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About Us

CDEC Senior Executive Team


Dr. Lisa Roy
Executive Director
Lisa Roy headshot
Read Lisa's bio

Dr. Lisa Roy was appointed by Governor Jared Polis as the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Early Childhood in May 2022. The Department manages Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado, which provides half-day preschool for all Colorado children in the year before kindergarten. The Department also manages comprehensive programs and services for young children, families and early childhood professionals.

Dr. Roy previously served as the director of program development for the Buffett Early Childhood Institute and as the executive director of early childhood education for Denver Public Schools. She has volunteered and worked in non-profit and government roles supporting families with young children for over 30 years.

Dr. Roy completed a doctorate in Leadership for Educational Equity with an emphasis on Executive Leadership from the University of Colorado at Denver. She also has a master’s in Counseling Psychology and Counselor Education with a focus on school counseling, also from CU Denver.

Dr. Roy has served on many boards including the Emily Griffith Foundation, Denver Early Childhood Council, Afterschool Alliance, KIPP Colorado, Mental Health Center of Denver, Tony Grampsas Youth Crime Prevention and Intervention, and Denver Welfare Reform. 

Dr. Roy is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the Colorado Women's Forum and the Golden Key Society. She was honored by CU Denver with the 2023 School of Education & Human Development Distinguished Alumni Award. She also earned the 2022 Harmon Award for Early Childhood Mental Health from the Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health.

Stephanie Beasley
Deputy Executive Director
Stephanie Beasley headshot
Read Stephanie's bio


Stephanie Beasley is the Deputy Executive Director and oversees the day-to-day operations of the department. 

Beasley began her career providing direct services to children and families involved in child welfare and served in many roles in child welfare in Indiana, including program and policy oversight. She served as the Director of the Indianapolis office and ultimately as Deputy Director of Field Operations leading child welfare services in all 92 counties. 

After leaving the Department of Child Services, Beasley served as the VP of Statewide Outreach for Indiana Youth Institute providing community development and capacity building services to youth serving organizations in Indiana. She served as the Chief Operating Officer for Adult and Child Health providing mental health and addictive disease services as well as housing, foster care, and youth development services in central Indiana. 
In 2020, Beasley was appointed as the Director of Children and Family Services in Nebraska. In that role she led child support enforcement, child welfare, adult protective and economic assistance programs for the state of Nebraska. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Community Impact for Mile High United Way overseeing United For Families, United For Schools and Personal Investment Enterprise.

Beasley earned bachelor's and master's degrees from Indiana University. She has a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma from Purdue University.



Mary Alice Cohen
Office of Program Delivery Director
Mary Alice Cohen headshot
Read Mary Alice's bio

Mary Alice Cohen is the Office of Program Delivery Director. In her role, Cohen leads collaborative work that focuses on a whole-child, whole-family approach, ensuring all children are healthy, valued, and thriving, inclusive of zip code, income, race, and abilities. 

Cohen has more than 25 years of experience supporting young children and their families across multiple organizations, including the Department of Human Services, family resource centers, children’s museums, and community colleges. 

Cohen earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California at Santa Barbara and a master’s degree in education from the University of San Francisco.

Dawn Odean
Universal Preschool Program Director
Dawn Odean headshot
Read Dawn's bio

Dawn Odean is Universal Preschool Program Director, directing the implementation and coordination of the program.

Odean previously spent more than 20 years at Jeffco Public Schools, most recently serving as the district's Executive Director of Early Learning. During the course of her 20-year career in public education, she served as a director of early learning, an elementary school principal, an instructional coach, and a classroom teacher. 

Odean earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from Colorado State University and a master's degree in elementary education from the University of Colorado Denver.




Organizational Chart

CDEC Overview

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) delivers a broad range of programs and services to Colorado's youngest children, their families, and the professionals who serve them. This includes the voter-approved Universal Preschool (UPK) Colorado Program, which will launch in the 2023-24 school year. The Department was established in July 2022 under the leadership of Executive Director Dr. Lisa Roy, the Governor's cabinet appointment for Early Childhood. CDEC unifies Colorado's early childhood system and elevates it to cabinet-level importance, implementing the vision of Governor Polis and a dedicated stakeholder community that contributed to the launch of the Department of Early Childhood.

There are two stakeholder-driven reports, unanimously approved by the ECLC, which detail the vision for early childhood in Colorado.

Click here to read the Department of Early Childhood Transition Plan, or the Executive Summary available in English, Spanish and Arabic.

Click here to read the Colorado Universal Preschool Recommendations, or the Executive Summary available in English, