Iran Rodriguez, MSSW
Mr. Rodriguez brings over 5 decades of experience in the early childhood and Head Start field, including his work for the US Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, where he served in a supervisory role and oversaw $813 million of Head Start funding. While working for the Administration for Children and Families, he managed programs in 42 states and oversaw the approval and construction of early childhood programs across the United States.
During his years as Regional Program Manager in New York, Mr. Rodriguez had managerial responsibilities for the federal government efforts to manage the response to the destruction and rebuilding of early childhood programs caused by Hurricanes Hugo and Sandy.
As President of the Region II Head Start Association, Mr. Rodriguez led the response to the crisis created by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Leveraging his local community connections and working through established Head Start programs, Mr. Rodriguez developed a mechanism to deliver food, water and other essential goods to the victims of the hurricanes in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Through his work, more than $5 million was distributed through a network of early childhood programs in Puerto Rico.
Iran and his wife maintain homes in both New York and Puerto Rico. Iran is bilingual and is licensed by the State of New York as a Social Worker.
First Vice President
Mr. Jose R. Gonzalez, Executive Director for Bushwick United Head Start/Bushwick United Early Learn was born in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico in August of 1949. He migrated to New York in 1968 in search of a better future. Mr. Gonzalez worked hard during the day to provide for his family and at night he attended college with the goal of becoming an early childhood educator. He eventually earned a master’s degree in early childhood education from the University of New York/City College.
Under Bushwick United Housing Development Fund, Corp., Mr. Gonzalez assisted in the development of the first proposal to open a Head Start Program in the Bushwick community located in Brooklyn, NY.
In August of 1980, Bushwick United Housing Development Fund Corp., opened its first Head Start program at 1002 Bushwick Avenue under Mr. Gonzalez' administration. This location served 78 children and their families. Subsequently, Bushiwck United continued to open new locations and provide additional offerrings. Today, headquartered at 136 Stanhope Street, Bushwick United has eight center-based locations that proudly serve all of the Bushwick and Williamsburg communities in the borough of Brooklyn. These locations have a combined capacity to serve 660 children and their families.
Bushwick United provides high-quality, comprehensive early childhood development services and family support services to low-income families so they can achieve success. Bushwick United childcare program includes education, health, nutrition, mental health, social services, parent involvement and special needs services through a partnership with Brooklyn United Children. In addition, supplementary services are provided through collaborative ventures with other community agencies such as WIC, Woodhull Hospital, Cornell University Cooperative and RiseBoro Community Partnership.
Bushwick United social services program provides workshops, volunteer opportunities as well as program referrals. All these offerings are geared toward empowering families to become independent and self sufficient. Over the years, parent volunteers have gone onto become gainfully employed with Bushwick United.
Second Vice President
Joselyn Estevez Vargas
Joselyn Estevez-Vargas is the Vice President of Early Childhood Programs at HOPES CAP, Inc. located in Hoboken, New Jersey and servicing the City of Hoboken, the City of Plainfield and Somerset County. With the oversight of eleven Early Childhood Centers serving expectant women, infant/toddlers and preschool children and their families in ninety-one Early Head Start, Head Start and State Preschool Collaboration classrooms
Joselyn has worked with HOPES CAP, Inc. for the past twenty-two years, and has over thirty-years of experience working with children and families of diverse ethnic and socio-economic status in the fields of Psychology, Social Services and Education in New York and New Jersey. She has been an instructor for Child Development Associate and Child Development Certification at Starting Points for Children/St. Peter’s College.
Joselyn is the President of the New Jersey Head Start Association Directors’ Affiliate, and the Treasurer for the Region II Head Start Association Board. She is also actively involved with ACNJ, NAEYC, NIEER and National Head Start Association in advocating for quality Early Childhood Programs for all families in New Jersey and at the National Level.
Joselyn holds a Master’s of Science in Education, from Bank Street College of Education with a focus on Early Childhood Education, attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts and New York University for undergraduate and graduate degrees in Psychology and completed the UCLA Johnson and Johnson Head Start Management Fellows Program.
Joselyn’s personal educational philosophy is that children learn through experiences that involve all of their senses in a nurturing environment with adults that work together to help guide them through their learning experiences. Children need consistency, continuity of care and nurturing on an ongoing basis. The Early Childhood Environment needs to support children’s learning by offering age-appropriate, developmentally appropriate and child size furniture, materials and toys. Teachers need to have qualifications, but most importantly is his/her ability to work with children with different social, emotional, ethnic, economic, cultural and developmental levels and needs. The teaching team must be able and willing to work closely with parents to make a “real” impact in each child’s life. In summary, in an Early Childhood Program everyone (child, parent, staff, volunteers, interns) is an ongoing learner with individual needs and strengths. A program needs to be designed to support each person and to foster learning and growth with every opportunity.
Recording and Corresponding Secretary
Reva Gershen Lowy, EdD
Reva Gershen-Lowy, EdD is the Senior Vice President of the Early Childhood Education Division of Cardinal McCloskey Community Services. She is responsible for the oversight of the Division’s programs including Early Head Start/Head Start- Center, Home Based and Family Child Care Head Start, Department of Education- Pre-K for All/3K, ACS Early Learn Child Care and Family and Group Child Care along with spearheading and serving as lead for the Cardinal McCloskey Community Charter School initiative. Dr. Gershen-Lowy duties also include ensuring that the Division is meeting all compliance and regulatory requirements, working closely with various CMCS support departments including Compliance, Finance, Human Resources, Quality Assurance, Facilities and Development, along with program expansion, program development and locating sources of funding for agency programs.
Dr. Gershen-Lowy was awarded her EdD in Special Education, Educational Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University, and she has received her NYS certification as a School Administrator-Supervisor along with her NYS Teaching certifications in Special Education and Nursey-6th grade.
Dr. Gershen-Lowy serves on various Head Start Boards and committees. She services as a member of the National Head Start Association Board. She is a member of the Executive Committee and is the Corresponding Secretary of the New York State Head Start Association. Under her leadership, the Association created a mini-grant program which offers grants to Head Start programs throughout New York State.
She is also a member of the Board of Directors of Region II-Head Start Association and is serving as corresponding and recording secretary and co-chair of the training committee for the Region’s Annual Conference.
Prior to working at CMCS, Dr. Lowy was the Executive Director/CEO of Little Angels Head Start and, for 23 years, as the Assistant Executive Director of the Mosholu Montefiore Community Center.
Bonnie Eggenburg is a Vice President who works with Gateway Community Action Program in southern New Jersey and Philadelphia area, providing leadership to the Early Head Start and Head Start programs in eight counties.
Bonnie believes that when the early childhood community and families work together, children benefit greatly. Through the work of the Head Start programs, families are supported as they work toward creating a higher quality of life for their children. Children are engaged in a comprehensive preschool education, receiving their daily nutritional requirements, participating in healthy activities such as tooth brushing, and are helped through the challenges of growing up and getting ready for school.
Bonnie has been active in state-wide early education initiatives, and currently serves as the President of the New Jersey Head Start Association, advocating for quality early childhood programs for children, ages birth to five.
Bonnie has completed the UCLA Johnson and Johnson Head Start Management Fellows Program and she is also a Certified Community Action Professional.
Bonnie holds a Master’s degree Education from Southern Illinois University with a focus on Early Childhood Education. She has been a teacher, college instructor, a mentor, and an innovator, working to improve the lives of children.