Dynamic community volunteers and civic leaders serve on the EarlystART Board of Directors. Their diversity, expertise, advocacy, and philanthropic commitment drive our mission. Likewise, representatives of our founding organizations, St. Mark Union Church and the Heartland Presbytery, continue to provide leadership and support to EarlystART.
Board of Directors
Theodis Watson, President – Central Bank of the Midwest
Mary Jorgenson, Past President – Heartland Presbytery Representative
Rebecca James, Vice President – Abovo
Phyllis Hardwick, Secretary/Treasurer – Community Advocate
Deidre Anderson, CEO, Ex-Officio – EarlystART
Tom Eatman, Director – Builders by Design, LLC
Alexis Kerr, Director – Hallmark
Todd Navrat, Director – J.E. Dunn Construction
Matthew Oates, Director – Burns & McDonnell
Ruth Stricklen Pullins, Director – University Health
Terra Purifoye, Director – Sunshyne Aesthetics
Cydney Ricker, Director – Kansas City Chiefs
Joni Wickham, Director – Wickham James Strategies & Solutions
Deidre Anderson, Chief Executive Officer
In 2019, Deidre was honored with the Evelyn Wasserstrom Award for her pursuit of access to high quality pre-K education for all children. Under her leadership, EarlystART leads the way in pre-K education and empowers families to reach their fullest potential.
Latresse Yarbough, Chief Finance & Operations Officer
Latresse Yarbough brings to EarlystART more than 15 years of experience in finance and operational management for educational institutions in Kansas City. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration, a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and a Master of Science in Accountancy.
Raina Davis, Area Early Learning & Inclusion Director
Rhonda Mays, Director of Family & Community Engagement
Rhonda Mays has a diverse background in broadcast communications, community development, family engagement, event planning, and resource coordination. With a Bachelor’s degree in communications, she serves on the 2Gen Thrive Community Action Board and works diligently to connect families with resources and support.
Mariah Roady, Director of Development
With a background in the arts and nonprofit development and marketing, Mariah Roady leads EarlystART’s fund development, donor engagement, and communications initiatives. She is involved with local performing arts organizations as a teaching artist and serves on the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s marketing and communications committee.
Brittany Stewart, Director of Human Resources
Vernita McMurtrey, Director of Grants Management & Administration
Vernita McMurtrey brings 25 years of nonprofit executive leadership experience to EarlystART including strategic planning, grant funding, fundraising, donor management and nonprofit administration. She is passionate about helping nonprofits, foundations and corporate philanthropists improve practices and joyfully impact their committed causes.
LaChandra Calhoun, St. Mark Center Early Learning & Inclusion Director
LaChandra Calhoun has an extensive background in both early childhood and secondary education. Her career includes service to the Kansas City Public Schools and Hickman Mills School districts and well as many years with the Local Investment Commission (LINC) in Kansas City, after-school programming, community organizing, and parent/teacher training.
Tina Pike, North Center Early Learning & Inclusion Director
Tina Pike holds a Bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Development, and certifications in Deaf Studies and Special Education for Severe Developmental Disabilities. She earned a Master’s in Special Education Administration. Tina served for 30 years at the State of Missouri under Missouri Schools for Severely Disabled.
Marquita Walker, Metro Center Director of Early Learning & Inclusion
Marquita Walker is a longtime early childhood professional with service to DeLaSalle Education Center and The Family Conservancy in Kansas City. While earning a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Walden University she worked as a long term substitute in special education for the Kansas City, Kansas school district.