The Collaboration for Early Childhood Equity Summit

This virtual event took place on Saturday, May 22, 2021 and explored the journey of centering equity within a program or organization. We also introduced our Racial Equity Framework. With guest speakers, a panel discussion, and a facilitated deep dive into the Collaboration’s Equity Framework, there was space to share reflections and personal commitments to continuing the work of increasing equity in our community long after the summit.  

Summit Agenda

9:00-9:15 –Land Acknowledgement, Norms & Introduction. John Borrero, Executive Director of the Collaboration for Early Childhood

9:15-9:25 –The Story of the Collaboration for Early Childhood’s Racial Equity Framework. Heather Duncan, Director of Early Learning and Equity Initiatives

9:25-9:55 -Break Out Rooms to Process Equity Framework
9:55 -10:15 -Group Reflection
10:15-10:20 -Break

10:20-11:00 –Panel Discussion – The Journey of Centering Equity in a Program or Organization


Rob Huber, Pilgrim Community Nursery School
Nora Sanchez, Community Engagement, Early Childhood Outreach, Oak Park Public Library
Beronica Puhr, Children’s Middle School Librarian, Oak Park Public Library
Marta Barriga, Economist and Oak Park parent 
Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, Assistant Professor of educational psychology at UIC
Moderator: Samina Hadi-Tabassum, Clinical Associate Professor at the Erikson Institute

11:00-11:30 – Closing Plenary Discussion: A Call to Action! Gina Harris, Professor of Educator Preparation and Culture Climate Coach at Oak Park Elementary District 97


Racial Equity Framework and Application Toolkit

The Collaboration for Early Childhood’s Racial Equity Framework (May 2021)

Collaboration for Early Childhood Racial Equity Framework

Equity Summit Front Matter:

We can look back at 2020 as the year that laid bare all of America’s frailties. The Collaboration for Early Childhood used a difficult year to look at our shortcomings, make changes and create a plan to be better. We have built our Equity Framework and toolkit and made it accessible to providers and organizations for use in their own programs’ quests for equity.

The above Framework is centered on addressing racial inequity in early childhood and is one organization’s attempt to get it right. It is the culmination of a journey we took to create an equity lens for ourselves and our partners.

Hopefully other organizations – particularly providers and those who work with them – will be inspired to think more concretely and consistently about the racial inequity inherent to our culture and actively seek to change it every day by using the Framework (above) and Application Toolkit (linked below) if they need it.

  • Racial Equity Framework Application Toolkit – This tool will support the Collaboration in applying their Racial Equity Framework to their work. When deciding on projects, programs, statements, and actions, the Collaboration will use these questions to help ensure racial equity is centered.
  • Collaboration for Early Childhood Program Services Model with Racial Equity Framework – This is a visual representation of how the Racial Equity Framwork pictured above will function in relation to our agency’s program services model. The Racial Equity Framework is represented here in the outer band, meaning that the Framework is infused into all program service areas.

Let us know what you think about these materials. Community voice is important to us; our Framework should represent our community. Share your feedback on the above materials by adding a stickie to the Idea Board!

Summit Participant Bios

Marta Barriga – Marta Barriga is a Spanish/Chilean, Economist with an MSc in International Management and MSc in International Relations who moved from Chile to Oak Park in December 2017. She is the mom of Claudia, Martin, and Lucas and works for a Market Research Company as a global manager role in their Chicago office. As a parent, Barriga reads as many books on parenting as she can, and has completed Positive parenting courses together with her husband, as well as, more recently, a Parenting Leadership course with the Collaboration. She is always trying to be the best version of herself that she can be for her children to help them grow healthily and happily. Barriga is a member of the Bilingual Parents Advisory Committee (BPAC) at D97.

John BorreroJohn’s career has been devoted to working on behalf of young children and families, with a focus on underserved communities. He is proud to have served in both national and local leadership roles across the early childhood landscape. John is currently the Executive Director for the Collaboration for Early Childhood.

