Michele Watson is the newly appointed Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Children’s Council. In this role, Michele provides leadership for the businesses, organizations, agencies and other key stakeholders involved with the Council. Michele has been involved with the work of the Council for many years, utilizing her expertise in data analysis and system development in the areas of education, policy and finance. Her efforts have helped make business cases for the need for increased investments and policy changes in education. Having received a degree in early childhood education from Florida State University, Michele began her career as an educator for the Polk County School Board for eight years. Upon moving to Tallahassee, she became the Policy Chief for Florida’s Office of Early Learning where she was responsible for coordinating early learning policy with the Florida Legislature as well as 31 local early learning coalitions. In 2012, Michele founded Watson Policy Solutions to focus on helping organizations identify systemic issues, develop new processes, and create system improvements to ensure maximum efficiency that allows entities to focus more on mission activities and services.
Jenny serves as the Association Coordinator for the Florida Children’s Council. In this capacity, Jenny provides high-level executive support to the Council and its grant-funded initiatives, including a significant role in legislative tracking. In addition, Jenny coordinates with members and partners to bolster the work of the Council and enhance Florida’s collective efforts to ensure children are healthy and prepared for a successful future.
Before joining the Council team, Jenny served as administrative support in healthcare under the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare umbrella, Southern Medical Group, where she gained valuable insight into Florida’s healthcare industry. Prior to working in healthcare, Jenny was a research assistant at Florida State University studying clinical and social psychology. In this position, she had the opportunity to work with Tallahassee’s veteran and vulnerable populations, students and contribute to the empirical research process to advance mental health treatment and the understanding of human behavior. Jenny is a native of Tallahassee, Florida, and a graduate of Florida State University earning a Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art. Jenny serves the Council with a blend of experience in psychological research, marketing and patient care.
Sarah serves as the SAMIS Coordinator for the SAMIS Collaborative. In this capacity, Sarah supports the SAMIS Management Group in designing and implementing the SAMIS system for all collaborative members and partners. Sarah also supports the Council with special projects.
Before joining the Florida Children’s Council, Sarah spent eleven years in Florida’s early learning system. As the Provider Relations Manager at the Early Learning Coalition of the Big Bend, she worked in partnership with state and community agencies to serve families and childcare partners in seven counties. Her relationships with childcare providers on the front lines of Florida’s early education system give her unique insight into the needs of Florida’s youngest children. Sarah has over two decades of experience bringing people and systems together. She is passionate about improving Florida child and family outcomes by using data to tell their stories.
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!