresses cross-jurisdictional policy making and information sharing, program refinement, policy, research, training, implementation, evaluation and technical assistance. Abby is one of IPHI’s lead trainers and provides technical assistance to organizations regionally and nationally on health equity, collaboration and partnership development, community health workers, health in all policies, gender-based violence, and HIV. Ms. Charles is a graduate of the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science and a Master of Public Health in Global Health Promotion. She presently serves on the board of The Well Project and serves as a Commissioner on the Mayor’s Advisory Commission on Caribbean Community Affairs for Washington, D.C.

Caliste Chong is the Alabama Healthy Kids, Healthy Future Director at the Alabama Partnership for Children (APC). Since 2016, she has worked to coordinate efforts to embed obesity prevention strategies and best practices into existing state systems and has provided training opportunities and technical assistance to Early Care and Education programs. Formerly she worked with Voices for America’s Children in Washington, D.C. as a policy intern and as a development associate. Caliste earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in human development and family studies from The University of Alabama.

Rebecca Clancy is Director of Workforce Supports for Child Care Aware of Kansas, a Resource and Referral organization. She leads and coordinates a variety of direct service child care provider projects that are being implemented statewide. They include Child Care Quality Initiative, Links to Quality Project, Child Care Health Consultant Network, and the Nemours Healthy Kids Healthy Future grant. Rebecca has over twenty-five years of experience with early childhood programs such as Part C Services, Parents as Teachers, Head Start, Pre-School Teacher, and family child care provider as well as Child Care Aware of Kansas. Her goals are providing quality services and support to early childhood educators, children, and families, plus capacity-building and strengthening the infrastructure of support in communities. Rebecca has a B.A. in Public Relations from West Texas State University and a M.S. in Organizational Leadership from Fort Hays State University. She currently lives in Salina, Kansas.

Nilda Cosco is a Research Associate Professor at the College of Design and Director of Programs of The Natural Learning Initiative at North Carolina State University. She holds a degree in Educational Psychology, Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina and a Ph.D. in Landscape Architecture, School of Landscape Architecture, Heriot Watt University/Edinburgh University, Scotland.  Her primary research interest is the impact of outdoor environments on child and family health outcomes: healthy nutrition, active lifestyles, and outdoor learning, particularly as they relate to nature.  She is the principal investigator for the Preventing Obesity By Design (POD) program and the USDA-NIFA randomized controlled trial Childcare Outdoor Learning Environments as Active Food Systems: Effectiveness of the Preventing Obesity by Design (POD) Gardening Component. In January 2000, she co-founded with Professor Robin Moore the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI), College of Design at North Carolina State University.

Dionne Dobbins is the Senior Director of Research at Child Care Aware® of America (CCAoA). She leads a team of researchers who work closely with policy staff to align research reports with strategic goals, including their well-known reports on the price of child care and licensing. In addition, her team supports research and evaluation needs across the organization and works closely with external evaluation partners involved in child care research. Dr. Dobbins has over 15 years of research, evaluation, and technical assistance experience related to the well-being and stability of children and families placed at risk. She has broad experience in the areas of early childhood education, mental health of young children, child care, military families, and vulnerable children and families. Current areas of focus include: child care price and cost, child care supply and demand, barriers to accessing quality child care and parental experiences accessing quality care, and equity in accessing quality child care. Dr. Dobbins holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in applied developmental psychology from the University of Miami and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland. She did her post-doctoral fellowship at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Dr. Dobbins joined Child Care Aware® of America in 2014.

Carrie Dooyema is a behavioral scientist and the Early Care and Education Team Lead in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, GA, where she focuses on supporting obesity prevention in multiple settings including the early care and education setting. Carrie provides guidance, support, and technical assistance to CDC grantees and partners on many facets of childhood obesity including population-level obesity prevention strategies and the evaluation of public health activities.

