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Candidates for Member at Large

Theresa Loch         
Teacher Researcher
Worcester, MA

I am a Teacher Researcher at Worcester Child Development Head Start Program (WCDHSP). I’ve been in the field of Early Education for 9 years working as a preschool teacher. This year is my second year in the Reggio Cohort for WCDHSP. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Salem State University. I then went on to obtain a Leadership Certificate from Quinsigamond Community College and a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Worcester State University. I’ve recently been accepted to UMass Boston’s Post Master’s Certificate in Early Education Research, Policy and Practice.

As a teacher my ability to work respectfully, meeting the diverse needs of the children and families that I work with is my mission. I work hard to create a classroom environment that is reflective of the Reggio Emilia approach, and I am mindful of the individual needs of my students. My classroom reflects the diversity of my students, and always has an inclusive atmosphere for both children and families.


What experiences, insights, aspirations will you bring to the MAAEYC board?

My family background goes back deep into the roots of Cambodia; my parents struggled with a new culture, language, and daily harassment in a struggling economy. My motivation is rooted in the trips I have taken with my parents to their native lands. I saw firsthand the effects of corruption, inappropriate punishments and lack of teaching resources in a poorly designed education system. With the negligence of an education system, the country continues to struggle to move forward from the Pol Pot regime (genocide). The parallel in racial discrimination in this country makes me strive to achieve excellence in inclusion throughout my career. I aim to educate families on their rights in the field of education and the system to ensure each child is able to be the best they can be and are set up for success.

Felicia Heywood    
Vice President of Behavioral Health/Clinical Services Sharon, MA

I am a proud Cantabrigian with a long-standing passion for supporting children and families. I began my career at The Home for Little Wanderers in 1993 and have gained experience across the spectrum of child and family focused social services. I am currently the Vice President of Behavioral Health/Clinical Services for The Home, as well as the co-chair of the agency’s Diversity and Youth Permanency Committees. I have worked for the Department of Children & Families, Wayside Youth & Family Support Network, and New Life Counseling & Wellness Center. I am a graduate of Smith College and Salem State University.


 I have co-chaired The Children's League of MA Intensive Foster Care Task Force, have served on various committees within the Association for Behavioral Health, and am a member of the Child Welfare League of America and the National Association for Social Work. I recently presented at the Re-Envisioning Foster Care in America Conference of 2019. I have a record of advocacy for children and marginalized communities and am a strong voice for positive change in these arenas.


What experiences, insights, aspirations will you bring to the MAAEYC board?

My life journey was shaped by my experiences in education, beginning with my time in Head Start. I benefitted so much from that experience, and as a result was singled out as academically gifted. Though my background did not necessarily dictate future success, school and teachers provided a refuge that put me on a path that was unimaginable from my time in foster care. I know education makes a difference. I know supported professionals are able to create opportunities. These are passions that shape my life to this day. I believe this passion, coupled with my expertise at the intersection of mental health, advocacy, and non-profit would be an asset to the MAAEYC Board, especially in light of the global events impacting children and families in 2020.

Jon Tyler         
(BPA) Business Performance Advisor
Bristol, RI

From Bristol Rhode Island, married father of (the two best kids ever) Sam & Elyse, My wife’s name is Catie. Current BPA position at Insperity: An all in one best in class HR business partner. My own passion is being a performing musician in the East Bay area. Best position ever held was that of substitute teacher, I felt as if I could connect with the students and help facilitate and bring forth a pleasant experience in the classroom.


What experiences, insights, aspirations will you bring to the MAAEYC board?

I will bring my perspective and experiences from the classroom, as well as a disposition that “sees” both sides of a situation. I feel as if I bring diplomacy as well as the ability to create instant and long lasting relationships. While bringing my own strengths and personal resources to the table, I look forward to seeing and learning other member’s strengths and what they bring to MAAEYC. Learning never stops, and I believe that the key to a successful conversation or even debate is “listening”.

Kimberly Higgins
Wincester, MA

I founded my school in September 2008, after completing a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education with a minor in Business Management from Salem State.  Before this I was a Preschool Teacher, Lead Toddler Teacher, Family Child Care provider, and finally Director.  I have a strong passion for the Reggio Emilia approach and bring this to life at my school through our calming environment, teacher and pedagogista training through the Boston Area Reggio Inspired Network, and focusing our materials on open-ended loose parts. I have two young children that attend my school.

What experiences, insights, aspirations will you bring to the MAAEYC board?


I feel my experience as Director of my own preschool would bring insight to the Board.  We are currently a Level 2 in QRIS with only an observation left to bring us to Level 3.  Unfortunately, our observation (last step) was canceled in March due to COVID-19.  I am happy to offer my space in Winchester for anything MAAEYC may need, such as a platform for advocacy purposes. This is a very exciting time in Early Childhood Education.  There is an allegiance and dedication from early educators I have not seen in my lifetime, and I am excited to get more involved.

