Meet our Leaders
Howie, our executive director, has a 45-year career in early education and care as a childcare provider, university teacher, program administrator, policy analyst, advocate, marriage and family counselor, curriculum developer, mentor-teacher, and advisor to government leaders.
In 2012 the National Coalition for Campus Children's Center's awarded him Director of the Year. A member of several professional associations, he is Co-President of the Council of Child Development Laboratory Schools (CCDLA). His career with the Lemberg Children's Center at Brandeis University began with teaching in September 1972. In 1979 he was chosen as Director and Executive Director in 1985. From 1979 – 1996, he taught early education course at Brandeis University, and continues to serve as the Brandeis Education Program's Early Education Coordinator.
In addition to providing professional presentations in US, he has been a guest presenter in the UK, Canada, Italy, France, and China. Earlier in his career he chaired several Massachusetts governmental committees charged with writing the first standards of care and was a doctoral fellow of the National Institutes for Health for the study of intellectual disabilities at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. He also is the Director of APA's ACT Raising Safe Kids Boston Regional Center, a part of the Lemberg Center and a Master Trainer for the APA's Violence Prevention Office.
Hope Briggs (she, her, hers) has worked with infants and toddlers at Lemberg Children's Center for four years. She came to Lemberg with 10 years experience working with infants. Hope strives to create a welcoming caring classroom environment for both the infants and their families. She enjoys working in partnership with parents in order to best meet the needs of both the parents and the infants.
Hope received her BA in American Studies with an elementary education certification from Umass Boston. She received her MS in Humanistic Multicultural Education from the New York State University at New Paltz. While Hope has taught public school on the elementary level, she found her true calling where she finds joy and flow in early childhood education particularly with infants and toddlers.
Having qualified in South Africa as an Occupational Therapist, Tammy Baron worked there and in Israel for many years, as part of various multi-disciplinary teams that carried-out the assessment and treatment of children with challenges in the areas of sensory and cognitive processing and motor output. Her family relocated to USA in 2008 and although this necessitated a career change, Tammy is now grateful that she has had the opportunity to diversify her life’s work and continually learn and grow. She loves spending her days with children and strives to provide them with the tools to be happy!
She worked in a Montessori based toddler environment for 8 years and during this time studied and became nationally-credentialed as a Montessori Toddler Teacher. She brings an eclectic approach to her work at Lemberg, combining selected Montessori principles, understanding gained form working as an OT and her belief that children (and all humans) should be given freedom and respect.
Her toddler environment is designed to enable children to feel loved and secure as a basis for positive development in all spheres. One of her many goals is to empower children so that they gain a sense of competency and develop an ability to make decisions and problem-solve independently.
Catrina Combis (she/her/hers) has been a teacher at Lemberg since 2018 as a Teaching Fellow and a Head Teacher. She is currently the head teacher in the Hummingbird classroom (1- & 2-year-olds). Catrina loves engaging children in play, watching children's relationships grow, observing children's development, and having fun!
Catrina graduated from UMass Dartmouth in 2017 with a BA in Psychology. While there, she interned with several organizations centered on children's engagement in play and how children learn in different ways. She gained valuable knowledge and experience, which inspired her to attend graduate school the very next year. She received her MA in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College in 2018. After working part-time at an early childhood education center throughout graduate school, she knew she wanted to be a teacher of young children.
Karen has been a Head Teacher in Toddler and Preschool classrooms for many years and is now Director for Scheduling and Program Planning. Hiring, orienting, scheduling and supervising the 50+ Brandeis students who work as teaching assistants is a major part of her job as they are an integral part of Lemberg. She also helps with day-to-day operations of the center.
Having worked with all ages at Lemberg, Karen's skills span many areas. She enjoys working with parents and helping families with the transition between home and school. Mentoring others, supervising student teachers, and involvement in outreach programs are a few of the areas she's been involved with.
Her own children attended Lemberg years ago and later returned for a short time as teaching assistants. One of her outside interests has included working with the elderly, especially those with dementia, and helping support family caregivers. She enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, camping and canoeing, and traveling. She's been fortunate to have traveled to many different places and more recently her sons have lived in Australia and Indonesia, wonderful places to visit.
Karen Gong is a graduate of Lesley University with a BA in Children, Youth and Family Studies and a minor in psychology. She has been working as a teacher assistant at Brandeis since 2017 and now is a preschool teaching fellow.