Donald Reese Goff is the Chief Executive Officer at Child Care Resources, a national non-profit Sponsoring Organization for the USDA Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). The organization works with over 500 daycares, afterschool programs, and community centers across the country helping provide nutritious meals to children in under-resourced areas. In addition to the CACFP, Child Care Resources serves as a Summer Food Service Program sponsor, and more recently, an Emergency Food Distribution facilitator. Goff is active in the community as the President of the Virginia CACFP Sponsor’s Association, Treasurer of the Virginia Child Care Association, Treasurer of the Children’s Theatre Wellness Fund, and Finance Committee Chair for the Henrico County Mixed Delivery Coalition.

Caron Gremont is the Director of Early Childhood at Share Our Strength/No Kid Hungry. Most recently, she served as the Senior Director of Healthy Eating at Martha’s Table, a Washington, D.C.-based non-profit committed to ensuring every child, regardless of zip code, has the opportunity for their brightest future. At Martha’s Table, she led the Healthy Eating team and its programs, including Joyful Food Markets (JFMs) — no-cost farmers markets held in elementary schools in under-resourced neighborhoods for children and their families. Before joining Martha’s Table, she founded and ran a non-profit organization, First Bites, that taught young children to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables, and trained early care and education teachers and families how to make eating healthy food fun.

Geraldine Henchy is the Director of Nutrition Policy and Early Childhood Programs at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). FRAC is a research, policy, public education and advocacy center working for more effective public and private policies to eradicate domestic hunger and improve the nutrition and health of low-income individuals and families. Ms. Henchy is the author of the recently released publication “Making WIC Work Better: Strategies to Reach More Women and Children and Strengthen Benefits Use.” Ms. Henchy was a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Committee to Review the Child and Adult Care Food Program Meal Requirements. She is the current chair of the policy committee of the American Public Health Association’s Food and Nutrition Section and is a member of USDA’s Paperwork Reduction Work Group. She has been honored to receive recognition for her work from the National Professionals Association, National Sponsors Forum, California Roundtable and the National Association of Family Child Care. In addition, the American Public Health Association’s Food and Nutrition Section honored Ms. Henchy with the Sarah Samuels Award recognizing outstanding contributions in public health nutrition.

Emily Keenum is a Senior Community Liaison Health and Nutrition Advisor with the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. She leads Virginia’s Nemours-funded Healthy Kids, Healthy Future initiative to advance partnerships and systems changes that improve child health and nutrition practices in early care. Prior to joining the foundation in 2014, Emily worked in early care professional development for 20 years, providing training and consultation services on social-emotional competencies, child resiliency and health, and child behavior supports. She holds a Master’s degree in counseling from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Leslie Levine is the Early Childhood Program Manager for Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters Campaign in Colorado. In this role, Leslie oversees the Cooking Matters for Child Care Professionals training and builds partnerships within the early childhood sector to expand the reach of all Cooking Matters resources to caregivers for children aged 0-5. Prior to joining Share Our Strength, Leslie was the Partnership Engagement Manager for LiveWell Colorado where she built capacity of nonprofit, government, business, and school partners to implement healthy eating and active living programs, policies and systems-level changes throughout the entire state. Leslie earned her Masters of Public Health from the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University and a B.S. in Community Health Education from the University of Maryland at College Park.

Amy Meinen is a registered dietitian with formal training in public health nutrition. With 20+ years of obesity prevention experience, she currently works for both University of Wisconsin’s Center for Child and Family Well-Being in the School of Human Ecology and for healthTIDE. healthTIDE is a statewide network with over 3,000 partners across Wisconsin. healthTIDE also provides backbone support to Wisconsin’s Healthy Early, which is a statewide partnership using collective action and multi-sector partnerships to increase physical activity and healthy eating opportunities for kids and families.

