Mindy Binderman is the founding Executive Director of GEEARS: Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students. Mindy leads GEEARS’ efforts to inspire and provide leadership for a statewide movement on early learning and healthy development for children ages birth to five. Mindy serves as GEEARS’ lead advocate, fundraiser and spokesperson. She partners with the Board of Directors on strategic planning and works to strengthen relationships with community partners.
Mindy has had an extensive career in advocacy and government relations for nonprofits and corporations in Maryland and Georgia. She served as Director of Government Relations and Public Affairs for the Baltimore Jewish Council and as Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Maryland before establishing her own successful lobbying firm based in Annapolis, Maryland in 1999. For several years, Mindy also served as adjunct faculty at Johns Hopkins University where she taught a graduate level seminar in advocacy. Prior to coming to GEEARS, Mindy served as the Advocacy Director of Voices for Georgia’s Children from 2007-2010.
Mindy was named one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women in 2004 by the Maryland Daily Record. She was the recipient of a Harvard Business School Club of Atlanta’s Social Enterprise Initiative scholarship in 2015 and completed the Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management program.
Mindy is a member of the Leadership Atlanta class of 2012 and is currently chairs the School Governance Council of North Springs Charter High School. She serves on the advisory board of Jumpstart and is a board member of Voices for Georgia’s Children and Limmud Southeast, an organization devoted to Jewish learning.
A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Mindy received her BA from Newcomb College, Tulane University and her JD from the American University’s Washington College of Law. Mindy is married to Warren Binderman and has three children.
Dawan is a Georgia native who is passionate about enhancing the processes of education and early learning. As Pre-K Recruitment Specialist, he plans to spread vital information as well as build groups of advocates for early education. Dawan comes to GEEARS after 12 years in Atlanta Public Schools (APS). He served as a Certified Spanish Interpreter, and Bilingual Community Liaison in APS. Mr. Barfield enjoys using his Spanish not only as an Interpreter, but also as a teacher.
Improving parent engagement and community involvement are just a few influencers that drive Dawan towards success. He is the proud father of three children; two daughters and one son.
Project Manager - Leadership Academy for Better Brains (LABB)
Greg Barrett Project Manager - Leadership Academy for Better Brains (LABB)
Starting his career as an early elementary teacher in NYC and abroad, Greg has been passionate about our youngest learners from the start. Building from his B.A. in American Studies from Amherst College, Greg earned his M.Ed. from Hunter College School of Education while teaching in a Brooklyn public elementary school, before teaching again overseas in Hangzhou, China. Previous to working with GEEARS, he was involved in expanding families’ access to Pre-K in New York City through the Pre-K For All initiative, and later consulted school districts as a learning environment planner. He is currently an Accredited Learning Environment Planner, and a member of the A4LE Georgia Chapter.
Greg and his wife live in Midtown, and love the warmer winters, outdoor everything, and real southern food.
A native of Houston TX, raised in Maryland, Ethel is a 2004 graduate of Strayer University with a Bachelor of Science in Computer Networking. She has over 20 years of experience as an Administrative Professional working mostly in the non-profit sector. She specializes in administrative support services, project management, and program and event coordination. She has received formal training in the art of Ballet, Modern, Jazz, and African dance at various schools. She served for 15 years as the coordinator of the dance ministry at Fort Foote Baptist church in Fort Washington, MD. In 2008, she coordinated the dance component of the “Write the Vision Conference” in Washington DC. Ethel has written and directed two plays, “Got Issues” and “The Man in the Mirror”, which demanded two performances each.
Director of PAACT: Promising All Atlanta Children Thrive
Brittany Collins Director of PAACT: Promising All Atlanta Children Thrive
Brittany Collins is a trusted, strategic advisor and equitable education advocate with over 10 years of experience in urban public education, community development, and the non- profit sector.
Prior to joining GEEARS, she served as the Managing Director of Program for OneGoal Metro Atlanta. In that role, she was chiefly responsible for setting, defining and managing the overall direction of the OneGoal program in Atlanta, ensuring efficiency and efficacy in delivery of the model. She collaborated with OneGoal’s national team and leveraged local partners to augment a national model and tailor it to Metro Atlanta’s unique context and community. Under her leadership, she doubled the team’s human capital and managed high performing individuals during local and regional organizational change.
Before joining OneGoal, Brittany served as a Community Development Advisor at Purpose Built Communities, a non-profit, community development consulting firm that works with local leaders to implement a holistic approach to revitalizing distressed neighborhoods. As a Community Development Advisor at Purpose Built Communities, she managed approximately 18 start-up backbone organizations seeking to replicate and implement a national model. She specifically supported the development and identification of resources to deploy targeted housing, education, and community wellness intervention strategies to improve neighborhood health and life outcomes in over 18 cities; and developed tools to formalize public-private partnerships with a focus on scaling high quality early learning programs. Her passion and content matter expertise in early childhood education propelled her to specialize in leading the planning and execution of early learning strategic partnership with clients including traditional districts, charter schools, early learning providers and higher education partners. To date, forming those partnerships are impacting students in over four urban school districts and various entities offering holistic family centered programmatic supports. She served as the organization’s lead liaison with Dr. Jack Shonkoff’s leadership team at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University to study the effectiveness of the various early learning interventions within the context of neighborhood revitalization efforts. The most exciting component of her role was guiding diverse groups to translate their theory of change into an executable plan with a unified goal.
Brittany’s love for Atlanta was ignited as a student at Spelman College, where she graduated with a B.A. in Psychology. She also earned a Master of Early Childhood Education with honors from Georgia State University. Driving her work is the inflexible belief and obsessive commitment, that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, deserve access to equitable systems that intentionally remove barriers to success. She resides in Atlanta with her husband and three children and enjoys traveling abroad and reading the latest mystery novels.
