Meet the OCAEYC Board
The OCAEYC Board is comprised of Executive Board Members and Board Members at Large. Board Meetings are open to the community and if you are interested in volunteering with one of our committees please reach out to that person or contact the Executive Director.
Executive Board Members
Cristina Blevins, M.A.
With nearly two decades of experience in early childhood education, Cristina Blevins has touched the lives of countless teachers and children. Cristina has a true heart for the education of young children, and goes above and beyond to support teachers in making a difference in the lives of those children. Cristina’s experience in the education field ranges from being a classroom teacher for PK-Grade 1, to being a program director for various programs including; Head Start, State Preschool, dual immersion, and fee-based early education. Cristina also has experience as a coach utilizing Cognitive Coaching and was an adaptive schools facilitator. In addition, Cristina is bilingual and bi-literate in English and Spanish. Her expertise is supporting not only the development of English learners, but the teachers who serve them. Cristina has been able to utilize her extensive experience and knowledge to lead participants through engaging professional development that reflects current research, promotes equity of education and includes meaningful, hands-on learning practices. Dedicated to ensuring that children have a strong foundation for successful lifelong learning and development, Cristina holds both a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Education. In addition, Cristina is a Trainer of Trainers in CLASS and CSEFEL. She is certified in a variety of classroom-quality assessments, including CLASS (PK), ECERS and ITERS. Cristina’s expertise in facilitating change in the classroom has proven highly effective across the country.
Sarah Shawesh, M.A.
Sarah is a founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Building Resilience In Communities and Kids (B.R.I.C.K) Consulting, an adjunct professor, lecturer, early childhood educator, and development specialist. She received a masters degree in Human Development where her graduate studies focused on authentic parent-child relationships. Ms. Shawesh has spent most of her career helping families, educators and children understand development in a way that allows everyone to find joy in the day-to-day. She strives to break down development in a way that makes sense and increases positive outcomes for all!
Marilee Cosgrove, M.A.
Marilee started her career at the City of Irvine as a Supervisor in Community Services opening the completed community parks and later as an administrator in the newly established Child Care Coordination Office. The purpose of the office was to increase the number of child care spaces for infants through school age in a high quality environment. With the growth in Irvine and the addition of Irvine Valley College, Marilee became part of the founding Faculty in the Department of Human Development. She has 28 years of experience teaching courses in Child Development and Adolescent studies at Irvine Valley College, other Community Colleges, and the California State University system. Marilee has been a consultant providing professional development and program analysis for public and nonprofit organizations and was a lead researcher in measuring the benefits of recreation and social services programs. Marilee served as a past Chair of the Orange County Planning Council, first President of the Tri-County Chapter of the newly formed California School age Consortium, and has actively participated in other countywide and State committees as well as professional organizations. Currently, Marilee is Director of Child Development Services for the Fullerton School District. This is a comprehensive Reggio inspired social constructivist program that encompasses a myriad of services for children and parents, infants through eighth grade. These include but are not limited to, tuition and grant funded preschool, after school programs, and Early Learning Studios serving 3,000 children and families daily.
Melissa Wheelahan, M.A.
Melissa Wheelahan is a Program Specialist for the Orange County Department of Education, where she is part of the early learning team supporting Quality Start OC. She is responsible for quality improvement efforts that support the workforce through training, technical assistance, and professional growth advising. She is also part of the QRIS Region 9 team, which supports QRIS regional efforts to Riverside, San Bernardino, and Imperial counties. She has a long history in early childhood education including teaching in the classroom, being a California Early Childhood Mentor Teacher, and an Administrator. Currently she teaches early childhood classes part-time at Saddleback and Orange Coast College. She holds an A.A. from Saddleback College, a B.A. in Education from Concordia University Irvine, and a Master of Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Pacific Oaks. She maintains a California Program Director Permit and a Career Technical Education (CTE) Teaching Credential in Education, Child Development, and Family Services. She loves being the treasurer for and is passionate about ensuring we are good stewards of our funds, and that they are used to meet the mission and values of OCAEYC. She is very passionate about helping early learning professionals reach their educational goals and advocating for professionalizing our field when it comes to wage disparities. She volunteers her time on the Mission Viejo High School Music Boosters Alumni Committee and on her church’s Ministry Leadership Team. In her spare time, she LOVES to do escape rooms and spend time with her husband Dennis and her three grown children Trey, Mason, and Ashton. On any given weekend you can find her either at the beach, at church, or just chilling watching movies.
