“I’m pleased to welcome Nonie as chair of the Board of Early Education and Care,” said Baker in the press release announcing the appointment. “Nonie has risen as a leader for early education and literacy reforms in the commonwealth and brings a unique skill set to the table that will strengthen programs and enrich education for young children.”
A nationally recognized expert in literacy and child development, Lesaux also brings to the role of board chair knowledge of early educator practice and experience working with policymakers. Lesaux’s 2010 report, Turning the Page: Refocusing Massachusetts for Reading Success, formed the basis for a third-grade reading proficiency bill passed in Massachusetts in 2012, and Lead for Literacy, her series of memos aimed at policymakers and education leaders, has been used across the nation for literacy planning.
“Governor Baker has made a terrific choice in appointing Nonie Lesaux as chair of the Board of Early Education and Care,” said James Ryan, dean of the Harvard Graduate School of Education. “Her deep expertise in early learning and development, as well as her career-long commitment to improving the lives of children and families, will be a major asset for the commonwealth. At HGSE, Nonie is known as an outstanding teacher, mentor, and institutional leader, and I’m delighted that she will bring her many talents to serve the young children of Massachusetts.”
Said Lesaux, “I thank Governor Baker for this opportunity. It is a watershed moment for the field: across the country, communities are putting together aspirational and ambitious agendas for dramatic expansion of high-quality learning opportunities, starting from birth. Yet we are focused on expansion at a time when the system still needs great improvement, including increased attention to generating high-quality, affordable models of early education and care. The commonwealth has been a pioneer around early education, and I look forward to joining the effort and looking critically at how best to proceed.”
With a mission to provide all children in Massachusetts with the necessary foundation for healthy and positive educational development and lifelong success, the 10-person Board of Early Education and Care oversees the administration of early education and care and out-of-school time programs.
Under the board’s oversight, the Department of Early Education and Care provides services including licensing and regulating child care programs, residential programs, and adoption/foster care placement agencies; offering financial assistance for children to attend programs supporting their growth, development, and learning; providing resources and services for families; and supporting the professional development of educators in the early education and care field.
The Juliana W. and William Foss Thompson Professor of Education and Society at HGSE, Lesaux conducts research focusing on promoting the language and literacy skills of today’s children and youth from diverse linguistic, cultural, and economic backgrounds. She previously served as senior research associate of the National Literacy Panel on Language Minority Youth and as a member of the Reading First Advisory Committee for the Secretary of Education in the U.S. Department of Education. She is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor given by the U.S. government to outstanding scientists and engineers beginning their independent research careers.