Amy Adams

Math Nation Coordinator

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Amy Adams is the coordinator of Algebra/Math Nation. Amy has worked with the program since 2013 and is excited to watch its continued growth to other states. She received her M.Ed. from the Teacher Leadership for School Improvement program at UF. She is currently working on her Ed.D. through the Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education program at UF.

Jennifer Cao

Education/Training Specialist II

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Jennifer Cao received her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a masters in Early Childhood Education from Florida International University. She has been a teacher in learning centers working with toddlers and preschoolers and was a Quality Improvement Specialist/Career Advisor with the Quality Counts program in Miami-Dade, since its first year. Jennifer is currently in Tampa working as a Professional Development Specialist designing and leading in-person PD and Communities of Practice as well as offering career pathway coaching, for the Hillsborough Early Learning Network. She is a certified Lastinger coach.

Jamie Carroll

Content Developer/ Editor

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Jamie Carroll holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. Her diverse professional background, which ranges from third-grade teacher to project manager/editor for a non-profit education foundation, and her passion for innovation and education enables her to develop and edit meaningful, quality course content for Early Learning Florida.

Pamela Chalfant

Initiatives Manager
(352) 294-2759

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Pamela Chalfant Ph.D. is the Early Learning Initiatives Manager at the Lastinger Center for Learning in Gainesville, Fl.  Her research focuses on early literacy and language interventions and the prevention of reading difficulties through teacher education.  She is currently the instructional designer of blended online learning courses for the Early Learning Florida project.

Lucianna Coleman

Program Coordinator
(352) 273- 4153

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Lucianna Coleman has her master’s in Health Education and Behavior from the University of Florida and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. She has been with the Lastinger Center for over 5 years and works as a Project Coordinator for Early Learning Florida.

Stephanie Cugini

Early Learning Florida
Systems Analyst

(352) 273- 4268

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Stephanie Cugini is the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Lastinger Center. She received her bachelor’s in marketing and her master’s in curriculum and instruction from the University of North Florida. Stephanie combines her marketing background with her experience as a high school mathematics teacher to foster initiatives that support and promote the Center’s mission.

Laverne Daniels

Admin. Support Assistant
(352) 273-4103

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Laverne Daniels received her Associate of Arts Degree in Theology from Life Christian University in 2001. She has been a College of Education staff member since 1986. She currently serves as an Administrative Support Assistant in the Lastinger Center.

Stacy P. Dean

Literacy Specialist

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Stacy Pellechia Dean, Ph.D. received her doctorate from the University of Virginia, and her master’s from the University of South Florida, both in special education. Her work focuses on interventions and curricular access for learners with special needs, particularly in the area of literacy and assessment. She has presented nationally and internationally on best practices in education. While having a wide repertoire of college teaching experience, her ten years of classroom experience are particularly relevant when collaborating with students, families, teachers, and schools.

Raquel Diaz

Learning Networks Manager

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Dr. Raquel Munarriz-Diaz, Ed.D. is based in Miami and has over 29 years of experience education. Dr. Diaz has served as a graduate professor, project manager, and professional development coordinator. She is currently managing several projects across the United States. Her current role has her highly involved in engaging adult learners and in cultivating professional learning communities.

Shaunté Duggins

Early Literacy and
Teacher Education

(352) 273-3654

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Shaunté Duggins, Ph.D. received her bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education. She taught young children in an inclusive high-poverty school. Her master’s is in Curriculum and Instruction and doctorate in Special Education-early literacy and teacher education. Currently, Shaunté is as an instructional designer for the Early Learning Florida Project in Gainesville.

Gail Fish

PFP Coordinator
(352) 294-0774

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Gail Fish has her bachelors in Anthropology from New College of Florida. She has worked for the Lastinger Center since 2015. She currently works in project coordination and program evaluation support for early learning professional development initiatives.

John N. Fuller

Academic Programs Coordinator
(352) 273-4150

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John Fuller’s career in various aspects of project management supports his work at the Lastinger Center. He focuses on systems integration to support the Early Learning Florida initiative.