Dr. Sari Coba-Rodriguez – Dr. Sarai Coba (She/Her/Ella) is an Assistant Professor in the College of Education and is program faculty in the Human Development and Learning program. Challenging deficit perspectives, she uses a family resilience lens to better understand how diverse families support their young child’s education. In particular, her research aims to highlight and showcase families’ strengths, cultural resources, and agency as they navigate the preschool years leading up to kindergarten entry.

Heather Duncan – Heather Duncan, NBCT, is a Child Development professor, Consultant, Trainer, Coach and Director of Early Learning and Equity Initiatives at the Collaboration for Early Childhood in Oak Park, Illinois. She helmed her first classroom in Posen-Robbins School District 143 ½, then founded Ahadi Early Learning Center which she directed for 5 years before joining Chicago Public Schools as a Preschool teacher. She is a 2015-17 America Achieves National Fellow, a 2016 Chicago Foundation for Education ARLI Research Fellow, a 2018-19 Teach Plus Early Childhood Fellow and winner of the 2018 Golden Apple For Excellence In Teaching Award. She holds a BA in English and MEd in Early Childhood Education from the University of Illinois, a certificate in Early Childhood Leadership from Erikson Institute and is currently pursuing a PhD in Organizational Leadership at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

Samina Hadi-Tabassum – Samina Hadi-Tabassum is a Clinical Associate Professor at Erikson Institute in Chicago and a graduate of Teachers College, Columbia University. She earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in cultural and linguistic anthropology. Hadi-Tabassum’s undergraduate degree is from Northwestern University with a major in English and a minor in Biology. Her research interests include bilingual education and dual language schools; linguistics, literacy and language development; racial and cultural identity; and science education. Her practitioner work has focused on teacher education, curriculum development and pedagogy, and policy issues pertaining to educational equity. Her international work includes collaboration with Teach for India, the Miaoli Government Schools in Taiwan and the Panama Teacher Exchange Program at Dominican University.

Gina Harris – After 15 years in corporate life, Gina Harris followed her passion and added a Masters of Teaching to her MBA. An internationally certified yoga instructor, mindfulness and social emotional learning trainer, as well as a certified restorative justice practices facilitator and trainer, she currently supports school districts in implementing these practices and teaches future educators in the College of Education at Roosevelt University. Gina founded Unity Dialogues, a circle process where students and adults learn from each other and grow from authentic, open dialogue about race and unity development. Gina has been teaching mindfulness, wellness and yoga strategies for over a decade and practicing for over 30. Gina understands and teaches the importance of living a whole, well-balanced life and loving yourself unconditionally.

Rob Huber – Rob Huber’s career at Pilgrim preschool started in 1977 as a student in “The Big Room”. (Now the Square and Diamond Rooms.) He returned in the nineties teaching in the summer program and then in the “Fireplace Room”. (Now the Diamond Room.) He studied early childhood education at Elmhurst College and has taught in several other local programs including at Keystone Montessori, the OPPD preschool program, and in the River Forest Public Schools. Pilgrim is where Huber’s passion for early childhood education was kindled and he considers it a privilege to work with the dedicated and talented staff and to support, challenge, and nurture the students of Pilgrim Community Nursery School. 

Beronica Puhr – Beronica is a Children’s Middle School Librarian at the Oak Park Public Library and enjoys providing creative outlets for the tween community. When she’s not at work, Beronica can be found: reading, sewing, watching movies (especially horror), spending time with her family, and playing with her pet hedgehog, Kiki!

Nora Sanchez – Nora Sanchez is an Early Childhood Community Engagement Coordinator at the Oak Park Public Library. Through her role, she provides resources and services that engage children and empower their love of learning! She will graduate from Dominican University with a Masters in Library Information Sciences this coming summer. You will often find her walking throughout the town of Oak Park or cuddled on her couch reading nonfiction and picture books with her dog!

Share your Feedback - Equity Summit Exit Survey

Please click here to share your feedback on the Collaboration’s Equity Framework and additional materials that were presented at the Summit. 

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