ALICE THOMAS, M.Ed., is the founder, president and CEO of the Center for Development and Learning (CDL). Alice’s work is guided by a steadfast belief that all children, regardless of how they look, where they come from or how they learn, can and will achieve school success when provided with highly effective teachers and positive, supportive learning environments. In addition to executive duties, she facilitates professional learning for school leaders, teachers, and related specialists. Alice previously served as a teacher, counselor, and intervention specialist. She has taught university graduate courses on differentiating instruction for struggling students. She is a Learning Forward Academy graduate. She is the creator and director of the annual evidence-based Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning Institute. Alice is coauthor of the Plain Talk about Learning professional learning curriculum, the Right from Birth parent/caregiver training curriculum, and the Teens & Tots curriculum; and editor of CDL’s online blog. Alice completed a fellowship in neurodevelopmental variations at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, and doctoral level studies in change leadership at the University of Toronto. She is the recipient of the New Orleans Children’s Defense Fund’s Champions for Children award and the International Dyslexia Association’s 2013 Presidential Award for Excellence.
DENISE HOWELL, as CDL’s programs manager, spends much of her time organizing CDL’s annual Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning. She also coordinates the logistics and collects data for all professional learning sessions conducted by CDL professionals. Prior to coming to CDL, Denise worked with the Youth Service Bureau in St. Tammany Parish as their referral coordinator and the assistant coordinator for the Youth Service Bureau’s annual fundraiser, Chef Soiree.
ANTINEA JOHNSON is an early childhood specialist at CDL. As such, she coaches and mentors teachers in early childhood classroom settings. Antinea believes that all children deserve a nurturing and engaging environment filled with learning and laughter, and finds that providing support to those working directly with young children is the most efficient way to ensure best practices are provided to all children. Antinea is an approved Director for Type III learning centers, a certified Pre-K CLASS observer, and a Louisiana Pathways Trainer. She received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Dillard University.
CINDY PHILLIPS is CDL’s director of business operations. Cindy oversees CDL’s accounting and risk management issues. Cindy brings extensive non-profit financial management experience to CDL, having previously worked for the Volunteers of America, managing multi-million dollar budgets with various program delivery models. Cindy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance and a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of New Orleans.
AMY E. POIRIER is an early childhood supervisor at CDL. Amy has held multiple positions in the field of early childhood. Early in her career she worked as a teacher, center administrator, and a curriculum and training director. She has also worked as a program monitor, coach and trainer for several statewide programs and as an independent advisor, trainer and consultant. Additionally, Amy is an approved Child Development Associate (CDA) Professional Development Specialist and an endorsed trainer with Louisiana Pathways. Amy knows that children benefit the most from highly effective teachers, and that relevant, on-the-job coaching and mentoring support significantly increases their skills. As an early childhood specialist, she enjoys working side-by-side with early childhood professionals to provide support and thereby positively affect outcomes for young children.
LAUREN RICHARDSON is CDL’s graphic designer. She designs and prints all training and promotional materials, including all materials for the Plain Talk about Literacy and Learning Institute. Lauren graduated from Louisiana State University College of Art and Design in 2008 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in graphic design. In her spare time, she enjoys creating original oil and acrylic paintings that showcase all that New Orleans has to offer.
LIBBIE SONNIER-NETTO, Ph.D., is CDL’s vice president of programs. Libbie’s professional focus is on improving the life chances of all children, particularly those at risk due to income, education, environment, and health. Her work at local and state levels has provided her a broad scope of experience, including delivering family support services to children and their families in community and hospital settings, establishing model assessment teams, coordinating statewide programs and pilots for children birth to five-years old, directing an early hearing detection and intervention program, and conducting longitudinal research on the association between early learning experiences and midlife outcomes. She is coauthor of multiple publications and technical reports, the Teens & Tots curriculum, and, with Sharon Ramey and Craig Ramey, the Four Diamonds/Q-STAR Checklist. Libbie completed her Ph.D. in human development at Virginia Tech under the mentorship of Drs. Sharon and Craig Ramey. She is an adjunct professor in the College of Social and Behavioral Science at Purdue University, teaching courses related to issues and trends in early childhood. Libbie is also the recipient of the Hulick Serving Spirit Fellowship Award for her commitment to supporting individuals with disabilities.