Robin Moore is the director of North Carolina State University’s Natural Learning Initiative, and is currently involved in the design and/or renovation of dozens of outdoor spaces for preschools, special education facilities, and schoolgrounds in North Carolina. As a design consultant, Robin has been involved in the design of the Kids Together Park, Cary, N.C.; Blanchie Carter Discovery Park, at Southern Pines Primary School (featured in the New York Times, October 1999); the Playspace Family Play Center in Raleigh, N.C.; and Playport in the Raleigh-Durham Airport. Design projects in Argentina include the Lekotek Play Library; Vilas Racket Club child and family center; Friends Club Adventure Playpark, and the Ecological Village. He was design consultant to the Chicago Zoological Society for the programming and design and of Explore!, the new children’s facility at Brookfield Zoo, Illinois; and for the City of Durham for the programming and design of renovations to Duke Park as well as the development of the Durham Parks and Recreation Master Plan. His designs for children’s spaces in the USA include the well-known Environmental Yard, in Berkeley, California (recipient in 1988 of the Outstanding Contribution to the Practice of Design Research by the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA). Robin holds degrees in architecture (London University) and urban planning (MIT), and for most of his career has worked in the field of landscape architecture as an educator, researcher and consultant. Robin is also an international authority on the design of children’s play and learning environments, user needs research, and participatory public open space design. He is a public participation consultant to an interdisciplinary team working with the City of Lisbon, Portugal.

Erin Olson is a Community Health Consultant with the Bureau of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Iowa Department of Public Health. Erin coordinates the 5-2-1-0 Health Choices Count! Initiative and physical activity and nutrition program efforts in early care and education settings. She received her Masters of Public Health from Des Moines University and Bachelors in Health Promotion at Grand View University. Erin is committed to promoting life-long healthy eating and physical activity habits in children, including her two daughters.

Roshelle Payes is the Project Director of Early Childhood and Health with Nemours’ National Office of Policy and Prevention. She oversees the CDC-funded Healthy Kids, Healthy Future Technical Assistance Program (HKHF TAP) which works to integrate healthy eating and physical activity best practices in early care and education systems and settings. She also supports Project HOPE (Harnessing Opportunities for Positive, Equitable Early Childhood) funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Roshelle provides overall project direction and supports partnership engagement, strategic planning, technical assistance, and communications efforts. She has more than 15 years of project management and child nutrition experience. Prior to joining Nemours, Roshelle was a Food and Nutrition Technical Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). At USAID, Roshelle provided technical assistance and support to the design, implementation, and monitoring of large scale nutrition programs in Latin America and Africa. She holds a BS in Foreign Service, with a regional focus on Latin America, from Georgetown University and an MPH in Global Health Policy from The George Washington University.

Misty Pearson is an Early Care and Education Consultant in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity Prevention at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Misty has over 25 years of experience working in governmental public health at the local, regional, and state levels. Misty provides leadership, training, and consultation to internal and external partners to improve nutrition and physical activity within South Carolina’s early care and education system. She holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina and a bachelor’s degree in Community Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Misty is passionate about early childhood and believes investing in the early years builds a strong foundation essential to children’s learning and life outcomes. Beyond early childhood, Misty is an enthusiastic supporter of play across the lifespan. She enjoys visiting historical buildings, playing tennis and loves being outdoors under a canopy of trees.

Kelly Rogers has spent her career over the last 18 years addressing some of the most important and challenging public health issues in today’s children and youth. She has been with Nemours Children’s Health System for ten years and is responsible for strategic prevention and population health initiatives primarily in early childhood to promote health and wellness where central Florida’s children live, learn and play. Key initiatives that Kelly oversees includes work in early care and education settings on policy and practice changes to improve health and obesity solutions, education and early detection of potential vision and hearing conditions of young children, and most recently upstream, innovative programming in partnership with caregivers and educators to improve the behavioral and mental wellbeing of children and reduce the potential for future adverse childhood experiences. Kelly received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida, a Masters of Public Health from Florida International University and is a certified lactation counselor.

