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2019 Child Care Aware Institute

It’s About You

Join us for the 2019 Child Care Aware Institute, hosted by the Child Care Aware of Minnesota Coordinating Office.

The Institute is a professional development and networking opportunity for all Child Care Aware staff and select partners. This year’s theme is “It’s About You.” Sessions will focus on incorporating wellness and self-care into your work and sharing those skills with the early educators you work with.



Wednesday, November 6 and Thursday, November 7



Double Tree by Hilton
2540 North Cleveland Ave
Roseville, MN 55113



Registration is now closed.

You will also need to register for each day you are attending in Develop.

Wednesday, November 6
Thursday, November 7


Wednesday, November 6

 9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m. – Registration
10:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m. – Welcome and Opening Remarks
11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. – Keynote
12:00 p.m.-12:45 p.m. – Lunch
1:00 p.m.-2:15 p.m. – Breakout Session #1
2:15 p.m.-2:30 p.m. – Break
2:30 p.m.-3:45 p.m. – Breakout Session #2
3:50 p.m.-5:05 p.m. – An Overview of the Ojibwe and Dakota Language Curriculum
5:15 p.m.-6:30 p.m. – Social Hour

Thursday, November 7

8:00 a.m.-9:00 a.m. – Registration and Breakfast
9:00 a.m.-10:15 a.m. – Breakout Session #3
10:20 a.m.-11:35 a.m. – Breakout Session #4
11:40 a.m.-12:30 p.m. – Lunch
12:45 p.m.-1:45 p.m. – Closing Panel: Your Early Childhood Journey and How You Take Care of Yourself
1:45 p.m.-2:00 p.m. – Closing Remark and Door Prizes


The Seasons of Life – Change, Attitude, Perseverance
By Richard Coffey

Our lives consist of ever-changing seasons. Today, we will learn:

  • How having the right Attitude is key for your continued success.
  • How to effectively create new Standards and Rituals to help you move to the next level.
  • How to improve your Professional and Personal Brand and understanding that it’s always on display.
  • The importance of consistently increasing your Skills and Knowledge.
  • How to tap into your Personal Power.
  • How to push past your Fears and move through your Failures.
  • Understanding that your Personal Development is key to both you and your organization’s success.

Richard Coffey is a native of North Carolina. He is a businessman and former professional athlete. Richard served three years in the United States Army as an Airborne Paratrooper. Richard is a former University of Minnesota Gopher Basketball player and NBA Minnesota Timberwolf. After his stint in the NBA, he continued his basketball career by playing and coaching abroad in Europe and Asia. In his professional career, Richard has started multiple businesses, worked in corporate America, and has given presentations throughout the United States. Richard believes being “average is your enemy” and his ultimate goal is to assist others as they discover and utilize their talents to meet challenges and solve problems.


Breakout Session #1

  1. Early Learning as City Building: Chattanooga’s Development of a City Early Learning System
    Cities hold an amazing amount of resources for developing and executing early learning systems, but this promise is just being realized. Please join us as we share the evolution of Chattanooga’s early learning system including how we economic development and financing, public-private partnerships, and local-level leadership for change. As state and federal systems mature, the time is right to focus on a comprehensive local systems approach.

    Ariel Ford serves as the Deputy Administrator overseeing the City of Chattanooga’s Office of Early Learning. Previously, Ariel worked in Delaware’s Department of Education, developing systems to improve services and supports for child care programs and educators, and overseeing the Statewide Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership grant. She has also served as a countywide director for Child Care Resource & Referral, as a center director, and as a two-year-old classroom teacher. She holds an MA in Early Childhood Education from East Tennessee State University, and a BA in Theater and Literature from the University of North Carolina Asheville.

  2. Overcoming Your Limiting Beliefs and Getting to Action
    In this highly interactive workshop, you will be given the tools and time needed to overcome some of the limiting beliefs that hold you back from achieving more and/or advancing equity. Whether it is personal or professional, the process you will go through will challenge you in new ways. You will become inspired to rethink what is possible. If you can change your story, you can change your situation.

    Donte Curtis is the owner of Catch Your Dream Consulting/Coaching where he mentors, inspires, and trains individuals and teams nationwide on leadership development, racial equity, entrepreneurship, and making effective change. Donte supports his clients to excel in their dreams and discover new alternatives. With over eight years of facilitation experience, Donte is adept at fostering the collective wisdom in the room and creates space to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. Probably one of the most energetic people you will ever meet, Donte lives a life that is dedicated to leadership, social justice, and liberation.

  3. Building Self Care into Our Workplaces
    Learn how the CCA Coordinating Office is implementing a new workplace wellness policy designed to support employees’ stress reduction and wellness activities by offering regular, paid “wellness time” each week. Participants will also have a chance to experience two regular wellness activities that staff facilitate: yoga and mindfulness meditation.

    Melissa Slapnicher is the Quality Improvement Coordinator at Child Care Aware of Minnesota. Melissa holds a BS in Child and Family Studies from St. Cloud State University, and spent her early career working with children and families as an Early Childhood Educator in the Annandale School District. Melissa’s preferred wellness activities are gardening and yardwork, exploring nature with her children and pets, and reading.