Lara Glaser

Operations Manager
(352) 273-4138

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Lara Glaser is the Operations Director for the Early Learning Programs.  She has over 10 years of experience in early learning educational systems. Her passion to ensure children in the most vulnerable populations gain access to high quality education is realized through her current work and partnerships in leading Florida’s early learning professional improvement initiatives.

Leland Hill

Finance Manager
(352) 273-0289

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Leland Hill holds a Bachelors in Finance and a Masters in International Business from the University of Florida. As the Finance Manager, he is responsible for budgets, contracts and other areas of research compliance. Leland is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and has served overseas in Africa and Iraq

Brittany Horwitz

Administrative Specialist II

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Brittany Horwitz is an MBA Project Management graduate from Saint Leo University. She has a background in theater arts coordination and assists with project development and implementation.

Bryn Humphrey

Talent Manager
(352) 273-4349

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Bryn Humphrey is the Talent Manager at the Lastinger Center for Learning. In her current role, she oversees talent acquisition, career development, succession planning, retention, training, and leadership development. Proudly a Double Gator, Bryn holds her Bachelor’s in Political Science and Master’s in Business Administration. In her role, Bryn combines her classroom experience as a Teach for America Corps Member with her business background.

Rose Jones

Business Admin. Specialist
(352) 273-4126

Lisa Langley

Chief of Staff
(352) 273-4106

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Dr. Lisa Langley, Senior Project and Initiatives Manager, oversees multiple grants and projects for the Center. She has been in the field of education for over 20 years and holds a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Florida.   Lisa is passionate in making a difference in the lives of children.

Walter Leite

(352) 273-4302

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Walter Leite is associate professor of research and evaluation methodology, with a research focus in statistical modeling of longitudinal data and for program evaluation. His work in the Lastinger Center for Learning consists in designing and implementing evaluations of the programs of the center. He is particularly interested in identifying which groups of teachers and students benefit the most from Lastinger Center programs, and under which conditions.

Vladimir Marlowe

Technology Development Manager
(352) 294-3924

Valerie Mendez-Fariñas

Early Learning
Coaching Manager

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Valerie leads job-embedded professional development initiatives for the Lastinger Center. Most recently, her efforts have been concentrated on the Early Learning TA Coaching Certification program, which is being implemented statewide. Valerie is also passionate about advancing racial equity in early childhood systems.

Timothy Mosunich

Web Developer
(352) 273-4361

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Timothy Mosunich is a graduate from UCSB and has worked for the Lastinger Center since 2010. He is passionate about user experience design that creates synergy between the fields of education and technology.

Hilary Nelson

Instructional Designer
(352) 273-4103

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Hilary Nelson brings her comprehensive knowledge of early childhood education to our Early Learning Florida Content Development Team. She has provided professional development support to preschool professionals across the country. Hilary has worked on the development of numerous curriculum & assessment materials. She received her M.S.Ed from the University of Miami.​

Angelica Nicholson

Instructional Designer
(352) 294-0621

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Angie Nicholson holds an M.Ed. in Elementary Education from the University of Florida. She is an Instructional Designer for the Content Development Team at the Lastinger Center. Angie pulls from her past experience as an early childhood educator to create quality online professional development courses for Early Learning Florida.

Donald Pemberton

Founding Director
(352) 273-4103

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Don is the founding director of the Lastinger Center.  He is a graduate of the Ohio State University and completed his doctorate at the University of South Florida.  Don’s passion is creating new approaches, models and initiatives to transform the quality of teaching and learning in Florida, the United States and the world.

Philip Poekert

(786) 482-6355

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Philip E. Poekert, Ph.D., is the Director of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning. He serves as the Principal Investigator on a number of projects. He has presented at numerous state, national, and international research conferences and has published in national and international journals.

Alexandra Prinstein

Educational Programs and Training Coordinator
(813) 374-7775

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Alex Prinstein has been with the Lastinger Center since 2010. In that time, she has worked with teachers and administrators at all levels from early childhood through high school. She holds M. Ed. degrees from UCLA and Harvard and earned her B.A. at Dartmouth College.