Mike Royster is the Vice President of the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI). He established the Institute’s Richmond office and is expanding and developing initiatives to support public health priorities across Virginia. He provides expertise and oversight for an extensive portfolio of health equity-focused programs including community health worker initiatives, training and technical assistance to promote healthy and equitable communities, health in all policies strategies, and community health improvement planning. Dr. Royster also serves as the principal investigator for IPHI as the Local Performance Site of the HRSA-funded Mid-Atlantic Regional Public Health Training Center. Prior to joining IPHI, Mike was the director of the Virginia Department of Health, Office of Minority Health and Health Equity (OMHHE). In this position, he oversaw Virginia’s state offices of minority health, rural health, and primary care. OMHHE advanced health equity by developing data tools, such as the Health Opportunity Index, to assess health inequities; improving access to quality health care and providers; developing and promoting community-based participatory initiatives; enhancing the capacity of VDH and its partners to promote health equity; and facilitating strategies to target the social determinants of health. Prior to this position, Dr. Royster was the Director of the Crater Health District headquartered in Petersburg, Virginia. In this capacity, he oversaw public health programs and services for 5 rural counties and 3 small cities with a combined population of 150,000. Among other initiatives, he led the initial implementation of emergency preparedness and response planning within the district; implemented outcome-based program evaluations for all health department programs; and led the expansion of community-based participatory efforts to promote cardiovascular health, eliminate childhood lead poisoning, and reduce teen pregnancy.

Dr. Robert Sege is a Professor of Pediatrics and Medicine at Tufts University School of Medicine, where he directs the new Center for Community-Engaged Medicine. Dr. Sege is a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy in Washington, D.C., is part of the Leadership Action Team for Massachusetts Essentials for Childhood Initiative, and serves on the boards of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust and Prevent Child Abuse America. He received the 2019 Ray E. Helfer award from the Alliance of Children’s Trusts and the American Academy of Pediatrics. He has served on national committees for the American Academy of Pediatrics and has been lead author on several important AAP policies. His extensive speaking and publication list include contributions to the prevention and treatment of child maltreatment and youth violence. He is a graduate of Yale College, and received his PhD in Biology from MIT and his MD from Harvard Medical School. Bob lives in the Boston area, where he and his wife Karen have raised three young adult children.

Bria Sledge is an Early Childhood Program Associate at the Natural Learning Initiative, where she contributes her expertise to early childhood comprehensive projects and the development of certificate programs. Bria holds a bachelor’s degree in Child Development from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and a Master of Liberal Studies degree from North Carolina State University, where she focused on utilizing family science practices in youth development. She is also a board-certified coach, specializing in family life coaching. Before NLI, she worked as a Program Assistant for the Department of Agricultural and Human Science at NC state, as Assistant Director of Extended Day at Ravenscroft School, Raleigh, NC; and as a preschool teacher.

Dr. Lisa Spector is Division Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Nemours Children’s Hospital. She completed her Fellowship in Child Abuse Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia in 2006 and later went on to complete a Fellowship in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy Hospital in 2013. Dr. Spector earned her medical degree from the University Of Iowa College Of Medicine and completed her residency in pediatrics at Tulane Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. Dr. Spector’s research and program development focuses on improving the quality of medical and mental health care to all abused and neglected children, creating innovative ways to prevent child maltreatment, and ensuring children and families reach their greatest potential after they have been exposed to trauma.

Jasmin Springfield is a GIS Research Analyst at Child Care Aware of America (CCAoA) where she uses her mapping skills to compile, manage, and analyze data which she then translates into nontraditional formats for non-technical audiences. She has developed informative story maps analyzing topics such as natural disasters, child care injuries, childhood obesity intervention, and children with disabilities in relation to child care programs, and also creates maps that examines the supply and demand gap of child care in various states. Due to the current pandemic, she has been asked to work on interactive dashboards tracking the status of child care programs due to COVID-19. Jasmin is interested in using her mapping skills to analyze today’s social concerns. Jasmin received her Bachelor of Science in Geographical Sciences and Cartography at the University of Maryland, College Park and has been with CCAoA since 2018.

Dr. Kara Odom Walker is Senior Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer of Nemours Children’s Health System. From January 2017 to August of this year, Dr. Walker served as Secretary of the Delaware Department of Health and Social Services under Governor John Carney. She was previously the Deputy Chief Science Officer at the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute and is a board-certified practicing family physician. Dr. Walker is a fellow of the American Academy of Family Physicians and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. Dr. Walker holds an MD from Thomas Jefferson University, a Master of Science in Health Sciences from UCLA, and a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University.


Many thanks to our speakers and partners!