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Conference Presenters

Keynote Speakers

Katie RicordKatie Ricord
Executive Director
Utah Association for the Education of Young Children

Katie Ricord is the Executive Director of Utah Association for the Education of Young Children (UAEYC). Before this she served on the UAEYC Governing Board for 9 years. She has an undergrad degree in Family & Consumer Science from the University of Utah, and a Master of Science Degree in Child Development from the Erikson Institute in Chicago, IL. She has 13 years of professional experience in the Head Start world - as a teacher, mentor, program director, and State Head Start Collaboration Office Director. Some of her favorite pastimes include birthday dates and sleepovers with her 16 nieces and nephews, time with friends, traveling, outdoor adventures, cooking & baking, and horses. Katie truly believes that Utah Early Childhood Professionals hold the future in their hands with the work they do each day - and she loves working with and on behalf of them!

Jared LisonbeeJared Lisonbee
Research Analyst
Utah Community Action Head Start

Jared Lisonbee is the Research Analyst for Utah Community Action Head Start in Salt Lake City and currently serves as board President of the Utah Association for the Education of Young children. Prior to his current position with Head Start, Jared taught in higher education at Weber State and at Washington State Universities.

Jared is an advocate for quality early childhood education. He developed a program evaluation for the Washington State preschool program and assisting in drafting the quality component of the High Quality School Readiness legislation here in Utah.

Jared enjoys camping, hiking, kayaking, and gardening along with spending time with his wife, three children, and pets.


Carolyn EllsworthCarolyn Ellsworth
Professional Development Coordinator
Care About Childcare at Children's Service Society

Carolyn has a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Utah, and a Master of Professional Communication degree from Westminster College. She has over 18 years of experience as an Education Specialist at Utah CAP Head Start, Center Director at Bright Horizons Preschool, Early Childhood Manager at Kids on the Move Early Head Start, After School Program Coordinator in Salt Lake School district schools and an instructor for early childhood professionals and students at Salt Lake Community College.

Carolyn joined the team at Children’s Service Society as a Care About Childcare Professional Development part time Instructor in 2012, and in 2017 took a full time position as the Professional Development Coordinator overseeing the Professional Development Department at Care About Childcare in the Metro area serving Salt Lake and Tooele counties.

As an early childhood education professional, she is passionate about increasing the quality of early education and childcare by providing ongoing education and training to early childhood education professionals and child care providers, and it is a responsibility she takes seriously in her role as Professional Development Coordinator.

When she is not working Carolyn enjoys traveling on her Harley-Davidson, sewing and gardening.

Janet WahlquistJanet Wahlquist
CCQS Specialist/Training Coordinator
Weber State University

Janet Wahlquist currently serves as the CCQS Specialist/Training Coordinator for Care About Childcare at Weber State University. Janet has worked with young children for more than 25 years, working in a variety of programs and positions, including Head Start preschool, State preschool, 2nd and 3rd grade, before and after school programs, and private child care. Janet also owned her own early childhood enrichment center for several years. Janet believes in the importance of play in the lives of children, and works to be a voice for high quality early childhood programs everywhere.

Bethany ForestBethany Forest
Founder and CEO
Hippie Skin

Bethany is founder and CEO of Hippie Skin (, a healthy, natural skin care company based in Ogden, Utah.  She has been a certified Yoga instructor since 2012 and opened her own studio, H.E.A.L. Yoga Studio ( downtown Ogden. Bethany teaches mindfulness classes to children and adults within various Northern Utah school districts and businesses,and to  early childhood programs. She has presented at the UAEYC Conference, Southern Utah Early Childhood Conference, and the Care About Childcare USU Eastern conference.  Bethany firmly believes that establishing a foundation upon which children and their caregivers/teachers can manage stress contributes to a well-rounded healthy childhood.

Vanessa LoweVanessa Lowe
Family Child Care Specialist
Care About Childcare - USU Eastern

Vanessa has a bachelor's degree from the University of Utah in FCS: Human Development & Family Studies. She is the Family Child Care Specialist at Care About Child Care at USU-Eastern.  Before joining CAC last year as a Trainer she worked as a Preschool/ Pre-k Teacher and Assistant Director at Ekblad Development Center in Williston, ND. Vanessa also worked for at Early Childhood Academy, Inc in Rhinelander, WI as a Lead Teacher in the Early Head Start and Head Start classrooms.  She was also a mentor teacher for students completing their early education practicums from Nicolette College.

In her experience working with families Vanessa has found that creating quality relationships with each family is one of best ways to support the development of each child.  

In Vanessa’s down time she and her husband love to spend as much time as possible together, traveling to see new things, even if is in their own backyard.   

Joyce HastingsJoyce Hastings
Program Director
Care About Childcare at Utah Valley University

Joyce Hasting is the Program Director of Care About Childcare at Utah Valley University. Before joining CAC, Joyce worked at Child Care Licensing. Children have always been her passion. She had the opportunity to own and operate a large child care facility in Utah County for approximately 13 years. She received her education from Ricks College in Idaho and BYU in Provo. Her true pride and joy is her family. She has been married to her husband, Joe, for 30 years and is the proud mother of 3 sons and 8 grandchildren.

Connie WangConnie Wang
Child Development Specialist
Mountainland Head Start

Connie graduated with a BS in Early Childhood Education and Early Special Education. I have worked with all early childhood age groups from birth to age eight. While I find all ages and stages of early childhood fascinating, my heart especially melts for infants and toddlers. I have worked as a childcare provider in both private and nonprofit childcare programs. I've been an early childhood special education teacher, a Head Start teacher and consultant and have worked with Care About Childcare at UVU. I am a recognized trainer for FLIP-IT, a program from Devereaux Center for Resilient Children and have obtained an Early Childhood Coaching Certification from the University of Colorado - Denver. I have lived in Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, and Utah. I'm married to my best friend Daniel and we have three children, a 23 year old son, 21 year old daughter, and a 17 year old daughter. The topic I'm seeking to learn more about right now is early childhood mental health and trauma informed practices. I'll be applying to online program for either a graduate certificate or MA in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health through the University of Minnesota.

Susan KnottSusan Knott

Susan Knott taught Communication courses at SLCC, Westminster College and the University of Utah for many years.   She recently graduated from Westminster College with a Masters of Education, a Business Internship, and Montessori Administration.  Over the past year, Susan has worked with Children’s Services Society as the Child Care Director of a Mentoring Program that helps refugee women and children.   Working together with Encarni Gallardo, Lyn Baker and Carolyn Ellsworth, they created both an ESL Caregiving Essentials Curriculum as well as an ESL school readiness Curriculum. She has continued to teach SLCC Online Communication courses with a service-learning emphasis, giving SLCC students the opportunity to mentor trainees.

Susan’s vision has helped to create Learning Pathways Child Care with exceptional learning and quality care plus franchisability.  Learning Pathways is initializing a collaborative enterprise for early learning. Our joint efforts with community partnerships have successfully positioned the foundation for a model child care center that can be profitably replicated and franchised. We are determined to show others the way to make caring profitable while vitalizing children’s first encounter with learning into a joyful discovery.