Paige Pullen

Literacy Initiatives Manager

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Paige C. Pullen, Ph.D. is the Literacy Initiatives Manager of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning and a Research Professor in the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies. Her research has focused on early language and literacy for children at risk for school failure, and reading interventions for students with learning disabilities within the U.S. and internationally. She has presented at numerous national and international conferences.

Jennifer Reed

Admin. Support Assistant
(352) 273-4301

Matthew Richmond

Education/Training Specialist
(352) 294-2758

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Matt Richmond received his bachelors in Plant Science from the University of Florida. He has over eight years of experience teaching and managing at a local preschool. Matt is able to make a larger impact in the early childhood education community by helping create high-quality courses for Early Learning Florida.

Mary Kay Rodgers

Research, Evaluation and Development Coordinator

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Dr. Mary Kay Rodgers designs, implements, and researches Lastinger early learning and K-12 professional development efforts nationwide. Her interests are in inquiry-based professional learning within teacher education for PreK-12 teachers, and she has publications centering on early learning professional development policy and practice, instructional coaching, and Critical Pedagogy within preK-12 classrooms.

Michelle Romano

Business Admin. Specialist
(352) 273-1991

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Michele “Shell” Romano – has 14 years’ at UF.  Her knowledge of Federal, State, Local, and UF regulations is a valuable resource.   She has extensive background in pre-proposal and proposal development of budget, agency requirements, and skills in contract negotiation and interpretation is a benefit to all projects she manages.

Dorene Ross

Professor Emeritus

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Dorene Ross is Professor Emeritus from the School of Teaching and Learning in the College of Education, who worked for 35 years as a teacher educator and educational researcher with a focus on working with schools of poverty. She is passionate about teacher learning and the educational success of marginalized students.

Christine Salama

Innovations Coordinator

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As the Innovations Coordinator for the Lastinger Center, Christine Salama contributes to the realization of the Center’s mission through providing project management, grant writing, and strategic planning support to the team. She received both her bachelor’s in psychology and her master’s in educational technology from the University of Florida. Christine is passionate about continually improving educational practices, especially for historically underserved populations.

Lourdes Santiago-Poventud

Course Production

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Lourdes Santiago Poventud has her doctorate in Special Education from the University of Florida. She has over twenty years of experience in the area of early childhood development including teaching, providing professional development, and writing curriculum. Currently, she is part of the course development team for Early Learning Florida.

Lisa Sutter

Early Learning Florida
Program Coordinator

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With an educational and experiential background in early childhood education/child development and a passion for systems building, Lisa has led and supported initiatives at the local, regional, state and national level. Beginning her work in the classroom, she holds young children and their families in her heart and has taught Preschool and Kindergarten and delivered home visits. Most recently at the systems level she worked to lift up the Oregon early learning hub system. Her work has also included serving as the Director of Training and Professional Development for Healthy Families America, a national evidence-based home visitation program. Lisa stands for equity and believes in the power of community and relatedness to transform systems, organizations and individuals for social justice.

Abby Thorman

Early Learning Innovations

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Dr. Abby Thorman has worked in the early learning field for over two decades and implemented early childhood programs for the Department of Defense, ran a non-profit, served as a Governor’s policy advisor, oversaw a foundation’s education investments, and consulted in more than 20 states. She is passionate about providing transformative opportunities for vulnerable young children.

Ronald Viafore

Lead Instructor

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Ronald Viafore earned an Educational Specialist Degree in Education Administration and Supervision from Southern Connecticut State University. Ron is a former school principal, program manager for early childhood improvement in southern Arizona, Inclusion Specialist in Duval County and currently serves as the Instructor Coordinator Early Learning Florida.

Amanda Wilson

Instructional Designer

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Amanda Wilson holds a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of South Florida and an MA in Literacy and the Arts from the University of Florida. She is excited to bring her years of experience as a preschool teacher, preschool director and primary educator to the Lastinger Center for Learning.