Members of the Board of Early Education and Care

An eleven-member Board of Early Education and Care sets policies and regulations related to early education and care programs and services in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
  • PAUL BELSITO, Chair
  • MARIA GONZALEZ MOELLER, Vice-Chair
  • DR. PATRICK TUTWILER, Secretary of Education (ex-officio)
  • GEORGE K. ATANASOV
  • JAMELLA LEE
  • NICKI RUIZ DE LUZURIAGA
  • LINDA D. SAGOR, M.D., MPH
  • CHERYL TRAVERS
  • KATE WALSH, Secretary of Health and Human Services* (ex-officio)
  • Early Educator Evaluator Seat - Vacant
  • At-Large Seat - Vacant

*Carolyn Kain, Executive Director of the Autism Commission, Designee for Secretary Walsh

Table of Contents

Paul Belsito, Board Chair

Paul Belsito

Paul Belsito is the Executive Director of the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation. Paul was appointed in the spring of 2020 to advance the Foundation’s work and mission in Hampden County and to reaffirm the Foundation’s commitment to excellence, innovation, and equity in education. His proactive vision, strategic direction, and his track record of success in community organizing and mission-driven philanthropy will enhance and further define the Foundation’s legacy and work as Hampden County comes out of a critical period and enters a transformational moment that will define the region for generations to come.

Paul has served on several boards and commissions over his career and currently serves on the Board of Educare Springfield, the board of advisors for the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education and a member of the steering committee of the Early Childhood Funder Collaborative. Committed to racial and gender equity, He is a recent alum of Capital Collaborative, a program of Camelback Ventures, which brings together leading philanthropists across the country to deepen their commitment to equitable grantmaking.

Paul serves as a member at-large.


Maria Gonzalez Moeller, Board Vice-Chair

Maria Gonzalez Moeller

Maria Gonzalez Moeller is Chief Executive Officer at The Community Group (TCG) in Lawrence, MA a private non-profit agency that develops and manages programs in early education, professional development for teachers, elementary school management, and child care resource and referral. Over the course of more than 20 years, Maria has held multiple positions at TCG, including Chief Operating Officer for Child Care Services, Human Resources Manager, and Operations Manager at Community Day Charter Public Schools. As a member of the senior leadership team, Maria continues to be instrumental in the organization’s strategic growth and success. One of her main goals as a non-profit leader is to continue strengthening community partnerships and collaborations to expand opportunities for families. Maria is an active advocate for accessible, high-quality early education and care for all children. She serves as a board member for the Massachusetts Association of Early Education & Care (MADCA) and recently served as a member of the Early Education and Care Economic Review Commission representing early education programs in communities serving a high percentage of children from low-income households. Born and raised in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, Maria moved to the U.S. mainland to attend college. After earning her BS in finance and international marketing from Tulane University Maria moved to Massachusetts where she received her MBA from Bentley University.

Maria serves as a provider of early education and care services with practical experience in the management and administration of early education and care programs.


Dr. Patrick Tutwiler

Dr. Patrick Tutwiler

As Massachusetts Secretary of Education, Patrick Tutwiler directs the Executive Office of Education, which oversees early education, K-12, and higher education. Secretary Tutwiler sits on each of the boards governing the Commonwealth’s education agencies, as well as the University of Massachusetts system. He is Governor Maura Healey’s top advisor on education and helps shape the Commonwealth’s education agenda.  

Before being sworn in as Secretary, Dr. Tutwiler served as the senior program officer at the Boston-based Barr Foundation, a grantmaking organization focused on arts, climate and education. Prior to that, Secretary Tutwiler was superintendent of the Lynn Public Schools and headmaster at Boston Public Schools. As superintendent of Lynn Public Schools, he spearheaded a collaborative, equity-centered effort that translated into higher graduation rates and a more racially diverse staff while also overseeing the creation of the Commonwealth’s second largest early college program.  

The Secretary of Education serves ex-officio on the Board of Early Education and Care.


George K. Atanasov

George K. Atanasov

George Atanasov is the Head of Strategy and Operations for Johnson & Johnson’s Worldwide Government Affairs & Policy (WWGA&P) function. He is responsible for ensuring consistent implementation and continued global relevance of WWGA&P’s business strategy, providing counsel and execution support to WWGA&P global leadership team, and managing the function’s overall operational effectiveness and strategic direction. In addition, George leads teams focused on J&J’s engagement in international forums and the geopolitical environment.

George has two decades of experience in state government affairs and policy.  Prior to joining Johnson & Johnson, he was Vice President & Counsel at ML Strategies, LLC, the Boston-based government affairs and consulting affiliate of the law firm Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris Glovsky & Popeo, P.C. He advocated for clients from a diverse cross-section of industries, including health care, real estate, and early- and higher-education, and he also served as a trusted legal adviser on a broad range of legislative, regulatory and policy issues.

George holds a B.A. in Political Science and Communications from Boston College and a J.D., as a Trustee Merit Scholar, from Suffolk University Law School’s Evening Division. He is the current Board Chair of The Children’s Trust and past Board President of the Disability Law Center.

