Agenda for Children

Meet the Staff

Dr. Anthony Recasner
CEO

A native of New Orleans, Dr. Anthony “Tony” Recasner took over the helm of Agenda for Children in January 2011 after almost twenty years of working to reform public education in New Orleans. Tony is co-founder of FirstLine Schools, a charter school management organization which opened the city’s first charter school (New Orleans Charter Middle School) and now operates five charter schools. Tony’s work has consistently demonstrated how to educate disadvantaged children by challenging and engaging them academically, while effectively addressing their social and emotional needs. In January 2009 at President George W. Bush’s farewell address to the nation, Tony was recognized by the President for his work and for serving as an example of heroism for all Americans.

Tony serves on the boards of LCMC Health, Children's Hospital, New Pathways New Orleans, Louisiana Outdoor Outreach Program (LOOP), and the GPOA Foundation. He also serves on the Louisiana Health Care Commission and is a member of the Louisiana Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council. Tony is a past board chair of the Institute of Mental Hygiene and the Greater New Orleans Foundation and he has served on the boards of the Bureau of Governmental Research and Baptist Community Ministries.

Tony is an Aspen Institute Fellow (Pahara-Aspen Education Fellowship) and an Annie E. Casey Foundation Fellow (Leadership Institute for State-Based Advocates). In 2015, Tony received the Scott Cowen Service Award from the Tulane University Alumni Association. In 2016, he received the Loyola University Alumni Association’s Adjutor Hominum Award. Tony has also been recognized by the National Council for Jewish Women, the Bureau of Governmental Research, the Orleans Public Education Network, and the Posse Foundation for his contributions to public education in New Orleans.

Tony has a master’s degree and doctorate in School Psychology from Tulane University and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University New Orleans.

 

Jennifer Roberts
President
Executive Director, New Orleans Early Education Network

Jen Roberts is a seasoned nonprofit executive that has more than 20 years of experience in education, nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy.

She currently serves as the President of Agenda for Children, an advocacy organization founded in 1984 to improve the well-being of Louisiana’s children. In this role, she also serves as the Executive Director of the New Orleans Early Education Network (NOEEN), a public/private partnership created by local early childhood practitioners, New Orleans Public Schools, and the LA Department of Education to increase access to early childhood education, improve the quality of early learning experiences for young children, and connect organizations who work with and on the behalf of young children to resources in Orleans Parish.

Jen previously spent eight years in philanthropy at Louisiana’s largest private philanthropic foundation. She worked with local and national funders to leverage over $100 million dollars of new investment into New Orleans for local nonprofits working with or on behalf of children and youth and co-founded a local/national funder collaborative. Her career has also included work in an education policy start-up, higher education, workforce development, k-12 education classrooms and administration, and youth development programming.

She served on the national Leadership Council for the Aspen Institute’s Forum for Community Solutions Opportunity Youth Incentive Fund, was an inaugural fellow of the Southeastern Council of Foundation’s Advanced Leadership Institute, and was a member of the 2015 New Orleans Regional Leadership Institute class. In 2019, she was named an Aspen Institute Economic Opportunities Fellow focusing on racial equity in the New Orleans workforce and founded two new ventures, the Early Childhood Opportunity (ECHO) Fund, a grantmaking program for early learning centers across Southeast Louisiana, and the New Orleans Early Education Research Alliance with faculty from Tulane University.

She currently serves on the State’s Early Childhood Care and Education Advisory Council and is on the boards of The Cowen Institute at Tulane University and BGR, an 85+ year-old private, nonprofit, independent research organization. A native of the Gulf Coast, she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies from Bryn Mawr College and a Master’s degree in Education Policy and Management from Harvard University. She has called New Orleans home since 2002.

 

Managing Director, Center for Early Childhood Programs and Professional Development

Anna E. Williamson comes to Agenda for Children with fifteen years of experience working in education and education reform. Most recently, Anna was a school administrator and Assessment Coordinator at a large early childhood program in Houston, Texas. Prior to Houston, Anna lived in Washington, DC and was Director, Community Development at the national nonprofit First Book before becoming Associate Director, Stewardship and Engagement at The CityBridge Foundation. Anna completed her M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education and Human Development at The George Washington University in 2013. 

