Alan Strand
Director of Finance & Operations

Since 2014, Alan has been an integral part of Child Care Aware of Washington, ensuring the seamless execution of finance, human resources, and accounting functions in support of the organization’s mission. With over 20 years of dedicated experience in accounting, finance, and business management within the nonprofit sector in Washington and California, Alan brings a wealth of expertise to his role. His proficiency in nonprofit accounting is matched by his adeptness in fostering collaborative relationships. Alan’s ability to communicate affably and effectively about financial matters enables him to engage with Boards, Partners, staff, and fellow nonprofits, facilitating smooth administrative and programmatic activities. Alan finds joy in his hobbies. Outside of work, he enjoys role-playing games and the art of baking.

Alex Hanel
Political Communications Manager

Alex develops and executes communications strategies that advance CCA of Washington’s work on political campaigns that result in legislative and policy change at the state and national level. Through his work, Child Care Aware of Washington is raising the profile of child care as a statewide issue, as part of Child Care for WA – our campaign for universal access to child care and living wages for the child care workforce. With a background in communications, digital media and politics, Alex has worked with nonprofits as well as state and national political organizations to share stories and advance their political priorities. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Political Science from Saint Louis University. Outside of work, Alex spends time taking photos and traveling around Washington.

Allison Cerny
Project Manager

Allison started her professional career working with children as she completed her bachelor’s degree at the University of Oregon. After graduating, she continued her career path in a variety of service-based programs, performing multiple roles at each organization, including direct service, coordinating volunteers, and operations. Most recently, she joined CCA of WA as a Project Manager for special projects. In her spare time, Allison enjoys international travel, hiking, snowshoeing, cooking, and gardening.

April Ferguson
Program Engagement Specialist

April oversees the management of platforms utilized by our early learning coaches and providers statewide, facilitating their access to essential business supports. With a background as a teacher and assistant director in the Early Learning field, April brings invaluable insights to her role. She holds a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and remains committed to expanding her knowledge in areas such as business management and leadership. Actively engaged in her community, April is involved in the PTA at her children’s school and dedicates her time to volunteer opportunities benefiting children. Outside of her professional and community commitments, April enjoys engaging in DIY home projects and year-round gardening with her family.

Asia Tamaami
Advocacy and Policy Coordinator
Cameron Joy-Kurtz
Executive Assistant to the CEO

Cameron plays a pivotal role within Child Care Aware of Washington, focusing on researching and writing grants while offering vital administrative and strategic support to key stakeholders, including the CEO, Leadership Team, Board of Trustees, regional partners, and consultants. Since joining in 2014, Cameron has held various roles within the organization, and brings these diverse experiences to his work with stakeholders and staff. Cameron holds a BA in English from the University of Colorado. Outside of his professional duties, he channels his passion for movies and entertainment into podcasting.

Carmen Parra
Scholarships Coordinator

Carmen became a valued part of the Child Care Aware of Washington team in September 2023, assuming the role of Scholarship Coordinator. With a strong background in supporting local low-income students as they transition into higher education, Carmen brings a wealth of experience and dedication to her position. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sustainable Urban Development from the University of Washington-Tacoma. Outside of work, Carmen indulges in her passion for artistic expression through drawing and painting.

Carol Jack
Scholarships Program Manager

Carol became a valued member of the CCA of WA team in November 2022, assuming the role of Scholarships Program Manager. Her dedication lies in harnessing the power of team collaboration to ensure equitable support for students on their journey towards higher education. Holding a Master of Science degree in Organizational Management from Capella University, Carol brings a wealth of academic and professional experience to her position. Prior to joining our team, she served as a Student Success Coach at Pierce College, where she provided invaluable career and academic guidance to a diverse range of individuals, including active-duty military service members, veterans, and Running Start students.

Celeste Farmer
Supervisor of Holding Hope Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Celeste joined CCA of WA in 2021, collaborating with the Director of Holding Hope to provide strategic leadership to the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program. Her passion lies in offering reflective consultation and clinical support to our team of mental health consultants while seeking opportunities to enhance adults’ abilities to address the social and emotional needs of young children throughout the CCA of WA system. With a Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology and licensure as a Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in both WA and CA, Celeste brings a wealth of expertise to her role. She is recognized as an Endorsed Reflective Supervisor (ERS) through WA-AIMH and is an approved clinical supervisor. Celeste has over 17 years of experience working in a variety of community based mental health settings supporting children 0-18 and their caregivers. Additionally, she has over a decade of experience in leadership roles, having led School-Based Mental Health Services as both an Assistant Director and Dean of Students. In her free time she enjoys creative activities such as collage and pottery, as well as spending time in nature and cuddling with her two doggies.

