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2019 NAEYC Public Policy Forum-Indiana Team

The 2019 NAEYC Public Policy Forum took place February 24th-26th, 2019 in Washington, D.C./Arlington, VA. The forum convenes affiliate staff and members to both learn about, and discuss the issues and legislation that are of critical importance to early learning this year. Forum participants:

  • Get the tools resources, and experiences needed to become an effective early childhood education advocate
  • Interact with peers who have experience in public policy and expand network of support
  • Meet with legislators and start building long-lasting relations with their offices

2019 Indiana AEYC Team

Linda Taylor-Team Lead and IN AEYC Public Policy Co-Chair and Department Chair for Education at Ivy Tech Community College South Bend/Elkhart

Linda is very excited to be co-leading the Indiana team along with Angie Vickery as we attend this year’s NAEYC Public Policy Forum.  This will be her fifth time participating in the forum, and she is eager to share this amazing experience with new and returning team members.  Linda’s currently serves as Department Chair for Education (Early Childhood and K-12 degree programs) at Ivy Tech Community College South Bend/Elkhart. She loves teaching college students and working with incredible faculty to engage her students in learning best educational practices for children from birth through grade 12.

Linda’s prior professional roles have included 9 years working as a licensed child and family therapist, 10 years serving as the director of two child development centers for at-risk children, ages 0-7 years, and many years as a parent educator, teacher trainer, and classroom teacher. Linda’s favorite role is proud grandma of a precious little boy who celebrated his third birthday in November. He serves as a constant reminder of the importance of advocacy for young children and their families!


Angie Vickery-IN AEYC Public Policy Co-Chair and Director of Special Services for Anderson Community Schools

Angie has been married to David Vickery for almost 25 years and they have two wonderful boys; Ben, 21 is attending Ivy Tech enrolled in the nursing program and Andy, 18 is a senior at Blue River Valley Schools. Angie feels fortunate to have such a wonderful family.

Angie received her Bachelors of Science at Ball State University (BSU) in Elementary Education and took a job right out of college teaching Head Start. Angie learned quickly that this was an extremely hard job and she didn’t know enough to be successful in this position. Angie went back to BSU and obtained a license to teach Early Childhood Special Education and finished her Masters of Arts in Education. After teaching Head Start for 4 years, Angie took another position teaching Early Childhood Special Education in a public school setting. After that she went on to teach high school special education . At that time in her life, Angie was ready to make a difference in children’s lives by setting up quality programs for children and families. She took a position as Director of Special Services and preschool at a small rural school system. After 7 years as Director of Special Services in a smaller corporation, and obtaining her Director of Exceptional Needs license, she came to Anderson Community Schools. Angie has been at Anderson Community Schools for 11 years- spending two years as Asst. Director of Special Services and 9 years as Director of Special Services.


Kyra Conatser Singer- Whitewater Valley Region of IN AEYC President and Director of New Beginnings Day Care

My name is Kyra Conatser Singer and I am currently the director of New Beginnings Day Care located in Muncie, IN. I graduated from Ball State with a bachelors in child development and family studies. I continued my educational journey at BSU by receiving a MA in Adult and Community Education, as well as Early Childhood Education.

During my “free” time, I work part time at a crisis hotline/ domestic violence shelter, coach high school cheerleading, and teach as adjunct faculty at a local community college. These experiences allow me the opportunity to work with children and their families in a variety of settings, as well as get paid for continuous learning about the changes in the field!  Prior to being a director, I’ve worked in the field of home visiting, taught in infant/ toddler classrooms, and owned a licensed child care center.


Deborah Grace- Owner, Happy House Discovery Playschool

Debbie Grace enrolled the first child in her family child care home in September 1978.  That child’s mother was department chair of the Psychology Department at a local university.  “She will never know the impact her confidence and encouragement had on me.  To think she trusted me, a brand-new provider, to take care of her fifteen-month-old son was very humbling.  In the coming years I cared for all four of her children.  Forty-one years later, I still remember what her trust meant to me.  I believe it had a lot to do with my journey as a family child care provider.”

Debbie’s passion led her to the University of Southern Indiana, where she received her Associate of Science degree in Early Childhood Education in 1998, all the while running her family child care program 55 hours per week.  She is slowly working toward a bachelor’s degree.  She is Past President and current Vice President of the Evansville Region of INAEYC, and Vice President of the newly formed Indiana Family Child Care Alliance.  Nine years ago, she started a Facebook group, Family Child Care Providers, that has 602 members, from across the nation and ten countries.

