Meet the Team
Marni Fuente has over 16 years of experience in grants development and management, early childhood education, developmentally appropriate practice and assessment, teacher education and training as well as lecturing and consulting. During her tenure at Hillsborough Community College, Marni has secured and managed over $5M in grant funding to help cultivate innovative childhood education programs that provide targeted early literacy intervention, social emotional development, materials to strengthen the home-school connection and professional development to childcare providers and families in Hillsborough County. In addition, she teaches college level courses in the early childhood departments at both HCC and Nova Southeastern University and is a certified trainer in multiple assessment tools. Her graduate degrees include an M.S. in Child Development and Education and an Ed. S. in Early Childhood Development with a concentration in curriculum and instruction. Marni has also consulted and collaborated on many state and local initiatives including the United Way’s Early Learning Campaign, Helios Early Childhood Education Theory of Change, Early Learning Community Conversation – 2K – Get in the Race and she is affiliated with several early childhood professional organizations (NAEYC, AACC, Zero to Three, NEA).
Laura Villalobos graduated from The University of Tampa’s College of Arts and Letters in 2014 with a B.A. in Communication. After graduation she worked with a local small business as a social media manager. During that time, Laura also became a photographer with Lifetouch Preschool Portraits. Laura later worked with myON to promote a countywide literacy campaign with many community partners in Hillsborough County. There she honed her skills in public and community relations as well as digital arts and marketing. In August of 2016, Laura graduated from American University’s School of Communication with an M.A. in Strategic Communication. Laura thrives when dedicating her entire being into the projects that inspire her. She is passionate about facing challenges head on and credits her family's personal experiences as immigrants as what taught her the importance of hard work. Currently, Laura is working for the Early Childhood Department at Hillsborough Community College through the CALM, ELM and QEES programs.
Shelley has over 13 years of experience in Early Childhood Education. She graduated with her associate degree in Early Childhood Management from Hillsborough Community College and went on to earn her master’s degree in Elementary Education from Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. Shelley has worked as a preschool classroom teacher and a program director. She continues to teach college level courses for the Early Education Departments at Hillsborough Community College and State College of Florida. Shelley believes that quality childcare during the early years is critical to the success of children, families, and communities. She advocates for strong early childhood interactions with teachers and caregivers to ensure children develop the social-emotional skills they will need to succeed in the classroom and as adults. As a member of the Quality Early Education System team, Shelley will continue on her mission to improve the quality of childcare throughout our community.
Yaritza Serrano has over 4 years of experience working in the education field. She began her studies at Hillsborough Community College where she got her associate degree in Liberal Arts and continued her education at the University of South Florida receiving a bachelor’s degree in General Studies with a concentration in educational foundations. Throughout college, Yaritza worked for the Hillsborough County Public Schools after care program, HOST, and served as a teacher intern at Cimino Elementary School. She also interned at Hillsborough Community College with the Quality Early Education System (QEES), Early Literacy Matters (ELM) and the Conscious Awareness Learning Model (CALM). These experiences of assisting teachers and children throughout the county developed her passion for early childhood and the education field. Yaritza found her home with HCC and QEES as an Early Childhood Trainer & Special Projects for the Pathways team where she gets to fulfill her passion of helping teachers throughout Hillsborough County grow as instructors.
Naomi Rivera joins the Quality Early Education System (QEES) team as a Grants Communication Specialist and Early Childhood Trainer. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of early childhood education and because of this she places a high value on quality early education. As a former lead preschool teacher, Naomi has extensive experience in planning and implementing various activities that promote the physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth in children using interactive teaching and play based learning methods. Her passion for educating young children led her to complete an Associate of Science in Early Childhood Management through Hillsborough Community College (HCC). She has also served as an intern at HCC for Early Literacy Matters (ELM), Conscious Awareness Learning Model (CALM), and Quality Early Education System (QEES) programs where she worked closely with the coaches and saw the positive impact they were making in the lives of preschool teachers and childcare centers in the community. As part of the QEES family Naomi is able to share her experience and passion with others, working towards a common goal of improving the quality of early education and childcare programs.
Eunice Lopez has over 35 years of experience in early learning. She graduated with her associate degree in Early Childhood Management from Hillsborough Community College and went on to earn her master’s degree in Elementary Education from Southeastern University. Eunice began her career as a preschool teacher. As she continued her professional development, her passion and respect for this profession earned her a position as program coordinator and adjunct instructor. She continues to teach college-level courses at Hillsborough Community College, State College of Florida, and Pasco Hernando State College. Eunice’s educational background and solid understanding of child development, early education, and the importance of early learning experiences for young children enable her to teach developmentally appropriate practices, age appropriateness, and culturally responsive teaching strategies that promote high-quality learning environments. The passion for the profession and opportunities to teach early educators has allowed Eunice to continue advocating and promoting for early education. As a member of the QEES team, Eunice is eager to apply her skills, knowledge, innovation, and diverse skill set to encourage and empower early learning practitioners to improve the quality of early education in our community.
