Office of Early Childhood Commissioner Named to National Leadership Fellowship to Address Opportunities for Low-Income Families

Last updated January 14, 2020
2015 class of Ascend Fellows named for their groundbreaking work
Hartford – The Aspen Institute announced this week that Connecticut Office of Early Childhood Commissioner, Dr. Myra Jones-Taylor, has been selected to join the 2015 class of Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows. The Ascend Fellowship invests in diverse leaders from a range of sectors who have breakthrough ideas to build economic security, educational success, and health and well-being for low-income families in the US. Dr. Jones-Taylor is one of 21 men and women selected from across the nation.
“As an Aspen Institute Ascend Fellow, I am eager to join two-generation policy leaders from across the country to develop strategies to address the complex needs of our most vulnerable families in Connecticut, with a particular focus on families with young children experiencing homelessness and vulnerable families with infants and toddlers,” said Dr. Jones-Taylor.
These leaders are on the front lines of new solutions to bridge inequality for children and their parents. Among their ideas and innovations:
  • accelerated ‘bootcamps’ that open up training for high demand jobs to students lacking time and resources;
  • systemic shifts in state human services and early education, such as the redesign of child care subsidies; and,
  • brain science research on the sensitive early months of life and parenting for families that have experienced trauma or toxic stress.
    Each of these leaders will fuel their work with a two-generation approach that invests in children and their parents together.
“Poverty and inequality are the central economic, political, and moral issues of our time,” said Walter Isaacson, CEO of the Aspen Institute. “The Ascend Fellowship is part of the Aspen Institute’s commitment to advancing opportunity and equality in the America.”
Dr. Jones-Taylor serves as Co-Chair of the Connecticut Early Childhood Cabinet. One of the Cabinet’s focuses this year will be the alignment and creation of two-generation policies. The Cabinet’s goal is to create policies that are designed to improve the educational, economic and health outcomes of the entire family and will apply a collective impact approach to identify, plan and implement two-generation strategies and policies that work for Connecticut families, with a particular focus on those families experiencing homelessness.
The 2015 Ascend Fellows join the vanguard of a national network to advance opportunity for low-income families across the country. This year’s class includes state human services and early education system leaders, forward thinking post-secondary and workforce leaders, breakthrough researchers in health and early care and education, philanthropic leaders, and innovative practitioners across multiple sectors.
“The Aspen Institute Ascend Fellows are diverse, entrepreneurial leaders implementing bold ideas to change the trajectory of low-income families’ lives throughout the US,” said Anne Mosle, vice president and executive director, Ascend at the Aspen Institute. “Too many families are struggling, and it is time for a new generation of leaders who have the vision, innovation and drive to develop a portfolio of solutions focused on building an intergenerational cycle of opportunity.”
The Ascend Fellowship is a values-based leadership program that builds on the best of the Aspen Institute leadership tradition. Ascend Fellows learn from outstanding faculty; participate in signature Institute convenings and platforms; tap powerful networks of social justice and other leaders; and carry out action plans that advance their innovations and solutions on behalf of children and families.
Dr. Jones-Taylor was chosen to lead the state’s new Office of Early Childhood in 2013. She previously served as an assistant professor-faculty fellow at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at the Silver School of Social Work at New York University. She is a cultural anthropologist with expertise in early care and education policy.  Her research focused on the effects of early care and education reform on child care providers in low-income urban communities and the children and families who are intended to benefit from those reforms.
For bios and photos of all 21 extraordinary leaders, visit
Ascend at the Aspen Institute is the national hub for breakthrough ideas and collaborations that move vulnerable children and their parents toward educational success and economic security. We take a two-generation approach to our work – focusing on children and their parents together. We bring a gender and a racial equity lens to our analysis. For more information, visit
The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, DC. Its mission is to foster leadership based on enduring values and to provide a nonpartisan venue for dealing with critical issues. The Institute is based in Washington, DC; Aspen, Colorado; and on the Wye River on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. It also has offices in New York City and an international network of partners. For more information, visit
The Connecticut Office of Early Childhood is the state’s leader in providing a comprehensive, collaborative system for delivering improved programs and services to children from birth to five years old and their families. To contact the Office of Early Childhood, please visit our website at or call (860) 713-6410.