Start Early. Start well.



Samuel J. Meisels, Ed.D.

Founding Executive Director


Renee Wessels

Associate Executive Director for Strategy and External Affairs

Kimberly Harper, associate executive director for operations

Kimberly Harper

Associate Executive Director for Operations

Kathleen Gallagher, Ph.D.

Director of Research and Evaluation

Amy Mart, director of Professional Learning

Amy Mart, Ph.D.

Director of Professional Learning

Erin Owen, director of communications and marketing

Erin Owen

Director of Communications and Marketing

Lisa Roy, Director of Program Development

Lisa Roy, Ed.D.

Director of Program Development

Susan Sarver, Director of Workforce Planning and Development

Susan Sarver, Ph.D.

Director of Workforce Planning and Development

Rose Edzie

Rosemary Edzie, Ph.D.

Director of Development, NU Foundation

Program Staff

Kanyon Chism, associate director of program development

Kanyon Chism, Ed.D.

Associate Director of Program Development

Cris Lopez Anderson

Cris Lopez Anderson

Program Administrator

Our People square 9

Molly Colling

Program Specialist, Birth to Age 3

Our People square 10

Dalhia Lloyd

Program Specialist, Family and Community

Keeley Bibins

Keeley Bibins

Educational Facilitator

Amy Colwell

Amy Colwell

Educational Facilitator

Ellen Donahue

Ellen Donahue

Educational Facilitator

Connie Niemi, educational facilitator

Connie Niemi

Educational Facilitator

Mary Beth Pistillo

Mary Beth Pistillo

Educational Facilitator

Melissa Wolken

Melissa Wolken

Educational Facilitator Team Lead

Marie Geist, program evaluation coordinator

Marie Geist

Program Evaluation Coordinator

Workforce Development Staff

Cathey Huddleston-Casas, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Workforce Planning and Development

Cama Charlet

Cama Charlet

Program Specialist

Sara Vetter, Project Manager

Sara Vetter

Project Manager

Research and Evaluation Staff

Greg Welch

Greg Welch, Ph.D.

Associate Director of Research and Evaluation

Amanda Garrett

Amanda Garrett, Ph.D.

Research Assistant Professor

Alex Daro

Alexandra Daro, Ph.D.

Research Specialist

Kate Sutton

Kate Sutton

Research Specialist in Qualitative Methods

Elizabeth Svoboda, research specialist in quantitative methods

Elizabeth Svoboda

Research Specialist in Quantitative Methods

Venessa Bryant, database specialist

Venessa Bryant

Database Specialist

Professional Learning Staff

Janette Merkel, program specialist, preschool to third grade

Janette Merkel

Program Specialist, Preschool to Third Grade

Amy Schmidtke

Amy Schmidtke, Ed.D.

Program Specialist, Resource and Program Development 

Communications Staff

Kelly Jefferson

Kelly Jefferson

Associate Director of Communications and Marketing

Lisa Caudle, Events Manager

Lisa Caudle

Events Manager

Rebecca Elder

Rebecca Elder

Designer and Marketing Specialist

Duane Retzlaff

Duane Retzlaff

Communications Associate

operations staff

Melissa Boyer

Melissa Boyer

PDG Project Manager

Breona Gordon, Office Assistant/Receptionist

Breona Gordon

Office Assistant/Receptionist

Anita Lee

Anita Lee

PDG Program Administrator

Lee Manns, Grants Financial Specialist

Lee Manns

Grants Financial Specialist

Nicole McCoid, Business Operations Project Specialist

Nicole McCoid

Business Operations Project Specialist

Vera Valtier

Vera Valtier

Office Associate

Sue Walker, Budget and Accounting Manager

Sue Walker

Budget and Accounting Manager

Salina Wallace

Salina Wallace

Office Associate for Executive Leadership


The Buffett Early Childhood Institute is establishing four endowed community professorships on the University of Nebraska campuses. MORE


The Buffett Early Childhood Institute Graduate Scholars program awards 1-year grants worth up to $25,000 to a maximum of four NU doctoral students every year. MORE


Our work is supported by a distinguished panel of highly respected educators who form the Buffett Institute’s national Board of Advisors. MORE


A statewide strategic planning commission guided the Buffett Institute’s formation. MORE

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