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 board of the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Louisiana Children’s Medical Center, the Louisiana Children’s Cabinet Advisory Board, Bureau of Governmental Research, St. Andrew's Episcopal School. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Louisiana Outdoor Outreach Program (LOOP). Tony has a Master’s and Doctorate in School Psychology from Tulane University and a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Loyola University New Orleans.
Yolanda Brumfield, Director of Finance and Administration
Born in the New Orleans area Yolanda has lived in San Francisco and the Washington, DC area before returning to New Orleans in 2012. Yolanda has over 18 years of accounting and not-for profit experience and brings to Agenda an extensive background in corporate, grant and project budgeting; training and developing staff; grant management; internal controls; and change management. Prior to joining Agenda, Yolanda worked as Director of Finance for US-based international non-profits where she was responsible for establishing and maintaining headquarters’ and field office accounting operations, worked with management and the board in developing strategic financial plans and multi-year forecasts. Yolanda has also worked in public accounting assisting clients with the development and implementation of budgeting concepts. Yolanda holds a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Howard University and is a licensed Certified Public Accountant in Virginia and Louisiana.
Maria Montoya, Director of Policy and Communications
Maria Montoya joins Agenda for Children, as the Director of Policy and Communications, following four years of transformative work with the Recovery School District’s EnrollNOLA team. As the Director of Student Enrollment and most recently Director of Strategic Partnerships and Engagement, Maria was a founding team member of OneApp, the citywide centralized enrollment process. Before entering the Orleans Parish educational landscape, the experienced features reporter covered children and family issues for The Times-Picayune and USA Today’s Life section. In the course of her work as a journalist Maria was nominated both for an individual Pulitzer for a 7-day series on weight loss surgery and as part of the Pulitzer Prize team responsible for community coverage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. When she’s not organizing events for children and families, Maria and her 5-year-old son Press can often be found enjoying Louisiana’s amazing food and festivals.
Elizabeth Kief, Associate Director, Child Care Resource and Referral
A native of Long Island, New York, Elizabeth "Luz" Kief comes to Agenda for Children with more than 22 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, Elizabeth 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/or facilitation of both community and regional trainings and technical assistance activities. She also has extensive experience with varied child and program assessments as a teacher, trainer, and assessor. 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.
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 comes to Agenda for Children with 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.
Tasha Landry, Business Office Assistant
Originally from New Orleans, Tasha is the organization’s Business Office Assistant with over 16 years of service to Agenda for Children. In addition, Tasha plays an active volunteer role for the following organizations: Family & Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, Pyramid Parent Training Center, and Central City Renaissance Alliance.
Teresa Falgoust, KIDS COUNT Program Manager
Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Teresa has held the KIDS Count Program Coordinator position since 2005. Teresa brings 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. Teresa can assist individuals and organizations in identifying what data is available and appropriate for supporting policy arguments, grant proposals and community needs assessments. Teresa has her Bachelor’s in Political Studies from Bard College.
JoAnn Clarey, Associate Director, Child Care Resource and Referral
Having joined the Agenda for Children staff in 2011, JoAnn brings over 25 years experience in early childhood with previous positions including Director of the Children’s Center at Loyola University and Delgado Community College, Adjunct Faculty member in Early Childhood Education at Delgado College and Project Coordinator for LSUHSC’s Child Care Technical Assistance Pilot Project. An accomplished educator and trainer, Joann is a Louisiana Pathways Certified Child Care Specialist Trainer and holds a Master’s of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with specialization in Early Childhood from the University of New Orleans.
New Orleans Early Education Network
Kristen Craig, NOEEN Pilot Administrative Assistant
Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Kristen joined the Agenda for Children team in 2013 as the New Orleans Early Education Network Administrative Assistant. Since her graduation in 2010, Kristen has gained extensive experience in data collection and reporting, and she is very enthusiastic about bringing her skills to a non-profit setting. Kristen received her Bachelor’s in Political Science from Tulane University.
Child Care Resource and Referral Team, Region 1, New Orleans
Dr. Bridget Rey, Region 1 Coordinator
A New Orleans native, Bridget comes to Agenda with extensive experience as a school psychologist in Orleans Parish Public Schools and the Recovery School District. Prior to assuming the role of Parent Referral Specialist, Bridget interned with Quality Care for Children, a Child Care Resource and Referral agency in Atlanta. She loves working with parents of young children to emphasize the importance of laying a strong educational foundation for their children. Bridget holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Xavier University, an M.A. and Specialist in Education from the University of Minnesota, and a Ph. D. in Special Education from Southern University and A & M College in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Racquel Hayes McKay, Child Care Resource and Referral, Technical Assistant/Trainer
A native of New Orleans, Racquel joined the Agenda for Children team in 2009 and has experience as an Early Head Start Caregiver, Preschool Teacher and Family Service Worker. In addition to her role as CCR&R Assistant Director, Raquel is a Level II Pathways certified trainer and also provides technical assistance in early childhood programs. Racquel holds a BA in Child Development from Texas Woman’s University and an AA in Early Childhood Education from Delgado Community College. Racquel is an active board member of the Greater New Orleans AEYC, is a certified Family Life Educator through the National Council on Family Relations and participates in the Franklin Avenue Baptist Church Worship Service Child Care Ministry.
