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As you choose your sessions and events, remember the point of CONNECT is to connect. Make the most of meals and networking breaks, or maybe take a look at the attendee list and make plans to catch up with a colleague.  

Also, remember that CONNECT is paperless this year, so bring a device. This agenda, as well as session resources and activities will be digital this year, accessible with links and QR codes. (If you’d like to print a copy to bring with you, you can use this pdf agenda.)


Monday, November 14

7:30 Registration Opens 

8:00 Workspace Opens (All Day) (Griffin)
There will be a room available with power strips and wi-fi where you can stop in and do a little work if necessary. You came to connect, though, so don’t stay too long! 

8:00 Breakfast (Sullivan Ballroom)

9:00 Communities of Practice Convenings I 
Attendance is limited to Community of Practice Members Only  

Child Care NEXT (Jenney)  

Right for Kids  (Sullivan C)

Emerging Leaders in Infant/Toddler Policy (Mies van der Rohe)

Emerging Policy Professionals of Color (Richardson) 

12:00 Lunch (Sullivan Ballroom)

12:30 Chicago History Tour (lobby) 
If you received a reservation confirmation, meet in the lobby. (Reservation confirmations will be sent by November 1.)

Join public historian and social media sensation Shermann “Dilla” Thomas (@6figga_dilla) for a bus tour of North Lawndale, an underexposed neighborhood of Chicago. Home of the original Sears Tower, North Lawndale has a rich Jewish history, as well as a legacy left by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. himself. Public Narrative has named Dilla the 2022 Studs Terkel Uplifting Voice and Choose Chicago has named him 2022 Tourism Ambassador of the Year. Come see why Dilla says, “Everything dope about America comes from Chicago, the greatest city on earth.” 

(There is a second option for this tour on Wednesday at 9:30.) 

1:00 Communities of Practice II 

Right for Kids, cont’d (Sullivan C)  

Centering Parent and Practitioner Power (Mies van der Rohe)

4:00 All-Attendee Welcome (Wright Ballroom) 

Welcome, Helene Stebbins, Executive Director, Alliance for Early Success


Land Acknowledgment
(Donation link and more information)

Keynote: Unlocking Power and Unleashing Promise with Dr. Somava Saha  

CONNECT22 will open with a call to bridge the divides in our communities and to continue creating change even when change is hard. Dr. Somava Saha is the Founder and Executive Lead of We in the World, which advances intergenerational well-being and equity on a foundation of racial justice by changing minds, hearts, relationships, and systems. She will share how she works to unlock the hidden assets in every community by focusing on deeply held values and the promise of human potential. 

Kick-off Reception to Follow (Wright Foyer)


Tuesday, November 15 


6:30 Move and Flow Yoga with Unfold Yoga + Wellness (Mies van der Rohe)
1 hour 

Vinyasa style yoga delivers a dynamic experience, challenging your muscles as well as calming your mind. Expect a variety of poses, intelligently linked together by movement and breath for an active class. Mats provided. Beginners welcome. Space is limited; sign up here. 

7:30 Registration Opens (Wright Foyer)

7:30 Workspace Opens (All Day) (Griffin) 

7:30 Breakfast (Sullivan Ballroom)

8:30 Welcome Back (Wright ballroom)

Welcome, Michael Laracy, Board Chair, Alliance for Early Success


Keynote: A Time for Boldness: How Nonprofit and Philanthropy Can Own Our Awesomeness and Unleash Our Full Potential to Create a Just and Equitable World with Vu Le

During these tumultuous years, nonprofit and philanthropy have served as a beacon of light and hope. At the same time, there are many problems we need to address. From society’s unrealistic expectations, to fraught relationships among different organizations, to the Great Resignation, to really crappy chairs. As we struggle to get back to some semblance of normality, what must we unlearn? How do we evolve our philosophies and practices and unlock our full potential to help advance an equitable world? Join Nonprofit AF’s irreverent and beloved commentator Vu Le as he challenges us to reimagine.  

10:00 Networking Break  (Wright foyer)

10:30 Breakout Sessions 

Expelling the Barriers: Building Adequate and Equitable Systems to Promote Social Emotional Well-Being in Early Childhood(Mies van der Rohe)

Young children continue to face suspension and expulsion from early learning settings despite research showing this practice is developmentally inappropriate, adversely affects a child’s education and mental health, and perpetuates racial and gender inequities. Now more than ever, educators must have the right resources and tools to mitigate the social isolation and other negative impacts of the pandemic. This session will focus on state policy opportunities to move away from exclusionary disciplinary practices, like suspension and expulsion, to approaches that create early learning environments that promote social emotional well-being in children. Come hear about how Arkansas, Illinois, and Oregon are working to ensure equitable and adequate state systems to meet the needs of all children. (Session resources are posted here.) 

