Brazelton Touchpoints Project Welcomes New Leaders


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May 27, 2022

The Brazelton Touchpoints Project, Inc., supports the work of BTC through advocacy, outreach, partnership development, and strategic advising.  Members of the Project’s Board of Directors are critical in this endeavor and are passionately committed to BTC’s mission of ensuring that all children – whatever their life circumstances, challenges, and resources may be – will be healthy, succeed as early learners, and have the opportunity to thrive.  Join us in welcoming these newest members to the Board of Directors!


Candidate I – Stella B. Biira, Ph.D. (Mansfield, MA)

Stella B. Biira, Ph.D., is currently a Vice President in the ERM – Risk Review department of Eastern Bank, which prior to its initial public offering in 2020 was the oldest and largest mutual bank in the United States.  Prior to Eastern Bank, Stella served for four years as Vice President of risk in the Commercial Banking Middle Market Underwriting & Portfolio Management group at Banco Santander and a Vice President in the Global Banking and Markets risk department, handling Santander’s international financial institution services and sovereign/country credit risk. Before that, Stella was an Assistant Vice President for 9 years in the Risk and Credit Services department of State Street Corporation, where she managed secured lending for high net worth individuals, family offices, advisors, trusts, limited liability corporations, and limited partnerships.  At State Street, Stella also worked on lending to large corporations and insurance companies and was a credit analyst supporting the lending business by assessing the credit risk of corporations, insurance companies, and mutual fund counterparties.

Before joining State Street, Stella was a Credit Risk Analyst at Boston Private Bank & Trust, covering CRE, C&I, Small Businesses, and various individual loans. Stella also has experience working with venture capital investments and funding. Prior to moving to the U.S., Stella worked as a lender in a commercial bank in Uganda.

Stella holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health with research focused on diabetes and tertiary level prevention. She moved to the U.S. to attend Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) after winning a full scholarship from the Ford Foundation and earning a Master’s degree in International Economics and Finance. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Quantitative Economics from Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda), obtained on a merit scholarship from the government of Uganda. Stella holds several professional and post-graduate certificates in Lending, Financial Analysis and reporting, nonprofit organizations, personal finance analysis, and risk management. She also has a certificate in advocacy and leadership and was recognized by the Ford Foundation for her post-graduate work.

Stella is a member of the prestigious National Society of Leadership and Success, the largest leadership honor society in the US with 736 chapters and 1,615,554 active members. She served as a Treasurer and voting member on the board of MathPower, a Boston-based nonprofit organization, for over 10 years.  Stella is passionate about equity, maternal and child health, and diabetes. She serves in her local church and likes to play drums, guitar, and the flute.


Candidate II – Sadie Funk, MS (Dallas, TX)

Sadie Funk, MS, is the Director of Best Place for Kids!, a whole-community approach to ensuring every child is on a path to learning and life success – from cradle to career. Together with leaders from philanthropy, education, healthcare, business, nonprofits, and local cities and counties, Best Place for Kids! is building a more connected and supportive local ecosystem that enables children and families to thrive.

The Best Place for Working Parents is a growing network of business leaders proving that family-friendly is business-friendly. Originating in Fort Worth, Texas, The Best Place for Working Parents effort has expanded nationally, supporting businesses with research-backed strategies that benefit working parents and businesses’ bottom line.

Prior to joining Best Place, Sadie was CEO of First3Years, a state-wide nonprofit in Texas working to advance the healthy development of infants, toddlers, and their families. While leading First3Years, Sadie vastly grew the organization’s reach and impact to include programming that can build a specialized infant-toddler workforce, address the unique developmental needs of maltreated children and their families, promote early relational health, and host Baby Day, a celebration of the first three years of a child’s life.

In her earlier career, Sadie led a dual-generation program for immigrant families in Dallas and has extensive experience working with communities to drive change. Sadie began her career serving with the Peace Corps in the Oriente (Amazon) Region of Ecuador.  She currently serves on several local and state boards/committees, including the University of Texas at Dallas – Center for Children and Families. She is a founding board member of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, and currently is a ZERO TO THREE Fellow.