Deeann Burtch Puffert
Chief Executive Officer

Deeann (she/her) brings over 35 years of invaluable experience in nonprofit management, fundraising, program management, and advocacy to her role as Chief Executive Officer. Her wealth of expertise serves as a guiding force alongside the leadership team, shaping their daily endeavors. Before assuming her current position, Deeann dedicated herself to various impactful roles, including serving at a regional Child Care Aware partner organization and excelling as a child care center director. Her journey is enriched by academic achievements, holding an MPA from the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Washington, complemented by a BA from Western Washington University. As a proud Washingtonian, she celebrates over 40 years of marriage to her prom date. Deeann cherishes her role as a mother to two adult daughters and embraces the joy of being a grandmother to two precious granddaughters.

Elena Carrasco
Statewide Bi-lingual Spanish Holding Hope Mental Health Consultant

Elena became part of the CCA of WA team in March 2022, stepping into the role of Statewide Bilingual Spanish Holding Hope Mental Health Consultant. With over 18 years of dedicated experience in childhood services, Elena’s expertise spans a wide array of areas including Infant Early Childhood Intervention, parent support, and advocacy through Individualized Family Service Plans (IFSP) and Individualized Education Plans (IEP). Her background also encompasses elementary school Special Education and the management of family resource programs. Throughout her career, Elena has been deeply involved in inclusive preschool classrooms, providing crucial support to children with diverse abilities and their families. She has effectively organized and delivered both in-person and online Social Emotional Health trainings and webinars for parents and providers alike. Driven by her commitment to empowering children, families, and providers alike, Elena holds a BFA in Fine Art Photography alongside her Early Childhood Education credentials. Beyond her professional pursuits, Elena’s passion for documentary photography has led to publications and exhibitions in galleries and museums across Mexico and the United States. When she’s not enriching the lives of others, Elena finds joy in museum visits, music, crafts, culinary delights, and spending quality time with her cherished family and friends.

Genevieve Stokes
Director of Government Relations
Gracie Martinez
Family Services Program Manager

Gracie Martinez joined the CCA of WA team in 2022. Gracie manages the Family Call Center, Family, Friend, and Neighbor Play & Learn statewide system, and the Homeless Navigation program. She has a mix of experience working for families in early learning environments, systems work as a non-profit consultant, and advocacy through her many board and committee positions for early learning associations. Gracie holds a Master of Public Administration from the Evans School -University of WA. In her free time, Gracie enjoys spending time with her family, cooking delicious meals, and collecting books to grow her home library.

Janet Fraatz
Director of Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Janet joined our team in March 2020 to launch Holding Hope Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation services at CCA of WA. Under her leadership, Holding Hope has experienced remarkable growth to address the escalating demand for social-emotional and mental health support for young children and their caregivers. With over 30 years of dedicated service to children and families, Janet brings a wealth of experience, including her extensive involvement in the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (IECMHC) field, elementary school counseling, and Head Start/Early Head Start programs. Her commitment extends to various direct service and quality improvement initiatives in early care and education. Janet holds a MS in Child Development and Family Studies, a MA, and CAGS in Mental Health Counseling, along with a certificate of advanced study in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health from the Harris Institute. In her free time, she finds joy in singing, playing the piano, and taking lively walks with her beloved Welsh Springer Spaniels.

Joanna Cobb
Business & Data Analyst

Joanna generates reports and analysis on program outcomes in support of CCA of WA programs and partners, and in pursuit of continuous quality improvement of data collection and program operations. Her primary areas of focus include Early Achievers, the statewide QRIS System, and the Family Center, serving as the pivotal Resource and Referral Call Center for the state. She has a bachelor’s degree in public policy from University of Washington, and brings a wealth of expertise in advocacy, database management, and non-profit program evaluation to her role.

Kathryn Arthur
Database Administrator & Reporting Analyst

Kathryn joined the Child Care Aware of Washington data team in 2020 and is responsible for database management and reporting. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in counseling psychology with a focus on research and data. Kathryn is passionate about utilizing data to share stories of success and advocating for the needs of children, families, and child care providers across the state. Kathryn also enjoys the challenge of finding database solutions that make work more efficient for those using the database. In her free time, she enjoys going to the barn, running, playing hockey, and spending time with family.

