In expanding Early Childhood Education services, Metropolitan promotes two Directors of Early Learning
As the needs of our children and families we serve grow more complex, Metropolitan is evolving to meet those needs; we’re working with more community partners, opening more classrooms, and adding more home visiting services.
In growing our Early Childhood Education (ECE) services across the agency in both the city and the suburban areas, we’re pleased to share the recent promotion of two Metropolitan team members to Director of Early Learning positions in order to best provide the highest quality services for our clients. Jennifer Alexander, most recently Program Director for ECE in Chicago, will focus on our Chicago centers, and Nicole (Nikki) Cameron, most recently Program Director for ECE in DuPage, will focus on our suburban centers.
Jennifer and Nikki will oversee Early Learning business development and growth strategies, program standardization and sustainability, partner relationships, work flows and quality, local and state planning and initiatives, and innovation and strategic initiatives. They will each work with an Associate Director of Early Learning, who will focus on the day-to-day operations of Early Learning programs.
Jennifer Alexander has worked with Metropolitan since 2007, first as the education coordinator of our center-based work and in more recent years as the Program Director for ECE in Chicago. Jennifer has Masters Degrees in Education Leadership and Administration and in Early Childhood Education. Jennifer has her ECE Type 04 and Type 75 Teaching Certificates and an ESL Endorsement. She most recently was a Barbara Bowman Leadership Fellow (2017 cohort); a well-respected and coveted fellowship in the state of Illinois.
Jennifer’s demonstrated leadership can best be seen through the accomplishments of her staff. She has created a lead team and teaching staff who consistently achieve NAEYC accreditation and Gold level designation in the ExceleRate Illinois system, while maintaining programming in excellent standing with funders. Jennifer has also been the go-to person for Chicago’s Mayor Emanuel when he is rolling out a new ECE initiative or wants to highlight his commitment to ECE through the exceptional work of Metropolitan’s ECE centers in the city. During one visit to our Midway Learning and Wellness Center, he brought former President Clinton to see the exceptional work of Jennifer and her team.
Jennifer contributes to the field through her active participation on numerous councils and associations ranging from the National Association of the Education of the Young Child (and the Chicago affiliate), the National Black Child Development Institution, and the National Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development to the Illinois Governor’s’ Office of ECE, Opioid Crisis Subcommittee, and the State of IL DCFS Daycare Licensing Advisory Committee. She will also work collaboratively with the EDs in our North and Calumet centers to develop and grow early learning in those geographies. This includes center based, home based, and other special early learning initiatives.
Nikki Cameron joined Metropolitan in 2012, and most recently oversaw Metropolitan DuPage’s Early Childhood Education as Program Director. She holds a B.A. in Family, Child and Nutritional Sciences from Northern Illinois University, as well as a Masters in Early Childhood Education from Roosevelt University. In 2008, Nikki obtained her Type 04 Early Childhood Education teaching certificate with a Special Education Endorsement. Most recently, she enrolled in National Lewis University to obtain her ESL Certification which she completed in the summer of 2017. Nikki was also the most recent awardee of Metropolitan’s Betty Williams Award for Community Efforts.
Nikki has reached out across the county to bring community partners together to raise the visibility and importance of ECE services in DuPage and to build a collaborative system of services for young children and families. She has built a strong ECE team that provides exceptional educational services with better than state/national averages on a number of measures of ECE success, and she works to proactively support the professional growth of her team. Nikki has expanded the number of children served, sought and received more diverse and sustainable funding streams, and integrated ECE services with a number of other client needs. The Metropolitan DuPage ECE programs are so highly regarded, as is Nikki’s leadership, that several school districts in DuPage have asked that Metropolitan expand or take over providing their ECE services.
Nikki is highly respected by internal and external constituents and is often sought after to participate in Boards, committees, and problem solving groups across the county.