Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Heather Siskind

Heather Siskind

President, 2019-2020

I have years of experience working in many organizations in leadership roles. I enjoy coming into a new role and listen, learn and implement best practices. I am a passionate leader who works well with others in a collaborative way working with the team’s strengths. I understand strategic planning and how to set goals and achieve them as a team.

I think advocacy and public policy is the top of the list, but I am a collaborative leader. I want to listen and learn about the needs, so we can move forward with a well-developed plan with constituents. The organization needs to create excitement to maintain and bring in new members. It would serve FLAEYC well to survey needs and how to meet the needs of our members and our state.

Angela Tuft

Angela Tuft

President Elect, 2020-2021

I believe that the strengths that FLAEYC holds as an organization uniquely qualify us to play a role in overcoming these challenges.  Our early childhood expertise is recognized statewide.  FLAEYC’s alignment with NAEYC further cements this reputation.  This places FLAEYC in a strong position to effect change through advocacy efforts that support legislation designed to professionalize the field.  Beyond this, FLAEYC’s long-standing reputation for producing/supporting high-quality professional development provides an excellent foundation for raising quality in the industry and supporting child growth.

As a longtime member of the Florida Association for the Education of Young Children (FLAEYC), it is an honor to serve as President Elect. I have been an active member of my local FLAEYC chapter since 1994 (holding almost every position at least once).  I have also served on the FLAEYC Board as a Regional Representative and Nominating Committee Chair as well as serving on the FLAEYC Conference Committee since 1995.  I joined FLAEYC as a preschool teacher and became involved in my local chapter almost right away.  My experiences on the board, as well as the mentorship of its leadership inspired and transformed me professionally.  Since that time, I have been on a personal and professional crusade to pass that gift on to others. 

Bill Ganza

Bill Ganza

Secretary, 2019-2020

Bill Ganza is involved professionally in both early childhood education and higher education. Currently, Bill is the faculty development manager for the University of St Augustine Health Sciences, where he oversees the faculty development of the College’s locations in Florida, Texas, and California. He has over 20 years of teaching experience and extensive knowledge of and experience teaching, technology, and developing online courses. He is an expert presenter who has been invited to present regionally and nationally on a number of education-related topics.

Bill holds a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of North Florida. Bill is a former early care and education center director, consultant, and trainer. Bill was and is very involved in early care accreditation. He was an NAEYC validator and was involved in the pilot program during the transition to the current accreditation system. Bill later served as a Local Assessor in the current accreditation system.  Bill also served on the Affiliate Advisory Council at NAEYC.  Bill has been very active in his local affiliate serving as accreditation chair for the North Florida AEYC.

Bill has served as the FLAEYC accreditation Chair for Florida and helped to design the NAEYC Boot Camp Resource Seminars and as the Northern Regional Representative.

In his spare time, Bill enjoys photography, kayaking, and family genealogy.  

Suzan Gage

Suzan Gage

Treasurer, 2019-2020

I believe rural families have a right to quality child-care centers and family child-care homes in the communities where they live. This is much more than a convenience issue for families, it is an issue that cuts to the core of the quality of life and economic development for Floridians that live in rural areas whether by choice, or circumstances. Organizations and associations that have the capability to help support practitioners in rural areas, should embrace and sustain this often-over-looked population within the field. 

Whether as the Executive Director of the Early Learning Coalition of Northwest Florida or as a member of the Florida Association for the Education of Young Children, I will continue to work ensure early learning opportunities are developed and realized for rural Florida.

Appointed Member

BillieAnne Gay

BillieAnne Gay

Appointed Board Member, 2019-2020

I would like to utilize my experience in K12 advocacy, member engagement, fundraising, and consensus building to help further the mission of FLAEYC to provide quality early childhood education for all children. I believe that diversifying professional experiences, perspectives, and skill sets will only help FLAEYC in its mission by connecting stakeholders and expanding reach to meet and exceed goals for the future.  

Chapter Advisory Council Chair

Emilu Alvarez

Emilu Alvarez

Chapter Advisory Council Chair, 2020-2021

I understand the needs of a nonprofit organization and feel there is much to do with the new restructure to help FLAEYC survive this change. My first and foremost goal is advocacy for teachers and their professional growth. I am also a voice for the director that worked her way through a profession that had no respect and understand what our future leaders are struggling to enforce in our field.

My vision to help move FLAEYC forward is to provide the Commitment, tenacity and passion to recruit and retain members and to make sure that all of us understand that FLAEYC is offering a comprehensive organization for all Early Childhood Professionals. There should not be a difference between SECA and NAEYC members since we are bringing Quality and Equality to all.

At-Large Members

Raquel Munarriz Diaz

Raquel Munarriz Diaz

At Large Representative, 2020-2021

I have served as an early childhood professional in Florida for over 30 years. I have served in many roles- teacher aide, teacher, coach, facilitator, professor, curriculum-developer, and most recently as a project manager for state-wide early learning reform efforts. Florida has been my home since I was 4 years old. I attended all my schooling in this great state. I even continued to higher education in Florida. I am a first-generation college graduate.

