Meet our Governing Board

The Idaho AEYC Governing Board serves to support, promote and facilitate the goals and objectives of Idaho AEYC. Members serve 2-year terms beginning July 1 of the year elected and extend to June 30 of the final year of the term.

LeAnn Simmons
President (Boise)
LeAnn recently retired as Executive Director of Idaho Voices for Children. She continues to be a strong advocate for quality early learning for Idaho’s children. LeAnn is an experienced leader through her past director positions held at United Way of Treasure Valley and Care Source. She is very skilled at fundraising, grant writing and developing coalitions and partnerships geared toward serving families and children.

LeAnn graduated from Brigham Young University with a BS in Recreation Administration, and achieved a Community Development Certification from Northwest Community Development Institute. She was also named an Idaho Business Review Women of the Year in 2009 and was recently involved with the Idaho Third Grade Reading Task Force and Governor’s Education Reform Task Force.

LeAnn is a long-time Boise resident who enjoys hiking, golfing and skiing.
Genie Sue Weppner
Past President (Boise)
EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND Bachelor of Arts, Carleton College, Northfield, MN, Sociology Major, Education Minor Master of Fine Arts, University of Miami, Miami FL

Genie Sue worked for the Department of Health and Welfare since 1997 up until her recent retirement. She has been a Program Manager for regional operations in Southeastern Idaho responsible for delivery of Food Stamp, cash assistance, child care, Medicaid and services to the Adult, Aged, Blind and Disabled from 1997 through 2003. In 2003, she moved to Boise to manage the Idaho Child Care Program, Temporary Assistance for Families in Idaho (TAFI) Program, and the Community Action Agency's programs which include Weatherization, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, Temporary Food Assistance Program and Idaho State Telephone Assistance Program. Currently, she manages the Idaho Child Care Program and the Community Action Agency Programs.

Prior to that, she had 15 years of experience working in the private non-profit sector, working for the Southeastern Idaho Community Action Agency as the Deputy Director, the Director of the YWCA of Pocatello, and Director of a child care resource and referral agency known as All 'Bout Children Services in Pocatello.

She is a potter in her spare time and produces utilitarian ware such as plates, cups, bowls, and casseroles.
Chase Ropelato
President-Elect (Boise)
Chase is a Human Resource Specialist for Idaho Power in the Boise Corporate Headquarters. He has worked in the Human Resource field for over six years and hopes to use his experience in the for-profit sector to provide a new perspective on the board. Chase’s past volunteer work includes serving as Society for Human Resource (SHRM) President and Relay for Life Team Captain. He earned his B.S. in Management and Human Resources at the University of Idaho.
Danielle Jorgensen
Treasurer (Kuna)

Danielle Jorgensen is Assistant General Manager for YMC, Inc. in Meridian, ID. Previously, she worked for Oppenheimer Cos., in multiple positions spanning nine years with the most recent, Assistant Controller. Other positions were Oppenheimer Development Corp.'s Financial and Property Manager.


Danielle has excelled in financials, customer service and being a team player. She has a contagious attitude and a willingness to learn and strive to do her best at any project or task she is performing.  Danielle earned two Bachelors of Business Administration, one in International Business and one in Human Resource Management with minors in Economics and Business Spanish from Boise State University.  She is a member of the Leadership Boise Alumni Association and was in the graduating class of 2017.


Danielle has a daughter, Brielle, two dogs and enjoys family, friends, flower gardening and reading.

Cammra Wakagawa
Boise Representative (Boise)

Cammra Wakagawa is the Area Director for New Horizon Academy and has worked for the company for 15 years starting out as a teacher and moving up to management and administration.

Cammra’s passion is children and how to bring joy and knowledge into their lives. While working at New Horizon Academy, she has been blessed to be able to advocate on children’s behalf. Cammra has visited our leaders in Washington D.C. with IAEYC and is a member of Treasure Valley Education Partnership.

Cammra has successfully lead each of the four New Horizon Academy locations through the NAEYC Accreditation process as well as achieving star ratings with IdahoSTARS QRIS. New Horizon strives to do what is best for children and is proud that 100% of its eligible programs are NAEYC accredited.

Cammra and her husband, Kevin, have four children. She graduated with her degree in Early Childhood Education from Ashworth College and has over 120 training hours with IdahoSTARS since 2008.

Tonya Sears
Coeur d'Alene Representative (Post Falls)
Tonya is the Classroom Lead Teacher at the North Idaho College Head Start. She has been a teacher in the Head Start Program for the past 11 years. Tonya has also been employed at Fernan Elementary and the North Idaho Violence Prevention Center. She is a past Board member of the Idaho Epilepsy Foundation. Tonya received her A.S. from North Idaho College; her B.S. in Child, Family and Consumer Studies; her M.S. in Family and Consumer Studies; and Tonya is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Special Education at the University of Idaho.
Phyllis E. Vernon
Nampa/Caldwell Representative (Emmett)

Phyllis Vernon has been employed at Western Idaho Community Action Partnership Head Start in Payette since 1999. At WICAP, she is currently serving as the School Readiness Specialist and has served as a Home Base Specialist, Home Base Coordinator, Children Service Field Advisor, Child/Family Advocate and Teacher 1.

