541-693-5769 elhub@hdesd.org

Early Learning Leadership Council

The Early Learning Leadership Council (ELLC) is a cross-sector collaborative governance structure for the region’s Early Learning Hub and is integrated into the High Desert Education Service District (HDESD) organizational structure. The role of the ELLC is to ensure alignment of services, practices and priorities to achieve the region’s shared outcome goals for young children and their families, and to ensure a seamless transition for young children from the early learning years into school.

The overarching responsibility of the ELLC is to work collectively across agency and organizational boundaries to:

  • Maximize resources
  • Help the region develop a coordinated and effective early learning system
  • Ensure that all children, regardless of family situation, receive the opportunities and supports needed to enter kindergarten healthy and prepared for success in school.

The Leadership Council is comprised of 18 members, who are appointed for three-year terms and 3 Ex-Officio members. They meet bi-monthly to conduct business.

Early Learning Leadership Council Membership

Membership Roster

Muriel DeLaVergne - Brown, Chair, Crook County Health Department

Meet Muriel DeLaVergne-Brown, she is the Health and Human Services Director for Crook County and is serving as the Early Learning Leadership Council Chair for the next two years. Muriel has been the Director in Crook County for the past nine years and participates in the local early childhood committee.

Muriel’s 30 years in Public Health include School Nursing/Health Education, and working as a Program Manager for Douglas County Health Department in Roseburg, Oregon and Deschutes County Health Services in Bend, Oregon.

Leadership responsibilities include: Past Chair of Coalition of Local Health Officials (CLHO), Board Member National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), and member of the Oregon Public Health Advisory Board.  In addition, Crook County Health Department was honored as NACCHO Small Health Department of the Year in 2013 and received Public Health Accreditation (PHAB) Board accreditation in 2014. Muriel is a graduate of the Public Health Nursing Leadership Institute in Oregon and led the development of a mentorship program for new public health directors in 2014, along with speaking on Public Health issues at various conferences. Muriel is involved in the work on the Modernization of Public Health in Oregon, along with various committees for the Central Oregon Health Council.

Muriel has an Associate Degree in Nursing from Umpqua Community College, a B.S. in Health Education from the University of Oregon, a Certificate and Masters in Public Health from Oregon Health Sciences University.  As a native Oregonian, Muriel is passionate about public health and has dedicated her career to improving the health status of Oregonians, advocating for local health departments, rural issues, and developing coalitions to address community need.

In her free time, Muriel enjoys painting, gardening, and playing in the outdoors with her husband Bob and Springer Spaniel, Max.

Tim Rusk, Vice-Chair, MountainStar

Tim Rusk is Executive Director of MountainStar Family Relief Nursery and recently elected to co-chair the Early Learning Leadership Council. Tim has been a collaborator and leader working to strengthen support and protection for vulnerable children and their families in Central Oregon for over 15 years. His community work has involved setting standards for early learning programs, aligning metrics for early learning and health systems, supporting children and families involved with DHS/Child Welfare, creating a community response to address childhood trauma and toxic stress, integrating early learning and behavioral health, supporting Oregon Relief Nurseries, and advocating for the role of nonprofits to address community issues.

Tim and the many other leaders involved at MountainStar have grown Relief Nursery services in Central Oregon from humble beginnings in 2001 when the organization served 34 children annually to currently providing Relief Nursery and Enhanced Visitation Services for 450 children and their families annually and operating facilities in Bend, Madras, Prineville and La Pine. The Bend early childhood program has been accredited by the National Association for Education of Young Children since 2010 and been rated a 5-star program through Oregon’s Quality Rating Improvement System since 2014.

Tim and his family moved from the SF Bay Area to join family and enjoy the quality of life in Bend. Tim spent a decade with the Marine Conservation Corps where his favorite projects included building trails overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and circumnavigating the bay, responding to natural disasters, and teaching life skills to young adults. Tim has a BS in Biology from UC Santa Cruz and MA in Organization Development/Psychology from Sonoma State University.

