UNK faculty member Chelsea Feusner completes Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy

KEARNEY – University of Nebraska at Kearney faculty member Chelsea Feusner recently graduated from the Nebraska Early Childhood Policy Leadership Academy, which completed its 2022-23 program last week in North Platte.

An associate professor of educational administration, Feusner participated in the six-month program alongside 22 other professionals from early childhood and higher education, public health, nonprofits, civic organizations, businesses and economic development entities.

The PLA is Nebraska’s premier, nonpartisan leadership initiative focused specifically on empowering citizen-advocates to play an active role in public policy conversations affecting early childhood at the local and statewide levels. Participants in the program work with specialists in public policy, data analysis and strategic partnerships to develop strategies for engaging with policymakers and promoting grassroots advocacy in their own communities. The goal of the PLA is to create policy change to address the state’s child care crisis, strengthen the early childhood professional workforce and advance the well-being of young children, families and communities.

The PLA is coordinated by Jodi-Renee Girón, who has an extensive background in advocacy and movement building. “The goal of our program is to help advocates become skilled, knowledgeable and credible participants in the policymaking process,” said Girón. “They emerge from the program better prepared to actively involve their communities in policy conversations about local early childhood needs.”

The PLA is an initiative of First Five Nebraska, a statewide, nonpartisan organization focused on promoting early childhood policy to create social, educational and economic opportunity for all Nebraskans. According to First Five Nebraska Director Jason Prokop, the 2022-23 PLA class is one of the most capable groups to graduate from the program since it was launched in 2018.

“The strength of the PLA lies in bringing together a broad array of insight, expertise and relationships to create positive change, especially for our youngest children,” he said. “We were deeply impressed by the sheer range of talent and level of commitment demonstrated by this graduating class. As part of our growing network of academy alumni, they are important assets to their communities and state.”