Phyllis has an Associate of Science in Elementary Education from Volunteer State Community College; and an Early Childhood Endorsement from Treasure Valley Community College, as well as completing Social Services Competency Based Training from WICAP Head Start. In 2011, she achieved Certificates of Completion in the Program for Infant/Toddler Care. Phyllis received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Walden University in 2010 and is currently working on her Master’s Degree.

Phyllis is currently serving as the AIM Early Idaho – President-Elect and is a Lifetime Girl Scout/Trainer for the Girl Scouts of Silver Sage. She enjoys camping, reading and spending time with her three dogs.

Corey Lewis
Pocatello Representative (Pocatello)

Corey is the owner/director of The Lighthouse Preschool and Childcare Center, LLC in Pocatello. She has been working in the childcare profession for over 25 years and is committed to the goal of providing high-quality care to all children. Corey has an Associate’s degree in Marketing and Management and in Child Development from Idaho State University. She is currently working on her Director’s Credential from Aim4Excellence. Corey is a volunteer for CASA, the Pocatello Childcare Advisory Board and is a Donate Life committee member.

Nichole Moos, NBCT-EC
Sun Valley Representative (Ketchum)

Nichole Moos has been a preschool/kindergarten teacher since 2005. She currently works as a Preschool Teacher in the Early Childhood Center at Community School in Ketchum. In 2009, she earned her M.A. in Early Childhood Education from West Virginia University and in 2005, a B.A. in Early Childhood Studies from Boise State University. She holds the following certifications: National Board Certified Early Childhood Generalist, Idaho Blended Early Childhood Certificate and Illinois Master Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Teaching.

In addition to being a NAEYC member, she is a member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance.

Ellen Neff
Twin Falls Representative (Twin Falls)

Ellen has 35 years of experience working with young children in various educational settings. She is a former board member for AIM Early Idaho. Ellen is an Associate Professor in the Early Childhood Education Program at the College of Southern Idaho and has her M.Ed. in Early Childhood Studies with an Infant Mental Health endorsement.

Avery Bolton
Emerging Leader Representative (Moscow)

Avery is the newly-appointed Emerging Leader Representative to our Board. She is majoring in child development and has studied observation methods and developing curriculum for young children at the University of Idaho. Avery will graduate in December 2018. She is a member and event director at Kappa Alpha Theta and has been engaged with the Boys and Girls Club in Garden City since 2015.

Ruth Calnon
Member (Boise)
Ruth has been a Family Engagement Consultant with the Boise Independent School District since 2004. She has worked in the education field for over 35 years. Ruth graduated with a B.A. in Early Childhood Education in 1976, an M.A. in Elementary Education from the University of Florida and an Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instructions from Boise State University. She is a member of NAEYC, sits on the Boards of Trinity Treasures Preschool and Friends of Children and Families. Ruth is currently serving as the first Vice President of Delta Kappa Gamma.
Cristina Daccarett
Member (Boise)

Cristina Daccarett is a Senior Continuous Improvement Coach at St. Luke’s Health System and has been employed at St. Luke’s since 2013. She has a Master of Health Services Administration from the University of Michigan and a Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Purdue University. She is a member of the Little Luke’s Parent Advisory Council.

Janet Davis
Member (Boise)
Janet is the Co-Owner of Early Learning Children’s Center in Boise. She is a retired IdahoSTARS-approved trainer, mentor/coach and certified child care health consultant. Janet has over 28 years of quality early care and education in the profession. She has assessed several child care centers as an environmental assessor for Idaho AEYC and has worked for three NAEYC accredited programs. Janet has advanced graduate studies in Early Childhood Education and a B.A. in Elementary Education from Boise State University. She is a very active Treasure Valley AEYC member and has been involved with several other nonprofit organizations in the community.
Margaret Elkins
Member (Boise)
Margaret Elkins is the Director of Wesleyan Preschool and Kindergarten in Boise. As an early childhood educator for the past 27 years, she has participated in developing, maintaining and advocating for high-quality early childhood programs at the local, state and national level. Margaret has a wealth of knowledge and understanding of the Idaho Early Learning Guidelines, the Idaho STARS Project, the Idaho Child Care Program and the Idaho Core Competencies for Early Care and Education.

