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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

Leadership Team


Deidre Anderson, Chief Executive Officer

Deidre Anderson has extensive experience in education, community development and child welfare. With a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s degree in Public Administration. she knows early learning lays the foundation for future academic success.

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

Raina Davis’ roles in early childhood education over 20 years include Lead Teacher, Parent Educator, and Early Learning and Inclusion Director. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development from Missouri State University and a Master’s in Elementary Education from Southeast Missouri State University.

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.

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. 

Dr. Asiya Foster, Chief Innovations Officer

Asiya Foster has over 20 years of experience in early childhood education, most of which is specialized in teacher training and development. Asiya holds a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies, a master’s in Educational Administration, and a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis. She also holds certifications in TESOL for Very Young Learners, CELTA, and Education Diplomacy and is a former Fulbright Senior Scholar.

Matrika Hornsby, Early Learning and Inclusion Director

Matrika has worked in the education field for 18 years. She obtained a Bachelors of Science Degree from the University of Central Missouri in Child and Family Development. At the beginning of her career she worked as a Before and After School Assistant, Servant Leader Intern, and Paraprofessional.

Prior to coming to EarlystART, she worked for the Raytown School District for 7 years. For the last 7 years, she has worked with EarlystART serving as a Lead Teacher, Family Advocate, Assistant Director and now in her current role as the Early Learning and Inclusion Director for St. Mark Center. Matrika loves working with children and families and is passionate about helping others reach their full potential.

Matrika was raised on a military base in Florida for the majority of her childhood and moved to Kansas City in 2002. She is a mother of two girls, Zariah who is 11, and Makayla who is 3. They keep her busy and entertained. She served on the Board of Directors for Habitat for Humanity and is the Children’s Director for her church.