Valora Washington

Chief Executive Officer & President

     Dr. Valora Washington is an internationally recognized authority in early childhood education. She is known for conceptualizing, leading, and executing significant change initiatives impacting policy, programs, and practice in higher education, philanthropy, and national nonprofits as well as in local, state, and federal government programs.

     During her decade tenure as CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition, Dr. Washington advanced and professionalized the field of early childhood education with her leadership of the largest credentialing program for early educators in the United States, the Child Development Associate (CDA) Credential™. Accomplishments included 25% increase in applications, 42% increases in renewals, and 107% decline in appeals. New initiatives include the establishment of 6 national conferences; The CDA Gold Standard Certification for training institutions; international programs in China, Egypt, UAE, and Panama;  on-line application processes  (which grew from 0 to almost 90%); new Essentials text and workbook; cyber sales; review-observe-reflect verification visit system;  white paper series; high school CDA programs; renewal amnesty programs; outreach and assessments in up to 23 languages; and alumni group.  

     Dr. Washington is considered a pioneer in early education, having been named as a Legacy Leader by the Center for Enhancing Early Learning Outcomes (CEELO), for having shaped the early childhood education field, having a unique perspective on the history and context of today’s policy initiatives, and for developing strategies to address the issues that impact child outcomes.

     Certified as an Association Executive and as a Credentialing Specialist, Dr. Washington co-founded Voices for Michigan’s Children, the Early Childhood Funders Collaborative, and The CAYL Institute (a leadership development program for practitioners). 

     She formerly served as Vice President at Antioch College and the Kellogg Foundation and as a tenured faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has held leadership roles with the Massachusetts Governor’s School Readiness Commission; Voices for America’s Children; NAEYC; Black Caucus of the Society for Research in Child Development; National Head Start Association Commission on 2010; Boston Children’s Museum; and Wheelock College.

     She was named one of “25 Most Influential Working Mothers” by Working Mother magazine, chosen as one of “Ten Outstanding Young Women of America” from among 62,000 nominations, and in 2018, named by Exchange magazine as Doyens (the most respected or prominent person in a field). Dr. Washington has authored over 50 publications including Children of 2010 and Children of 2020. She has also co-authored Ready or Not: Early Care and Education’s Leadership Choices – 12 Years Later; The New Early Childhood Professional; and Guiding Principles for the New Early Childhood Professional.

     In addition to a Ph.D. in Child Development/Education from Indiana University at Bloomington, Dr. Washington holds four honorary degrees and professional recognition from numerous organizations including the Barr Fellowship; Leadership Greater Washington; Boston AEYC; NAEYC Black Caucus; Cambridge Resource and Referral; Center for Adoption Research; National Association of Black Social Workers; United Way of Massachusetts Bay; and numerous others. 

Brenda Gadson

Chief Operating Officer

     Brenda Gadson is the owner/operator of her consulting firm, BMG Consulting. This firm builds on her 35 years of experience of executive leadership. She founded, incorporated and lead Boston Center for Community and Justice, Inc. (BCCJ) a social justice leadership development organization. She was the Founding Executive Director for the Massachusetts Families for Kids (MFFK), an adoption and foster care systems reform initiative in 18 states. She also served as Executive Director of the Roxbury Multiservice Center in Boston.

     Using her extensive management skills focused on the long-term sustainability of small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations, Brenda is frequently tapped to stabilize and support leadership transitions. Brenda has developed an exceptional reputation for both coaching/mentoring new executives and for impactful organizational or program assessments. A seasoned social worker, her social justice experiences have led to significant roles in the Early Childhood Education (ECE) field with an emphasis on the professional development needs of the adults working in that field.

     As a skilled communicator, Brenda is the co-author of two books: The New Early Childhood Professional: A Step-by-Step guide to Overcoming Goliath and Guiding Principles for The New Early Childhood Professional. She delivers effective keynote speeches and professional development workshops or seminars on a variety of subjects including system reform, organizational development, change strategies, strategic planning, social justice issues, community building methodologies, team building, and child welfare.

     Active in community affairs, Brenda has also served, as a member, trustee, and officer, on numerous community and professional organizational boards that are dedicated to children, education, social justice, diversity, religious and political concerns.

Wayne Ysaguirre

Chief Workforce Innovation Officer

Wayne Ysaguirre has joined the CAYL Institute as the new Chief of Workforce Innovation to lead CAYL’s effort to create a regional childcare workforce system in deep partnership with sectoral partners; including employers, workforce organizations, and higher education. 

Ysaguirre has provided leadership on the design and implementation of childcare workforce sourcing, development, and employment systems as an industry consultant and as Executive Director of The Care Institute. The Care Institute worked to transform the systems of care in the United States through partnership, collaborations, program innovation and strategic investments – developing the infrastructure, systems and policies needed to support workers in providing high quality care for America’s children and seniors. 

Prior to that Ysaguirre served as President & CEO of Nurtury. He worked at Nurtury for almost 30 years in multiple roles; starting as a teacher assistant in a toddler classroom and ending his tenure as Chief Executive Officer. Since 1878, Nurtury’s goal has been to close the opportunity gap between children from low‐income families and their middle‐income peers, ensuring that every child enter school ready to succeed. In all these collaborative and catalytic roles Ysaguirre has played an integral role in helping to shape public early education policy, practice, and infrastructure to raise standards in the field nationally, and in Massachusetts, and the city of Boston.

