Board Members

Amie Whitcomb

Amie has 26 years of experience working in the field of early
childhood education and social service. She has been a teacher, parent and Director at the Bristol Family Center throughout her career. Amie has a Degree in Early Childhood Education and is passionate about supporting children and families to be resilient and connected. She loves trips to the ocean and enjoys many outdoor activities with her husband, children and dogs. Amie’s deep connection in the Early Care and learning space in Addison ensures the ECLP will benefit from her insight and knowledge.

Welcome Amie!

Barb Frankowski

Barb Frankowski is a primary care pediatrician, recently retired from clinical practice in Burlington, VT after 33 years. Her practice was affiliated with the UVM Children’s Hospital, where medical students, residents and other trainees learned about primary care.  The patients she cared for ranged in age from newborns to young adults, and came from all socioeconomic backgrounds.  Burlington is a refugee resettlement city, so patients came from across the world, making her practice much more racially and culturally diverse than the typical VT practice.  Barb has a great love of adolescents, and worked closely with schools and school nurses in the Burlington School District, serving as the health consultant and helping with sexuality education for 20 years.  She also worked with schools statewide and nationally; serving on the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on School Health Executive Committee for many years, and currently stays active as their Newsletter co-editor.  She also started several school based health centers in Burlington schools, including at the high school. Academically, Barb has been affiliated with the Vermont Children’s Health Improvement Program (VCHIP) since the early 2000’s. VCHIP assists a variety of child-serving providers in VT to work on quality improvement initiatives in a peer-supportive way, using standard techniques (such as plan-do-study-act cycles and run charts) that have improved the health and well being of children and families in VT.  Topics have included depression screening in adolescents, developmental screening in children 0-3 years old, asthma care, and adolescent strengths.  Barb worked with her colleague Paula Duncan M.D. to teach medical providers, as well as others working with adolescents, to use a strengths-based asset approach rather than a problem-based point of view.  Over the years, this expanded to include family strengths and resilience.  This is work that Barb feels passionate about, and continues to pursue in retirement. Barb lives in Jericho, VT with her husband, and enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, backcountry skiing, and a variety of outdoor adventures.  She enjoys visiting her daughters and granddaughters in Texas.

Dr. Cheryl Mitchell

Dr. Cheryl Mitchell lives on a three-generation sheep farm; home base for her teaching, research, and social justice work. Her particular interests are issues that affect vulnerable families (child care, health care, education, social policy, housing, immigration, youth justice and economic justice). She is fascinated by the relationships between people, place, spirit, and social action. She co-created the Addison County Parent/Child Center, the Vermont Parent/Child Center Network, the Addison County Community Trust (a housing and land preservation trust), the Vermont Children’s Forum (now Voices for Vermont’s Children), the Vermont Early Childhood Educator Licensure Project, and the Addison County Farm Worker Coalition. Cheryl was the co-creator of Otter Creek Child Center, Bristol Family Center, and as the 3rd director of the Mary Johnson Child Care Center, she introduced the full inclusion, after-school, and arts in the pre-school programs.She served for ten years as Deputy Secretary of the Agency of Human Services under Governor Howard Dean. She has taught courses at UVM, CCV, St. Michael’s College, Union Institute and University, and Middlebury. She is currently President of Treleven, Inc. and serves on the Boards of Nomadicare, and Beacon Hill Friends House.

Darla Senecal

Darla Senecal is the Regional Coordinator for Rutland and Addison Counties of Building Bright Futures. Darla is a native Vermonter, who grew up in Milton, VT and attended college at Johnson State and in 2018 graduated from the Snelling Institute for Government- Early Childhood Leadership Program. She currently works as the Regional Coordinator for Addison and Rutland Counties for Building Bright Futures, after leaving the post of Recreation Director for the Town of Bristol, VT. During her time there, 17 years, she was called upon to do a variety of tasks, from leading various classes including fitness, theater, and outdoor adventure to organizing community events. Including a yearlong effort to upgrade and create an accessible playground on the Town Green. She has extensive experience in coordinating and engaging with diverse groups to achieve positive change on a variety of initiatives. She is at her best when working to bring community together for a common goal.  Darla spent 10 years coaching youth at Mount Abraham Union high School. She also ran a home-based childcare for several years and volunteers regularly in a number of community efforts. Darla Lives in Bristol, VT with fiancé John. She enjoys spending time with her three sons Matthew, Ryan and Casey, three grandchildren and her precocious cat named Angus. She can often be found paddling waterways around Vermont in her kayak.

Esther Thomas

“I am Esther Thomas – a mother to two beautiful souls, doing
life with an amazing partner, a community leader and work full time. I moved to Vermont in June 2019 and am grateful I made that decision. My passion is my family, friends and community. I love to go on walks, color and love treating myself to juice amour in town.” Esther brings a wealth of experience with her, and we very much look forward to working closely with her.

Dr. Johana “Jody” Kashiwa Brakeley

Dr. Johana “Jody” Kashiwa Brakeley is board certified in the pediatric subspecialty known as Developmental–Behavioral Pediatrics (DBPeds). Prior to specializing, she spent 25 years as a primary care pediatrician in Middlebury, Vermont. Following primary care, Dr. Brakeley was a staff physician at the Vermont Department of Health, Child Development Clinic for fourteen years. She has suspended her private DBPeds practice in Middlebury to help care for her grandchildren Her special interests are attention regulation issues (such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder [ADHD]), autism spectrum disorders, behavioral challenges, temperament, executive skills, and general aspects of brain development. Appreciating the social, emotional, behavioral, mental and physical health effects related to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and how these challenges are balanced by building strengths and resilience inform her perspective. She has a keen interest in collaborating with local and state partners to develop cohesive community systems of care that improve the lives of children and families.

Kathryn Torres

Kathryn Torres is the Co-Founder of Shine Literacy, South Africa Kathryn completed a Montessori Diploma in London in 1994 and continued her education at Roehampton University (Froebel College, London) where she obtained her BA ED & Early Years Education as well as an Honours and Master’s degree in Early Childhood Development. Her dissertation focused on the intersection where health and education meet in the first 1000 days of life, from conception to two years old After 12 years in South Africa, Kathryn and her family have recently moved to Vermont, where she has been a summer visitor for nearly 30 years.  She credits the deep social inequality she witnessed in South Africa as the driving force behind her social justice and political awareness, and is delighted to meet a collaborative team of ECE professionals where she can add her voice and expertise to the overall wellbeing of the youngest children and their families in Vermont. In her spare time, Kathryn and her family love to enjoy the natural beauty of their surroundings.

Shari Johnson

Shari is a graduate of Middlebury college ( class of 1968)
where she earned a BA with honors in History. She continued her education at Notre Dame College. Shari was a Social Studies teacher for over twenty years, and was coordinator and department chair in History, Humanities and Human Psychology in New Hampshire. Shari retired to Vermont in 2008 and over the years she has been extremely active on numerous local boards including the Sheldon Museum, Friends of the Art Museum at Middlebury College and is an Extension Master Gardener. Currently, Shari sits on the Addison County Parent Child Center and Middlebury Community Garden boards and holds an appointed position as a member of the Development Review Board in Cornwall, Vermont. As her resume indicates, Shari’s major passion is gardening, with tennis and cross-country skiing a close second. We are delighted to invite Shari to join the Early Care and Learning Partnership and look forward to working closely with her.