Professional Bio's

For general inquiries, email or call (401) 739-6100. View staff bios by clicking on their name.

Administration Staff

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Lisa A. Hildebrand, M.A.

Executive Director — ext. 301

Lisa Hildebrand is the Executive Director of the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children, the state affiliate for the National Organization for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).

Lisa earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology with minors in Education and Philosophy from the University of Rhode Island and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Webster University.  She came to Rhode Island AEYC after more than 15 years at Sherman College of Chiropractic, a doctorate program in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the last eight of which she served as Director of Admission and then Vice President for Enrollment Services. She was also previously a faculty member at Spartanburg Community College and taught graduate level courses at Sherman College, including Psychology, Human Growth and Development and Child Development.

Prior to this appointment, Lisa was the Assistant Director for Rhode Island AEYC, and was hired to assist in the development and management of the Rhode Island Child Care Resource and Referral Center, a Rhode Island Department of Human Services (DHS) contract previously held by Rhode Island AEYC. She also was responsible for coordinating quality improvement initiatives for the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS), BrightStars.

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Sizer Avila

Operations Manager — ext. 304

Sizer Avila, started at the agency as an Administrative Assistant over 9 years ago, moved on to Program Assessment Specialist where she conducted assessments in different child care and education settings, and has now become the new operations manager.  Sizer has worked in the education field for more than fifteen years.  Before joining RIAEYC/BrightStars, Sizer worked for the Department of Human Services in New Jersey as a Bilingual Human Service Specialist.  She had also worked as crew leader assistant, for the Unites States Department of Commerce and as a school bus driver for Providence Schools District.  Sizer is reliable on the ECERS-3, ITERS-3, and FCCERS-3 Environment Rating Scales.  Sizer is also a certified Pre-K CLASS Observer.

Sizer holds a degree in Business Administration from Berkeley College of Business in New Jersey and a B.A in Theology from DaySpring University. In her free time, she likes to volunteer to serve in events that serve and give back to the community.

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Saimary Osorio

Administrative Assistant/Child Care Referral Specialist— ext. 302

Saimary Osorio is a bilingual certified medical assistant that has worked for the RI Free clinic for 2 years helping the people with no insurance access quality health care. Saimary loves working with children, she has been the director of the children’s ministry at her local church for the past 3 years and has worked as an assistant director for over 5 years.  Saimary has worked with the Providence YMCA before and after school programs, and in summer camp teaching art classes and has started studying Early Childhood Education. In her free time she loves to sing, write songs, do nails, drawing and spending time with her family. 

Quality Improvement Staff

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Hannah DeConti, M.Ed.

Manager of Quality Improvement — ext. 305

Hannah DeConti, M.Ed. is the Manager of Quality Improvement at the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children. She has a Master of Early Childhood Education from Wheelock College and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Psychology from the University of Rhode Island.

Hannah has extensive experience managing the daily operations of high-quality early learning centers. Her experience teaching in early childhood classrooms has fueled her passion for supporting anti-bias, child-driven environments to better the lives of young children and their families. Her competency in relevant and effective business administration skills are regularly being developed through continuous learning.

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Alyson Panzarella, M.J.

Coordinator of Program Quality - ext. 313

Alyson Panzarella, M.J. is the Coordinator of Program Quality at RIAEYC. She joined the team as a Program Assessment Intern for BrightStars in January 2014. Following her internship, she began consulting for the agency in the assessment department. After gaining classroom experience as a preschool teacher in Warren, RI, Alyson joined the RIAEYC team in December 2015.

Alyson holds a Master of Jurisprudence in Children’s Law and Policy at Loyola University Chicago and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies with a focus in child settings from the University of Rhode Island. Her years in the field have been dedicated to advancing equity and developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood education policy. 

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Dilcia Perdomo

Bilingual BrightStars Navigator — ext. 308

Dilcia Perdomo, Bilingual BrightStars Navigator, has been in the field for nine years. She volunteers her time in the community to benefit a variety of organizations.  Before coming to RIAEYC/Bright Stars, Dilcia was employed as a Bilingual Family Child Care Case Manager Child & Adult Care Food Program for Children’s Friend and Service where she offered technical assistance and support to family child care providers through regular home visits and phone contacts to ensure compliance with the Child and Adult Care Food program (CACFP) requirements as well as providing and created opportunities to educate individual and group training for the CACFP.   

