Organization

Governance

The ISSA Council is the heart of ISSA governance. The Council is composed of all Full Member organizations and guides the Association’s strategy and the work of the Secretariat. The Council holds a General Assembly Meeting annually in which it discusses Association business and elects a Board of Directors.

ISSA's Board members work on a voluntary basis. The Board meets in person at least twice a year. The ISSA Secretariat conducts the official business of the Association and is responsible for delivering services to ISSA members and ensuring that the ISSA objectives are met.

All members of the ISSA Board, the ISSA Council, the ISSA Membership Committee and the Program Committee are unremunerated for their duties. 

ISSA Board

Elena Misik
President

Elena Misik is Program Manager at Step By Step Foundation for Education and Cultural Initiatives Macedonia. She has engaged in education for development for more than 20 years. She first worked for UNICEF and now Step by Step Macedonia. As an expert researcher, program developer, project manager and evaluator, Elena has worked on over 20 projects for organizations such as the World Bank, USAID, the Foundation for Open Society Macedonia, UNDP and for the EU.

Elena has been a member of ISSA’s Membership Committee since 2015, and in that capacity she made important contributions to work related to membership recruitment and services.

Henriette Heimgaertner
Board Treasurer

Henriette Heimgaertner is the Co-founder & Managing Director of the Berlin Early Childhood Institute for Quality Development. She has more than 25 years of experience in developing sustainable early years programs in various European countries including Poland, Czech Republic and Slovakia. Henriette co-authored the statutory early years curriculum for the region of Berlin.

She has served on ISSA’s Board and other bodies in the past, and brings a great deal of experience both in board advising and as a speaker at conferences and seminars.

Jeroen Aarssen
Board Secretary

Jeroen Aarssen is Early Childhood Education and Care advisor at Sardes, the Netherlands. Jeroen has advised in language development, multilingualism and executive function. As a project leader, Jeroen worked on numberous projects, including TINK ('14-'18), a nationwide in-service training program for childcare staff in the Netherlands. He leads the Erasmus+ project for multilingual early childhood education and care for refugee children. He worked in Turkey on a number of education and ECEC projects, e.g. as initiator, coordinator and trainer of an Early Childhood Education Diploma Course. Jeroen is author of “De Basis Voorbij” (2010) / “Beyond the Basis” (2011), which is the reference book in a training program for preschool professionals in the Netherlands.

Vesna Bajsanski-Agic
Board Member

Vesna Bajsanski-Agic has been Executive Director of the Mozaik Foundation, based in Bosnia Herzegovina (BiH), since 2008.

The Mozaik Foundation is the biggest social enterprise in Eastern Europe. It creates programs which contribute to economic and social stability by mobilizing local resources and sustaining socio-economic development. Through their programs they build communities and support citizen’s actions, including YouthBanks. Mozaik promotes the development of local talent and young entrepreneurs; it aims to create an outfit of young people who will create jobs and be role models in the future.

Before joining Mozaik, Vesna worked with DUGA in Sarajevo and as a Program Manager at the Center for Educational Initiatives Step by Step. She was educated at the University of Sarajevo and in the United States of America.

Leslie Falconer
Board Member

Leslie Falconer is the President and CEO of the Experience Early Learning Co., and the co-founder and trustee of the Alabaster Fund. As CEO of Experience Early Learning Co., she has published several early childhood development tools, including the Mother Goose Time preschool curriculum. Through the Alabaster Fund, she has supported increase to education and social entrepreneurship across the globe. Leslie also established, and chairs, the new Global Education Lab within the Nexus network, a global movement to bridge communities of wealth and social entrepreneurship to create unique opportunities for measurable global impact.

Sarah Klaus
Board Member

Sarah Klaus is Director of the Early Childhood Program at the Open Society Foundations (OSF) and also served as the first Executive Director of ISSA
from its inception to 2006.  The Step by Step Program, OSF's flagship program, was initiated in 1994 to promote reforms that support universal,
accessible, quality early childhood education and development in Central Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. OSF's early childhood work
now extends globally with an increasing focus on advocacy, policy, and development of leadership to support populations at risk. Sarah has been
working with the program since its inception. Sarah received her Bachelor's degree in Russian Studies from Brown University and her Master's degree in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University Teacher's College.

Jan van Ravens
Board Member

Jan van Ravens is a Policy Consultant in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) field for low and middle income countries. He is currently affiliated with the Child Study Center at Yale University. Beginning his career as a practitioner and policy maker he worked in the fields of education, labor market affairs and innovation. Jan was Head of International Affairs at the Netherlands’ Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and part of the Education for All Monitoring team in 2002. Since 2006, Jan has consulted on the planning and finance for ECD services in 30 low and middle income countries across the globe, including CEE/CIS.

Cornelia Cincilei
Board Member

Since 1994, Cornelia Cincilei is Director of Step by Step Moldova (Programul Educational Pas cu Pas). As of 2018 she has joined the Board of Directors.

Liana Ghent
Executive Director, Non-voting Board Member

Liana Ghent joined as director of ISSA in 2006. During this time, the network has expanded to include 85 member organizations from across Europe and Central Asia. Liana Ghent has over 20 years of leadership experience in the nonprofit sector, primarily with programs in higher education and early childhood development.
Other experience include the co-presidency of the Civic Education Project, an organization focussed on higher education in Europe and the former Soviet Union. She served on several (director) boards, a.o. the Consultative Group for ECCD and the Leadership Council of the Global Compact for Early Childhood Development. Currently, she is a member of the Interim Executive Group of the Early Childhood Development Action Network and the advisory board for the Nurturing Care for Early Childhood Development.