Cheryl Hovey
Program Director
Wincester, MA

Cheryl Hovey is currently the Early Childhood Program Director at Fisher College. Previously, Cheryl has also worked at the University of Virginia at the National Center for Research on Early Childhood Education as a Research Scientist; in the pilot study of the CLASS, the NCCP, Columbia University, Mailman School of Public Health, Research Connections as a Research Description Writer, and is a CDA Professional Development Specialist. Cheryl holds positions on various organizations in the early childhood field. Cheryl Hovey is the only recipient in Rhode Island to receive the 2015 Emerging Leader Award from Child Care Exchange, Inc. and more recently was awarded the MAAEYC Gwen Morgan Leadership Award 2019.

What experiences, insights, aspirations will you bring to the MAAEYC board?


I’m a passionate and enthusiastic early childhood professional who wants to be part of a team that shares that passion and advocates on behalf of the early childhood profession. I bring three things to the table: my dedication to advancing the education of early childhood educators, enthusiasm, and my ability to take initiative. I believe my passion is reflected in the quality of my work. With my combined knowledge and enthusiasm for this profession, I consider myself a strong candidate for this position.

Marissa Fay-Martin
Executive Director 
New Bedford, MA
Marissa Fay-Martin photo.jpg

Marissa Fay-Martin began her educational journey in 2011 when she took a summer job working at a child care center. In 2017 she received her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Art Education from the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and in 2019 received her Masters degree in Education and Human Learning at the University of Colorado Denver through the Boulder Journey Schools’ Teacher Education Program. In 2018 she traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy  as part of her studies. Marissa has worked as a teacher, mentor teacher, and studio art teacher at various schools for young children. In 2020 she founded the  nonprofit organization,  New Bedford Children to promote high quality early childhood education for children in the city of New Bedford. 

What experiences, insights, aspirations will you bring to the MAAEYC board?


As a member of the board I will bring my passion for innovation and change in the field of early childhood. I believe my creativity and problem solving skills will be an asset to the team. I am passionate about high quality early childhood education for all children and am inspired by the Reggio Emilia philosophy. I recently started a nonprofit New Bedford Children, and am learning more every day. I hope my experiences with New Bedford Children can inform my work on the board and vise versa. 

Candidate for President-Elect

I am currently the Executive Director of Open Center for Children in Somerville, MA.  I started my journey there in 2018 after over 20 years in the field as a classroom teacher, teacher mentor, coach and education coordinator.  I attended my first NAEYC Professional Development Institute in the spring of 2003 and have been dedicated to the organization ever since.  I began working with MAAEYC in 2014 as a member of the Professional Development Committee, specifically helping to plan the annual conference.  I became a Board Member-at-Large in 2018.


I have had the honor of being part of the MAAEYC Board/Committee community since 2014 when I began helping to plan the annual conference.  Over the years, I’ve been awed by the dedication and commitment of the many volunteers who’ve helped with the conference and other board activities.  It fuels my passion to collaborate with and learn from so many professional early childhood educators.  I’m committed to expanding and advancing MAAEYC’s mission and to advocating for funding and equity for the children, families and early childhood workforce in Massachusetts.   

Sarah Sian
Somerville, MA

Candidate for Vice President

Patty Sinclair
Worcester, MA

Patty Sinclair has a passion for creating an early childhood educational environment that fosters creativity, inclusion, problem solving and strong family partnerships. Her drive to support and encourage teachers to be the best that they can be is at the core of her leadership.  Patty has her Master’s Degree in education and over the past 15 years she has served in multiple leadership positions at a variety of early childhood programs in both NY and MA. While in NY she served as the president of the Finger lakes AEYC, she currently serves on both the MAAEYC & Worcester AEYC board.  Patty is committed to advocacy and has recently  been involved in several forums to advocate for social justice and early childhood education.


Patty has a strong background in supporting organizations think deeply and take action on their diversity and inclusion goals.   Providing leadership to diversity advisory groups, leading training, facilitating book clubs and examining policies are just some of the ways she has supported organizations moving towards being more inclusive.

Patty is a mother of two beautiful boys and enjoys being active, exploring nature and travel. Having children has further fueled her incredible passion to build a strong and anti-bias educational foundation for students. Patty is a very dedicated leader who believes that promoting a sense of belonging encourages teamwork, open communication, and learning as a lifelong process.


Candidate for Secretary

Currently, I am a passionate Pre-K teacher at a public preschool in Peabody. I have been there for a year, after receiving my  Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education and Development from Salem State University (GO Vikings!). For 5 years prior to that I worked in Peabody Public Schools as a Title I tutor. I am a long time Peabody resident and I live with my husband of 15 years and our three amazing children, Carmela (14), Maria Rose (13) and Michael (11).

What experiences, insights, aspirations will you bring to the MAAEYC board?

Education is a career change for me, I spent 15 years as a Social Worker, mostly working with children experiencing trauma and families experiencing substance abuse. I feel that I am able to view education and policy from several different angles; as a teacher, a parent and as a therapist. A personal goal of mine has been to be a useful and dedicated member of my community and working with the board will help me toward that goal.

I bring with me a friendly energy that helps get any job done with efficiency, organization and maybe even some laughs!

Genevieve Bisesti     
Peabody, MA
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