Lisa Dwyer Director of Special Projects & Partnerships
Lisa serves as GEEARS Director of Special Projects and Partnerships. As such, she will manage the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club program, bus tour, and other partnership activities.
She is on the Board of the Atlanta Speech School, is the President of the North Atlanta High School Foundation for Atlanta Public Schools (APS), and has spent many years supporting early childhood and public education through her work in APS schools and other community endeavors. Lisa has served on the Prevent Child Abuse Georgia Advisory Board, co-president of Sutton Middle School PTA, president of Sarah Smith Education Foundation, sponsorship co-chair for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Hope & Will Ball, the Women’s Community Leadership Alliance, and on the boards of Atlanta Children’s Shelter, Trees Atlanta, her Local APS School Council, and most recently, Livable Buckhead. She is a member of the Junior League of Atlanta, of which she was president in 2011-2012. Prior to GEEARS, Dwyer managed project operations for Constella Group, a contractor for the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.
Hanah Goldberg, Ph.D. Director of Research & Policy
Hanah directs research and policy initiatives for GEEARS. A passionate advocate for young children and their families, Hanah brings to GEEARS a range of early childhood and research experience, having worked with students in clinical settings and as an elementary educator. Her research experience spans a number of areas, including early language and literacy development, school readiness, program evaluation and fidelity, and health literacy. In addition to her responsibilities at GEEARS, Hanah teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in psychology, education, and child development.
Hanah received her B.A. in Psychology and Educational Studies from Emory University. She earned her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology, both from Georgia State University.
A native of Ann Arbor, Michigan, Hanah lives in the Grant Park area of Atlanta with her husband and two children.
A graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a B.A. Degree in Business Administration, Colette serves as the Office Manager for GEEARS. The Administrative Professional brings with her 20+ years’ experience from the private sector, government and non-profit industries. She specializes in organization and administrative support services, project management, program and event coordinating. With her highly effective management and broad range of skills, Colette’s mission is to assist GEEARS in operating more effectively and efficiently while simultaneously increasing their productivity.
In addition, she uses her skills as a Clutter Consultant. Cleaning clutter is a process of assessing all the things in your environment in terms of the practical purposes that they serve. Many people are looking for a lasting change in their relationship to their physical environment that leads to greater effectiveness, productivity, spontaneity, creativity, fulfillment, and peace of mind in their lives. Colette enjoys sharing how you can transform your ways with clutter so your environment can nurture and support you on an ongoing basis.
The Atlanta native and mother of two adult sons is also a professional singer who enhanced her vocal talents and training under Andrew Terry, an Alumnus of the New England Conservatory and The Julliard School of Music. With this extraordinary gift of vocal abilities and a passion for performing; organizations locally and abroad enjoy the motivated energy and inspirational uplift they receive when Colette sings. When she’s not singing or volunteering, her favorite pastime is reading a good book; she spends the rest of her time enjoying her grandchildren.
Callan Wells leads GEEARS’ health policy work, with a specific focus on growing the infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) system of care in Georgia. Callan serves on the Georgia IECMH Association’s exploratory board and the IECMH task force convened by the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL), where she chairs the Workforce Development Workgroup. Additionally, she co-leads the Interagency Directors Team’s Prevention and Early Intervention Workgroup. In 2019, Callan worked with state leaders in the Georgia House of Representatives on the Infant-Toddler Social-Emotional Health Study Committee.
Before joining GEEARS, Callan worked for Georgia Legal Services Program, where she ran a project helping rural Georgia families access health care and other supports. She earned her B.A. from Agnes Scott College and an M.S. in the Social Foundations of Education and a graduate certificate in Public Health, both from Georgia State University.
Callan lives in Grant Park with her husband Nick and their cat Claude.
Jessica Woltjen Early Childhood Education Policy Manager
Jessica is passionate about ensuring that Georgia’s youngest learners are provided with a strong foundation that sets them up for success in college, career, and life. Prior to joining GEEARS, Jessica worked at Voices for Georgia’s Children (Voices) and the Georgia Statewide Afterschool Network (GSAN) for four years on early childhood and afterschool initiatives. Jessica has participated in the White-Riley-Peterson Fellowship and the Southern Education Leadership Initiative. Previously, Jessica interned at the Public Schools Forum of North Carolina and the North Carolina Center for Voter Education. Jessica earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Jessica lives in Decatur with her cat, Emma, and enjoys crafting, dancing, and volunteering for various causes.
Samiya is selected for the 2021 Urban Leaders Fellowship (ULF) with a placement in the Atlanta region. As a part of ULF, she is joining GEEARS as a Summer Fellow with the Research and Policy Team. Samiya is a Ph.D. Candidate in Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston’s John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies. Passionate about healthcare policy and gender equity initiatives, she brings with herself a range of policy and research experience. Before moving to the US for her Ph.D., Samiya worked as a Consultant for Primary and Secondary Healthcare Department, Government of Punjab, Pakistan, specifically working on projects with the Department and Maternal and Child Health. She played a leading role in managing, implementing, and expanding the Rural Ambulance Service (RAS) designed to provide ambulances in rural areas of Punjab to improve access to health facilities, particularly for pregnant women and young children. In addition, Samiya played a pivotal role in launching the Antenatal Care Application (ANC App) for female community healthcare workers in Punjab, Pakistan to initiate telemedicine in the healthcare sector at the community level and execute an automated data entry service.
Her research interests are in maternal and child health, reproductive rights, early childhood education, and gender issues.
Samiya earned her MPP from the University of Massachusetts Boston. She received her BSc Honors in Economics from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).
A native of Lahore, Pakistan, Samiya currently lives in Boston, MA.