ECA News

Five Join Board of Directors

Early Childhood Alliance Board of Directors welcomed five new board members at its July meeting. Joining the Board for three-year terms are:

  • Amber Bauer, CPA, Senior Accounting Consultant at Whittle Consulting, LLC
  • Bethany Burgun, Director of Enrollment Management at The Stanley Clark School, South Bend
  • Kendall Dudley Billows, Senior Vice President, Wealth Director, PNC
  • Lisa Knoll – Marketing Director, Lincoln Financial Group
  • Julie Sanchez, Citizen Services Director, City of Fort Wayne

Child care programs toured

Rachel Yoder, Paths to QUALITY Coach

Rachel Yoder, Paths to QUALITYTM Coach for Early Childhood Alliance, facilitated tours of three family child care homes for 12 guests from Women United and United Way of Allen County. The homes had been awarded 2016 Women United grants. The grants were established to help child care providers on Paths to QUALITYTM Level 1, 2, 3 move up a level and Level 4 programs maintain high quality by providing additional support for materials or teacher certifications. During the tours, the guests talked with child care providers and observed children using materials and equipment.

The homes on the tour were: Paths to QUALITY Level 3 – Little Hands Big Hearts Childcare where Jasmine Merriweather is the Lead Caregiver; Paths to QUALITY Level 3 – ABC and ME Childcare where Nikisha Jones is the Lead Caregiver; and Paths to QUALITY Level 1 – Inspiring Minds, where Kamecia Clark is the Lead Caregiver.

Teachers Join Early Childhood Alliance

New teachers at ECA’s Beacon Street Learning Center are: Odesa Aytch – toddler teacher; Erin Harting – preschool teacher; Tawny Klesz – infant teacher; and Shari Raney- infant teacher. ECA’s Downtown Learning Center also welcomes a new teacher, Moinea Lopez – infant teacher.

Area businesses Play It Forward

Locally built, life-sized playhouses served as the feature auction items to help Early Childhood Alliance raise a record-breaking $119,000 at its recent fundraiser. More than 200 guests Played It Forward To Spark a Future, with lively bidding for the playhouses, along with several vacation getaways, sport packages, custom jewelry and more.Locally built, life-sized playhouses served as the feature auction items to help Early Childhood Alliance raise a record-breaking $119,000 at its recent fundraiser. More than 200 guests Played It Forward To Spark a Future, with lively bidding for the playhouses, along with several vacation getaways, sport packages, custom jewelry and more.


The playhouses were revealed at a TinCaps game a few days prior to the fundraiser and remained on display through the special event held at Parkview Field.

Proceeds from the annual event will support projects at the two ECA Learning Centers in Fort Wayne, family engagement in northern Indiana, agency operations, and projects to support ECA’s strategic plan. ECA provides programs and services for 10 northern Indiana counties.

Sponsoring, designing and building the playhouses were:

Corporate Sponsor: STAR Financial
Construction Sponsor: Hagerman Inc.
Design Sponsor: MKM architecture + design

Parkview Flight of Fancy
Corporate Sponsor: Parkview Health
Construction Sponsor: Weigand Construction
Design Sponsor: Design Collaborative (more)

Antebellum Jam(es)boree
Corporate Sponsor: Rick & Vicki James
Construction Sponsor: Michael Kinder & Sons
Design Sponsor: Elevatus Architecture

Pyromation “adopts” classroom at ECA

It was celebration time in Room 8 at Early Childhood Alliance (ECA), on Wednesday, May 10, as a group of 3- to 5-year-olds welcomed Pyromation to the Downtown Learning Center (516 E Wayne St).  The Fort Wayne based company that produces temperature sensing devices and equipment, adopted the classroom with a $3,000 grant in support of room improvements, sliding scale tuition, and professional development. The Pyromation senior management team and team members joined in the fun at ECA during the unveiling of a dedication plaque with the preschoolers.

“Pyromation believes it is our duty and privilege to support families and children in need, said Pete Wilson, president. “Early Childhood Alliance’s commitment to providing quality early childhood education as well as much needed services to families makes them a valuable resource in our community. We believe strongly in the mission of ECA and are excited to be supporting them in this way.”

