Meghan Tavormina, M.A.
Entering the field of Early Education at a young age, Meghan worked in the classroom while obtaining her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Rutgers University in Political Science. Once completing her degrees, Meghan created and opened a small, high quality full day Preschool. Through her work in early childhood education, Meghan has become an active ECE advocate. Meghan joined the Executive Board of NJAEYC as a co-vice president of public policy. Through this work she has attended several public policy forum trips to advocate for federal change in education. She has also worked with partners and funders to bring advocacy tools to NJ’s early childhood professionals. A few of these tools include, “5 Bullet-point Friday” publications, ACT Team (Advocacy Changes Things), Voter Voice, NJAEYC’s first Advocacy day and our Leadership Conference. Meghan is passionate about advocating for young children and takes opportunities to testify and speak with elected officials around important issues. Meghan is an active participant on the NIEER Infant Toddler Center Advisory Committee, Child Care Advisory Board, Pritzger Leadership Team, and is a co chair of the Think Babies Child Care Committee and serves on several focus groups around early childhood education.
Vice President, Organizational Development
Tirusha Dave is currently serving as the VP of Operations of Ellie’s Academy, an Early Childhood Learning Center in New Jersey. Having earned her bachelor’s degree at Rider University, Tirusha has devoted more than 10 years to working in education with young children and their families. She is committed to creating a strong, educational program, and high community-engagement within her community. Tirusha has always believed that children learn best when the learning environment is designed to meet the developmental needs of each child, and one which fosters exploration, creativity and independence. Outside of Early Education, Tirusha enjoys painting, traveling, reading and spending time with friends & family.
Vice President, Social Media & Marketing
Elizabeth Fazio is the VP of Social Media and Marketing for NJAEYC. She has worked in Early Childhood Education since 2008. After graduating from Towson University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education, Elizabeth taught Pre-K in the state of Maryland for two years before she moved back to her home state of NJ where she continued to teach Pre-K for another eight years. Currently, Elizabeth is the Assistant Director of a non-profit preschool and is passionate and devoted to her work in the field and dedicated to her work with the organization.
Vice President, Membership
Lori Harrje is the Project Lead/Technical Assistance Specialist at the Grow NJ Kids Technical Assistance Center North. A passionate lifelong learner, Lori has worked for many years helping to make the world a better place for children, families, and early childhood professionals through a variety of positions including child care center director, preschool teacher in a public school, coordinator and instructor of the early childhood certificate program at a community college, and lead trainer, quality improvement specialist, CDA instructor, and community services manager at several child care resource and referral agencies. Lori has a graduate degree in early childhood education and child development from Wheelock College in Boston and became a certified teacher of early childhood and elementary education while attending Douglass College/Rutgers University.
Lindsay J. Pearson, Ed.M., IMH-E® IV-Policy
Vice President, Public Policy
Lindsay Pearson sits on the board of the New Jersey Association for The Education of Young Children (NJAEYC) where she serves as the Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy. She is the Assistant Director of Early Childhood Educational Programming at Montclair State University’s Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health. In addition to her full time work, she also is a
trainer consultant focusing on child development, infant and early childhood mental health, social emotional wellness and relationship-based staff development. She is the Vice President of the New Jersey Association for Infant Mental Health (NJAIMH) and is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Mentor. She has worked in the field of early childhood development for nearly 15 years and considers the work to be an “occu-passion”.
As a lifelong resident of Morris County, Jennifer Carter has always valued the importance of education. From the time she was a young child, her dream was to be a teacher. Jennifer had the unique perspective of having a sister with special needs, allowing her to observe the inner workings of special education. Growing up, Jennifer was a member of Girl Scouts and in 2003 became a lifetime member. That year, she also worked towards and earned her Gold Award. Jennifer graduated from the College of Saint Elizabeth in 2007 with a certificate in early childhood education and elementary education, as well as a double major in psychology. She started her career as a teacher at Teddy and Me in Chatham, which later became The Learning Path Preschool, where she is currently the lead teacher in the 3 year old room. Jennifer joined the NJAEYC board as Secretary in June 2019.
Amanda L. DiScala, Ed.M.
Amanda is currently serving her term as Past President of NJAEYC after serving 6 years as President. Prior to that she served as the Co VP of Public Policy and the President of the Northwest Chapter of the organization. Amanda is the Director of a child care center in Morris County and is an Adjunct Professor at the County College of Morris. She is currently working on her PhD in Early Childhood Education. She also manages and maintains the NJ Shared Resources Platform for NJAEYC. Amanda is also the mother to five young children who are 15, 13, 11, 9, and 3.
Valerie Frost-Lewis, MS Ed.
Chapter Representative, Ocean County
Coming to the field of Early Education in 2006 from a career in corporate marketing and management, Valerie attained her Master of Science Degree in Education, with a Specialization in Early Childhood Education upon making this career switch. Valerie is the Owner/Director of The Peppermint Tree Child Development Center, a state licensed center with a four-star rating in Grow New Jersey Kids, the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System. Her center has also been selected by the state of New Jersey to implement the Pyramid Model, to support social emotional development of young children. As an advocate for inclusion of special needs children in general early care and education settings, she is a consultant for the New Jersey Inclusive Child Care Project, (which is a NJ state organization through SPAN). In 2014, she was awarded the Annasuk Award from the New Jersey Department of Education’s MAP Team for Inclusive Child Care for excellence in inclusion practice. Enjoying the opportunity to mentor aspiring early educators, Valerie is a Professional Development Specialist for the Council for Professional Recognition. In this capacity, she performs the verification visit and mentoring session as one of the final steps for an educator to achieve their CDA Credential. She is a regular speaker at Early Childhood conferences and workshops throughout New Jersey, including for NJAEYC, and she has spoken a number of times at NAEYC national conferences. She also provides professional development for her early education staff at the Peppermint Tree on a monthly basis.