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Essential Elements

Providing Training & Technical Assistance Services to Head Start & Early Head Start nationally.

We are a Customer Service-focused organization that provides Custom-designed Training & Technical Assistance Services to Head Start & Early Head Start Programs across the country.

Our Services include:

  • Highly interactive Training for Teaching staff, Family Service Workers, Home Visitors, Center Directors & Management teams – on a wide range of topics
  • Training for New Head Start Directors
  • Training for New Content Area Coordinators
  • Policy Council & Board of Directors training
  • Mock Reviews (to prepare for successful Federal Monitoring Review Events)
  • CLASS observations
  • Long-distance Mentor Coaching
  • Strategic Planning
  • Writing 5 Year Grant Applications
  • Grant Writing for Recompetition
  • Creation of Community Assessments & other programmatic documents

Deborah Kaiser is the Owner of Essential Elements as well as a Consultant and Grant Writer for Head Start and Early Head Start programs. For more than 20 years, Kaiser has worked in and consulted for non-profit organizations. She has been a Head Start Coordinator and a Head Start Director. Kaiser holds a Masters of Education (M.Ed.) in School Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).

Our priority is providing you with excellent customer service...... and results.

Read more from Essential Elements:
"A Good Community Assessment is Essential"
"Here are my CLASS Scores... Now What?"

Phone : (713) 594-7060

Ranelle Livingston, M.Ed.

Over 30 years of experience in early childhood programs.

Ranelle Livingston, M.Ed., has over 30 years of experience in early childhood programs as a teacher, director, or consultant for childcare, public school, and Head Start and Early Head Start programs. Experience related to HS/EHS Start programs includes administering a multi-county HS/EHS program which included center-based, home-based, and family child care options. She has special expertise in systems analysis and quality improvement. Other experience includes EHS Start-up Planner; pre-service training in education, family literacy, and program management; consulting in systems development; and service on Federal review teams in the areas of program design and management and early childhood. She has written successful Federal and foundation grants and facilitated their implementation.  Livingston is a contracted reviewer on Federal HS/EHS monitoring teams.  Currently, she reviews child development and education and systems but previously also reviewed program design and management.  

Adult education experience includes on-site staff training in the areas of curriculum, social/emotional development, family engagement, and family literacy and adjunct instructor for the child development department of a community college. Other training experience includes development of online training modules for child care staff through Texas AgriLife Extension (Texas A & M University System). 

Services to grantees include on-site mentoring and/or training for classroom staff in the areas of developmentally appropriate practices, learning environments, planning, and teacher/child interactions. Ranelle Livingston has been approved to serve as the newly required Professional Development Specialist for staff seeking CDA certification for preschool, infant/toddler, or family child care. Other services include on-site training or consulting for administrators, board and policy council training, preparation for Federal reviews, and program design and/or implementation.

Livingston holds a baccalaureate in Child Development, a K-8th grade teaching certificate, and a M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education.

Phone: (817) 578-4969


Wipfli's professionals will help you keep your organization in compliance and serving your community

You’re working hard to make your community a better place. Wipfli's professionals in the nonprofit and government practice will help you keep your organization in compliance and serving your community. Wipfli provides services—specifically for Head Start/Early Head Start (HS/EHS) organizations—such as:

  • Audit, accounting and tax
  • Information technology consulting
  • Human resources consulting
  • Policies and procedures templates
  • Fraud and forensic exams
  • Training and education
  • Operations process improvement and workflow analysis
  • Leadership development and strategic planning

More than 29,000 HS/EHS participants have attended Wipfli trainings, and more than 1,100 own one of our products or services.

Phone: (888) 876-4992  

Shine Early Learning

Committed to proving that every child can succeed at the highest levels.

Why did you get into Head Start? Shine Early Learning is committed to proving that every child can succeed at the highest levels – and that high-impact, proven approaches can help early childhood programs across the country truly make the difference in a child's life. We offer dedicated resources, high-impact tools, and our new Shine Insight data system to help Head Start and early education programs reach their own ambitious goals.

