GoAEYC Executive Committee
Kathy Nikolai- President
Kathy Nikolai is currently an adjunct instructor of Early Childhood Education Department of Harper College. Previously, she taught kindergarten and at-risk prekindergarten in Des Plaines. Kathy holds a Masters of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and a Bachelors of Science in Elementary Education. She enjoys the opportunity to share her love for teaching with the challenge of higher education. Kathy and her husband make Arlington Heights their home, along with their three children. She is proud to be serving the early childhood community in the GoAEYC area!
You may reach Kathy via email here- Contact
The Treasurer’s charge is to maintain the financial integrity of GoAEYC.Advocacy Chair’s chargeserves as a resource on currentlegislative, licensing, and public issues; trains advocates, serves as liaison with ILAEYC and state and national advocacy leaders.
Alisa is currently the Division Manager of Recreation Programs at the Arlington Heights Park District where she oversees the district's recreation programs which include preschool, before & after school, cultural arts and seniors. Prior to working at Arlington Heights, Alisa spent 12 years at the Hoffman Estates Park District were she was responsible for the preschool, camps and early childhood programs. In addition to Alisa’s involvement in GoAEYC, Alisa is involved in the Illinois Park & Recreation Association. Alisa was director & treasurer of the Recreation Section within IPRA and also serves on the Early Childhood Committee. Alisa has a Bachelors degree in Recreation Management from the University of Illinois. She also has a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Administration from National-Louis University.
You can reach Alisa via email here- Contact
Linda Hermes- Secretary
The Secretary's charge is to maintain official documents of GoAEYC.
Linda has been doing child care since 1987; leaving a career in Social Work to care for children in her home. She lives in Evanston, IL with her husband, Hal and two children, Kate, who is in graduate school and Nick, who is a sophomore at Columbia College, Chicago. Linda is a Foundations in Family Child Care Trainer, Mentor for Action for Children and is a part of the Illinois Trainers Network through INCCRRA. Linda’s professional objective is to strive to create a safe, secure, nurturing place for children and families and to advocate for quality child care programs for all families. Linda feels very privileged to be a member of the GOAEYC Board and hopes to bring more family child care professionals into this strong and vital organization. When there is time to spare, Linda enjoys reading, theater and cross stitching.
You may reach Linda via email here- Contact
Members at large assist the President and the board with all aspects of planning, organizing, and carrying out the business of GoAEYC.
Sharyl is currently the Program Director for Children's Home + Aid, where she oversees the Community Partner program for Child Care Resource and Referral. She was previously the Training Coordinator, and has also been a center Director and classroom teacher. She holds a Level 3 Director Credential and chairs the Quality Assurance Committee for the Statewide Professional Development Advisory Committee. Sharyl has a Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy, both from National Louis University.
You may reach Sharyl via email here- Contact
Martha worked at the Buffalo Grove Park District for 20 years; teaching for 15 years and directing the Preschool and Early Childhood Enrichment classes. Throughout her career, she has developed many new successful preschool and early childhood classes. She served on the Illinois Parks and Recreation Association's Early Childhood Committee as well as GOAEYC. Martha has served on the GOAEYC Board for over10 years and looks forward to continuing her work with the Board. She believes our children are our future and that we can change the world one child at a time.
You may reach Martha via email here- Contact
Hello! My name is Alexandra Theodore. I am a wife and mother of three beautiful children. I received my Bachelor’s as well as my Master’s degree from National-Louis University. I grew up in Rogers Park, but live in the southwest suburbs. Part of the reason I decided to enter the field of early childhood was because my son was diagnosed with a number of learning delays, when he was just two years old. That day, I decided that the one way I was going to help him was by being educated on what children need in the beginning stages of their education. In that process I fell in love with the field and have been working in it for over 15 years.
For the first nine years, I worked as a classroom teacher. Then I was the Education Coordinator for Mary Crane Center before I started working at Action for Children. I am currently an Infant Toddler Child Care Specialist at Illinois Action for Children (ITCCS). As an ITCCS, I worked with center staff and home-based family child care providers, to promote and support high quality in child care programs. These experiences allowed me to build meaningful relationships with providers, children birth to three years, and their families. I currently hold a level 6 Technical Assistance credential, level 5 Infant /Toddler and ECE credential, and Level 1 Director Credential. I am currently an ITN trainer and have training child care providers in PITC (The Program for Infant and Toddler Care) and Environmental Rating Scale.
