Start Early. Start well.

August 07, 2019

Buffett Early Childhood Institute Appoints Two to Leadership Positions

Lisa Roy to Serve as Director of Program Development; Amy Mart Is Director of Professional Learning

Omaha, Neb. — The Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska has appointed Lisa Roy as director of program development and Amy Mart as director of professional learning.

Roy comes to the Institute from Denver Public Schools, where she served as executive director of the Early Childhood Department, managing a $57 million budget supporting more than 5,000 3- and 4-year-olds, 2,000 half-day community slots, and 1,600 low-income students with full-day Kindergarten. The department has 40 staff members that support licensing, coaching, operations, and partners with the City of Denver to increase language and literacy skills for children from birth to Grade 3.

“We are delighted Dr. Roy is joining us at the Institute. She has worked for more than two decades to support low-income families, whether in education, with health and human services partners, or through philanthropic efforts,” said Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Institute. 

Previously, Roy has done consultant work for Grantmakers for Education as the organization's equity impact group lead and served as the executive director of the Timothy and Bernadette Marquez Foundation, focusing on improving educational opportunities and increasing access and options in health care and human services for underserved or under-represented populations. Roy worked in Washington, D.C., for the Center for the Study of Social Policy as a senior associate, supporting the Child Healthy and Prepared to Succeed in School agenda for the Annie E. Casey Foundation. She also served as a grant officer for the Piton Foundation and Daniels Fund, as a Head Start administrator for the City and County of Denver, and as a director of early childhood programs for the Clayton Foundation and Catholic Charities.

She holds a doctorate in executive leadership for educational equity from the University of Colorado at Denver and a master’s degree in counseling psychology and counselor education, also from the University of Colorado at Denver, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and speech community from the Metropolitan State College of Denver (now Metropolitan State University of Denver). She replaces the Buffett Institute’s former director of program development, Chris Maxwell, who retired in May.

“My scholarly and professional work has been focused on philanthropic, family, and community partnerships in closing the achievement gap,” Roy said. “This position at the Buffett Institute presents a wonderful opportunity for me to continue this important work.” Roy will begin work at the Institute on Oct. 10.

Meisels also announced the appointment of Amy Mart as the Institute’s director of professional learning, a new position created to fulfill an integrative role at the Institute. Mart will focus on spreading the impact of systemic approaches that reduce achievement and opportunity gaps in early learning, birth through Grade 3, synthesizing work across the Institute’s research, program, and early childhood workforce units, and disseminating this knowledge to a wide range of audiences. 

Mart brings significant experience integrating research, practice, and public policy to drive large-scale changes that enhance quality and equity in education. As a researcher and consultant at the American Institutes for Research, she worked with public and private organizations nationwide to improve social and emotional learning and school climate. Mart earlier served as manager of universal supports for social and emotional learning at Chicago Public Schools, where she designed dissemination strategies and led a team of specialists to provide coaching and technical assistance, expanding use of research-based practices into more than 400 schools. 

She was a research fellow at the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), where she helped to launch CASEL’s Collaborating Districts Initiative, which supported systematic integration of social and emotional learning in 10 large urban school districts across the nation. 
Most recently, Mart has worked with the Institute for the past several months as a consultant on the Preschool Development Grant that Nebraska received from the federal government to align state systems and equip local communities to deliver services that support children’s healthy development from birth through age 5. Mart is leading a needs assessment of the availability, access, and quality of existing early childhood services, which will guide the creation of Nebraska’s strategic plan.

Mart earned her Ph.D. in community and prevention research at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received a master’s degree in human development counseling from Vanderbilt University and a B.A. in psychology from the University of Nebraska ΜΆ Lincoln.

“Amy Mart is the right person to fill this important new role at the Institute,” Meisels said. “The Buffett Institute is at a critical juncture in our young life and will focus increasingly on sharing and spreading the innovative work that has been underway. Amy’s many talents will support these efforts and do so in ways that integrate the knowledge and research base of the Institute.” 

“I am thrilled to work with such brilliant colleagues to help others learn from the Buffett Institute’s remarkable work, throughout Nebraska and beyond,” Mart said. “We have an incredible opportunity to build systems for early care and education that truly serve all children.” 

Mart will assume her new responsibilities at the Institute on Sept. 1.
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