Dilcia holds a bachelor’s degree in Arts from the University of Rhode Island. 

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Alba Escalante

Bilingual BrightStars Navigator — ext. 316

Alba has been working in the early childhood field for more than 4 years. Throughout college she worked as a Teacher Assistant at the Child Development Center at the University of Rhode Island and upon graduation, was hired as the lead Head Start Teacher and Family Support Worker at Children’s Friend where she worked for two years.

Alba holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child Settings from the University of Rhode Island.

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Erin Furtado

BrightStars Navigator — ext. 309

Erin Furtado, LearnERS Navigator, joined the team in 2021 as an Administrative Assistant and has been working in Early Childhood Education since 2008 with a focus on the education of Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, using American Sign Language. She is a RIDE certified Early Childhood Educator (PK-2) and Special Education-Teacher of the Deaf (All Grades.) Prior to joining RIAEYC she taught at the Rhode Island School for the Deaf and worked at Meeting Street for almost ten years in the Early Learning Center and as a Service Coordinator/Educator in Early Intervention. She is incredibly proud of her time representing Rhode Island at the national Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) conferences and as a founding member of the Sherlock Center’s Community of Practice group, dedicated to improving services in EI. An enthusiastic member of the Fostering Joy for Professionals group, Erin is committed to supporting families as they find joyful moments in their young child’s journey to become lifelong learners. She is passionate about the home-school partnership and values the critical role families and early learning center providers play in a child’s education. Providing parents with childcare referrals that meet their needs has been a highlight of her time at RIAEYC.

She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Musical Theater from Rhode Island College and upon graduating, toured 31 states and 13 countries as a performer with Sesame Street Live! Learning through play is of the utmost importance to her and she believes that through the arts, we can create opportunities for children to communicate and share their thoughts about the world around them. With her husband and two young sons, she enjoys traveling and spending time at home here in Rhode Island. She looks forward to graduating with her Master’s Degree in Deaf Education from Flagler College.

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Vivian Eyssallem

LearnERS Program Assistant — ext. 319

Prior to joining RIAEYC as the LearnERS Program Assistant, Vivian worked as a special education teacher and case manager for children and young adults with moderate to severe autism. During her time as a teacher she learned about the many things that go into creating a warm, nurturing, and supportive educational environment for these learners, and in the process found a passion for working with this most vulnerable population. Over the years, she worked with students between the age of 3 and 21, but found the greatest reward in working with the youngest of these students. She saw the value in building a strong foundation for early and emerging skills and is excited to continue in the field of early education to improve the lives of young children and their families.


Vivian received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Florida. She also received her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western New England University. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with friends and family, as well as creating art and spending time outdoors.   

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Jennifer Bakios

BrightStars Navigator — ext. 310

Jennifer joined RIAEYC as a BrightStars Navigator with 16 years of experience as an early childhood educator. Over the years she taught children from 12 weeks to 5 years old and saw first-hand the impact that a quality early learning experience has on a child, their family, and the community. Jennifer learned how to create a warm, engaging, and supportive learning environment in her classrooms to meet the needs of her students. Her passions are in developing emergent curriculum, creating engaging classrooms, and strengthening relationships with families. Jennifer understands the joys and challenges that go along with being an early childhood educator and is excited to bring her extensive background and experience to improve the quality of early childhood education throughout Rhode Island.

Jennifer received her Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.  She received her Master’s in Teaching from Rhode Island College. Jennifer has two children and loves spending time outside, reading, and traveling.

Program Assessment Staff

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Stephanie Ferreira

Manager of Program Assessment — ext. 311

Stephanie Ferreira, Manager of Program Assessment, has worked in Early Childhood Education for more than 20 years. Stephanie has spent most of her career as a Pre-K classroom teacher. For several years, she was a Program Assessment Specialist for BrightStars, and most recently served as the Anchor of Program Assessment before assuming her current position as Manager. Stephanie is reliable on all Environment Rating Scales and is a certified Infant, Toddler, and Pre-K CLASS observer. Stephanie has also represent the agency presenting at National conferences on ERS topics and RI quality improvements.