Olayeela Daste, Child Care Resource and Referral, Referral Program Assistant
Although she was born in Brooklyn, New York, Olayeela has called New Orleans home since she was a toddler. As one of the longest serving Agenda for Children staff members, Olayeela has extensive experience working in the early childhood field as a trainer, educator and resource for child care centers and families. Olayeela earned her Bachelor’s degree from Roger Williams University in Rhode Island, as part of the Ashé Cultural Arts Center Unbound program. Olayeela is an active and beloved oral historian and storyteller with multiple organizations, faculty of the Institute of Cultural Education and founding member of the UMOJA Committee Inc. and its annual event, Celebration of the African-American Child.
Michelle Eslick, Child Care Resource and Referral, Technical Assistant/Trainer
Born and raised in New Orleans, Michelle joined the Agenda for Children team in July 2014. Michelle spent some time in North Carolina after Hurricane Katrina and is delighted to be back home. She has over 15 years of experience working with at risk children and families. Michelle has held various positions in early childhood education, including lead toddler/preschool teacher in a lab school, CCR&R Behavioral Specialist, and a mental health provider for young children and their families. Michelle has a BA and MA from the University of New Orleans in Sociology with a concentration in Child and Family.
Kathleen S. Lee, Child Care Resource and Referral, Technical Assistant/Trainer
A native New Orleanian, Kathleen has over 25 years of experience in the field of Early Childhood Education. Prior to joining Agenda for Children in 1996, she was the Director of St. Mark’s Child Care Center and Director of Emergency Child Care for United Urban Ministry Program. She also assisted in opening the first child care center on a high school campus in New Orleans, where she later served as the Director. Kathleen has also served as a board member for 10 years for the Hume’s Child Development Centers and for the past 20 years has served as the chairperson of the volunteers for the Greater New Orleans Association for the Education of the Young Child Conference. Kathleen has her Associate’s Degree in Early Childhood and is a Level I Pathways certified trainer.
Elisha Thompson, Child Care Resource and Referral, Technical Assistant/Trainer
Born and raised in the New Orleans Area, Elisha joins Agenda for Children with a passion for professionalizing the field of Early Childhood Education. As a dual-certified Pre-K through Third Grade & Computer Literacy teacher, Elisha has extensive experience in building a strong foundation for children across the New Orleans Area. Prior to joining Agenda for Children, Elisha held positions as a TAP Mentor Teacher and Educare Infant/Toddler Master Teacher, where she trained and coached teachers on a regular basis. Elisha holds a Master of Education degree, with a specialization in Learning and Technology from Western Governors University. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Dillard University in Early Childhood Education and an Associate of Arts from Delgado Community College. Elisha is trained in the Program for Infant/Toddler Care and is a Level III Louisiana Pathways Certified Trainer.
Kenya C. Harris, Child Care Resource and Referral, Program Assistant
Originally from New Orleans, Kenya began with Agenda for Children as a receptionist in 2006. She is now the Program Assistant in New Orleans. Kenya is an integral part of the technical assistance team and is responsible for scheduling coach’s visits to early education programs, maintaining databases and ensuring the program’s compliance with grant requirements. She is proud to be part of the Agenda team 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 is currently pursuing a Child Development Associate credential.
Child Care Resource and Referral Team, Region 3: Northshore/Mandeville
Glenda Bennett, Region 3 Coordinator, Technical Assistant/Trainer
Glenda joined the organization in 2011 and has over twenty one 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.
Emily Trout, Child Care Resource and Referral, Program Assistant
Originally from California, Emily’s lived in New Orleans for 13 years and joined Agenda for Children in 2012. Prior to that, Emily worked for 5 years at Wee Wisdom Learning Centers as the Office Coordinator. Emily has an Associate’s degree in Graphic Design from Delgado Community College and has several years of experience working as a freelance graphic designer.
Child Care Resource and Referral Team, Region 4: Houma/Thibodaux
Dianna Constant, Child Care Resource and Referral, Region 4 Coordinator
A long-time resident of Thibodaux, Louisiana, Dianna has been part of the Agenda for Children team since 1990. Dianna has over forty years 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. Dianna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology/Youth and Family Services from Nichols State University and is a Level II Pathways certified trainer. Dianna serves on the board of United Way of St. Charles and volunteers with the Bayou Land Families Helping Families.
Holly Harris, Child Care Resource and Referral, Technical Assistant/Trainer
A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, Holly Harris comes to Agenda for Children with more than 20 years of Early Care and Education experience. She has direct teaching experience with infants and toddlers, as well as experience in a full inclusion preschool program. Additionally, she has held a variety of management positions within for-profit and non-profit center-based programs, including Director, Training Specialist, Curriculum Specialist, Education Specialist and Training Manager. Holly moved into the Resource and Referral sector midway into her career and she has consistently offered technical assistance and training in various capacities ever since. She is knowledgeable on a range of early childhood assessments and tools, to include TS Gold, CLASS and ERS. Holly holds an MA in Early Childhood from Concordia University in St Paul, Minnesota and a BS in Pre-Kindergarten Education from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio
Brandi Joshua, Child Care Resource and Referral, Technical Assistant/Trainer
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 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.
Ashley Plaisance, Program Assistant/Technical Assistant
Born and raised in Patterson, Louisiana, Ashley joined the Agenda team in 2015 as the CCR&R Region 4 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.