 

Aimee Grainer
Director, City Wide Network Activities
Deputy Director, New Orleans Early Education Network

Aimee Grainer was born in New Orleans and raised in Austin, Texas, along with her three siblings.
Upon returning to the city of her birth in 2011, Aimee began her career as a leader in public education, working first for the Recovery School District, and later for the Orleans Parish School Board. In addition to being an advocate for educational equity, transparency, and accountability, Aimee enjoys time spent outdoors at Audubon and City Parks, reading, letter-writing, and serving the local homeless community. 

 

Analiezel Hall
Early Childhood Coach

A native of the Philippines, Analiezel lived in Asia until her family relocated to Louisiana during her senior year of high school. Analiezel’s early aspirations to become an educator developed into a strong desire to help disadvantaged children by providing compensatory education or academic development to ensure their success. She has over 20 years of experience in Elementary and Early Childhood Education. She is a former St. Tammany public school and Head Start teacher, an assessor for Louisiana’s Quality Rating System, and a Head Start Pre-K Specialist. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from the University of New Orleans and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler, Pre-K), Certified MMCI Pre-K Instructor, Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level III

 

Anita Redding
Early Childhood Coach

A native New Orleanian, Anita joined Agenda's team in 2015, with over 19 years of experience in the early child hood field. Anita has worked as a center director for Head Start and Early Head Start, an instructor at North Shore Technical Community College, a CDA advisor and PDE specialist. Anita holds a bachelor's degree in Substance Abuse from Southern University of New Orleans and an master's degree in Early Childhood Education form Concordia University of St. Paul Minnesota.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler, Pre-K), Certified MMCI Infant-Toddler Instructor, Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level III

 

Ashley Plaisance
Program Assistant

Born and raised in Patterson, Louisiana, Ashley joined the Agenda team in 2015 as the Program Assistant/Technical Assistant. Ashley has experience as an early childhood teacher, as well as extensive experience working as an administrative assistant. Ashley holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology, with a minor in child and family studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

 

 

 

 

Brandi Joshua
Early Childhood Coach 

A native of St. James Parish, Brandi has resided in Thibodaux since 2008. She has over nine years of early childhood experience as a lead teacher and child care center director. Prior to joining the Agenda team in 2012, she served as the Director at the Moses Child Care Center and previously worked as a lead teacher at St. James Head Start. Brandi holds an associate’s degree in Child Development and Preschool Management from Nicholls State University, and volunteers as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Lafourche Parish. Brandi has a bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Social Science from Nicholls State.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler and Pre-K), CLASS Affiliate Trainer (Infant, Pre K) , Certified MMCI Pre-K Instructor, Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level II

 

Caitlin Boley
Program Manager, New Orleans Early Education Network

Caitlin was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee. She is a graduate of Pace University (NYC) with dual degrees in both Political Science and Philosophy and Religious Studies. Upon moving to New Orleans, Caitlin joined the AmeriCorps program Serve Louisiana, serving at NetWork Volunteers, a volunteer management nonprofit. She eventually transitioned to a full-time role at NetWork as the Director of Service-Learning and Community Engagement, developing and managing volunteer programs, relationships, and service-learning curriculums. Caitlin is excited to apply the knowledge and skills she's gained to support Louisiana's children and families. She is particularly passionate about thoughtful relationship building, restorative and trauma-informed practices, and building equitable institutions. In her free time, you can find her biking, playing the trumpet and the bass, or reading a good book.

 

Cherrie Barthelemy
Senior Accountant

Born and raised in New Orleans, Cherrie is happy to return home after living in Washington, DC and Memphis, TN for the last seventeen years.  She has over 20 years of accounting, budgeting and financial management experience, in government, corporate as well as non-profit. Cherrie is excited to be a part of an organization that works to improve the lives of Louisiana’s children and families. Cherrie has a bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Xavier University.

