Becky joined Clayton Early Learning in June 2019, with a career focused on educational excellence and equity as a nonprofit leader and strategy consultant with school districts, nonprofit, and philanthropy clients. Most recently, Becky was a Fellow at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative focused on innovative school models that develop the whole child. Becky founded the Talent Advising Practice at Bellwether Education Partners and co-authored Unrealized Impact: The Case for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, a national study focused on the education sector. Previously, Becky served as Executive Director of Partners in School Innovation in San Francisco and started her career as a researcher. Becky is a Pahara Fellow in the Aspen Global Leadership Network. Becky holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Stanford where she co-captained the NCAA championship swim team; a master’s degree in education from the Stanford School of Education; and a master’s degree in management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
Kia Abdool, Executive Director, School
Kia joined Clayton in the fall of 2020 to fill a newly created position adding leadership capacity to Educare Denver at Clayton Early Learning. Kia is an experienced teacher, school leader, and coach, and is deeply committed to fostering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging for staff, children, and families. As the leader of the school, Kia sets the vision and strategy, oversees classroom operations and family engagement, all within a lens of continuous improvement to build upon Clayton’s national recognition for excellence in the field of early childhood. Previously Kia worked in Denver Public Schools, most recently as a school principal. She holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Midland Lutheran College, a master’s of science in curriculum and instruction from Peru State College, and a master’s of arts in administrative leadership and policy studies from the University of Colorado Denver. She also holds a national principal fellowship certificate.
Sarah Berkman, Vice President, Development
Sarah is responsible for prospecting, cultivating, and stewarding donors and grants on behalf of Clayton Early Learning. She also oversees internal and external marketing and communications, helping to advance the brand and recognition of the organization, as well as Clayton’s policy and advocacy work to influence systems leaders and advance the field of early childhood. Prior to joining the Clayton team in February of 2015, Sarah worked for the University of Northern Colorado as the director of corporate and foundation relations. Sarah has more than 24 years of experience in management positions with various industries, both for-profit and nonprofit, with skills in strategic planning, fundraising, program implementation, and community networking. Sarah attended Trinity College where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, and the University of Denver, Daniels College of Business, earning an international master’s degree in business administration.
Mark Fenstermacher, Chief Financial Officer
Mark joined Clayton Early Learning in March 2020 to oversee finance, accounting, facility, and information technology areas. Prior to joining Clayton, Mark spent seven years as CFO with K-12 independent schools where he developed a passion for education and improving the learning environments for children. While working within independent schools, he was instrumental in restructuring labor and benefits platforms to help support and reward great teaching. Mark also spearheaded many transformational capital improvement projects such as a library redesign, commercial kitchen build-out, and construction of a state-of-the-art turf field. Before partnering with independent schools, Mark served nine years as CFO of the Vail Valley Foundation and played a key role in the acquisition of the 2015 World Alpine Ski Championships. Prior to entering the non-profit sector, he worked in the accounting and corporate finance departments for T. Rowe Price and Vail Resorts. Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Lehigh University.
Sheridan Green, Vice President, Research & Evaluation
Sheridan oversees and directs Clayton’s research, evaluation, and assessment departments with diverse teams conducting a variety of internal and external projects including the national Educare research and evaluation study, the Embrace workforce intervention study, an early childhood COVID-19 partnership study with National Jewish Health, the Early Head Start child care partnership evaluation, and the Colorado Shines quality rating improvement system. An applied researcher in education and child welfare promoting educational equity and outcomes for children of color, her interests center on whole child school readiness and early childhood professional development. Prior to Clayton, Sheridan held several university, government, and consulting firm research leadership positions, and was recognized with a graduate scholar award in 2013 from the College of Education and Behavior Sciences at the University of Northern Colorado. Sheridan holds a master’s degree in human development and family studies from Colorado State University and a doctorate in applied statistics and research methods from the University of Northern Colorado.
Paula Smith, Vice President, Educational Services
Paula has more than 25 years of front-line experience working in Early Head Start and Head Start programs, passionately serving culturally diverse children from birth to age five, and their families. Since joining Clayton, Paula has led and managed all aspects of education, health, mental health, early intervention, and child and family services to support school readiness and strengthen families. She has also directed and leveraged numerous community partnerships throughout the State, enhancing both quality and access to early childhood care and education programs, particularly for underserved communities. Paula currently provides leadership and oversight of Clayton’s school-based, home-based, and community-based early childhood programs with an additional focus on strategic initiatives that include professional development and coaching throughout Colorado. Paula earned a bachelor of science degree in criminal justice from Indiana University, and a master’s degree in early childhood studies, specializing in management, administration, and leadership from Walden University.