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Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center

Who's Who at SEEC

SEEC Classroom Educators


Katy Martins

Katy began working at SEEC in February of 2013.  Kate started out as a nanny and went on to earn an Associate Degree in liberal arts and humanities with a concentration in psychology. Katy has worked with children with special needs and worked as a 1:1 aide in the toddler room at an inclusion preschool.  Katy is working on finishing her degree in early childhood education and special education in the future.

Noel Ulmer

Noel Ulmer was born and raised in Washington, DC and is excited to be a member of the infant team at SEEC. Originally an English major at Trinity Washington University, she discovered what she believes is her true calling while working as a Nursery Attendant for the Kidz Klub at Sport & Health. There, she learned that teaching and interacting with children of all ages is where her talent lies. She is happy that parents recognized her genuine love for children as a Nursery Attendant, as well as an Assistant Teacher at The Geneva Ivey Day School. She looks forward to continuing her education in the early childhood education field. She is excited to cultivate and nurture the minds of SEEC's youngest children!

Nessa Moghadam

Nessa is a native, originally from Washington, D.C. For the past 3 years she has worked with the older infants.  Nessa is excited to move to the toddler age group for the 2013-2014 school year.  This year Nessa’s youngest daughter will be attending SEEC in the younger infant class and she couldn’t be more excited for her to joining the SEEC family!

Meredith Osborne

Meredith Osborne is originally from Cleveland Heights, Ohio. She has spent the last two years in the Washington, D.C. area. Meredith came to D.C. to study Museum Education at the George Washington University and since graduating has worked at PGiP - Playgroup in the Park. Prior to that she worked at the Children's Museum of Cleveland and worked in Jewish Community Center of South Tampa Preschool. She is excited to be joining the Duckling team!

Brittany Brown

Brittany has always loved working with children and is excited to join the SEEC infant team! She has worked with children in several venues, including Young Playwrights' Theater, Round House Summer Theater Education Program, and The National Children's Museum.  She is currently pursuing her BA in Theater Education at Bowie State University. She looks forward to gaining more first-hand experience working with infants and developing infant programming.

Jill Manasco

Jill has been working in the early childhood field for more than 10 years. Over five of those years have been with SEEC working as an infant/toddler teacher. In 2011 she completed her BS in business management with a concentration in accounting.


Logan Crowley

Logan recently relocated to DC from Albuquerque, New Mexico where he was working as a toddler teacher in a high school program for pregnant and parenting teenagers. Before that, he worked as an elementary school aide, a home daycare provider, a toddler/twos teacher, and as a nanny. When he is not working, he can usually be found watching unhealthy amounts of television, reading, playing video games, or wandering the great outdoors. He is excited to work with all the amazing little ones at SEEC!

Dana Brightful

Dana grew up in the Washington D.C. Metropolitan area.  She spent some time at Morgan State University studying Civil Engineering when she realized her true passion was teaching young children. Since that time she has been taking classes in Early Childhood Education to enhance and sharpen her skills. Dana has worked with young children for over a decade. She began working at SEEC in 2005 when she started working with the toddlers. When she not working with the children at SEEC Dana enjoys spending time with her family which consists of her young son James III (affectionately known at SEEC as Trey) and her loving husband, James.

Laura Bonilla

Laura is excited to join the SEEC family! Prior to working at SEEC she worked with infants and toddlers at Bright Horizons.  Laura truly enjoys working with kids, and is eager to continue pursuing her career as an educator at SEEC. In her spare time, Laura enjoys dancing!

Anna Wilson

Anna is excited to be starting her second school year in the Toucan classroom! She received her Bachelor's of Science in Education and Social Studies from Minnesota State University Moorhead.  While in Minnesota Anna worked with students as young as six weeks and as old as 62. Her philosophy on education is that students learn best when they focus on how things happen and systematically study the processes involved. In her free time Anna enjoys backpacking, doing yoga, and reading.

