More than 100 business, faith, law enforcement and community leaders are serving as early childhood champions across the state. Champions play key roles in community outreach. They are trained to give the First 2000 Days presentation, suggest opportunities to give presentations and are presenters themselves. These community influencers carry the First 2000 Days message with them in their professional and personal life.
Buncombe County Sheriff Van Duncan was born in Spruce Pine, NC. He holds degrees from Western Carolina University and North Carolina State University. Sheriff Duncan has worked in law enforcement since 1986 as a Patrolman, Patrol Sergeant, Patrol Lieutenant and Detective for the Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office. He was first elected to the Office of Sheriff of Buncombe County in 2006.
Since he has also been an instructor at the NC Justice Academy, Sheriff Duncan is a natural presenter, and has already given the First 2000 Days presentation many times. He is among the most requested First 2000 Days Champion.
Sheriff Duncan lives in Leicester with his wife, Shana, and they have three sons, Austin, Colton and Heath.
Vivian I. Correa is a native Puerto Rican, and has worked extensively with culturally diverse young children and their families.
She has experience in developing training programs for children with disabilities (birth to age five) and their families. Dr. Correa’s expertise includes: early childhood special education, bilingual/special education, multi-cultural education, teacher education and working with Latino families.
“Early learning programs are critical to school success especially for special learners. The First 2000 Days initiative tells this story in a way that is accessible to everyone,” said Dr. Correa.
Hassan Aden, Director of Research Programs and Professional Services, International Association of Chiefs of Police. He was formerly the Greenville, NC Chief of Police and has over 27 years of law enforcement service.
“Early childhood development must be deliberately planned for, funded and implemented with rigor and focus. The alternative is much more expensive and the outcome of not doing that much more devastating,” said Aden.
After spending a dozen years in university administration (Student Affairs/Student Development), Ms. Yuhas began a second career in economic development. She has been the Executive Director of the Pitt County Development Commission for nearly 28 years. Married for 37 years, she has two adult children and twin granddaughters. “Education and economic development are inextricably tied together, and early childhood education is crucial to both,” said Wanda.
Reverend Tommy James is the Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Burnsville, Yancey County, NC. Tommy recently spoke to faith leaders in Rockingham County about the importance of a child’s first 2000 days of life. “My faith calls me to ensure that each child in every community has the opportunity to become the very best person God has created him or her to be,” he said.