While attending college, Karen has also interned at Atkinson Elementary School, Lawrence Community Day School, and Margaret Fuller Neighborhood House where she provided academic and emotional support to students between the ages of 6 to 12.
Having grown up in a family of 5 kids, Karen always had her siblings to play with; and as a result, found a passion in sports which later translated to playing on team sports such as basketball, swimming, ultimate frisbee, ping pong, track, etc. She has also displayed her love for sports by teaching her students how to play them.
Scott has been a head teacher for the Thunderbirds at Lemberg since October, 1993. He loves all aspects of teaching preschoolers, including science experiments, gardening, outdoor games, book making, storytelling, and all creative art and writing activities. He is especially interested in music and movement activities. Scott leads Aloha Friday - Lemberg's weekly, center-wide sing and dance along.
Outside of Lemberg, Scott is a writer and performer of songs for children and families. For more than 25 years, he has been entertaining audiences with his upbeat and funky folk songs, rock tunes, and stories at libraries, childcare centers, elementary schools, hospitals and town events. Additionally, he leads small music and movement groups for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and offers workshops for teachers and parents to help them incorporate music into their classrooms and homes.
Scott is a member of the Children's Music Network (CMN), a national organization that celebrates the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas and creating community.
Scott has a BS in early childhood education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and is EEC certified. He has two children, and absolutely loves being a dad. For more information about Scott, visit his website.
Sylvia Kohn-Levitt (she/her/hers) is the Associate Director of Environmental Education at Lemberg, where she maintains the garden through organic gardening and permaculture practices, and brings children of all ages into the space to plant food and learn about nature through the changing seasons. Sylvia works with infants through high schoolers, as well as interns from Brandeis’s Education and Environmental Studies departments, Stanley Elementary School, and the Waltham Partnership for Youth. Together, these students explore the garden and support the local environment through planting of native pollinator-supporting species. Sylvia is also a Teaching Fellow in the Explorers classroom, where she works with her co-teachers to create a warm and supportive community in which the children feel free to Explore (pun intended).
Sylvia graduated from Brandeis University in 2020 with a BS in Health, Science, Society, and Policy, where she studied both biology and social sciences. Apart from her studies, she has volunteered in various community gardens. Combining her academic and hands-on experiences with her love of student-centered learning, her goal is to maintain the garden as a space where children can question and explore the world around them. She is currently enrolled in the Bank Street College of Education’s Learning and Engagement in Museums and Cultural Organizations program, and expects to graduate with an M.S.Ed in 2024.
Sieara Lopez-Jones (she/they) has been at Lemberg since 2012 as a Teaching Assistant, Teaching Fellow, Head Teacher, and parent. She is currently a co-head teacher in the Navigator classroom (preschool). Sieara loves developing social justice-infused curricula that create classroom spaces that are safe and meaningful for every child, family, teacher, and college student. She focuses on providing developmentally-appropriate learning experiences and tools to support young children as they become the caring global citizens that our world needs more.
Sieara graduated from Brandeis in 2015 with a BA in Psychology and an Elementary Education initial license. She received her MS in Early Childhood Education and Care from Wheelock College in 2017. And because she is a lifelong learner to the core, Sieara is currently enrolled in a part-time MSW program at Simmons University; she expects to graduate in 2023. She is passionate about working with and supporting children and families in holistic ways that empower them to be the best versions of themselves.
Hannah started working at Lemberg as a TA in 2015, during the first semester of her freshman year at Brandeis. She graduated with a BA in Theatre Arts in 2019 and began working at Lemberg as a full time Teaching Fellow. She is now about to complete the Teaching Fellowship and is so excited to be a teacher in the Explorer classroom this Fall. She has been working with children of all ages since she was eleven years old as a babysitter, nanny, and assistant dance teacher and has found her passion in early childhood. She is especially passionate about social-emotional development.
In the past year Hannah has been growing her knowledge on anti-bias and anti-racist education. She has collected a plethora of social justice children's books in her quest to teach children to be tiny activists that she will carry with her from classroom to classroom.
Outside of Lemberg Hannah is an actress, dancer, and musician. She's trained in acting, singing, ballet, tap, jazz, and oboe. She also dabbles in ukulele. Hannah loves sharing her skills with children in the classroom and spreading an appreciation for the arts. As the COVID-19 pandemic comes to an end she is looking forward to the performing arts making a full return.