    Elsa Carlson is the Trainer and RBPD (TARSS) Manager at Child Care Aware of Minnesota. Elsa holds a BA in Global Studies and Spanish from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked in the Minneapolis Public School district, working with English-language learners. After seven years as a stay at home mom to her four children, and doing work as a birth doula, she joined Child Care Aware. Elsa is a certified yoga instructor and enjoys teaching her colleagues as part of the wellness program at the Coordinating Office.Diane Benjamin is the Communications Director for Child Care Aware of Minnesota. Outside of her work at CCA, she is a long-time Zen Buddhist practitioner and has taught meditation and mindfulness to both children and adults. She leads a weekly mindfulness meditation session at the Coordinating Office.

Breakout Session #2

  1. Tennessee’s QRIS: Unpacking Systems Outcomes
    Over the last 20+ years states and localities have invested heavily in improving the quality of early education programs through QRIS. In this session you will learn the structure of Tennessee’s Star Rating System, and we will develop tools around critical examination of program and policy decisions. Questions like “who does this decision serve?” and “what are the unintended consequences of this policy?” will be explored.

    Ariel Ford, Deputy Administrator, City of Chattanooga’s Office of Early Learning.

  2. Power to the Profession: From Dreams to Reality
    NAEYC’s Power to the Profession initiative is coming to an end after two years of planning, drafting, and receiving feedback. Participants in this session will review and discuss the final decision cycles, focusing on infrastructure building and accountability. We will explore how the initiative’s ambitious goals might begin to take hold in Minnesota, and what coaches, advisors, and supervisors need to know as the early childhood education field continues to evolve.

    Kylie Cooper is the Workforce Advising Coordinator at Child Care Aware of Minnesota. She oversees the Minnesota CDA learning communities and partners with education institutions across the state. Kylie is also the Co-President of the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC-MnSACA) and has been a Master Trainer since 2016. Kylie’s background as a preschool and toddler educator shapes her work with professionals and pushes her to advocate for high-quality educators in all settings. She holds a master’s in Early Childhood Education and was recognized as a Leader for Child Care by Exchange magazine in 2018.

  3. Communications Strategies to Reach All Parents
    Because of language barriers, discrimination, misinformation, isolation, and the complexity of the early childhood system, many Minnesota parents have a hard time learning about healthy child development and their child care options. As part of the state’s Preschool Development Planning Grant, Wilder Research conducted research statewide to better understand these challenges and provide guidance on how to improve communication with parents. This session will review the findings and how they apply to your everyday work.

    Jennifer Valorose is a research scientist at Wilder Research. She has over 12 years of research and evaluation experience in early childhood education, youth development, and public health. Her recent work includes several statewide child care studies for DHS, evaluations of out-of-school time programs, and development of Minnesota’s School Readiness Report Card. Her research interests include early childhood care and education, environmental health, home visiting, economic development, leadership development, and youth programming. Jennifer holds a Master of Public Policy in Nonprofit Management and Environmental Policy from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs and a bachelor's degree from the College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University.


An Overview of the Ojibwe and Dakota Language Curriculum

Learn more about the new Ojibwe and Dakota Language Curriculum training, which provides a vison tool for understanding the importance of language to indigenous people. This interactive training engages participants in using the language and supports the use of MNTRECC Ojibwe and Dakota Language Kits.

Nyleta Belgarde holds a Master’s in Gifted Education from Oklahoma City University and a BA in Educational Anthropology from Stanford University. She is currently a professor at the Leech Lake Tribal College in Cass Lake, MN teaching Ojibwemowin Language courses and “Speaking Ojibwe to Children.”


Breakout Session #3

  1. Early Childhood Mental Health: Everything You Need to Know
    Early childhood mental health is an emerging area of focus for the early childhood education system. Participants in this session will understand the mental health consultation system for childcare in Minnesota, learn how to make referrals for mental health consultation, and learn how to seek more information about the mental health system.

    Catherine L. Wright, PsyD, LP, LPCC, is a licensed psychologist and professional clinical counselor. Catherine has over 25 years of experience providing direct children’s mental health services and managing children’s mental health programs and systems.  She is the Early Childhood Mental Health System Coordinator within the Behavioral Health Division of the Minnesota Department of Human Services. At DHS, Catherine is responsible for developing the early childhood mental health system of care, including training early childhood mental health clinicians, supporting policy development, and integrating clinical services within childcare, Head Start, schools, primary care clinics and the adult mental health system.

  2. Become an Advocacy Acrobat
    You already have the experience and passion. Now take your advocacy to the next level! What’s the most effective way to talk to others about the importance of early care and education? How can you adjust your argument based on who you are talking to? Let’s explore how to connect your own story about early childhood education to some of the larger narratives about economic development, workforce, and return on investment. We’ll draw on your own knowledge and explore other resources for strengthening your advocacy flexibility.

    Marie Huey is the Public Policy and Advocacy Coordinator at Think Small. She has spent the last nine years in early care and education as a reading tutor, home visitor, and advocate. She is passionate about working with others to remove barriers so that all parents and children can thrive.

