Skip to main content

Equity Leaders Action Network

The BUILD Initiative’s Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN) is a leadership program funded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and Ballmer Group. The ELAN was created to address four challenges in early childhood programs, entities, and organizations: racism, fragmentation, lack of beneficiary voice, and absence of policy leadership intentionally committed to racial equity.

The ELAN supports ...

a group of multiracial and multiethnic leaders who have responsibility at the state or county level for early childhood services and programs. Leaders manage resources, programs, services, and initiatives designed to support parents and caregivers to fulfill their responsibility in the areas of health, child welfare, child care, and economic supports.

The inaugural cohort of 38 ELAN Fellows participated from 2017-2020. The BUILD Initiative has selected a new cohort of ELAN Fellows for 2021-23. They include leaders from Arizona, California, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Washington. The 29 current Fellows work in government at the state, federal, county, and city level, in advocacy organizations, school districts, and other programs. A majority work in early care and education, health or mental health systems, while others work in family support, food access, workforce, home visiting, racial equity and social justice programs, or early childhood more generally.

ELAN Goals

  • Support leaders in developing the will and skill to question personal assumptions and institutional and structural policies and practices and work collaboratively to develop strategies that promote early childhood systems that are explicitly and measurably equitable and excellent for all children.
  • Build the capacity of members to critically examine, with a racial equity lens, institutional and structural policies and practices in the distribution of state and federal resources (e.g., funding and services).
  • Advance change through intentional actions that avoid further disadvantaging children and families of color and those in poverty, and members of the early childhood workforce.

Our Work

Fellows participate in carefully developed activities including national meetings, discussion groups, Communities of Practice, faculty mentoring, individual projects, and site visits. These activities support a primary objective of the ELAN — the personal and interpersonal development of Fellows to position themselves to take action within their institutions for institutional change and with other institutions for structural change.

Explore Equity Leaders Action Network Resources

Explore Equity Leaders Action Network Collection


Sherri Killins Stewart, Ed.D.
Director of State Systems Alignment and Integration, Co-Director, Equity Leaders Action Network

Aisha Ray, Ph.D.
Distinguished Fellow, Co-Director, Equity Leaders Action Network

Michelle Stover Wright
Research and Evaluation Manager
Equity Leaders’ Action Network Team