In his free time, Tim enjoys hikes, family, friends, adventures with his wife, Jen, and thought-provoking podcasts. Today, he recommends Freakonomics Radio podcast on headwinds/tailwinds asymmetry!

Paul Andrews, Ed.D, High Desert ESD

Paul Andrews is the Superintendent of the High Desert Education Service District.  Paul received his Bachelors in psychology from Dartmouth College; his Masters of Education in Special Education – Severe Disabilities from the University of Washington; and his Doctorate of Education in Educational Leadership from Lewis and Clark College.  He has taught special education classes from kindergarten through high school in Washington, Oregon and Alaska.  Paul served as the Director of Special Programs for High Desert ESD for 8 years, during which he oversaw all K-12 special education services provided by the ESD.  He has also served as the Executive Director of School Improvement before becoming the Deputy Superintendent for 5 years. He has a great deal of experience supervising organizations and staff, including managers, directors and program volunteers.  He has overseen many state initiatives in central Oregon, such as the Regional Promise Grant, Chalkboard’s TeachOregon, CLASS and TIF grants, the Regional Achievement Collaborative, the Kindergarten Innovation grant, and the STEM Hub grant.  He is the co-coordinator of Lewis and Clark College’s Central Oregon administrative licensure program and has taught many graduate level classes related to school leadership and administration.   Paul is married with one son; his wife is a school counselor in the Redmond School District.

Caroline Cruz, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

As the Health and Human Services General Manager for the Confederated tribes of Warm Springs, Ms. Cruz provides leadership, management and vision to the Branch. In this role, she leads, evaluates, develops and implements plans to enhance the health and welfare of the community members.

Throughout her career, Ms. Cruz has served in numerous professional positions. She worked for the Department of Human Services Addictions and Mental Health Branch for 21.5 years, serving in numerous roles such as; Lead Prevention Trainer, Tribal Liaison, Prevention Specialist, Project Officer for grants, Director of Resource Center and development of statewide Diversity training. Ms. Cruz is a former Deputy Sheriff for Santa Clara County California and worked in a Housing Project with under served youth. She has experience in Community Prevention, Community Mobilization, Treatment, Training, Curriculum Development, Grant Writing, and Administration. Prior to returning home to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Ms. Cruz played a key role in being the main author for Oregon Tribal Best Practices, developing curriculum for certifying prevention specialists, and developing and presenting numerous trainings nationally.

Ms. Cruz received her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon State College, Certificate of Public Management Willamette University- Geo. Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

Leticia Hernandez, Parent and Diversity Representative

Bio to come.

Amy Howell, Ph.D, Central Oregon Community College

Amy Howell is the Program Director and Associate Professor of Early Childhood Education at Central Oregon Community College where she teaches a variety of courses related to early learning and development. Since her graduate training at the University of Colorado where she earned her doctorate in Educational Psychology, Amy’s key areas of interest have included the dynamic interaction between children’s lives in and out of school settings, early literacy practices, and the interplay between technology, media, and youth development. Amy has been a local, state, and national presenter on topics related to early learning and developmentally appropriate practices, including early foundations for scientific and mathematics understandings, emergent literacy, social, emotional, and digital wellness, the power of play, and equity in education.

Elaine Knobbs - Seasholtz, Mosaic Medical

Bio to come.

Wayne Looney, Prineville Kiwanis

Bio to come.

Desiree' Margo, D.Ed, Redmond Early Learning Center

Desiree Margo has been actively engaged in education for 30 years. Desiree spent 20 years as a teacher at various levels prior to going into school administration. She received both her master’s and doctorate degrees in Educational Leadership at the University of Oregon. Yes! She’s a Duck! She spent three years as the Assistant Director of Student Services in the Redmond School District prior to becoming the principal at M.A. Lynch Elementary School for five years. Desiree’ is now the principal of the new Redmond Early Learning Center. The vision of this new model is a center that supports young children and families 0-6 in a wrap around, collective impact model.  Desiree is passionate about providing opportunities for ALL students. Her personal vision is Every Child, Every Chance, Every Day! When Desiree is not working hard to help students experience success, she enjoys spending time with her large family, which includes two grandchildren. She also enjoys spending time in the beautiful Central Oregon outdoors: hiking, biking, kayaking, camping, running and working in her garden.