George serves as a member of the business community with a demonstrated commitment to education.


Jamella Lee

Jamella Lee

Jamella earned a bachelor’s degree from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, where she also minored in business. After graduating from Cornell, she deferred pursuing her master's in education at Harvard to serve as a corps member and service leader at City Year of Columbus. From there, while earning her master’s at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she worked as an elementary school teacher at King Elementary School in Cambridge, MA; worked as a facilitator in the Harvard Summer Literacy Institute; and as a literacy teacher at the Dorchester Neighborhood Charter School. Upon graduating, at the behest of former President Clinton and President Nelson Mandela, she moved to South Africa to manage the Clinton Democracy Fellowship at City Year, helping to lead that organization’s first international expansion initiative. After several years in South Africa, Jamella returned to the United States to work as a vice president of communications and professional development for the Ohio Charter School Association and vice president of development and special initiatives at Concept Schools in Chicago.

In 2010, Jamella earned a Juris Doctor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, a program for which she was the Katherine C. Jones Scholarship recipient and was also awarded the Marsha Schermer Scholarship by the Columbus Bar Foundation. While in law school, Jamella worked as a two-year summer associate at the law firm of Dinsmore & Shohl, LLP, and taught in the Ohio Law & Leadership Institute, a program developed to provide an opportunity for high school students from underserved communities to learn skills that may help them become lawyers and leaders in their communities. At graduation, Jamella was awarded the Harry S. and Georgina Lett Memorial Award for outstanding service to the Moritz College of Law. A recipient of numerous other awards, Jamella has also been awarded the Compaq Leadership Award, an award honoring alumnus of City Year who have distinguished themselves through continued civic leadership and commitment to service.

After law school, Jamella joined the Taft School faculty serving as chair of the Global Studies and Service Department and dean of Global and Diversity Education. In collaboration with Waterbury partners and colleagues, she created the Center for Global Leadership and Service, an "action tank" developed through the Edward E. Ford Foundation Educational Leadership Grant initiative and subsequent matching donations.

Jamella moved to Massachusetts in 2018 to take on the role of VP of People & Culture at Jumpstart. Jamella deeply believes in Jumpstart's mission and vision that "every child in America enters kindergarten prepared to succeed. On September 1, 2021, Jamella moved into the role of Chief People Office at Jumpstart, providing human capital leadership to the organization as it seeks to build a more equitable education system for your children.

Jamella serves as a member at-large.


Nicki Ruiz de Luzuriaga

Nicki Ruiz de Luzuriaga

Nicki Ruiz de Luzuriaga is the Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Economic Mobility Pathways (EMPath), an organization that transforms people’s lives by helping them move out of poverty and provides other institutions with the tools to systematically do the same. Nicki has worked at EMPath since 2009, focusing on children’s and family issues, with a particular interest in the interdependence of family members in moving out of poverty. She led the development of EMPath’s intergenerational model, The Intergen Project, and co-authored a brief on the theory and practice of intergenerational antipoverty efforts. She also has a strong interest in coaching, both as a vehicle for economic mobility and to develop staff who are serving families. Before joining EMPath, she developed children’s programming at various for-profit and nonprofit organizations and became very interested in how poverty affects children and youth. Nicki completed a master’s in public administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she was awarded a Gleitsman Fellowship through the Center for Public Leadership. She was born and raised in Massachusetts, and currently lives in East Boston with her partner and their two young children.

Nicki serves as a parent or guardian of a child receiving early education and care services.


Linda D. Sagor, M.D., MPH

Linda D. Sagor, M.D., MPH

Linda D. Sagor was appointed as the first medical director of the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families in 2015. She had previously served as a pediatric consultant for the department. She advises social workers, oversees the department’s nurses, and reviews cases of children with complex medical or behavioral issues. She also is responsible for developing a policy to monitor children in state custody who are taking psychotropic medication, and assembling a panel of doctors to oversee difficult cases.

Sagor brings extensive experience to her role. She is the medical director of the Foster Children Evaluation Services (FaCES) Clinic, which she launched in 2003 to provide health screenings for foster children in the Worcester area. She chairs the foster-care committee of the Massachusetts chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, serves on the board of Community Legal Aid, and is a member of the executive board of the Center for the Advancement of Primary Care at UMass Memorial Health Care.

Sagor is a professor of clinical pediatrics at the UMass Chan Medical School. She received the Henry Ingersoll Bowditch Award for Excellence in Public Health from the Massachusetts Medical Society in 2013, and is a frequent presenter at conferences and health and human services and legislative meetings.

She received her medical degree from the College of Human Medicine at Michigan State University, and her master’s in public health from the School of Public Health at the University of Michigan.

Linda serves as a pediatrician with a focus on child development.


Cheryl Travers

Cheryl Travers

Cheryl Travers is the district-wide instructional coach for early educators at the John Breen School in Lawrence.

Cheryl Travers serves as an early education and care teacher, selected by the Massachusetts Teachers Association and the Massachusetts Federation of Teachers.

Early Educator Evaluator Seat - Vacant


At-Large Seat - Vacant


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