In 1999 Dr. Jean Meyer, one of Debbie’s Early Childhood professors at USI, asked her to present at the local early childhood conference.  She nervously accepted and created a session on a subject near and dear to her heart:  self-care and avoiding burnout for family child care providers.  Two people attended her session, but that did not affect her enthusiasm for her newfound passion, helping other providers survive life in family child care…the unique stress of “living at work.”  Shortly thereafter, she attended her first national conference and experienced her first plane ride.  The NAEYC Conference in New Orleans, 1999, is where Debbie picked up a proposal form for the 2000 Quality Care for Children Conference in Atlanta. Just to see what would happen, she sent it in for the session she had already created.  To her amazement it was accepted!  Her second time to present was at a national family child care conference with thirty-six providers attending her session!  Since then she has presented many times at the National Association for Family Child Care Conference, the Indiana Early Childhood Conference and local conferences; however, the cherry on top is her presentation at the 2011 NAEYC Conference in Orlando.  Her session was about Conscious Discipline, another topic that sparks passion in Debbie and has totally changed her personally and transformed her program, Happy House Discovery Playschool since she heard Dr. Becky Bailey speak at a conference in 2000 and began her Conscious Discipline journey.

Debbie is a Nationally Accredited, Paths to Quality Level 4 provider in Evansville.  She and her husband, Jim, work together in their program with their granddaughter, Madie.  Debbie and Jim have 5 children and 9 grandchildren.  “It’s a busy life, but I love it. After 41 years I have no plans to retire.  I love being a family child care provider!  We make a difference in the lives of the children and families in our program every day.  And I love working with providers, encouraging them and sharing what I’ve learned through the years.  It’s a really blessed life!”


Stacie Hocker- Recent Graduate of Education Leadership Masters Program

I have been working with children, families and educational professionals for over eighteen years in both Michigan and Indiana. I have devoted my life to working with families, community members, educators and stakeholders to find the best resources for the families and children I serve.  I learned early that advocating for quality childcare for all is essential and continued to do so as a teacher, curriculum director, consultant, administrator, volunteer, committee member, NAEYC Member and most recently as a mother.

I began my career as a Montessori teacher where I found myself devoted to serving children with diverse backgrounds.. I also have experience  in NAEYC Accredited, On My Way PreK, Reggio based, charter, private, and church settings. I have worked in many different settings but find the most joy in serving at-risk families.

I received a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education with concentrations in Early Childhood and Mathematics. I recently completed my Masters of Teaching in Educational Leadership. I completed my first half of Graduate Program Internship with Assistant Superintendent, Rob Rash  in the Office of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

The second half of my internship was spent at St. Mary’s Child Center, NAEYC Accredited.  I was able to collaborate with my mentor, Diane Pike to implement a multimedia approach to documenting professional development training and pilot program implemented in some of our classrooms. Our work was based on educational neuroscience and the effects of adversity on the young child developing brain under the direction of Lori Desautels, PhD Butler University.

As part of my internship I was invited to  participate in a Child Development and Well-Being Workgroup Meeting of Indiana Early Learning Advisory Committee (ELAC). ELAC served as a catalyst for our educational neuroscience work.   That allowed us to utilizing the most up to date research an fostering social-emotional support while empowering students, families and educators. ELAC provided a great resource to learn to nuts and bolts of early childhood and other services in Indiana. It revived my love of advocacy and led to me seeking on more opportunities to advocate for early Childhood.


Erin Kissling- Vice President of Research and Policy Initiatives at Early Learning Indiana

Erin Kissling has a passion for connecting research and policy to practice so that children can thrive in the early years. Her experience teaching three to five year olds and directing an early childhood program has inspired her commitment to ensure every child has a successful start to life. She has worked throughout Indiana to build sustainable, equitable and quality early childhood systems. Erin earned a master’s degree in elementary education with specialization in early childhood education from Ball State University and a certificate in early childhood leadership and program administration.



Cynthia Kumfer- Program Chair, Early Childhood Education, Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne

Cynthia Kumfer, Early Childhood Education Program Chair at Ivy Tech Community College Fort Wayne, has been a NAEYC member for many years. She has served on the Northeastern Region of  IN AEYC Board in various positions and launched the early childhood student organization at Ivy Tech, which offers several activities for the community throughout the year. In April, The Month of the Young Child, Ivy Tech faculty and students work together to host a children’s art exhibit, the Touch-A-Truck event for families, and visits to the lab school classroom. Leading up to Winter Break the students gather hats, mittens, gloves, underwear, and socks for the children at a local women and children’s shelter, Charis House. These advocacy opportunities are given to students in hopes that they will continue in their career advocating for young children and their families.

In addition to teaching at the College level, Cynthia has directed childcare and Preschool programs and taught kindergarten and early elementary.

Cynthia attends the IN AEYC Public Policy forums and the National Conventions whenever possible. Cynthia is originally from Fort Wayne, graduated from Anderson University and Indiana University and began her career as a teacher at St. Peter’s Head Start, now the Hanna-Creighton Center. She has three adult children, one granddaughter and resides in Whitley County.





2017 Indiana AEYC Team

2018 Indiana AEYC Team

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe T.E.A.C.H. Scholarship  was a wonderful experience, and the scholarship removed the financial stress that comes with the expense of attending college. As a recipient of the T.E.A.C.H Scholarship it allowed me to focus more on the classes and earned me a place in the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society! Thank you T.E.A.C.H!
8% Increase annually for the last four years.
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