Advisors Council

Advisors Council

In June 2013, VECF launched leadership strategies for research, evaluation and policy to provide service to communities across Virginia in analyzing data, guiding research and evaluation, and discerning policy implications for the state's system of school readiness services for young children. The work is guided by VECF's Advisors Council, comprised of policy, research, and evaluation experts, as well as by the practical findings from the network of Smart Beginnings initiatives. This distinguished group of experts includes:

Rhian E. Allvin, Chief Executive Officer of NAEYC

Rhian Evans Allvin serves as Chief Executive Officer of NAEYC. She is responsible for guiding the strategic direction of the organization as well as overseeing the daily operations. With more than 70,000 members and 300 Affiliate components across the United States, NAEYC serves as the leading voice on behalf of young children and early childhood educators. Before joining NAEYC, Evans Allvin was a guiding force in Arizona’s early childhood movement for more than 15 years. In 2006 she co-wrote the citizen’s ballot initiative that created First Things First (FTF) which set aside Arizona’s tobacco tax monies for children birth to five and created a state agency whose purpose is to ensure all Arizona children start kindergarten prepared to be successful in school and in life. During her tenure the organization led and participated in a variety of Arizona statewide early childhood systems-building efforts, including panels that adopted the Arizona Model Early Childhood System Framework, the development of First Things First’s 10 School Readiness Indicators, the FTF National Research and Evaluation Advisory Panel, and the development and rollout of Quality First, Arizona’s quality improvement and rating system. Rhian holds a bachelor’s degree from Northern Arizona University and a master’s degree in business administration from Arizona State University.

Peter A. Blake, State Council of Higher Education for VA
peter-a-blakePeter A. Blake joined SCHEV as Interim Executive Director on April 1, 2011, a position that was made permanent in January 2012. A former Virginia Secretary of Education, Mr. Blake previously worked at SCHEV as an Associate Director overseeing higher education analyses in the areas of faculty and staff compensation, higher education funding policies, academic libraries, distance learning and instructional technology, and student financial aid. He left SCHEV in 1999 to serve as the Legislative Fiscal Analyst for the Virginia General Assembly’s House Appropriations Committee. Before returning to SCHEV, Mr. Blake served as the Vice Chancellor of Workforce Development Services for the Virginia Community College System, where he led policy and budget development for state and federal workforce programs. Mr. Blake was the Deputy Secretary of Education from 2002 to 2005, and he served as the Secretary of Education under former Virginia Governor Mark Warner. In addition to his professional experience, Mr. Blake has served on various advisory committees, including the boards of the Virginia Commonwealth University Alumni Association, the Richmond Public Library, the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Mr. Blake completed the Virginia Executive Institute and LEAD Virginia programs, as well as the Associates program through the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education. He has a B.A. in History and an M.S. in Communications Management from Virginia Commonwealth University.
The Honorable David C. Gompert, RAND Corporation
david-c-gompertThe Honorable David C. Gompert is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the U. S. Naval Academy and Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation. Mr. Gompert was Principal Deputy Director of National Intelligence from 2009 to 2010. In 2010, he served as Acting Director of National Intelligence, in which capacity he was the President’s chief intelligence advisor. Prior to that, he was a Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation (2004-09) and was the Senior Advisor for National Security and Defense, Coalition Provisional Authority, Iraq (2003-04). Mr. Gompert has been on the faculties of the RAND Pardee Graduate School, the U. S. Naval Academy, the National Defense University, and Virginia Commonwealth University. He was president of RAND Europe (2000-03) and vice president of RAND and director of the National Defense Research Institute (1993-2000). From 1990 to 1993, Mr. Gompert served as Special Assistant to President George H. W. Bush and Senior Director for Europe and Eurasia on the National Security Council staff. He has held a number of positions at the State Department over numerous administrations, including Deputy to the Under Secretary for Political Affairs (1982-83), Deputy Assistant Secretary for European Affairs (1981-82), Deputy Director of the Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (1977-81), and Special Assistant to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (1973-75). Mr. Gompert worked in the private sector from 1983-1990. At Unisys (1989-90), he was President of the Systems Management Group and Vice President for Strategic Planning and Corporate Development. At AT&T (1983-89), he was Vice President, Civil Sales and Programs, and Director of International Market Planning. Mr. Gompert is a director of Bristow Group, Inc., a director of STG Group, Inc., a member of the Advisory Board of the U.S. Naval Academy Center for Cyber Security Studies, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He served for many years on the board of Hopkins House in Northern Virginia. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering from the U. S. Naval Academy and a Master of Public Affairs degree from the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University.
Dr. Robert D. Holsworth, Ph.D., DecideSmart
Bob Holsworth is a Managing Principal of DecideSmart. Prior to joining the firm, he was the Founding Director of the Center for Public Policy and the L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs at Virginia Commonwealth University. He also served as Dean and Interim Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. Holsworth has occupied key positions in a number of major governmental initiatives. He was the Executive Director of the Governor’s Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness in Virginia State Government from 2002-2004, a comprehensive analysis of the business practices of Virginia state government that became the foundation of an extensive governmental reform package. He has been the Director of the Virginia Executive Institute, the leading professional development program for state executives in the Commonwealth. He was Co-Staff Director of the Commission on the Future of Virginia’s Urban Areas, a gubernatorial commission that examined how Virginia’s urban areas could become flourishing parts of regional economies. Holsworth also has considerable experience designing, leading and managing complex survey research studies, regional data initiatives and countywide civic engagement projects.
Dr. Colleen A. Kraft, M.D., Cincinnati Children's Hospital

