About Us

Board

The WECAN Board is composed of experienced early childhood educators from throughout North America. The Board has a four-day annual meeting each November and an additional meeting in the spring. Its various committees—Finance, Personnel, Board Committee, Conference Planning, Diversity Equity Inclusion and Access, Outreach and Public Policy, Membership, Teacher Education, Birth to Three and Publications—are active throughout the year in a number of ways.

Board members and other WECAN colleagues participate in our WECAN Working Groups to deepen aspects of our educational work and share the results through WECAN Books, the Gateways newsletter and through conferences and regional gatherings. The Board also acts as an organ of perception for the needs of the Waldorf early childhood movement and collaborates with AWSNA (the Association of Waldorf Schools of North America) the Alliance for Public Waldorf Education (APWE), and a number of other organizations with similar goals and ideals in service of childhood. Two board members act as WECAN representtives on the council of the International Association for Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education (IASWECE), based in Switzerland. 

The current members of the Board are: Louise deForest (Chair), Sarah Arnold, Heather Church, Adrienne Doucette, Keelah Helwig, Susan Howard, Ruth Ker, Gabriela Nuñez Plata, Anjum Mir, Holly Koteen-Soule, and Magdalena Toran.

Sarah Arnold
Sarah Arnold, from Harvard, MA, is the founder of the Evergreen Garden Playschool, a WECAN Full Member until its closure in 2019. She trained at Sunbridge Institute and is currently doing doctoral work on language development at Boston University. Sarah’s doctoral research will examine storytelling and story dramatization.

Sarah is active in the Ideal Learning Round Table of the Trust for Learning, a member of the Waldorf Associations Working Group (WAWG), and is working with WECAN Member programs, assisting with licensing and training recognition issues, most recently in Oregon. She also attends conferences of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and Defending the Early Years as part of her outreach work. She is a member of the WECAN Public Policy and Outreach Group and the WECAN Envisioning Group.

Nancy Blanning
Nancy is active at the Denver Waldorf School in the field of educational support and travels widely throughout North America helping schools with educational assessments of children, especially prior to entering Grade One. She is also the co-director of Sunbridge Institute’s Waldorf Early Childhood Teacher Education program and is a co-founder and faculty member of the Denver-based Nurturing the Roots professional development course.

Nancy is the editor of the WECAN semi-annual Gateways Newsletter and a number of WECAN publications, and chair of the WECAN Publications Committee. She also writes for Lilipoh magazine. She was an active member of the International Association’s Working Group on the Older Child in the Kindergarten and has a special interest in incarnational support, both in the classroom and in teacher education courses. She is also a member of the WECAN Personnel Committee and Diversity Group.

Heather Church, Treasurer
Heather is the early childhood coordinator/section chair at the Halton Waldorf School in Ontario and is active in New Adult Learning. She was formerly the Pedagogical Co-Chair in Support of Teachers, Parents and Community at the Toronto Waldorf School. She trained at Sunbridge College and Sophia’s Hearth.

Heather is WECAN’s Birth to Three Coordinator and is active internationally with the Care 1 Project of the Medical Section. She has been a regional representative for WECAN in the Great Lakes/Ontario region and is active over the years in organizing conferences such as the TWS Gateways, regional conferences and WECAN’s first Birth to Three Conference in October 2019 in Keene, NH. She is on the WECAN Board Committee and Finance Committee. She lives in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada.

Louise deForest, Chairperson and Secretary
Louise lives in Mill River, MA, outside Great Barrington, and works as a freelance mentor, advisor, lecturer and trainer throughout North America and internationally – most recently in France, Lithuania, China, and Taiwan.  She is the former early childhood pedagogical director of the Rudolf Steiner School in NY after teaching for many years at Green Meadow Waldorf School. Louise has lectured and written on the transition from kindergarten into the grades, meaningful purposeful work and the development of the will, and on the inner development of the educator.

Louise and Susan Howard represent WECAN on the Council of the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education (IASWECE), which meets twice each year in member countries around the world. She has edited three WECAN books - Tell Me A Story, Tell Me Another Story, and For the Children of the World. She is a member of the WECAN Finance Committee, Personnel Committee, and Envisioning Group.

Adrienne Doucette
Adrienne is an early childhood educator at the Whatcom Hills Waldorf School in Bellingham, WA where she teaches preschool and a weekly parent-child class. She is an organizer of WECAN

Pacific Northwest Conferences held in WA and Oregon and was the WECAN representative on the AWSNA Leadership Council prior to Laura Mason. She is active in collaborating with AWSNA in her region and is eager to support WECAN’s work with parents. Adrienne studied at Antioch New England. She is a member of the WECAN Board Committee.

Keelah Helwig
Keelah Helwig is an early childhood educator and section chair at the Waldorf School of Garden City on Long Island, New York. Keelah completed her training at Sunbridge Institute where she is also a board member. A recent board member of WECAN, Keelah served on the conference planning committee for the 2021 WECAN early childhood educator’s conference, Towards a Kinder and More Compassionate Society; Black Lives Matter in our Waldorf Early Childhood Classrooms and Communities.