 

Denea Laffoon
Early Childhood Coach

Born and raised in Inglewood, California, Denea has over a decade of experience teaching infants, toddlers and preschoolers in California, Nevada and New Orleans. In her previous position, she was promoted from an infant and toddler teacher to Education Coordinator, which allowed her to serve as a peer coach for the infant and toddler staff at a Type III early learning center. She also participated in the MyTeachingPartner (MTP) program, through which she provided teachers 

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler, Pre-K), MTP Coach, Certified Infant/Toddler MMCI Instructor, Family Engagement Credentialed Administrator, Inter-Rater Reliable by Teaching Strategies GOLD, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level Iwith intensive, personalized CLASS coaching and support. She holds an associate's degree in Early Childhood Education from Santa Monica College.

 

Dianna Constant
Regional Coordinator, Child Care Resource and Referral

A long-time resident of Thibodaux, Louisiana, Dianna has been part of Agenda's team since 1990. She has over forty years of experience in early childhood education. She spent twenty years directing and operating her own child care center and has more than two decades of experience as a trainer and technical assistance advisor for early childhood programs. She serves on the board of United Way of St. Charles and is actively involved with the Parish Networks in New Orleans and Houma supporting interaction improvements in Early Child Care Center and has served on the Child Care Health Care Consultant board since 2000. Dianna holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Youth and Family Services from Nichols State University.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler, Pre-K), CLASS Affiliate Trainer (Pre K), Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies, Child Care Health Consultant, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level II

 

Elizabeth Kief
Associate Director, Early Childhood Professional Development and Continuing Education

A native of Long Island, New York, Elizabeth "Luz" Kief has more than 30 years of experience in the Early Care and Education field. She has direct teaching experience in full inclusion preschool and self-contained early childhood special education classrooms. While working in a regional CCR&R in southwest Florida, Luz held positions as a Resource and Referral Specialist, Infant/Toddler Specialist, Program Coordinator, and Assistant Education Director where she was responsible for supervision of directly operated early care and education sites and the development, provision, and facilitation of both community and regional training and technical assistance activities. Elizabeth has a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and has taken graduate level coursework in early childhood special education and general special education.

Certifications include: Certified CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler, Pre K), Affiliate CLASS Trainer (Toddler, Pre K), Inter-rater Reliable in GOLD,Teaching Strategies APT trainer for GOLD, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level II

 

Emily Madeira 
Administrator Coordinator, New Orleans Early Education Network

Emily is from a town just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Prior to her move to New Orleans, she worked in Washington, DC advocating and fundraising to support social justice issues. Since her move to New Orleans, she has worked as a Program Manager for the Start The Adventure In Reading (STAIR), a non-profit that helps 1st-3rd graders reach grade-reading level, and as a Executive Assistant/Operations Manager for True School, an educational start-up that empowers educators to create bottom-up change within their classrooms. Additionally, she has worked in the enrollment departments at the Recovery School District and the Orleans Parish School Board. She is a graduate of Salisbury University in Maryland where she received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Emily is currently pursuing a masters in social work at Tulane University. 

 

Gabrielle Izzo
Coordinator of Early Chilldhood Program Quality 

Gabrielle "Gabby" Izzo is from Boston, MA and has called New Orleans home for the past 10 years. A strong advocate of early childhood education, she believes in supporting our teachers to learn and understand the importance of education for children birth to five. In her role, she ensures all of Orleans Parish CLASS observations are completed and held at high quality standard. She has earned Preschool and Toddler CDAs, a Louisiana Ancillary Certificate and is currently in her second year at Ashford University where she will obtain her bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler and Pre-K), CLASS Affiliate Trainer (Infant, Pre K), MTP Coach, Certified MMCI Pre-K Instructor, Inter-Tater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level I

 

Glenda Bennett
Interim Regional Coordinator, Childcare Resource and Referral 

Glenda joined the organization in 2011 and has over 21 years of experience in the early childhood education field. In her tenure as an early childhood professional, Glenda has held several leadership positions with increasing levels of responsibility and programmatic oversight. She has worked in such diverse locations as Germany, Texas, Alabama, Kentucky and most recently in Robert and New Orleans, Louisiana. Most recently, she has served as Assistant Director at the Stennis Child Development Center, and Director of the Child Enrichment Center in Kentucky. Glenda holds a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler, Pre-K), Certified MMCI Infant and Toddler Instructor, Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies, Teaching Strategies APT trainer for GOLD, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level III

