Mayor Hodges Announces Cradle to K Cabinet Members
Cabinet charged with developing a plan to create equity with our children, eliminate disparities for children in Minneapolis from prenatal to three years old
May 22, 2014 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Mayor Betsy Hodges today announced the members of her Cradle to K Cabinet, a major initiative of her administration aimed at closing the achievement gap in the city’s education system by eliminating disparities for children from prenatal to three years old.
“The greatest opportunity we have to create equity is with our kids,” said Mayor Hodges. “As we strive to create true equity for our city, there is enormous potential to eliminate disparities before they even exist. Focusing on our children from prenatal to three years old is a place where the city can have a major impact. In addition to developing a plan, the Cradle to K Cabinet will coordinate and align efforts and resources to maximize a child’s ability to be ready for early-education opportunities. I am immensely proud of the cabinet we have put together and thank everyone on it for their dedication to this important work.”
Peggy Flanagan, Executive Director of the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota, and Carolyn Smallwood, Executive Director of Way to Grow, will lead the work of the cabinet as co-chairs.
Peggy Flanagan joined the Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota as its Executive Director after eight years with Wellstone Action. An active community member, Flanagan served on the Minneapolis Board of Education from 2005 to 2009, becoming the first Native American and youngest individual to serve on that board. She also was on the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board. Flanagan is a citizen of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe and a nationally recognized expert in nonpartisan voter mobilization and civic engagement, especially with Native American communities and people of color. She is a 2002 graduate of the University of Minnesota and holds a bachelor’s degree in American Indian studies and child psychology.
“We have huge disparities in our community, and we need to address them,” said Flanagan. “I am honored to be the co-chair of this cabinet so we can work with Mayor Hodges to move the dial on equity. Together, we will work to identify what we’re doing well in Minneapolis, what we need to expand on and identify where we still have gaps. We also need to determine how to measure our progress in each area so we can coordinate and align the early childhood landscape and resources to ensure greater access to those who need it most.”
Carolyn Smallwood has been the Executive Director of Way to Grow since 2004, where she has pledged to be the voice for all Twin Cities children. She is a leader in the field of early education, serving as a board member for the United Way’s Early Learning Committee and as an advisory board member of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Early Education and Development. Currently she serves on the Governor’s Early Learning Council. Smallwood is passionate about working with diverse communities and recognized for her inclusive leadership style and strong executive experience. She was once the vice president for Sales and Marketing at Twin Cities Rise! and executive director of the Minnesota Minority Supplier Development Council. Prior to entering the nonprofit field, she was a senior executive with ADC, the Broadband Company, and business banker at U.S. Bancorp.
“When we eliminate disparities for our youngest learners, we will help close the graduation rate gap and the achievement gap overall,” said Smallwood. “To achieve these goals, I am ready to get to work as a co-chair of the cabinet. We can focus on ensuring all children have a healthy start rich with early experiences that will prepare them for successful early education and literacy, have stable housing and have continuous access to high quality child development programming. Our collaboration will help reach the vision of One Minneapolis that Mayor Hodges has laid out, where all people have an opportunity to thrive and succeed.”
The Cradle to K Cabinet is charged with developing a plan that bridges across silos and sectors to maximize a child’s ability to be ready for early-education opportunities. The group will hold its first meeting in early June.
 Cradle to K Cabinet Members
Carolyn Smallwood, Co-Chair                   
Executive Director of Way to Grow
Peggy Flanagan, Co-Chair                           
Executive Director Children’s Defense Fund- Minnesota
Mikkel Beckmen                                             
Director of the Office to End Homelessness
Melvin Carter                                                   
Director, Office of Early Learning at the Minnesota Department of Education
Victor Cedeño                                                  
Director of Networks and Education Policy, Generation Next
Sarah Clyne                                                       
Executive Director, Joyce Preschool
Ann DeGroot                                                    
Executive Director of the Minneapolis Youth Coordinating Board
Teresa Diaz Barcenas                                    
Parent, Joyce Preschool
Andre Dukes                                                     
Family Academy Director, Northside Achievement Zone
Frank Forsberg                                                 
Senior Vice President, Systems Change & Innovation, Greater Twin Cities United Way
Richelle Hart-Peeler                                     
Parent Representative, Northside Achievement Zone
Sharon Henry-Blythe                                    
Director, Visible Child Initiative at the Family Housing Fund
Karen Kelley-Ariwoola                                 
Chief Officer of Strategic Alliances at Harvest Network of Schools
Steven Knutson                                                               
Executive Director and CEO of Neighborhood Health Source Clinic
Denise Mayotte                                                              
Executive Director of The Sheltering Arms Foundation; Member of Start Early Funders Group
Scott McConnell                                             
Professor, Education Psychology, University of Minnesota
Carol Miller                                                       
Senior Human Services Manager, Hennepin County
Gretchen Musicant                                        
Director of Minneapolis Health Department
Art Rolnick                                                         
Senior Fellow and Co-Director of Human Capital Research Collaborative, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota
Maureen Seiwert                                           
Executive Director, Early Childhood Education, Minneapolis Public Schools
Aaron Sojourner                                             
Assistant Professor, Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota   
Jen Van Liew                                                    
Executive Director and CEO of Minnesota Visiting Nurse Agency
Barbara Yates                                                   
President and CEO, Think Small: Leaders in Early Learning; Chair, Governor’s Early Learning Council
Deby Ziesmer                                                   
Vice President of Early Childhood Education, YWCA
*There will be a few more cabinet members, including a Head Start representative, additional parent representatives and a business leader.

Published May 22, 2014



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