Board of Directors

The AzAEYC Board of Directors oversees the actions and promotes the mission and goals of NAEYC in Arizona. In working to advance the early childhood profession, the AzAEYC Board of Directors supports all who care for, educate and work on behalf of young children.

Camille Lachar-Lofaro | President

Camille holds several part time positions including adjunct faculty in the Early Childhood Department at Central Arizona College and at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Professional Studies Early Childhood Division as well as working for Easterseals Blake Foundation as an Education Coordinator, supporting the two Early Learning Centers located on the Signal Peak and Superstition Mountain campuses of Central Arizona College through the NAEYC accreditation process.

Camille arrived in Arizona with almost 30 years of experience working with teachers and administrators, children, families and communities in New York State. She has fulfilled many roles including teacher, director, trainer, mentor, observer, speaker, advocate and board member.

As a founder and former principal of an early childhood training company she has experience in successfully running and growing a small business while serving the early childhood community. The company’s tag line “Mentoring early childhood professionals and organizations one relationship at a time” reflects her vision for the field.

Her 19 years of service on the local affiliate board of New York AEYC and four years on the state board has prepared her to serve as an AzAEYC board member. More from Camille on why early childhood programs should invest in NAEYC accreditation.

Service on the AzAEYC Board of Directors supports my passion for the early care and education field as it continues to grow around the core values of respect and relationships. By instilling those values not only in our youngest population but also in the adults who care for them is an investment in our future.

Mona Qafisheh | President-Elect

Mona serves as the Director of Grants and Contracts with the Association for Supportive Child Care which provides early childhood coaching, assessment, and professional development to early childhood professionals, and education for family, friends, and neighbor caregivers and families.  Mona’s role includes supporting the organization through the granting lifecycle from identification of potential funding through reporting.

Mona’s experience includes directly working with children, families, and staff in early childhood programs for more than a decade and creating and managing the quality assurance system at First Things First. She has facilitated high-quality early childhood professional development through Child Care Resource & Referral and numerous conferences focusing on the needs of early childhood leaders and the continuous quality improvement cycle.

The high return on investment of early childhood education has been proven time and time again, but unfortunately early childhood educators still have to make the case that the work we do is vital.  I am elated to serve on the AzAEYC Board of Directors and have an opportunity to represent and advocate on behalf of my peers and colleagues doing important work across Arizona.

Kamaie Clark | Vice President, Advocacy and Public Policy

Kamaie Clark currently serves as the Child Development Center Director at the Sojourner Center. In this role she supports the program which is dedicated to helping  protect victims and their children from domestic violence. Previously, she worked as a Professional Development Coach and supported the Head Start Program with Maricopa County providing training, and technical assistance.    

 Kamaie began her career in California where she grew up. She was first as an assistant teacher at the Salvation Army, while completing her general classes in early education. It was then that she was first introduced to her passion of working in the non-profit sector. Her vision for serving at-risk children and their families was shaped by her various roles as a camp counselor, afterschool tutor, teacher, professional development coach, assistant director, and director. Kamaie values most of all her faith and her family, and contributes her success thus far to the love and support that is poured onto her from them. Kamaie adores her 4-year-old daughter Nia, whom she believes teaches her more lesson than she could ever have learned in a classroom.

 Kamaie holds a bachelor’s degree in educational studies from Arizona State University, and a master’s degree in early childhood education from Grand Canyon University. As an educator Kamaie believes in the lifelong learning journey and looks forward to opportunities that will contribute to her growth and knowledge in the field.

 The opportunity to serve as vice president of advocacy and policy is a true honor. I feel a deep responsibility to be the voice of the underserved, to contribute to any and all efforts in advancing equity, and to explore solutions that will address the issues surrounding the minority and indigenous populations. As Maya Angelou once said: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” My goal is to embody that idea by operating in excellence and to bring my best.

Ann Marie Marino | Vice President, Professional Development

Ann Marie serves as Program Director for Jumpstart, an early educator professional development program. She is also adjunct faculty in the education department at Mesa Community College.

As an experienced director with a demonstrated history of program development and management in the non-profit sector, Ann Marie is skilled in education, course development, relationship management and community partnerships. She’s a lifelong learner with a passion for inspiring and empowering children through adults and holds degrees in human services and child development.

I consider AzAEYC to be the gold standard leader in driving early childhood education forward. Through work such as NAEYC’s Power to the Profession movement, our field is moving toward a unified framework for knowledge, competencies, qualifications, standards, and compensation. This work is so important, but there is still much to be done. By creating a professional identity for the field and setting appropriate expectations, everyone will be in a better position to serve young children.