 

Jackie Rodriguez
Early Childhood Coach

New Orleans native, Jackie has lived in several different states and abroad during her travel as both a Marine and a military spouse. She has more than 20 years of experience in the early childhood education field with Head Start, military child development centers, and private child care providers. Her roles have included a New Parent Support Specialist for the Naval Support Activity in New Orleans and the Training & Curriculum Specialist for a military child development center. Jackie has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Irvine Valley College, CA, a bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Phycology from Loyola University in New Orleans, as well as a master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies from Walden University.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler and Pre-K), Certified Infant/Toddler MMCI Instructor, Inter-Rater Reliable for TS GOLD, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level III, American Red Cross First Aid/CPR/AED Instructor

 

Jessica Harris
Interim Program Manager, City Seats

Born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana, Jessica has over 16 years of experience teaching Early Childhood Education in Texas, Alabama and New Orleans, LA. She has 12 years of experience working in Early Head Start as a lead teacher and education supervisor. She has an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Delgado Community College and a bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Southern University at New Orleans.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler and Pre-K), Inter-Rater Reliable for TS GOLD, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level II

 

Joette Timmerman
Early Childhood Coach

Born in Louisiana, Joette has over 18 years in the early childhood education field. She began teaching as a Family Childcare Provider. After Hurricane Katrina she moved to Texas where she was a Pre-k Lead Teacher in Conroe, Texas for 10 years. In 2015 she moved back to her home town and became a Certified Reliable Observer for Toddler CLASS and Pre-K CLASS and has observed in St. Tammany, Livingston, Tangipahoa and Orleans Parishes. She has also worked as an Enrichment Teacher at a home school center in Mandeville. Joette has been serving in churches as a Sunday School Teacher and is also a volunteer for St. Joseph’s Hospice. She also enjoys writing children’s books, one that she has shared with her previous school in Texas.

Certifications include: Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler and Pre-K), Inter-Rater Reliable in GOLD by Teaching Strategies, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level I

 

Kenneth Francis
Director, Child Advocacy and Policy Center 

A native of Brooklyn, NY, Kenny first came to New Orleans for what he thought would be a two-year adventure as a Teach for America corps member, teaching Kindergarten. However, like many before him, the incredible people and specifically the children of New Orleans became a part of his soul. After his corps service ended, he remained in the city and continued on as an early childhood educator teaching Kindergarten and Pre-kindergarten at several schools across the city. These experiences taught him the paramount importance that a child’s early educational experience plays not just in their academic development, but life outcomes. Most recently, he was the Director of School Support and Improvement for the Orleans Parish School Board working to increase access to resources and build equity in our public school system. Kenny enjoys indulging in all of the great music and delectable food New Orleans has to offer and can also be found hosting “Resistance Radio New Orleans” a radio show and podcast that centers on New Orleans and Louisiana state politics. Kenny has his bachelor's degree in History from the University of Virginia.

 

Kenya Harris
Program Assistant 

Originally from the New Orleans area, Kenya began with Agenda for Children in 2006. She is the Program Administrative Assistant in New Orleans region. Kenya is an integral part of the Resource & Referrals, Technical Assistance and Training Department team. She is proud to be part of the Agenda because it allows her to support the growth and development of Louisiana's children in the early stages of their lives through the quality of care children and families receive. Kenya holds a Child Development Associate credential.  

 

Liz Santos
Director of Operations 

Liz claims Bronx, NY and Paterson, NJ as her hometowns and New Orleans as her home of seven years. She has managed operations and finance for nonprofits across New Orleans, building strong systems of accountability, ensuring efficient internal processes and procedures, and managing significant organizational transitions. Recently serving at the Cowen Institute of Tulane University, she created and implemented new financial management systems, created a staff handbook including new policies for payroll and expenses, expanded the internship program to include four local universities, and launched the organization's first diversity, equity and inclusion initiative. Liz has also served as the Founding Director of Operations with Living School, where she worked with a team of motivated individuals to help launch a New Orleans equity-focused, project-based learning high school in the East of New Orleans. As a Certified Diversity Professional with the Society for Diversity, she is committed to ensuring diversity, equity and inclusion live throughout all aspects of an organization’s structures, processes, and systems. She believes everyone deserves to feel safe, respected, and comfortable to be their true selves. 

