Meet the Team
Katie Brayden-Calias, Early Childhood Education Programs Assessment Specialist
Katie Brayden-Calias received her Masters Degree in Education from Simmons College in 1991 and has been in the Education field for 20 years. She has been a classroom teacher, director, and administrator. For the past 10 years, she has worked as an independent consultant mentoring early education programs as well as public schools through the NAEYC Accreditation process. Additionally, Katie has a diverse repertoire of training sessions to meet the wide-ranging needs of the Early Education & Care population.
Katie's Contact Information
Eric Burkes, CASE Coordinator
Eric Burkes received his Master of Arts in Professional Writing from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He has experience with several aspects of writing, including grant writing, technical writing and proofreading, as well as writing for internal and external communications. Following his graduate studies, he served for three years as a Lead Teacher in an Afterschool program where he promoted the social, emotional, physical and cognitive development of children in K-8th grade. Eric also has previous early childhood experience serving as an Administrative Assistant at Somerville Early Head Start. He completed his Bachelor of Science in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations at Boston University.
Eric's Contact information
Daila Davila-Gonzalez, Early Childhood Education Programs Manager
Daila Davila-Gonzalez holds her Master's Degree from Boston College in Developmental and Educational Psychology. Her area of concentration was Early Childhood Development, specifically bilingual language acquisition in children. Daila has worked as a preschool director and an Education and Disabilities Specialist for Child Care Choices of Boston, where she created Bilingual Bebe, a publication focused on raising and educating bilingual children. Additionally, Daila has worked as a disabilities specialist for ABCD South Side Head Start and has conducted numerous workshops locally and at area conferences in bilingual language development and assessment. For the last several years, she has been an adjunct professor at the Urban College of Boston in the Department of Early Childhood Education, teaching in the regular and transitional bilingual program. Most recently, Daila was the Literacy Coach for the Tapping Academic Potential Project at the Urban College of Boston, where she evaluated and redesigned aspects of the curriculum for the developmental English courses in the TAP Project.
Daila's Contact Information
Hanna Gebretensae, Director of Early Childhood Education Programs at Aspire Institute
Hanna Gebretensae oversees the Center for Assessment and Screening Excellence (CASE), and has extensive experience in the field of early education and care. She was the Academic Dean and the Division Chair for Early Childhood Education at Urban College of Boston (UCB) where Hanna is engaged in management, instruction, and development of the academic programs at the College. Prior to UCB, Hanna was a training and technical assistance specialist for UMass Donahue Institute, working with Head Start programs in New England. In addition to direct-service work in early childhood classrooms, she has been a program director at Acorn Center for Early Education and Care, a bilingual Chinese/English center and a Mentor-Director for early childhood programs in Boston supporting accreditation and quality of programs in the city. Hanna was the Director of Policy, Education, and Training at the Child Care Resource Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prior to coming to the US, Hanna managed early childhood program development and projects in East Africa.
Hanna holds a B.A. from Lesley College, M.Ed. from Harvard University, certificate in Educating Children with Special Needs from the Golda Meir International Training College in Haifa, Israel, and was a CAYL Fellow in Early Care and Education Policy. Hanna is currently a doctoral candidate at the University of Phoenix.
Hanna's Contact Information
Ken Grout, CASE Research, Training and Data Specialist
Ken Grout received his Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from Drake University and did his Master's work in Writing and Literature at Emerson College; further, he is completing in 2012 a Master's of Education program in Interdisciplinary Studies at Cambridge College. Ken is a writer and business consultant who has worked in Education, Marketing Research, and Information Technology. He is currently an adjunct faculty member in Writing and Speech Communication at both Emerson College and The Urban College of Boston.
Ken's Contact Information
Saameh Solaimani, CASE Post-Graduate Fellow, Early Childhood Education Programs
Saameh Solaimani holds an Ed.M. from Harvard University, where she studied Human Development and Psychology. She received her B.A. in Psychology from The University of California, San Diego. Some of Saameh's experience includes working as a documentation assistant with Harvard's Project Zero, teaching in pre-k programs, and working as a clinician with young children diagnosed with Autism and their families. Her passion lies in supporting authentic collaboration between families, early childhood educators and administrators, healthcare practitioners, policy makers, and researchers to develop healthy, mindful, inclusive learning environments for young children of all backgrounds.
Saameh's Contact Information
Catherine Wakely, Training Data and Evaluation Assistant, Aspire Institute
Catherine Wakely holds her B.S. in Animal Science from The University of Maine where she also worked for several years as an IT support consultant. She has also worked as an operations coordinator at Sun Life Financial.
Catherine's Contact Information