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Lisa belliston
Bonnie Rutherford
Pat Reder
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Connie Stout
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Click here for an overview of SECA's Strategic Plan.



SECA Board of Directors

  • The SECA Board is a representative body of 16 members.

  • One (1) of those members, the President, is elected by a vote of the membership.

  • One (1) member, the President, serves as President-Elect and Immediate Past-President, before and after their term as President.

  • Thirteen (12) of the members are elected by their state associations to serve as State Affiliate Representatives on the Board. They represent the interests of their state affiliates during Board meetings.

  • Two (2) of the members are elected by the Board of Directors and serve as Members-at-Large. Nominations for these positions may be submitted by the membership.


All members except the President serve 3-year terms. The President serves one year as President-Elect, two years as President and one year as Immediate Past-President. The Board members represent a wide diversity of professionals from the early childhood field and are charged with ensuring the continued success of the Association in meeting the needs of its members and the children and families of the South.


The Board of Directors meets twice a year, in the spring at the annual conference and in the fall. Other meetings may be called as necessary. Minutes of the meetings are available to members upon request to the SECA office.


Your SECA Board of Directors


President (2022-2024)
Judy Whitesell
Cayce, South



I recently retired after teaching public school grades 5K-8th grade for forty years in FL, TN and SC.  Thirty of those years in early childhood, where my heart lies. I also taught for 17 years in early childhood education for Midlands Technical College in the evenings while teaching full time during the day.


Now aside from my professional duties with SECA, I mentor new teachers. Knowing they are frequently given little support and leave the profession within the first few years, I’ve decided to make a difference and mentor those I can.  I meet with new teachers to listen to their concerns, offer support, resources and encouragement. I’ve provided free training to these teachers individually and collectively. After realizing many directives come from legislation, I’ve become an advocate for teachers with our legislators to improve conditions for teachers and the children we serve. 


Past President (2022-2023)
Debbie Ferguson
Glen Leven Presbyterian Church Day School, TN


I joined the field of early childhood in 1991 as a parent and substitute teacher for Glen Leven Presbyterian Church Day School, Nashville, Tennessee.  I quickly moved from my sub job to part-time, then to full time and eventually ask to serve as Director.  I received my early childhood education at Nashville State Community College and through TECTA (Tennessee Early Childhood Training Alliance). 

I have been a member of SECA, TACEE (Tennessee Association of Children’s Early Education), NAEYC and NAAEYC (Nashville Area AEYC) since January 1991.  I have served as President (local and state), Vice President, Treasurer (local and state), SECA Representative (2 terms), NAEYC Representative (2 terms) and  
Co-Chair of the State Conference twice.  I have been honored to serve SECA as a Dream Team member for the last six years in planning and providing on-site assistance at their annual conference. I was awarded Outstanding Member in 2014 from the Southern Early Childhood Association, which was a highlight of my career.



Arkansas (2018-2022)
Jamie Morrison Ward
Greenbriar, AR



Jamie is the founder and Training and Resource Officer for Curricula Concepts, Inc. Her primary focus is family engagement and she works in partnership with UA Early Care and Education Projects and Zero to Three to bring research-based curricula and programs to child care centers across the state.  Jamie has experience as a classroom teacher and center director with both ABC and Head Start and served as the Administrator of the Arkansas Better Chance Programs for Division of Child Care and Early Childhood Education for several years and has served on numerous committees and boards concerned with increasing quality and awareness around many issues in the early childhood field.  She is currently the Past President of the Arkansas Early Childhood Association, a member of the State Parent Advisory Council, AR Professional Development Steering Committee, ELAN Workgroup and serves as the President of the AR Association for Infant Mental Health.


