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Department of Early Learning and Care

Early Learning Council

The Early Learning Council is charged with coordinating a unified and aligned system of early learning throughout Oregon to ensure that all children, no matter what their background or their community, enter school ready to learn and that all families are healthy, stable and attached. The council follows the work of the five year early learning system strategic plan, Raise Up Oregon.

The council was created through Senate Bill 909 (2011), further directed through House Bill 4165 (2012), and most recently modified in House Bill 2262 (2019). Currently, there are eleven members appointed by the governor. The council meets monthly, but does not meet in July or August. 

Gabriela Hernandez

Early Learning Council Administrator


Council Members

Sue Miller, Chair; Appointed November 2016

Sue Miller is returning to her position as Chair of the ELC, which she stepped into in November 2016. Ms. Miller brings her extensive background in public administration and early learning to the ELC; she has been working in early childhood for over 20 years and is passionate about giving all children a chance to meet their potential to lead rewarding lives. She is the co-founder and former Executive Director of Family Building Blocks, the Relief Nursery serving Marion and Polk Counties; helped found the Marion-Polk Early Learning Hub and chaired its Board of Directors for three years; served on the Oregon Community Foundation Board for eight years; and was elected the first woman mayor of Salem, in which she served for six years.

Katy Brooks; Appointed September 2019

Katy Brooks was confirmed to the ELC in September 2019. Ms. Brooks is the Bend Chamber President, where she works partnering the local business community with education institutions to improve Bend's economy and education outcomes; as well as currently piloting a program to remove barriers to child care. She has over 20 years of economic development and public affairs experience that she brings to the Council, including working for Oregon Department of Transportation and the ports of Portland and Vancouver, WA.

Peter Buckley; Appointed October 2019

Peter Buckley was confirmed to the ELC in October 2019. Mr. Buckley is the Innovation Network Program Manager for Southern Oregon Success. He served as the State Representative for District 5 (Ashland, Talent, Phoenix, Medford, Jacksonville and Ruch) from 2005 until he retired in 2017. During his tenure in office, Rep. Buckley served as the House Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means for eight years and continuously fought for increased funding for all levels of education. After retiring from the Oregon Legislature, he was appointed as a senior adviser to Gov. Kate Brown on transformation and budget stability during the 2017 legislative session.

Barry Ford; Appointed October 2023

Barry Ford was confirmed to the ELC in October 2023.  Mr. Ford is the President and CEO of Council for a Strong America (CSA) based in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Ford has dedicated his life and career to fighting for the policies and public investments that children and families throughout this country need to thrive.  He is a leading national voice on the importance of early care and education to the strength of our economy, the safety of our communities, and the ongoing security of our nation.  Before joining CSA, Mr. Ford led the advocacy and community outreach efforts of the United States Tennis Association, was a two-time candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives, and an associate with the international law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.  He is a member of the Leadership Council of the Stanford Center on Early Childhood and the Early Years Climate Action Task Force.  Mr. Ford also co-chairs the steering committee of The National Collaborative for Infants & Toddlers (NCIT).

Elizabeth Farrar Campbell; Appointed October 2023

Elizabeth Farrar Campbell was confirmed to the ELC in October 2023. Elizabeth Farrar Campbell serves as Gilliam County Judge, where she leads the County's efforts to address critical community challenges, including early education access. She has held many titles, including in the State Capitol and on Capitol Hill, but her favorite is “Mommy" to 2-year-old daughter, Ainsley.

Robin Hill-Dunbar; Appointed October 2023

Robin Hill-Dunbar was confirmed to the ELC in October 2023. Ms. Hill-Dunbar is a Senior Program Officer for The Ford Family Foundation based in Roseburg. The Foundation works to improve the lives of rural Oregonians. She joined the Foundation in 2016, where she is working to shape and execute the Foundation's strategies to support strong families and healthy children of all ages. Prior to coming to the Foundation, she served as the home visiting workforce development coordinator at the Oregon Health Authority/Maternal Child Health. While there, she created a comprehensive workforce development plan that included the development of home visiting competencies for Oregon's home visiting field, a workforce development plan, and helped embed the Infant Mental Health Endorsement in Oregon. Her extensive background includes work in early Intervention/early childhood special education, home visiting, parenting education, early learning local and statewide program management, and training and technical assistance in the early learning field.

Dr. Margaret (Peg) Miller, MD; Appointed October 2019

Dr. Peg Miller was confirmed to the ELC in October 2019. Dr. Miller is a board certified pediatrician based in McMinnville where she practices at Willamette Valley Medical Center. She also serves as the Medical Director at Juliette's House, the Yamhill county child abuse assessment center. Dr. Miller is familiar with the barriers to health that Oregon's rural youth population faces, having served rural Oregon in her practice for over 20 years. She will provide a critical health care lens for the cross sectional work of the ELC. Currently Dr. Miller also sits on the Yamhill County Early Learning Hub and the board of directors of Headstart of Yamhill County. She received her MD from OHSU and completed pediatric residency at the University of Arizona.

Soobin Oh; Appointed December 2022

Soobin Oh was confirmed to the ELC in December 2022. Mr. Oh is the Co-Director of Development, Communications & Strategy at Teaching Preschool Partners. He also serves  on the State Interagency Coordinating Council, the Preschool for All Task Force,  and the Infant Toddler Mental Health Consultation model development. Mr. Oh’s work revolves around pedagogies that position teachers, children and families to have agency in transforming their systems and communities for the better. Prior to joining Teaching Preschool Partners, Mr. Oh worked for the Children’s Institute where he supported school districts in implementing and aligning their early education practices with older grades. He has also supported policy advocacy through sharing research. Prior to this work, Mr. Oh also worked to develop state professional standards for early educators and consulted with early childhood center across the state. He also worked as a classroom teacher for over 15 years.

