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State System

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The Early Childhood Development State System

The state system is composed of the ECI State Board and the Stakeholders Alliance, with involvement and partnership from hundreds of private entities to strengthen the system. The State Board provides oversight of state and local efforts while serving as an advisory group to the Iowa legislature and the Governor’s Office. The Stakeholders Alliance provides advice regarding the coordination of early childhood activities in the state and is made up of public and private stakeholders; the Alliance branches into several component groups and subgroups focused on a range of expertise. Both the State Board and the Stakeholders Alliance Work together to further the strategic plan and vision for early childhood development in the state of Iowa.

Iowa’s Integrated Data System for Decision Making (I2D2)

I2D2 Logo

In response to demands on public service systems to do more, do better, and cost less, attention is being drawn to the value of integrated data systems (IDS) for research to inform executive decision-making. In 2019 the IDS led to the development of the 2019 Statewide Needs Assessment and influenced our We Are ECI 2019-2022 Strategic Plan. As demonstrated through these efforts, the IDS continues to allow Iowa’s early childhood system to effectively and efficiently coordinate the work of health, social services, and education agencies to directly benefit families. 

ECI’s 2019 Statewide Needs Assessment reflects a legislatively prioritized statewide emphasis on collaborative, comprehensive approaches to supporting young children and their families. It builds on investments over the last several decades in quality early care and education systems and brings together relevant data from siloed systems of health, education, and child welfare to use for statewide strategic planning. 

View the 2019 Statewide Needs Assessment

Explore I2D2 for Iowa

Current State Board Members

Current members of the Early Childhood Iowa State Board include department directors for six state agencies, four legislators, and citizen membership. Citizen members are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Iowa Senate.

Interested candidates must complete a gubernatorial appointment resume in addition to seeking a letter of recommendation from their local Early Childhood Iowa Area board. The gubernatorial appointment resume can be found at Iowa Talent Bank.


Board Members

  • Dave Arnes

    Dave Arens

    Citizen Member, Polk County

    Dave joined Wells Fargo in 2004 and is currently a Wealth Advisor with The Private Bank. Dave has been in the financial services industry for more than 27 years. Dave is a past ECI State Board Chair and former Polk County ECI Board member.

  • Jennifer Banta

    Jennifer Banta

    Citizen Member, Johnson County

    Vice president of the Iowa City Area Business Partnership. She started the Johnson County Child Care Coalition, bringing together stakeholders to develop solutions for child care. She served on the Governor's Child Care Task Force.

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    David Barajas

    Citizen Member, Marshall County

  • Michael Bergan

    Michael Bergan

    Representative, Iowa House

    Bergan is a lifelong resident of Winneshiek County. Bergan serves on three state level boards and commissions: the Mental Health and Developmental Disability Commission, ECI State Board (former HAWC Director), and the Iowa Council for Early ACCESS.

  • Diane Campbell

    Diane Campbell

    Administrator, Mississippi Bend AEA

    Diane serves as an administrator with Mississippi Bend AEA. She has also served as a teacher and administrator in the Muscatine Community School District. Campbell’s past board participation includes United Way of Muscatine, MCSA, and others.

  • Debi Durham

    Debi Durham

    Director, Economic Development Authority

    Durham is a longtime economic and community development professional. Durham has established successful public-private partnerships, landed billion-dollar economic development projects, and expanded trade and investment opportunities for Iowa.

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    Lorie Easter

    Director Designee, Department of Human Rights

    Program Manager for the Family Development and Self Sufficiency (FaDSS) and Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Programs. Lorie has over thirty years of experience of working in the field of human services in governmental and education systems.

  • Kelly Garcia

    Kelly Garcia

    Director, Iowa Department of Health and Human Services

    Throughout her career, Garcia led improvements in organizational structure, program management, and policy development for health care systems. Garcia has served in a series of executive positions at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission.

