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SECA Board of Directors
The SECA Board is a representative body of 16 members.
One (1) of those members, the President, is elected by a vote of the membership.
One (1) member, the President, serves as President-Elect and Immediate Past-President, before and after their term as President.
Thirteen (12) of the members are elected by their state associations to serve as State Affiliate Representatives on the Board. They represent the interests of their state affiliates during Board meetings.
Two (2) of the members are elected by the Board of Directors and serve as Members-at-Large. Nominations for these positions may be submitted by the membership.
All members except the President serve 3-year terms. The President serves one year as President-Elect, two years as President and one year as Immediate Past-President. The Board members represent a wide diversity of professionals from the early childhood field and are charged with ensuring the continued success of the Association in meeting the needs of its members and the children and families of the South.
The Board of Directors meets twice a year, in the spring at the annual conference and in the fall. Other meetings may be called as necessary. Minutes of the meetings are available to members upon request to the SECA office.
Your SECA Board of Directors
I recently retired after teaching public school grades 5K-8th grade for forty years in FL, TN and SC. Thirty of those years in early childhood, where my heart lies. I also taught for 17 years in early childhood education for Midlands Technical College in the evenings while teaching full time during the day.
Now aside from my professional duties with SECA, I mentor new teachers. Knowing they are frequently given little support and leave the profession within the first few years, I’ve decided to make a difference and mentor those I can. I meet with new teachers to listen to their concerns, offer support, resources and encouragement. I’ve provided free training to these teachers individually and collectively. After realizing many directives come from legislation, I’ve become an advocate for teachers with our legislators to improve conditions for teachers and the children we serve.
I have been blessed to be able to experience and serve in many educational capacities. Here are a few: School District Five of Lexington/Richland Counties-Early Childhood Coordinator; Teacher Specialist in Allendale for SDE; Early Childhood Specialist in Dorchester District Two Schools; Teacher in Charleston County and Dorchester County Schools; Senior Instructor-College of Charleston; Adjunct Professor- Trident Technical College and Midlands Technical College; Education Specialist for Berkeley/Dorchester Head Start; Child Care Resource & Referral-Quality Coach, and owner and operator of CYC Educational Consulting, LLC.
I retired in 2011 from Lexington 5. As the Executive Director of Dorchester County First Steps, my career has come full circle for I was instrumental in bringing First Steps to Dorchester County by writing the first grant for implementation and serving as the first appointed position from District 2.
I love my family (and am the proud grandmother of Tirrell Jr.), my church, (New Jerusalem Triumphant Church) and my work (Dorchester County First Steps).
Jamie Morrison Ward
Jamie is the founder and Training and Resource Officer for Curricula Concepts, Inc. Her primary focus is family engagement and she works in partnership with UA Early Care and Education Projects and Zero to Three to bring research-based curricula and programs to child care centers across the state. Jamie has experience as a classroom teacher and center director with both ABC and Head Start and served as the Administrator of the Arkansas Better Chance Programs for Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education for several years and has served on numerous committees and boards concerned with increasing quality and awareness around many issues in the early childhood field. She is currently the Past President of the Arkansas Early Childhood Association, a member of the State Parent Advisory Council, AR Professional Development Steering Committee, ELAN Workgroup and serves as the President of the AR Association for Infant Mental Health.
Broward County, FL
I have taught many workshops in Broward County for the ELC of Broward, went to Costa Rica with ACEI to teach a workshop on leadership, was President, Vice President of Broward AEYC, currently on the board of Toastmasters and of our church women’s fellowship serving as President. I believe all children can learn and by being on the FAU school advisory board and as former President of Kappa Delta Pi at FAU I led students to go to KDP conventions and to volunteer in Palm Beach County. By formerly serving on the FLAEYC board as an at large member, I had an amazing experience of serving Florida through great mentors.
I am looking forward to serving once again, now as the SECA representative.
Director, Professional Development & Center Services
Lisa Belliston represents Georgia on the SECA Board. She has also volunteered, beginning in 2003, for the Georgia Association for Young Children in different roles, including Secretary and President. Professionally, she works at Quality Care for Children where she is the Director of Professional Development and Center Services; her department helps child care programs earn their Quality Rating. She earned her Ph.D. in Child and Family Development at the University of Georgia and her undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University and Masters at Utah State University. Her hobbies include exploring new restaurants, museums, and activities, the most recent of which is country line dancing!
Bonnie Rutherford is married to Dauser Rutherford. They have two grown children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandson. She lives on a small farm in the southwestern edge of Franklin County, Kentucky. Dauser and Bonnie have been married for 51 years. Bonnie graduated from Bluegrass Community and Technical College with a GPA of 3.85 and received the Outstanding Student Achievement Award for Outstanding Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education Graduate for 2009.
