Program Details

9:00 AM    Check-In and Breakfast

9:30 AM    Panel Discussion Begins

Presenter Bios

Get to know our speakers and panelists

About the Report

Read about the nine recommendations by NASEM

Event Details


9:00 AM       Light refreshments available

9:30 AM       Panel and discussion

Discussion ends at 11:00 AM


In May 2023, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report titled Closing the Opportunity Gap for Young Children.

Co-authored by Bela Moté, President and CEO of the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, the report identifies disparities in children’s access to vital supports like education and health care—then proposes several policy solutions to address those disparities.

Join us for Pathways to Equity: Closing the Opportunity Gap for Young Children, a panel discussion that brings community leaders and early education experts together to build more equitable childhoods for all.

Read the Nine Recommendations by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM)

Closing the Opportunity Gap for Young Children

Recommendations for closing the opportunity gap from birth to age eight

Vistor Pass and Parking Information


Every guest must be registered to come into the McCormick Foundation, located at 205 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 4300, Chicago, IL. A staff member will register your attendance for your meeting/event, and you will receive a QR Code by email and/or text message.

If you don’t receive the email with the QR Code, please check your spam/junk email folder. If you cannot locate your QR Code the day of your visit, simply go the security desk in our lobby and show a form of identification and they will print out the visitors QR Code for you. You will swipe this code at the elevator banks that will take you to the 43rd floor.


There is an underground parking garage attached to our building. Michigan Plaza Parking Directions:

From the south: Take Columbus Drive north past Randolph and Lake Street to East South Water Street and turn left going down the ramp to the stop sign. Turn left (a hairpin 180° turn) and proceed to the next stop sign, which is Lower Columbus Drive. Turn right onto Columbus and at the first street on the right, Lake Street, take another right turn. Go straight ahead to the Michigan Plaza Parking Garage Entrance.

From the north: Take Columbus Drive south to the first light past Wacker Drive, which is East South Water Street. Turn right going down the ramp to the stop sign. Turn left (a hairpin 180° turn) and proceed to the next stop sign, which is Lower Columbus Drive. Turn right onto Columbus and at the first street on the right, Lake Street, take another right turn. Go straight ahead to the Michigan Plaza Parking Garage Entrance. From

Michigan Avenue: Turn west on Lake Street and right at the first street, Garland Court. Turn right on lower South Water Street. Turn right on Lower Columbus Drive and at the first street on the right, Lake Street, take another right turn. Go straight ahead to the Michigan Plaza Parking Garage Entrance. For information and parking rates, please contact the garage operator at 312.819.5064


There is also a metered parking on Lake Street. Guest should feel free to utilize such apps like SpotHero to also find other parking options.

Robert R. McCormick Foundation
Lakeview Conference Room
205 N Michigan Ave #4300, Chicago, IL 60601


Speakers and Panelists


Cornelia Grumman

Board Member
Carole Robertson Center for Learning

Cornelia Grumman has worked as a nonprofit and philanthropic leader specializing in strengthening city, state and federal education and early care and learning systems. For more than two decades prior to that, she worked for more than two decades as a journalist covering a variety of social justice, political and civic issues. Currently she is reporting and writing a book.

From 2000 to 2008, Grumman was a member of the Chicago Tribune’s editorial board, where she wrote primarily about education, juvenile justice, child welfare, state issues and criminal justice.

Grumman’s series of editorials on Illinois’ death penalty helped to prompt sweeping legislative reforms, including electronic taping of police interrogations in homicide cases, and won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Her 2005 series on the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center led to federal and state investigations, scrutiny by independent monitors, a federal court-mandated plan for reform and the removal of five top administrators at the center.

Prior to becoming a member of the editorial board, Grumman spent six years as a metropolitan, state government and Internet reporter for the Tribune. She also held reporting positions at the News & Observer in Raleigh, NC, at the Daily Southtown in Chicago, and at the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C.

Grumman earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Duke University. She and her husband, journalist Jim Warren, live in Chicago and have two sons.


Albert Wat

Senior Policy Director
Alliance for Early Success

Albert Wat is a Senior Policy Director at the Alliance for Early Success, where he supports the organization’s strategy and goals for early education, including increasing access to high-quality pre-k and child care, improving the early learning workforce, and enhancing alignment with K-12 policies. Previous early education policy work includes positions at the National Governors Association and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Albert started his career in education working with schools, families, teachers, and children in various nonprofits and higher education institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area, Michigan, and Washington, DC, where he has lived since 2001.

Bela Moté

President and CEO
Carole Robertson Center for Learning

Bela Moté, Chief Executive Officer of the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, is an experienced non-profit executive and early childhood professional who has spent her career supporting early childhood and youth development at the local and national levels. She is committed to providing high-quality programs for children, youth, and families and has previously held leadership positions at the YMCA of the USA, the YMCA of Metropolitan Chicago, the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Teaching Strategies Gold, and the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. Bela holds a master’s degree in Education from Erikson Institute and is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Mariana Souto-Manning

Erikson Institute

Mariana Souto-Manning, PhD, is President of Erikson Institute. She served as Professor at Teachers College, Columbia University and held additional academic appointments at the University of Iceland and King’s College London. Committed to the pursuit of justice in early childhood teaching and teacher education, Souto-Manning’s research centers intersectionally-minoritized people of Color. Souto-Manning has (co-)authored over 10 books, dozens of book chapters, and over 85 peer-reviewed articles. She has received several research awards, including the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Innovations in Research on Diversity in Teacher Education Award. In 2023, in honor of her exceptional contributions to, and excellence in, education research, Souto-Manning became an AERA Fellow and Vice President of Division K.

Deborah Moroney

Vice President
American Institutes for Research

Deborah Moroney is a Vice President at the American Institutes for Research (AIR). Her research and evaluation expertise cover family, community, and youth development, and her work often bridges the two worlds of research and practice. Dr. Moroney serves as a reviewer or editorial board member on multiple peer-reviewed journals, and she co-authored the seminal Beyond the Bell toolkit. She has edited two volumes on elements of learning and development: Creating Safe, Equitable, Engaging Schools, and Social and Emotional Learning in Out-of-School Time. Dr. Moroney has also served on advisory boards and committees for several organizations, including the National Academies of Sciences and YMCA of the USA.

At AIR, Dr. Moroney has been a PI or co-PI on several large studies including the Texas Summer Learning Study and the Power of Us, among others.


Prior to joining AIR, Dr. Moroney was a clinical faculty member in educational psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago in the Youth Development Graduate Program. Dr. Moroney holds a Ph.D. and M.Ed. from the University of Illinois at Chicago.


Mary Beck

Deputy Chief Teaching and Learning
Chicago Public Schools

Teresa Ramos

First Assistant Deputy Governor for Education
Governor’s Office, State of Illinois

Teresa Ramos is a mother, sister, and tía; a Polish-Mexican (Polexican) Latina who grew up in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago, attended Chicago Public Schools and now lives in Hermosa with her partner in life, her husband Eric Lugo.

Teresa is currently the First Assistant Deputy Governor for Education for the Office of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. Previously she served as the Vice President of Public Policy, Research, and Advocacy at Illinois Action for Children. There she supported policy, research, and community engagement teams as they advocate for an equitable and excellent early care and education system for Illinois’ youngest children.

Teresa spent over 7 years as the Director of Community Engagement for Advance Illinois, a statewide education advocacy organization promoting a strong public education system. In that role she built and managed the Funding Illinois’ Future coalition and campaign that changed school funding in Illinois and cofounded the Illinois 60 by 25 Network, an emerging collective-impact network of community organizations committed to seeing 60 % of all Illinois residents with a post-high school degree or credential by 2025.

Prior to joining Advance Illinois Teresa was a community organizer for Organization of the NorthEast—now ONE Northside— and managed the Grow Your Own teachers program. In 2012 Teresa completed her Ph.D. in Anthropology with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (U of I). Her areas of professional and research interest include school culture and racial justice. While at the U of I Teresa was a researcher with the Ethnography of the University Initiative and Center on Democracy in a Multiracial Society.

Thank you to our sponsors!

Since 1976, the Carole Robertson Center for Learning has been dedicated to educating, enriching, and empowering children and families through comprehensive child and family development programs.