Start Early. Start well.

February 04, 2022

Elevating the Early Childhood Workforce Is Aim of Newly Launched Leadership Cadre

Early Childhood Professionals Across Nebraska Selected for New Buffett Institute Initiative

Omaha, Neb. — The Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska has chosen 26 early childhood professionals from across the state for the inaugural Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Leadership Cadre.

The Buffett Institute formed the group to put these professionals’ perspectives front and center in conversations about the future of Nebraska’s early childhood workforce. Over the next three years, cadre members will build their collective capacity as thought leaders and early childhood workforce leaders. The cadre will nurture and refine members’ ideas for elevating Nebraska’s early childhood workforce and implement small pilot projects in the communities where they live.

“I am excited to begin meeting with these outstanding educators and begin our work together,” said Cama Charlet, manager of early childhood workforce initiatives at the Institute. “These 26 members bring such diversity to the cadre, coming from every corner of the state and representing different settings and levels of experience.”

Charlet said the cadre drew interest from 270 early childhood professionals. 

“Though only a fraction of them could be selected for the cadre, we want to harness that enthusiasm and excitement to make a difference,” she said. “The Institute will be seeking ways to keep applicants involved in the effort to strengthen early care and education in our state.”

Cadre members will meet in person four times a year for one weekend day. The first meeting, set for late February, will be held online.

In addition to in-person meetings, each cadre member will attend one two-hour virtual meeting with a small group in the months between in-person meetings. Cadre members will commit about five hours of additional time each month interacting with their peers and reflecting on the cadre experience in an online discussion platform.

Cadre members will receive a $1,000 stipend annually for full participation during the life of the cadre. Additionally, funding is available to cover the costs associated with attending one or more professional conferences and materials relating to professional learning.

Members selected for the inaugural cadre include: 

Alexa Apa, Lincoln
Shannon Burks, Grand Island
Ashli Carlock, Omaha
Tara Craig, Chadron
Jessica Dutton, Scottsbluff
Amy Dworin, Omaha
Jeannie Farwell, Chambers
Justin Fearing, Lincoln
Jaime Frey, Dawson
Penny Gerking, Auburn
Amber Holz, Ashland
Dodi Imler, Elkhorn
Susan Johnson, Falls City
Candace Kastrup, Lincoln
Chelsea Larkins, Lincoln
Martina Lucius, Scottsbluff
Molly Parsons, David City
Brandy Price, Pierce
Shawna Rischling, Alliance
Shauna Roberts, Fremont
Carime Ruvalcaba, Grand Island
Kelsey Schnoor, Battle Creek
Abbey Sualy, Omaha 
Kristine Van Hoosen, Wood River
Amy Vinton, Kearney
Linda Walters, Omaha

The cadre is part of the Buffett Institute’s longstanding commitment to elevating the early childhood workforce. The idea grew out of the recommendations by the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, a group of more than 40 Nebraska public- and private-sector leaders who convened over three years to address ways to strengthen and expand the early childhood workforce. The commission’s report, Elevating Nebraska’s Early Childhood Workforce: Report and Recommendations of the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, was released in January 2020.
Scroll to top