Local Philanthropist Welcomed by Toddlers

It’s celebration time for the children and teachers in Room 1, and the special guest is Harriet Inskeep. On Wednesday, April 12, Inskeep will be welcomed for a special breakfast by a group of toddlers at ECA’s Downtown Learning Center (516 E Wayne St). As part of ECA’s Adopt-a-Classroom program, she is adopting Room 1 with a $5,000 grant in support of room improvements, sliding scale tuition, and professional development. A special plaque will be unveiled outside the classroom in her honor.

Inskeep, who is well known for her business and philanthropic work in the community, credits her own lifelong love of learning for her support of education.

“We are grateful for Harriet’s support for ECA to provide the foundations of education for our youngest citizens,” said Madeleine Baker, CEO of Early Childhood Alliance. “Investment in children’s early years directly impacts our economic health by preparing our future workforce from the very beginning.”

Nursing Students visit Learning Centers

More than a dozen students and staff from the University of St Francis conducted free health screenings at ECA’s two Learning Centers. Students checked children’s height and weight, heart and blood pressure, and hearing. The health fair was part of the USF Community-Based Early Childhood Health Program.

New Hires

Kathryn Cupp - Beacon Learning Center Teacher

New teachers  in Pre-K classrooms at ECA’s Learning Centers are Heather Elser, at the Downtown Learning Center (516 E Wayne St), and Kathryn Cupp, at the Beacon Learning Center (2125 Beacon St).

Foundation Invests in Training

Foellinger Center for Adaptive Leadership graduates first cohort

Fourteen leaders from four area nonprofit organizations graduated from Foellinger Foundation’s Emerging Leaders Program on March 23. The graduation celebration was held at the Botanical Gardens.

The 14 leaders spent the last year increasing and strengthening their adaptive leadership skills with a focus on commitment to purpose, emotional intelligence, integrity and entrepreneurship.

Linda Mumma, chief financial officer of Lutheran Social Services of Indiana, is among the graduates. “This training has equipped me with better tools to address challenging leadership situations in a more capable and effective manner,” Mumma said.

Shannon Gage, Chief Program Director

Brightpoint CEO Steve Hoffman encouraged three of his colleagues to participate in the program. “The Foellinger Foundation has made a significant investment in developing and strengthening nonprofit leaders in this community,” Hoffman said. “Foellinger Foundation realizes that strong leaders create strong impact.”

The Emerging Leaders concept was born out of a two-year Foellinger funded collaboration of the CEOs from Brightpoint, Early Childhood Alliance, the YWCA of Northeast Indiana and Lutheran Social Services of Indiana. These nonprofit executives worked to address the need for strategic leader development. The training program launched in 2016 as part of The Foellinger Center for Adaptive Leadership (FoCAL). Participants develop skills that are essential for adaptive leaders in today’s dynamic nonprofit landscape. Key leaders from the four organizations composed the program’s first cohort.

Monthly training and coaching sessions were provided by Colin Maiorano, CEO of StrategyWorx. Colin Maiorano has been training, consulting and coaching for 20 years with methods that maximize leadership potential by creating self-awareness and addressing blind spots that can sabotage a leader’s success.

“Through this training, I learned more about myself and tools I can use to be a more adaptive leader,” said Shannon Gage, Chief Program Director for Early Childhood Alliance.

Mary Jo Hardiman, chief operating officer of the YWCA of Northeast Indiana, said “I learned new ways to tackle problems facing a non-profit and how to build a team to lead: from negotiation techniques, entrepreneurial leadership, to assessment and cultivation of change within an organization’s culture. This experience has allowed me to look through a different lens that I did not know about before. I am thankful for this experience, it was hard work and forced us to look at ourselves, our organization, and the community’s non-profit sector.”

Note: ECA staff participating in the training were Eileen Claypool – Chief Development Officer; Kacey Deverell – Provider Support Manager; Shannon Gage – Chief Program Director; and Connie Heflin – Major Gifts Director.