Shawna Rodrigues joined the Early Learning Division (ELD) in early July as our Head Start Collaborations Director. Shawna brings a unique plethora of knowledge and experience that makes her a welcome addition to our team. The role she steps into was originally created to bridge the gap between the federal and local levels of Head Start and to ensure that the state level work doesn’t get lost in translation.
There are eight priority areas that the Office of Head Start has established for this work, as well as needs identified that are unique to the state of Oregon. She also works to collaborate with other agencies and entities who serve the same children as Head Start to encourage relationship building at both the state and local levels.
Shawna is a native Oregonian. She was most recently living in Washington State and working as a consultant and prior to that she worked as a federal employee in Boston supporting Head Start grantees throughout New England. Shawna had the opportunity to serve the Office of Head Start in Washington, DC as a Head Start Fellow and during that time became familiar with Oregon’s first Head Start Collaboration Director, Dell Ford, whose work she respected and admired. When the ELD position was posted, Shawna was notified of the opening by several people and thought it to be a great merging of her work, education, and experience, as well as opportunity to return to Oregon.
Shawna knows the value of Head Start. “Head Start’s uniqueness is that it addresses the whole child. It looks at health, family services, resources, and empowering parents. It looks at the family piece.” Shawna’s unique experience and education has paved the way for her current role, and she shared “I was fortunate to grow up in a small rural community, gain local experience, learn about federal systems and now I get to work as a state employee, which is new terrain for me. My background will allow me to leverage my relationship building with others, my understanding of the work, and my experience with the uniqueness of rural and urban areas.”
Shawna said the ELD’s “incredible vision to reach children and families is key,” and what she finds most rewarding about her work. “We’re in a culture of change and I am excited to be a part of it!” Shawna will also have the opportunity to work with the Early Learning Council as part of her role and is thrilled to be part of their work as well.