Megan Gallagher

Megan Gallagher is so excited to be a Toucan teacher this year! Megan is originally from Queens, NY. She first moved to DC to attended at The George Washington University and decided to stay in The District after graduating. Prior to teaching at SEEC, Megan was an Assistant Teacher at The Brookville Center for Children’s Services in New York. She lives in Van Ness with her husband, Adam, and their two cats.

Melinda Bernsdorf

Melinda is excited to join the SEEC family and work with the toddler class in the 2014-2015 school year. She spent the last 3 years working with toddlers in a Philadelphia preschool and earning her Bachelors in Psychology. Melinda has been working with kids for the last 12 years and loves how each child has their own individual way of exploring the world. Outside of school, Melinda loves animals, books, photography, and working on sewing projects. 


Javasa Finney

Javasa has received her Master’s Degree in Education at Loyola University Maryland.   She completed her Bachelor’s Degree from York College in Sociology.  Javasa received her American Montessori Internationale Diploma from the Washington Montessori Institute.  She taught in a Montessori school as a primary teacher for seven years. 

Camille Frere

Camille is very excited to be part of the SEEC team! Born in Paris, she speaks French and English and teaches ESL to adult immigrants during the weekends. Holding a BA in English Literature from The University of Maryland, she enjoys a thorough love of puns but still takes the time to read through celebrity gossip magazines. She aspires to be a published author in the near or distant future, if only to be quoted in conversation.

Shawna Williams

Shawna is originally from Trinidad and has worked at SEEC for the past eight years. During her time at SEEC Shawna has worked with the infants, toddlers, and two’s. She currently works with the toddlers and has been for the past two years. She earned an Associate's degree in Criminal Justice and is also working on her CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential. 

Elaine Mullally

Elaine was raised in Cleveland, OH and has been in D.C. now for three years. She studied at Xavier University where she earned a degree in Early Childhood Education. Elaine’s favorite local museum is NGA East. When she is not working with the children at SEEC Elaine enjoys finding adventures in D.C., listening to music, and attempting to cook like a Top chef.

Ashlee Smith

Ashlee has been at SEEC for five years and has worked in both the Dragonfly and Firefly classrooms. She truly enjoys teaching and enjoys watching the children in her class grow and learn each year.   She is originally from Roanoke, VA and moved to the DC area about six years ago. She is married to her high school sweetheart and they welcomed their first child, Emmett, in February.  Ashlee is excited for Emmett to join the SEEC community as a Duckling in the fall!

Carolyn Eby

Carolyn was born and raised in Washington D.C.  She studied Education at Pratt Institute for two years, then completed her degree at Virginia Commonwealth University with a minor in Craft Material Studies.  Carolyn has worked with the Corcoran Gallery youth education programs and Glenn Echo fine arts.  She is excited to be working with SEEC to help introduce children to the wonderful world of Smithsonian museums!


Brooke Shoemaker

Brooke Shoemaker has been working with children for the past eight years and is very happy to be at SEEC.  She holds a BA in theatre performance from the University of Maryland with a minor in human development.  In the past Brooke has taught drama and art to students aged two through eighteen in Washington D.C., Maryland and Connecticut.  She is currently pursuing a MEd in early childhood education from Towson University.  Brooke loves bringing the arts into the classroom specifically through music and storytelling. 

Erin Pruckno

Originally from Oxford, Ohio, Erin Pruckno studied anthropology and English at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. After college, she became the education director at the Children's Museum at Saratoga and dove into the world of museum education and early childhood, working in a variety of early childhood settings since. Erin is currently pursuing her master's degree in international education from the George Washington University and loves encouraging children to be curious and open to the world around them.

Rebecca Wilcox

Rebecca Wilcox joined SEEC in November 2011 and is currently working with one of the three year old classes. Originally from Southern California, Rebecca comes from a family of teachers who inspired her to pursue a career in teaching. After studying abroad in Rome, Italy, her love of museums melded with her love of education. She holds a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Sociology from the University of Redlands and an M.A. in Museum Studies with an emphasis in museum education and technology from Johns Hopkins University. 

