Board of Directors

The Board of Directors of EarlystART is comprised of community volunteers and civic leaders whose diversity, expertise, advocacy, and philanthropic support uphold our mission.

With St. Mark Union Church establishing our roots, EarlystART continues to be strengthened with the support of the Heartland Presbytery. Representative leadership from these organizations serve on our Board.

Mary Jorgenson, President – Heartland Presbytery Representative

Rebecca James, Vice President – President / Administrative Services, Abovo

Theodis Watson, Treasurer – Community Business Relationship Manager, Central Bank of the Midwest

Ruby Russell, Secretary – St Luke’s Hospital (Retired) and St. Mark Union Church Representative

Tom Eatman, Board Member – Managing Member, Builders by Design, LLC

Todd Navrat, Board Member – Senior Counsel, J.E. Dunn Construction

Ruth Stricklen Pullins, Board Member – Chief Human Resources Officer, Truman Medical Centers

Cydney Ricker, Board Member – Manager of Football Communications & Administration, Kansas City Chiefs

Matthew Oates, Board Member – Electrical Engineer, Burns & McDonnell

Terra Purifoye, Board Member – Community Advocate, Sunshyne Aesthetics

Phyllis Williams Hardwick, Board Member – Community Advocate

Alexis Kerr, Board Member – Vice President, Mahogany Brand Leader, Hallmark Cards, Inc.

Joni Wickham, Board Member – Public Affairs Consultant, Wickham James  Strategies & Solutions

Executive Leadership Team

Deidre Anderson, Chief Executive Officer

Deidre Anderson has extensive experience in the fields of education, community development and child welfare. With a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in public administration, she understands how early learning lays the foundation for future academic success. Anderson was named the 2019 Evelyn Wasserstrom Award Recipient for her ongoing efforts to ensure students in Kansas City have equitable access to high quality pre-K education. Under Anderson’s innovative leadership, EarlystART is leading the way in pre-K education and empowering students and families to reach their fullest potential with creative curriculum additions, expanded partnerships, and state-wide advocacy for early childhood education.


Latresse Yarbough, Chief Finance & Operations Officer

Latresse Yarbough currently serves as the Chief Finance and Operations Officer of EarlystART. In her current role, Yarbough is responsible for managing finance and operations. Yarbough has over 15 years’ experience in finance and operational management for educational institutions. Before joining EarlystART, she worked in KC metro area charter schools learning more about school finance, charter law, and local, state, and federal compliance requirements. Yarbough holds a Bachelor of Science in business administration, a master’s degree in business administration, and a Master of Science in Accountancy. Yarbough’s knowledge of charter schools’ distinctive financial structure, building small operations start-ups, and SIS systems will provide insight to ensure the organization’s financial health, integrity, and growth.

Brittany Stewart, Director of Human Resources

Brittany Stewart has worked in the nonprofit sector for the past 9 years and believes that this work supports and empowers people of all backgrounds to work together and support their communities. Brittany discovered she had a passion for Human Resources and sought additional training which led to a career transition. She takes pride in improving her personal and professional growth by completing a fellowship with the Surge Institute and receiving a PHR certification. She is also currently working on a Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management and a certification in Nonprofit Management from Saint Mary’s University in Minnesota. She truly enjoys employee relations and is working to improve policies and procedures for the well-oiled machine of EarlystART.

Rhonda Nolen, Director of Family & Community Engagement

Rhonda Nolen has a diverse background in broadcast communications, community development, family engagement, resource coordination, and event planning. She possess a broad range of experience in cultural competency, health literacy, and parent education. Nolen holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and has worked as the Community Outreach Coordinator for a local charter school. She is a member of the 2Gen Thrive Community Action Board which works to enhance caregivers’ capacity to prevent toxic stress among children. Nolen works diligently to connect our families with valuable community resources and provide support to promote a happy and healthy family unit.

Mariah Roady, Director of Development

Mariah Roady serves as Director of Development. Using her background in the arts and experience in nonprofit development and marketing, she leads with creativity and compassion. Roady brings a dynamic background in fund development, communications, and donor engagement to EarlystART after previously working in sales and nonprofit arts administration. Roady currently works with local performing arts organizations as a teaching artist and serves on the Heart of America Shakespeare Festival’s marketing and communications committee. Rooted in the belief that art and education are catalysts for societal change and self-expression. Roady works with great enthusiasm to engage the broader community through support and advocacy for Kansas City’s littlest learners and their families.


Raina Davis, Area Early Learning & Inclusion Director

Raina Davis is the Area Early Learning and Inclusion Director for EarlystART in Kansas City, Missouri. Mrs. Davis has spent the last 20+ years working in early childhood education in the Kansas City metropolitan area.  During this time, Mrs. Davis has worked for Head Start schools in several roles; Assistant Teacher, Lead Teacher, Parent Educator, Education Coordinator, and Early Learning and Inclusion Director. Prior to assuming her role at EarlystART, Mrs. Davis served as a Head Start teacher for Independence MO Public Schools and Kansas City Public Schools.  Mrs. Davis received her Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Development from Missouri State University in Springfield, MO and holds a master’s degree in Elementary Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Education from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, MO.  Her love for early childhood education is a calling she believes has been rooted in her since childhood.  She believes that every child, no matter where they come from, deserves a quality early childhood education, and it is the duty of all the adults in their lives to help build that foundation for future learning and lifelong success.