Leadership

 

Matt Guse

Matt Guse is the Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Children’s Council. In his role, Matt leads 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. As Chief Executive Officer, Matt is responsible for providing direction, leadership and oversight of the organization, including financial management, human resources, fund development, and public relations.

Prior to joining the Florida Children’s Council, Matt served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend Region, Inc. (ELC). The ELC administers a variety of early care and education related services, including the School Readiness and Voluntary Prekindergarten programs. Matt also previously held the position of Assistant Director, and for a short time the Interim Director, of Florida’s Office of Early Learning where he managed the day to day operations of the agency. Other professional experience includes the Department of Juvenile Justice, community-based care, several nonprofit organizations and the public education sector. He is a veteran of the United States Navy and a graduate of the University of Central Florida. Originally from Wisconsin, Matt has been living in Florida since 1988 and currently resides in Tallahassee with his wife, Shannon. They have two children, Morgan, 19, who attends the University of South Florida, and Mitchell, 16, a junior at Leon High School.

Ali Jones

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.

Grant-Funded Initiatives

Jennifer Faber

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

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.

A Message from Our Chair

Florida’s future is dependent on the delicate balance between the health of its natural resources, the vitality of its economy and the well-being of its residents.

Each year, lawmakers face challenging decisions in directing resources towards programs and services aimed at improving the environment, the economy and the lives of individuals and families that call Florida home. To this end, the Florida Children’s Council serves as a leading voice in advocating for the future of our youngest residents, our children.

The Florida Children’s Council works year round to help educate and inform lawmakers on the importance of investing early in the lives of children. We know from research that the sooner a child is given the opportunity to thrive, the more everyone benefits from their successes. These successes include arriving at kindergarten ready to learn, being raised in safe and supportive communities, having access to quality afterschool programs, and being given the tools to grow into productive, healthy adults. We also know that in order to ensure these positive outcomes for all of our children, worthy investments must be made.

With more than four million children and youth calling Florida home, the Council targets its messaging and data to meet the range of needs that impact the lives of children, youth and their families. We work tirelessly along with our partners to ensure a policy agenda for children is not only recognized, but embraced. We believe that it is everyone’s interest for all children to have the chance to be successful and to grow up strong, safe, and healthy.

-Cindy Arenberg Seltzer