Tina Brimo

Tina moved to DC over a year ago from New York where she lived since she was twelve years old. In New York she attended the City College of NY and studied Early Childhood Education and Psychology. She currently lives in Capitol Hill with her husband Eric. For fun, she runs (she ran her first marathon earlier this year!), cooks and travels.


Carrie Heflin

Carrie is a Virginia native originally from Richmond. She attended the University of Virginia where she completed her BA with a double major in Art History and Anthropology. She moved to the D.C. area two years ago when she accepted a teaching position at SEEC. While teaching she is taking courses at Northern Virginia Community College in Early Childhood Education.

Emma Cowan-Young

Emma Cowan-Young has been with SEEC since March 2014. She has worked with Kindergarten and the Fours. She has previously worked Discovery Theater and the Smithsonian Summer Camp. Emma was born in Bellingham, WA, and attended the University of Washington in Seattle, WA where she graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Anthropology and Disability Studies, focusing on Special Education policy and accessibility to education for students with disabilities. Emma loves football and supports her Super Bowl winning Seahawks with great pride! Emma is passionate about the use of museums to educate young minds, and is so grateful that she is part of a school that promotes this mission so enthusiastically. She plans to attend graduate school to receive her Master’s Degree in Museum Education in the near future.

Will Kuehnle

Will is originally from St. Louis Missouri, and earned his BA from the University of Missouri in 2007. After moving to DC in 2008, Will got involved in early childhood education working for Funtastic Fitness as a health and fitness instructor at various schools throughout the DC, Maryland and Virginia area. He started at SEEC in the fall of 2012 as an assistant teacher in the toddler program. He is currently pursuing his Master of Arts in Teaching for Early Childhood Education from Trinity Washington University. Will started as co-lead teacher in the four year old program at the start of summer 2012. 

Nicole Pyles

Nicole Pyles grew up in Washington DC. She studied ballet at the Washington School of Ballet until, at thirteen, she was recruited by the School of American Ballet in New York City. In New York, she attended Professional Children’s School while studying dance. Nicole received her undergraduate degree from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, where she majored in Drama and Cinema Studies. After graduating from New York University, Nicole lived in New York and worked in the arts and music, until returning to Washington in 2012 to pursue Masters in Education from George Washington University


Cathryn Kis

Cathryn Kis grew up in Medina, Ohio and moved to the area in 2008. She earned a Bachelor of the Arts degree in Early Childhood Education from Wittenberg University. She has experience teaching in various schools both in the States and Vienna, Austria. Outside her love of working with children of all ages, Cathryn is interested in travel, reading, storytelling, the great outdoors, exploring museums and new cultures and people.

Rebecca Adams

Rebecca C. Adams is a local multidisciplinary artist, musician, and visual arts educator. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from Smith College where she also minored in music, and she trained at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in the Sculpture Department. She has taught Kindergarten Arts Enrichment & Museum Education at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center over four years, and she contributes her skills and expertise through workshops at the National Portrait Gallery as well as through her longstanding instruction at the Art League School in Alexandria, VA over eight years. Rebecca’s teaching practice encourages versatility toward medium throughout interdisciplinary curricula for young children while introducing concepts in post-modern and contemporary art. Her process-based approach to creative projects develops independent thinking, collaboration, and problem-solving skills. Rebecca has also attended the National Art Association Annual Convention in 2011 in Fort Worth, TX with museum and art educators from around the country. She has served two consecutive terms as a member of the Public Art Committee under the Alexandria Commission for the Arts (ACA). Her work on the Charles Houston Memorial Art Project in addition to piloting a youth-driven mural project in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria captures her passion for community outreach. Her sculptures, videos, and sound pieces have been exhibited throughout the Mid Atlantic region, and she serves to strengthen the avant-garde music community in the DC Metro Area by participating in the annual Sonic Circuits festival. Over the past three years Rebecca has frequently collaborated with dancer, choreographer, and University of Maryland professor Sharon Mansur on site-specific multi-media performance works, and her ongoing independent projects currently explore painting, printmaking, and 35mm photography, and soft sculpture

