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16th Annual Administrators Conference


Ben Christianson

Ben Christianson is an Epidemiologist assessing the statewide vaccination coverage and exemption levels for school and childcare.

Chad Dunkley

Chad Dunkley is Chief Executive Officer for New Horizon Academy and Kinderberry Hill. Chad oversees personnel, marketing, property management, and operations for 66 locations. He received his J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law and his B.A. in management from Hamline University. Chad is president of the Minnesota Child Care Association (MCCA) and also serves as a board member for the National Child Care Association (NCCA), the Early Care and Education Consortium, and is on the advisory board for Rasmussen College’s child care program. Chad is the Public Policy Chair of Ready 4 K and on the board of directors. He is on an advisory board for Inter Faith Outreach and Community Partners and has been a member of the Child Care Program Assistance Rule Change Committee. He is very active in the political arena focusing on early childhood; he has testified and met with national, state, and local officials to advocate improving programs for young children. Chad is an active member of several other professional associations, including the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC), Child Care WORKS, Stand for Children, Minnesota Child Care Fraud Task Force, Minnesota Child Care Cost Containment Task Force, Early Childhood Finance Circle, as well as the Minnesota Bar Association, and the Hennepin County Bar Association.

Lisa Harris

Lisa Harris is the School & Childcare Reporting and Outreach Coordinator with 21 plus years in the program helping providers with immunization information, law, and requirements.

Patrick Lobejko

Patrick Lobejko joined Ewald in January 2013 as a Government Affairs Consultant. His areas of focus include early childhood education and numerous health and human services issues. He has represented MCCA for the past three legislative sessions, advocating for increased dollars for early learning scholarships and policies that affect child care centers throughout the state. Before joining Ewald Consulting, he served as a Research Consultant for the Majority Caucus in the Minnesota House of Representatives where he worked with the Health and Human Services Committee. There, he assisted members in bill drafting and analyzing legislation. Prior to that, Patrick served in the United States Navy in communications. He served in Italy and spent a year in Afghanistan working with the Afghan National Police.

Patrick has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota as well as a Masters of Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Art Rolnick

Arthur J. Rolnick is a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the University of Minnesota. Rolnick is working to advance multidisciplinary research on child development and social policy. He previously served at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as a senior vice president and director of research and as an associate economist with the Federal Open Market Committee— the monetary policymaking body for the Federal Reserve System. Rolnick’s essays on public policy issues have gained national attention; his research interests include banking and financial economics, monetary policy, monetary history, the economics of federalism, and the economics of education. His work on early childhood development has garnered numerous awards, including those from the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Health, both in 2007; he was also named 2005 Minnesotan of the Year by Minnesota Monthly magazine.

A native of Michigan, Rolnick has a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in economics from Wayne State University, Detroit; and a doctorate in economics from the University of Minnesota.

Clare Sanford

Clare Sanford is Director of Government and Community Relations for New Horizon Academy and Government Relations Chair for the Minnesota Child Care Association. In these roles, she works to increase early childhood access, quality, and resources for young children, families, and educators. She began her career teaching in a high-need elementary school in Houston, TX, an experience that spurred her to learn more about the macro issues affecting low-income children and families in our society. In graduate school, the confluence of both early childhood neuroscience and economic research was a (good) smack in the head: THIS is where she should spend her career. Since then she has held varied positions in the government, philanthropic, and non-profit sectors, all focused on young children and vulnerable families. Professional/policy interests include early childhood mental health, risk & resilience, teacher education & support, equity, and anti-bias efforts. Personal interests include astronauts, history, and chocolate cake. Lots of chocolate cake. Clare received her B.A. from St. Olaf College and her Master in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

Joe Schmit

Joe Schmit is an author, award-winning broadcaster, community leader and popular keynote speaker. As a sports broadcaster he has covered every major sporting event in the past 3 decades and has interviewed many of the biggest names in sports. He joined KSTPTV in 1985 and has won 17 Emmys from the National Television Academy. He was also honored with a National Headliner Award in 2001. Joe is also a regular on 1500ESPN radio.

Before joining KSTP-TV in 1985, he was Sports Director for WBAYTV in Green Bay, Wisconsin. His career also includes positions as weekend sports anchor for KCRG-TV in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and WKBT-TV in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Joe earned his degree in Mass Communications from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse.

Community Service: Joe is a long time youth mentor committed to advocating for a number of community organizations, with Big Brothers and Big Sisters at the top of his list. He is a past president and board member of the Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Greater Twin Cities. He has raised over $3 million for the organization through the Joe Schmit Celebrity Golf Tournament which had a 16-year run. In 2000, he was the winner of the Jim Kelly Distinguished Service Award from Big Brothers and Big Sisters and in 2001, a winner of the Odyssey Award for commitment to youth mentorship.

Joe was also honored as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund (JDRF) Community Leader of the Year in 2005. He is past president and board member of the Fairway Foundation and has contributed time to many other charitable organizations.

Currently Joe is a member of the PACER Advisory Board and the Minnesota Vikings Advisory Board. Joe and his wife Laura are currently chairing a 7.2 million dollar capital campaign for VEAP, the largest food shelf in Minnesota.

Patti Jo Wilson

As a key member of Lakeshore’s Professional Services Group, Patti Jo Wilson draws on her extensive background in early childhood and elementary education to provide the most effective strategies for supporting children in a variety of different learning environments.

As a board member of the New York Head Start Association, Patti Jo has served children and families in multiple Head Start programs and provided direct oversight in both Universal Pre-K and Early Learning Child Care settings. In addition, her two decades of teaching in the Northeast region provide Patti Jo with clear insight into the practical needs of educators in the classroom.

Patti Jo is certified in K-12 literacy instruction as well as early childhood education, N-6th grade. Patti Jo holds a B.S. degree in behavioral science and a master’s degree in literacy. Her administrative background also includes policy and procedure development, ensuring program accountability, and coordinating with multiple agencies at the local, state, and federal levels.

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