Who We Are
Whatcom Center for Early Learning offers a comprehensive, educated, and experienced staff.
2001 H Street - Bellingham, Washington - 98225
E-mail: email@example.com - Phone: (360)-671-3660
Executive Director – Mark Moder
Outreach & Development Director – Erin Malone
Billing & Office Coordinator - Heidi Sechrengost
Administrative Assistant - Michaela Regehr
Director of Early Intervention - Ann-Marie Sather
Occupational Therapists – Emily Sabelhaus, Megan Chain
Speech-Language Pathologists - Kristin Clements, Jennifer Kurtz, Bryn Burge, Jessica Parrish, Elizabeth Aarstol
Physical Therapists – Alis Tortorelli, Bridget Boylan, Erin Morris
Early Education Specialists – Erin O’Moore, Christine Wasserman, Amelia Bacon
Family Resources Coordinators – Rebecca Den Beste, Julia Renner, Coco Breen, Amelia Bacon, Iris Dunaway, Mimi Lam, Emmy Volkar
Classroom Teachers – Sue Wu, Helena Hiltner
Classroom Assistants – Yolanda Calderon, Monica Wallace
Click here to read about our history.
Meet the Staff
"I love all the amazing, high quality people I get a chance to work with at WCEL."
Mark brings over 30 years of non-profit experience to his position, and began as the Executive Director of WCEL in April of 2017. When not leading the organization, Mark loves to hike and is a passionate Gonzaga basketball fan.
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"I enjoy watching young children learn and explore what is around them."
Ann-Marie has worked at the Whatcom Center for Early Learning since October of 2010. She has a Bachelor's of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education and Development from Western Washington University and prior experience as a home educator and case manager.
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"I enjoy creating partnerships in our amazing community and educating those who don't know about Early Intervention."
Erin has been with WCEL since 2012, serving as both Office Manager and Program Manager before stepping into Outreach & Development. She graduated from Fairhaven College in 2005 and has worked with a variety of non profit organizations for over 20 years. When not presenting to the public or writing grants, she can be found digging in the garden, dancing to live music or road tripping with her family.
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"I am at WCEL for the people, the sense of camraderie, the opportunity to learn new things while hearing the joy of the children as we work - what's not to like??"
Heidi was born and raised in Anacortes, Washington, and has made Bellingham her home since 2005. She brings over 30 years of experience working in medical offices, and became the biller at WCEL in the winter of 2017.
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“I’m extremely grateful to be part of such a caring and passionate group of people and for the opportunity to learn and grow with this amazing organization. I'm excited to see where this journey takes me and to truly make a difference in the lives of the kiddos and families we serve."
Michaela became a part of Whatcom Center for Early Learning in April, 2018. She graduated from Western Washington University with her Bachelors degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, with a minor in Psychology. She worked with WCEL as a volunteer for over a year implementing a high school advisory board and leading the Koins for kiddos fundraiser before being hired as Administrative Assistant.
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"I look forward to learning, laughing, and playing with the families."
Coco moved to Bellingham in 2008, attending Western Washington University to obtain her Human Services degree, focusing on holistic and healthy development. During Coco's time as a student, she worked as a intern in a variety of capacities at an orphanage in Argentina, with Child Protective Services as well as Head Start here in Bellingham.
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"I get excited about meeting a wide range of families and walking alongside through their experience of early intervention."
Julia joined in the fall of 2012 after working as a Housing Case Manager at the Opportunity Council. She moved to Bellingham from Germany in 2010, previously earning degrees in Social Work and Family Therapy in Berlin. She has spent many years working in families' homes.
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"I enjoy helping families learn how to advocate for themselves and for their children while feeling empowered at the same time."
Rebecca has been at Whatcom Center for Early learning since November of 2013. She graduated from Western Washington University with a Bachelor's of Arts degree in Human Services and has since worked in the social services and early childhood field as a Head Start teacher and childcare provider.
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"I love the quality of care invested by Whatcom Center staff and the fact that my family has personally benefited from early intervention services."
