Close the Opportunity Gap Forum

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This forum is the start of the conversation about how Resurrection can live into our Vision 2030 "Close the Opportunity Gap" initiative, specifically regarding expanding quality Pre-K education and kindergarten readiness.

Of the 6,800 four-year-olds in the KC metropolitan area, less than 1/3 have access to pre-school. Breaking the cycle of poverty for children in Kansas City gives each child the possibility of attaining a future with hope.

Panelists

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Jovanna Rohs, Ph.D., Director of Early Learning for the Mid-America Regional Council
Over the past 20 years, Dr. Jovanna Rohs has served in a variety of roles within the field of early childhood education. She has been a classroom teacher, early interventionist, home visitor, teacher educator, researcher, and advocate. In her current role, Dr. Rohs oversees the Metropolitan Council on Early Learning as well as Mid-America Head Start. She currently holds an appointment on the first-ever Jackson County Community Children’s Services Fund board of directors.

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Dean Olson, President and CEO of The Family Conservancy
Dean Olson serves as the President and CEO of The Family Conservancy, a nonprofit agency dedicated to helping Kansas City children and families achieve success in school and in life. He has been with The Family Conservancy for 26 years and has been a champion for children and families in Kansas City throughout his entire career. Dean currently serves on the boards of Child Care Aware of Kansas and Kids Win Missouri. He also is a member of the board of directors of The Children’s Campus of Kansas City.

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Mary Esselman, President and CEO, Operation Breakthrough
Mary Esselman is the CEO of Operation Breakthrough, which serves more than 700 children from Kansas City’s urban core each weekday, providing early learning, before and after school enrichment and many supportive and therapeutic services for the children and their families. In the past year, she has also overseen a capital expansion project that includes building a bridge across Troost, adding 290 children to Operation Breakthrough’s enrollment and creating a MakerCity, where children can develop 21st century skills for success in school and in life. As a 25-year veteran of urban education, Mary has a wealth of experience that comes from innovating in schools.

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Deidre Anderson, Chief Executive Officer United Inner City Services and St. Mark Center
Deidre Anderson serves as the CEO of United Inner City Services (UICS) and the St. Mark Center. UICS serves as a neighborhood anchor, providing a variety of social services, early education programs, community arts programs, and neighborhood outreach. St. Mark Center is home to the signature early learning programs at UICS, and has been recognized as one of the best providers in the city. Deidre's passion for early learning as a springboard to academic success has fueled an innovative and effective approach at the Center, ensuring all children are afforded equitable access to high quality learning, exposure to the arts, and social support. 

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Amy Loveland, Administrator of an Early Childhood Education Site for Kansas City, Kansas Public School District
Amy Loveland taught Early Childhood Special Education for 13 years prior to finding her perfect fit in school administration AND the field of early childhood.  Kansas City Kansas Public Schools (KCKPS) offers five early education programs for almost 2,000 children, ages 3-5. About 95% of the families live under the federal poverty line and all families served meet at least one at-risk criteria. This is Amy’s fifth year as an administrator for KCKPS in the early childhood program.

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