Donna Cooper, Executive Director
Donna Cooper is the Executive Director of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY), the Greater Philadelphia region’s leading child advocacy organization that influences elected officials by combining useful research, practical solution-oriented policy recommendations with the mobilization of citizens who advance the organization’s work on behalf of children. Prior to PCCY, Cooper was a senior fellow at respected national think tank, the Center for American Progress, where she led the Center’s research on early childhood education, public infrastructure and was a contributing researcher to the Center’s work to reduce the incidence of poverty. Cooper served as the Secretary of Policy and Planning for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2003–2010 where she was responsible for the state’s education, public supports, environmental and health care policy. While in that position, Cooper led the development of the state’s Cover All Kids program which expanded access to affordable health care to nearly every child in the state. Cooper also led the seven year effort to boost funding for public education that increased K-12 funding by over $2 billion and designed the state’s groundbreaking school funding formula which was enacted in 2008. In that position, she also helped launched the state’s model approach to investments in early childhood education and increased funding to make college affordable for low income and working class students while creating one of the nation’s best systems to ensure that community college students can easily transfer credits to four year colleges. Cooper was the founding Executive Director of Good Schools a grassroots organizing campaign that successfully pushed public education to the top issue in the 2002 race for Governor. Cooper also served as the City of Philadelphia’s Deputy Mayor of Policy and Planning from 1999–2002 where she designed and led the Greater Philadelphia Works Program, one of the nation’s largest and most successful efforts to help single mothers on welfare achieve self-sufficiency. Cooper has a Master’s degree in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania, Fels Center of Government, as well as a master’s degree in Intercultural Management from the School for International Training. To reach Donna by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 30 or by email, donnac at pccy dot org.
Judy Adamson, Chief Financial Officer
Judy Adamson joined PCCY in 2014, bringing over 40 years of financial and non-profit administrative management experience to the organization. Judy has an impressive track record of developing and guiding financial systems for organizations experiencing growth or contraction, especially in times of leadership transition. All of her work stems from a place of commitment to bettering the lives of Philadelphia citizens (and strengthening the institutions that serve them), especially those whose lives are disadvantaged by poverty. In addition to financial management, she assists PCCY with development management and modernizing administrative systems. Judy has an MBA from Temple University in General and Strategic Management. She was the CFO/Managing Director for Research for Action for 22 years prior to coming to PCCY. She works as a financial consultant with a range of non-profit organizations, including Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Community Education Center, Friends of the Free Library, and SOWN. Email Judy at judya at pccy dot org.
Molly Dougherty, Grants Officer
Molly Dougherty is the Grants Officer of Public Citizens for Children and Youth (PCCY). Prior to PCCY, Molly led three small contemporary arts organizations— the Galleries at Moore College of Art + Design, the Foundation for Self-Taught American Artists, and the Philadelphia Art Alliance. Since 2011, she has served as a grant writer, business and development consultant, and volunteer on a range of visual arts projects, documentary films, and television commercials at such diverse organizations as the Philadelphia History Museum, Arthur Ross Gallery, online magazine Next City, and MD Anderson Cooper Cancer Center. Most recently, at the Pennsylvania School for the Deaf, Dougherty implemented new initiatives: spearheading their rebranding effort, completing the design and installation of a long delayed elementary school playground, and launching a series of special events to promote the school’s impending 200th Anniversary. We are delighted to leverage Molly’s proven success as a grant writer, ties to the local funding communities, and her ability to initiate and foster relationships. To reach Molly by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 20 or by email, mollyd at pccy dot org.
Laurie Dow, Vulnerable Youth Policy Director
Laurie Dow is a committed public servant dedicated to the protection and well-being of children and families. After clerking in the Dependency Division of the Family Court of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Laurie Joined the Child Welfare Unit of the Law Department of Philadelphia, where she rose through the ranks to become a Divisional Deputy City Solicitor. Laurie specialized in aggravated abuse and neglect cases and served on the multi-disciplinary Act 33 Child Fatality and Near Fatality Review Team. Prior to joining PCCY, Laurie was a Director of Quality Assurance and Corporate Compliance for a children and youth residential care provider. Laurie has continued to be a resource to the child welfare community, through her training on issues related to child welfare, abuse, and neglect. Laurie holds a Juris Doctor and a Masters of Law degree in Transnational Law from Temple University Beasley School of Law. To reach Laurie by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 28 or by email, lauried at pccy dot org.
Caroline Estey King, Major Gifts Director
Caroline King brings to PCCY over 20 years of practical, hands-on experience in Philadelphia’s non-profit community with special expertise in strategic planning, capital campaigns, government relations and individual major gift fundraising. Caroline’s particular areas of expertise include major donor and volunteer relations, membership and annual fund campaigns, board management and training, strategic planning, government relations and development communications. Caroline has coordinated numerous annual funds, special gift initiatives, and capital campaigns and has planned and implemented both large and small special events. Caroline has served for the past several years as an independent consultant working with different non-profit organizations on initiatives ranging from multi-million dollar capital campaigns to public art initiatives to image building strategies. To reach Caroline by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 31 or by email, carolinek at pccy dot org.
