Stacey serves as the Associate Director for the project. With over 20 years of experience, Stacey is a highly accomplished media executive and project manager with expertise in moving multi-million dollar projects from concept to delivery. She has executed these strategies for several worldwide entertainment entities including Sesame Workshop, MTV Networks, Cablevision, Rainbow Media, WNYW/Fox 5 Television, NBA Entertainment, Life Time Television, The Jim Henson Company, News Corporation and others.
Since joining the HITN/ELC team in June 2013, Stacey has been using her skills and expertise to create and manage budgets, develop administrative processes and ensure that all project elements stay on track. Stacey is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Syracuse University with a degree in Communications.
Gina serves as Associate Director of Outreach, focusing her work on the development and implementation of pilot sites, planning and organizing community events in the tri-state area, and a range of other outreach activities. Gina brings a rich background in research and program development to her work.
Prior to joining the HITN/ELC team, Gina taught elementary and secondary students as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda, then turned her attention to research for multiple nonprofit organizations, where her focus was on health issues. A native speaker of Spanish, Gina’s bilingual communication skills help her to engender trust in the communities where she works. Gina is also an experienced grants manager and analyst. These skills and experience, combined with her degree in Media Studies, provide the basis for her work at HITN/ELC.
Simon serves as the project’s Supervising Producer, overseeing the design, programming, and testing of the Learning PlaySet applications for iOS and Android platforms. Simon brings a rich background in developing video games, toys and electronic learning devices to his work with the Early Learning Collaborative at HITN.
Over more than fifteen years of experience turning children's entertainment properties into a variety of engaging products, Simon has kept a relentless focus on both innovation and on improving the user experience. With a degree in Audio Engineering and a life-long passion for sound, electronics, and “how things work,” Simon has created products ranging from singing and dancing Elmo toys for Mattel to video games for Nintendo, creating products that educate, entertain and engage users of all ages.
Ed serves as the project’s Senior Director for Educational Outreach and Partnerships, facilitating communication, capacity building, and strategic approaches to program implementation. With over 30 years as an early childhood practitioner, researcher, policy/program developer and advocate, Ed has consistently promoted quality early childhood programs for children, their families and the professionals who serve them.
Prior to joining HITN, Ed served as a senior advisor and consultant to Cito USA, as a professional development and instructional leadership consultant with Teachscape, Inc., and as director of global outreach with Sesame Workshop. He has shared his expertise serving on the boards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the HighScope Educational Research Foundation, and the American Camp Association. Ed has an undergraduate degree in Music and graduate degrees in Child and Human Development and in Elementary and Early Childhood Education.
Maryann serves as the Project Director for the ELC project, lending her expertise to, and leading the team in, the creation, development, and production of the PlayGrounds and the educational outreach programs and materials. Also serving as the Chief Operating Officer of HITN, Maryann brings more than 30 years of experience as an educator, multimedia product developer and leader to her work with ELC.
Prior to joining HITN, Maryann served in various leadership positions in the NYC Board of Education, the Edwin Gould Foundation, in the administration of NYC’s Mayor Koch and in the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering. She brought these experiences to her work as Chief Learning Officer for Teachscape, where she initiated and/or guided the development and implementation of Teachscape products and services. Maryann holds an undergraduate degree in Chemistry and graduate degrees in Communications and Instructional Design, Urban Education and Physics.
Donovan serves as Outreach Administrative Services Coordinator for the Early Learning Collaborative. Through his role Donovan provides exceptional event planning coordination and logistical support to the project and pilot sites.
Donovan has been part of the HITN team for two years, acting as an Outreach Specialist for CBO Connect, where he managed relationships with community-based organizations and universities. Donovan also provided administrative and technical support to pilot sites for HITN Learning, ensuring efficient operations. Donovan is currently attaining his undergraduate degree in Mental Health and Human Services.
Ivan serves the collaborative as Web and Digital Communications Specialist. He guides the team in all things media, with particular attention to social media sites as the web community manager. Ivan is webmaster of www.earlylearningcollaborative.org managing the production of the site, as well as the project’s presence on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. He also aids in conducting marketing research with a focus on early childhood education and parenting.
Ivan holds an undergraduate degree in Media Studies, focusing on the impact of visual media on consumers. His previous experience includes graphic design, social networking, digital photography, blogging, and editing for multiple production companies. Ivan has also previously worked as a freelance videographer producing music videos, short films and documentary web series.
As Development Associate Producer, Michal ensures delivery of apps that not only promote learning, but also dazzle. Along with her background in children's television and an M.A. in Educational Communications, Michal comes to the Early Learning Collaborative with experience as a folk dance teacher, puppet builder, musician, and calligraphic artist. She has worked in educational media ranging from PBS's Great Performances to Nickelodeon's Team Umizoomi, and she recently served as an instructional designer and writer for web-based educational games.
