Start Early. Start well.

Strategic Planning Commission

Founding Executive Director Samuel J. Meisels and the Buffett Institute’s Strategic Planning Commission created a comprehensive strategic master plan in 2013 to set forth the guiding principles and key strategies for our work. Building on this foundational work, the Institute has written a new plan for 2020-25. View the plan

Organizational affiliation listed reflects individuals' positions during their time as members of the commission.


Lori Byrne
Vice President, UNO Campus Director of Development, University of Nebraska Foundation

Tonia Durden
Assistant Professor, Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies, UNL

Tracy Edgerton
Associate Vice President, Strategic Philanthropy, University of Nebraska Foundation

Nancy Edick
Dean, College of Education, UNO

Carolyn Edwards
Professor, Department of Psychology, UNL

Sarah Edwards
Professor and Chair, Department of Teacher Education, UNO

Ayman El-Mohandes
Dean, College of Public Health, UNMC

Rosa Gofin
Professor, Department of Health Promotion, Social and Behavioral Health, UNMC

Gladys Haynes
Director, Nebraska Early Learning Initiatives, Buffett Early Childhood Fund

Melody Hobson
Administrator, Office of Early Childhood, Nebraska Department of Education

Barb Jackson
Associate Professor, Department of Education and Child Development, Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC

ReNae Kehrberg
Assistant Superintendent, Curriculum and Learning, Omaha Public Schools

Eleanor Shirley Kirkland
Director, Step Up to Quality, Nebraska Department of Education

Marjorie Kostelnik
Dean, College of Education and Human Sciences, UNL

Sarah Ann Kotchian
Director of Early Childhood Policy and Public Relations, Building Bright Futures

Lillie Larsen
Member, Nebraska State Board of Education

Michael Leibowitz
Director, Munroe-Meyer Institute, UNMC

Brian Maher
Superintendent, Kearney Public Schools

Chris Marvin
Associate Professor, Department of Special Education and Communication Disorders, UNL

Max McFarland
Professor, Department of Counseling and School Psychology, UNK

Gay McTate
Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Family Enrichment, Ltd.

Dawn Mollenkopf
Associate Professor, Department of Teacher Education, UNK

Thomas Pristow
Director, Division of Children and Family Services, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services

Sue Obermiller
Vice President, Nebraska Head Start Association; Early Childhood Programs Director, Central Nebraska Community Services

Helen Raikes
Professor, Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies, UNL

Jessie Rasmussen
President, Buffett Early Childhood Fund

Ed Scantling
Dean, College of Education, UNK

Susan Sheridan   
Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, and Director, Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools, UNL

John Sparks
Stokes-Shackleford Professor and Chair, Department of Pediatrics, UNMC

Jane Stavem
Associate Superintendent for Instruction, Lincoln Public Schools

Ted Stilwill
CEO, Learning Community of Douglas and Sarpy Counties

Fawn Taylor
Executive Director, Early Childhood Services, Omaha

Becky Veak  
Director, First Five Nebraska

Brian Wilcox
Professor, Department of Psychology, UNL, and Director of the Center on Children, Families, and the Law

Debora Wisneski 
Associate Professor and John T. Langan Professor of Early Childhood Education, Department of Teacher Education, UNO








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