Susan Howard
Susan is a co-founder of WECAN and has worked as the WECAN Coordinator, a half-time position, since 2002. She has also worked since 2002 as a member of the three-person Coordinating Group for the International Association for Steiner Waldorf Early Childhood Education (IASWECE), based in Europe. She directed the Sunbridge Early Childhood Teacher Education Program for 34 years until 2018 and was a co-founder and later director of the Research Institute for Waldorf Education in the 90’s. Susan lives in Amherst, MA.

Susan has written “The Essentials of Waldorf Early Childhood Education” and edited a number of WECAN Books, including The Developing Child, Love as the Source of Education, and Working with the Angels.  She is a member of the WECAN Teacher Education Committee, Publications Committee, and Envisioning Group.

Ruth Ker
Ruth Ker, from Duncan, BC, is the director of the early childhood teacher education program at the West Coast Institute for Studies in Anthroposophy in BC. She is the founder of the Sunrise Waldorf School in Duncan, BC, where she taught for 36 years until her retirement in 2016. She was the leader of the WECAN Working Group on the Older Child in the Kindergarten and a member of the International Working Group on this theme.

Ruth edited “From Kindergarten into the Grades –Insights from Rudolf Steiner and You’re Not the Boss of Me: Understanding the Six/seven-year-old Transformation. She is also the author/editor of Please Can We Play Games. Ruth is WECAN’s Teacher Education Coordinator and represents WECAN on the AWSNA TEDC. She is also a member of the WECAN Teacher Education Committee and the WECAN Publications Committee.

Gabriela Nuñez Plata
Gabriela studied education at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico. She is a founder of the Ak Lu’um Waldorf Community in Playa del Carmen in the Riviera Maya, a coastal region of the Yucatán Peninsula.  She has worked as a kindergarten teacher since 1998, and as a Waldorf teacher since 2008. She has experience with mixed-age groups of two- to seven-year-olds and currently works with children under three years of age. She is also the founder of the YaxKin Early Childhood Teacher Training in the Riviera Maya. 

Gabriela teaches Waldorf Early Childhood education courses at the Centro De Desarrollo Antroposofico in Cuernavaca, is an anthroposophical art therapist at Arteterapia Antroposofica in El Puente, and is a member of the WECAN Board.

Anjum Mir
For over 20 years, Anjum Mir has been supporting parents in establishing healthy home rhythms. Her teaching experience has taken her from public and private school to Waldorf Education, which she discovered while looking for an educational system that honored the development and spiritual well-being of her first child. 
 
Currently, Anjum, a mother of four, works in pedagogical administration and teaches parent-child classes at the Westside Waldorf school in Los Angeles, offers prenatal, infant and toddler focused workshops and seminars and holds parenting classes for parents of children through middle school. She is on the board of WECAN and several other education-focused organizations and is involved in teacher education and training.

Holly Koteen-Soulé
Holly taught as an early childhood educator at the Seattle Waldorf School, founded the Brightwater School in Seattle, and has been active for many years in Sound Circle Teacher Training, directing the early childhood programs in Seattle, Spokane, and Denver. She is a member of the Pedagogical Section Council and has written articles that have appeared in their publications and in the Research Bulletin. Holly lives in Langley on Whidbey Island, WA.

Holly was WECAN’s Teacher Education Coordinator until summer 2019 and has been a member of the AWSNA TEDC as well. She has an interest in the work with today’s young parents, and in research needed for the renewal of Waldorf education.

Magdalena Toran
Magdalena is an early childhood educator at the Hartsbrook School in MA, where she teaches parent-child and parent-infant classes. She studied at Sunbridge and Sophia’s Hearth and is an active member of the WECAN Birth to Three Task Force. Magdalena has taught workshops and courses at conferences and training centers on birth to three. She is a member of the WECAN Diversity Group.

Regional Representatives

Experienced Waldorf educators in each region are invited by the Board to serve as WECAN Regional Representatives. On a volunteer basis, they help to assist organizations on their steps on the membership path, contact members to explore activities and issues of concern, facilitate collaboration within the region, act as a speaking partner to the AWSNA regional representative, and make recommendations to the WECAN Membership Committee regarding applications for membership and the evolving Membership Handbook.
For a list of regional representatives and staff contact information, click here.

Staff

WECAN Coordinator Susan Howard works from her home office in Amherst, MA on a half-time basis for WECAN and half-time for IASWECE, the International Association for Steiner/Waldorf Early Childhood Education. WECAN Administrator Melissa Lyons, WECAN Publications Coordinator Donna Miele, and shipping clerk, Zachary Dolphin, work in our WECAN Office in Spring Valley, NY. Our Managing Editor is Lory Widmer, in Switzerland. The WECAN Membership Coordinator is Laura Mason, who lives and works in Issaquah, Washington. WECAN Communications Coordinator is Lara Radysh, working in Shelburne Falls, MA.

Project Leaders

Heather Church is the Birth to Three Coordinator, and Ruth Ker is WECAN Teacher Education Coordinator. Each are WECAN board members, working together with committees and WECAN staff members. And Andrea Gambardella and Andrea Cooper are our East Coast Conference organizer and registrar.

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