Patricia Widders | Vice President, Membership

Patricia Widders is a center director with Bright Horizons at the Research Park location in Tempe. As a center director, she provides high quality professional development seminars for all 10 Bright Horizons locations in the Valley. She has extensive knowledge of the quality rating system and has developed essential relationships with Quality First and Southwest Human Development

Patricia has served as a volunteer with the Bright Horizons Foundation for Children®,  a unique hub that offers nurturing spaces in homeless shelters, domestic violence shelters, and other agencies for children to play, gather with families, and receive the services they need.

An Ashford University alumna, Patricia holds a Bachelors Degree in English and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education as well as a master’s degree in online teaching. She’s currently studying toward a Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Grand Canyon University. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her 3 children and serves on various ice hockey boards with the organizations that her children participate in. 

I’m always exploring how I can obtain knowledge in Early Education and continue to be a leader in the Early Education field. I hope to grow AzAEYC membership through the relationships and connections I have made as a center director. Creating opportunities for new members will enrich our profession as Early Education moves forward in Arizona.

Lena Malofeeva | Secretary

Lena Malofeeva is Vice President and Senior Director of Research at Evaluation Strategies, a company that provides evaluation, grant writing, and technical assistance services. She is a licensed psychologist with Tucson Counseling, Tucson, AZ and a licensed real estate agent with the Marsee Wilhems #1 Real Estate Team in Southern Arizona.

Lena earned a dual Ph.D. from the University of Notre Dame in Developmental and Counseling Psychology with a minor in Quantitative Psychology. Her interests include understanding program and strategy impacts on children and adults and identifying best practices. She works to develop policies that are based on best practices, and on finding ways to promote community collaboration and sustainability. She believes that using sound qualitative and quantitative methodologies is key.

Lena has a strong passion for the mission, vision, and values of AzAEYC and NAEYC and is pleased to serve on the AzAEYC Board of Directors. She has worked at the national and state levels and has presented to multiple audiences and stakeholders. She has extensive experience in program evaluation, design and statistics, evaluation of systems, partnerships, alliances, management of complex data systems, and estimating complex models.

My goal is to help to make the state of Arizona a better place for children and families by advocating for quality care and education. Young children are our future, and we need to invest in them intentionally and wisely.

Katie Kurtin | Treasurer

As a recent Master’s graduate from the University of Arizona, and a practitioner in the field of Early Childhood Education for 11 years, Katie is deeply committed to the field of early education. She began teaching in a preschool in Tucson and decided to pursue a BA in Early Childhood Education. She graduated in 2012 and continued teaching toddlers up to Kindergarten in Tucson. Her master’s research includes socially-just teaching and emotional regulation in Early Childhood settings. By serving on the AzAEYC board, she hopes to contribute to the national conversation about the field and advocate for educators and young children within the state of Arizona and beyond.

I feel that I have great responsibility to young children to serve to the best of my ability both as a practitioner and an advocate. I have a lot of hopes and dreams for the further professionalization of the ECE field and the implementation of the most current practices in centers across the state.

Sherilyn Analla | Member-at- Large

Sherilyn Analla is a member of the Gila River Indian Community and the Pueblo of Laguna. She is a mother of two sons and a full-time doctoral student in Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Arizona where she is also a University Supervisor of teacher candidates who are completing their student teaching field experiences through the College of Education.

Sherilyn has worked in the field of early education for 20 years as a teacher and administrator. Her work and research background includes linguistics, Indigenous education and language revitalization, curriculum and instruction, and Indigenous leadership in early education. She was a teacher and Education Coordinator in the Gila River Head Start & Early Head Start Programs. During her time there, she developed and oversaw the implementation of a successful coaching program and data system that strategically improved the overall quality of the organization.

Sherilyn believes that NAEYC and AzAEYC membership offers an opportunity to listen to the many voices within the early childhood profession so that leadership, policy, standards, and professional expectations appropriately reflect not only the culture and languages of these groups, but their diverse perspectives on childhood, family, and community-building.

“We must acknowledge that the faces of the families, children, and educators in early care settings are not reflected in early education leadership in Arizona and nationally. It is important to include the voices of these populations – such as the voices of Indigenous and other marginalized groups, including the LGBTQ community and male childcare providers – that are often missing in early education.” 

Colten Gentry | Member-at- Large

Colten works as an account manager at EPG Insurance specializing in the child care and Early Education area. He brings years of customer service experience and an ability to build lasting relationships with clients. Before coming to EPG, Colten worked as a real estate agent, a customer service representative and producer at an independent insurance agency in Phoenix. He is currently attending Grand Canyon University online in pursuit of a degree in Applied Management.

Colten enjoys spending his free time with family and friends, golfing, playing basketball, and watching sports.

I am learning about the struggles of leaders in early education. It has become a passion of mine to bring my skillset to this industry by being a resource and advisor in my area of expertise.