Esther Sandoval has over 20 years of experience working in early childhood education. She graduated as a Kinesiologist but started her journey in early childhood in Alaska as a toddler teacher at a daycare center where she later was promoted to director assistant. Esther learned that working in the best interest of young children was her passion. After her experience as a director assistant, a great opportunity arose for Esther to work as a Spanish Teacher's aide in an elementary school in Anchorage, Alaska. She accepted the challenge of the new position and her love for young children's education grew deeper. After years of working as a Spanish Teacher's aide in Alaska, Louisiana, and Mississippi, she moved to Plant City, Florida where she opened her own Family Child Care Home. In 2017, Esther began taking CALM sessions with the QEES program as a provider until she was offered a position as the Spanish translator for the CALM sessions that were being simulcast in Spanish. After 5 years of enjoying owning and operating her daycare, the COVID-19 pandemic caused her to close. However, soon after shutting her doors, Esther accepted the offer to work with the QEES team as a translator and assistant coach.
Angela Chowning has over 32 years of experience in the childcare industry. She started her childcare journey working with after-school aged children at a childcare facility where she worked her way up to Assistant Director of the program. Angela then spent the next 27 years working in childcare regulation and policy. She gained experience in the promulgation of rules and procedures, training and technical assistance for childcare providers, and investigative techniques. Angela has managed contracts and grants up to $3 million dollars and has collaborated with various agencies all of whom have a vested interest in the betterment of the children of Hillsborough County. She has been a consultant for Hillsborough County government officials for countywide initiatives pertaining to childcare and has sat on the Board of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County. Angela graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English Education from the University of South Florida. She joins the QEES team overseeing the Business Management and Operations team.
Amy McLane has over 20 years of experience in early education. Her experience includes being a preschool and elementary school teacher as well as being a director of a large childcare facility in Hillsborough County. Amy has her B.A. in Early Elementary Education with a concentration in Special Education. She was a Child Care Licensing Inspector for 8 years and recently transitioned to being a Grant Coordinator for the QEES program. Amy believes the social emotional and physical interaction for young children has a direct effect on their overall development and the adult they will become. When in a quality program, it helps children develop skills they will need for success. By providing coaching and training through the QEES program, she believes the children’s overall success is limitless.
Jennifer Biles has over 25 years of experience in early childhood education, ranging from teaching student teachers to owning and operating her own childcare center. She has a master's degree in Early Childhood and is a Certified Business Analyst. Jennifer has a passion for training and coaching educators in the early childhood field. She believes that directors and owners of childcare centers need to dedicate time to working “on” their business and not merely just “in” their business. Jennifer formerly worked as an Outreach Manager with Hillsborough County to provide training and consulting for small businesses. She is now a part of the QEES Business Management team as a Grant Coordinator for the program.
Kristina Reyes has 27 years of experience in early childhood education. Tina has her B.A. in Early Childhood Education Administration. Her experience includes teaching Preschool/VPK as well as being the director of a large childcare facility in Lee County, Florida. Recently, Tina took an opportunity to work with her church family and be involved in a church plant where she relocated to South Dakota as the children’s ministry leader and praise and worship leader. Once the project in South Dakota was completed she moved to Hillsborough County to join the QEES team. Tina has a passion for mentoring and encouraging childcare center directors and owners to inspire their staff and help them further their education in the amazing field of early childhood. Tina believes in preparing children in the early stages of life through age appropriate activities, increased parent involvement, and providing a healthy and safe environment. It brings Tina great joy to share her stories as she has embraced many experiences in the field and hopes she revives the same passion in those who love and care for our children.
Jenna Mullen has over 6 years of experience working in early childhood education. She began her studies at Bellevue College in Bellevue, Washington where she received her associate degree in Early Childhood Education. She continued her education at Washington State University, receiving a bachelor’s degree in Human Development. Throughout college, Jenna worked in the early childhood field as a preschool teacher and mentor to educators at her school. During her last semester in college, Jenna completed an internship with Hillsborough County Child Care Licensing where she spent most of her time working with the QEES team. She now works full time for the QEES team as a Grant Coordinator. Working with the QEES team allows Jenna to fulfill her passion of providing technical assistance and helping educators and childcare providers provide high quality early education throughout Hillsborough County.