Keynote Speakers


Keynote Topic: Supporting Healthy Development by Katherine Magnuson, Ph.D, School of Social Work at University of Wisconsin-Madison

Katherine’s research focuses on the well-being and development of economically disadvantaged children and their families. She examines how disparities in socioeconomic status (SES) affect children’s development, and how these effects may be altered by policies and programs, especially early childhood education programs. She also investigates how maternal education impacts child development.

Specifically, Katherine blends two streams of research that are often considered separately: (1) research on the influence of parents’ employment, income, and education, as well as welfare policies, on children’s well-being, with a special emphasis on the extent to which differences in SES across racial and ethnic groups explain disparities in children’s school performance; and (2) research on direct child interventions, particularly early education, that may serve a compensatory role for disadvantaged children. The first body of literature illuminates the scope of possible benefits that may accrue to children from interventions that directly improve the well-being of their parents, while the second line of research provides insights regarding how directing services and resources to children, rather than to their parents, may buffer the harmful effects of being raised in a disadvantaged family.


Keynote Topic: Wisconsin’s Early Care and Education Landscape: 2020 and Beyond by Erin Arango-Escalante, Division of Early Care and Education

Erin Arango-Escalante has been named the administrator for the Division of Early Care and Education. Erin previously served as the executive director of a child care agency and as the early childhood special education consultant at the Department of Public Instruction. Erin developed a national program to support young multilingual learners and their families in conjunction with the University of Wisconsin Madison and a number of states. Most recently, she was a leader at the largest national education consortium, focused on Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 12 multilingual learners.

Erin earned her Bachelor of Science in Cross-Categorical Special Education, a teaching certificate in English as a Second Language, and a Master of Science in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Although Erin is a Madisonian, she met her husband in New York City where she started her career as an early intervention therapist and director of an early childhood program within a hospital for terminally ill children with disabilities. Erin is committed to supporting and celebrating Wisconsin’s diverse children and families. She believes high-quality programs involve community and child-focused perspectives to support cultural competence, family engagement, and social and emotional development. She and her family are actively involved in the Latino and Veteran communities in Dane County