  3. Cultivating Strengths Based Leadership
    Creating high impact work teams doesn’t just happen. How do you create a motivational environment to help your team do their best work and achieve your organizational goals?  What are the essential skills and attitudes to be a successful team leader in your organization?  This interactive session will examine the skills and attitudes for strength-based supervisory leadership.

    Renae Oswald Anderson, Partner of Strategic Consulting & Coaching, LLC brings knowledge from over 30 years of leadership and management in health and human service organizations. She has worked with many boards of directors and provided leadership transition services including executive search, candidate recruitment, and onboarding. Renae also has extensive experience in program design, delivery and evaluation and community collaborations. Renae serves as an adjunct faculty member in human services at Century College. She holds a master’s degree in Nonprofit and Public Administration from Metropolitan State University and a BS in Community Health with a minor in Business Administration.


Breakout Session #4

  1. Self-Care is NOT Selfish
    “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” -Eleanor Brown. As members of the child care field, we are so passionate about advocating for the needs of our providers, children, and families that we often forget to include ourselves in the equation. In this interactive session, participants will learn practical ways to incorporate mindfulness and self-care practices in their personal, daily routine.

    Ann Dillard is the founder of KIPP consulting services, and is passionate about instilling hope and empowering individuals and families to live their best lives. She is also a credentialed trainer through the Minnesota Center for Professional Development and has served as an online instructor on the Eager to Learn forum for over 15 years. Ann holds a MA in Marriage and Family Therapy from Argosy University, and a BS in Business Operations DeVry University. She is also trained in foster care and adoption competency and is a Certified Daring Way Facilitator through Dr. Brene Brown’s organization.

  2. Telling the Story of Quality Child Care
    In this hands-on, fast-paced session, you will learn how to more effectively tell the story of why quality child care is important, why early childhood educators should be respected, and why Minnesota needs a strong Child Care Aware network.

    Diane Benjamin is the Communications Director for Child Care Aware of Minnesota. She came to CCA almost two years ago after a long career in nonprofit program management, strategic communications consulting, and philanthropy. She holds an MPH in Community Health Education from the University of Minnesota, and a BA in Communications from Concordia College – Moorhead.

  3. You and Difficult Conversations
    Difficult conversations can drain us of energy and leave us shaky, questioning ourselves and our abilities. In this session, we will use brain-science and psychology to understand why that happens. Most importantly, we will explore emotionally intelligent tools and strategies to help us transform conversations and practice self-care.

    Joshua Koepp has over 25 years of experience serving children, youth, and families and 18 years at a trainer. He led School Age, Early Childhood, and family camp programs full time for 14 years, and has served as adjunct faculty at several colleges and universities in the Twin Cities. He consistently trains both online and in person, has experience as an accreditation consultant, and is a certified parent coach. Joshua holds a master’s degree in School-Age Child Development from Concordia University and a master’s degree in Counseling and Psychological Services from Adler Graduate School.

  4. Resilient Leadership
    Supervisors are often charged with holding the tension of competing views and expectations. During this workshop, attendees will reflect on the challenges they face, find connection with those facing similar challenges, and explore the ripple effect of those stressors on their personal well-being and the broader health of their workplace. Leaders will learn to respond to these challenges by cultivating self-awareness, understanding their truth, and practicing personal rather than oppressive power.

    Lindsay Walz’s work with youth has spanned all developmental stages and educational, treatment and community-based settings. In 2007, Lindsay survived the collapse of the 35W Bridge in Minneapolis. Creative expression played a pivotal role in her healing journey and, as she healed, her long-held dream of opening a youth center came into focus. In 2013, Lindsay founded Courageous heARTS in partnership with eight Minneapolis teens and serves as the Executive Director. Lindsay holds a master’s degree in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota. She trains and consults with organizations and schools about cultivating trauma-informed practices and shifting cultural norms to build personal and collective resilience.


Closing Panel: Your Early Childhood Journey and How to Take Care of Yourself
Join Child Care Aware of Minnesota’s Executive Director Ann McCully as she facilitates this panel of early childhood professionals.

Thuba Nguyen has been in the field for seven years and is currently a center director. She holds a BA in Leadership in the ECE field and is a certified Develop Trainer II. She has a deep interest in elevating the general public's knowledge about early childhood professionals and raising the standard ECE teachers set for themselves. She believes professional growth is essential to building a stronger and better community of early childhood professionals.

Sharyl Kalal has been a child care provider for the past 16 years. Her program is accredited through NAFCC and has a Four-Star Parent Aware Rating. She is active with her local child care association, is a certified trainer, and a TEACH recipient. She holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies and Advocacy from Walden University.

Habso J. Mohamud is a proud Somali American who came to the United States at age 10 with her family, settling in Fargo, ND. Currently living in St. Cloud, she is a youth champion, social activist, community advocate, and a world traveler who connects her passion for education with her desire to help children and women and make an impact. Habso holds a master’s degree in Global Education, Gender and Leadership Development, and a BA in Geography, Travel, and Tourism from St. Cloud State University.