National Early Learning Advisory Council

NELAC Overview

Members of The National Early Learning Advisory Council (NELAC)  bring their expertise and passion for early education to serve as advisors to

This council guides curriculum content development, research design, and effective messaging practices to support Waterford’s commitment to excellence and equity in early education. Based on a shared commitment to deliver high-quality early education for every child, NELAC members ensure that our curriculum and messaging align to our mission and values. 

As a branch of Waterford’s Curriculum and Instruction team, NELAC brings together the science of how students learn and the power of stories to foster a love of learning and academic progress. In service of that goal, NELAC members support the organization in building research-based curriculum and measurable academic growth.

Meet the Members

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Daryl Greenfield, PhD

Professor of Psychology & Pediatrics, University of Miami

Dr. Greenfield is a professor of Psychology & Pediatrics at the University of Miami and is an applied developmental psychologist working at the intersection of research, policy, and practice in early childhood education. His work, using science, technology, and engineering (STE) as the foundational focus for improving the school readiness and 21st Century Thinking of at-risk infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, has been supported by multiple federal (The Institute of Education Sciences, The National Science Foundation, the Administration for Children and Families) and private foundations (The Buffett Early Childhood Fund, The Stranahan Foundation, The United Way, The Children’s Trust).

Since 2016 he has served as the STE advisor on the Research to Equitable Practice Advisory Panel of the Head Start National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning, and has been an advisor for 17 states for developing and revising their early learning standards in science and is currently working with California to help make their preschool early learning standards more equitable and better aligned with their infant, toddler and early elementary school standards.

He was one of the invited speakers at the 2016 White House Symposium on STEM in early childhood and on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine Committee that recently published (2022) the consensus volume, “Science and Engineering from Preschool through Elementary Grades: The Brilliance of Children and Strength of Educators.”

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Deborah Bergeron, PhD

Director, Office of Early Childhood Development (ECD) | Office of Head Start (OHS)

Dr. Bergeron (or Dr. B as she is known to students and educators) has spent over thirty years working to support the growth and development of children. She worked in public education as a middle and high school classroom teacher, an elementary and high school administrator and holds a school superintendents license in Virginia. Dr. B also started, grew and eventually sold her own supplemental educational services company.

In 2018, Dr. Bergeron was asked to lead the Office of Head Start and the Office of Early Childhood Development at the Administration for Children and Families in the Department of Health and Human Services. It was here where Dr. B developed her passion for Head Start, Early Head Start and the early learning environment in general.

In January, 2021, Dr. B joined the National Head Start Association as the Deputy Director of Community Engagement and Innovation. Here, she aims to bring the Head Start and Early Head Start community together, provide the necessary support to ensure high
quality programming and be a constant reminder to the folks on the ground that THEY are the backbone of Head Start and Early Head Start. Dr. B advocates for programming that develops the whole child and embraces the value the family has in that process.
“Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher,” is her favorite mantra, compliments of Head Start.

Dr. Bergeron holds a B.S.Ed. from Texas State University, a Master’s Degree in Education
Leadership and a PhD in Education Policy and Education Psychology from George Mason University. She lives in Virginia with her husband and has four awesome children who, although are all grown up, will always be her heart!

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Jennifer D. Turner, PhD

Associate Professor in Reading Education, University of Maryland, College Park

Dr. Turner is an award-winning researcher, teacher educator, and literacy advocate. She has worked for the past 20 years at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she currently serves as Associate Professor in Reading Education; the Director of the Master’s in Reading Education program; and the College of Education ADVANCE Professor. 

Dr. Turner uses arts-based methods (e.g., drawing, collage, photography) in qualitative research that amplifies the future aspirations of Black young people and illuminates future-affirming literature and literacy pedagogies for Black youth in P-12 schools. She has published numerous articles in academic journals and co-authored the book, Change is Gonna Come: Transforming Literacy Education for African American Students

Dr. Turner’s research has been funded by the American Educational Research Association; the William T. Grant Foundation Inaugural Writing Fellowship; the Research Foundation of the National Council on Teachers of English; and the Elva Knight Research Grant (International Literacy Association). Dr. Turner was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA, and was a college access counselor before starting her academic career.

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Faith Rogow, PhD

Founder, Insighters Education

For more than 30 years, Faith Rogow, PhD, has been a leader and innovator in the field of media literacy education. She helped found NAMLE, Project Look Sharp, and the Journal for Media Literacy Education. She is also the author of several books and articles on media literacy education, including the groundbreaking Media Literacy for Young Children: Teaching Beyond the Screen Time Debates (NAEYC 2022).

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Rachel Phillips, PhD

Learning Scientist, Open Educational Resources (OER) Project

Dr. Phillips is a learning scientist who leads research and evaluation efforts for the OER Project, as well as develops curriculum for their courses. She is elementary certified, has taught in K–12 schools, and serves as an adjunct professor for graduate courses in American University’s School of Education. Rachel was formerly Director of Research and Evaluation at, faculty at the University of Washington, and program director for National Science Foundation-funded research. Her work focuses on the intersections of learning sciences and equity in formal educational spaces.

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Roberto Rivera, PhD

Chief Executive Officer, Alliance for the 7th Generation

Dr. Rivera connects positive youth development to equity, equitable SEL and equitable community development using culturally sensitive pedagogy in his educational services. He has spent over ten years in community-based youth development work in Los Angeles, Milwaukee, and Chicago. 

Labeled an “at-risk student” with learning disabilities as a teen and overcame those labels to earn a college degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that he created, and a master’s degree in Youth Development from University of Illinois at Chicago. He completed his PhD in Educational Psychology with a focus on equitable SEL with the University of Ilinois-Chicago. He served as a Research Collaborator for CASEL and as a predoctoral fellow with the Social and Emotional Learning Research Group at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Ever committed to Diversity, Roberto was named one of the “Top Young Change Agents in America” by Search for Common Ground Coalition, he strives toward revolutionizing the way organizations, from schools to corporations, can benefit through the use of more equitable practices. Roberto was named 2018 Forward Under 40 Award Recipient by University of Wisconsin-Madison. His work is part of a permanent exhibit in the Illinois Holocaust Museum under their “Upstander” Exhibit, along with other education and civil rights leaders. He is a loving husband and proud father of three boys: Phoenix, Justice and Lorenzo.

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Silvia Zacarias

Professional Development Consultant, Texas Reading Academies

Silvia has been an educator for over 18 years. Her educational experience includes being a Bilingual Generalist EC-4th grade teacher, Instructional Specialist at a Dual Language campus, National and International Educational Presenter, and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Texas at El Paso and the New Mexico State University. 

Silvia has also participated as a Texas Resource Review Instructional Materials Quality Designer with the Texas Education Agency and was responsible for reviewing and partly trans adapting (1) PreK Spanish Rubrics, (2) Spanish Foundational Literacy K-2, (3) Spanish Language Arts and Reading/SLAR grades 3-6 and, (4) Language Arts and Reading/SLAR grades K-2. Silvia was also a TEKS Resource System Curriculum Writer and Reviewer for the latest Kindergarten ELAR/SLAR Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills.