LAAEYC Leadership Team
Dedication. Expertise. Passion.
Our elected board members are highly-qualified, well respected, and dedicated to the education and care of young children. Learn more about each of our board members below!
Linda McMillian holds a B.S. degree in Business Administration, a master’s degree in Organization Management and Early Childhood Education along with a Doctor of Education with a specialization in Early Childhood Education. She has been the owner of a childcare facility for more than 34 years and has been running a school-age program serving students from kindergarten through eighth grade for eight of those years. She has been married for more than 38 years and has three adult-age children. "I love the career path that I have chosen, which is serving children and the whole family to transform the whole child's development while offering support to families when needed."
Past - President
Dr. Michelle DeMeulenaere first began her career working with young children in 1988, and over the past 32 years has amassed a variety of professional and educational experiences. Michelle obtained her Bachelor of Arts in elementary education from the University of Northern Iowa, a master’s degree from Northwestern Louisiana State University, and a doctorate from Louisiana State University. Michelle has been an elementary school teacher, preschool teacher, and center director. Michelle was employed by the Louisiana Department of Education for several years in which she held positions in Early Childhood Licensing, Certification, and Early Childhood Support Manager.
Michelle has also served on several boards throughout her career including Center Director Leadership Board, the Southeastern Regions Standards Team, ensuring centers in the Southern Region were prepared for NAEYC accreditation, and Baton Rouge Technical College Board Member, and currently works on the Board of the Louisiana Early Childhood Association. Most impressively, Michelle was appointed to the Louisiana Children’s Trust Fund by Governor John Bel Edwards. Michelle is currently employed at the Louisiana Board of Regents as a Manager for Early Childhood Initiatives.
President - Elect
Tessa Holloway is the owner of Kidz Karousel Early Learning Centers. The center has 7 locations across 4 parishes. She has been in the field of ECC for over 16 years. Tessa strives to grow her platform to be able to advocate more for the children of Louisiana. She is well versed in effective childcare center policy and procedure. Tessa sits on various boards as her goal is to help Louisiana become the model state people look at to learn more about providing safe, best-practice early childhood care, from the children to the parents to all of the stakeholders.
Crossroads Region Member-at-Large
Ashely Robinson is a native of New Orleans. She graduated from Dillard University with her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education. She began her teaching career in 2007 gaining experience in elementary and middle school. In 2012, she transitioned her career as a Pre-K teacher and became a LA-4 Coordinator. The advancement continued after the success of the first year of the program. The program expanded the second year and she transitioned into another role as an Instructional Early Childhood Coach. Ashley became a certified CLASS Pre-K observer and joined various early childhood affiliations, along with other certifications. After years in this role, in 2017, she decided to take her career to the next level to help other early childhood professionals overcome challenges across the region. Ashley became a certified CLASS Infant and Toddler observer along with her Pre-K, LA Pathways Trainer, CDA PD Specialist, NAPSACC Consultant, etc. To this day, she is still fulfilling the need of helping early childhood educators achieve their goals through coaching, specialized trainings, obtaining their CDA, etc. Ashley is excited for the opportunity to serve LAAEYC as the Member-at-Large for the Crossroads region.
After teaching K-3rd graders for 20 years, Leah returned to college for both early intervention and social work. Her personal mission is to support early development by direct services and through adult education. Leah is currently working as the social worker for the early childhood department, allowing her the opportunity to meet with parents to help them transition into the school system and to continue to access intervention services. She uses this platform to connect families to community resources when possible. In addition to her work with the evaluation team, she helps
teachers and caregivers with challenging behaviors in the classrooms by assessing the situation and then providing
resources to support the child's development of self-regulation skills. Additionally, Leah is an instructor for the early childhood education ancillary certificate program and a trainer for the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency in her parish.
Greater New Orleans Region Member-at-Large
Melissa Johnson is an educational consultant, coach, and instructor. Melissa has worked in the field of early childhood education in various roles for over seven years. She has worked both inside and outside of the classroom, serving as a teacher, administrator, coach, advisor and consultant. She has previously worked with Jefferson Parish School Board and the Picard Center for Child Development. Melissa received her bachelor's degree in Psychology, her master’s degree in early childhood education, and is currently a doctoral student in early childhood education. She is a state certified PreK-3rd teacher as well as CLASS certified for Infant, Toddler, and Pre-K. In addition, Melissa has completed the Education
Policy Fellowship through the Institute of Educational Leadership and has presented virtually at the 2021 Louisiana Early Childhood Association Annual Conference. Melissa’s breadth of experience, coupled with her passion for seeing the field appreciated for its undeniable necessity makes her an ideal candidate for the LAAEYC executive board.
River Parishes Region Member-at-Large
Pheriche Perkins is a wife, mom, and early childhood advocate. Originally from California, she graduated with her Bachelor’s from Tulane University and her Masters from Texas A&M. She has worked for the state of Louisiana, where she oversaw implementation of the state’s quality rating and improvement system for early learning centers. She currently serves as Executive director of the Pointe Coupee Early Childhood Coalition
Cajun Country Region Member-at-Large
Coming soon! Are you an educator who lives in the Cajun Country region and would like to represent your area? Reach out to email@example.com to get more information!
Sportsman's Paradise Region Member-at-Large
Sandee Smith Clawson has been the Program Director for the Associate of Applied Science Degree in Care and Development of Young Children at Louisiana Delta Community College (LDCC) and the Director of the LA Delta Children’s Center since the fall of 2019. She currently serves on the Monroe Early Childhood Initiative Committee and the Louisiana Department of Education Early Learning and Development Standards Review Committee.
Sandee also serves as the advisor for the Delta Early Childhood Organization whose primary purpose is to promote the education and welfare of young children and their families, and to promote professional development for students
interested in young children. She has worked with the Louisiana Department of Education this year in a pilot program to fund childcare seats for children of LDCC students and community members. She has been an adjunct at Louisiana Delta Community College since 2010. She received her Master’s Degree in Family Life Studies with an emphasis in child development in 1992 and a Bachelor of Science Degree in psychology from the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, in 1991.