OUR
TEAM

Our team is made up of educators, parents, and child advocates who are dedicated to making a difference in the lives of children who struggle to read. We believe deeply in the power of early intervention and strive to build a program that makes an impact in the community.

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Sandra Bermudez

CEO

When she is not advocating for Lucy, Sandra is thinking about how to make the world a better place. A seasoned entrepreneur with 20+ years of senior-level management experience, her volunteer work ranges from teaching at a school in the Bronx to being a Guardian ad Litem. She has Masters from NYU and Teachers College, Columbia University.

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David Lawrence Jr.

Officer

David Lawrence Jr. retired in 1999 as publisher of The Miami Herald to work in the area of early childhood development and readiness. He chairs The Children’s Movement of Florida, aimed at making children the state’s top priority for investment and decision-making. In 2002 and 2008 he led successful campaigns for The Children’s Trust, a dedicated source of early intervention and prevention funding for children in Miami-Dade. In 2002-3 he chaired the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Child Protection, and in 2011 chaired a similar panel for the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families. In 2002, he was a key figure in passing a statewide constitutional amendment to provide pre-K for all 4 year olds. The David Lawrence Jr. K-8 Public School opened in 2006. An endowed chair in early childhood studies is established in his name at the University of Florida College of Education. He is a gubernatorial appointee to the Board of Trustees of Florida A&M University.

 

Before coming to Miami in 1989, he was publisher and executive editor of the Detroit Free Press. Previously he was editor of The Charlotte Observer, and earlier in reporting and editing positions at four newspapers. (During his tenure as Miami Herald publisher, the paper won five Pulitzer Prizes.)

 

He is a graduate of the University of Florida and the Advanced Management program at the Harvard Business School. His 13 honorary doctorates include one from his alma mater, the University of Florida. His national honors include the National Association of Minority Media Executives award for "lifetime achievement in diversity."

 

He has chaired the Miami Art Museum, United Way, the New World School of the Arts and the Foundation for Child Development in New York. He was the local convening co-chair of the 1994 Summit of the Americas. And he co-founded a non-profit vocational-technical school in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

 

He and Roberta, a master’s graduate in social work from Barry, live in Coral Gables and have 3 daughters, 2 sons and 7 grandchildren. His honors include the Bob Graham Center for Public Service “Citizen of the Year” and the Fred Rogers Leadership Award from the Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families.

Natalia Walchli

Chairman

Natalia Walchli is a career educator with strong expertise in early childhood education, care and development. She has served as teacher and learning coach in elementary and secondary schools, contributing to program development, curriculum mapping, edtech integration and change management. Currently, she is a curriculum coordinator for PK-12 and edtech integrator in grades 9-12 at the Gulliver Preparatory School in Miami.

Natalia is the organizer of Edcamp Miami, a free collaborative, participant-driven model of professional development aiming to build empowered educators. She also is part of the Think Tank for the Association of Technology for Independent Schools.

Her bachelor’s is in political science from Boston College with a master's in elementary education from the University of Miami. She serves on the board of Julen Smiles, which is focused on helping families who have children with special needs, and as a committee chair with the Junior League.

Natalia and her husband Adrian, a Bentley graduate and Miami business owner, have two daughters, Isabel and Vanessa.

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Ayleen Wolfe

Secretary

Ayleen Wolfe is an attorney who has focused on immigration law since 2005. She is also the mother of two children with vastly different learning styles and needs. Ayleen made it her mission to understand the resources they each required and to advocate for them in the public-school setting. She has also participated in advocating for other children in IEP meetings in Miami-Dade County. 

 

Since 2013, Ayleen has also served as a volunteer in a variety of committees with the Junior League of Miami. Most recently, she has worked with the program development committee where she has participated in reviewing and identifying partnership programs and opportunities with other local non-profits to serve women and children in Miami-Dade County.

 

Her bachelor’s degrees are in business management and legal studies from the University of Miami. Her J.D. is also from the University of Miami.  

 

Ayleen and her husband, Doug, a DePaul and University of Miami graduate and Miami business owner, have two sons, Alfie and Lucas. 