Center Support Staff

Jessie Miller

Jessie is a recent graduate from the University of South Carolina where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. She is originally from Norfolk, VA but moved up to the DC area after graduation. SEEC welcomed Jessie to the team in November of 2012 and she has fit right in. She has been accepted to the Early Childhood Education Master's Program at George Mason University and plans to start classes fall of 2013. 

Meg McDonald

Meg McDonald is very happy to join the team at SEEC. Meg is a Washington, DC native with over fifteen years experience working with children from Toddlers through Pre-K. Meg earnded her 90 hours in ECE and is currently working towards a BA in Early Childhood Education. In her free time she enjoys traveling  with her fiancée, music, hiking, reading and cooking.

Allison Brake

Allison started teaching at SEEC in 1988! In that time she has filled a variety of roles including as Lead Teacher, Asst. Director, Resource Teacher and currently, Music Teacher. Allison has a BFA in Theater from University of Texas at Arlington.  Allison has been married to her husband Paul for 30 years and they have beautiful twin daughters named Alex and Blair, who are SEEC alumni.

Laura Muniz

Laura Muniz comes to SEEC from sunny San Juan, Puerto Rico.  She holds a BA in Marketing Communications from Emerson College and is excited to begin her studies in Early Childhood Education.  Laura has been working with children for many years as a summer camp counselor, and recently as a substitute teacher.  Living in Arlington, VA for the past six years, she has watched her three young cousins (ages seven, four, and two) go through what she thinks are the "best stages of life".  She now wants to turn her passion to work with children into a career and can't think of a better place to be than SEEC! Laura's favorite activity in the classroom is music and movement and loves to see children express themselves through dance.

Maureen Leary

Maureen Leary has a degree in English from Georgetown University and a Master’s Degree in Gifted Education from the University of Virginia. Maureen has been at SEEC since 1998, and has worked with the Twos, Threes, Fours, and Kindergarten.  Since her oldest son was born in 2001, Maureen has worked part time as the Kindergarten Spanish Teacher, helped manage the SEEC website, and compiled the annual SEEC family directory. She also holds a part time position at the National Aquarium in Baltimore as a volunteer scuba diver. Maureen lives in Alexandria, VA, with her husband, John, and their three sons, who are SEEC alumni.

Dr. David Adamski

Dr. David Adamski has been associated with SEEC since 1990 when his son Jon enrolled as a Bear. Subsequently, He taught informal science classes with the Bears before he began teaching science in the Kindergarten. Dr. Adamski has been an entomologist with the Systematic Entomology Laboratory, USDA, at the Smithsonian and Beltsville, MD for 23 years. He researches night-flying moths, so you won’t see him in the summer months unless you’re in the middle of a forest around the “witching hour.”

Marla Coyoy

Marla Coyoy is extremely excited to be part of the SEEC team full time for the new school year! She has worked with children and teenagers with disabilities in the past and enjoyed every minute of it. She also was a teacher's assistant at a Montessori school. Marla holds a BA in Criminology and Criminal Justice and hopes to start her MA in Social Work in January. In her free time, Marla loves to read and write. 

Catherine Ahern

Kasia (Catherine) Ahern is a teaching assistant in the Wallaby and Koala rooms. She recently moved to D.C. from Chicago, IL. She went to the University of Notre Dame for her undergraduate education, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology. She is currently a first year Museum Studies graduate student at the George Washington University. Her previous experience with children includes working at a preschool in Chicago called the Little Green Tree House. She also spent many years giving swimming lessons to children, ages 4 to 14. And earlier this year, she spent some time coaching her former swim team, which includes children, ages 4 to 18. She has had babysitting jobs working for family, neighbors, and parents of children at the Little Green Tree House. Kasia is very excited to be working at SEEC with the Wallabies and Koalas! So far, it has been a blast, and she looks forward to this upcoming school year!