All of the Shine Early Learning tools and approaches were developed, implemented, and refined at Acelero Learning, a high-performing Head Start and Early Head Start program serving more than 4,400 children across the nation. Through the integrated implementation of these tools, Acelero Learning has produced some of the largest child outcome gains ever recorded at an individual Head Start program. Acelero Learning's latest evaluation data shows children served for two years making twice the gain of average Head Start program, as compared to the 2009 FACES data.

In our training work, we work with programs to build a culture of data-driven decision making, and we provide both the tools and technologies help programs grow and thrive. Through extensive and ongoing training, Shine Early Learning will work with you to ensure that children and families receive the highest quality programs and services that Head Start can deliver.

We offer the following services to help you take your Head Start program to the next level:

  • Shine Access: Resources and tools for Head Start leaders
  • Shine Insight: A robust, user-friendly child and family data system, to help your program achieve full compliance and drive toward greater outcomes.
  • Shine Assist: Year-round T&TA and grant application support
  • In-person events and online trainings

Want to learn more? Visit us at, or reach out directly:

Phone : (877) -223-5376

Kristen Hayes

Kristen Hayes, MPM is a Management Consultant and advocate of high-quality programming for children.

Kristen Hayes, MPM is a Management Consultant and advocate of high-quality programming for children and families. With 10 years experience in program implementation and public policy formation, she has worked with organizations across the country to secure grant funding through two Federal departments, and helped grantees effectively utilize funds to meet required outcomes. Since February 2011, Kristen has consulted with Head Start/Early Head Start agencies on a variety of projects including evaluating and improving existing management systems, coaching new Directors through ACF grants administration requirements, conducting organizational assessments to increase the efficiency with which Head Start funding is utilized, and supporting programs through the re-designation process.

Most recently, Kristen was a Senior Program Specialist with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Office of Head Start (OHS), Region IX in San Francisco, California. Kristen managed funding to Head Start agencies in excess of $400 million annually, and provided expert technical assistance and guidance to grantee organizations. Her caseload included non-profits, city and county governments, county offices of education, and a for-profit organization, reflecting the diversity of organizations funded by ACF. Kristen supported ACF’s ongoing quality improvement efforts as a team leader for onsite compliance reviews, and as Region IX’s staff lead for monitoring and risk assessment.

Prior to joining ACF, Kristen was a Policy Analyst with the U.S. Department of Education (ED), Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, in Washington, DC. She lead the policy effort to implement a school choice provision under No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) which included authoring regulations, guidance, and debriefing the Secretary’s NCLB Implementation Council. She was heavily involved in the Office’s annual discretionary grant process, serving as a panel manager for the peer review of seven national grant competitions and co-developing a grant competition to improve state-level management of school drug and violence prevention data. While working at ED, Kristen was selected for a three month assignment to the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and the staff of Senator Edward M. Kennedy.

Kristen holds a Master's degree in Public Management and Social Policy from the University of Maryland, College Park.


Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP

The leader in Head Start and Early Head Start training from a legal perspective.

Feldesman Tucker Leifer Fidell LLP is the leader in Head Start and Early Head Start training from a legal perspective. FTLF has trained thousands of Head Start employees, and is a primary training partner for NHSA, leading trainings across the country for Head Start/EHS groups of all sizes. FTLF’s Head Start attorneys have advised and counseled numerous programs on the day-to-day regulatory and operational issues that arise in managing their federal grants and running their Head Start/EHS programs. Leaders in the Head Start community, FTLF can help you do your job more effectively and accurately – they cover what’s happening now and what you need to know in our ever-changing Head Start/EHS world.

Phone: (202) 466-8960
Web site: www.feldesmantucker.com 

The Gravely Group

Melvin Gravely has over 20 years of excellence in training programs for Head Start agencies.

As the CEO of The Gravely Group, Melvin Gravely has over 20 years of excellence in training programs for various local, national, and state Head Start agencies and associations. Gravely brings a unique combination of trainer, skill building authority and results-oriented instructor to the field of Family Advocacy. His skill includes assisting program management staff with instruments and resources needed to enhance organizational structure. The success of The Gravely Group developed from Melvin Gravely's involvement in family and children advocacy programs. Gravely has had the opportunity to train more than 100 Head Start programs in Head Start compliance areas that relate to delivery of programming and program governance.