Stephanie holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island as well as a RI Teaching Certificate in Early Childhood Education, Grades PK-2. Her exceptional organizational skills and assessment-oriented lens enable her to objectively view programs and approach their strengths and needs through building strong partnerships. As a mother of three young children, Stephanie has a passion for helping programs work towards improving their overall quality while supporting the workforce and advocating for all children and families.

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Emily Souza

Program Assessment Specialist — ext. 312

Emily started working with RIAEYC and BrightStars as a Program Assessment Specialist in June 2019. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Salve Regina University in Psychology and Spanish, with a special interest in cognitive development and early childhood education. Emily had several years’ experience as Lead Teacher in an Infant classroom, where she became familiar with the ITERS-R tool. She also completed Level II of the RI Early Learning and Development Standards (RIELDS) to improve her skills in curriculum development, child assessment, and family communication. Emily is author-reliable on the ITERS-3 and ECERS-3 tools, as well as a certified Infant and Toddler CLASS observer. She is thrilled to be a member of the RIAEYC/BrightStars team, as well as an advocate for early childhood educators, children, and families.

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Jasmin Urquilla

Bilingual Program Assessment Specialist — ext. 315

Jasmin Urquilla was hired beginning of June 2019 as a Bilingual Program assistance for BrightStars. Jasmin graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, Spanish, and Human Development and Families. During her time at URI, she volunteered her time translating at the Providence Community Health Center and interning at different Child Care Centers while being a full-time sales associate.

Since her time at Brightstars, Jasmin has become a Bilingual Program Assessment Specialist and is reliable on the ECERS-3, ITERS-3, FCERS-3 & SACCERS- U Environment Rating Scales. As of summer 2022, Jasmin is also a certified Pre-K CLASS observer.

Jasmin is filled with excitement and thrilled to continue working on helping improve the education being provided to our children.

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Ida Moreno

Bilingual Program Assessment Specialist — ext. 303

Ida Moreno holds a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Metropolitana University in Caracas, Venezuela. She enjoys the challenge of teaching students academically but also helping them to thrive socially. She believes that successful students become successful adults. Ida has always worked in the field of education, gathering experience by working in the Instructional Design Department of the Metropolitana University for 8 years developing learning resources. With over 15 years of experience, Ida is a dedicated, resourceful and a goal-driven educator with a solid commitment to professional ethics, standards of practice and the care and education of young children. She is accustomed to working in a multicultural environment and experienced in developing curriculum as well as conducting teacher training and parenting programs.

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Raycily Castillo

Bilingual Program Assessment Assistant — ext. 317

Raycily Castillo is the Bilingual Program Assessment Assistant at BrightStars. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Rhode Island College.

Raycily has experience working with many different age groups. From managing children’s summer camps to leading semester-long study and review groups on campus, her communication and team management skills are well rounded. Raycily has also spent a summer abroad in Central Asia working with an English-speaking school as an assistant teacher. Her experiences have made her passionate and committed to serving the communities around her.”

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Sarah Behm

Program Assessment Specialist — ext. 318

Sarah Behm started at RIAEYC/BrightStars as an Intern in January 2022 and officially joined the team as a LearnERS Navigator in May 2022. She holds an Associates in Arts from the Community College of Rhode Island and a Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science from the University of Rhode Island. Prior to joining RIAEYC, Sarah held the role of a Teacher Assistant until transferring to the University of Rhode Island where she was hired as an undergraduate student research assistant. Sarah is committed to supporting families and early childhood educators as she believes that they both play fundamental roles in a young child’s growth, development, and education. She is a proud and passionate advocate for the early childhood field and is thrilled to continue her journey as an early childhood professional post graduation. 

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Program

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Marinel Russo, M. Ed.

Manager of Early Childhood Initiatives — ext. 307

Marinel Russo is the Manager of Early Childhood Initiatives. Marinel has been a vital part of our team for the last four years, serving as both a Program Assessment Specialist and more recently as a BrightStars Navigator. She is dedicated and loyal to RIAEYC, but more importantly, passionate about improving quality for the providers, families and children of the state. As the Manager of ECI, Marinel is responsible for managing and coordinating all aspects of child care program quality improvement initiatives, including: T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood RI budgeting and competency assessment process, program and scholar outreach and recruitment, program referrals to state supports including technical assistance and professional development, support for programs in increasing star rating and annual report and quality improvement plan development and support.

