ECAP Staff

photoSallee Beneke

Sallee Beneke is an Associate Professor at St. Ambrose University. As an experienced implementer of the Project Approach with young children, she enjoys helping others learn to implement the approach. Sallee is the author of Rearview Mirror: Reflections on a Preschool Car Project,coauthor of Windows on Learning: Documenting Young Children’s Work (2nd ed.), and coeditor of The Power of Projects: Meeting Contemporary Challenges in Early Childhood Classrooms—Strategies & Solutions, as well as several articles related to the Project Approach and documentation. Sallee is interested in the potential of the Project Approach to support the inclusion of diverse learners in prekindergarten classrooms.

photoBernard Cesarone

Bernard Cesarone has worked for the Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative and its predecessor, the ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, since 1992. He has served in editorial, publications, Web design, technology management, and database management capacities. He has master’s degrees from the Graduate School of Library and Information Science and the School of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He retired in January 2015, when he was serving as database manager for IECAM. Since retirement, he serves IECAM in an advisory and assistant role.

Meghan Burke

Dr. Meghan Burke serves as co-principal investigator for the Early Intervention Clearinghouse (EIC).

Catherine Corr

Dr. Catherine Corr serves as co-principal investigator for IECAM.

Kevin Dolan

Dr. Kevin Dolan has served as editor and graphic designer for ECAP’s various projects since April 2012. After working as a journalist at small daily newspapers in the U.S. West, he returned to graduate school and received a PhD in communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Deborah Fuoss

Deborah Fuoss has been a web architecture enthusiast for over 20 years and is the webmaster for several ECAP projects.

photoSarah Isaacs

Sarah Isaacs has been the librarian at the Illinois Early Intervention Clearinghouse since 2012 and its project coordinator since 2016. She has been serving families, child care providers, and children for more than 20 years in a variety of libraries around the state. Sarah enjoys helping people get the resources they need and to find the answers they are seeking. Every day she finds more and more valuable resources in the EI Clearinghouse library’s collection of books, videos, and DVDs. Getting to know the collection more has made her eager to share the resources with everyone she meets.

photoLilian G. Katz

Dr. Lilian G. Katz is professor emerita of elementary and early childhood education at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is a past president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and was the first president of the Illinois Association for the Education of Young Children. She was the founding editor of the first on-line, peer reviewed bilingual early childhood journal, Early Childhood Research & Practice. Professor Katz is author of more than 100 publications, including articles, chapters, and books about early childhood education, teacher education, child development, and parenting of young children.   She also has lectured in all 50 U.S. states and in 54 countries.

photoBernadette Laumann

Dr. Bernadette Laumann is the project coordinator for the Illinois Early Learning Project and co-principal investigator for the Families and School Success Project. She has been a child care teacher, early childhood special education teacher, principal of a NAEYC-accredited inclusive public school PreK program, researcher, and a project coordinator for federal- and state-funded grants. She is a past president of the Illinois Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children (IDEC) and is a current member of the NAEYC Consulting Editors Panel and the editorial board for the journal Young Exceptional Children.

photoNanzhu Liu

Nanzhu Liu, data steward for IECAM, completed a master’s degree in civil engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her main focus is on producing GIS maps, creating spreadsheets, and preparing and checking data about children and families in Illinois.

Micki Ostrosky

Dr. Micki Ostrosky serves as co-principal investigator for the Illinois Early Learning Project (IEL).

photoWaddah Sweid

Waddah Sweid is the account technician/bookkeeper for ECAP.




Amy Santos

Dr. Amy Santos serves as co-principal investigator for the Early Intervention Clearinghouse (EIC).

photoRebecca Swartz

Dr. Rebecca Swartz, an early learning specialist for IEL and the Early Intervention Clearinghouse, completed her doctorate in human development and family studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rebecca has been working in a variety of roles in early care and education settings since 1996, beginning as an assistant teacher in a community child care program and filling a variety of roles, including early childhood special education teacher, lead teacher of toddlers and preschoolers, music specialist, director of an early childhood program, and cooperative extension specialist. Rebecca’s research and outreach work focuses on infant-toddler care, home-based child care, and the social-emotional development of young children.

photoDawn Thomas

Dr. Dawn Thomas serves as Director of the Early Childhood and Parenting Collaborative and co-principal investigator for IECAM. She has extensive experience coordinating state and federal grants, partnering with universities and research centers, and providing training and technical assistance. She has served on state and national workgroups with topics ranging from outcomes for infants and toddlers, service delivery models for early childhood programming, to data. Dr. Thomas has been involved in both qualitative and quantitative research and has coordinated the Innovation Zone Evaluation Project, Hard to Reach Pilot Evaluation, and needs assessment projects for the Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development. She has co-authored several book chapters, peer reviewed articles, and technical reports on early care and education services.

photoJill Tompkins

Jill Tompkins is a research information specialist with the Illinois Early Learning Project and the Early Intervention Clearinghouse. She has spent more than 20 years in the early childhood field. She earned her bachelor’s degree in child development and master’s degree in early childhood special education from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She spent three years as a child development specialist and service coordinator in an Early Intervention Program in central Illinois before becoming an infant/toddler specialist for the Great Lakes Quality Improvement Center for Disabilities. She also worked for several years as an independent consultant.