Sadie graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with an MS in International Management and received her BA in Anthropology with Honors from Eckerd College.  Sadie’s collective research to spotlight critical zero to three issues has been published in the Texas Tribune, ZERO TO THREE Journal, and Infant Mental Health Journal.


Candidate III – Karen Howard, JD

Karen Howard, JD, is the Founding Partner of Crossover Partners, LLC. She has decades of experience in early childhood policy.  She was previously a policy director at the Alliance for Early Success where she led a portfolio of state and national partnerships and investments focused on home visiting, child welfare, family economic stability, and racially-equitable policies for young children and their families.

Prior to joining the Alliance for Early Success, Karen worked as the Vice President of Early Childhood Policy at First Focus on Children, where she led the organization’s work in cross-cutting policy initiatives that impact the early health, development, and well-being of children, with specific emphasis on children experiencing racial and ethnic disparities. With more than 20 years of experience in the legal, policy, and advocacy arenas, Karen has served as the Director of Policy for the Nurse-Family Partnership, a leading evidence-based home visiting program, and as legislative counsel in the office of Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) where she focused on health and education policy. Karen was instrumental in helping to create and enact the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which is a $1.5 billion grant program supporting the implementation and expansion of evidence-based and promising home-visiting programs nationally to improve the early health and development of pregnant women, children, and families living in poverty.

Earlier in her career, Karen served as Deputy Attorney General in the Colorado Office of Attorney General, where she supervised attorneys practicing employment and regulatory law and worked on higher education policy issues, including affirmative action in higher education. Karen previously practiced product liability and employment law at private law firms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Colorado, and is the past Treasurer of the Sam Cary Bar Association and a past member of the Colorado Attorney Regulation Committee. Karen currently sits on the board of directors for Nurse-Family Partnership and Bright Beginnings, Inc.

Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York at Albany and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center.


Candidate IV – Ann Linehan, M.Ed (Falls Church, VA)               

Ann Linehan, M.Ed, recently retired from her position as the Deputy Director of the Office of Head Start (OHS).  Ann served as Deputy Director since 2011 and prior to the Deputy position, she held senior management positions in OHS for 15 years overseeing the Divisions of Program Development, Quality Assurance, and Program Operations.  Ann’s leadership has been instrumental in improving program performance and increasing federal and local accountability.


Ann began her federal career in 1992 in Region I as the Head Start Regional Program Manager responsible for Head Start programs in New England.

Before joining the federal government, she was the Executive Director of a non-profit agency for nearly a decade that provided Head Start and child care services in eight communities in Massachusetts.

Ann began her career as a special needs teacher for medically fragile children.

She holds a BS in Sociology and Psychology and a Master’s in Education from Boston State University (now known as the University of Massachusetts, Boston).


Candidate V – Adrián A. Pedroza, MBA (Albuquerque, NM)      

Adrián A. Pedroza, MBA, serves as the National Executive Director for Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors – the nation’s first evidence-based comprehensive training program developed by and for Latino parents with children ages 0-5. Prior to Abriendo Puertas, he dedicated ten years of his career as the Executive Director and Social Enterprise Director at the Partnership for Community Action (PCA), a community-based organization in New Mexico that works to build strong, healthy communities by investing in the leadership of people and families. Adrián developed a sustainable path for PCA by focusing his time on building a social enterprise model for the organization.

Earlier in his career, Adrián worked with the University of New Mexico High School Equivalency and College Assistance Migrant Programs, which provide educational opportunities to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families. In addition, Adrián worked for former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in New Mexico. Under Governor Bill Richardson, Adrián was appointed to the inaugural Hispanic Education Advisory Council. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Adrián as a Commissioner to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where for six years he focused his service on increasing national attention and resources to the issue of early childhood education. Adrián sits on non-profit boards including Explora Children’s Museum and the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation.

In 2012, Adrian received the Excellence in Education Award from the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. In 2013, he was selected to be a part of the WK Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Fellowship Program, where he’s working with diverse leaders to strengthen networks and communities to become vigorous advocates for vulnerable children and their families. Albuquerque Business First recognized Adrián in 2016 as a 40 Under Forty outstanding young professional.

Adrian holds a B.A. in political science and an M.B.A. in Policy and Planning from the University of New Mexico.

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