Steven Fynes, Administrative Director
Steven’s work focuses on maintaining PCCY’s IT infrastructure and office environment including database and Office 365 administration, network and workstation updates, assisting program directors on special projects and the design and layout for PCCY’s research and reports. Steven is also the primary coordinator for PCCY’s major events including rallies in Harrisburg and Philadelphia and the annual “Celebration of the Public Citizen for Children and Youth” and our gaming/technology event, “STEMCraft”. Steven is also a member of PCCY’s development team focusing on individual fundraising. Prior to joining PCCY in 1995, Steven worked as an Administrative Director for Friends of Philadelphia Parks. To reach Steven by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 11 or by email, stevenf at pccy dot org.
Tim Gibbon, Picasso Project Director
Tim’s work as Picasso Project Director is rooted in a commitment to providing and advocating for arts education for Philadelphia’s children and youth. Prior to joining PCCY, Tim has worked as Program Coordinator for Congreso de Latinos Unidos’s afterschool and summer programs in North Philadelphia. He has also worked with several socially-engaged arts and education projects, as reForm Project Director with Temple Contemporary, Bilingual Project Coordinator for Philadelphia Mural Arts, and Community Organizer for Philadelphia Photo Arts Center. Additionally, Tim has experience as a Teaching Artist in a wide variety of school and community settings. Tim holds a masters degree in Art Education with Certificate in Community Arts Practices from Temple University’s Tyler School of Art. To reach Tim by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 22 or by email, timg at pccy dot org.
Shirlee Howe, Education Coordinator for Montgomery and Delaware Counties
Shirlee’s focus is to engage stakeholders in suburban counties to join the conversation of equitably funding area schools and encourage the expansion of high quality pre-k. Prior to joining PCCY in 2015, Shirlee managed the Child and Adult Care Food Program, serving family and group day care home providers throughout the Philadelphia region. She began her career in early childhood education with CCIS-North. Her work there included enrolling subsidy eligible children in the Child Care Matters initiative. She holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy and Practice. To reach Shirlee by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 34 or by email, shirleeh at pccy dot org.
Amy Kobeta, Communications Director
Amy Kobeta brings more than 25 years of experience in advocacy communications and organizing. She specializes in designing communications materials that are easy to use, understand and share. From 2007 to 2015, Amy was the Vice President of Children’s Action Alliance, Arizona’s leading child advocacy organization, where she managed traditional and social media, website and publication design, and advocacy materials. She also ran the Children’s Action Alliance Leadership Academy, which taught communications and lobbying skills to emerging leaders. For eight years, Amy served on the Phoenix Union High School Governing Board, providing citizen oversight of district’s policies and $26 million annual budget, and authorizing programs and policies to improve the performance of approximately 27,000 students and 3,000 staff. She has a Master of Public Administration degree from New York University/University College London, and moved to East Kensington in October 2020. Email Amy at amyk at pccy dot org.
David Loeb, Research Associate
David researches issues affecting the region’s children and provides administrative support for the Pre-K for PA campaign. He served at PCCY as an AmeriCorps VISTA right out of college, working on the Read by 4th campaign. He continued that work at the Free Library of Philadelphia until 2016, when he returned to PCCY as a staff member. David holds a B.A. from Temple University. To reach David by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 13 or by email, davidl at pccy dot org.
Mai Miksic, Early Childhood Education Policy Director
Mai Miksic leads PCCY’s early childhood advocacy, including coordinating and working with the state-wide coalition for child care Start Strong PA. She holds a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree in social work from the Columbia University. Prior to joining PCCY, Mai was the senior research analyst at the Day Care Council of New York (DCCNY), where her research advocated for early childhood programs across New York City. Mai’s research has focused on evaluating an early childhood career ladder program, determining the cost of pay parity for early childhood educators from community-based organizations, and advocating for community-based early childhood programs in New York City’s Housing Authority (NYCHA) buildings. Other previous research examined the effects of No Child Left Behind on children of immigrants and the black-white achievement gap. She comes from an immigrant family and attended Head Start as a child. Her mother was also a family child care provider. She lives in Havertown, PA with her husband and four-year old daughter. To reach Mai by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 18 or by email, maim at pccy dot org.
Colleen McCauley, Health Policy Director
Colleen’s research leads the conversation in southeastern Pennsylvania and Harrisburg on children’s access to health care and health insurance issues. Her work on child health focuses on researching and advocating for improved access to health care, particularly among uninsured, undocumented families in Philadelphia and suburbs. Prior to joining PCCY in 2001, Colleen was a nurse and former Assistant Director of the Abbottsford Community Health Center in Philadelphia. McCauley holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Temple University. To reach Colleen by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 33 or by email, colleenm at pccy dot org.
