True leaders don’t create followers… they create more leaders.

Our annual report

High-Performing Inclusive Organization Statement


The Valley of the Sun GOVERNING BOARD Members:


Mary Ann Biermeier holds a M.Ed. with distinction in Early Childhood Curriculum and Instruction.  She is an educational speaker, instructional designer, and author with over 20 years teaching in the early childhood field. Mary Ann is former chair of Valley of Sun Chapter AzAEYC, former chair for Communities in Schools of Arizona and All Star Kids Tutoring, supporting children at risk.  Inspired by the Reggio Emilia approach, she understands the transformative power of relationship driven teaching strategies.  Mary Ann reminds us, all children learn deeply through highly social, playful environments.

CO-CHAIR – Lisa Cobb

Lisa Cobb is the Regional Coordinator for AZ PBS a division of ASU. She administrators the Arizona Early Childhood Workforce Registry and First Things First College scholarships.  She has over 30 years in the field of early care and education. Former administrator, consultant and state director for First Children’s Finance.   She represented the U.S. as a Global Leader with the Child Care Information Exchange Magazine represented at the World forum on Early Care and Education.

CO-CHAIR – Judy Basham

Judy Basham is the Program Director and Faculty for ECE at Glendale Community College. She has been teaching for the Maricopa Community College District for over 10 years.  Under her direction, Glendale Community College is currently going through the self-study program for the NAEYC accreditation.  Judy has been instrumental in developing a model quality preschool and toddler lab at GCC in collaboration with Peoria Unified School District. 

TREASURER – Harry Clapeck

Harry Clapeck served as the General Accounting Manager and Assistant Controller with the Chamberlain Group, Inc. (retired).  Harry managed the U.S., Mexican and international accounting departments.  He brings his deep skills in annual budgeting and auditing to our operations.  In addition, Harry has served on the Governing Board for the Santa Cruz Valley Unified School District 35, the Santa Cruz County representative to the AZ School Board Association and Treasurer on the Desert Hills of Scottsdale HOA. He also volunteers to teach Excel and basic Microsoft Office classes at the Scottsdale Library.

SECRETARY- Rico Raegina

Rico Raegina has worked in the child care industry for over 25 years and is the current operator and owner of an Arizona LLC Title 9 Child Care Licensing company.  Rico helps child care owners, investors and childcare center directors start and monitor their child care businesses, bringing healthy, safe and great quality childcare centers to the Arizona communities.  She encourages everyone to Stay Safe, Healthy and Compliant. Don’t forget to wash your hands!


Gloria McGinty has worked in the Early Childhood field for over 38 years as consultant and trainer with Chicanos por la Causa and an Early Childhood Development Instructor at Maricopa Community Colleges. Gloria has done extensive work on Enhancing Infant and Toddler Development and has implemented trauma-informed care curriculum for children birth to five.  She has a Master degree in Educational Leadership and a credential in Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) which includes historical trauma related to multi-cultural experiences.  

HONORARY CHAIR – Claire Schonaerts

Claire Schonaerts is a champion educator, teaching 35 years in the PreK-12 school setting and served in the area of school administration before teaching in higher education.  Claire is retired associate clinical professor at Northern Arizona University supporting pre-service teachers in knowledge, skills, and professional dispositions.  Claire is a contributing author of the Sage Guide to Educational Leadership and Management and Social Justice Instruction (Springer Publication).

MEMBER AT LARGE – Gordon Brown

Gordon Brown inspires others to spread the message of authentic relationship-based, child-centered active learning experiences as the basis of resilience and healing for both children and adults.  An ACEs trainer and scholar of prevention of developmental trauma and toxic stress, he believes we can create a powerful social and cultural pedagogy with potential to create a more just and stable society in the future.

MEMBER AT LARGE – Susan Cahalan

Susan Cahalan is a certified teacher teaching in the field for 35+ years.  She taught Disadvantaged, 1st Grade, 6th Grade Team Teaching and Learning Disabilities.  Susan volunteered at a Children’s Museum; worked with the Education Director at the Phoenix Arts Commission; through PV Jr. Women’s worked as a Literacy Volunteer for 1st Grade, RIF Chairman, Plan USA, and more.  Susan received the Phoenix One Hundred Award for work at the Arts Commission.

MEMBER AT LARGE – Paula Corbin

Paula Corbin has been in the education field for 19 years. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Missouri State University and her Master’s degree in Curriculum and Design from Arizona State University. She is currently the Early Childhood Education CTE instructor at EVIT and dual enrollment instructor at Mesa Community College. Paula is dedicated to helping students find their career path and helping them become future teachers.

MEMBER AT LARGE – Liz Gonzales

Liz Gonzales strives to follow in the steps of her father’s by giving of the heart and educating our youth.  A former preschool teacher, high school early childhood CTE teacher, assistant principal, principal, director, adjunct professor, and twice awarded Teacher of the Year she believes in the power of education to silence poverty.  Liz holds an ADE Superintendent Certificate and is currently in the Superintend Training Program.

MEMBER AT LARGE – Becky Johnson

Becky Johnson is the Professional Development System Specialist at First Things First and facilitates the Professional Development Workgroup, a community of professionals and advocates passionate about the progress of the early childhood profession in Arizona. Becky also oversees the Registry and College Scholarships strategy with First Things First. Becky holds Master’s degrees in Digital Education Leadership and Library and Informational Science.

MEMBER AT LARGE – Catherine Kirk

Catherine Kirk serves on the Leadership Team with the City of Phoenix Head Start at the Alhambra Preschool Academy.  She has worked in the field for over 25 years, serving as Director of the ASU West Child Development and Family Resource and Executive Director of Phoenix Day.  She has been involved in 12 NAEYC accreditations and has spoken at national conferences on issues from parenting to curriculum design and collaboration with special education.  Catherine also teaches at Rio Salado College.

MEMBER AT LARGE – Pilar Kelley

Pilar Kelley is founder and CEO of Little Big Minds Preschool. She holds a Master degree in Early Childhood Education in curriculum and instruction with an emphasis on bilingual education and a B.A. in business administration with a minor in human resources. Pilar began her career at ASU at the Teachers College Preschool and then went on to develop Tic-Talk Spanish as a Spanish Immersion curriculum to teach 2-6 year olds a second language through Visuals, Actions and Music.


Jenny Stahl holds a master degree in Early Childhood and Educational Leadership in Administration and directed early childhood programs in the Cave Creek School District for 22 years.  She supervised teaching staff, implemented curriculums, assessments, and was responsible for professional development. She is currently a Family Educator and a FocusedKids™ Practitioner, helping to guide the development of healthy social and emotional behaviors. FocusedKids™ is a social-emotional learning program teaching young children, parents/caregivers, and teachers about their brains and the skills of focusing and calming for self-regulation.