Carol Ramos Iturrios | Member-at- Large

A student at Central Arizona College, Carol Ramos is currently pursuing an associate degree in Early Childhood Education. She teaches in a toddler classroom at Chicanos Por la Causa, a Head Start program in Eloy, Arizona.

Carol hopes to share information from her unique perspective as a student and new teacher with the AzAEYC Board about the support and services needed to help those who have similar experiences to hers within the field. Carol arrived in the United States from Mexico in 1998 and lives in Pinal County with her husband and four children.

As a student and a newcomer to ECE, I have learned that my ideas of success may look very different from my fellow students, and especially may differ from those of my colleagues who have been in the field and have had more experience than I have.

Daniella Barreras | Member-at- Large

Daniella was raised by her grandparents raised in Phoenix, and feels lucky to call the city home.

She is  a member of the San Carlos Apache tribe and a member of the Hispanic community.

She began her career in the field of early childhood education in 2008. She holds a Master of Education in Early Childhood Education from Grand Canyon University.

She teaches two-year olds at the Solel Preschool which is both challenging and rewarding. She believes that the importance of access to quality early learning programs for young children is crucial in building a strong foundation for the future. She decided to join the board of AzAEYC because she hopes to shine a light for early childhood educators and help spread the word about how important this work is for all families throughout Arizona.

Children are the future. We need to make sure they have access to quality early education and care. I will continue to be an advocate for all young children. I hope to make a difference in my communities and be a voice for those families who feel they don’t have one. This is just the beginning for me and I am ready to create positive change in this field.

Cynnamon Woodbury | SAZAEYC Representative

Cynnamon is the newly elected Board President of the Southern Association for the Education of Young Children ((SAZAEYC) supports educators and families as a Make Way for Books Early Literacy Specialist, creating high-quality learning environments to foster children literacy and language skills.

With a background in family and child studies, Cynnamon has supported educators in fostering best practice in their classrooms. She has worked with at-risk adolescents through youth diversion programs offered by Girl Scouts of Southern Arizona. In her work with Child and Family Resource, Inc, she provided support for sexual health awareness and resilience through the GRRRLS Project and also supported the First Things First Great Expectations grant through the infant toddler community of practice, Project BEST. She has previously served on the SAZAEYC board as a member at large, then the secretary and President Elect.

Ana Bribiesca | Yuma Chapter Representative

Ana celebrates 25 years with Migrant and Seasonal Head Start and has worked with Chicanos Por La Causa in their Early Childhood Development program as Statewide Education Specialist for the past 17 years.

With a  B.A.S. in Early Childhood Education, Ana provides professional development at Arizona Western College through an Arizona PBS grant. In addition to serving on the AzAEYC Board of Directors, Ana has served on the Board of the Yuma Chapter of AzAEYC and is strong advocate of professional development within the Yuma County early childhood education community

I’m passionate about Early Childhood Education! We know the early years are a unique time of child development. My goal is to continue advocating in my community and across the state.

Mary Ann Biermeier  | Valley of the Sun Chapter Representative

Mary Ann serves as Board Chair of the Valley of Sun Chapter of AzAEYC.

She works as the Director of Professional Development at Pinnacle Presbyterian Preschool in Scottsdale, a program accredited by NAEYC and inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach.

She is the former chair of Communities in Schools of Arizona and All Star Kids Tutoring, supporting children at risk in Arizona.  Director of the INSPIRE Early Childhood Leadership Series, she is a passionate educator believing in the power of purposeful teaching practices.  

Mary Ann notes that she has had the pleasure of teaching and learning alongside some of the most talented early childhood educators in the Phoenix area. 

Learning and play should never be separated.

Elizabeth Taylor | Northern Chapter Representative

Elizabeth currently works full time as the Executive Director of four multiage, parent cooperative preschool sites in Flagstaff, AZ. She teaches preschool every day at one of the sites and has taught classes in Early Childhood Education at Northern Arizona University for over 20 years.

Elizabeth is the current president of the Northern Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children (NAzAEYC) and serves as advisor to the Northern Arizona University NAzAEYC student chapter. She holds a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Northern Arizona University and has recieved endorsements in the areas of Early Childhood, Reading Specialist and ESL.

When her children were young, Elizabeth was their preschool teacher in the mornings. In the afternoons, she offered certified childcare for DES and took care of children and adults as a certified respite care provider. She also tutored in the evenings and on weekends for those needing reading support. She is a single mom of four amazing, successful children.

Elizabeth has written parenting curriculum and is involved in the Reggio Collaboration Project. With the students at Northern Arizona University, she guides community projects including weekly readings at the library, early childhood fairs, and workshop presentations.

NAEYC is still the most respected institution for research, articles, and best practices indicators. Over the years I have met many passionate people advocating for young children and families. I love working with the Northern Arizona University students the most!

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