Jennifer Hill

Treasurer

Jennifer Hill is an attorney, organizer, and educator. She has worked in immigrant rights, worker rights, and gender and racial justice organizations for more than 20 years.  Currently, she directs Advocacy Partners Team, where she provides strategic and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations. She is co-editor of a new social justice advocacy textbook and adjunct professor for the Master’s in Human Resources Management program at Florida International University.

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Pamela Hollinsworth

Officer

Pamela Hollingsworth, an early childhood content expert, is Sr. Vice President for Strategic Partnerships and Program Development for the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. Pamela has served at the Coalition for more than eight years, beginning as the inaugural Director of Quality Counts, Miami-Dade’s Quality Rating Improvement System. As Director, Pamela helped bring Quality Counts to national stature. In her current role, Pamela has oversight for agency development and a diverse array of innovative prevention and intervention programs impacting thousands of children and the significant adults in their lives. 

 

Strategically, Pamela’s focus is identifying best practice trends and facilitating unique partnerships to promote early childhood success. Current projects include: READY4K! a two-year randomized control study with Stanford University with more than 20,000 families, The Neighborhood Place for Early Head Start, Talking is Teaching: Talk, Read, Sing (in partnership with Too Small to Fail and the Clinton Foundation), The Jonathan Project (a preschool anti-expulsion program), My Brother’s Keeper, a White House initiative, Let’s Move Childcare and HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters).

Pamela holds a Master’s Degree in the Social Foundations of Education. She serves on the Boards of The Children’s Trust, Health Start Coalition of Miami-Dade, and the Miami Dade College Early Childhood Advisory Council. She was recently named an “ELAN’ fellow as part of a three-year program focused on improving outcomes for children of color. She travels nationally in her role as child advocate, participating in panels, think tanks, and as technical advisor to a diverse array of early childhood institutions and agencies.

Dr. Shawn Post

Officer

Dr. Shawn Post is currently a Florida Licensed School Psychologist and an Associate Professor in the School of Education and Human Development at the University of Miami. She served for 19 years as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Students.

 

Dr. Post teaches the assessment and literacy courses to both undergraduates and graduates in the teacher education program at the university. She has served for six years as a faculty senator and member on the university undergraduate curriculum committee. For the past five years, she has also served as a Professor-in-Residence at Ponce de Leon Middle School.

 

In addition, Dr. Post operates a clinical private practice specializing in evaluations for students with dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADHD, and other learning-related disorders as well as intellectual assessments for placements in gifted education programs.

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Julie Platts

Officer

Julie Platts is a nonprofit consultant with a passion for start-up and small nonprofits advocating for equity in education. Inspired by the philanthropic drive of donors and volunteers, Julie is passionate about developing sustainable programs laser-focused on expanding mission impact, honoring and safeguarding these investments of time and money. 

Specializing in fundraising, communications, and volunteer management for over 14 years, Julie has worked for organizations such as Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden in Coral Gables, The Pankey Institute on Key Biscayne, Urban Oasis Project in Miami, as well as the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Chesterfield and the East Anglian Air Ambulance in the UK.

Julie has her BA in Cultural Anthropology from the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and MA in Women, Violence, and Conflict from the University of York, one of England’s top universities. She conducted research for Habitat for Humanity and Amnesty International to understand the inner-workings of successful programs

Tracy Ross

Officer

Tracy Ross, Ph.D. Tracy Ross, a Miami native, has been in the educational field for over 20 years. She has focused her career on supporting students, families, and teachers. Initially a guidance counselor and currently working with students who have learning differences, Tracy is passionate about helping students and their families find success.

 

She has been at The Cushman School for nearly 20 years and is presently the Director of the Laura Cushman Academy. Tracy has presented at a variety of local and state conferences speaking about various educational topics including emotional and mental health of students, teaching adolescents, student anxiety, and differentiated instruction. She is part of a learning differences consortium and enjoys partnering with other schools sharing best practices in supporting various learning needs of students.

 

Tracy has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and studio art from Tulane University, a master’s degree in school counseling from Palm Beach Atlantic University, and a doctor of philosophy in counseling specializing in marriage and family from Barry University. Tracy and her husband have two children.

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