Personnel note: AELC, Children’s Forum announce new leadership
Jessica Fowler Molly Grant Erin Smeltzer

Jessica Fowler Molly Grant Erin Smeltzer
AELC's new Executive Director is Molly Grant. Erin Smeltzer will serve as The Children's Forum CEO.

The Association of Early Learning Coalitions has welcomed Molly Grant as its new Executive Director and Jessica Fowler as Deputy Director.

The AELC is a nonprofit that supports 30 early learning coalitions across the state, covering all 67 counties, and their efforts to ensure quality learning experiences for all children.

Grant began her career in the state Senate in 2007, specializing in policy development and legislative analysis. She later joined the Division of Early Learning within the Department of Education, overseeing development of the Child Care Development Fund Plan and implementation and analysis of state and federal changes to early learning programs.

After seven years at DOE, Grant transitioned to the AELC where she served as the Deputy Director, advocating for continued investment and advancement in quality early childhood education.

Fowler began her education career at the Division of Early Learning in 2014, coordinating the former early learning advisory council and spearheading special projects across early learning programs.

Most recently, she served as the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs at the Department of Education, under the leadership of Commissioner Richard Corcoran, where she successfully advocated for Florida’s students and educators on significant policies and historical investments in education.

“As someone who has worked alongside the Early Learning Coalitions for more than a decade, I know that both Molly and Jessica will be tremendous voices for our youngest learners — and both will play a critical role in educating and inspiring this new class of legislators on the importance of early investment,” said Vance Aloupis, the CEO of the Children’s Movement and a former state Representative.

Additionally, The Children’s Forum also recently welcomed new leadership, selecting Erin Smeltzer to serve as its Chief Executive Officer.

Smeltzer started her career in the early learning field as a preschool teacher and director of an early learning program for almost a decade.

In 2014, she transitioned to the Department of Education where she managed both the School Readiness and VPK Programs, overseeing the state’s investments to improve outcomes for Florida’s youngest learners. After DOE, Smeltzer became the Executive Director of the AELC working to streamline best practices across the state and help coalitions support equitable learning experiences for all children.

“Erin and The Children’s Forum are key partners in helping the Florida Chamber Foundation drive our Florida 2030 Blueprint goals tied to early education that are essential in moving Florida forward and preparing our youngest learners to become part of America’s best workforce in the future.” said Kyle Baltuch, Senior Vice President of Equality of Opportunity at the Florida Chamber Foundation.

Drew Wilson

Drew Wilson covers legislative campaigns and fundraising for Florida Politics. He is a former editor at The Independent Florida Alligator and business correspondent at The Hollywood Reporter. Wilson, a University of Florida alumnus, covered the state economy and Legislature for LobbyTools and The Florida Current prior to joining Florida Politics.


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