Governor makes education board appointments

BOSTON - Wednesday, July 7, 2010 - Governor Deval Patrick today announced three appointments to the Board of Early Education and Care, the policy-making body for the Department of Early Education and Care dedicated to ensuring all children have access to a strong start in a lifetime of learning; and one appointment to the Board of Higher Education, the policy-making body for the Department of Higher Education working to provide overall direction for public higher education in Massachusetts.

"We are focused on building an education system that starts children on the right path and stays with them as they develop into lifelong learners," said Governor Patrick. "The Boards of Early Education and Care and Higher Education play a critical role in ensuring students are prepared for success and have every opportunity to carve their own path."

The Board of Early Education and Care appointments announced today are:

• Eleonora Villegas-Reimers, Ph.D., Belmont

• Joan Wasser Gish, J.D., M.A., Newton

• Elizabeth Childs, M.D., M.P.A., Brookline

The Board of Higher Education appointment announced today is:

• Keith Peden, Medway

The Board of Early Education and Care is charged with implementing the Governor's vision of increased access to high quality programming for children across the Commonwealth. Massachusetts is one of a small number of states, and was in fact the first state, to dedicate an entire department to expanding access and improving quality of education and after-school programs for young children.

Dr. Villegas-Reimers is currently Chair of Elementary Education Department and Associate Professor at Wheelock College. She has worked as a high school teacher, an assistant principal and served as an international student advisor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her extensive academic resume includes expertise in child cognitive development and published research on improving teacher professional development, particularly in developing countries, and in values education, particularly democratic values and skills. She also serves on the Subcommittee on English Language Learners of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's Committee on the Proficiency Gap. Dr. Villegas-Reimers becomes the next representative on the Board filling the role of Early Education Evaluator and is filling the seat vacated by Julie Culhane whose term expired.

Ms. Wasser Gish is a lawyer and a public policy consultant with expertise in early education and care research who previously served as Director of Research and Policy for Strategies for Children/The Early Education for All Campaign and was also a Senior Policy Advisor on education, social-domestic, and environmental issues to United States Senator John F. Kerry. She has served in many roles utilizing her legal expertise to advocate for civil rights and education issues, among many others. Ms. Wasser Gish has published on the importance of early education programs and is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions for her many years of public service. She is filling the seat vacated by Lynson Beaulieu.

Dr. Childs is receiving reappointment to the Board having served as a member since 2005. She currently chairs the Board's Policy and Fiscal Committee, a significant forum for advancing policies and programs to the full consideration of the Board. Dr. Childs has an extensive background in serving adults, children and adolescents with mental illness in both the private and public sectors. A practicing pediatric psychiatrist, she is associated with Carney Hospital in Dorchester, MA, having served as the Chief and Director of Psychiatry from 1996-2003. She has held academic appointments at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, and the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Childs is a former Head Start parent and member of the Head Start Parent Council and Policy Committee and is an elected member of the Brookline School Committee. Dr. Childs represents the role on the Board of a medical professional with a focus on pediatric and child development issues.

"The future success of our education system is dependent on our ability to ensure students arrive at school ready to learn," said Education Secretary Paul Reville. "Early education and care is critical to our work to prevent achievement gaps and promote educational excellence for all. Joan, Eleonora and Elizabeth bring great expertise, passion and leadership to the Board and I look forward to working with them."

"So much of what children learn happens before they arrive at the school door for their first day of classes in Kindergarten," Commissioner Killins said. "Our responsibility is to make every effort to support and educate them in the earliest years and the Board's involvement is significantly important to that work."

The Board of Higher Education is charged with defining the mission of and coordinating the Commonwealth's system of public higher education and its institutions, including the University of Massachusetts system and the state and community colleges. The state's public campuses are committed to providing access to a high-quality education at an affordable price.

Mr. Peden is senior vice president of Human Resources for Raytheon Company, a role he was first elected to in 2001; he has been with the company since 1993. He is committed to lifelong learning and pursues this passion through his participation as a member of both the Wheaton College and Wentworth Institute of Technology Boards of Trustees. Mr. Peden has also contributed to efforts to advance liberal arts education through the Association of American Colleges and Universities.

"Public higher education in Massachusetts has made a tremendous difference in the lives of many students," said Secretary Reville. "The Board has demonstrated great leadership in shaping policies that ensure access for more students and support to help them succeed. I am confident that Keith will make an instant impact on an already dynamic Board."

Higher Education Commissioner Richard Freeland agreed.

"The mission of public higher education is to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to grow and learn and develop into the future leaders of our Commonwealth and our nation," Commissioner Freeland said. "With Keith's background in the business world and commitment to education, he will bring valuable perspective to the Board and the public higher education system as we seek to fulfill this mission."

For more information on the Board of Early Education and Care, please visit and for more information on the Board of Higher Education, please visit

Information provided by the Department of Early Education and Care. Created: July 7, 2010; Last updated: July 7, 2010.