Tuesday, June 5, 2018 | 7:30am—9:00am

How Are We Doing:
Legislative Auditor’s Report of Early Childhood Programs in Minnesota

Register Now For questions, email events@thinksmall.org or call 651-641-3543.


Jody Hauer HeadshotEarly Childhood Programs Evaluation Summary CoverEarly Childhood Programs Evaluation Report Cover

Jody Hauer

Project Manager and Evaluation Coordinator, Minnesota Office of the Legislative Auditor

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Jody coordinates program evaluations for the Office of the Legislative Auditor, where she has worked since 1994. As a project manager, Jody leads all phases of evaluating state programs and agencies, which includes planning evaluations, conducting research, synthesizing data, and writing and editing reports. She presents the results to legislators, and also tracks the impact of the reports that have been released in past years. In addition to her work at the Office of the Legislative Auditor, Jody serves annually as a mentor for graduate students from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota. She has also participated on peer review panels organized by the National Conference of State Legislatures for the states of Nebraska and Washington.

Early Childhood Programs:
2018 Evaluation Report Summary

Early Childhood Programs:
2018 Evaluation Report


Dianne Haulcy HeadshotRep. Jenifer Loon HeadshotEricca Maas Headshot

Dianne Haulcy

Senior Vice President for Family Engagement, Think Small

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Dianne has over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She has directed five early childhood programs serving inner-city, low-income, ethnically diverse populations. She has overseen many human services programs in the areas of behavioral health; in-home parenting; youth outreach and out-of-school-time services; shelter and services to homeless families and individuals; and many other family and community programs. Most recently, she served as Senior Policy Aide for Mayor Betsy Hodges working on issues of early childhood, education and youth. Part of her work includes spearheading the mayor’s Cradle to K Cabinet, focused on children prenatal to three years old to ensure they are ready for early childhood education opportunities. Haulcy previously was the Chief Operating Officer of The Family Partnership. Haulcy has a BA in Sociology from Spelman College and an MA in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. Known for her leadership in the early childhood field, she currently serves on the Governor’s Early Learning Council, the Parent Aware Advisory Committee, and is the co-chair of the Northside Achievement Zone Early Childhood Action Team as well as Think Small’s Executive Leadership Team.

Rep. Jenifer Loon

Chair, Minnesota House Education Finance Committee

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Representative Jenifer Loon was first elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 2008 representing Eden Prairie, District 48B. Now in her fifth term, Rep. Loon chairs the House Education Finance Committee and also serves on the Taxes, Ways and Means, and Commerce and Regulatory Reform committees. Jenifer Loon brings 16 years of business and legislative policy experience to the MN House of Representatives. A graduate of Augustana College (Sioux Falls, South Dakota), Loon has a BA in Government and International Affairs. In Eden Prairie, prior to serving in elected office, Loon dedicated herself to volunteer work. She served as president of the Parent-Teacher Organization at Eden Lake Elementary School and chaired the curriculum advisory committee for the Eden Prairie School District. Currently, Loon is an active member of the Eden Prairie Morning Rotary Club and the Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce. She is a parishioner and former council member at Prairie Lutheran Church. Jenifer and her husband, Doug have two daughters.

Ericca Maas

Executive Director, Close Gaps by 5

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Ericca Maas began working in the early childhood education field in 2006 as part of her role as Senior Project Manager in the Community Affairs Department at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Her early work included participation on the team working to develop pilots of Early Learning Scholarships and the Parent Aware Ratings. Later Maas transitioned to working as a policy and communications contractor for the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation (MELF), a business-led non-profit organization working to identify cost-effective ways for preparing all Minnesota children for kindergarten. She is currently serving as Executive Director of MELF’s successor organization – Close Gaps by 5 – which is on a mission to promote the use of targeted, high quality early education to address Minnesota’s achievement gaps. Maas has an undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa and studied Social Policy and Non-profit Management at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School. When not working, Maas enjoys spending time with her three young children.

Kelly Monson HeadshotSen. Melissa Wiklund Headshot

Kelly Monson

Executive Director, Minnesota Children’s Cabinet

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Mrs. Monson serves as the Executive Director of the Minnesota Children’s Cabinet, which is housed within the office of Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith. Prior to her time at the Governor’s office she served as the Program Coordinator for Minnesota’s Help Me Grow system and as the Minnesota Department of Health’s Early Childhood Policy and Systems Coordinator. Kelly also has various experiences within local school districts, county government and non-profit entities. Kelly is a MN licensed birth-five educator and parent educator. Kelly holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Development and a Master’s of Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School. Despite the many years of formal education, Kelly says some of her greatest learning has come from her own two children Spencer (17) and Lily (13).

Sen. Melissa Wiklund

Minnesota Senate, E-12 Finance Committee

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Senator Melissa Halvorson Wiklund is serving her second term in the Minnesota Senate representing Senate District 50, which includes portions of the cities of Bloomington and Richfield. Sen. Wiklund serves on the Health and Human Services Finance and Policy, E-12 Education Finance, and Local Government Committees, as well as the Minnesota Early Learning Council. Prior to her service in the Senate, Sen. Wiklund served on the Bloomington School Board for three years, the last as Chair. Sen. Wiklund previously worked in the telecommunications and Internet Services industry as an engineer, manager, and director and is an honors graduate of the University of Minnesota with a degree in Electrical Engineering. Sen. Wiklund graduated from Kennedy High School and lives in Bloomington with her husband.


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Barbara Yates

President and CEO, Think Small

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Barb, President and CEO, joined Think Small in February 2008. Over the past three decades, her professional and community service has been inspired by research showing that quality care and education for children in their earliest years yields tremendous human, economic and social benefits later on, especially for families living in poverty. She served as chair of Governor Mark Dayton’s Early Learning Council; as an officer of the board of directors and as a member of the finance committee for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC); and as an advisor to the Minnesota Growth Fund for First Children’s Finance. Currently she sits on the Kindergarten Readiness Strategy Team for Generation Next as well as on the Executive Committee for MinneMinds. She co-leads the national BUILD initiative for Minnesota and sits on the Minnesota team for the National Women’s Law Center to advise on national child care issues. Prior to joining Think Small, Yates was co-executive director, with Duane Benson, of the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation. There, she built a complex multi-million-dollar enterprise to study cost effective ways to increase school readiness for Minnesota’s children. As a veteran state education official, Yates served for over two decades as a key learning administrator for Governors Perpich, Carlson, Ventura, Pawlenty and Dayton. She served as deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner and several director positions for the Minnesota Department of Education and director for Child Development Services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.


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Learn more about how Close Gaps By 5 works with partners and empowered parents to champion the use of high quality early education programs at very early ages to prevent the most at-risk, low-income children from falling into the achievement gap.