colleen-a-kraftColleen A. Kraft, MD, serves as Medical Director, Health Network at Cincinnati Children's. Her specialties include pediatric primary care innovation; home visiting in the medical home; and global neonatal mortality. Formerly, she was a
pediatric program director at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine and senior medical officer for MajestaCare,
a Medicaid managed care organization in Virginia. Kraft is the co-author of the book Managing Chronic Health Conditions in Child Care and Schools.  She has been actively involved in pediatric engagement in school and child care
for children with special health care needs. She has served on the Early Brain and Childhood Development workgroup,
the Council on Community Pediatrics Executive Committee, and the National Medical Home Project Advisory
Committee at the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is a content expert for Text4Baby and serves on the National
Head Start Advisory Committee.

Dr. Robert C. Pianta, Ph.D., Curry School of Education
robert-c-piantaRobert C. Pianta is Dean of the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. He also holds positions as the Novartis Professor of Education, Founding Director of the Curry School’s Center for Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL), Professor of Psychology at the UVA College of Arts & Sciences, and Director of the National Center for Research in Early Childhood Education. Pianta’s research and policy interests focus on teacher-student interactions and relationships and on the improvement of teachers’ contributions to students’ learning and development. He is the author of more than 250 articles, 50 book chapters, and 10 books, and has been a principal investigator on research and training grants totaling over $55 million. Among other research measures and instruments, Pianta is the creator of an observational assessment of teacher-student interactions known as the Classroom Assessment Scoring System™ or CLASS, with versions for use with infants through twelfth grade students, all of which have been shown to capture features of teacher-student interactions that contribute to learning and development. CLASS is used by every Head Start program in the country, affecting 50,000 teachers and over half a million students. After receiving a bachelor of science and masters of arts in special education from the University of Connecticut, Pianta began his career as a special education teacher. Upon completing a psychology Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, he joined the University of Virginia faculty in 1986. A nationally recognized expert in both early childhood education and k-12 teaching and learning, Pianta regularly consults with federal agencies, foundations, and universities
Dr. Craig T. Ramey, Ph.D., VA Tech Carilion Research Institute
craig-t-rameyCraig T. Ramey, Ph.D., is the Distinguished Research Scholar of Human Development at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, Professor of Psychology at Virginia Tech, and Professor of Pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. He specializes in the study of factors affecting children’s health and the development of intelligence, social competence, and academic achievement. Over the past 40 years he and his wife, Sharon Landesman Ramey, have conducted multidisciplinary longitudinal research with more than 100,000 children in over 40 states. He is the Founding Director of several frequently cited early intervention programs including the Abecedarian Project, Project CARE, the Infant Health and Development Program, and currently serves as the Chief Science Officer for the statewide preschool educational program for PreK children in Louisiana. Currently Ramey is helping to launch a longterm longitudinal study of brain development known as the Roanoke Brain Study. Ramey is the author of more than 250 publications including five books. He frequently consults with federal and state government, as well as private foundations and agencies, and the news media.
Dr. Sharon L. Ramey, Ph.D., VA Tech Carilion Research Institute
sharon-l-rameySharon Ramey, Ph.D., is a Professor and Distinguished Research Scholar at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, a Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech and a Professor of Psychiatry at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine. Previously, she was the Susan H. Mayer Professor of Child and Family Studies in the School of Nursing and Health Studies at Georgetown University, and is the founding director of the Science of Effective Early Childhood Education Program at Georgetown. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Washington Seattle. Together with her husband, Dr. Craig T. Ramey, their work has informed national policy on education and child healthcare around the world.
Dr. Karl N. Stauber, Ph.D., Danville Regional Foundation
karl-n-stauberDRF′s first President/CEO, Karl Stauber, leads the Foundation which promotes innovation and long-term transformation to enhance economic development, education and wellness in Virginia and North Carolina′s Dan River Region. A published author, frequent speaker, and known for his work in rural communities, Stauber was the first Senate- confirmed Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics with the United States Department of Agriculture, and has worked for the Northwest Area Foundation, the Needmor Fund, and the Babcock Foundation. He holds a public policy Ph.D. from Union Institute, a Harvard Business School management development certificate, and a bachelor′s in American Studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is a Board of Director member for the Future of the Piedmont Foundation as well as a member of the Advancement Council of the UNC Press.
Helene Stebbins, M.P.P., Alliance for Early Success
helene-stebbinsHelene Stebbins is Senior Policy Director for the Alliance for Early Success and President of HMS Policy Research. She provides strategic oversight to the Alliance for the knowledge development grants, with a focus on making the research more accessible to policymakers. In 2003 she launched HMS Policy Research, specializing in the coordination of the health, education, and care of children from birth through age five. In addition to the Alliance for Early Success, her clients include dozens of state and national organizations working to improve state policies for vulnerable young children. From 1996-2002 Helene worked in the Center for Best Practices at the National Governors Association. As the program director for children and youth policy, she served as a resource to governors and their senior advisors on child and family policy issues. By tracking state initiatives and best practices, Helene worked to promote the exchange of good ideas among policymakers to improve state policies. In 1994, Helene was a Presidential Management Intern for the Food Stamp Program in the U.S. Department of Agriculture. She earned a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated cum laude from Carleton College in Minnesota.
Dr. John P. Thomas, Ph.D., DecideSmart
john-p-thomasJohn P. Thomas has served as the Director of the University of Virginia’s Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service since 1996. Thomas has a doctorate in public administration and has been the executive director of the Florida Association of Counties, the National Association of Counties and the American Society for Public Administration. In his early career he was a school teacher and administrator. The mix of these worlds, practice and theory, provide an effective background for overseeing the Cooper Center's programs that link the University of Virginia with public affairs. Thomas currently serves on the Board of Directors of LEAD Virginia.

