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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.

Brittany Stewart, Director of Human Resources

Brittany Stewart has worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly a decade and believes this work supports and empowers people of all backgrounds to support their communities. She completed a fellowship with the Surge Institute and a PHR certification and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management and a certification in Nonprofit Management from Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota.

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.