Museum Educators

Sara Cardello

Originally from North Carolina, Sara has been living in D.C. since 2008. After graduating with a B.A. in Art History from UNC-Chapel Hill, Sara worked as a guest historian at the Museo Oaxaqueno in Oaxaca, Mexico. She continued her studies at Tufts University receiving her M.A. in Art History and Museum Education, while working at the MFA-Boston. Since moving to the District she has worked in Museum Education at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The National Building Museum, Brent Elementary School, and the Capitol Hill Arts Workshop. She has been a member of the SEEC Museum Education team since summer 2012.

Alex Goodman

Alex is a former Penguin teacher who is returning to SEEC after completing her Master’s in Public Humanities at Brown University. She earned a B.A. in Art History and Educational Studies at Wellesley College.  Alex has focused her studies on early learning in museums. In addition to her experiences at SEEC she has also worked on and with early childhood programs at the Walters Art Museum, the Kreeger Museum, The Providence Children's Museum, and Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology. Alex is excited to be back and apply her studies and experiences to the classrooms at SEEC!

Justin Pyles

Justin Pyles was born in Washington DC and has taught early childhood education since graduating from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1999.  His background in early childhood education and art education supports his in depth understanding of how to use open ended art experiences to build creativity, problem solving, and other skills important for preparing children to enter school ready to learn. Justin is a practicing artist and shows his work regularly in local galleries. Justin holds a Masters of Arts in Teaching from the Corcoran School of Art and Design.

Cynthia Raso

Cynthia Raso joined SEEC in 2012 and is currently working with the infants, toddlers, and preschoolers. Prior to joining SEEC, she was a small business owner, contractor, and stay-at-home mother. Her two young girls were her inspiration for starting the business, which offers classes exploring art, history, and culture for early childhood audiences. As a contractor, Cynthia managed a wide variety of educational programs at the Smithsonian's Freer and Sackler Galleries. Her relationship with the Freer and Sackler extends back to 2000, when she took the position of curatorial assistant and then, after realizing her love for teaching, assumed the role of educator for docents and tours. She holds an M.A. in Art History from the George Washington University.

Emily Sparling

Emily joined the SEEC teaching staff in the fall of 2012. She received her M.A. in Museology from the University of Washington and has worked in a wide range of geographical locations, from California to Washington DC, institutional sizes, from the Science Museum of Minnesota to the Micanopy Historical Society, and disciplines, from art to natural history. Her work has been published by the Association of Children's Museums as well as the Journal of Museums & Social Issues where she served as a guest editor.


Administration Team

Kimberlee L. Kiehl, Ph.D., Executive Director

Dr. Kim Kiehl took over as Executive Director of the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center in July 2012. In this position she has oversight on the operations of the lab schools for young children serving 135 students in three sites located within the walls of the Smithsonian museums. She was formerly (1990-2012) the Senior Vice President and Chief Strategy and Operations Officer at COSI (Center of Science and Industry) in Columbus, Ohio. In this role she managed the overall strategic direction of the institution, partnerships, research, and the daily operations of the building and COSI programs. Prior to joining COSI, she was Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science and State Extension Specialist at The Ohio State University, Columbus and Curriculum Coordinator/Director for the A. Sophie Rogers Laboratory for Child and Family Studies. She also served as Associate Dean for Academic Programs, College of Human Ecology and has extensive publications in professional journals. Dr. Kiehl originally went to COSI on "special appointment" as Associate Vice President for Early Childhood Education for COSI Columbus on loan from Ohio State.

Dr. Kiehl received a Bachelor of Science in 1981, at SUNY Geneseo, in Speech Pathology and Audiology. The following year (1982) she completed her Master's degree at The College of St. Rose, Department of Special Education. Dr. Kiehl received her Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from Penn State University in 1990. She continued to teach two undergraduate courses per quarter at The Ohio State University in the Department of Education and Human Ecology until her departure in 2012.