Leah Irwin
Program Manager of Early Learning

Leah supports our regions on the Eastern side of the state in their Early Achievers implementation and oversees communications from the Early Learning team. She has been an active part in establishing strong relationships with our partner organizations around the state and is a strong advocate for the needs of early learning providers and coaches in Washington. Leah’s past experiences in child and family social services, university teaching, and early childhood classrooms and management contribute to her ability to gauge the needs of our early learning communities, seek input and feedback from early learning professionals in our system, and advocate for resources and supports. Leah holds a bachelor’s degree in developmental psychology from Eastern Washington University and a master’s degree and family and child studies from Miami University in Ohio. In her non-work time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, two daughters, and three dogs. Her hobbies include puzzles, reading, baking, gardening, and thrift store shopping.

Maddie Schultz
Program Support Assistant

Maddie became a valued member of the Early Learning Program Team in March 2023, stepping into the role of Program Support Assistant. She assists the team with various activities that support the team’s early learning work, including managing administrative duties, coordinating team travel, and providing back-office support. With a rich background in child care since 2014, Maddie brings a wealth of experience to her role. She has served as both an infant/toddler teacher and a pre-kindergarten teacher and has contributed her skills as a center Assistant Director. Maddie holds a General Transfer AA and aspires to pursue her Bachelor’s degree in the near future. Maddie holds a state certification in Early Childhood Education, coupled with a specialization in Family Child Care. Her passion lies in fostering safe, nurturing environments that promote the well-being and development of children and families alike. Beyond her professional pursuits, Maddie finds joy in cherishing moments with her two daughters, indulging in the art of baking, and relishing quality time spent with her family.

Meka Riggins
Director of Workforce Development

Meka, our esteemed Director of Workforce Development, is a passionate advocate for the transformative power of higher education. In her multifaceted role, she oversees both our Scholarships and Professional Development programs, ensuring their seamless operation to directly impact the lives of every scholar and professional we serve. Joining Child Care Aware of Washington in the fall of 2011, Meka brings a wealth of experience, having previously served as the development and scholarship coordinator at Tacoma Community College.

Michael Snow
Program Manager of Early Learning

Michael provides regional contract and QRIS supports for: Northwest, Southwest, Olympic Peninsula, and King and Pierce regions. He is also the Leads co-chair support and oversees the LearnERS and WA Pyramid Model pilot projects. With a background in coaching and systems level work, Michael has helped lead the coach onboarding revisions by creating a workgroup of leads, coaches, and external partners to help strengthen our statewide coach onboarding systems. He holds a Master of Education from St. Martin’s University. Outside of work, Michael spends time coaching boys high school basketball and marathon training.

Michel Nelson
Director of Family & Community Engagement

Michel joined Child Care Aware of Washington in the fall of 2016 in a new position to expand support for child care and early learning from businesses and diverse community partners. In addition, Michel coordinates Child Care Aware of Washington’s Family Center with the organization’s regional staff. With a background in marketing, membership and communications, she has led efforts in the nonprofit and public sectors that resulted in innovative partnerships and statewide public awareness campaigns. She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Washington State University.

Nannette Ward
Finance Supervisor

Nannette became a vital part of Child Care Aware of Washington in 2010, with her extensive experience in the field to oversee finance, accounting, human resources, and various other projects as they arise. With a passion for making positive transformations in the lives of children and parents, Nannette has cultivated dynamic connections with both staff and community partners, fostering an environment of collaboration and innovation since joining CCA of WA.

Patricia Coss-Maxwell
Program Manager of Professional Development

As the program manager of professional development at Child Care Aware of Washington, Patricia plays a pivotal role in shaping the learning landscape for the early learning Relationship-Building Professional Development (RBPD) workforce across the state. Her responsibilities encompass the full spectrum of professional development, from assessment and coordination to implementing ongoing support. Patricia orchestrates the development and delivery of diverse learning opportunities, including new staff orientation, skill-building sessions, and active facilitation in various settings such as training, webinars, meetings, and the renowned early learning conference, Elevate. In addition to her role at Child Care Aware, Patricia is an instructor at North Seattle College and Green River College. Her commitment to inclusivity is reflected in her choice to teach in Spanish, recognizing the importance of providing growth opportunities to diverse populations. Patricia’s academic journey includes a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, a Certificate in College Instruction from Eastern Washington University, and a BAS in Early Childhood Education from North Seattle College. For the past five years, she has served as a STARS trainer, further enriching her expertise in the field. Outside of the professional sphere, Patricia cherishes moments spent with her family alongside the delightful company of her dog, Frida.