Florida (2021-2023)
Sonia Meier
Broward County, FL



I have taught many workshops in Broward County for the ELC of Broward, went to Costa Rica with ACEI to teach a workshop on leadership, was President, Vice President of Broward AEYC, currently on the board of Toastmasters and of our church women’s fellowship serving as President. I believe all children can learn and by being on the FAU school advisory board and as former President of Kappa Delta Pi at FAU I led students to go to KDP conventions and to volunteer in Palm Beach County. By formerly serving on the FLAEYC board as an at large member, I had an amazing experience of serving Florida through great mentors.

I am looking forward to serving once again, now as the SECA representative.




Georgia (2019-2022)
Lisa Belliston
Director, Professional Development & Center Services



Lisa Belliston represents Georgia on the SECA Board.  She has also volunteered, beginning in 2003, for the Georgia Association for Young Children in different roles, including Secretary and President.  Professionally, she works at Quality Care for Children where she is the Director of Professional Development and Center Services; her department helps child care programs earn their Quality Rating.  She earned her Ph.D. in Child and Family Development at the University of Georgia and her undergraduate degree at Brigham Young University and Masters at Utah State University.  Her hobbies include exploring new restaurants, museums, and activities, the most recent of which is country line dancing!  



Kentucky (2019-2022)
Bonnie Rutherford



Bonnie Rutherford is married to Dauser Rutherford.  They have two grown children, two grandchildren, and one great-grandson.  She lives on a small farm in the southwestern edge of Franklin County, Kentucky.  Dauser and Bonnie have been married for 51 years. Bonnie graduated from Bluegrass Community and Technical College with a GPA of 3.85 and received the Outstanding Student Achievement Award for Outstanding Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education Graduate for 2009.



Louisiana (2017-2022)
Patricia Reder
Lake Charles, Louisiana



 Ms. Patricia Reder has taught pre-kindergarten and kindergarten in Calcasieu Parish schools.  She worked for over ten years as a Head Start/Technology Facilitator for the Calcasieu Parish Early Childhood Department, as a Title I Curriculum Coordinator for John J. Johnson Elementary School, an early childhood campus that serves students in Pre-Kindergarten to Second grade.  Presently, she is working as the Head Start Principal for Calcasieu Parish School System.  She is an active member of the Louisiana Early Childhood Association (LAECA).  She has presented at regional and state conferences on topics such as curriculum, technology, and assessment practices in the early childhood classrooms. Ms. Reder is also a CLASS Trainer, Reliable CLASS Observer for Pre-K and Toddlers, and a Pathways Certified Trainer. 



Mississippi (2020-2022)
Judy Prine
Ellisville, Mississippi



Judy Prine holds a Specialist in Higher Administration in Education from William Carey University. She holds a bachelor's and masters in Child Development and Family Relations from Louisiana Tech University.  Judy is a National Credentialed Director and a Credentialed Director in the State of Mississippi.  

Judy is currently a Career and Technical Support Student Services Coordinator where she works with all programs in the Health and Human Services division. This division includes the program of Early Childhood Education Technology at Jones County Junior College. She has taught at the college level for 18 years and kindergarten for 10 years for a total of 28 years working with young children.

Judy has served as president, 2nd vice president, secretary, member-at-large, affiliate president of the Mississippi Early Childhood Association and served as Chairman of the Child Care Advisory Council for the Mississippi State Department of Health, Child Care Licensure division.

Judy is married to Col. Mark Prine. Their son Caleb is a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi and their daughter Mary Grace is a senior at Presbyterian Christian School.



Oklahoma (2021-2023)
Kelly Ramsey
Oklahoma City, OK



Kelly is a passionate educator that transcends traditional methods in instruction to build a workforce that is reflective, engaged, and innovative. She has spent the past 30 years in the field of early care and education as a classroom teacher, child care center director, training coordinator, and college professor.


South Carolina (2021-2023)
Vaudrien Ray
Lexington, South Carolina



Deni has been working in Early Childhood Education for over 20 years, teaching kindergarten and first grade. Currently she teaches first grade in Lexington School District One. She earned her BAS degree in Early Childhood Education from the University of South Carolina and a Masters in Elementary Education from Lander University. She is the past president of SC Early Childhood Association where she has served various positions. Deni is married to Chris and they have a five-year-old daughter, Kristen.