Meredith McMahon, Deputy Director for Operations

Meredith McMahon has been working in the early education field for 20 years and has worked as both a classroom teacher and a program director.  She earned her BA in history from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA in early childhood education from the University of Phoenix.   Meredith has been a part of SEEC since 2004 and has been Deputy Director of Operations since 2008.  She grew up in Scranton, PA, lived and worked in Philadelphia, PA for 11 years and moved to DC in 2002.  Meredith is a dedicated Phillies fan who’s also a runner, avid reader and collector of toys that can be found throughout her office.  She lives in the District with her new husband, Jeff, and their 2 crazy cats.

Betsy Bowers, Director of the Center for Innovation in Early Learning (CIEL)

Betsy Bowers began her professional career at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center when it first opened its doors in 1988. After spending nearly 10 years with SEEC as an administrator, teacher and museum educator, she returned to graduate school where she received an MAT in museum education from the George Washington University. After several years as an independent consultant, she returned to SEEC to focus on expanding community based initiatives.  She is a contributing author to AAM’s Alliance of Spirit: Museum School Partnerships publicationand the Journal of Museum Education. Betsy is an adjunct faculty member for the George Washington University where she teaches “Museum as Learning Environment” to graduate students

Melody Passemante, Director of Infant & Toddler Programs

Melody is a Northern Virginia Native, originally from Herndon, Virginia. She earned her B.S. in Early Childhood Education from James Madison University and will complete a MEd in Education Management in December 2013. Melody has worked extensively with children ranging from ages 6 weeks to 12 years in a variety of settings. Prior to joining SEEC in December of 2010 she worked as the Program Director at a Reggio Emilia Inspired cooperative in Arlington Virginia. She taught literacy to children ages 3-5 in Philadelphia for a year and also worked as an educator at the Summer Program at St. Johns Preschool in Georgetown. Melody lives in Lorton Virginia with her fiancée, Alicia and their dog Jack. Melody’s interests include reading, having impromptu dance parties, and of course, working with young children!

Dana Hirsch, Assistant Director

Originally from North Dakota, Dana grew up on a farm helping her father to raise cattle.  After graduating from North Dakota State University in 2005 with a B.S. degree in Child Development and Family Science, she moved to Washington D.C., and began teaching at SEEC as a lead teacher in the toddler classroom.  Since then Dana has gained a variety of experience teaching the twos, preschool, and is currently teaching Pre-K.  In addition to being a classroom teacher Dana has also presented at various workshops including the national NAEYC conference. Dana has continued her studies and received a Masters of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction from George Mason University in 2013.

Megan McCall, Director of Preschool Programs

Megan McCall has been a dedicated teacher at SEEC for the past 5 years and has now moved into a Director’s roll at the American History site. She started as an Assistant Teacher in 2008 with the infants, moved up to the Lead Teacher in one of our toddler classrooms and now gets to reconnect with the three and four year olds at our preschool site. She is a Florida native, but loves the culture and weather that DC offers. Megan received her BS in Secondary Math Education at Florida State University, but has been working in Early Childhood Education for 12 years. She’s currently taking more course work in ECE classes and looks forward to earning her Masters in the future. She loves teaching and interacting with all ages and thrives on building relationships with children and adults. Some of her passions are music, exercising and eating!



Board of Directors

Executive Officer
Kimberlee Kiehl, Ex Officio,
Executive Director

Elizabeth Wilson, Chair

Susan Fruchter, Treasurer

Members (Secretarial Appointees)

Michael Dunagan

Farleigh Earhart


Carol Fiertz

Dennis Hasch

Jane Paul

Laura Hansen

Courtney Chapin

Diane DeTroye

Karen Osborn

Carolyn Greene McKee

Click here to see a Directory of SEEC Board members