Speakers and State Partners

Day 1: Advancing Early Childhood Health Promotion through Outdoor Learning Environments

Roshelle Payes is the Project Director of Early Childhood and Health with Nemours Children’s’ 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. 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 Children’s, Roshelle was a Food and Nutrition Technical Advisor at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). 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.

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.

Nilda Cosco, PhD is Research Associate Professor, Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning (NC State University), Co-Founder and Director of Programs at the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI). She holds a PhD in Landscape Architecture from the University of Edinburgh/Heriot Watt University. Cosco conducts research studies, manages the professional development program, and develops and directs the comprehensive programs Preventing Obesity by Design (POD).  The creation, management, and sustainability of inclusive, multigenerational environments are central to Cosco’s work. Latest projects include the management of childcare outdoor environment projects for infants and toddlers. Cosco’s current research focuses on the impact of the physical environment on children’s healthy eating and physical activity (USDA-NIFA, 2017-2023). Findings are used to guide evidence based best practice indicators, policy, design assistance, professional development, and dissemination of information. In 2022, Cosco received the NC State University Outstanding Extension and Outreach Award and was inducted into the Academy of Outstanding Faculty in Extension and Engagement.

Robin Moore, MCP, Dipl.Arch., Honorary ASLA, is Professor and Co-founder (with Dr. Nilda Cosco) of the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI), Department of Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning, NC State University, where he teaches behavioral and policy approaches to design. He graduated from MIT in city and regional planning and University College, London, in architecture. Moore practiced with Land Use Consultants (LUC), London, the People-Environment Group, San Francisco, and Moore Iacofano Goltsman (MIG), Berkeley. He taught at UC Berkeley and Stanford University prior to NC State, College of Design (1982), where he co-founded the Center for Universal Design and the PhD in Design program. Moore’s publications include Childhood’s Domain: Play and Place in Child Development (1986), republished by Routledge (2018) as an edition in child development; Plants for Play (1993); Play for All Guidelines (1987, 1992); The Complete Playground Book (1993); and Natural Learning: Nature’s Way of Teaching (1997). Moore was president of the International Association for the Child’s Right to Play (IPA), 1990-1999. He served as board member and chair of the Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA), 1983-1986. In 2021, Moore received NC State University’s Alexander Quarles Holladay Medal for Excellence. 

Cynthia Lara is the Director of Child Care Licensing with the South Carolina Department of Social Services and is responsible for the monitoring and inspection of child care facilities across South Caroling ensuring that health and safety requirements are met. Cynthia and her team have also participated in the National Learning Initiative for Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments course to increase their knowledge of and support for naturalized outdoor play and learning environments within the regulatory framework. She holds a Master’s Degree in Management from Webster University and achieved her Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of South Carolina. 

Misty Pearson is the Early Care and Education Consultant at the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control. Misty works with partners to integrate nutrition and physical activity policy, systems, and environmental changes into South Carolina’s early care and education system. She leads Grow Outdoors South Carolina, an initiative to increase young children’s access to naturalized outdoor play and learning environments while attending child care.  She holds an M.Ed. in Early Childhood from the University of South Carolina and a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. 

Nathan Larson- Over the past two decades, Nathan Larson has enjoyed—and felt deeply grateful for—many opportunities to work with students, educators, colleagues, and community partners to establish and grow vibrant outdoor learning and garden-based education programs, environments, and networks including the Troy Kids’ Garden, Goodman Youth Farm, Wisconsin School Garden Network, and national School Garden Support Organization Network. He is the author of Teaching in Nature’s Classroom: Principles of Garden-Based Education and Got Veggies: A Garden-Based Nutrition Education Curriculum. Nathan currently serves as a lecturer and outreach program manager in the Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture at UW-Madison, and as founding principal at Restorative Places.

Amy Meinen is a registered dietitian with formal training in public health nutrition. With 23+ years of obesity prevention and healthy communities experience, she currently works for both University of Wisconsin’s School of Human Ecology as a Research and Program Outreach Manager  and for healthTIDE as the Statewide Partnerships Lead. 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. 

Day 2: Beyond the Map: Using GIS Maps for ECE State Systems Change

Alex Cooper has been CCAoA’s Geospatial Research Analyst since 2020. As part of CCAoA’s research team, he works on data analysis and mapping efforts to evaluate and advocate for child care. He holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Geography from Emory & Henry College and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, respectively, and was previously employed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He has published on topics ranging from cultural identity to environmental sustainability, and he is working to apply these backgrounds and approaches to the child care sphere to work towards a more equitable and sustainable future for the industry

Diane Girouard is currently the State Policy Senior Analyst at Child Care Aware of America. Prior to this role, Diane was a Child Nutrition Policy Analyst at the Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), where she analyzed and researched school breakfast and lunch policies in states and at the federal level. She began her career at the state level as an Education Policy Analyst for seven years under both houses of the New York State Legislature.  

Jasmin Springfield is Child Care Aware of America’s GIS Research Associate. She works on the research team using mapping and data analysis to evaluate and advocate for child care. Her mapping work involves identifying child care supply and demand gaps, monitoring the child care landscape with natural disasters, and exploring the intersection of child care with children’s health and nutrition. Jasmin has worked at CCAoA since 2018. 

Tiffany S. Bransteitter, MSW is a passionate public health professional that supports and implements evidence-based systems, environment, and policy change strategies to affect complex public health issues and increase health equity. Tiffany serves as the Obesity Prevention and Wellness Section Chief in the Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity at the Pennsylvania Department of Health. Her public health career has focused on chronic disease prevention and control since 2008, specifically obesity and diabetes. Tiffany serves as the State Physical Activity and Nutrition (SPAN) and Building Resilient Inclusive Communities Program Manager. Tiffany also serves on the Pennsylvania State Health Improvement Plan Steering Committee, as well as the Pennsylvania Interagency Health Equity Team; PA Department of Health’s Antiracism and Health Equity Taskforce; Bureau of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction’s Health and Racial Equity Workgroup; and Keystone Kids Go! Workgroup. Tiffany has a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania and a Master of Social Work degree from Temple University.

Cynthia Greene- As the Farm to Early Childhood Partnership Coordinator at Shelburne Farms, Cynthia works with partners on bridging systemic policy actions with practical classroom and educator professional development projects to scale farm to early childhood programming throughout Vermont. Cynthia brings rich experiences to this work having served as an early educator for children ages birth to five;  a program director for over fifteen years; and a grassroots organizer and community planner with Building Bright Futures as Vermont’s Early Childhood Action Plan Coordinator. She carries a deep knowledge of early childhood programming and systems including Head Start partnerships; Child Adult Care Food Programming; child care licensing and continuous quality improvement system work; and early educator professional development and preparation systems. Cynthia’s passion for this work stems from her own personal interests as a Master Gardener and home chef. If not in the garden or kitchen, you can probably find her in a kayak, at a live music venue, or breaking bread with family and friends.