Our Team




DONNA JACOBSON, MSW | Executive Director | P 847.947.5233 | Read Bio

TERI TALAN, EdD, JD | Michael W. Louis Chair and Senior Policy Advisor | P 847.947.5060 | Read Bio

MICHAEL ABEL, PhD | Director of Research and Evaluation | P 847.947.5312 | Read Bio

JILL BELLA, EdD | Director of Professional Learning | P 847.947.5059 | Read Bio

MARIE MASTERSON, PhD | Director of Quality Assessment | P 847.947.5109 | Read Bio


BROOKE ALEXANDER | Assessor and Training Specialist | P 847.947.5459

KERI ANDERSON | Assessor and Training Specialist

JULIETA ALONSO | Instructional Technology Associate | P 847.947.5266

GIOVANNI ARROYO |  Media Specialist | P 847.947.5149

MARLEEN BARRETT |  Training and Events Coordinator | P 847.947.5267

LINDA BUTKOVICH | Report and Certification Manager | P 847.947.5072

CATIE CARTER | Administrative Assistant IV | P 847.947.5483

MELISSA CASTEEL | Quality Supports Manager | P 847.947.5483

PAMELA COSTAKIS | Quality Assessment Manager | P 847.947.5212

MICHELE DENTON | Assessor and Training Specialist

LUIS DIAZ | Administrative Technology Associate  | P 847.947.5026

LINDSEY ENGELHARDT | Marketing Manager | P 847.947.5222

LESLIE GILBERT | Leadership Training Specialist | P 847.947.5462

FLORA GOMEZ | Assessor and Training Specialist | P 847.947.5847

KATHRYN GRAVER | Professional e-learning Manager | P 847.947.5315

WENDY GUERRERO | Assessor and Training Specialist

AMNA HASAN | Administrative Assistant III | P 847.947.5277

SARAH HASAN | Administrative Assistant IV | P 847.947.5221

ANGELA HENDRICKS | Assessor and Training Specialist

KIA HILL | Assessor and Training Specialist | P 847.947.5321

JESSICA HOLMES | Assessor and Training Specialist

TARAH KADZIELAWSKI | Instructional Design Manager | P 312.261.3257

ROBYN KELTON | Quality Training Specialist

HEATHER KNAPP | Research Associate

SHARON LEWIS | Assessor and Training Specialist | P 847.947.5264

EVELYN MANCILLA | Quality Training Specialist | P 847.947.5057

JAMI McCORMACK | Quality Assessment Coordinator | P 847.947.5324

CARA MURDOCH | Assessor and Training Specialist

CATHERINE RADER | Assessor and Training Specialist

KATHY RADICE | Assessor and Training Specialist | P 312.261.3012

SHERRY ROCHA | Assessor and Training Specialist | P 847.947.5607

LORENA RODRIGUEZ | e-learning Cohort Coordinator | P 847.947.5054

KATHY ROUSSEAU | Administrative Assistant III | P 847.947.5063

PAULA STEFFEN | Assessor and Training Specialist | P 847.947.5136

BARBARA VOLPE | Leadership Academy Manager | P 847.947.5132

KATHLEEN WILDMAN | Business Analyst | P 847.947.5148

MIGDALIA YOUNG | Quality Assessment Coordinator  | P 847.947.5031

Paula Jorde Bloom is Professor Emerita at National Louis University and founder of the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership. She received her masters and doctorate from Stanford University. Dr. Bloom has taught preschool and kindergarten, designed and directed a child care center, and served as administrator of a campus laboratory school. During her career she has been a frequent keynote speaker at state, national, and international early childhood conferences and consultant to professional organizations and state agencies. Paula is the author of numerous journal articles and several widely read books including Avoiding Burnout, A Great Place to Work, Blueprint for Action, Circle of Influence, Workshop Essentials, Making the Most of Meetings, Leadership in Action, From the Inside Out, and Inspiring Peak Performance (with Bella and Hentschel). Paula developed and organizational climate assessment, the Early Childhood Work Environment Survey (ECWES), and with her colleague, Teri Talan, the Program Administration Scale (PAS) and Business Administration Scale for Family Child Care (BAS).