 

Natalie Reich
Program Assistant, New Orleans Early Education Network 

Natalie is from Arlington, VA, right outside of Washington, DC. She has previously worked with the Urban Institute and the Louisiana Budget Project, and is a strong advocate for equitable social policy. Although she is not a New Orleans native, she has developed a deep love and appreciation for the city and its people. She is proud to be a part of the Agenda team and to be supporting the growth of early childhood care and education in Louisiana. She recently graduated from Tulane University and holds a bachelor's degree in Political Science and Social Policy. 

 

Nicole Cousizan
Director of Finance and Accounting 

A native of Slidell, Nicole "Nikki" Cousizan joined Agenda in October 2019. She is excited to return home after living in Lafayette, LA and then Houston, TX for the last 18 years. Nikki has 15+ years of experience in nonprofit accounting, finance, grants management, budgeting, etc. She has 10+ years in executive leadership and been responsible for all aspects of organization’s finance functions including accounting, audit, financial planning and analysis, and strategic planning/management. Her skill has been in health care, education, and the nonprofit sectors. Prior to Agenda, she was the Chief Financial Officer of a Federally Qualified Health Center in Houston, TX where she was responsible for the financial management of an organization that offered a wide range of healthcare and social services for indigent, under-served and disenfranchised individuals in the greater Houston Area.

Nikki has a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Prairie View A&M, a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and, a B.S. in Finance from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Nikki attended the University of California – Los Angeles where she completed the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Johnson & Johnson Health Care Executive Program—a Management Development Program for Executives of Community-Based Health Care Organizations. She also completed Leadership Iberia where she was recognized as being a well-informed leader exhibiting commitment to community involvement and selected as a participant of Leadership Iberia XIV to affect positive change in the Greater Iberia Parish area. In 2015 Nikki was selected as a Top 50 Black Health, Medical & Wellness Professional in Houston, TX where she was recognized for being a well-informed leader and named as one of the top up and coming health, medical, and wellness professionals in the Houston Metro area. Nikki is also actively involved and committed to community service and empowerment. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. 

 

Tara Zapp
Assistant Director, Administration for the Early Childhood Programs 

Tara is the Assistant Director of Administration at Agenda for Children. She has eight years of experience working with children and family services. She has facilitated and managed education, child protection, and disaster management programs for families in Louisiana, New York City, Somalia, Kenya, Uganda, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Having lived in many countries and cities, she is thrilled to call New Orleans home and be part of Louisiana's efforts to bring quality early education to all its residents. She holds a Master’s of Science in Policy and Non Profit Management from The New School University.

 

Tasha Landry
Business Office Assisstant 

Originally from New Orleans, Tasha has supported Agenda’s team for over 16 years. She coordinates payroll, invoice payments, supplies, and office logistics. Tasha is an active volunteer the Family & Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, Pyramid Parent Training Center, and Central City Renaissance Alliance.

 

Teresa Falgoust
Director, Data Research and Analytics 

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Teresa joined Agenda's team in 2005. Teresa has expertise in accessing and using data on child well-being in Louisiana, including data on economic security, education, early education, juvenile justice, health and child welfare. She is a Louisiana ACE educator and serves on the Steering Committee of the New Orleans Grade Level Reading Campaign and the PRAMS Advisory Committee. Teresa has her bachelor’s degree in Political Studies from Bard College.

 

Tiffany Wallace
Early Childhood Coach

Tiffany is a native of New Orleans and has over 13 years of early childhood experience. Prior to Agenda she worked as a preschool teacher and was promoted to be a Early Childhood Coach. Tiffany holds an Associate of Art in Early Childhood Education from Delgado Community College as well as a bachelor's degree from Southern University at New Orleans.

Certified Reliable CLASS Observer (Infant, Toddler, Pre K), Inter-Rater Reliable for TS GOLD, Louisiana Pathways Trainer Level II

 

 

 

News at Agenda: