President-Elect- VACANT

Secretary- Dr. Tywanda (Ty) Jiles

Dr. Jiles is an Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education and Department Chair of Education Studies.  Dr. Jiles studied Infant Mental Health at Erikson Institute and received a doctorate degree in Teacher Leadership with a focus on Early Childhood. She also holds a M.S. in Early Childhood Education from Dominican University.

Dr. Jiles has over 19 years of experience in both public schools, private childcare and Early Head Start and Head Start settings. She holds a State of Illinois Professional Educators license in Early Childhood Education with approvals in Special Education and English as a Second language. She is also a credentialed early intervention professional as a developmental therapist.

Dr. Jiles research interests are focused on professional development and training in early childhood education, early intervention and family engagement. Ty has presented on national, state, and local levels and continues to remain actively engaged in the field. She is a NAEYC Commissioner for Higher Education Accreditation.

Outside of academia Dr. Jiles has had a private practice specializing in developmental therapy, owned a child care center that received federal funding and is currently launching a teacher advocacy organization called Teacher Talk.

Region 1 Delegate- Diamond Harris

My name is Diamond Harris. I have been working in the field of early childhood for almost four years! I am currently employed as a Lead Toddler Teacher at Kids & Company in Chicago, where I have had the opportunity to learn so much about children and their development, as well as watch my students learn and grow each day!

In May 2020, I earned my M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education. I also hold a Professional Educator License with endorsements in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education, as well as a Level 5 Illinois Gateways to Opportunity ECE Credential. I am currently in the process of completing coursework to obtain an Illinois Gateways Infant-Toddler Credential. I believe that this credential would help me to enhance my interactions and teaching methods so that my students are able to continue to develop and grow in a healthy, developmentally appropriate learning environment.

I joined NAEYC/ILAEYC in July of this year. I wanted to be a part of a networking organization that would help me to connect with other early childhood educators and to learn and grow as a teacher of young children. During my time as an educator, I have developed such a passion for advocacy and policy work in early childhood. I want to be able to advocate for a more equitable early childhood education system on behalf of children and their families, as well as on behalf of other early childhood educators. I was awarded the ILAEYC/NAEYC Lasting Legacy Scholarship and will be attending the NAEYC Annual Conference in November. I am hoping to gain more experience in advocacy and policy work in order to do my part to promote a better education system for young children, as well as the families and educators who care for them.

Region 3 Delegates-

Casey Craft-Cortes:

Casey has been in the field of Early Childhood for 16 years, with just over 9 years as the Infant Toddler Child Care Specialist serving DuPage, Lake, and Kane Counties. She graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor of Science in Family and Child Studies, specializing in working with parents and infants. Currently, working towards her Master’s Degree, specializing in Child Development.

Other achievements include becoming a Registry and ITN Approved and national trainer, being awarded her ECE and Infant Toddler Credential Level 5, becoming a certified trainer for the Program for Infant Toddler Care Curriculum, and a Master Cadre trainer for the implementation of Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. Lastly, serving the State of Illinois and supporting early child care educators, it is her honor and privilege to be an active member of the Child Care Advisory Council and many other community collaborations, advocating for the field of early childhood education.

Casey has gained extensive knowledge working with early childhood educators, inside the learning environment, offering support & guidance around child development, challenging behaviors, and building successful learning environments. As well as supporting child care educators in her role as a Quality Specialist for ExceleRate Illinois, the quality recognition system that is shaping programs around the state of Illinois to promote quality care for all children. Outside of the learning environment, Casey’s role in the communities she serves and across the State is to shine a light on the field of early childhood education and the importance of equity in and out of the learning environments and quality child care for all.

It is Casey’s passion to work with children and families, be a mentor, and a vital part of children’s success in early education. What drives her work is the change that can happen when we invest in our children, families, and teachers!

Linda S. Anderson:

I have been in the early childhood field and a member of  NAEYC since 1982 while earning an Early Childhood Associate Degree. I have an Elementary Education BA degree and Early Childhood MA degree as well as a doctoral degree in Teaching and Learning. I have owned two day care centers, directed a college child development laboratory, and have taught at the college level for over 40 years. My devotion for this field has been perpetual with a future goal of helping our field grow professionally through this organization in a changing world.

Stephanie Ploude:

As a life-long learner, Stephanie shares the core values of the Illinois AEYC, looking to inspire, educate, and engage those who work with our youngest learners Stephanie brings over 25 years of educational experience to the organization. She has worked as a teacher and administrator in both early childhood settings and Dual Language programs, She has worked with the Illinois Center for School Improvement, advocating and striving for equity in districts throughout the state, Stephanie is currently a coach for the Illinois KIDS project, supporting developmentally appropriate practices in kindergarten classrooms in northern Illinois, as well as an adjunct professor primarily teaching in-service teachers completing ESL endorsements. Stephanie has volunteered as cultural exchange host parent and liaison, and also for the Challenger Learning Center in Woodstock, IL. Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Illinois University, A Master’s in Educational Leadership from Aurora University, and is completing her dissertation for her Doctorate in Education from Aurora University. She and her husband Steve enjoy traveling together.