Jill Bella, Ed.D., is Director of Professional Learning for the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership and Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at National Louis University (NLU). In these roles she oversees professional learning, conducts research, and consults for local and state initiatives on the Early Childhood Work Environment Survey (ECWES), the Program Administration Scale (PAS), the Business Administration for Family Child Care (BAS) and leadership topics in early care and education. Dr. Bella is a national reliability anchor for the PAS and BAS. She holds a doctorate degree in Adult and Continuing Education from NLU. Dr. Bella also has both a master’s degree in special education/early intervention and a bachelor’s degree in child development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining the Center, she worked at several child care centers and Akron Children’s Hospital as an early intervention specialist and training associate. Dr. Bella’s interests include organizational climate, advocacy for the early childhood workforce, systems thinking, and early childhood leadership. She is co-author of A Great Place to Work, Inspiring Peak Performance, Zoom: The Impact of Early Childhood Leadership Training on Role Perceptions, Job Performance, and Career Decisions, and several Trainer’s Guides.

Marie Masterson, Ph.D. is a national speaker, child behavior expert, researcher, and educational consultant to professional organizations and state agencies. She is the author of numerous articles that focus on strength-based, respectful practices that nurture resilience and promote high-quality early care and education, and author of101 Principles for Positive Guidance with Young Children: Creating Responsive Teachers and Enjoying the Parenting Roller Coaster: Nurturing and Empowering Your Children through the Ups and Downs. Two books in press address best practices in family child care. Dr. Masterson is former early childhood specialist for the Virginia Department of Education, university professor in early childhood education, and a Fulbright Specialist. She is an advocate for the human rights of children and serves on the national board of the U.S. Alliance to End the Hitting of Children.

Donna Jacobson, Executive Director, joined the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership team in January 2017. As Executive Director, Donna oversees the operations of the Center, including financial management, grant writing, fund development, and building public and board relations; identifies and recruits new talent as needed; oversees staff development activities to enhance organizational performance; nourishes existing partnerships and develops new opportunities; and maps a course of action to achieve the Center’s vision. She works with the Leadership Team to passionately espouse the mission of the McCormick Center and lead the way in driving and responding to external trends, issues, and forces that shape early childhood leadership. Donna’s advocacy for children and social change began as a social worker in Illinois, working with at-risk children and families. Donna continued her career in California where she developed an expertise in maximizing organizational performance and strengthening systems. Donna is extremely passionate about promoting research-based best practices and developing high-quality early childhood leadership.

Dr. Mike Abel is Director of Research and Evaluation at the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership and Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education at National Louis University. He designs and implements original research studies regarding administrative practice in early childhood programs and elementary schools. His previous experience includes college instructor, state university researcher, operations manager of a community college institute, child care center director, and manager of a private K – 8 academy. He holds an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Educational Leadership Policy and Foundations, an M.A. in Educational Administration, and an M.A. in Early Childhood Education. He served in a number of capacities with the National Association for the Education of Young Children including Missouri President, Illinois Vice-President Chicago Chapter, accreditation peer reviewer of higher education programs, and member of the NAEYC Affiliate Council Executive Committee.

Dr. Teri Talan is Director of Policy Initiatives at the McCormick Center and Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at National Louis University. She promotes action by state and national policymakers on early childhood workforce and program administration issues. Previously she led a child advocacy organization and a NAEYC-accredited early childhood program. She holds a law degree from Northwestern University and an Ed.D. in adult and continuing education and M.Ed. in early childhood leadership and advocacy from National Louis University. Teri’s research interests include early childhood leadership, workforce development, systems integration, and program quality evaluation. She is co-author of the Program Administration Scale, Business Administration Scale for Family Child Care, Escala de Evaluación de la Administración de Negocios, and Who’s Caring for the Kids? The Status of the Early Childhood Workforce in Illinois.