Amelia has worked in and around Whatcom county for over 30 years, and joined the WCEL team in spring of 2017 as an FRC. She expanded her role to serve additionally as an Early Education Specialist in the winter of 2017. Amelia brings the wisdom and experience of both an early childhood educator in the school district as well as the mother of a special needs child. Amelia also enjoys knitting, riding her bicycle and going on road trips.
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"I'm excited to help families in our community feel empowered and supported as they navigate the unique experience of early intervention."
Iris joined the WCEL team in September of 2017 after many years as a beloved preschool teacher in Bellingham. It was through this work that she discovered a passion advocating for children and supporting parents. Iris is a graduate of WWU and, when not at work, is usually busy with her family (including a son with special needs) making art, playing games and spending time in nature.
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“I am honored to be part of this amazing team of superheroes, love connecting with and empowering families, and spending time with the most adorable kiddos!”
Mimi joined the WCEL team in January of 2018. A native to Washington State, Mimi studied Psychology and American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington. She enjoys traveling, trying new cuisines, is an avid reader, and calls herself a passionate plant lady. Mimi and her husband recently relocated to Bellingham and are excited to explore the wonders of Whatcom County.
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"I knew after my first interview with WCEL that candor, dedication, kindness, humor, and reflection are hallmarks of this community. I am enthused to be a part of this team and look forward to bringing more ease and enjoyment to the lives of the families we serve."
Emmy joined the team in July of 2018 and has been working with disadvantaged kids and their families for the last decade, most of whom were children with special needs. She holds a strong background in community-based programs and believes with support, every individual is capable of great things. Originally from Pennsylvania, Emmy grew up exploring the forests around her and now finds deep joy and wonder exploring the forests of Washington.
"I love getting such a unique view into the lives of families with children with special needs. I also enjoy working closely with a cohesive, skilled team of professionals."
Alis became a part of Whatcom Center for Early Learning in the fall of 2012 after graduating from the Mayo School of Health Sciences with her PhD in Physical Therapy. When she is not working with some of our most medically complex children, she can be found coaching gymnastics, crocheting or working in her garden.
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"The best part about working here is getting to work with such a wonderful group of people."
Bridget joined the group in November of 2014. Before working at Whatcom Center for Early Learning, Bridget worked with children for over fifteen years in a variety of settings.
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"My heart is directed to helping those who have physical and often emotional challenges. I seek to guide and support individuals and families to help them feel empowered to make positive choices in their life."
Erin joined the WCEL team in May 2018, recently returning to "the West Side” after living in Yakima for 15 years. She has extensive experience in pediatrics and has been a therapist for over 30 years, working in hospital and birth-to-three centers in Seattle and Yakima. Erin received her Master’s in Physical Therapy in 1985 from Columbia University. Her passions include traveling with her family and ultra-marathon running.
"I consider it an honor to collaborate with parents and caregivers to help support, promote, and enhance their child's development during these most formative years."
Emily moved from Colorado in 2011, working at Seattle Children's Hospital in the inpatient rehabilitation and pediatric cancer care services wings, and often hearing parents share very positive feedback about their experiences at WCEL. She is looking forward to impacting the lives of kids and families in their natural environment, far away from the confines of the clinical setting. In her free time Emily enjoys being outside as much as possible and most of all loves exploring the great PNW on her mountain bike.
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"I am excited to learn and grow alongside our families with the support of such a dedicated group of early intervention specialists"
Megan began at Whatcom Center for Early Learning in April 2018 after completing her Master's in Occupational Therapy at the University of Washington. Growing up alongside a brother with special needs and later working as an adaptive ski instructor, Megan has always been passionate about helping create more inclusive communities. In her spare time, you can find her playing in the mountains with her family, rolling out a yoga mat, or tending to her garden.
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"It is a privilege and honor to work with such a great team, providing a wonderful service to families."
Erin joined the team in September of 2010. Erin has more than thirty years experience working in the field with infants and toddlers as a caregiver. She has worked with children in a variety of programs and settings, which has allowed her to gain a broad, diverse skills set.