You may reach Alexandra via email here- Contact
Molly Babu- Membership Chair
Hello, I am Molly Babu. As the Membership Chairperson, my task is to keep the members and increase membership by educating Early Childhood Educators about the benefits of becoming a member of GoAEYC/NAEYC.
I have been in Early Childhood Education for 28+ years. During these years, I have worked with preschoolers and pre-kindergarten age children. I have also tried my hand on being in management. But, my heart is in the classroom, and that’s where I belong.
Now, I’m not only a teacher for children, but also an independent consultant. I have been presenting workshops around the area. I’ve recently presented at ILASCD (Illinois Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development), Chicago Botanic Garden, and GoAEYC, to name a few.
If you have any questions about the Membership, please contact me. I’d love to talk you through all the benefits you’ll receive right away.
You may reach Molly via email here- Contact
Sheila Kerwin- Board Member-at-Large
Sheila Kerwin has worked in various educational settings. She retired as Chair of the Early Childhood Education Program at Oakton Community College in 2016. She currently writes children’s poetry, and recently had her first poem published in Highlights Hello Magazine. She also writes for her blog, and consults in the areas of emotional intelligence, curriculum, and development.
You may reach Sheila via email here- Contact
Penny Zimmerman - Board Member at Large
Penny Zimmerman is a Regional Manager for Bright Horizons Family Solutions and is responsible for supporting the Administrative Teams for 6 schools in the Northwest suburbs of Illinois. Penny started her early childhood career as a teacher of children 3-5 years of age; she worked for many child care companies, McHenry County College and CEDA Northwest Headstart. Penny has been with Bright Horizons for 21 years. She came to Bright Horizons as center director and has worked with client sponsored and community welcoming centers during her tenure. Penny supports teacher training, recruitment and marketing and provides training and mentoring throughout the Bright Horizons family of centers. She was a NAEYC validator prior to 2006 and offers NAEYC support to centers in Chicago. Penny is a graduate of Purdue University and is active in NAEYC as an advocate for children, families and teachers.
You may reach Penny via email here- Contact
Agnieszka (Agnes) Karoluk, MEd - Board Member at Large
Agnieszka has been working in the field of early childhood education since 2008. She has experience in Head Start, Montessori and public special education preschools in both Illinois and California. Agnieszka holds a Masters in Early Childhood and Special Education from University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Agnieszka has taught mindfulness and meditation classes to incarcerated youth and high school students in California as well as workshops for educators on meditation and yoga for early childhood. She currently works as an educator in Illinois.
Amanda Foege- Board Member at Large
Amanda has held and succeeded in numerous operational roles including Teacher, Lead Teacher, Assistant Director, Center Director, and Regional Manager. She has managed and led schools of various sizes and models. She is an award winning leader in the early childhood curriculum, community service, diversity & inclusion and is a frequent contributor to the Bright Horizons operations department and training and education department. She also regularly shares her expertise as a certified trainer for Continuing Education Units for the Early Childhood Field and volunteers time with the WINGS organization, Hesed House and SOS Children’s Village.
Amanda currently provides leadership to six Center Directors in Illinois, Texas and Boston. She holds a Bachelor degree in Family Consumer Science with an minor in Early Childhood Education. She loves what she does everyday and her passion and drive come through when she is working hands on with children, families and teachers.
You may reach Amanda via email here- contact
Laura Kopka - Board Member at Large
Laura received her Bachelor degree in Child Development and Family Relations from Northern Illinois University. She has experience in Administration and Teaching in preschool programs. Currently Laura is the Training Coordinator and Program Supervisor for Children's Home and Aid.
You may reach Laura via email here- contact
Carrie Rafalski, GoAEYC Director of Operations
In March 2017 Carrie agreed to be the part-time Director of Operations for GoAEYC. Carrie has been involved with GoAEYC in various rolls since 1994 when she was part of a core group of dedicated people who formed GoAEYC. She was President and Vice President of GoAEYC and Secretary of IL AEYC. She has presented workshops to various audiences at CH+A and at local and national conferences since 1995. She is excited to be able to serve the members of GoAEYC.
You may reach Carrie via email here- Contact