Inclusivity as the Norm: Removing Barriers and Sharing Power with Grassroot Partners at Policymaking and Advocacy Tables (Richardson)

Rochelle Wilcox, Wilcox Academy of Early Learning
Devonya Govan-Hunt, National Black Child Development Institute -Charlotte Affiliate
Shanda Sumpter, NC Child
Libbie Sonnier, Louisiana Policy Institute for Children

Early childhood advocacy organizations are frequently in positions of power. Their brands and credibility, built on years of policy, data, and research expertise, provide access to and influence with people who have political power. AND they are funded to advocate and sit at decision making tables. Those with lived experiences – parents, practitioners, and other community members –face real barriers to influence policy decisions and advocacy strategies because they have not been recognized as experts on the problems and solutions designed to support them. How can traditional advocates shift their practices to ensure parents and providers not only have seats at the table, but also the power and resources to be effective leaders? In this interactive discussion, state allies from Louisiana and North Carolina will share how they are making inclusivity the norm in advocacy. (Session resources are posted here.) 

Are the Kids Alright? Putting the ‘Historic Decline’ in Child Poverty in Context and Examining State Policy Levers to Support Families’ Economic Security (Burnham) 

Ashley Burnside, CLASP
Elizabeth Jordan, Child Trends
Deborah Zysman, HCAN
Michelle Fay, Voices for VT Children

New research shows child poverty fell nearly 60 percent between 1993 and 2019. Then came a pandemic that threatened families’ economic security anew – and some families more than others. What has been the impact of federal relief policies designed to support families’ basic needs? And what state policies should we prioritize to support families’ economic security? Come learn about the nuances and causes of the drop in child poverty, which families are disproportionately impacted by poverty, the pandemic, and public policy, and what your state is (and is not) doing to support families’ economic security. Two states will share their successful campaigns on tax credits, minimum wage, and cash assistance to spark a conversation on what policies could gain traction at your state house next legislative session. Session resources are posted (Session resources are posted here.) 

No Turning Back: Accelerating Political Momentum and Power for Child Care After Build Back Better (Sullivan C) 

Brian Schmidt, Kids Win Missouri
Marina Marcou-O’Malley, AQE
Pete Nabozny, The Children’s Agenda

Still feeling down about the failure of the federal Build Back Better legislation? Need some inspiration and concrete ideas to keep the momentum for transforming child care in your state? This session will explore how two very different states, New York and Missouri, are planning to build on the policy successes and political momentum that resulted from the pandemic – with or without additional federal support. Through a series of interactive activities, participants will have the chance to share their successes, hopes, and dreams for the future, including their policy and funding goals and their efforts to build more political power for child care. Participants will leave the session with new ideas and new peer relationships for accelerating your work. Session resources are posted (Session resources are posted here.

12:00 Lunch (Sullivan Ballroom) or Technical Assistance Appointments I (Wright Ballroom)
There are two Lunch/TA blocks – use one for your scheduled technical assistance meetings in Wright Ballroom and the other to eat lunch in the Sullivan Ballroom. 

Self-Care Session I: Burnout Breakthrough and Stress Rx with Unfold Yoga + Wellness (Sullivan C)

You may choose to use this block for a session on wellness and burnout. Burnout is a condition experienced by workers and other professionals in which they develop depression-like symptoms as a result of aspects of their role. In this presentation, attendees will learn what burnout is and how it manifests in the mind and body; the difference between acute stress and chronic stress; the “chronic stress cycle” and how it leads to burnout; the underlying causes for burnout in the workplace; how mindfulness can help navigate out of burnout; and office-friendly mindfulness techniques that can prevent burnout.

1:00 Lunch (Sullivan Ballroom) or Technical Assistance Appointments II (Wright Ballroom) 

Self-Care Session II: Habits, Goals, & Mindful Intentions with Unfold Yoga + Wellness (Sullivan C)

At the intersection of habits, goal setting, and mindfulness, lies the power of intention. Yogic tradition offers an approach to intention setting called a sankalpa, or resolution. A sankalpa is deeper than the achievement of a goal; it’s an internal alignment of how you show up for yourself. In this presentation, attendees will learn what a sankapla is and how it differs from traditional goal setting and how to create your own sankalpa, and how keep it top of mind so it serves you. 

2:15 Breakout Sessions 

Putting Equity at the Center of Compensation Strategies (Richardson)

Ruqiyyah Anbar-Shaheen, DC Action
Sherry Carlson, Let’s Grow Kids
Caitlin McLean, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment

What do compensation policies and advocacy strategies that prioritize equity look like? Recent state efforts, such as paying bonuses and developing salary scales, can perpetuate inequities or create new ones in the workforce – especially for those who are already marginalized by existing policies, such as BIPOC educators, home-based providers, and infant-toddler teachers. How state leaders develop these strategies can also be inequitable if they don’t meaningfully engage early childhood educators. This session will reflect on the extent to which policies implemented or proposed in two states increase equity within the ECE workforce, what they could have done better, and what advocates in all states can do to advance more equitable strategies in the future. Session resources are posted (Session resources are postedhere.)   