Mildred Mendez, Health Insurance Enroller (Spanish)
Mildred comes to PCCY coming out retirement to help parents in obtaining medical insurance for their children. Mildred comes to PCCY being recruited first as a volunteer and then joining the staff as a part time-worker to assist Spanish speaking families apply for medical insurance through Medicaid or CHIP. Prior to joining PCCY Mildred worked with the First Judicial District of Philadelphia for 31 years, first with the adult Probation Department in a variety of administrative positions and then transferred over to the Juvenile Division, Dependency Unit where she worked as a Court Rep. In her previous positions Mildred served as interpreter on several occasions. Mildred is a graduate of Jules E Mastbaum Area Vocational Technical High School. To reach Mildred by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 27 or by email, mildredm at pccy dot org.
Dan O’Brien, Education Coordinator for Bucks County
Dan was born and raised in Levittown, PA, where he currently resides with his family. Dan was a teacher until 2018 when he decided to leave the classroom. Inspired by his students, Dan then entered politics and government to help change a broken education system and fight for the most vulnerable. Following his teaching career, Dan was the Campaign Coordinator for a state senate race in Bucks County. Immediately prior to coming to PCCY, he was the Director for Local Government Relations for a current Bucks County state senator. Dan’s work at PCCY includes advocating for expanded access to affordable child care and to ensure Pennsylvania does its part to provide a high quality education for all children. To reach Dan by phone, call 215-630-9592 or by email, dano at pccy dot org.
Anjanette Perry, Child HealthWatch HelpLine Coordinator
Anjanette’s focus at PCCY is to help parents of uninsured and underinsured children apply for health insurance through Medicaid or CHIP. Prior to joining PCCY, Anjanette worked with Child Care Information Services (CCIS) for over 15 years helping low-income families apply for subsidized childcare. Her first position was with CCIS West/Southwest as a Resource and Referral Specialist helping parents complete subsidy applications, provide available resource and referrals and attend community outreach events. Through Anjanette’s hard work and dedication she also held the position of Sr. Resource and Referral Specialist and Parent Services Manager. Anjanette also worked at CCIS Northwest as a TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) Eligibility Specialist. The goal of this position was to review, analyze and process intakes and applications based on the PA Dept. of Public Welfare eligibility requirements. Anjanette has an Associate of Arts Degree in Human Services Management from the University of Phoenix. To reach Anjanette by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 17 or by e-mail anjanettep at pccy dot org
Tomea A. Sippio-Smith, K12 Policy Director
Born in Los Angeles, California and raised in Miami, Florida, Tomea has dedicated her career to service. As a newly licensed Florida attorney, she started a practice representing clients in civil matters. Subsequently, as an attorney for the state of Florida, she handled dependency proceedings for children who had been abused, abandoned or neglected. Most recently, she represented the Agency for Persons with Disabilities in fair hearings for service authorizations, eligibility and crisis determinations. Her work as a former substitute teacher, adjunct professor and legal intern for a School Board Attorney’s Office, fostered her commitment to equity in education. She holds a Master’s degree in Education Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and Juris Doctor degree from the University of Florida. Currently, she lives outside of Philadelphia with her two children. To reach Tomea by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 36 or by email, tomeas at pccy dot org.
Gail Smith, Financial and Human Resources Administrator
For over 25 years of PCCY’s growth and development, Gail has been responsible for day-to-day operations ensuring human resources, payroll and accounting functions operate efficiently. Prior to joining PCCY, Gail worked with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia where she served in various administrative support capacities. She’s a graduate of West Catholic High School for Girls and is a native of Philadelphia. To reach Gail by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 24 or by email, gails at pccy dot org.
ML Wernecke, Director, PA Charter School Performance Center
ML has over 30 years of policy experience with government and nonprofit organizations, advancing ambitious, practical, evidence-based solutions that improve governance, performance and fair allocation and utilization of tax dollars to meet the needs of citizens. In a senior policy position in the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office, ML led the development of a historic $100 million package of education and workforce improvements that were enacted and implemented statewide. In her most recent position as the Director of Policy at Benefits Data Trust, ML crafted highly targeted new policies that were adopted in six states, benefiting over 500,000 low income family members. ML’s tenure as a senior team member of the Pennsylvania Governor Office and Chief of Staff for the Maryland Department of Human Resources affords her a unique and tested understanding of how to advance public sector reforms that align governance, financing and accountability to support sound delivery of high quality government services effecting children and families. ML began her career at Wharton Econometrics where she was part of the forecasting team on the international side of the company. She also directed Penn’s Cartographic Modeling Lab, an early innovator in online mapping to help solve urban and social problems. ML graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania and earned a graduate degree from the Princeton School of Public and International Affairs. ML’s expertise includes highly technical legislative and regulatory review and budget analysis, preparing persuasive testimony and reports, crafting sound policy, and overseeing implementation – all skills that will now be put to use to improve Pennsylvania’s education sector with a special focus on the charter school system. To reach ML by phone, call 215-563-5848 ext. 29 or by email, mlwernecke at pccy dot org.