Region 5 Delegate: Sherial McKinney

My name is Sherial McKinney, I live outside of Macomb. I went to Western Illinois University and received my Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a minor in Early Childhood. Later, I went back and got my Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.  I have worked in a childcare center, Kindergarten, Pre-K, and Early Childhood Special Education. I have presented at various conferences and have done presentations on various topics as an Early Childhood Resource Specialist with STAR NET Regions I & III.

Region 7 Delegate: Jennifer Ramirez

My name is Jennifer Ramirez and I have been in the early childhood field for over 17 years.  During which time I have worked in positions from an assistant teacher to an Executive Director.  After leaving the ECE classroom I began my career at a local Child Care Resource and Referral, where I have worked with programs such as the childcare assistance program and the child and adult care food program.

I hold a state and NCLB paraprofessional license and a substitute-teaching license with the state of Illinois and I am a few weeks away from completing my master’s degree in early childhood education leadership.

In my spare time I find ways to support ECE events such as the ECE club at my university.  I also represent this club on the student board.  I have had the pleasure of being a guest speaker on a Podcast called Early Childhood Chatter.  I have also served on the Illinois AEYC policies and bylaws ad hoc group and have been featured as an Illinois AEYC member spotlight for July 2021.  I also enjoy spending time with my children and supporting them in all of their after school activities.

Region 9 Delegates:

Jacqui Hupp:

My name is Jacqui Hupp, and my fiancé and I have four children and two amazing granddaughters, Lyla and Skye. I am currently the Executive Director at Decatur Day Care Center in Decatur, IL.  I have been in this position for one year. Before starting this role, I worked at the Decatur Family YMCA for eight years as the Childcare/Preschool Director before becoming the Youth Development Director.  My career in ECE started at Decatur Day Care Center 24 years ago as a daycare teacher, and I later taught preschool at Head Start in Springfield and Decatur.

In March of 2019, I received a Master of Science degree in Leadership from Walden University.  I have a passion for working with young children and feel this position would allow me to advocate for the ECE profession on a much larger scale.

William Gingold

I am an active and energetic octogenarian and child Holocaust survivor.

I have been in the field for over 50 years involved in the education, health and allied health services as a teacher, clinician, researcher, author and administrator in the areas of pediatrics and geriatrics.

Currently I direct a social interpreneurial incubator that helps develop products and services for education, health and human services.

Recently in collaboration with the others we founded it and developed some of the following programs and services (Examples):

  • PACT Community Screening for Children ages 2.5-5.5 years of age (held as children fair events)
  • Others…

Region 11 Delegate: Marlena Constant

Greetings, everyone!

My name is Marlena Constant and I am seeking your vote as a Regional Delegate on the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children Board.  In the past, I have served as a regional delegate and secretary in addition to being a member of the public policy committee.  I have over twenty-two years’ experience working as an early childhood professional in several different areas.  I am employed as an Adjunct Early Childhood Education Instructor at Lincoln Land Community College (LLCC) and as a Simulation Facilitator and Curriculum Designer for the Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) at the University of Illinois in Springfield.  These positions allow me a new “lens” to view early childhood concepts and how we can provide our families with resources and supports they may need through this challenging time in our country.

It is my goal to become more active in the lives of the children and families we serve by collaborating, learning, and sharing with colleagues from across our state.  The knowledge gained from this service will help my local chapter strengthen our trainings and activities to meet the diverse needs of our children, families, and early childhood professionals in our area.

Region 13 Delegate: Robin Dermody

I have been a member of Illinois AEYC for 5 years. I have been involved in the early childhood and elementary ed field for over 25 years as a home visitor, teacher and currently coordinate early childhood block grant programs for a school district. I have 3 daughters.

Region 15 Delegate: Colleen McLaughlin

Ms. Colleen has worked in the field of Early Care and Education for more than 20 years. She originally applied at a childcare center when she was in college and fell in love with the field. Over the years she has worn many hats as a teacher of infants through school age children both in childcare and public schools. She has also worked as a state assessor, program director, and adjunct faculty. In March 2020 she became director of an emergency childcare center providing care for the children of essential workers. Colleen earned her BA in ECE from Columbia College Chicago and her MSed in ECE from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. She is a member of the Southern Illinois Coalition for Families & Children as well as the Southern Illinois Early Childhood Action Team (SIECAT).