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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!

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!

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!

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.


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!

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!

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.

Katie Heimsath

Katie recently moved to DC from Chicago. She was born and raised in Texas, and she holds a B.A. in Anthropology from Texas State University, a Child Development Associate with a focus on preschool and is currently pursuing another degree in Early Childhood Education. She has worked as both a nanny and a teacher for over 9 years and feels very fortunate to be making a career out of teaching little ones through play and exploration. In her spare time she enjoys reading, working hard at keeping her small apartment garden thriving, traveling, or being outdoors with her husband Jeff and their dog Soup.

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 joined the SEEC family when she moved to Washington D.C. in the summer of 2014. She has lived all over the east coast, but was born and raised in southern California. Before moving to D.C., she worked in the toddler class at Trinity Playgroup in Philadelphia, PA. While in Philadelphia, she earned her Bachelors in Psychology. Melinda has been working with kids since the 90’s and loves how each child has their own individual way of exploring their world. When she’s not at SEEC, she enjoys reading, photography, animals, and working with textiles.


Javasa Finney

Javasa began working at SEEC in June of 2013. She has received her Master’s Degree in Education at Loyola University Maryland. Javasa 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.

John Fuller

John Fuller grew up in Collingswood, NJ, just across the river from Philadelphia. Shortly after graduating from the College of Santa Fe with a B.A. in Music, he began a career in Early Childhood Education. He has now been working with children for 11 years in schools in Pennsylvania, California, Oregon and Virginia. John is also a trained AMI Montessori Primary (3-6 year old) teacher, and received his M.Ed. from Loyola University in Maryland in 2011. When he’s not working, John enjoys playing the guitar and singing, reading history, taking photographs, urban hiking, and spending time with his wife Karen, and their son, George.

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.

Brittany Leavitt

Brittany has lived all over Maryland . She had currently moved back over the bay from the Eastern Shore and is now living in Baltimore. Brittany received her Early childhood education certification at Wor-wic Community College. She plans on returning to school in the fall. Brittany has volunteer with many organizations including: Appalachian Trail Conservancy, the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, Girl Scouts of Chesapeake Bay, And currently working with the Outdoor Afro leadership Program. As an adventure-seeking soul, Brittany likes to spend some of her spare time rock climbing, playing Roller Derby, practicing yoga, taking photos, and gardening. Brittany believes the smithsonian is a wonderful alternative way of learning and is excited to join a wonderful team!

Shawna Williams

Shawna is originally from Trinidad and has worked at SEEC since 2004. During her time at SEEC Shawna has worked with the infants, toddlers, and two’s. She currently works with the twos 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. 


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 education settings since. Erin received her master's degree in international education and graduate certificate in curriculum and instruction from the George Washington University and loves encouraging children to be curious and open to the world around them. Erin joined SEEC in January 2013 and has worked with the Dragonflies, Fireflies, Koalas, and now Wallabies.

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 two sons, James III and Alexander, and her loving husband, James.

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.


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 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 a lead teacher in the four year old program at the start of summer 2013.

Jessie Miller

Jessie Miller is originally from Norfolk, VA but spent her undergraduate years at the University of South Carolina where she received a Bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2012. For her Master's degree, she is studying Early Childhood Education at George Mason University and graduates in 2015. Jessie began at SEEC in 2012 as a floater. Over the years she has had the opportunity to work with all the different age groups and get to know almost all of the children and families at SEEC! Jessie has fit in perfectly with the SEEC family and we look forward to many more years with her to come.


Cathryn Prudencio

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.

Silvana Oderisi

My name is Silvana Oderisi and I am so excited to have the opportunity to teach your children this year. I am originally from Williamsburg, Virginia and earned a Bachelor's Degree in French from George Mason University, where I pursued my passion for learning languages. I have taught Kindergarten for four years, two of which were as a Corps Member of Teach for America in Tulsa, Oklahoma and the remainder in Washington, D.C.. I enjoy reading, exploring new things, and am currently taking on the challenge of learning Arabic.

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 25 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 during the “witching hour.”

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 held the role of Kindergarten Spanish Teacher. She also holds a part time position at the National Aquarium in Baltimore as a volunteer scuba diver, where she feeds the animals and gives educational presentations. Maureen lives in Alexandria, VA, with her husband, John, and their three sons, who are SEEC alumni.

Center Support Staff

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 Muñiz grew up in San Juan Puerto Rico and moved to the Washington DC in 2007. She has been working with children as a substitute teacher in Arlington, and has been with at SEEC since 2013. She holds a BA in Marketing Communications from Emerson College and is studying Early Childhood Education. As a floater she’s had the privilege of working with all the age groups at SEEC. Laura's favorite activity in the classroom is music and movement and loves to see children express themselves through dance.

Center for Innovation in Early Learning (CIEL)

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!

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.

Cynthia Raso

Cynthia Raso has been at SEEC since 2012 and is currently the Public Programs Coordinator. Besides overseeing public programs, she also manages social media and works collaboratively with her colleagues at the Center for Innovation in Early Learning on a variety of outreach and professional development projects. Prior to joining SEEC, she was a small business owner. Inspired by her daughters, she launched, Art Within Reach, which offered classes exploring art, history, and culture for early childhood audiences. Cynthia also has a long history with the Freer and Sackler Galleries where she began her career over 15 years ago. As a full-time employee she was the Educator for Docents and Tours and after resigning, continued to work as a contractor managing several educational programs and projects. She holds an M.A. in Art History from the George Washington University.

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 currently the Art Educator for SEEC.

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. Emily is a part time contractor with CIEL.


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 - Powell, 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 completed 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 wife Alicia and their dog Jack. Melody’s interests include reading, having impromptu dance parties, and of course, working with young children, educators, and families!

Dana Hirsch, Assistant Director

Dana Hirsch has worked with a wide range of ages at SEEC since 2005. She has been the lead teacher in the toddler, twos, threes, and fours classroom and has now moved up into the Assistant Director role. Before coming to SEEC, Dana worked as an aid for children and adults with special needs. Dana received a B.S. degree in Child Development and Family Science at North Dakota State University, and a MEd in Curriculum and Instruction for Early Childhood Education from George Mason University. She grew up on a farm in North Dakota where she helped her father raise cattle. Dana loves reading, music, and spending time with her husband and daughter.

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

Carolyn Greene-McKee, Chair

Diane DeTroye, Secretary

Chris Wailoo, Treasurer

Members (Secretarial Appointees)

David Voyles

Farleigh Earhart


Carol Fiertz

Margaret Weilekamp

Jane Paul

Laura Hansen

Courtney Chapin

Marsha Semmel

Karen Osborn

Elizabeth Wilson

Phylip Chang

Click here to see a Directory of SEEC Board members