I currently work at the University of Florida as an Implementation Manager. Prior to that role, I served the University of Florida as a Professor in Residence teaching graduate courses in Curriculum and Instruction. I have worked with children, teachers, directors, families, principals, school districts, and state leaders. Everyone at the table has a common passion- they want to see each child receive high quality care and learning.

My goal is to advocate for our workforce and empower them with tools and processes for them to continually advance in their career and to truly touch the lives of the children they serve. As a member of FLAEYC, I can network with amazing professionals across the state that share in my goal.

Mary Harper

Mary Harper

At Large Representative, 2019-2020

My interest in serving as a Board Member is to advocate for Florida’s early care and education professional community in their quest to become a highly respected, skilled, supported, and equitably compensated field that provides every child and family with access to quality services. In short, to serve FLAEYC’s membership interest in a dynamically changing field. To engage in this significant task, I will bring a long history of evidence-based leadership.

To date, my work, as part of my professional outreach and positions, has led me to an intimate understanding of the needs of early care and education professionals. Further, my direct work with FLAEYC has afforded me a global perspective of the need for this organization to be both relevant and impactful. I possess the skills necessary to move this organization toward its marketing and membership goals, viable revenue streams to promote growth and sustainability, and heightened consumer name recognition with which this organization is deserved.

Sonia Meier

Sonia Meier

At Large Representative, 2019-2020

I feel the key issues facing our profession are all inter-related:   professionalism and salary parity, professional development, and affordable quality programming.  Our profession is often looked at as “babysitting”.  We have come a long way, but we are always in jeopardy of this stigma due the lack of quality in child care settings, the lack of professional development and the low wages of the profession.  In order for this stigma to change, FLAEYC must continue to lobby and advocate for higher wages, resources for quality staff to receive formal education, and be the leader in professional development at all levels:   local, state and national.  FLAEYC needs to continue to be the leader to pave the way for our children’s best outcomes.

April Williams

April Williams

At Large Representative, 2019-2020

My vision for the future of FLAEYC and Florida’s early childhood community is to bridge the gap between communities/teachers/parents and the organization itself. There are educators who are still not aware of what and how FLAEYC can benefit their organization and the families they serve. I would love to establish a mentorship program to assist with the youth and incoming professionals new to the ECE field. I think this would be a great path for tenured professionals to expound on the very core values that FLAEYC was built upon, advocating and providing leadership. My vision for FLAEYC is to create more opportunities that aid and foster growth for teachers, parents, students and the EC community as a whole. With the world around us constantly advancing, I envision FLAEYC not only meeting the ever-changing needs of the ECE field but leading the way in advancement.

Victoria Damjanovic

Victoria Damjanovic

At Large Representative, 2019-2020

I envision FLAEYC and Florida’s Early Learning Community as a model for other states and agencies. A place where all children and families have access to the highest quality of care, and teachers are seen as true professionals that are valued and supported. For this vision to become a reality we must first bring all stakeholders to the table including families, teachers, teacher educators, community providers, board members, and policy makers. Together we can form a plan of action with specific attainable goals in order to move the needle of impact. Through collaboration, highly thought out ideas and careful implementation we can create a difference in the lives of all young children in the state of Florida.

Nacole Guyton

Nacole Guyton

At Large Representative, 2020-2021

I believe it is FLAEYC’s role to ensure that Florida educators and stakeholders are aware of the trends and that the organization offers supports through linkages to available resources and professional development opportunities. 

I have an extensive background in early childhood education and leadership.  The combination of experience will support the work and mission of FLAEYC to advance professional growth and quality in the field.

Norma Schwartz

Norma Schwartz

At Large Representative, 2020-2022

Facilitating other’s success through engaging, personal and organized support has been my passion in the field of education. My experience in different facets of the educational field has equipped me to be able to effectively interact at various organizational levels to obtain results.

I look forward to using the skills and experience gained through my career to make a contribution to the current work being carried out at the FLAEYC Board level as well as through my position as Chapter Leader for the FLAEYC Statewide Advocacy Chapter.

SECA Representative

Barbara Backus

Barbara Backus

SECA Representative, 2018-2020

As a Past President of the Florida AEYC, I served the last 3 years as President and President-Elect. I have been active on the board since 2006, serving as Central Regional Representative for 4.5 years and then I was appointed to the position of Vice President of Organizational Development upon its vacancy.
I have been involved in my local affiliate, the Pinellas Early Childhood Association, since 1996. I have served in numerous positions including newsletter editor, president-elect, president and past-president. I am currently serving as President for this local affiliate.
I have taught Early Childhood Education at Pinellas Technical College since 1994. In the course of teaching in the Early Childhood Program, I have taught what is currently known as the Early Childhood Professional Certificate program, the School-Age Certification Program and the Child Care Center Operations program (overview to center management). I have been into literally hundreds of childcare programs and have a passion for my belief that all children deserve quality care in their early years.
On a personal note, I have been married to the same wonderful man (Ray) for 45 years. We have 2 wonderful boys: David, a zookeeper at the Lion Country Safari in West Palm Florida and Tim who is an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College teaching Chemistry. Ray and I have lived in several states including New York, Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana and Colorado, but always wanted to return to Florida and hope to retire here.

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