Nebraska Early Childhood Leadership Cadre includes current, former UNK students

OMAHA – The Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska has chosen 26 early childhood professionals from across the state for the inaugural Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Leadership Cadre.

The Buffett Institute formed the group to put these professionals’ perspectives front and center in conversations about the future of Nebraska’s early childhood workforce. Over the next three years, cadre members will build their collective capacity as thought leaders and early childhood workforce leaders. The cadre will nurture and refine members’ ideas for elevating Nebraska’s early childhood workforce and implement small pilot projects in the communities where they live.

Cama Charlet
Cama Charlet

“I am excited to begin meeting with these outstanding educators and begin our work together,” said Cama Charlet, manager of early childhood workforce initiatives at the Buffett Institute. “These 26 members bring such diversity to the cadre, coming from every corner of the state and representing different settings and levels of experience.”

Charlet said the cadre drew interest from 270 early childhood professionals.

“Though only a fraction of them could be selected for the cadre, we want to harness that enthusiasm and excitement to make a difference,” she said. “The Institute will be seeking ways to keep applicants involved in the effort to strengthen early care and education in our state.”

Cadre members will meet in person four times a year for one weekend day. In addition to in-person meetings, each cadre member will attend one two-hour virtual meeting with a small group in the months between in-person meetings. Cadre members will commit about five hours of additional time each month interacting with their peers and reflecting on the cadre experience in an online discussion platform.

Cadre members will receive a $1,000 stipend annually for full participation during the life of the cadre. Additionally, funding is available to cover the costs associated with attending one or more professional conferences and materials relating to professional learning.

Current and former UNK students selected for the inaugural cadre include:
Jaime Frey of Dawson
Penny Gerking of Auburn
Molly Parsons of David City
Brandy Price of Pierce
Shawna Rischling of Alliance
Shauna Roberts of Fremont
Kelsey Schnoor of Battle Creek

The cadre is part of the Buffett Institute’s longstanding commitment to elevating the early childhood workforce. The idea grew out of the recommendations by the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, a group of more than 40 Nebraska public- and private-sector leaders who convened over three years to address ways to strengthen and expand the early childhood workforce. The commission’s report, Elevating Nebraska’s Early Childhood Workforce: Report and Recommendations of the Nebraska Early Childhood Workforce Commission, was released in January 2020.