Marinel holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from Baruch College in New York and a Master’s degree in Elementary Education from Lesley University in Boston. Marinel is author trained and reliable in the Early Childhood Environment Rating Scale (ECERS), Infant/Toddler Environment Rating Scale (ITERS) as well as in the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale (FCCERS). A mother of three young girls, Marinel knows the importance of providing children with learning environments that promote emotional, physical and intellectual development.

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Elizabeth Polanco

T.E.A.C.H. Counselor — ext. 314

Elizabeth Polanco is a T.E.A.C.H. Counselor for T.E.A.C.H Rhode Island. Elizabeth is dedicated to supporting T.E.A.C.H scholars with tuition, compensation and most importantly, with guidance through their academic journeys. Prior to joining T.E.A.C.H, Elizabeth was an administrator for eight years at a home care agency until she decided it was time for a change. Elizabeth enrolled in the University of Rhode Island to finish her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, setting a positive example to others, and chasing her dream. Elizabeth is proud to work with T.E.A.C.H Early Childhood Education. She believes in their efforts to motivate and guide those who, like she did, need support to reach their academic dreams. Elizabeth is a parent of three children and understands the importance of providing quality childcare to children, which is what T.E.A.C.H helps to promote.

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Briana Assante

T.E.A.C.H./ Registered Apprenticeship Counselor — ext. 306

Brianna has a B.A. in the faculty of Arts and Sciences, for Dance Performance from Rhode Island College. As the Registered Apprenticeship Counselor Briana works with organizations and institutions such as The Department of Human Services, CCRI, URI, RIC, and more to build an Early Childhood Education Infant/ Toddler based apprenticeship program.  Briana provides support to participating apprentices looking to advance their careers.   Briana helps to develop multiple apprenticeship pathways, maintain contracts between apprentices, mentors, and childcare centers, and build relationships that empower ECE Teachers to advocate for themselves and others.   

Briana also works with the TEACH scholarship program to recruit potential scholars down different educational pathways to grow in the ECE field. 

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Amber Mangione

Career and Technical Education Counselor — ext. 320

Amber Mangione, Career and Technical Education Counselor, introduces herself with over a decade of experience working in the Early Childhood field. As a former educator, she is shaped by her international and local experiences in diverse learning communities. Amber has a degree in Psychology and Education from Northeastern University and joins RIAEYC to support high school students and graduating seniors from Career and Technical Education Programs throughout high schools in Rhode Island.

Amber is a dedicated advocate of children and educators. She centers her practice on being open and accessible to all. Her experience in teaching and partnerships with educators and families lends itself to the counseling and support services she offers to future educators. As a graduate of Cranston High School West’s Career and Technical Early Childhood Program, and SkillsUSA medalist, she is excited to share her lived experiences and passions with those entering the field. Her lifelong passion for teaching and mentorship provides opportunities to students and creates career pathways for their growth and professional development. Amber is a team-oriented, lifelong learner, who hopes to impart her love for learning and teaching to the next generation.

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Arianna Mendez

Career and Technical Education Administrative Assistant — ext. 321

Prior to joining RIAEYC in May 2022 as the Administrative Assistant for Career and Technical Education, Arianna Mendez began her involvement with BrightStars in February 2022 as an intern. Arianna has had eight years of expertise teaching children. Arianna has background collaborating with students and teachers in grades K–6 in Rhode Island and has taught in a number of childcare facilities prior to joining RIAEYC.

Arianna has a strong commitment to supporting the workforce and child development. Arianna participated in the Rhode Island Promise Scholarship program, which gave her the opportunity to follow her lifelong dream of helping others while receiving free tuition at the Community College of Rhode Island to complete an associate degree in early childhood education and child development. Thereafter, she went on to Rhode Island College to finish her undergraduate studies with a concentration on community programs and psychology in early childhood education. Along with her paraprofessional certification, Arianna also possesses credentials for the Rhode Island Early Learning and Development Standards (RIELDS)

Her teaching methodology prioritizes play-based and social learning that foster creativity. Arianna is driven to use her continuous professional knowledge to support individuals interested in careers in the early childhood Education field.