Annual Community Dialogue

Community Dialogue Navigation

Thank you for your interest in the Ninth Annual Community Dialogue. This page has been updated with photos and links from the May 29th event.

Past Dialogues

Contact Vette Tabb

2014 Sponsors

The Annual Community Dialogue was made possible by generous support from:

  • The Irene E. and George A. Davis Foundation
  • MA Department of Early Education and Care
  • Schott Foundation for Public Education
  • United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley
  • Wheelock College

Ninth Annual Community Dialogue, June Update:

Eye on Early Education, a blog of Strategies for Children, posted a two-part blog about the May 29th event:

Ninth Annual Wheelock Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care - Part One

Ninth Annual Wheelock Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care - Part Two

A public policy action brief containing recommendations from the Ninth Annual Community Dialogue will be released in the near future. 

The 2014 Annual Community Dialogue

Wheelock Annual Dialogue 2014

Wheelock's Ninth Annual Community Dialogue was held Thursday, May 29, 2014.

Titled  "Our Children's Future–Time for a New Plan," the dialogue was an interactive strategic working session that built on outcomes from previous Dialogues. 

2014 Annual Community DialogueThe Annual Community Dialogue on Early Education and Care at Wheelock College brings together federal, local, and state administrators with providers, policymakers, educators, and many others seeking to improve the quality and effectiveness of early childhood education. Wheelock has hosted the conference each spring since 2006.

The landscape of administration, policy, and provision of early education and care in Massachusetts is evolving, with changes in direction, financing and scope of services. Each spring, the Annual Community Dialogue is a place to discuss what kind of new leadership and alliances are needed to achieve a more cohesive delivery system, dedicated to equitable and high quality programming in all domains of the field. Guest speakers representing national, state, and local organizations, government, and programs listen and discuss questions and issues together with the audience.

Educators who work directly with children in classrooms or family child care homes were especially urged to attend the 9th Annual Community Dialogue on ECE. The first twenty educators to register and attend the full Dialogue on May 29th received a $50.00 gift card from


2014 Annual Community DialogueBreakfast

Jackie Jenkins-Scott, Wheelock College President
Tom Weber, MA Department of Early Education and Care Commissioner

Presentation: MassBudget Building a Foundation for Success
Jeff Bernstein, MassBudget Policy Analyst - MassBudget paper "Building a Foundation for Success" is available at this link.

Keynote Speakers
Marie St. Fleur, Esq., Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children President and CEO, Boston, MA 
Claire Higgins, Community Action Executive Director, serving Franklin, Hampshire, Western Hampden and North Quabbin regions


Interactive Dialogues

Session Topic List:

  1. "It Takes a Village AND a Family" - Family engagement in early education
  2. "What's the Score?"- Assessment of children in early education
  3. "Nurturing the Future" - Including infants and toddlers in early education space and understanding and supporting the role of practitioners.
  4. "The Social Skills Toolbox"- The Importance of Socio-Emotional Learning
  5. "Making the Case for Playtime" - The role of play in early education
  6. "Teaching iKids" - Technology in early education
  7. "Join the Circle!" - Increasing inclusion in early education
  8. "Lost in Translation" - Supporting English language learners
  9. "All Systems Go" - Systems coordination throughout Massachusetts
  10. "The Valuation of Education" "How Do We Get Off the Financing Seesaw?" - Successful Financing for Early Education
  11. "Being a Lifelong Learner" Professional development and the role of institutions of higher education
  12. "Don't Break the Chain!" - Continuity of care and B-8 alignment in Massachusetts
  13. "Show Us the Money" - Compensation for the Early Education Workforce
  14. "A Right or a Privilege?" - Universal access in Massachusetts
  15. "Follow the Leader" - What can community providers, public schools, and private and family care centers learn from each other's ECE models?

Closing Discussion 


Participants in the 2014 Community Dialogues are working together to produce a new public policy action brief to be circulated widely among stakeholders in Massachusetts, including the new governor, legislature, funders and the statewide early education and care community. 


Marie St. Fleur

Marie St. Fleur joined nonprofit research and advocacy organization Bessie Tartt Wilson Initiative for Children in November 2013. Ms. St. Fleur comes to her new position after a long career in public service, where she was known as a tireless advocate on behalf of children and families. Her new role allows her to use her experience as an attorney, legislator, and senior leader in municipal government to support grassroots research on early education and care system advocate for change and expand outreach and engagement of families, providers, policymakers, and government agencies and the public in support of this sector.

Ms. St. Fleur was appointed by Mayor Thomas M. Menino on June 13, 2010, as the Chief of Advocacy and Strategic Investment for the City of Boston. In that capacity Ms. St. Fleur led the Mayor Menino Circle of Promise Initiative and oversaw the Department of Intergovernmental Relations, The Office of New Bostonian, The Small and Local Business/Boston Jobs For Boston Residents Policy, and his Diversity and Reentry Initiatives.

Former State Representative Marie St. Fleur was first elected to serve in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1999, and is the first Haitian-American elected to state office in the United States. As the House Chair of the Joint Committee on Education, Arts and Humanities, Representative St. Fleur championed two-way bilingual education and alternative education and led the establishment of the new Massachusetts Board and Department of Early Education and Care.

A graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Representative St. Fleur earned a Law Degree from Boston College Law School in 1987. Ms. St. Fleur serves as Chair of The Advisory Council for the Haiti Fund at The Boston Foundation, and is on the board of directors of the Dorchester Boys and Girls Club, and Project Hope. Ms. St. Fleur is a former trustee of the Boston Bar Foundation and past President of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association. She has been featured on WCVB Television's City Line and Chronicle, WGBH Television's Greater Boston, Boston Magazine and Commonwealth Magazine.

Clare Higgins

Clare Higgins is the Executive Director at Community Action, the area's largest anti-poverty agency serving more than 20,000 of our neighbors in Franklin, Hampshire, Western Hampden, and North Quabbin regions.

No stranger to human services, Ms. Higgins worked in the early education and care field in many capacities for 25 years; as an infant, toddler, and preschool teacher; as a center and program director; and as a childcare union organizer. She worked in programs funded by the Commonwealth serving low and moderate income families, families involved with child protective services, and with young parents completing their education.

Ms. Higgins is perhaps most widely recognized for her lengthy political career after having served three terms on the City Council and six terms as Mayor of the City of Northampton from 2000-2011.

Ms. Higgins has served as a commissioner of the Northampton Housing Authority, a member of the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women and is currently a member of the Massachusetts Budget and Policy Center Board.

Since 2006, the Annual Community Dialogue has sparked both conversation and scholarship. Visit the Past Dialogues web page to learn more about each year's topic and see Summary Reports.

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