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The Early Link Podcast

Education Podcasts

The Early Link Podcast, brought to you by Children's Institute based in Portland, Oregon, highlights national, regional, and local voices working in early childhood education and the nonprofit sector. Written, hosted, and produced by Rafael Otto.

The Early Link Podcast, brought to you by Children's Institute based in Portland, Oregon, highlights national, regional, and local voices working in early childhood education and the nonprofit sector. Written, hosted, and produced by Rafael Otto.


United States


The Early Link Podcast, brought to you by Children's Institute based in Portland, Oregon, highlights national, regional, and local voices working in early childhood education and the nonprofit sector. Written, hosted, and produced by Rafael Otto.








Black Lives Matter Organizer La Mikia Castillo on Systemic Change and Dismantling Racism

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto talks with La Mikia Castillo, a Black Lives Mater activist and community organizer, about what it looks like to dismantle systemic racism. Guest La Mikia Castillo is an adjunct professor at the University of Southern California Sol Price School of Public Policy, a diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, and an organizer with Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles. Summary La Mikia clarifies the message around defunding the police and shares how we can...


Reforming Oregon's Child Welfare System with Jax Richards

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto talks with Jax Richards, the president and founder of Safeguard Youth, about Oregon’s child welfare system. Guest Jax Richards is an economics and social public policy student at Oregon State University. In 2019 he started Safeguard Youth with the mission to provide a platform for foster youth and survivors of child abuse to advocate for a higher quality child welfare system. Background In April, A Better Childhood, a national advocacy group, and...


National Teacher of the Year Tabatha Rosproy

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto speaks with Tabatha Rosproy, the first early childhood educator to be named National Teacher of the Year. Tabatha Rosproy, a 10-year veteran Kansas teacher, is the first early childhood educator to be named National Teacher of the Year. She teaches preschool for Winfield Early Learning Center (WELC) in Winfield, Kansas. Housed in Cumbernauld Village, a local retirement community and nursing home, her inclusive classroom is an inter-generational...


Distance Learning for Preschool with Janice Lewis

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto talks with veteran teacher Janice Lewis about what it means to provide remote learning to preschoolers. Guest: Janice Lewis is a preschool teacher at Vose Elementary in the Beaverton School District. Background: Distance Learning for All, a campaign from the Oregon Department of Education, officially launched across public schools in Oregon in mid April. The goal is to keep public education students learning their material for the school year while...


Culturally Specific COVID-19 Liaisons: Regina Ingabire and Virginia Luka

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto talks with Regina Ingabire and Virginia Luka about their role as culturally specific COVID-19 liaisons. Guests: Regina Ingabire is a Community Outreach Manager at the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management (PBEM). She leads public engagement initiatives focusing on disaster risk awareness, community resilience, and household preparedness in historically underserved communities. Virginia Luka is a Program Specialist for the Pacific Islander Community...


Native Wellness in the Time of COVID-19

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto delves into the importance of focusing on Native American wellness and the impact of COVID-19 on Native communities. Guests: Jillene Joseph is the Executive Director for the Native Wellness Institute and a partner with the Future Generations Collaborative. Suzie Kuerschner is also a partner with the Future Generations Collaborative and serves as the Education Mode Coordinator. Background: The Future Generations Collaborative was formed by the...


Dr. Carlos Crespo on COVID-19 and Community Impact

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto talks with Dr. Carlos Crespo about COVID-19 and the impact on families and communities. Note: This is a developing story and some things may have changed since the date of recording. Check the CDC’s website for updates and best practices on how to stay healthy. Dr. Carlos Crespo is a community health professor at the OHSU-PSU School of Public Health. He studies the connection between physical activity and health among minorities.


Student Success Act: Scott Nine, Parasa Chanramy, Dana Hepper

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto talks with local education policy experts about the implementation of the Student Success Act. Guests Scott Nine is the Assistant Superintendent at Oregon Department of Education. He has spent almost two decades organizing, writing, speaking, and learning about what it takes to foster equity for students and remodel public education systems. Parasa Chanramy is the Policy and Implementation Director at Stand for Children. Parasa started her career as a...


Swati Adarkar Interviewed on 1190 KEX

Swati Adarkar discusses the role of Children's Institute in driving educational change in communities across Oregon. She also describes recent legislative wins through the Student Success Act, the power of partnerships that connect practice to policy, and the growing momentum to strengthen early care and education for young children and their families. Concordia University will honor Adarkar with their Governor Victor Atiyeh Leadership in Education Award on February 4, 2020. The award, named...