Ruby Ramirez; Appointed October 2023

Ruby Ramirez was confirmed to the ELC in October 2023. Ms. Ramirez is a Program Officer, for Early Childhood Programs at Oregon Community Foundation. In this role, Ms. Ramirez is a relational bridge-builder and cross-system strategist passionate about equitable early learning opportunities and healthy early childhood development. Prior to joining Oregon Community Foundation, Ms. Ramirez worked as an early childhood policy strategy consultant and held several roles in non-profit administration, early childhood workforce professional development, and supporting families with early childhood mental halth services. 

Dave Baden, Interim Director, Oregon Health Authority

Dave Baden, formerly Oregon Health Authority's chief financial officer (CFO), came to OHA from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), where he most was deputy CFO. His accomplishments at OHA include managing OHA's procurement process for Coordinated Care Organizations, as well as multiple critical roles during the pandemic. He was one of the statewide incident commanders in response to COVID-19, procuring and distributing personal protective equipment to health care systems in Oregon amidst a nationwide shortage. He also oversaw staffing support for hospitals and long-term care settings during the height of surges brought on by variants, bringing in more than 2,000 staff to Oregon to help keep providers afloat.

Ben Cannon, Executive Director, Higher Education Coordinating Commission

Ben Cannon has been the Executive Director of the Oregon Higher Education Coordinating Commission since 2013. Mr. Cannon oversees state funding allocations, policy-setting, and coordinating for Oregon's higher education system, including community colleges and public universities. Director Cannon is a former teacher and taught humanities at a middle school near Portland from 2003 – 2011. Mr. Cannon is also a former state representative and education policy advisor to the Governor.

Fariborz Pakseresht, Director, Oregon Department of Human Services

Fariborz Pakseresht has been the Director of the Oregon Department of Human Services since September 2017. Mr. Pakseresht came to the Oregon Department of Human Services from the Oregon Youth Authority where he was responsible for the state's juvenile corrections agency. During his time at the Oregon Youth Authority, he was honored with the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Council of Juvenile Corrections Administrators for his leadership contributions in the field of juvenile justice. Earlier in his career, he served eight years with Oregon Department of Human Services in a variety of leadership roles. He also spend eleven years with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services. 

Marie Simonds; Appointed October 2023

Marie Simonds was confirmed to the ELC in November 2023.  Marie joined Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in 2012 and serves as the Executive Director of the newly named Bandon Dunes Charitable Foundation (BDCF), working to support a thriving South Coast of Oregon.  Through the support of BDCF, she is actively engaged in conservation, economy, and community projects such as Whiskey Run Mountain Biking Trails, Bandon Community Child Care Center, Washed Ashore, Watershed support, and more. Her work on the Bandon Community Child Care project, the local shared services alliance, and workforce challenges have driven and motivated to work for change in the systems surrounding childcare businesses. Prior to joining the Resort, Marie was the Executive Director of the Southwestern Oregon Community College Foundation where she led scholarship fundraising efforts for students as well as served as the Men's and Women's golf coach.

Andrea Bell, Executive Director, Oregon Housing and Community Services 

Andrea Bell is the Executive Director of Oregon Housing and Community Services, where she oversees the strategic direction, vision and growth of the state agency responsible for providing stable and affordable housing across Oregon. Bell's extensive leadership across the housing continuum has led her to hold pivotal leadership positions in the public sector. Most recently she served as the Housing Director within the Medicaid system where she directed the operations and expansion of state-funded Permanent Supportive Housing programs, as well as deployed sustainable solutions to end homelessness and align funding and policy at the intersection of health and housing. During her tenure, she spearheaded the state's first tax credit project using Housing Trust Fund resources and led the Governor's Housing and Health initiative aimed to provide long-term housing opportunities for people experiencing homelessness with serious mental illnesses and substance use disorders.

Alyssa Chatterjee, Early Learning System Director, Department of Early Learning and Care

Alyssa Chatterjee is the Early Learning System Director overseeing the Early Learning Division in Oregon since May 2021. Ms. Chatterjee has been working for the Early Learning Division for most of her career, starting with a support position which evolved into Early Learning Council Administrator, among other duties. In 2019, she accepted a role as Deputy Education Policy Advisor in Governor Kate Brown’s office, where she served until appointed Early Learning System Director in May 2021.

Dr. Charlene Williams, Director, Oregon Department of Education

Dr. Charlene Williams was appointed as the Director of the Oregon Department of Education by the Oregon Senate in September 2023. Dr. Williams spent the past seven years as an administrator in Southwest Washington public school districts, most recently as deputy superintendent at Evergreen Public Schools, where she has been supervising district leaders, leading the development of the district's five-year strategic plan and launching a superintendent advisory committee. She also served as assistant superintendent in the Camas School District from 2016 to 2022. She supervised principals, designed professional development opportunities, and facilitated district level meetings and trainings to better align district services and support to schools. Dr. Williams has also held roles with the Portland Public Schools and served as principal at Roosevelt High School in North Portland. 

Early Learning Council Meeting Materials

Home Visiting System Committee Meeting Materials

Early Learning Council Meeting Schedule

Early Learning Council Reports

Contact with Questions:

Gabriela Hernandez  |  971-701-3612