Lake Charles, Louisiana
Ms. Patricia Reder has taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten in Calcasieu Parish schools. She worked for over ten years as a Head Start/Technology Facilitator for the Calcasieu Parish Early Childhood Department, as a Title I Curriculum Coordinator for John J. Johnson Elementary School, an early childhood campus that serves students in Pre-Kindergarten to Second grade. Presently, she is working as the Head Start Principal for Calcasieu Parish School System. She is an active member of the Louisiana Early Childhood Association (LAECA). She has presented at regional and state conferences on topics such as curriculum, technology, and assessment practices in the early childhood classrooms. Ms. Reder is also a CLASS Trainer, Reliable CLASS Observer for Pre-K and Toddlers, and a Pathways Certified Trainer.
Gena Puckett, EdD serves as Education and Training Specialist for the Graduate Center for the Study of Early Learning. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Education from Ashworth College, a Master of Science in Early Childhood Studies from Walden University, a Doctor of Education in Early Childhood Education from Walden University. Gena has experience in the early childhood profession for over 30 years. She has classroom experiences as a teacher in private childcare centers and Head Start. Gena's experiences also include positions as a center director, technical assistant, early childhood education coach, field supervisor, and trainer throughout the state of Mississippi.
Sarah began her education career teaching middle school science and soon found herself joining the school's administration as Dean of Students. During her time as an educator, she discovered AdvancEd (now Cognia) and began accrediting schools all over Oklahoma, New York and Michigan. Sarah discovered Primrose Schools during her time accrediting, and has found the Early Childhood Education arena to be incredibly rewarding. Sarah has a passion for training, coaching and mentoring teachers and staff, so they can better support the children and families in their communities. Sarah is known for her leadership, energy, ethical standards and hardworking nature. She loves working with her team as they strive to make a difference in the communities they serve.
South Carolina (2021-2025)
Lexington, South Carolina
Vaudrien holds an EdS Degree in School Psychology and is the owner/director of Ruby’s Academy Preschool and Child Care.
"My goals as an early childhood advocate are to stress the importance of early childhood education, promote best practices among educators, and work closely with parents as their child's first teacher."
After spending two years teaching kindergarten and elementary school in Japan, Misha moved to Nashville and joined A New Leaf. His work with the Musoan Nature Partnership cultivated in him a love of fishing, farming, building, exploring, and cooking gourmet meals in the great outdoors. He inspires wonder and appreciation for nature in his students. Misha believes that for true learning to occur, instructors and students must both learn and teach together, so the Reggio approach is a great fit for him.
Karen is the Dual Affiliates Representative for Texas AEYC. She has served in many leadership roles, is a published author, and has presented at state, regional, national, and international conference. Currently, she teaches early childhood and special education courses at Louisiana Tech University.
Mary is a Licensed Family Child Care Provider in Prince William County, Virginia. She has been in the Early Childhood Field for 27 years. She is also a Technical Assistant with Virginia Quality and works with approximately 20 family child care programs that participate with Virginia Quality.
Mary currently holds a position with Childcare Network, a resource referral agency that is contracted also by Child Care Aware. Mary provides Technical Assistance, USDA program sign-ups and visits, USDA monthly training, a monthly newsletter, and community outreach. She has served on many local and state boards and provides training.
West Virginia (2019-2025)
Connie Stout O'Dell
Connie Stout O’Dell is the Director of Teacher Education Field Placement at Glenville State College. She completed her undergraduate degree at Glenville State College in Elementary Education and Special Education Multi-Categorical Learning Disabilities, Mental Disorders, and Behavior Disorders. She earned a Master’s degree in Elementary and Early Education from West Virginia University. Connie taught public school for 8 ½ years until accepting a teaching position at Glenville State College. At GSC, she also teaches early education courses and elementary curriculum and supervises interns. She serves as a co-advisor to the Glenville State College Early Education Student Group and to the Glenville State College Student Reading Association Group. Connie has held numerous leadership roles on the West Virginia Association for Young Children governing board and is currently serving as the president of the association. She resides in Glenville, West Virginia with her husband and son.
I am especially passionate about family childcare. Fourteen of my 35 years in early childhood education has been providing one-on-one mentoring and support to family childcare providers in Mississippi. Family childcare offers families the option of a small group setting, where siblings can stay together while simultaneously meeting the needs of families with unconventional work hours. In rural parts of Mississippi, family childcare is the only option for many working families. No matter what the type of childcare setting, the most important aspect is the children. Providing children with a language-rich, nurturing, and developmentally appropriate environment enhances and fosters young minds and provides them with a solid foundation to build upon.
Jared Totsch is the current Director of Early Learning for St. Vincent Early Learning Center. Jared has been a Coach, teacher and Director of Pedagogy during his career. Jared is also an adjunct instructor teaching early childhood coursework for the University of Southern Indiana. Jared has earned degrees in the field of education from IVY Tech, the University of Southern Indiana and Ball State University.