Our Board of Directors

Cynthia Lam Moffett, MA (she, her, hers)

My passion for early childhood education started when I interned, then worked, at UCLA’s Infant Development Program as an undergraduate student. It was at IDP that I learned the fundamentals of child centered education. From there, I taught and led in PreK-8 schools for over 2 decades before moving on to teach in the Graduate Teacher Education Program (now Licensure in Elementary Education Program) at Portland State University’s College of Education. I currently serve as the School Partnerships Director in the College of Education at Portland State University.

Xavier Pierce, BS, MAT in progress (he, him, his)

I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in liberal studies with a focus in Black studies and Education and a teaching license and Master’s of Education through the Portland State University’s Graduate Teacher Elementary Program. I finished my first year teaching 3rd Grade at King Elementary School in PPS and will be returning next year to teach 1st Grade in the Mandarin Immersion portion of King. I did my internship at Woodlawn Elementary School, teaching 4th grade. Before that I spent five years working at Opal School of the Portland Children’s Museum as a teaching assistant for grades K-5 (an elementary charter school that I attended from grades K-5). I also advanced the outdoor education program at Portland’s Zenger Farm by implementing the concepts of playful learning and inquiry. I value how inquiry-based learning seeks out the curiosity of the student and makes it a part of what is being learned and how it is taught. I let my students know that they are just as much a teacher and learner as I am and that their communities need their voices.

Judy Graves, MAT (she, her, hers)

As a strong believer in the potential power of public education, I became aware, as a teacher in public school programs serving migrants, immigrants, refugees and families struggling with safety, financial insecurity, and bias that public education also has the power to limit the potential of children, especially youth from historically underserved populations. I collaborated with colleagues in 2001 to open Opal School of the Portland Children’s Museum, a public charter school. Together we shared a vision of school as a place supporting students to grow a strong sense of agency as thinkers, planners and protagonists of their own learning. After serving as the founding director of Opal school for its first decade, I stepped into a volunteer role in 2014 to co-found Teaching Preschool Partners, a not-for-profit organization that works alongside early learning teachers and families in Title 1 public schools to grow culturally responsive, inclusive and collaborative practices that honor the potential of every child.

Sarah Dunkin, MAT (she, her, hers)

I am currently the Principal/ Director of the Gladstone Center for Children and Families where I spend my days learning from 3, 4 and 5-year-olds and the many incredible professionals who teach young children.

The Gladstone Center is a nationally- recognized, blended service model for community support that co-locates health and human service agencies with education facilities, including relief nursery, early childhood special education, Head Start, Preschool Promise and district Kindergarten. Through collaborative and thoughtful partnerships, our multi-agency model of service supports our youngest children and their families, providing a one-stop location for access to employment supports, health care, dental services, child care and education. In my 23 years in education, I have had the honor of working as an elementary school teacher, literacy specialist, District Title IA Coordinator, and Early Learning Coordinator in the Beaverton School District. Outside of work, I spend my time enjoying the abundance of outdoor recreation activities across Oregon with my family.

Catherine Willmott, MBA (she, her, hers)

I hold a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University, a business degree from the J.L Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. I’m currently writing my dissertation to complete my Education Doctoral degree through Lewis & Clark College. I worked in management consulting and investment banking in New York City for 17 years prior to moving to Portland, Oregon, with my family in 2010. My formative experiences as a parent at City & Country School in New York and Opal Beginning School of the Portland Children’s Museum influenced my current work as an advocate for bringing high- quality, inquiry-based early learning experiences to historically underserved children and families. In 2014, I partnered with Judy Graves to co-found Teaching Preschool Partners.

Shelly Stratton, PhD. (she, her, hers)

I’ve worked in a wide variety of settings as a social worker, family therapist and community psychologist. I hold a master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington and a Doctorate in Depth Psychology: with emphasis in Community Psychology, Liberation Psychology and Ecopsychology from Pacifica Graduate institute. For many years, I worked with families who were houseless, in shelters and at a school for children living in shelters and transitional housing. My experience with African immigrant communities emerged out of interests developed while completing my doctoral degree. My dissertation research engaged Rwandan and Congolese refugees in a process of exploring and elaborating on the cultural perspectives and values that contribute to psychosocial resilience and adaptation to their life in New Hampshire. I’ve had the privilege to work with African immigrant communities in both New Hampshire and Portland, supporting the development of culturally specific programing, grant writing and facilitating training and community healing. I remain closely connected to community healing efforts in East Africa through my work with the African Great Lakes Initiative (AGLI) and Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC). Currently, I maintain a private practice as a family therapist, consultant and supervisor of psychology students and associates while serving as an adjunct professor at Lewis and Clark College and supervising students at the Liberation Institute of Portland.

Ingrid Anderson, Ed.D. (she, her, hers)

I work as an Associate Professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University and program coordinator to the Infant Toddler Mental Health Graduate Certificate and co-coordinator, faculty, and advisory for the Master of Early Childhood: Inclusive Education and Curriculum and Instruction degree. My graduate school experiences included an MEd in education with a focus on conflict resolution and peaceable schools from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.

I wanted to continue to understand the experiences of early childhood educators and pursued a doctorate in educational leadership from Portland State University. My work uses qualitative storytelling and pedagogical narration to illuminate early childhood educators’ experiences across access and equity issues in our field. My connection to TPP emerged from working at the Portland Children’s Museum from 2000-2011 as the Director of Programs where I came to know the work of the Opal School which inspires my approach to research. My holistic view of education can be found in my new book, Supporting Children’s Mental Health and Wellbeing: A Strength-Based Approach for Early Childhood Educators from Redleaf Press.

Angela Vargas, M.Ed. (she, her, ella)

My teaching career began as a Head Start Family Support Teacher in 2007, working with children 0-5 years old and their families. While working on my M.Ed. and ESOL endorsement through the Bilingual Teacher Pathways Program at Portland State University, I was employed as a K-5 bilingual assistant for the Hillsboro School District. Upon completing my degree, I transitioned to a 3rd grade dual language teaching position. As a biracial Mexican American woman who has experienced racial injustice in the U.S. school system, I’ve centered my practice on identity teaching with the understanding that playful literacy and the arts are powerful avenues for learning about one’s self, others, and the world around us—approaches that highlight each individual’s gifts and our interdependence. To further my understanding of playful inquiry, I took a position at Opal School as a teacher researcher. My belief that the sophisticated practice of playful inquiry needs to be in all public schools, serving diverse populations, I became an adjunct professor in the same PSU program where I graduated. Simultaneously, I began teaching at a Title I school in the Beaverton School District as a 2nd grade PYP teacher. I currently serve as an Early Learning TOSA/Coach for the Beaverton School District, partnering with teachers to implement child- centered, playful inquiry practices across curriculum that elevates the identity of children and supports them as the leaders they are becoming.