"All in for Early Childhood in Illinois"

Friday, February 25th - 1:00pm to 2:00pm

Dr. Theresa Hawley is an expert in early childhood programs and systems that support the school readiness and social competence of young children in poverty. In her role as Director of Early Childhood Transformation, in partnership with the Governor’s Office, she directs the design of changes to Illinois’ funding mechanisms and governance structure for early childhood education. She previously served as First Assistant Deputy Governor for Education, helping to coordinate education policy across the many state agencies that cover the education spectrum from birth through higher education.

Theresa has served in many roles in Illinois’ early childhood system. From 2017 to 2019, she was Senior Vice President for Policy and Innovation at Illinois Action for Children, where she led the agency’s efforts to link together program, research and public policy and advocacy work. From 2012 to 2015, Dr. Hawley served as the Executive Director of the Illinois Governor's Office of Early Childhood Development, where she led the development and implementation of the state’s Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge and Preschool Development Grant plans. Before joining the Governor’s Office, Theresa was the founding Project Director of Educare of West DuPage and a consultant to early learning programs and community collaborations across Illinois.

Theresa received her Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Notre Dame and her Doctorate in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan.

Jamilah R. Jor’dan, PhD

Executive Director

Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development

Jamilah R. Jor’dan, PhD (She/Her/Hers) serves as the executive director of the Illinois Governor’s Office of Early Childhood Development (GOECD).  In this role, she supports the development and implementation of early childhood policy across multiple state agencies. Dr. Jor’dan has over 35 years of experience in the field of early care and education and has served in various leadership and service positions that includes Vice President of the Governing Board for the National Association for the Education of Young Children. She has served as the interim dean of the College of Education and tenured professor in the Department of Early Childhood and Bilingual Education at Chicago State University.

She started her career in Head Start as an assistant executive director.  She has served as the accreditation project director and interim executive director of the Chicago Metropolitan Association for the Education of Young Children (Chicago Metro AEYC).  Dr. Jor’dan was president of the Partnership for Quality Child Care, a $16 million dollar public private partnership that supported a city-wide accreditation facilitation initiative in Chicago that provided assistance to both center-based and family child care providers. Chicago achieved national recognition for the largest number of early childhood programs serving children and families in Chicago’s lower income communities that attained accreditation by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Dr. Jor’dan served five years as a member of the American Montessori Society Research Committee and assisted in the development of the research poster sessions. She has published articles about Montessori education and has been a presenter at the American Montessori Society national conference. She was featured in a blog about Montessori education.

Dr. Jor’dan enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, reading, music, theatre, cycling, archery, gardening, classic car shows, community festivals and dancing.