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.
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 exploratory board for the Georgia Association of Infant Mental Health: Birth to Five (GA-AIMH) 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.