Addressing Inequities in the Child Care System Through the Lens of Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care Providers (Mies Van de Rohe) 

Mary Ignatius, Parent Voices California
Lorena Garcia, Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition
Shaun Ejah, Illinois Action for Children

Family, Friend, and Neighbor (FFN) caregivers are largely overlooked in the child care system, rarely receiving equitable, if any, support. Panelists will discuss how the legacy of racism affects FFN policies and advocacy, strategies that are rooted in anti-racist practices to support these caregivers, as well as wins and challenges from advocacy and policy efforts. Come learn the role of advocates in Colorado and Illinois who are changing the narratives surrounding FFN child care providers.  

Navigating Polarized Political Climates and Shifts in Party Control (Sullivan C)  

Adrienne Olejnik, Kansas Action for Children
Christine Tiddens, Idaho Voices for Children
Karin Bowles, Virginia Early Childhood Foundation

Advocates increasingly report the need for a red strategy and a blue strategy, rather than a bipartisan strategy. As one state ally recently said, among policymakers “pragmatism is in retreat.” What is an advocate to do? How do you pivot in the moment, use limited resources to set up strategically for the long haul, lean deeper into partnerships, and hold tight to your values and transformative vision?  Exactly one week after election day, we’ll think together about how to shift your advocacy strategies to maintain and grow your effectiveness given the new political realities in your state. Three states will share how they are adjusting strategies in the immediate-, medium-, and long-term to respond to the choppy political tides.  Talk with allies from other states like yours to create a shared toolbox of strategies to try back home.  

Maternal Health Advocacy: Building a Foundation for Child Health (Burnham) 

Ealasha Vaughner, Clayton Early Learning 
Ky Lindberg, Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition of Georgia
Kari King, Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children
Maggie Clark, Georgetown University Center for Children and Families

Data shows that maternal mortality rates are higher among Black and Native American women regardless of income and educational levels, and Black women are two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy complications than non-Hispanic White women. Additionally, three out of five pregnancy-related deaths are preventable. We have reached a crisis level in this country, but we’ve also seen an unprecedented commitment to address the maternal health crisis at the federal level. This session will focus on why maternal health is a critical issue for early childhood advocates, how state policy can improve maternal health, and the Alliance’s commitment to supporting state allies’ maternal advocacy work through a newly launched community of practice. (Session resources are posted here.)

3:30 Networking Break (Wright Foyer)

4:00 Film Screening: Clarissa’s Battle (Wright ballroom)

CLARISSA’S BATTLE follows a tenacious single-mother and activist as she fights for accessible and affordable childcare and early education funding for all. 

This 90-minute documentary shows what happens when a woman rises to grasp her strength to make a powerful change. Clarissa Doutherd suddenly found herself on the brink of homelessness after the birth of her son. Determined to put an end to this all-too-common cycle, she set out to lead a powerful coalition to advocate for universal childcare. 

Her journey takes us from her hometown of Oakland, CA to Washington D.C., and the outcome of her campaign helps fuel a national movement.  

The screening will be followed by reflections and discussion.  

6:00 Dinner on Your Own  

Wednesday, November 16 


7:00 Workspace Opens (All Day)   

7:30 Breakfast (Sullivan Ballroom)

9:00 Communities of Practice III 
Attendance is Limited to Community of Practice Members Only 

Emerging Policy Professionals of Color (Richardson)

Alliance Partners on the ECE Profession  (Sullivan C)

9:00  Roundtables (Wright Ballroom)
The Alliance’s national allies will be sharing their expertise and facilitating peer-to-peer discussions at roundtables on a variety of topics and issues. There will be two sessions of each topic, but attendees are welcome to float among tables and topics. 

Financing Strategies — Children’s Funding Project 
Advocates in several states are using strategic financing tools to prepare for the post-American Rescue Plan Act funding cliff for early childhood (or just navigate exacerbated funding challenges). Topics covered will include fiscal mapping, cost modeling, and strategies for securing additional funding for your state’s early childhood goals.    

State Legislator Engagement – Frontera Strategy 
The November elections bring new legislators into state capitols, and new opportunities to cultivate champions.  Learn and share strategies on how to speak to new lawmakers about the importance of the early years, especially in conservative and rural districts.   

PreK-3rd Strategies – Education Commission of the States and New America 
Discuss the latest policy trends and state examples for aligning ECE and K-3 standards and practices, such as kindergarten transition, early literacy and numeracy, addressing disrupted learning, etc. (The list of resources compiled by ECS and New America is here.) 

Federal Health Policy Strategies – Georgetown Center for Children and Families 
The Build Back Better Act stalled but advocates are optimistic about passing federal policy to strengthen maternal and child health access to care by the end of 2022. Join this session to learn about opportunities for movement on federal health policy issues like permanent CHIP funding and mandatory 12-month continuous eligibility for children, and discuss strategies for state advocates to influence federal policymakers.

9:30 Repeat of Chicago History Tour with Public Historian Sherman “Dilla” Thomas (Lobby)
If you received a reservation confirmation, meet in the lobby. (Reservation confirmations will be sent by November 1.)

12:00 Meeting Adjourns