Chandra brings an extensive and diverse background in theater to her role as Lemberg's drama specialist. She has studied theater arts at the Royal Shakespeare Company, The National Theatre and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts.
As a theater educator, she has worked in classrooms with children from elementary to high school for many years. Along with her part-time Lemberg responsibilities, she is the associate director for education for Boston's City Stage Co. and, during the summers, is the Young Artists at Play director for the Merrimack Repertory Theatre.
Chandra's acting credits include Clara in "The Nutcracker Players" (Boston Area), Alice/Kristy in "Fitkids" (New England and Indiana), The Wife in "The History and Adventures of Tom Thumb" and various roles in Shear Madness. She has also worked on numerous commercials, industrial videos, independent films and voice-over spots. She is a member of all three acting unions, AEA, AFTER and SAG.
Chandra earned her BA in theater arts from Brandeis.
Josh has been working with children since the year 2000, getting his BA from UMass Amherst in 2006. He started in various after school and summer camp settings, including the Rowe Camp and Conference Center in the Berkshires, the Easter Seals Goodwill Industries' Family Learning Center in Connecticut, and iD Tech Camps at various locations in New York. While working with youth ages 8-18, Josh has led technical and philosophical workshops that promote creative growth and emphasize acceptance of others.
Josh is an EEC Certified Preschool Teacher at Lemberg. He has been working in early childhood since 2014, singing songs that he wrote specifically for this profession. Josh plays guitar and leads a group at Lemberg that focuses on mathematical and memory-retaining aspects of music. He builds a positive, creative, fun environment that children look forward to experiencing every day in preschool.
Jehman began her time at Lemberg in 2017 as a teaching assistant while an undergraduate student at Brandeis. During the 2020-2021 school year, she worked as an Adventurer teaching fellow under the leadership of Lead Teachers, Sieara Lopez-Jones and Tammy Baron. She thoroughly enjoyed her time working with toddlers and preschoolers! The second year of her fellowship will be spent with the infant Butterflies classroom under the leadership of Hope Briggs. She anticipates expanding her knowledge and experience working with these younger kiddos and their families.
At Brandeis University, Jehman studied African and Afro-American Studies and Hispanic Studies ('20). As of September 2020, she has been pursuing a Master of Social Work at Simmons University, with a focus in Trauma Practice. Jehman has an intellectual and professional interest in child-caregiver attachment, socioemotional learning, mind-body connection, neurobiology, and cultural studies (plus much more!). She utilizes her developing expertise in social work and its profession's guiding principles to create positive, meaningful connections with children and their families.
In the classroom, Jehman roots her work in fundamentals of social justice, hoping to promote anti-racist and anti-bias practice within early education. She has a particular interest in integrating mindfulness practices, such as deep breathing and stretching into classroom curriculum. Jehman is so excited to continue her time as a fellow and to grow alongside her wonderful colleagues!
Kumiko is new to Lemberg this year, and is a teacher in the Adventures room. Kumiko began her academic career by studying biology in her original home, Japan. Seventeen years later, she returned to school to explore her passion in Early Childhood Education. After finishing her studies in education, she worked in infant and toddler classrooms for several years before beginning work with preschoolers, whom she has worked with for the past 13 years.
Outside of Lemberg, Kumiko works with "The Genki Spark", a Japanese Taiko drumming group. In addition to performing with the group, she teaches drumming and Japanese Folk Dancing at schools and universities. Kumiko also has a passion for animals, and worked at a farm when she was young.
She is very excited to work with the Adventures and to introduce Japanese culture to her new Lemberg family.
Daisy is a parent with both of her kids who were/are at Lemberg Children's Center. She joined the Lemberg community, and began her role as webmaster in 2019.
Daisy is responsible for planning, developing and managing the school website. Periodically performs regular updates of the pages, provides appropriate technical advice and assistance to the staff in support of curriculum, teaching and learning goals and objectives. She enforces compatibility standards that ensure site accessibility for all users.
Outside of Lemberg, Daisy works at a High Tech company headquartered in Cambridge, MA. She likes hiking, reading, and playing tennis with family and friends.
She is very excited to be able to devote some time and energy to Lemberg, and part of Lemberg family.