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About Us

The Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children (MnAEYC) is a professional association of more than 700 members. The members from our organization are a diverse group of professionals representing early care and education across Minnesota. The members are teachers, center directors, site coordinators, family child care providers, program managers, trainers, and advocates.


MnAEYC promotes quality in early care and education programs and supports the leadership and development of early care and education professionals.


We forward this mission by focusing on Professional Development, Program Improvement, and Policy & Advocacy.


Members network with one another, support each other, and learn together, while they grow as professionals.

2024 Board Election

MnAEYC is looking for board candidates for our upcoming election.  The deadline for election candidates to apply is April 9, 2024.  Read the board job descriptions here

MnAEYC Staff and Board

Jody S.jpeg

Jody Schumann

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Board Secretary

Board Service Information

In the document below, you can learn about the specifics of board service.  Feel free to reach out to MnAEYC with any questions regarding board service at

Click on the PDF Icon for Board Job Decriptions.

MnAEYC History

Fifty Years of Growth and Counting…

by Rhoda Redleaf & Sandy Heidemann

The Early Years

The earliest years of our association are only recorded through oral history, as there are no known written records available. According to the recollections of Shirley Smith, one of our founding members and organization President from 1953-60, the group began as an informal get-together of preschool teachers who called themselves the Twin Cities Preschool Association. Their primary function was to hold workshops for staff members and to meet and hear speakers. These meetings were attended by 45-50 people. In the late 1930s and early 1940s, the University of Minnesota sponsored Saturday workshops for the Twin City Area Teachers. From the beginning, the group included Day Care Centers and half-day Nursery School personnel; some of the earliest participants were from programs still listed on our membership roster. Interestingly, during the war years (WWII), full-day programs outnumbered half-day ones — a situation that changed dramatically after the war with the growth of nursery schools and play groups for preschool-aged children, and with the return of mothers to the home.

The Name

During the mid to late 40s, people from Rochester and Duluth began to participate in the group activities and the loose association eventually became the "Minnesota Preschool Education Association" and affiliated with the "National Association for Nursery Education" (NANE and MANE for Midwest). In 1970, when we joined NAEYC, this growing organization changed its name to what it is today.


The 1950s saw the beginnings of concerns about professionalization in the field. MPEA, under Shirley Smith's leadership, played a major role in the development of licensing standards, including teaching certification (an issue we continue to monitor). Shirley herself has served on every rule revision panel in some capacity. The 50s also saw the beginnings of the Fall Conference. The organization's format in the 50s and early 60s included monthly meetings at member's facilities, with a tour and a program. Summer workshops were sponsored at Aldrich Memorial nursery school in Rochester. They were held cooperatively with the Department of Public Welfare (DPW) and a DPS licensing staff member served as a liaison on our board, a practice held from the 50s through the 70s.

The 1960s brought tremendous growth to our field. Head Start began, the Montessori movement developed, and there was tremendous new emphasis on cognitive development (as a reaction to Sputnik). NEWS also began in the mid 1960s as a regular monthly communication to members. I served as its founding editor as it grew from a few pages to a combination newsletter and journal, eventually splitting into two separate publications. We hosted our Midwest Conference in 1965, an honor repeated in 1989 for the third time. We became the first AEYC Affiliate to develop a Code of Ethics, which was adopted by our association in April of 1968.

Into the 1970s

The 1970s brought a real surge in political action within and around our organization. It was launched by the first Annual Business Meeting for the general membership, which was held November 7, 1970, at our Fall Conference. The first resolution was introduced at that meeting by Jim Fish. Candidates for office were added by petition for the first time in the 1970s. Two candidates or more were nominated for office instead of a single slate of officers. This was presented by the nominating committee, as had been the previous custom. An award was established in 1970 in the name of an outstanding critically ill member, Evelyn House. Unfortunately, she did not live to receive the first of the award that was developed in her honor — but perhaps no other member has had a more lasting effect on this organization. We became accustomed to large numbers at our conferences and less frequent meetings. We witnessed the development of chapters throughout the state and the beginnings of meetings spread around the state — a trend that has continued in the 1980s. Vocational school programs grew around the state, and many more training opportunities became available to our members. This allowed the focus of our organization to broaden and turn to influencing others with the formation of a Speakers Bureau (a state-wide calling hotline responding to political concerns and involvement in coalition groups). The 70s also saw the rewriting and revision of licensing standards.

The 80s brought strengthening to the governance of our own organization. The issues and concerns around young children captured the attention of an ever larger constituency. The position statements on developmentally appropriate guidance and the accreditation program are of major significance in these times, when everyone is pushing more and more on issues relating to children. It's an exciting time to be in the early childhood field and it is rewarding to review our very proud history and see what a vital and consistent role we have played in furthering the appropriate education of young children!

In the 90s, MnAEYC hired its first Executive Director in 1996. The Institute of Early Childhood Professional Development was established and was funded by the state of Minnesota and private funders in 1995. In the 90s, the Institute and MnAEYC staff and board have been involved in defining credentials and core competencies. The Board also formed position statements on issues pertinent to the field. Several projects such as the MnAEYC Director’s Credential, Early Indicators of Progress, and Institute supported Credentialing programs grew from collaborations with public and private institutions and agencies.

The New Century

The new century bring changes to the national association, which will affect MnAEYC’s services to its members. Updates in technology, new management for membership databases, improvements in communications between national, state, and local are improving the field for early childhood professionals. MnAEYC launched its first website in 2000. Growing and continuing collaborations indicate a strong foundation is being laid for future professionals in the early childhood care and education. In 2000, MnAEYC awarded its first Director’s Credential to the first graduating class of Early Childhood Directors. Since that time, approximately 50 individuals have completed one of the pathways to the MnAEYC Credential.

Work in 2002 brought a refocus of the work of the Institute for Early Childhood Professional Development. In 2002, MnAEYC officially retired the Institute name and launched the MnAEYC Professional Development Program. Under the auspices of this program, a bright beginning for a collaborative statewide professional development group has begun. MnAEYC’s conferences have only become stronger through the years bringing issues and nationally featured speakers to a Minnesota audience. In the spring of 2005, we will be hosting the Midwest Regional AEYC, proud to feature the exciting work that occurs in Minnesota to our colleagues.

In 2006, we hosted and faciltated the first ever SuperConference which is a project of the Umbrella Strategic Alliance which we are leading. MnAEYC is aligning with the Minnesota Licensed Family Child Care Association, the Minnesota School Age Care Alliance, and the Alliance for Early Child Professionals. This strategic alliance was formed to streamline some of our processes, bring a stronger voice for our members in the state, and share resources.

As MnAEYC enters its 69th year of serving the early childhood community in 2007, we expanded our programs by beginning a new Accreditation Facilitation Project. This project will serve centers, family child care homes, and schoolage sites who are pursuing national accreditation.

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