Start Early. Start well.

May 02, 2016

Buffett Early Childhood Institute Announces Staff Additions

Omaha, Neb. — The Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska has named a director of finance and administration. Maria Malnack comes to the Buffett Institute from the University of Nebraska Omaha Alumni Association, where she has served as business manager since 2009. Malnack will assume her new role on May 1. 

Additionally, the Institute has appointed Amy Schmidtke as bilingual educational facilitator for the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan, beginning June 6, and Amy Roberts as research specialist, starting August 1.

“As the Buffett Institute nears its third anniversary, these appointments fill critical areas of need,” said Samuel Meisels, founding executive director. “These three professionals are each highly accomplished, effective people who will strengthen the Institute’s efforts to help all young children reach their full potential.”

As director of finance and administration, Malnack will manage all financial functions including generating the annual budget and partnering with the institute’s leadership to plan for the organization’s long-term financial sustainability. She will also facilitate implementation of the Institute’s strategic plan and oversee daily administrative operations. 

Malnack brings more than 20 years of financial and business management experience to her new role, including seven years at the UNO Alumni Association. She holds a master’s degree in public administration from UNO, and bachelor’s degrees in accounting from UNO and international business from St. Cloud State University in Minnesota.

As bilingual educational facilitator, Schmidtke will provide on-site support to elementary school leaders and teachers, enhancing teaching and learning in preschool – third grade classrooms. She will also support teachers through professional development workshops and coaching as part of the Superintendents’ Early Childhood Plan, a comprehensive approach to reducing or eliminating achievement gaps for young children in the Omaha area. 

Schmidtke brings more than two decades of experience as an early childhood teacher and coach, and has spent the past 14 years with Omaha Public Schools. An adjunct instructor at Metropolitan Community College for the past eight years, Schmidtke has a master’s degree in education from UNO and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. 

As research specialist, Roberts will contribute to grant development, and assist with methodological design and collect and analyze data for multiple projects. Roberts will research and evaluate findings related to complex policy issues, conduct analyses, and prepare manuscripts for peer review publication, research, and policy briefs.

Roberts is a graduate research assistant at the University of Virginia, where she has focused on early childhood education, professional development, and teacher-child interactions. She is finishing work on her doctorate in educational psychology, and her dissertation is titled Understanding Early Childhood Educators’ Well-being: Links to Professional Development and Child Outcomes. Earlier, Roberts was a research assistant at Towson University, where she focused on child care subsidies, early childhood policy, and research partnerships. Roberts earned a bachelor's degree in psychology at Roanoke College.
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