Read more from the Gravely Group:
Effective Head Start Meetings: A Guide for Staff and Parents
Head Start Program Governance: A Management Guide for Staff and Parents

Phone: (614) 901-3369
Web site:

G. Lee Resources

Turnaround management with a strong emphasis on Head Start class room performance.

G. Lee Resources provides turnaround management to organizations who strive to keep current in trends that promote streamlined programs with a strong emphasis on Head Start class room performance. With a combined 35 years of experience in nonprofit management, program analysis, evaluation, board development and training, budgets, grants, etc., G. Lee creates strong teams focusing on compliance, planning and future growth. They work with Governing Boards, Executive Directors, Program Directors, and management staff to meet all Head Start Program Performance Standards.

Other services include program reviews, monitoring preparation, preparation for program re-competition, new programs, and specialized help in areas such as leadership, fundraising, budgets, financial transparency, findings reviews, and grant cycle reporting.

Phone: (630) 596-2288
Web site:

Gayle Lee, M.S. has been a nonprofit leader for nearly 30 years. She has both program start up and leadership experience in small, medium and large nonprofits. Her experience in turnarounds includes many nonprofit organizations including Community Action and Head Start programs. Regulatory and program compliance are areas of specialty as is board development and education. Lee enjoys focusing on the organization mission and taking existing programs and making them stronger or helping new programs thrive, by finding solutions to problems, updating processes and achieving or exceeding performance standards. In addition to organizational leadership, turnarounds, compliance, and board education, her expertise includes fundraising, and grant writing.





Kola Bonner has more than 16 years of accounting, the majority of which has been in nonprofit accounting. She has a passion for helping organizations in the ever-changing world of accounting. Bonner has experience leading finance departments efforts in A-133 audits, 990 Tax Returns, working closely with the federal government in developing a nonprofit Indirect Rate model, Federal Grants Management, Certification in Health Care Management and Event Planning Certification.

Bonner’s background includes budgeting, A-133 audits, annual audits, compliance, DCAA audits, project-based accounting, indirect rates, internal controls, system evaluations, policies and procedures and working to improve finance departments for organizations from startups to turnarounds. Her ability to identify areas of improvement and work smarter not harder has helped improve the resources available to support organizations in their missions.




Lynette Saxton has over 10 years of experience working for a Community Action Agency working in the both the Early Head Start and Head Start programs as a family advocate, community partnership coordinator, and interim program director. Having a variety of experience with Head Start, she worked to revitalize a strained program to meet performance standards with numerous deficiencies to a high quality program. She also served as the director of Workforce Investment Act, adult, dislocated and youth programs, Community Service Block Grant and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Programs. With intricate knowledge of program implementation and management, she also has experience in the head start classroom, program eligibility, family engagement, fatherhood initiatives, working with school districts, creating partnerships and collaborations. She has experience in all aspects of fund management, event planning, problem solving, program implementation, compliance, facilitation, forecasting, leadership, instructor and supervision. Saxton earned a master’s degree in Social Welfare from the University Of Kansas School Of Social of Social Welfare.

Evelyn English

Literacy-Reading Mentor; Family Engagement Specialist; EWE Read Thinking Learning

Evelyn English is a literacy mentor, President of EWE Reading Thinking Learning, and author of Reading Thinking Learning Dynamic Tools for Literacy and Language Development (published in English and Spanish). She is an acknowledged facilitator in delivering requisite, explicit, research-supported, and readily implementable work sessions, and consulting in The Essential following components of Reading:

  • Phonemic Awareness
  • Phonics
  • Fluency
  • Vocabulary
  • Comprehension

English works to promote family engagement —teaching parents and families ‘how to’ teach reading, thinking, writing, listening and speaking at home. She has also written and published resources on the subject.

Evelyn English earned a Master of Education-Reading Specialist Certification, national Trainer of Trainers Certification, and Advanced Professional Teaching Certification, and is secured to work in Department of Defense (DOD) Schools. She has taught Pre K-College learners throughout the United States and Europe, taught and directed a center for Critical Thinking, served on National and Charter School Boards of Education, and provided literacy-reading evaluations for staff, curricula, and programs. With her knowledge, expertise, and understanding of early education instructional materials and programs, you will receive specially planned Literacy: reading, thinking, writing, listening and speaking work sessions and coaching to fit your budget and professional development needs.

Phone : (443) 421-1229