Board Members At Large
Susan V. McClintic
Board Development Chair
As a beginning teacher in kindergarten, first and second grades, Susan sought and received priceless mentor-ship from supportive colleagues within her school communities. Her own education as a child felt detached and routine, and she was determined to find ways to bring literacy, math, and science concepts to life in playful and child-initiated ways. This collaborative reflection, analysis and brainstorming enhanced her teaching skills and helped her make meaningful differences within her own classroom. When Susan became a parent, her curiosity about infant and toddler development (and the lack of child care options for her very young children) led her to work as a toddler teacher and a child care center director where she could bring her children with her to work and benefit from employee tuition subsidies. Susan learned so much from the challenges and joys of the early childhood workforce that she never returned to public school settings. Susan’s desire to pay it forward in supporting the future early childhood workforce led her to community college teaching as a founding member of Irvine Valley College’s part-time faculty where over the next 25 years she taught a wide variety of courses and mentored a very diverse community of students. She also directed Orange Coast College’s Early Childhood Lab School and was administrator for the Irvine Child Care Project. Susan continues advocating for children, families, and the early childhood workforce as a volunteer in retirement. She is pleased to rejoin the OCAEYC board and continue seeking ways to better support educators and administrators serving children and families in our community.
Hannah Thompson, M.Ed.
Advocacy and Public Policy Chair / Young Professionals Advisory Council (YPAC)
Hannah Thompson has her masters from California State University, Long Beach in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education. Hannah has a background working in and with early childhood education schools and environments. Hannah currently works as an Early Childhood Mental Health and Wellness Consultant for Start Well Orange County which focuses on mental health consultation for early care and education. Hannah is also involved in the Orange County Association for the Education of Young Children as the Public Policy and Advocacy Chair and continues to do research that focuses on the birth to eight population and the field of early childhood education.
Alex Yang, M.Ed.
Member Services Co-Chair
Alex Yang is a Program Specialist with the Orange County Department of Education, where he is the current coach lead for the early learning team. In addition, Alex has supported many educators ranging from Infant, Toddler, and Preschool-aged classrooms as a coach who seeks to build the professional growth and knowledge of the educators he works with. Furthermore, he has trained on professional learning opportunities such as; the Play Experience, CLASS, SEFEL, and CPIN. Before working at OCDE, Alex was a state preschool teacher with the Fullerton School District where he led a Reggio-inspired classroom that supported the interests of the children while maintaining a social-emotional and play-driven classroom to support the needs of all his students. In his free time, Alex enjoys spending quality time with his wife Mayra, their four young children, and their puppy Finn. As a family, they look forward to taking driving adventures to national parks, going on hikes, and visiting eateries along the way.
Nancy Dayne, Ed.D
Professional Development Chair
Dr. Dayne has been in the field of early childhood education for over twenty two years. She has been an infant / preschool / toddler teacher, assistant director, and center director. She is an assistant professor in Child Development and Family Studies at California State University Long Beach, where she has been teaching since 2004. Nancy is also a professional growth advisor for the child development permit. Her research interests include college student parents and their childcare options / well-being, father involvement / engagement, pre-service and in-service teacher training, and family dynamics. Outside of her professional life, she is a wife and mother of two girls. She loves to read, travel, and has recently added gardening as a new hobby! She is excited to be part of the OCAEYC board!
Sandy Avzaradel, M.S. Ed.
Interest Groups Co-Chair
Sandy is the Director of Early Childhood OC, an organization which promotes Orange County’s Early Childhood Policy Framework, champions an increase in funding to early childhood programs and services, and supports initiatives which cultivate resilient families, ensure quality early learning and promote comprehensive health and development. In addition, Sandy designed and implemented the Early Childhood Mental Health and Wellness Program, a county-wide program where Early Childhood Mental Health Consultants work alongside preschool professionals to support social and emotional development and effectively work with children with challenging behaviors and / or mental health concerns. As a part-time adjunct faculty member at California State University, Fullerton in the Child and Adolescent Studies Department, Sandy enjoys sharing her early childhood passion and expertise with future educators. Sandy has provided numerous local, state, and national presentations with a focus on social / emotional development, mental health and challenging behavior, school readiness, child development, special education, parent education, and Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) for early childhood. Sandy is a former Board Member for Families Forward and is proud to serve as the Fund Development Chair for OCAEYC. When not advocating for early childhood, Sandy enjoys spending time with her husband, two young children, and her dogs.
