February 14, 2023

Introducing the 2023 Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship recipients

by McCormick Center Staff

The Paula Jorde Bloom Scholarship, first awarded in 2019, is intended to support emerging and aspiring early childhood leaders dedicated to providing the highest quality care and education for children and families. The scholarship, established by Paula’s family after she passed in 2018, highlights her legendary devotion to improving early childhood professional standards. This year’s awards, valued at $500 each, fund the winners’ registrations for Leadership Connections. We extend congratulations to the following leaders:

Mona Webber

Mona Webber is a Director at the Goddard School, located in Darien, IL. She has been working in the field of Early Childhood Education for over 20 years, where she has been a toddler teacher, program director, and assistant director. She was a 2021-2022 Teach Plus Illinois Early Childhood Policy Fellow.

“Leadership Connections provides a unique opportunity to collaborate and network with Early Childhood specialists and leaders. While I have been in my current position for only one year, I have been inspired by our team members and recognize how important it is to provide opportunities to support and motivate them so they can be the best at what they do. It is my ongoing commitment to further enhance my leadership skills not only within our program but also within the field in providing equitable opportunities for children and families to have quality educational programs.” – Mona Webber


Kayli Bontrager

Kayli Bontrager (she/her) is the Family & Community Engagement Specialist for Birth to Five Illinois: Region 11. Kayli is personally and professionally passionate about families, specifically diverse family structures like blended, step, foster, multi-generational, and single-parent, and increasing awareness of their unique needs and challenges. Kayli obtained a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Indiana State University and a master’s degree in Human Services from Eastern Illinois University, where she concentrated on family programming. In her current role, Kayli works to engage families and community members in Birth to Five Illinois’s work across Region 11, which covers Coles, Cumberland, Edgar, Shelby, Douglas, Moultrie, and Clark counties in Illinois. Birth to Five Illinois’s mission is to create a state-wide regional infrastructure that will amplify the input from communities in developing policies and funding priorities. Whether attending Story Hour at local libraries, participating in youth events like Trunk or Treats, or handing out flyers to community businesses, Kayli is out in the communities making sure families have the opportunity to share their voice on Early Childhood Education & Care.

“I’m so excited to attend Leadership Connections! The conference is a fantastic opportunity to speak with others in our field and learn from their successes and trials. I’m most excited about having the designated space to discuss the field of Early Childhood Education & Care with other professionals – specifically on the subject of family engagement!” – Kayli Bontrager


Learn more and register today to obtain or lowest rate for “The Time is Now: Leadership & Advocacy” National Virtual Conference.