DEL Leadership

Ross Hunter
Ross Hunter

Former Rep. Ross Hunter was appointed Director of the Department of Early learning (DEL) by Governor Jay Inslee on September 7th, 2015. Ross’ focus is on improving outcomes for all children, and especially on eliminating race as a predictor of progress and success for young learners. High-quality early learning provides a base for children that manifests in school readiness and in success later in life.

Ross served as State Representative from the 48th District of Washington (the greater Eastside) from 2003-2015. Rep. Hunter chaired the Appropriations committee from 2010 through 2015 and was responsible for negotiating the 2011-13, 2013-15, and 2015-17 state budgets. He also chaired several other committees during his tenure, including the Finance committee, responsible for tax policy, the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee, and the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Ross served on the Washington Learns K-12 Advisory Committee and the Joint Task Force on Basic Education Finance and led the effort to re-write the definition of Basic Education in Washington, as well as the successful effort to fund it.

Ross began his career at a small software company on the Eastside that expanded beyond all expectations. He was at Microsoft for 17 years and holds several patents for database and user interface design.

Ross earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science from Yale University in 1983.

Favorite children’s book: The Hobbit

Best childhood memories: I have very fond memories of my mother’s notebooks from her Montessori teacher prep and the materials used in the classrooms. The strongest memories though are the freedom of using public transportation, bikes, and walking to go everywhere in Philadelphia independently. A great city for a kid to explore

Most important children in his life: My two children, Jack and Emily, who now lead independent adult lives

Heather Moss
Heather Moss
Deputy Director

As deputy director, Heather provides day-to-day operational oversight for DEL. Prior to joining DEL, Heather was deputy director at Child Care Aware of Washington, where she helped lead the successful statewide roll-out of Early Achievers.

She has previous experience in state government, serving nine years as a research analyst with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee and another five years as both a budget and policy analyst for the state Office of Financial Management.

Favorite children's book: The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats

Best childhood memory: Winter weekends at the family cabin in Paradise Valley

Most important children in her life: My identical twin sons, Dylan and Dustin (although they are now young men, they will always be my boys!)

Greg Williamson
Greg Williamson
Assistant Director for Partnerships and Collaboration

Greg oversees the Partnerships and Collaboration division, which includes: Early Support for Infants and Toddlers; the Head Start State Collaboration Office; Medicaid Treatment Child Care; State-Local Coordination; the Early Learning Advisory Council; and Strengthening Families Washington (which includes Home Visiting, in partnership with Thrive By Five, and Child Abuse Prevention). The Partnerships & Collaboration division specializes in authentic family and community engagement, building external connections, fostering internal relationships, leading for racial equity from a social justice perspective, and encouraging healthy child development in all settings.

Greg worked in various roles in legislative education, health, and social policy from 1988 to 2005, including working for the Washington State Senate, United States Senate, and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. Since 2005, he has worked in education administration for programs in student support and for disproportionately served populations, and he has specialized experience in student and family engagement strategies. Greg earned his teachers’ certification in 1986, and his MA in Organizational Design and Renewal in 2007.

Favorite children’s books: The Scaredy Squirrel series by Melanie Watt (for children aged 3 to 7)

Best childhood memory: Growing up a “free range kid” in the woods and fields and waters and bike trails of North Rosedale, Washington

The most important children in his life: My grandchildren Sam, Ava, Keira, Chloe, Lily, and Kyle, and niecelets McKenzie and Lavender

Mike Steenhout
Mike Steenhout
Chief Financial Officer

Mike Steenhout oversees financial services, which includes accounting, budget, payroll, contracts, procurement, grants management, and audit. Mike worked for three years at the Washington State Liquor Control Board managing the Finance Division and six years as a budget analyst at the Office of Financial Management. He also served in the United States Marine Corps and is a veteran of the Gulf War. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy and a Master’s in Public Administration from the Evergreen State College, is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, and has a certificate in project management from the University of Washington.

Favorite children’s book: Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown

Best childhood memory: Family trips to Clear Lake located at the headwaters of the McKenzie River in Western Oregon. Clear Lake is known as the "lake born of fire" and was formed 3000 years ago by a lava flow. We stayed in rustic cabins, rented a small row boats for fishing, and sat around the campfire late into the night.

Most important children in his life: My son Curtis

Luba Bezborodnikova
Luba Bezborodnikova
Assistant Director for the Early Start Act

Luba is the Assistant Director and coordinates and oversees the implementation of the Early Start Act. She joins us from Puget Sound ESD, where she worked as an Associate Superintendent for Early Learning, and brings high level of expertise in providing comprehensive vision, leadership and direction for the development and implementation of the prenatal to 3rd grade educational services to culturally and linguistically diverse children, families, and communities.

Luba has an extensive knowledge and experience working with all of the components of the Washington State mixed-delivery early learning system: center-based and home-based child care, ECEAP, quality rating improvement system, home visiting, special and comprehensive services, dual language learners services, child welfare, WCCC, Head Start and Early Head Start. She is committed to equitable early learning care and education that ensures school readiness for ALL children and families in our state. Luba is a well-known advocate for data-informed policies and practice, and a cross-sector collaborative leadership.

Luba graduated with a Masters in Inclusive Early Learning Education from the College of Mount St. Joseph, Ohio.

Favorite children’s books: Owl at Home by Arnold Lobel and Karlsson-on-the-Roof by Astrid Lindgren

Best childhood memory: Read alouds with her grandparents, and hiking and mushroom picking trips with her parents

Most important child in her life: Her grandson, Arlo

Corina McCleary
Corina McCleary
Chief Information Officer

Corina McCleary oversees information technology, data, and applications development for DEL, making sure everyone on the DEL team has the data, tools, and resources they need to do their jobs efficiently. She was instrumental in developing and launching DEL’s Web site, and leads development and implementation of other internal and external tools, including Child Care Check.