Margaret has been directly involved with Idaho AEYC since 2010 having served as a Mentor/Coach, Mentor/Coach Coordinator and Idaho STARS Project Director. She currently serves as a Member-at-Large and Professional Development Leadership Chair on the Idaho AEYC Board.

Margaret received a B.A.S in Child Care and Development from Boise State University. She has served as an ex officio member on the Idaho Child Care Provider Advisory Board, and is a past member of the Idaho Early Childhood Coordinating Council and College of Western Idaho’s Early Childhood Education Technical Advisory Committee.
Margaret Ganyo
Member (Pocatello/Chubbuck)

Margaret Ganyo has been the CEO of the United Way of Southeastern Idaho for the past 14 years. Prior to that she served on the leadership team of Pocatello Neighborhood Housing Services, now NeighborWorks Pocatello. There, Margaret helped secure Community Development Financial Institution status for PNHS to provide investment capital to neighborhoods in Pocatello.

Before moving to Pocatello, Margaret served as the Director of Pro Bono Services for Utah Legal Services. She is a licensed attorney in Utah, Washington and California and practiced law for six years.

Margaret and her husband Mike Denning have two sons and two granddaughters and they love calling Pocatello/Chubbuck their home.

Jessica Gunder
Member (Boise)
Jessica currently serves as an Assistant U.S. Attorney with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho. Before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office, she worked as a Trial Attorney with the Department of Justice's Consumer Protection Branch in Washington, D.C. Her responsibilities included advancing criminal and civil litigation related to the protection of public health and safety. Jessica received her J.D. from the University of Missouri School of Law and her B.A. in Political Science and Sociology, both times graduating with honors.
Bessie Katsilometes, PhD
Member (Meridian)

Bessie Katsilometes is a retired Associate Vice President/Dean from the Meridian Health Center at Idaho State University where she worked for thirty years in various capacities. She earned a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Humanities with a Concentration in Transformative Studies from the California Institute of Integral Studies. In 1990, Bessie earned her Master in Public Administration from Idaho State University and in 1973, she received her Bachelor of Arts Degree/Social Work from Idaho State University. Throughout her life, Bessie has served on various committees and boards and was recently appointed to the Governor’s Higher Education Task Force.

Shawna A. Potter
Member (Boise)

Shawna Potter is an HR Professional in Development & Performance Improvement at Idaho Power Company where she has worked since 2015. She received her Bachelor of Arts, majoring in Psychology and with a minor in Spanish, from the University of Puget Sound in 2010. Shawna is currently pursuing her Master of Business Administration at Boise State University and has a Professional in HR Certificate.

Beth Price, PhD
Member (Moscow)
Beth is an Associate Professor/Program Coordinator, Early Childhood Development and Education, at the University of Idaho in Moscow and has been in the field of early childhood for 33 years. She has also taught development and early education courses to teachers and caregivers, has experience working at two NAEYC accredited centers and knowledge as a NAEYC accreditation validator. Beth has served on the Lewis Clark Early Childhood Program Board and is a member of North Idaho AEYC and NAECTE. She has a Ph.D. in Education and M.S. in Family and Consumer Sciences from the University of Idaho; an M.A. in Education in Curriculum and Instruction from New Mexico State University and a B.S. in Vocational Home Economics Education from Colorado State University.

Ex Officio Members

Beth Oppenheimer
Ex Officio (Boise)

Beth Oppenheimer has served as the Executive Director of the Idaho Association for the Education of Young Children (Idaho AEYC) since 2010. She has spent many years advocating for the needs of our children and families and is committed to advancing opportunities for all Idaho families. As a working mother of two children, she understands the challenges facing working families and their abilities to support their children’s early care and learning. Previously, Beth served as the Associate Director for the Student Union Building at Boise State University. She has also worked at the University of Idaho, and has worked on education, policy, and development issues for the Junior Achievement of the National Capital Area and the Institute for Women’s Policy Research in Washington, DC.

Beth is very involved in her community and serves on several boards and committees which include the Treasure Valley YMCA, United Way Vision Council and is the newest member to the Boise School District Board of Trustees.

Beth and her husband, Jonathan reside in Boise and have two young daughters, Maddie and Annabelle.

Bill Foxcroft
Ex Officio (Boise)

Bill is the Executive Director of the Idaho Head Start Association. He’s been in this position for four years. The IHSA provides member services and advocacy for Idaho’s 13 Head Start and Early Head Start programs which serve over 5,000 low income Idaho children from birth to five. Previously, Bill worked as the Executive Director of the Idaho Primary Care Association, serving Idaho’s community and migrant health centers; and as the Executive Director of the Lake Roosevelt Community Health Center for the Colville Confederated Tribes. He’s also been a grant writer, a health planner and a consultant in various capacities.


Board Minutes

Click here to view board minutes from 2016-2018.


Board Resources

Click here to access board resources.