Brittany Olivieri Birken, Ph.D.
Dr. Brittany Birken is the CEO of the Florida Children’s Council—leading businesses, organizations, agencies and other key stakeholders in work efforts that support Florida’s children, youth and families. The Florida Children’s Council serves as the statewide umbrella organization for the Children’s Services Councils. With intentional focus on collective impact and evidence-based strategies, Children’s Services Councils work in partnership with federal, state and community partners to fund services that improve outcomes for children, youth and families. In her role, Dr. Birken coordinates resources and system development activities to enhance Florida’s collective efforts and ensure children are healthy, well cared for, learned, and prepared for a successful future.
Dr. Birken is a developmental psychologist with more than 20 years of experience in early childhood system development. She has served at every level of the early education service delivery system and has specialized in system development with a strong background and emphasis in early learning related to program assessment, child assessment and public policy. As a U.S. Health and Human Services Research Bureau Scholar, she has contributed to federal, state and local research, and has worked in many state-level education program and policy areas. As the former Director of the Office of Early Learning, Dr. Birken did extensive work in the development and implementation of a comprehensive, integrated system for Florida’s early education programs.
With recognition of the critical linkages between educational investments and economic development, Dr. Birken works closely with business and decision makers to create policies that support the current workforce, promote economic vitality and develop a sustaining educational infrastructure to ensure talent growth and expansion for a continued vibrant and prosperous future for Florida. Dr. Birken serves as a board trustee for the Florida Chamber Foundation and as a gubernatorial appointee on CareerSource Florida, Inc., Florida’s state workforce development board, she serves as the Chair of the Strategic Policy Council.
Ali Jones serves as the Association Coordinator for the Florida Children’s Council organizing Council meetings, conferences and activities in addition to providing administrative services. Understanding the important roles of collaboration, partnership and collective effort in improving outcomes for children and youth statewide, Ali works to facilitate information-exchange among CSCs in addition to providing information and assistance to counties exploring the idea of a CSC in their community.
Prior to joining the Council, Ali worked on Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto’s staff in the Florida Senate where she acquired hands-on experience inside Florida’s legislative system. Ali previously served for five years as the Director of Programs for Kidz1stFund, a non-profit organization specializing in raising funds for rare disease research. Ali is a native of Tallahassee, Florida and a graduate of Florida State University earning her Bachelor of Science in Business Management. Ali brings a unique mix of non-profit management, fundraising, communications, event planning and legislative experience to her position at the Council.
Jennifer Faber is the Director of Grade Level Reading at the Florida Children’s Council, providing leadership support and coordination for all aspects of the Florida Grade Level Reading Campaign. She works closely with the existing and developing community campaigns providing technical assistance to the Community Leaders Network ensuring access to resources needed to set outcomes for children, implement aligned activities, and demonstrate progress toward goals. Additionally, Ms. Faber helps facilitate connectivity among the campaign’s State Policy Thought Leaders, the Early Learning Business Alliance and the Funders Collaborative to ensure synergy and alignment.
Jenn earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration & Sport Management at Robert Morris University (PA) and relocated to Florida in 1986 to begin her career in early learning and out-of-school time. Her extensive afterschool training history has included speaking engagements and keynote presentations in 38 of our 50 states as well as Germany & Japan. Jenn co-authored the Florida Standards for Quality Afterschool Programs and the Florida Core Competencies for Afterschool Practitioners; serves as the school-age care content expert for Florida Department of Children & Families; served eight years on the Florida After School Alliance Board of Directors; was a founding member of the Florida Afterschool Network; served as an Afterschool Alliance Ambassador and afterschool accreditation endorser; was trained in leading ‘Communities of Practice’; and lead several statewide network initiatives focused on provider/child relationships, early learning curriculum and quality afterschool services.
Over the past thirty years, Jenn has advocated for out-of-school time issues, written articles for local, state and national publications, provided training and technical assistance to a wide variety of audiences, assisted in the design of Florida’s early learning and afterschool professional development systems and served on national and state OST committees, as well as on local parks and recreation and YMCA Board of Directors in south Florida. Her endless commitment and enthusiasm to ‘provide quality out-of-school time learning experiences for all children’ has made her life-long work a daily pleasure!
Brian Hickey is the Director of the Florida Afterschool Network coordinating statewide efforts to ensure that Florida’s children and youth have opportunities to participate in engaging, safe and quality programs during out-of-school time. Brian brings a strong background in economic development which will result in focused work on the economic impact of quality school-age experiences that support successful student outcomes. Brian most recently served as Director of Sports for the Leon County Division of Tourism Development (Visit Tallahassee) and has led the county’s sports marketing efforts to unprecedented levels with more than 90% growth in the past seven years.
Brian is a Tallahassee native and a graduate of Florida State University. He has completed requirements as a Certified Destination Management Executive, Certified Sports Event Executive and served on the Board of Directors for the National Association of Sports Commissioners. Brian has more than 16 years of experience in event planning and management, grant development, fundraising, and many other attributes that are beneficial in leading FAN members across the state in school-age initiatives.