Corina has worked in project management, software development and process development for more than a decade, most recently as the director of application development for the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, where she helped develop various online systems including ones to support teacher certification, student records and free lunch eligibility. She has a bachelor’s degree in computer science from The Evergreen State College and a certificate in project management from the University of Washington.

Favorite children’s book: Pajama Time! by Sandra Boynton

Best childhood memory: Family water fights during the hot summer days seemed to naturally occur whenever the water spigot was on. My sister and I always ended up completely soaked and all the neighborhood kids would join in to share the screams, laughter and fun

Most important children in her life: My stepson Khalil and daughter Mya

Caitlin Jensen
Caitlin Jensen
Head Start Project Administrator

Caitlin oversees the Head Start State Collaboration Office. She joins us from Montana, and brings knowledge and experience in comprehensive early learning systems, programs and policies.

She has experience working with many parts of the early learning system: Head Start/Early Head Start, maternal and child health, child care, quality rating improvement systems, home visiting, and child welfare. She cares deeply about social justice for children and families, and loves working in a field where there are many possibilities for positive change.

Caitlin graduated with a Masters in Social Work from the University of Washington.

Favorite children’s book: The Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Best childhood memory: Spending summers out at my grandparent’s wheat and cattle ranch in Montana. My siblings and I loved to catch frogs, go on the combine during harvest with our grandpa, and listen to our grandma read The Chronicles of Narnia

The most important children in his life: My niece Amabel, who lives (too far away) in Australia

Lynne Shanafelt
Lynne Shanafelt
Child Care Administrator

Lynne is DEL’s point of contact for the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF), which includes development of the program plan, compliance with the approved plan and federal regulations, and appropriate program implementation. The CCDF plan provides around $112 million dollars per year to DEL to fund child care subsidies to low-income families, child care quality and training programs and licensing. Lynne also supervises agency policy staff for subsidy, collective bargaining and licensing.

Lynne has a wide background in programs related to children and families. She started her career in the Office of Research and Data Analysis for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, worked in Child Welfare Services, and then worked for two local Head Start programs as a home visitor, family and social service coordinator, and Head Start Director. She led the development of two federal demonstrations projects: one for the development of Head Start homeless services, and the other an intergenerational project for Head Start. Lynne also worked on a collaborative model between the Aberdeen School District and Head Start at the beginning of the Early Childhood Education and Assistance program in the state. Lynne started a local Child Care Resource and Referral agency and was the Director for four years, and served as the chair of the local County Interagency Coordinating Council for two years, working with local agencies on improving early intervention services for children and families.

Lynne returned to state service as the ECEAP State Director for five years until DEL’s creation, when she joined the agency as a transitional Assistant Director.

Favorite children’s books: Love You Forever by Robert Munsch and Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Best childhood memory: Growing up in rural Iowa during the 1950s, families got together during harvest time to help each other. The men worked in the fields and the women canned food, and prepared three giant meals a day for everyone. This would last for a couple of weeks, going to farm to farm. The younger kids got to “run” wild for two weeks with practically no supervision and no responsibilities, except to check in at meal times. A group of about eight of us played in the fields, climbed trees and played in the barns from early morning to dark. It was the best time

Most important child in her life: My beautiful granddaughters Emma and Mallory

Nicole Rose
Nicole Rose
Assistant Director for Quality Practice and Professional Growth

Nicole Rose is the acting Assistant Director for the Quality Practice and Professional Growth (QPPG) division with the Department of Early Learning. She comes to this position from her former role as the PreK-3rd/Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program (ECEAP) Administrator. Nicole grew up in Spokane, Washington and brings a variety of experience from early childhood settings including Head Start and ECEAP, community-based mobilization work and research and evaluation of Evidence-Based Home Visiting in Washington State.

Nicole is passionate about putting best practice into policy so that all of Washington’s children have the chance to be successful. Nicole is currently working on a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Washington Evans School of Public Policy and Governance.

What is your favorite children’s book: Guess How Much I Love You by Sam McBratney

Best childhood memory: Spending time with my family going to Manito park duck pond in the summer and sledding down the big hill in the winter

The most important child in your life: My two sons, Ryder and Sage

Carrie Wolfe
Carrie Wolfe
Data Governance Coordinator

As the Data Governance Coordinator for the Department of Early Learning, Carrie works closely with agency Data Stewards and IT staff to ensure we are continually improving the quality and efficiency of our data and systems, protecting privacy of data, and using data to inform our work and produce better outcomes for children. She also works with many partner agencies such as the Office of Financial Management – Education Research and Data Center and the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction to ensure we are aligning data processes where needed and connecting the continuum of education from birth through life in the workforce. This coordination is critical for continuously improving our ability to conduct meaningful evaluations and research on child outcomes than inform policies at the state and federal level.

Carrie has twenty-seven years in Washington State government service beginning with work in watershed research, data management, and geographic information services. Over the last seventeen years, she has served in senior level project management and coordination roles. She has experience working on collaborative interagency data initiatives and enterprise data warehouse projects.

What is your favorite children’s book: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein

Best childhood memory: Spending summers with my family hiking in the Olympic Mountains and water-skiing at our summer lot on Island Lake in Shelton, WA.

The most important child in your life: My three grown children, their spouses, and my six (seventh on the way) beautiful grandchildren that light up my life and bring me great joy