Chewning Fellows

Thanks to the generosity of Board Member Emeritus, Thomas N. Chewning, VECF has in-house capacity for data analysis and policy development by retaining research and evaluation experts who facilitate the work of the Advisors Council, oversee and implement VECF's research and evaluation agenda, and manage data systems strategies.

Derek Chapman, Ph.D.

Since 2013, Derek Chapman, PhD has provided data, research, and evaluation expertise to the Virginia Early Childhood Foundation. Dr. Chapman is the Associate Director for Research at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Center on Society and Health, where he leads a number of projects looking at the health implications of social factors such as education, income, neighborhood and community environmental conditions. He has been a faculty member in the VCU Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Division of Epidemiology since 2004. His research interests include maternal and child health epidemiology and the intersection of biologic and social factors on child health and development. In addition to authoring scientific publications and presentations on these topics, Dr. Chapman has 14 years of experience working in state health departments conducting applied public health research to inform programs and policy. From 2004-2013 he served as the State Maternal and Child Health Epidemiologist at the Virginia Department of Health, where he led maternal and child health surveillance efforts. This included creating and analyzing linked datasets that identify individual and community-level factors that contribute throughout the life course to health inequities in birth and developmental outcomes. The results of these analyses were primarily used to inform maternal and child health programs and policy. Dr. Chapman has a PhD in Psychology (Applied Developmental track) from the University of Miami.


Kelly Myles, Ph.D.

Kelly earned her Bachelor of the Arts degree in English at the University of Virginia. After several years in corporate marketing, Kelly taught at a privately-funded preschool in Richmond, Virginia, that served children from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds. Inspired by her experience at the preschool, Kelly went on to earn a Master in Social Work degree and PhD in Public Policy at Virginia Commonwealth University, focusing her graduate research on child welfare and disability policy. After receiving her PhD, Kelly provided legislative representation to the U.S. Congress for children’s organizations, such as Prevent Child Abuse America and the national Association of University Centers on Disabilities, helping them advance their public policy agendas, conduct outcome and economic analyses, and draft white papers, Congressional committee testimony and legislation language. She also co-chaired a national child abuse & disabilities task force that helped draft language for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act when it was up for reauthorization in 2000. Currently based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Kelly operates her own consulting firm, conducting data tracking, analysis and visualization, program development and evaluation, and research for early childhood organizations. Kelly has a particular passion for supporting state and local efforts to integrate data latitudinally and longitudinally to improve child outcomes.

John Morgan, Ph.D.

John Morgan is a child psychologist and public policy professional who now conducts independent policy research on issues impacting young children. His most recent work has focused on education issues and especially early education. Previously he enjoyed a long public service career managing community mental health and substance use programs for Chesterfield County’s behavioral health department. He pioneered prevention initiatives in the community behavioral health field and had a leadership role in state and local efforts promoting prevention approaches. Several years ago he left his position as Deputy Director to begin a second career at Voices for Virginia’s Children, first as a policy analyst and then for five-plus years as Executive Director. His tenure was marked by steps to strengthen Voices’ influence, including improvements to the Kids Count Data Center, creation of the Campaign for Children’s Mental Health, leadership of reform efforts in the child welfare system, and leadership of coalitions that helped expand funding for VPI and child care assistance. 

John has a doctorate in Child Clinical Psychology from Penn State. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and recipient of the Distinguished Practice Award from its community psychology division. His prevention work was honored with the McNeill Award for Innovative Practice   from the National Council of Community Mental Health Centers.