Moderator: Steve Clemons
Washington Editor-at-Large, The Atlantic
Executive Director, Georgetown Center for Children and Families
Director of Child Welfare and Mental Health, Children's Defense Fund
Vice President, College Board
Director of the Office of Child Care, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Joan Alker is Executive Director at the Center for Children and Families (CCF) and for the past ten years a Research Associate Professor at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Her work focuses on health coverage for low-income children and families, with an emphasis on Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Two of her most recent reports examine premium assistance options in Medicaid and CHIP and the nation’s progress covering children. She has authored numerous reports and studies on a range of issues including Medicaid waivers, child and family coverage, premium assistance and is the principal investigator of a multi-year study on Florida’s Medicaid program.
A frequent speaker and commentator, Alker has over twenty years of experience working on issues affecting low-income families. She holds a Master of Philosophy in politics from St. Antony’s College, Oxford University and a Bachelor of Arts with honors in political science from Bryn Mawr College.
MaryLee Allen is Director of Child Welfare and Mental Health at the Children's Defense Fund. Ms. Allen is responsible for defining and advancing CDF's agenda to keep children safe in nurturing families and communities. Her work focuses on improving policies and practices to better support families in order to prevent problems from occurring and family crises from intensifying and to promote permanent families for children. Her work addresses child abuse and neglect, substance abuse, mental health, domestic violence, foster care and adoption.
Steve Clemons is Washington editor at large for The Atlantic and editor of Atlantic Live. He writes frequently about politics and foreign affairs.
Clemons is a senior fellow and the founder of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank in Washington, D.C., where he previously served as executive vice president. He writes and speaks frequently about the D.C. political scene, foreign policy, and national security issues, as well as domestic and global economic-policy challenges.
Veronica leads the College Board’s Access to Opportunity campaign, the organization’s signature social investment and mobilization effort designed to help students succeed in AP® courses, explore the full range of college options available to them, and attend colleges where they are equipped to succeed without remediation.
Prior to joining the College Board, Veronica served as chief operating officer for the New York City Department of Education, where she was a senior adviser to the chancellor and directed the work of the finance, technology, fundraising, operations, and communications and public affairs teams. Prior to serving as COO, Veronica served as the DOE’s chief financial officer and deputy chief schools officer for operations, overseeing the day-to-day operations for New York City’s 1,700 schools.
Veronica earned her bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and holds a master’s degree in public administration and public policy from Columbia University.
Shannon Rudisill is Director of the Office of Child Care (OCC, formerly the Child Care Bureau [CCB]), where she has focused on raising the bar on quality in child care across the country, particularly for low-income children. From 2000 to 2007, Rudisill served as director of the Division of Technical Assistance at the CCB. As TA Director, she initiated new projects in the areas of infant and toddler care, the social and emotional development of young children, and school readiness. In addition, she built bridges between these early childhood programs and programs at the U.S. Department of Education. Prior to that, she was Special Assistant to ACF Assistant Secretary Olivia Golden and worked extensively on the Clinton Administration’s child care initiative.
During her tenure as OCC director, Rudisill has promoted child care policies and practices that are child-focused, family-friendly and fair to providers. Her accomplishments include putting forward a reform agenda for reauthorization, overhauling the state, territory and tribal child care planning process, and restructuring the OCC TA network. This work has resulted in a CCDF program concentrated on improving health and safety in child care programs, strong professional development and workforce initiatives, quality rating and improvement systems (QRIS) that set standards of excellence for child care providers, and a subsidy system that balances the importance of program integrity with child care access for vulnerable families. Rudisill also works closely with the Department of Education to build a high-quality, integrated early learning system through the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge.
She is a graduate of Duke University and has a Master of social work degree from the George Warren Brown School of Social Work at Washington University in St. Louis.