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The Fellows

The second cohort of Illinois Early Childhood Fellows served from July 2011 through June 2013.

Melanie Garrett

Melanie Garrett served her Fellowship at HealthConnect One, where she supported advocacy work at both the state and federal levels. Melanie was co-coordinator of the group’s National Action Summit held in February 2012, she also coordinated HC One's meetings with federal officials at the Health Resources and Services Administration in November 2011. Melanie also worked to promote the community-based doula model both through HC One and through assistance to the National Community-Based Doula Leadership Institute Advisory Board. In addition, Melanie staffed the Policy Work Group for Training and Certification Project for the Chicago Community Health Workers Local Area Network.

Melanie has an AM from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, a BA from Lafayette College, and an Infant Mental Health certificate from Erikson Institute.

Melanie currently serves as the Program Director for New Moms Inc. In this role, she oversees all programming for the teen parents New Moms serves, including: Parents as Teachers, transitional housing, workforce development, and a small child care program.

“We have a changing demographic here in Illinois and we have a changing demographic across the country,” says Melanie. “If we don’t have people from different communities represented at the tables, then we’re not going to hear their voices, we’re not going to be able to understand their culture and their experience.”

 
Angela Hubbard

Angela Hubbard served her Fellowship at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, where she engaged in several policy-related efforts. She was the lead editor for the group’s policy newsletter, Early Edition, and staffed its internal Policy Workgroup. Along with Fellow Artishia Hunter and 2009-11 Fellow Candace Williams, Angela was part of a team working with early childhood experts to draft Early Learning Guidelines for Illinois children ages zero to three, which will become part of Illinois statewide standards.

Angela holds an MAT from National-Louis University and a BSBA from Washington University in St. Louis.

Post Fellowship, Angela worked with the Ounce's National Policy Team to learn the role of Secondary Consultant with the goal of helping advocates develop and implement policy agendas.  She also helped organize the Ounce Advocacy Day. Angela remains at the Ounce, serving as the Educare Chicago Alumni Network Family Engagement Manager, where she designs and implements programs and initiatives to engage alumni parents in activities to benefit alumni families, children, and current Educare program participants.

“The Fellowship has been an amazing experience,” Angela says. “Through the Early Learning Challenge Collaborative, I was able to provide support to one of the state teams that vied for the recently awarded Early Learning Challenge Grant. Never have I been so awestruck and inspired by the caliber of thinkers and proven experience within one room.”

 
Artishia Hunter

Artishia Hunter served her Fellowship at Positive Parenting DuPage, where she worked with communities including Grundy County, Northwest Cook County, and the City of Elgin on collaborative systems building. Along with Fellow Angela Hubbard and 2009-11 Fellow Candace Williams, Artishia was part of a team working with early childhood experts to draft Early Learning Guidelines for Illinois children ages zero to three, which will become part of Illinois statewide standards.

Artishia has a MEd in Early Childhood Administration from National-Louis University and a BA in Elementary Education from Illinois State University.

After completing her Fellowship, Artishia worked with the Community Systems Development Workgroup on updating its Resource Toolkit. She is now the Director of the Evanston Two Generation Initiatives, where she maps job training and career building assets for parents and early education opportunities for children. She is also developing a pilot program, which includes conducting market research and building partnerships.

Artishia states “There is a parallel of how you support young children and at the same time how you support leaders who want to make an impact in the lives of young children and change their trajectory too.”

 
TeeNeka Jones-Gueye

TeeNeka Jones-Gueye served the second year of her placement at Health Connect One, where she helped integrate aspects of development, advocacy, communications, and program in early health and early learning community health workers and peer-to-peer support programs. TeeNeka’s first-year placement (2011-2012) was at Health & Disability Advocates.

TeeNeka holds an MSNM in Human Services Administration from Spertus College, a BSW from Southern Illinois University, and an Infant Specialist certificate from Erikson Institute.

After her Fellowship, TeeNeka chaired a subcommittee on Assessment Team Design and Logistics, part of the Chicago Public Schools Early Childhood Evaluation Advisory Group. She also worked on the Planning Coalition for FACT (Family Assertive Community Treatment Project). She now works as Site Director for Kids & Company, where she oversees the day to day operations of the child care facility, as well as ensuring that all relevant legislative requirements are met with 100% compliance. She is also responsible for maintaining enrollment expectations through on-going communication with all families, accurate administration, agency promotion, and hosting open houses.

“The brand of leader that I think I am and that I aim to be is a more transformational leader, someone who engages all stakeholders in the conversation,” says TeeNeka.

 
Saleem Hue Penny

Saleem Hue Penny served his Fellowship at Illinois Action for Children, where he helped expand the Teen Parent Project and developed community outreach strategies for the new Family & Neighborhood Partnerships Department.

Saleem holds an AM in Social Work, with a specialization in community schools, from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration and an MA in Psychology from Catholic University.

Saleem continues his work at Illinois Action for Children as the Project Development Manager, Oral Health and Families. His work there centers on the areas of community organizing, planning, and development, with an emphasis on early childhood health and education, childcare policy, and family supports for pregnant/parenting teens.

“It’s been very important for me to sit myself at those tables and have the opportunity to shadow great leaders and great mentors,” Saleem states.