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  • Writer's pictureBrooklynn Thomas

Introducing 2024-2025 Policy Council of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project

Updated: Apr 3

Recently, our Policy Council, which serves as East Coast Migrant Head Start Project (ECMHSP) parent voice for the children we serve, the diverse communities we work in, and our campuses across the country, had an election to welcome new people to serve on the Council, along with new members of the Executive Committee.  


Faustina “Tina” Vasquez, of Faison, North Carolina, was elected to be the new ECMHSP Policy Council President representing as a voice for the parents in the communities that we serve. Her children have enjoyed their time with ECMHSP, with her son starting in 2022 and her daughter in 2023.  


"We extend congratulations to Faustina Vasquez, our new Policy Council President,” said Maria C. Garza, CEO of East Coast Migrant Head Start Project. “She has swiftly shown herself to be a powerful advocate for parents, children, and our educational campuses, confidently offering thoughts and questions that will strongly enhance our service to children, families, and communities.”


In addition to Vasquez stepping into her leadership role, we have other newly elected members of the Policy Council Executive Committee. Karina Hernandez Mateo from Arcadia, Florida, is joining her as the Vice President, representing the Florida Western region campuses. The new Treasurer, Crystal Perez, located in Jasper, Georgia, reports to the Jennings Campus. Secretary of the Policy Council, Juana Antonio Diego, who is in Mobile, Alabama, operates from Semmes Center. Also, Kassandra Lule Sanchez serves as the new Direct Services member for the Florida Eastern Region. 


Manuela Louisa Santana continues her service on the Executive Committee as Parliamentarian of the Policy Council, out of Tahlequah, Oklahoma representing the Tahlequah campus. Lisette Saldaña also upholds her service as a delegate agencies member for Benedictine Sisters of Erie. They have both been on the policy council for three years.  


Parent Partnerships at ECMHSP 


We recognize that parents, as the child’s first teachers, play a vital role in our service delivery model. Our success depends on strong parent involvement for the benefit of children, teachers, and parents themselves.  


“I want to represent the parents because I have been in their shoes,” said Faustina Vasquez. “I remember how it feels to be invisible or not having a voice and now I feel like God has placed me with more confidence, I feel like I became their voice.” Vasquez and her family have experience working as pickers in Florida and are now finding a home in North Carolina. 


Parental partnerships are built on mutual trust and respect and involve ongoing communication among all parties to ensure that children are well equipped for success. We strongly encourage parental involvement at each of our centers because we know that when parents are coordinated with us, they become essential in reinforcing center instruction at home.   


Garza sat down with Vasquez to talk about the excitement and importance of her new role. Watch the interviews in English and/to Spanish to get the full story on Vasquez’ journey to leadership:  


About the ECMHSP Policy Council 


The ECMHSP Policy Council is comprised of 18 devoted parents, of migrant and seasonal farmworker children, who actively contribute their time and participate in our program to provide parent voice, with seven individuals serving on the Policy Council Executive Committee. Three of those members are Community Representatives and one Board Liaison.  


These dedicated members are volunteers, who serve one-year terms and have earned their positions through annual democratic elections conducted within the parent community, and can serve a maximum of five years. 


While the Board of Directors and Policy Council have distinct areas of responsibility, they jointly oversee ten critical issues, as stipulated by the United States Office of Head Start federal regulations. To harmonize their efforts, the Board and Policy Council convene a governance meeting annually to fulfill their shared responsibilities. Learn more about our Governance structures online, including the Policy Council Executive Committee 



East Coast Migrant Head Start Project was established in 1974 through a grant from the United States Department of Health and Human Services. Currently, ECMHSP operates in 43 Educational Campuses across ten states providing holistic, high-quality early childhood education services for approximately 3,000 farmworker children between 6 weeks to 6 years old. For more information, visit   


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