Tennessee (2020-2023)
Connie Casha
Smyrna, Tennessee


I am a staunch advocate for all things early childhood - focused on educating the community and families on the importance of understanding child development and promoting accessibility to high quality early childhood programs and resources for all families. This work promotes equitable access to learning experiences whereby families, schools and communities support children's development to achieve all that they can become.





Texas (2022-2023)
Karen Walker


Karen is an assistant professor of child and family studies at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, LA.








Virginia (2017-2022)

Mary Braxton
Technical Assistant, Virginia Quality & Childcare Network
Prince William County, VA



Mary is a Licensed Family Child Care Provider in Prince William County, Virginia. She has been in the Early Childhood Field for 27 years. She is also a Technical Assistant with Virginia Quality and works with approximately 20 family child care programs that participate with Virginia Quality. 

Mary currently holds a position with Childcare Network, a resource referral agency that is contracted also by Child Care Aware. Mary provides Technical Assistance, USDA program sign-ups and visits, USDA monthly training, a monthly newsletter, and community outreach. She has served on many local and state boards and provides training.




West Virginia (2019-2022)

Connie Stout O'Dell
Glenville, WV



Connie Stout O’Dell is the Director of Teacher Education Field Placement at Glenville State College.   She completed her undergraduate degree at Glenville State College in Elementary Education and Special Education Multi-Categorical Learning Disabilities, Mental Disorders, and Behavior Disorders.  She earned a Master’s degree in Elementary and Early Education from West Virginia University.  Connie taught public school for 8 ½ years until accepting a teaching position at Glenville State College.  At GSC, she also teaches early education courses and elementary curriculum and supervises interns.  She serves as a co-advisor to the Glenville State College Early Education Student Group and to the Glenville State College Student Reading Association Group.  Connie has held numerous leadership roles on the West Virginia Association for Young Children governing board and is currently serving as the president of the association.  She resides in Glenville, West Virginia with her husband and son.


Member-at-Large (2020-2022)
Crystal Campbell
South Carolina



I have been blessed to be able to experience and serve in many educational capacities. Here are a few: School District Five of Lexington/Richland Counties-Early Childhood Coordinator; Teacher Specialist in Allendale for SDE; Early Childhood Specialist in Dorchester District Two Schools; Teacher in Charleston County and Dorchester County Schools; Senior Instructor-College of Charleston; Adjunct Professor- Trident Technical College and Midlands Technical College; Education Specialist for Berkeley/Dorchester Head Start; Child Care Resource & Referral-Quality Coach, and owner and operator of CYC Educational Consulting, LLC.

I retired in 2011 from Lexington 5. As the Executive Director of Dorchester County First Steps, my career has come full circle for I was instrumental in bringing First Steps to Dorchester County by writing the first grant for implementation and serving as the first appointed position from District 2.

I love my family (and am the proud grandmother of Tirrell Jr.), my church, (New Jerusalem Triumphant Church) and my work (Dorchester County First Steps).



Member-at-Large (2021-2023)
Jared Totsch
Evansville, IN



Jared Totsch is the current Director of Early Learning for St. Vincent Early Learning Center. Jared has been a Coach, teacher and Director of Pedagogy during his career. Jared is also an adjunct instructor teaching early childhood coursework for the University of Southern Indiana. Jared has earned degrees in the field of education from IVY Tech, the University of Southern Indiana and Ball State University.

Become a Member

Join the ranks of over 5,000 ECE members in the south!

Support SECA

Donations to SECA help fund special projects and further the professional and leadership development of early childhood educators across the South.

Connect with Affiliates

Learn more about your state affiliate and how you can get involved in networking, conferences, leadership and more by selecting your state from the Join Us page.