Invest in Children Annual Meeting

Most years since 1999 Invest in Children has held an Annual Meeting to bring together Cuyahoga County's rich panoply of early childhood stakeholders and organization who all share a common goal -- the enrichment and development of young children and their families.  We share our results and feature a Keynote Presentation by a leader in early childhood development and service delivery.  We provide a dedicated opportunity for early childhood professionals to come together, network, learn and just catch up!   



Our 2024 Annual Meeting was held May 16th and was a celebration of Invest in Children's 25th Anniversary Year!  We used this opportunity to release our new Strategic Plan, and usher in the inaugural Invest in Children Early Childhood Awards.  A bit more about the winners is shown below.  We featured VIP speakers from Cuyahoga County Leadership and enjoyed hearing from parents on a panel that discussed the importance of providers and parents developing a relationship to support better outcomes and incorporate family Voice into program design and implementation. Guests who were able to stay afterwards enjoyed complementary entrance into the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo!   

Two organizations and one individual were recognized with the 2024 Invest in Children Early Childhood Awards. The awards included the Early Childhood Team Innovation Award, for which there was a tie, and the Early Childhood Champion Award.

Early Childhood Team Innovation Award winners:

  • Canopy Child Advocacy Center:  Recognized for bringing child advocacy center national model to Cuyahoga County to reduce potential trauma for children and families impacted by child abuse and to improve services through strong multi-system and  interagency collaboration.
  • Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center: Recognized for Project ELLA, an innovative program that takes an upstream public health approach to language disorders that includes community health workers as critical team members, and utilizes partnerships with community-based organizations. 

Early Childhood Champion Award Winner:

  • Karen Mintzer; Director, Bright Beginnings: Recognized for more than 25 years of service to Cuyahoga County’s early childhood system through an established and incredible track record of success -- and a reputation for always approaching issues in a way that places greater emphasis on the meeting the needs of the family, over the convenience of the service provider.


Left to Right: Pernel Jones, Jr., Cuyahoga County Council President; Sabrina Roberts,

Senior Advisor to the County Executive; Shawna Rohrman, Director, Invest in Children;

Dale Miller, Cuyahoga County Council Member






Our 2022 Annual Meeting was held November 9th and featured Dr. Alissa Hoth-Bocks, who address the importance of infant and early childhood mental health for children’s development, the consequences of not intervening to support children and families, and what as a community of providers we can do to shore up gaps in access and delivery for these critical services.   

Open Dr. Huth-Bocks' Presentation Here

Annual Meeting Graphic for Webpage



Ongoing disruptions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic again meant we gathered early childhood stakeholders together virtually. We partnered with local pediatric infectious disease experts to host an online information event for parents and child care providers on the then rapidly spreading COVID-19 “Delta Variant.”  Titled COVID & KIDS: What You Need to Know about the Delta Variant, the event feature Dr. Joan Zoltanski, Dr. Claudia Hoyen and Dr. Amy Edwards from University Hospitals Health System.  Their presentation is archived on the Cuyahoga County YouTube Channel.

View the Presentation Here

Annual Meeting Graphic for Webpage



Our 2020 Annual Meeting was conducted as a pre-recorded session due to Covid-19 related lock-downs.  We featured important updates and plans from four state leaders in early childhood, whose comments were prefaced by an introduction from Invest in Children Director, Dr. Rebekah Dorman.  Our theme, Bending Not Breaking -- Resilience During the Pandemic is reflected in the presentations and in several inspiring stories we'd heard from the field. The presentation is archived on the Cuyahoga County YouTube Channel.

View the Presentation Here


Annual Meeting Graphic for Webpage



Our 2019 Annual Meeting focused on celebrating Invest in Children's 20th Anniversary.  The meeting featured a fun historical look-back video titled #IICTURNS20, which featured five individuals who were part of the founding of Invest in Children in 1999. 

View #IICTurns20 Video Here

IIC Turns 20 Screenshot



As a Federal Reserve Economist, Keynote Speaker Art Rolnick conducted groundbreaking research on the economic impact of early childhood programs and helped change the conversation on the benefits of investment in programs for young children. He shared the results of his research and the high return on investment (ROI) early childhood investments enjoy.



Rescheduled from December, 2016 to May, 2017, due to inclement weather, Keynote Speaker Rhian Evans Allvin, Chief Executive Officer of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAYEC), addressed the multiple crisis facing the early childhood workforce and what can be done to train, retain, and fairly compensate this essential workforce. 



Keynote Speaker Emily Roden, founder of award-winning early learning tool "Ready Rosie," shared results and insights gained from implementation of her program at a diverse range of early care and education sites.   



Byron V. Garret gave the Keynote Presentation on the critical issue of family engagement in early childhood programs. Mr. Garret had served as Chairman of the National Family Engagement Alliance; a nonprofit dedicated to transforming education through meaningful family engagement.



Noted infant mental health expert Charles Zeanah, MD,  who has been widely recognized for his research and clinical leadership in the field of early childhood mental health, gave a Keynote Presentation titled -- Pathways to School Readiness, Health and Mental Health: Why Early Experiences Matter. 

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