Rena Gibney, Department of Human Services

Bio to come.

Linda McCoy, Central Oregon Health Council, Community Advisory

Bio to come.

Lora Nordquist, Ed.D, Bend - La Pine School District

Lora Nordquist serves on the Early Learning Leadership Council as well as the Executive Board. She is currently the Assistant Superintendent of the Bend-La Pine School District. Lora has a bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of Virginia, a Master’s Degree in Education, Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Oregon and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership from Lewis and Clark College. She has extensive experience working within school districts in Central Oregon and has been with Bend – La Pine School District for almost 10 years. In her spare time, Lora enjoys spending time with her grandchildren.

Ben Bergantz, Pacific Crest Affordable Housing

Ben is Project Coordinator for Pacific Crest Affordable Housing. In addition to handling a full range of project tasks, he develops resident services programs and coordinates the implementation of health, education, and social service partnerships at PCAH’s properties.

Ben’s membership on the Early Learning Leadership Council acknowledges the necessity of safe, affordable, and stable housing for helping families to thrive. He works to support the EL Hub’s vision of aligning regional efforts and resources across sectors to improve outcomes for all children in Central Oregon.

Ben has a Master’s degree in education from Oregon State University, Cascades and 12 years of experience in education and therapeutic programs. He received his undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from Brown University.

Ben grew up in upstate New York and has lived in Bend for the past 10 years. In his free time, Ben may be found traveling to remote parts of Oregon, coaching youth sports, or playing piano.

Ken Parshall, Jefferson County School District

Ken Parshall serves as the Superintendent of the Jefferson County School District and the Jefferson County ESD.  In his 31 year career in education; he has served as the principal of three Oregon High Schools and as the Assistant Superintendent of the Salem-Keizer School District.  In addition, he was a high school math teacher and coach for twelve years.  Ken came the the Jefferson County School District to lead the Warm Springs K8 Academy; which he still leads part time. He is proud of the work his staff, students, and families have accomplished over the last two years in Warm Springs; making dramatic improvement in student learning growth.  Ken believes that early learning should be a key area of focus for school districts dedicated to improving learning outcomes for students.  He serves on the Early Learning Leadership Council in order to learn from other Early Learning leaders and to advance Early Learning efforts in his district and communities.

Diane Tipton, EI/ECSE

Diane Tipton is the Director for the Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education (EI/ECSE) program for region 2 (Deschutes, Crook, and Jefferson counties including the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, and subcontracts with Harney, Gilliam, Wheeler, and Sherman Counties).   She received a Bachelors of Science (BS) in Music Therapy, a Masters in Science (MS) in Speech Language Pathology, and an Administration license from the Teachers Standards and Practice Committee before eventually becoming the Director of EI/ECSE in 2009.  

Diane has been a collaborator and leader in tri-county early childhood meetings to strengthen support and leverage resources for young children with disabilities and their families.  She is passionate about the quality of services children receive under her care.  Annual statewide outcome measures repeatedly report region 2 as the highest performing area in Oregon for children making the most progress, especially in the area of social emotional learning.

In her free time she enjoys playing her flute, gardening, and being outside having fun with her husband of 28 years and her big old dog.

Kate Wells, PacificSource

Kate Wells is the Director of Wellness and Community Health Strategy for PacificSource Health Plans. Kate was integral in facilitating health systems transformation as part of PacificSource’s Coordinated Care Organizations, serving the Medicaid population in Central Oregon and the Columbia Gorge regions. To support new models of community-based care, Kate provides leadership on a number of population health improvement initiatives to bridge local providers with public health and other community-based organizations that serve vulnerable populations. Kate’s diverse background includes working in a variety of nonprofit and community health roles, as well as Director of Community Outreach for St. Charles Health System, where she developed and led a regional collaboration to address childhood and adolescent obesity through policy, systems and environmental change. The program was the recipient of the 2012 Deschutes County Public Health Heroes Award.  Kate continues to support her Central Oregon community by serving on the area’s Volunteers in Medicine, Early Learning and Children’s Forest governing boards. Kate lives in Bend, Oregon with her husband and 11-year old son.

