Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Governor Beshear creates Early Childhood Advisory Council

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, July 12, 2011  
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

Terry S. Tolan named executive director

FRANKFORT, Ky.– Continuing his commitment to improving education and health services for Kentucky’s youngest citizens and with an eye on the state’s future success, Gov. Steve Beshear today signed an executive order creating the Early Childhood Advisory Council.

The council will work to unite stakeholders behind common strategies, standards and goals for Kentucky’s early childhood system and advocate for improved quality of early childhood services and improved school readiness. The Governor appointed Terry Sims Tolan, former president and CEO of the United Way of Kentucky, as the council’s executive director.

“By establishing the Early Childhood Advisory Council, Kentucky now has an opportunity to move closer to a seamless delivery system of early childhood services,” said Gov. Beshear. “I am very pleased that Terry has agreed to this new role and am confident that her expertise will contribute to the council’s success.”

Tolan takes her position with the Commonwealth after serving 15 years with the United Way of Kentucky. Over the years, she has worked with numerous child advocates and state agencies to improve the lives of children. She was first appointed to the Early Childhood Development Authority (ECDA) by Gov. Paul Patton in 2000 after serving as chair for the Prenatal Work Group of the Task Force on Early Childhood in 1999. She was reappointed to the ECDA by Gov. Ernie Fletcher and again by Gov. Beshear in 2008. Tolan most recently served on the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education established by Gov. Beshear in 2009 to study the Commonwealth’s system of early childhood services.

“I am honored and pleased to have this opportunity to work on behalf of the Commonwealth’s children,” Tolan said. “With the Early Childhood Advisory Council members, we will work to make sure that every Kentucky child comes to kindergarten healthy, eager and ready to succeed in school.”

The 26-member bipartisan council will assess and advocate for the needs of Kentucky’s early childhood system, promote accountability of programs in early childhood and provide research and guidance on issues that affect Kentucky’s children and families.

Gov. Beshear appointed Rick Hulefeld, founder and executive director of Children Inc. in Covington, to serve as chair. Members include:

  • Joseph U. Meyer, Cabinet Secretary, Education and Workforce Development
  • Janie Miller, Cabinet Secretary, Health and Family Services
  • Earl Trevor, State Director, Head Start Collaboration, Louisville Marilyn Coffey, Casey County Board of Education, Liberty
  • Jane Chandler, Corbin Independent Schools, Corbin
  • Mary Beth Jackson, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Richmond
  • June Widman, Eastern Kentucky Childcare Coalition, Berea
  • Bob Wilcher, Kentucky Head Start Association, Frankfort
  • Paula Goff, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Lexington
  • Dr. Terry Holliday, Kentucky Department of Education, Frankfort
  • Dr. Amy Hood Hooten, Western Kentucky University, Morgantown
  • Aubrey Nehring, Audubon Area Community Services, Inc., Philpot
  • Nicki Patton Rowe, Simpson Regional Training Center, Louisville
  • Randy Coe, Kosair Charities, Louisville
  • Ben Cundiff, Cundiff Farms, Cadiz
  • Dr. Steve Davis, Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Lexington
  • Cindy Heine, Prichard Committee, Lexington
  • Anna Shepherd, Head Start and Preschool, Staffordsville
  • Tommy Floyd, Madison County Schools, Richmond
  • Tracy Haddix, Head Start Association, Cave City
  • Lacey McNary, Kentucky Youth Advocates, Louisville
  • Brigitte Ramsey, Kentucky Board of Education, Falmouth
  • Bill Scott, Kentucky School Boards Association, Frankfort
  • One nonvoting member from the House of Representatives to be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Speaker of the House
  • One nonvoting member from the Senate to be appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the President of the Senate

The first task of the council will be to assist in Kentucky’s application for the Race to the Top – Early Learning Challenge. The federal funds will reward states that create comprehensive plans to transform early learning systems with better coordination, clearer learning standards and meaningful workforce development. The program is designed to help states provide access to high-quality early learning and development programs to more low-income children from birth to age 5. Kentucky is eligible for up to $60 million in funding from this grant opportunity.

The Governor’s office will be the official applicant for the Race to the Top funds. A core team has been established including members of the Governor’s office, the Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, the Cabinet for Health and Family Services and the Early Childhood Advisory Council. Official guidance will be available in mid-August, and applications are due Oct. 15, 2011.

The work of the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education provided a forum for stakeholder and public input.  That information helped shape the goals of the Kentucky Early Childhood Advisory Council. In developing its recommendations, the task force recognized the unique opportunity to enable Kentucky to develop and implement a plan established by the council for children from birth to school entry. In December 2010, the task force presented the Governor its recommendations, including the creation of the Early Childhood Advisory Council.

To view a complete report of the recommendations of the Governor’s Task Force on Early Childhood Development and Education, go to