  • Wendy Greenman

    Wendy Greenman

    Director Designee, Iowa Workforce Development

    Wendy Greenman is a graduate of Iowa State University, and serves as a Bureau Chief at Iowa Workforce Development overseeing the WIOA Title I programs and the Trade program. She has worked within Iowa’s workforce delivery system for over 12 years.

  • Nicole Hansen

    Nicole Hansen

    Director Designee, Iowa Economic Development Authority

    Community Investments Team Leader. This team is responsible for the management of the state of Iowa’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), as well as several state tax credit programs.

  • Ryan Howard

    Ryan Howard

    Citizen Member, Black Hawk County

    Ryan has helped direct funding to local youth education programs through the Cedar Valley United Way. He has worked to address the Iowa child care crisis and helped develop a cutting-edge program with his wife, Bruna, for their in-home child care.

  • Aaron Johnson

    Aaron Johnson

    ECI State Board Chair, Citizen Member, Polk County

    A resident of Ankeny, Iowa, Aaron received his Bachelor’s in Communications from the Moody Bible Institute. Aaron is the Vice President of Marketing and Customer Strategy for Accumold. Aaron is currently a Director on the Ankeny Board of Education.

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    Marcus Johnson-Miller

    Director Designee, Department of Public Health

  • Angela Lensch

    Angela Lensch

    Citizen Member, Carroll County

    Angela is an experienced educator with a Master's in Education. Angela has taught all age levels including Pre-K through to adult learners. Currently, Angela is the Academic Manager at Denison Job Corps. acting as the Principal.

  • Michael Linnenbrink

    Michael Linnenbrink

    Citizen Member, Lee County

    Michael has 10 grandkids that range in age from 4 years up to 12 years old. He has served as a local ECI board member in Lee and Van Buren counties. He's an ordained Deacon in the Catholic church and supports awareness of food insecurities in 22 counties.

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    Mayra Martinez

    Citizen Member

  • Barb Merrill

    Barb Merrill

    ECI State Board Vice Chair

    Barb Merrill served 10 years as Executive Director for the Iowa Association for the Education of Young Children and held a variety of roles in early childhood throughout her career. Barb has a B.S. in Child Development and a M.S. in Adult Education.

  • Mary Peterson

    Mary Peterson

    Citizen Member, Shelby County

    Mary is a RN at Myrtue Medical Center in Harlan, IA where she primarily serves as the campus’ clinical nurse analyst. She volunteers & serves on multiple local, state and national boards.

  • Beth Townsend

    Beth Townsend

    Director, Iowa Workforce Development

    Beth Townsend serves as the Director of Iowa Workforce Development and is a graduate of Kearney State College and the University of Nebraska Law School. Beth is the mother of one son and is a proud member of the Choctaw Nation.

  • Kimberly Villotti

    Kimberly Villotti

    Director Designee, Iowa Department of Education

    Kimberly Villotti serves as the Director’s Designee for the Department of Education, where she is an Administrative Consultant for Early Childhood Programs and Services. She joined the ECI Steering Committee to support system collaboration.

  • Dawn Oliver-Wiand

    Dawn Oliver-Wiand

    Citizen Member, Johnson County

    Recently retired from the Iowa Women’s Foundation after serving as the President and CEO for almost 10 years. "Improving the lives of women and girls is a must, not only for our families but our communities and, ultimately, our country!"

  • San Wong

    San Wong

    Director, Department of Human Rights

    Director Wong has led efforts to safeguard basic rights and opportunities for underrepresented Iowans. This includes helping new immigrants find success and call Iowa home. Wong was recognized as a Women of Influence by the Business Record in 2009.

  • Gary Zittergruen

    Gary Zittergruen

    Citizen Member, Benton County

    Gary Zittergruen is a retired Superintendent of Schools with the Benton CSD. While employed at Benton, Gary also served on the IGHSAU Board of Directors and the IHSSA Executive Committee.

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State System Annual Reports, Policies & Procedures

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