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.
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.
Sara is a rising senior pursuing a sociology major and an English minor at Emory University. She is also the president of a campus feminist organization, a campus tutor, and a research assistant. After discovering a love of teaching as a tutor in high school, Sara has worked with children through several education nonprofits in college, and is excited to learn more about early childhood education policy and assist with the Mayor’s Summer Reading Club program this summer at GEEARS.
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 son.
Meagan Jackson Communications and Engagement Coordinator
Born in Tennessee, but raised here in Atlanta, Meagan is well-rounded from living in both a small town, and the big city. As a Gates Millennium Scholar she graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts. She has also earned a Master of Public Health degree at Georgia State University. She combines her passion for people and love of service to help better the lives of those in her community and around the world. With her belief of living with purpose there is no doubt she will do just that!
She considers herself a book worm and a lover of nature. Other hobbies include dance, cooking, and cuddling with her toy poodle Bella.
Aquaria Richardson-Smith Executive Assistant to the Executive Director
Aquaria Richardson-Smith comes to GEEARS from the Judicial Council of Georgia Administrative Office of the Courts where she managed the certification and regulatory compliance of nearly 1,150 court professionals and worked closely with the statewide, nine-member board responsible for governing the court reporting profession. Under her leadership, Aquaria was instrumental in transitioning the state-based examination to a national skills test and helped guide the conversion of the licensing records to a web-based interface system.
After spending over 20 years working in the public sector, Aquaria’s strong leadership and managerial experiences helped fuel her enthusiasm for volunteer service in education, young people, and women. Her community involvement includes serving as Board Secretary to the North Atlanta High School Foundation, Parliamentarian of North Atlanta High School PTSA, and most recent, as a member of The Junior League of Atlanta where she participated in The Little Black Dress Initiative advocacy campaign that raises awareness and funds about the issues of generational poverty. She was immediate past Co-President of North Atlanta Parents for Public Schools, and the former chair of the Young People’s Division at Cascade United Methodist Church.
Aquaria is a graduate of Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Psychology. She holds a Certificate of Court Administration from the Georgia Council of Court Administrators and an American Bar Association approved paralegal certificate from the National Center for Paralegal Training, Inc.
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.
Born and raised in Georgia, Vett is passionate about increasing awareness for early education in the state. Vett has experience in strategic communications, public engagement, digital communications, and photography in both government and non-profit sectors. She earned her B.S. in Literature, Media, and Communications and her M.S. in Public Policy, with concentrations in Education and Health Policy, from Georgia Tech. Vett also earned a Spanish minor, and speaks Spanish fluently. Before joining GEEARS, Vett worked in the communications offices at the University System of Georgia, the City of Atlanta, and the Office of the Governor. She is a graduate of the 2017-2018 GPEE Education Policy Fellowship Program. Vett was selected by the Atlanta Regional Commission as one of 55 community leaders to join the 2018 Regional Leadership Institute.
Vett lives in Downtown Decatur, and enjoys anything that requires creativity or involves good food.
An Atlanta native with extensive experience in the Georgia health policy advocacy community, Callan joins GEEARS as the Health Policy Manager. She is passionate about ensuring equal access to affordable, consistent, quality healthcare for all Georgians, especially children. Previous to working at GEEARS, she led a project at Georgia Legal Services Program helping rural Georgians access public benefits.
Callan received her B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from Agnes Scott College. She has an M.S. from Georgia State University in the Social Foundations of Education from the Educational Policy Studies Department and a graduate certificate in Public Health also from Georgia State University.
She lives in East Atlanta with her partner, Nick, and her two cats, Claude and Eloise.
Jessica Woltjen Early Childhood Education Policy Manager
Spending much of her college and high school years working with children, 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 near Candler Park with her cat, Emma, and enjoys crafting, dancing, and volunteering for various causes.