Illinois AEYC Governing Board Candidates 2016

Illinois AEYC Election of Officers – Candidate Information

President- Carol Weisheit

Carol is currently serving her first term as Illinois AEYC President and is seeking election for a second term.

Carol is an Early Childhood Consultant and currently consults with agencies and programs on a variety of topics focusing on: importance of play, working with boys, interacting strategies with children and the importance of social-emotional development. She has been in the early childhood field for 35 years.

Carol is a certified HighScope teacher and trainer.   Carol was an Early Childhood Resource Specialist with Illinois STARnet serving Regions I & III focusing on technical assistance and support to early childhood teachers focusing on children with special needs.  Carol has experience as a teacher and director for school, center and university based programs for children in Bloomington/Normal, Champaign and LeRoy. Carol is former state director of Illinois CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), an agency focusing on the needs of abused and neglected children in the child welfare system, served on the National CASA Curriculum Advisory Committee and trained across the United States for National CASA. Carol has served as a NAEYC validator and was faculty at Heartland Community College and ISU and taught a variety of courses including: administration of early childhood programs, child development, intro to early childhood, curriculum, guidance, and advocacy.  Carol has a Bachelor’s degree in Child Development and a Master’s degree in Child and Family Studies.  In her spare time, Carol gardens, reads and does beading. Her husband, Ralph, is a distinguished professor at Illinois State University in the Criminal Justice Department and their son, Ryan, is a jazz musician in New York City.


Jan is currently serving her first term as Illinois AEYC Secretary and is seeking election for a second term.

Jan has been a member of NAEYC since late 1970’s. She was a founding
member of the Heart of Illinois AEYC in 1980. She has held most offices
locally and served many years on the Illinois AEYC Board, twice as
President. She also chaired the Midwest AEYC Conference twice, Illinois
AEYC Conference twice and retired after 40 years from Early Childhood
Department at Illinois Central College. She served as the first director
of The Child Care Connection in Peoria, completing 20+ years, retiring
in 2010. She is married, with three children and nine grandchildren. She
looks forward to once again being involved at the State level.

NAEYC Affiliate Council Representative- DANYLE WATKINS

Danyle is currently serving as Vice President of Illinois AEYC Central East Region and is seeking election for the NAEYC Affiliate Council Representative.

Hi, my name is Danyle Watkins and I am currently working at Lincoln Land Community College as the Early Childhood Instructor and Coordinator. I have been working in the early childhood field for over 10 years and have been an active member with NAEYC for at least 7 of those years. As an NAEYC member I have served as President on my local board in Michigan and I am currently serving as Affiliate Rep for Capital Area AEYC in Illinois. I hope to become the VP for Central East. On a personal note, I am married and have 3 dogs and 3 cats

Southern Region Vice President- LEE EKLUND

Lee is currently serving his first term as Illinois AEYC President and is seeking election for a second term. 

My Name is Lee Eklund. I have worked at Malone’s Early Learning
Center for the last 20 years. I have a Bachelors degree in Early
Childhood Education. In my 20 my years as an Early childhood educator, I
have obtained a Level 2 Directors Credential. I currently serve on the
Southern Illinois AEYC Board of Directors as the Treasurer. I am also on
the Board of Directors for the Carbondale Science Center and the
Carterville Chamber of Commerce. In addition, I have served on the
Illinois AEYC Board of Directors as the Southern Illinois AEYC Board
Delegate and am an active member of the Illinois AEYC Public Policy

Central East Region Vice President- MARLENA CONSTANT

Marlena is currently serving her first term as Capitol Area Delegate and is seeking election for the Central East Region Vice President.

Marlena Constant has over fourteen years experience in the early childhood education field. She is currently employed as a Child Development Associate at Cox Children’s Center, located on the University of Illinois at Springfield Campus. Her previous work experiences include The Learning Nook and Kids Castle where she acquired administrative knowledge and gained experience with her teaching skills.

Her interest in the Early Childhood Education Field began when she worked for a Family Child Care Provider in the late 1990’s. This experience prompted her to continue her education at Lincoln Land Community College where she received an Associates in Liberal Arts in 2003 and an Associates in Early Childhood Education A.S. in 2010. She is currently working on her Masters at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She has worked with children from birth to school-age, but she has a stronger knowledge base with preschool children.

She has been a member of NAEYC for three years and has proudly served on the Capital Area CAEYC and IL-AEYC for almost two years as an Affiliate Delegate. She is interested in becoming the Central East Vice President to learn/share resources with the counties within the Region. She also enjoys volunteering for campus organizations where she works with faculty, staff, and students to help benefit the surrounding communities.

Northern Region Vice President- EMILY REILLY

Emily Reilly has been a member of NAEYC since 2002 and has 14 years of experience in early care and education. Emily has served in a variety of leadership roles in the field including master teacher, associate director, college instructor, trainer and Northern Illinois AEYC board member and president. Emily has presented on a variety of topics including anti-bias curriculum, project approach, inclusive practices, reflective supervision, and portfolios. She is also part of the Illinois Trainers Network and presents on the Illinois Early Learning Guidelines for child care professionals in the Northern region of the state. Emily has successfully led a child development laboratory program through NAEYC accreditation and the Quality Rating and Improvement System. She is passionate about supporting adult learners in improving their practice, specifically when it comes to making sure all children and families feel a sense of belonging and community in the early childhood setting. In her spare time, she enjoys running, yoga, trying new foods, and hanging out with her family.

Chicago Region Vice President-VACANT