Soobin Oh Discusses Anti-Bias Education in Early Childhood

In this week’s episode, host Rafael Otto speaks with Soobin Oh about the importance of anti-bias education in early childhood. Soobin Oh is the senior education advisor at Children’s Institute. He is a committed social justice educator and is well-versed in anti-bias education, culturally sustaining pedagogy, and critical pedagogy. Soobin holds a master’s in early childhood inclusive curriculum and instruction from Portland State University (PSU) and is working towards his Ed.D. in...


Rob Grunewald on the Economic Impact of Early Childhood Investments

Rob Grunewald is an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. Grunewald conducts research on community development and regional economic issues. He co-authored a report called “Early Childhood Development: Economic Development with a High Public Return” in 2003. Since then he has continued his work supporting and advocating for investments in early childhood programs and services.


2019 Year in Review

2019 has been an incredible year for early childhood. We recorded 13 episodes of The Early Link podcast this year. For this, our 14th show, we review some of the common themes shared by our many esteemed guests, and share what’s on our minds as we move into 2020. This is our final Early Link podcast of the year, a 2019 year in review and look ahead to 2020.


Dr. Anya Hurwitz on the SEAL Model

Dr. Anya Hurwitz is the executive director of SEAL, an organization based in Oakland, California that is at work improving the education experience for English learners. SEAL stands for Sobrato Early Academic Language, and is a model that includes curriculum, professional development and technical assistance so schools and teachers can better meet the needs of English learners. Dr. Hurwitz has been a teacher, school leader, and district administrator, and has a doctorate in educational...


Dr. John Kitzhaber on Health Care Transformation

Dr. John Kitzhaber is well known in Oregon and across the country for his expertise on health care and health policy. He has practiced as an emergency physician, served for fourteen years in the Oregon legislature and three terms as Governor of Oregon. Through his service, he authored the Oregon Health Plan and was the chief architect of the state’s Coordinated Care Organizations. Today, he continues to work on ways to improve the lives of children and families in the state with an eye on...


Tools of the Mind with Dr. Deborah Leong

Deborah Leong is professor emerita of psychology at Metropolitan State University of Denver where she taught for 37 years. She is co-founder and executive director of Tools of the Mind, a curriculum and professional development program that was developed more that 25 years ago for early childhood classrooms to improve how children learn and how teachers teach. Dr. Leong also has extensive experience working on and publishing about early childhood assessment and standards. In this episode, we...


Dr. Christina Weiland On Combating Inequality With Early Childhood Investments

Christina Weiland is an assistant professor at the School of Education at the University of Michigan. Dr. Weiland’s research focuses on the effects of early childhood interventions and public policies on children’s development, especially on children from low-income families. She is particularly interested in the active ingredients that drive children’s gains in successful, at-scale public preschool programs. Her work is also characterized by strong, long-standing research collaborations...


Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson Discusses Preschool For All

Host of The Early Link Podcast, Rafael Otto, talks with Multnomah County Commissioner Jessica Vega Pederson about her recently released Preschool For All report that explores how to provide preschool for all families in the county.


Community Efforts Deliver New Health Clinic To North Douglas County

In the city of Drain, Oregon in Douglas County, a new health clinic has just opened, thanks to lots of community-based work involving schools, parents, and advocates in the region. The North County Health Clinic is operated by the Umpqua Community Health Center based in Roseburg. I visited the clinic during their recent open house. I wanted to find out what it took to open the clinic, and why the community was motivated to do so. I spoke with several people from the Umpqua Community Health...


2019 Legislative Recap

Dana Hepper from Children's Institute and James Barta from Children First for Oregon provide a legislative recap to close out the 2019 session. In this segment, they discuss the final days that resulted in passage of nearly 150 bills, including all remaining bills from the Early Childhood Coalition legislative agenda. Among the highlights are bills that fund universally available voluntary home visiting and create a task force on child care. Oregon also passed HB 2005 which creates a paid...


Dr. Ajay Chaudry on Combating Inequality Through Early Care and Education

Ajay Chaudry was the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Human Services Policy in the US Department of Health and Human Services. Prior to that appointment in the Obama administration, Dr. Chaudry was a Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC. He has led public policy research focused on child poverty, child well-being and development, human service programs in the social safety net, and the early childhood care...