Patty Wilson, NeighborImpact

Patty Wilson has a background in non-profit management, early childhood education, and health & human services. She currently serves as NeighborImpact’s Deputy Executive Director of Programs (including Head Start, Child Care Resources, Housing, Energy and Food Assistance) and has been with NeighborImpact for over 8 years.  Patty has a solid understanding of federal and state program administration, with 20 years of grant management, and program implementation. Patty serves on the Early Learning Leadership Council as well as the Executive Committee.  She holds a BS in Education from the University of Oregon.

Ex Officio, Shannon Lipscomb, Ph.D, OSU-Cascades

Shannon Lipscomb, PhD is an Associate Professor at Oregon State University-Cascades. She conducts research to identify effective ways of building resilience for young children and families facing adversity. Key areas of focus include: (1) the role of early childhood education in the lives of children impacted by trauma; (2) the interplay between children’s risks and their early experiences on development, and (3) early childhood programs and systems. Collaborating with policy makers and practitioners to better support young children and families is a priority for Dr. Lipscomb. She works on local, state, and national levels. Dr. Lipscomb also leads the Human Development and Family Sciences program at OSU-Cascades, and teaches Child Development, Early Childhood Education, Grant Writing/Program Development, and Families and Poverty.

Dr. Lipscomb is an ex-officio member of the Early Learning Leadership Council. She brings perspective to the council in early childhood development and learning, research and evaluation, and higher education. As a mother, partner, friend, and colleague Dr. Lipscomb strives to create an inclusive, just, and kind community.

Ex Officio, Donna Mills, Central Oregon Health Council

Donna Mills is currently serving the Central Oregon Health Council, as their Executive Director.  Prior to joining COHC she was the Chief Executive Officer for Integrated Community Health Partners (ICHP), one of the first Regional Care Collaborative Organizations (RCCOs) in Colorado.  Donna has a strong background in finance, healthcare, and healthcare payer systems. Donna obtained her BS in Accounting from Strayer University in Washington DC, graduating Summa Cum Laude.  She also worked as a Chief Financial Officer for over 20 years. She is dedicated to advancing Healthcare Transformation.

In her capacity as the Central Oregon Health Council, she keeps a vigilant eye on avoiding duplication of resource expenditures, as well as, assures gaps are addressed and properly assigned within and throughout the community.

She is currently serving as Board Treasurer for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) in Central Oregon; she is a volunteer chaplain for the Colorado State Patrol, and a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. Before relocating to Central Oregon, she served as Mentor for the President’s Leadership Program (Colorado State University, Pueblo), and also served as a volunteer and counselor for a special bereavement camp for children sponsored by Sangre de Cristo Hospice.

Donna is pleased to serve the Tri-County region both professionally and personally.  She and her husband have five grown children and 4 grandchildren.  They enjoy serving in their community and being outdoors.     

Ex Officio, Katie Condit, Better Together

Katie Condit is the Executive Director of Better Together, a cross-sector, regional partnership that works to align existing and emerging resources to increase student outcomes from cradle to career. This partnership includes schools, non-profits, government agencies, and private industries and organizations in an effort to ensure all students graduate from high school and are on track to a meaningful career. Prior to her position with Better Together, Katie worked for three years as a research fellow in education and juvenile justice at University of Notre Dame. Katie’s roots in Central Oregon stem from her work as a Program Director for Heart of Oregon Corps in the years prior to this research position, which involved providing alternative education and job training experiences for Central Oregon youth and young adults. Katie holds an MA in Sociology of Education from University of Notre Dame, and a BA in Sociology and Theatre from University of Puget Sound.