Maria Isabel Michea
Interest Groups Co-Chair
Maria Isabel Michea graduated from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile where she studied Early Childhood Education. She has been working as an early educator for over thirty years. Maria is currently a student in the Child Development Department of Fullerton College and has completed sixty units in Child Development so far. She currently owns and operates Michy's Reggio Family Childcare, is a member of the organization Educators for Peaceful Classrooms and Communities (EPCC), and serves as secretary to the Concejo Asesor de Educadores y Cuidado Infantil (CAECI). Maria is passionate about collaborating with other educators to share knowledge and experiences that will improve the quality of early learning programs in our county.
Wendi Evans, B.A.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Chair
Wendi L. Evans (She/Her) is a member of the Orange County Child Care and Development Planning Council, representing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBTQ+) Center OC. She has been a volunteer on the Transgender Health and Wellness Committee and Transgender Community & Allies Together (TCAT). Wendi helped develop the Youth Library Project which is committed to creating a library section (preschool – young adult) at the LGBTQ Center OC and promoting LGBTQ+ children’s literature events throughout Orange County. Wendi is often invited to speak in higher education classes on the subjects of Gender Development and LGBTQ issues in education. She is a member of the Orange County Inclusion Collaborative and was part of the development of The Inclusion Pathways. Wendi is the former Inclusion Director at A Child’s Place Learning Center, Inc. (ACP) and has her Bachelor of Arts in Child Development. With 20+ years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education she has worked with many educators and families to provide a deeper understanding of behavioral management to assist with challenging behaviors and has advocated for children and families from special populations. Currently, she is a Master Teacher for Catalyst Family, Inc., where she is supporting their inclusion program. Wendi is also a mom of two teenage kids who keep her busy and youthful. Her daughter is a Senior and her son is a Junior in Huntington Beach Union High district. As a family they like to take road trips, binge watch TV and go to punk shows.
Jennifer Kinkel, M.A.
Social Media Chair
Jenn has been working with children and families for over 26 years in a multitude of roles. Just prior to teaching full time at Fullerton College beginning in the fall of 2016, she worked at the Huntington Beach City School District as their Director of Early Childhood Education. In this role, she coordinated all of the district's early learning programs for children between the ages of 0-5 and their families. She has taught numerous Child Development courses at Fullerton College, Irvine Valley College, and Brandman University and continues to be quite passionate about assisting students who are interested in investigating, exploring, and wondering about young children and their growth and development. She completed her Bachelor's degree in Psychology and Social Behavior at the University of California, Irvine, and earned her Master of Arts degree in Human Development at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. She also holds a Montessori certification and has traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy, to study the educational techniques and pedagogy stemming from that area. She has specific expertise in program administration, observation and assessment and emergent curriculum tied to the Reggio Emilia philosophy of education. Personally, she spends her time outside exploring the world with her four year old daughter Hope. They love going on adventures together and are often out and about, making memories.
OCAEYC Support Staff
Shana Chance, M.A.
Fund Development Officer
During her twenty years as a fundraising professional, Shana Chance has raised tens of millions of dollars for a variety of initiatives including, but not limited to: education, health disparities; professional development; scholarship support; leadership development for high-school and college students; and social justice training for young women.
Shana is also a dedicated community volunteer, giving her time to nonprofit organizations such as 100 Black Women of Orange County (where she was the Vice President of Membership). Ms. Chance was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her B.S. in Communication from Boston University and her M.A. in Mass Communication from the University of Georgia.
Laura Herrera, B.A.
Laura has over 14 years of experience working in education administration roles for various school districts in Orange County. She started her career as an administrative assistant, then later on as a bilingual office manager for a Title 1 school. Her English and Spanish skills proved to be an invaluable asset in supporting students, teachers, and parents. She later graduated from National University, earning a B.A. in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources. She periodically works as an HR Consultant with a firm specializing in California and Federal Employment regulations. She is also a TESOL certified online ESL instructor specializing in English as a second language for Chinese students. In her spare time, Laura enjoys spending time with her husband and two young kids. She enjoys hiking, reading, and keeping up with interior design trends. She plans on becoming a graduate student in the near future.
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