Mr. Ysaguirre serves on the Community Advisory Board of the New England Federal Reserve Bank, the Boards of Boston’s Higher Ground, Massachusetts’s Children’s Investment Fund, and the national literacy organization He serves as advisor to Boston’s Opportunity Agenda birth to 8 Data Group and is a member of the Harvard Center on the Developing Child Pediatric Innovation Initiative, a research network focused on developing biological measures of stress activation in children.

Amanda Storth

Networks Program Manager

     Amanda is a dedicated early childhood education professional with years of experience as a classroom teacher and as an administrator. She has worked in both full-service settings and has extensive experience supporting a variety of out-of-school time [OST] programs in early childhood settings. This background has led to a deep appreciation for the integrated services and supports that the field of early childhood education has to offer children and families.

     This passion has been translated directly to Amanda’s advocacy work. Amanda joined the Governing Board of the Massachusetts Association for the Education of Young Children [MAAEYC] in 2018 as a member-at-large, and shortly thereafter took over as Chair of MAAEYC’s Public Policy Committee. Through this work she has been able to engage with and connect members directly to representatives and policy tables to share their stories. Amanda was selected for the 2021 NAEYC President’s Emerging Leaders Circle cohort, and sits on the Early Childhood Alliance of Framingham Leadership Council. She remains committed to the goal of elevating and amplifying practitioners and families voices in all of her work. 

Kelly Randlett

Program Administrator

Kelly Randlett joins The CAYL Institute as the Program Administrator for the Good Jobs Metro Boston Coalition’s Child Care Sector Workforce Pipeline Project. She brings years of leadership and experience to this role having been a Child Care Center Director, Family Child Care System Director, Teen Parent Child Care Program Director, and Early Head Start Director during her career. Over the past two years, Kelly has led The Care Institute’s Workforce Pipeline Pilot work, which served as Proof of Concept for the Good Jobs Metro Boston Coalition’s Child Care Workforce Pipeline Project, striving to create a regional childcare workforce system in deep partnership with sectoral partners; including employers, workforce organizations, and higher education. She is an advocate for Educator, Family, and Child support systems and is passionate about child welfare, especially around foster and adoption support. Kelly has an MEd in Early Childhood and a Certificate In Early Education Leadership from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Saul Zaentz Early Education Initiative.

Elizabeth Spisich

Communication and Marketing Program Associate

Elizabeth’s passion for early childhood education began in the classroom and has evolved into an accomplished 15+ year career that now continues with the CAYL Institute. After graduating from Michigan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Child Development, Elizabeth spent nine years as a first-grade teacher in Michigan and Virginia. Elizabeth was named Locust Grove Elementary’s Teacher of the Year in 2011.

To further extend her reach and impact in the field, she later joined the HighScope Educational Research Foundation as a Curriculum and Training Specialist. This role broadened her understanding of the inequities and challenges faced by the early childhood education community. She spent five years helping to revamp online learning tools and invest in quality teacher training, worldwide.

During the pandemic, Elizabeth was inspired to better connect with and serve her community. She founded and built a successful countywide website linking local families to kid-friendly resources, businesses, and attractions. In 2021, she was awarded a Women Rise micro-grant from the Michigan Tribe to grow her vision and expand her use of digital platforms and social media to cultivate awareness, build partnerships, and support meaningful investments.

Elizabeth is eager to hit the ground running as a Communication and Marketing Program Associate for the CAYL Institute. Her goal as part of our powerhouse team is to utilize her knowledge, vast skill set, and innate creativity to effect tangible change and empower advocates in the world of early childhood education. 



Yvette Rodriguez

Fellowship Coordinator

Yvette Rodriguez joins The CAYL Institute as the Fellowship Coordinator. She previously served as the Vice President of ABCD Head Start and Children’s Services, overseeing the citywide ABCD Head Start program serving over 2,400 low-income children and families each year. Yvette previously served as Deputy Director of Program Operations for ABCD Head Start and Children’s Services.


Before joining ABCD Head Start and Children’s Services, Yvette was Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción (IBA), a community-building agency in Boston. She also served for ten years as Director of IBA’s early childhood program, Escuelita Boriken, which expanded programming significantly. 


Yvette has previously served as a co-chair for the Governor’s School Readiness Sub-committee on Early Education and Care and as a member of the Mayor’s School Readiness Action Plan Team. She was a member of the Children’s Investment Fund Board, a member of the Advisory Board of Jumpstart, and one of the founders and a member of the Multilingual Action Council (MAC). Yvette has also been a Schott Fellow and a Johnson & Johnson Fellow. In 2011, she was presented with the Abigail Eliot Award, given by the Boston Association for the Education of Young Children. 


Before her work in Early Education and Care, Yvette worked in the field of public housing for Puerto Rico Housing Department as Regional Property Manager and as the Vice President of Resident Services in more than seven Public Housing properties in Puerto Rico. She also served in the office of the Governor of Puerto Rico, developing and overseeing a program to ensure services to public housing residents. 


Yvette is a resident of Quincy, Massachusetts, and has lived in the Boston area for 24 years; she is a native of Puerto Rico.