Elizabeth Burke Bryant, JD (Co-Chair)
Elizabeth has served as Executive Director of Rhode Island KIDS COUNT since it began in 1994. A native of Providence, Rhode Island, Elizabeth received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Vermont and a law degree from the George Washington University Law School. Previous positions include Policy Director for the City of Providence; Housing Court prosecutor; and consultant to Rhode Island Housing, The Rhode Island Foundation, and the Women's Prison Mentoring Project. Elizabeth is Co-Chair of the Rhode Island Early Learning Council, serves on the board of the Partnership for America's Children, and is actively involved in many local and national organizations and efforts including the United Way of Rhode Island, the Alliance for Early Success, and the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. She is the recipient of the Florette Angel National Child Advocate of the Year Award.
Larry Marx (Co-Chair)
Larry Marx has been Executive Director for The Children’s Agenda since 2012. For 30 years, he has served as a leader in campaigns to enact new public policies at the local, state, and federal levels on a wide range of issues, as well as in campaigns for various local, state, and federal elected officials throughout the Midwest. Since 2014, Larry has served on the seven-member Board of Directors of the Partnership for America’s Children, a national federation of 50+ children’s advocacy organizations. He is nationally recognized as social change strategist, convening conferences of national funders and experts on papers he wrote on democracy issues at the Johnson Foundation’s Wingspread in Wisconsin in 2007, and on progressive narrative at the Rockefeller Brothers’ Pocantico Center in New York in 2013. Prior to moving to Rochester in 2010, Larry served as Executive Director of Citizen Action, the largest public interest group in Wisconsin for 12 years. As Executive Director of the Donor Collaborative of Wisconsin, Larry built and coordinated a network of 25 individual major donors in the state which gave $2.3 million over two years to 15 advocacy organizations. In addition to the board of the Partnership for America’s Children, Larry also serves on the board of national USAction Education Fund and on the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester. Larry is married and the proud father of two girls, Natalie and Naomi.
Dr. Veronica C. García (Vice-Chair)
Before becoming executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, Dr. Veronica C. García, Ed.D., served for seven years as New Mexico’s first Cabinet Secretary of Education. As secretary she advocated for the passage of many educational reforms including the state’s Pre-K Act, Hispanic Education Act, programs that extend the school year for at-risk children (K-3 Plus), and rigorous academic standards that were recognized nationally. She also pushed for a comprehensive approach to educational reform by advocating for increased funding for programs such as school-based health clinics, breakfast in the schools, and elementary physical education. Her decades of work within the state’s K-12 education system ranged from teaching in the classroom to principal and regional superintendent in the Albuquerque Public Schools, to associate superintendent and superintendent of the Santa Fe Public Schools. She also served as executive director of New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators.
She has received numerous awards including: the National Governor’s Association Award for Excellence in State Government, New Mexico Superintendent of the Year, New Mexico Coalition of Educational Leaders Hall of Fame, and the Lifetime Achievement Award in Education from Hispanic Magazine. She is a native Spanish speaker and received her doctorate in Educational Leadership from the University of New Mexico. In her position with NMVFC Dr. Garcia has been a strong champion for policies that improve child well-being, and has advocated for New Mexico’s most vulnerable children in families focusing on education, health, economic well-being and supporting families and communities, while keeping an eye on racial and ethnic equity. She is a local, national, and international keynote speaker, having delivered over 1,000 speeches and addresses in her career. Her dissertation, “Ethical Relational Leadership: A New Framework for the Professional Development of Educational Leaders,” has been used by many in the field. Dr. Garcia has written a chapter (“Education 2050”) in a newly released book titled New Mexico 2050, published by the University of New Mexico Press.
Robert C. Fellmeth (Secretary-Treasurer)
Professor Robert C. Fellmeth is a tenured law professor at the University of San Diego (USD) School of Law and is Founder and Executive Director of USD's Center for Public Interest Law and its Children's Advocacy Institute. He is the holder of the Price Chair in Public Interest Law at the USD School of Law, one of two such chairs in the nation. A graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School, Fellmeth was one of the original "Nader's Raiders," organizing the student groups in 1968 as part of the early consumer movement, and directing the Nader Congress Project in 1970-72. As a deputy district attorney and Assistant U.S. Attorney in San Diego from 1973-81, he litigated 22 antitrust actions and founded the nation's first antitrust unit in a district attorney's office. He currently serves on the board of directors of Public Citizen Foundation (Chair from 1994 to 2014), the National Association of Counsel for Children (President of Board from 2010-12), First Star Foundation, and the Maternal and Child Health Access Foundation. In the past he served on the board of directors of Consumers Union and California Common Cause and served as counsel for Voices for America's Children. He has taught at the National Judicial College, the National College of District Attorneys, and the California Judicial College. He has litigated 40 published appellate cases, drafted/sponsored 65 state and federal statutes, authored or co-authored 14 books or treatises, including The Nader Report on the FTC (Baron, 1968), The Politics of Land (Grossman, 1970), California White Collar Crime (with Papageorge) (Tower Publishing, 4th edition 2013), and the law school text Child Rights and Remedies (Clarity Press, 3rd edition, 2011).