Rosie Alfaro-Toledo
Communications Project Manager

Rosie joined Child Care Aware of Washington in November 2021, bringing with her a diverse background in communications, graphic design, development, community organizing, and finance. In her role, Rosie serves as an integral member, overseeing a range of responsibilities including marketing initiatives, internal communications, employee engagement, graphic design, and program communications. She is also instrumental in updating and designing materials for the organization. Rosie fosters innovation within the team, encouraging out-of-the-box thinking and promoting a culture of creativity. Her inclusive approach aims to create an atmosphere where everyone feels valued and connected. Currently, she is pursuing majors in Visual Sociology and Early Childhood Education at the Evergreen State College, Rosie is dedicated to combining her creative talents with her passion for nurturing young minds. Outside of work and studies, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes her husband, toddler, and their 11 pets. Rosie also finds joy in reconnecting with her indigenous roots and expressing her artistic flair through painting and photography.

Sandy Maldonado
Director of Early Learning

Sandy has committed her professional life to the field of early learning and child care working in many states across the country, and in a variety of classroom, coaching, and leadership roles. She is committed to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) and promotes an anti-racist agenda within CCA of WA and in all her work in the broader community. Serving as a systems leader, she has facilitated collaborative partnerships and human-centered design work in the pursuit of racial justice. This includes her work with Washington State’s QRIS system, Early Achievers, Elevate conference offerings, and in our system level work with various statewide early learning organizations and partners. Sandy has made excellent contributions to reimagining the QRIS, Early Achievers framework working with state and community partners to create a system of support that is provider-driven and inclusive of all communities. Sandy has a master’s degree in early childhood education from Pacific Oaks College. Most recently she has joined the CCA of America Board of Directors representing the CCR&R community. She is passionate about securing equitable high-quality early learning opportunities for families, and ensuring all educators have opportunities for culturally affirming and relevant professional development. Outside of work, Sandy enjoys spending time outdoors and game nights with her family.

Sarah Kelley
Director of Data & Evaluation

Sarah is passionate about increasing quality, access and professionalism in early childhood education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in human development, early childhood education and care from Washington State University and a master’s degree in policy studies from the University of Washington. She has experience in resource and referral, family advocacy and teaching in Head Start/ECEAP and child care centers. In her graduate research she focused on early learning quality and child outcomes.

Skyler Smith
Scholarships Coordinator

Skyler became a valued member of Child Care Aware of Washington in April 2022, where she collaborates with her colleagues to empower scholars in achieving their academic aspirations through the organization’s scholarships program. With a deep commitment to fostering diversity and inclusion, Skyler has dedicated her career to supporting non-traditional students, recognizing and cherishing the unique perspectives they bring to the educational landscape. Holding a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from Central Washington University, Skyler brings a rich academic background and a passion for advocacy to her role at CCA of WA.

Thayjus Pancholi
Advocacy and Policy Coordinator

Thayjus monitors policy developments and is involved with our regional advocacy work at the state level. As the Campaign for Child Care progresses, he is engaging policymakers and stakeholders on the importance of improving the childcare system for parents and providers alike. Thayjus has a background in equity-based policy and advocacy, and equity and holds a Masters specializing in health policy and management from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In his free time, he enjoys swimming, cooking, and watching movies.

Tiffany Khanphongphane
Office Coodinator

Tiffany serves as the Office Coordinator for Child Care Aware of Washington. In her administrative role, she collaborates with various teams, including Scholarships, Finance, Infant Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant (IECMHC), and Communications, to ensure seamless coordination and support. Her dedication to excellence is reflected in her commitment to helping the organization surpass expectations, ultimately benefiting families and providers throughout Washington State. Tiffany joined CCA of Washington in 2018, contributing seven years of expertise as an Office Coordinator. Her commitment to continuous improvement and exceptional customer service sets her apart. Tiffany holds an Accounting Clerk Degree from Renton Technical College. You’ll often find her whipping up tasty meals for her family, friends, and colleagues. And when she’s not in work mode, she’s cheering on her sons as they shoot hoops on the basketball court or spending time with her family and pets.

Wysteria Oliver
Contracts & Grants Manager

Wysteria manages our organization’s contracts with the Department of Children, Youth, and Families, regional partners, and our growing portfolio of philanthropic and private grant award contracts. She works with internal and external partners across the state to ensure that expectations and deliverables are met, and that financial resources are fully and properly expended. Wysteria has background experience in early childhood education as a teacher, advocate, parent volunteer, and managing contractual relationships across organizations.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Washington. Outside of work, Wysteria enjoys health and wellness activities including fitness, cooking (and eating!) nutritious meals, yoga nidra, and more.