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Nikki Kovan is the interim director of the Early Learning Services Division at the Minnesota Department of Education where she oversees public pre-school programs, early childhood special education, early childhood family education, early learning scholarships and early childhood screening. She previously held a leadership role in the Child Safety and Permanency Division at the Department of Human Services, and prior to that worked at the University of Minnesota, translating early childhood research into practice for early childhood and child welfare practitioners. Nikki received her Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She is the mother to two children, ages 16 and 13, and enjoys reading, watching the U.S. women’s soccer team, spending time with family and friends, and Minnesota’s amazing state and regional park system in her free time.