MCCOY’s President has over 30 years experience in the youth development field as a youth worker, counselor, caseworker, trainer, and agency executive. He holds a B.A. in History, a MDiv. in Theology, and a M.S. in Marital and Family Therapy. Brandon has guided numerous community planning projects and initiatives in the youth development arena during his career and serves on a variety of community boards and committees. He is a certified trainer in the Advancing Youth Development curriculum; a certified assessor for the Youth Program Quality Assessment/Improvement process; a trained facilitatator for the Sustainability Planning Process, and an adjunct professor for the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. At MCCOY, John is responsible for overall agency management, staff development, strategic planning, partnership and relationship building, and fund development. An avid bicyclist and a voracious reader, Brandon is happily married and the father of one adult daughter.
Melanie R. Bridgeforth, MSW
With over seven years of experience in government and non-governmental social and health policy analysis and development, Melanie R. Bridgeforth joined VOICES for Alabama’s Children as the Executive Director in 2013. In her role as Executive Director, Melanie presides as the organization’s lead spokesperson and chief legislative liaison as well as serves on numerous statewide councils including the State Children’s Policy Council, the state Early Childhood Advisory Council, Alabama Literacy Alliance, and the Board of Directors for the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA). She also serves as a board member of the Partnership for America's Children, representing Alabama at the national level.
A native Alabamian, Melanie has dedicated her entire professional career to advocating for vulnerable populations, in particular the children of our state. Prior to joining VOICES for Alabama’s Children, Melanie served as the Government Relations Director in Alabama for the American Heart Association — an organization she remains dedicated to as a volunteer. During her tenure there, Melanie played a pivotal role in several public policy victories, including passage of numerous smokefree laws in municipalities across Alabama as well as passage of regulation requiring in-hospital heart defect screening of all Alabama newborns to help reduce infant deaths from undetected heart issues. Before joining the American Heart Association, Melanie served as Policy Analyst for VOICES for Alabama’s Children, overseeing public policy, research, grassroots, and legislative activities for the organization. She also took her talents to a national level, serving as policy intern with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Washington, D.C.
Melanie’s passion for public service has not only yielded advocacy wins, but resulted in professional recognition and honors, including the 2012 Excellence in Advocacy award from the American Heart Association; the 2010 King Spirit Honors recipient presented by the Montgomery Advertiser to local leaders striving to create positive change; selection for the 2009 Alabama Leadership Initiative (ALI) class and the 2010-2011 ALI Chair. Melanie earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. She currently serves on the volunteer boards of the Alabama Literacy Alliance and Project Horseshoe Farm, a community-based non-profit in Greensboro, Alabama working to address the needs of children, seniors, and adults with mental illness.
Dana Wolfe Naimark
Dana has been part of the CAA team for nearly 25 years, conducting analysis, raising awareness, and lobbying the state legislature on a wide variety of policy issues that affect parents and children. She was named CEO by the Children’s Action Alliance Board of Directors in December 2006. Dana started her career in Arizona in 1986 working on tax and budget issues for the Arizona state legislature. She earned her master’s in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
Lincoln is a long-time advocate, working to raise awareness, and lobbying the state legislature on a wide variety of policy issues that affect children and families. Lincoln started his career at Voices in 2010, working on health care issues. He was named CEO by the Voices for Utah Children Board of Directors in April 2015.
Lincoln is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, directing the college’s Public Policy Clinic. He serves on numerous boards, including as a Consumer Representative to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and as a member of the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice.
Prior to joining Voices in 2010, Lincoln the Medicaid Policy Director for the Utah Health Policy Project and a Law Clerk for the Honorable Langhorne Keith of the Virginia Circuit Court. Lincoln received his JD from the University of Oregon in 2004 and is a member of the Utah State Bar.
Dr. Robert Sanborn
Dr. Sanborn is the President and CEO of CHILDREN AT RISK. Under his leadership, notable achievements include launching the Public Policy & Law Center, CHILDREN AT RISK Institute, and the Center to End Trafficking and Exploitation of Children; directing significantly increased media attention to the issues championed by the organization; and increasing the organizational capacity to drive macro-level change to improve the lives of Houston’s most defenseless children. He recently received the Houston Area Association for the Education of Young Children “Advocate of the Year Award” and the “Seeds of Hope” award for his work to end poverty at a systematic level through advocacy with community organizations and an increased awareness among public officials and the media.
A noted leader, advocate, and activist for education and children, Dr. Sanborn earned his undergraduate degree at Florida State University and his doctorate at Columbia University in New York City. Before entering the non-profit sector, he had a distinguished career in higher education at institutions such as Rice University and Hampshire College. He has worked and served as a senior leader with many organizations, always bringing with him a focus on innovation, collaborations with like-minded groups, resource developing partnerships, and a belief that all children deserve extraordinary opportunities to succeed.
Jaunita E. Veasy is the founder and Executive Director of The Black Children’s Institute of Tennessee (BCI), the first and only statewide African American child advocacy organization in the United States. She is a veteran in the fields of family and children services, child advocacy, and public policy advocacy. She has over 40 years of professional experience ranging from early childhood education, children and family protective services, juvenile justice, community organizing, and public policy advocacy.
Jaunita served as Executive Director of one of the largest childcare and pre-school centers for the U.S. Air Force in Germany. While living in Delaware, she worked and supervised in every area of Child Protective Services. She served as Director of the Tennessee Juvenile Justice Division of the Tennessee Commission on Children and Youth (TCCY) and as Acting Executive Director of TCCY.
She has served and shared her expertise on many local, statewide, and national committees, task forces, boards, parents, parents' groups, youth groups and community organizations over the years; all of which have enhanced and influenced public policy and social change on behalf of children of color, poor children, and their families. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare from Fort Valley State College in Georgia and a Masters in Management and Personnel from Central Michigan University.