The First 5 Napa County Commission announced today the appointment of Joelle Gallagher as executive director for the organization, effective April 17, 2017. First 5 Napa County supports and promotes early learning, health and quality child care for the youngest Napa County residents.

“I am very excited to work with the First 5 Commission and staff,” said Gallagher. “I look forward to a renewed focus on developing a comprehensive early childhood system and collaborating with all who impact the lives of our young children and families.”

In her new role, Gallagher will direct and oversee the planning and implementation of the goals and efforts in Napa County to provide children from birth through age 5 with a comprehensive, integrated system of services in accordance with the provisions of the California Families First Act of 1998.

“Joelle brings a lot of experience and enthusiasm to the work that is planned for First 5 Napa County as we embark on a journey that will shift how we accomplish the organization’s work,” said Debbie Peralez, executive director of Child Start, Inc. and president of the First 5 Napa County Commission. “We intend to actively engage the community in planning for this change and Joelle will help lead this process, ensuring that our future is aligned with the needs of Napa’s children and families and reflective of the changing vision of the commission.”

For the last 16 years, Joelle Gallagher has served as executive director of Cope Family Center in Napa, responsible for the daily operations of the 45-year-old community benefit organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse and neglect. During her tenure, She implemented several evidence-based programs aimed at reducing the incidence of child maltreatment and building family resilience, most notably the Healthy Families America early home visitation model and the Triple P Positive Parenting Program.

Gallagher is a board member of the Napa County Continuum of Care, co-chair of the Napa County Child Abuse Prevention Council, a founding member of the Napa Housing Coalition, and co-chair of the Live Healthy Napa County Leadership Collaborative, a countywide initiative to improve community health by addressing social determinants. She is a past president of the Napa Valley Coalition of Non-Profit Agencies and a founding board member of the Community Health Initiative of Napa County. She holds a degree in psychology from the University of Santa Clara and a Certificate of Leadership from Dominican University.

Gallagher replaces Sally Sheehan-Brown, who has served as executive director for First 5 Napa County since the organization’s inception 17 years ago. “Sally has worked to build an organization that supports many of the community providers who serve our youngest, and often our most vulnerable, children and their families,” said Peralez. “With Sally at the helm, the commission has weathered many storms, including threats to funding during California’s lean state budget years. Through it all, she kept her focus on what is good for kids and families and helped lead the commission to create funding strategies that could best meet their needs. We will miss her at First 5.”

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