Emmy Award-winning Executive Producer Erica Branch-Ridley oversees ELC’s creative direction and guides transmedia production for apps, web, and non-digital materials. Erica comes to us from Sesame Workshop, where she headed digital production for The Electric Company before becoming Vice President of Production for the Sesame Learning in-schools pilot initiative. Prior to her work at Sesame, Erica worked at Viacom as Executive Producer of TV Land and Nick at Nite Digital, and Senior Producer at Nickelodeon Online. She spearheaded NickJr.com's first successful TV/web convergent effort for the Dora the Explorer website. Erica’s honors include two Interactive Emmy Awards: Best Children’s Website with The Electric Company, and Best Interactive TV Application for TV Land Online.
Before working in Interactive, Erica’s television industry work included positions with CBS-NEWS, WNBC, and Black Entertainment Television, where she created and produced the multi-cultural children’s storytelling show STORYPORCH, earning a National Education Association award. She sits on the Alumni Board of Directors for Syracuse University's prestigious Newhouse School of Communications and in 2013 was honored with a Multiethnic TV Executive Leadership Award for her noteworthy role in reflecting onscreen diversity in digital media.
Emily Friend Roberts
As an app producer, Emily works to turn educational goals into interactive game designs. Her goal is to create fun and engaging learning tools that empower children of all levels and learning styles.
Before joining HITN, Emily worked at Sesame Workshop as a producer and content design strategist. She has created award-winning apps and web games for Sesame Street and The Electric Company. Her most notable work includes "Feel Electric!", an app designed for the children of military families, featuring games and activities for self-expression and emotion vocabulary development. "Feel Electric!" received awards from Common Sense Media and Parents' Choice, and has over 200,000 downloads on iOS and Android. Emily's areas of expertise include educational content development (focusing on preschool math and literacy), research testing, animation and design, building prototypes, and designing logic & adaptive game structures.
As the Educational Specialist, Karyn provides pedagogical and curriculum guidance for the creation of English Language Development, emerging literacy, and emerging mathematics transmedia materials to help young children to become Kindergarten-ready. Karyn brings subject matter expertise in early childhood learning, standards-based learning and accountability, curriculum design, and teacher development to her work.
Prior to joining the HITN/ELC team, Karyn taught primary grade students (K-2) in Orange County Public Schools, Florida, before becoming a school- and district-based professional learning specialist. After 15 years in public K-12 education, Karyn’s career focused on facilitating professional learning, supporting the implementation of educational technology, and developing the instructional and leadership skills of educators around the country. These skills and experiences, combined with her degrees in Elementary Education/Early Childhood Education and Educational Leadership, provide the basis for her work.
Jackson serves as an ELC Producer, overseeing the game design and documentation of the designs for the Pocoyo PlaySets. Jackson brings a rich background in game design and prototyping, animation, toy and collectible development and project/product development to his work at HITN.
Although Jackson’s undergraduate degree is in architecture, he soon realized that his true passion was for toys and electronic learning. After earning a graduate degree in Sustainable Economic Development, Jackson earned a second graduate degree in Toy Design and has, for over 10 years, developed software applications and toys for Disney, Mattel, and Hasbro. As a volunteer, Jackson has also personally seen the impact that teachers can have in impoverished areas around the world. He is a believer that apps for early learners can make a difference.
Aliza serves as Associate Producer for the project. Her work involves the design and production of non-digital transmedia materials, as well as ensuring their alignment with educational goals. Prior to joining HITN/ELC, Aliza's work experience has included designing a community needs assessment for a local social service agency, working for a hospital's mental health unit, teaching an after school intervention program for elementary school students, and leading international leadership trips for teenagers. She also has extensive experience working for a variety of social service nonprofit organizations and early childhood education centers.
Aliza has an M.A. in Community Psychology and a B.A. in Psychology. She has focused her studies on mental health, community efficacy, and multidisciplinary teaching techniques. Her work experiences have strengthened her expertise in leadership development, creative problem solving, and community relations.
As Associate Producer of Community Events and Partnerships, Blanca coordinates events, creates new partnerships, and supports and promotes outreach programs. Through social media and online community-building tools, Blanca serves as a spokesperson for the Early Learning Collaborative's goals and mission.
With a bachelor's degree in Communications (Radio/TV/Film) and a minor in Spanish and Studio Art, Blanca specializes in providing the public face for organizations and non-profits. Her experience in community outreach, creating opportunities for young people, planning festivals and performances, and teaching preschool-aged children has served her in positions with Sesame Workshop, the Apollo Theater Foundation, Inc., Stark Naked Productions, the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors, the Society of the Educational Arts, and Boys & Girls Harbor, among many others.