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"Early intervention has always been a passion of mine. I especially enjoy working with families to support their early learners."
Before joining WCEL in August of 2016, Christine attended Western Washington University and graduated in Early Childhood Special Education in 1998.She has experience teaching and working with children in different school aged settings in Washington, New York and New Jersey.
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"I absolutely love spending time with a child and his or her family in their home to get the entire picture of each family's dynamics."
Bryn became part of Whatcom Center for Early Learning in August of 2015. She received a B.A. in Speech and hearing Sciences from Washington State University and then an M.S. in Communicative Disorders from the University of Redlands. Bryn has 15 years of experience as a pediatric SLP and has been doing home visits for early intervention for the past 12 years.
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"My favorite part of working at the Whatcom Center for Early Learning is getting to know the families and working with a wide variety of special needs."
Jennifer joined Whatcom Center for Early Learning in 1989 straight after graduating from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of the Arts in Speech Pathology/Audiology and a Master of the Arts in Speech Pathology. She has a Cerfiticate of Competence from the American Speech Language and Hearing Association.
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"The dynamic process of working with children and their families is what motivates me."
Kristin joined Whatcom Center for Early learning in 2005 to participate in the Sensational Toddlers program with her son. After attending graduate school, she came back to officially become a part of the team in 2011. Kristin has worked as a private clinician at Connections SLP and brings with her both experience and energy.
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"I am excited about the relationships I get to build with families as we journey together to build brighter futures for their children and themselves."
Jessica joined our team in 2017 after several years working at another outstanding EI center in the Seattle area. She originally received her SLP degree from WWU and, after trying clinic-based work, has found a particular passion for early intervention.
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“I look forward to all of the learning and playing opportunities alongside families and the wonderful WCEL team!”
Elizabeth joined the WCEL team in June of 2018. Elizabeth attended graduate school at Western Washington University, knowing her passion was to work in Early Intervention. During Elizabeth’s time in graduate school, she had the opportunity to work with families through an internship, where she focused on parent coaching. Before accepting her position at WCEL, Elizabeth worked for the Mt. baker School District for 2 years, working with a wide range of ages and abilities.
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"I am excited when children are able to do something new, something that once seemed insurmountable. I always believe that we have no idea how much children are capable of, with the right support."
Sue has been working at Whatcom Center for Early Learning since 2009. She began her teaching career as an early childhood special education teacher. Since moving to Whatcom County in the 90's, she found a love for working with infants and toddlers and their caregivers. She brings with her experience, both as a parent and adult educator, and a teacher of young children.
"Young children live in the moment and they experience everything with their whole bodies. It is an honor for me to be able to participate in that joy through sensory play."
After taking her own children through the Sensational Toddlers program, Helena began as a substitute at WCEL and moved into the position of Classroom Teacher in 2017. With both a B.A. in Social Studies (Social Work) from Sligo Institute in Ireland and a B.S. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Maine, and as the eldest of nine children, Helena has been involved in the care and education of young children most of her life. She considers herself extremely fortunate to work with amazing children and families all over the world through play groups, preschool settings, home visits and providing respite care. Travel is a passion for Helena's family and they love to take advantage of any opportunity to hop on a plane, train or bus.
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"One of my most memorable moments at WCEL is when one of the children grasped my hand and tugged me to play with him, with no words, my heart skipped a beat."
Yolanda started with Whatcom Center for Early Learning in the summer of 2015. She works as an assistant teacher at the Whatcom Center for Early Learning. She has a love of early childhood education and finds it very self-enriching.
"I especially love watching little ones blossom into being all they can be on their own special timelines."
Monica began at the Center in 2011, working in classes both at the Big Blue House as well as weekly Toddler Time classes in Ferndale. She took some time away and recently returned to WCEL in 2017. Monica has a genuine love of play and of working with the challenges that special needs kids and their families face. She is raising two boys who came into her home as foster/adopt special needs kids.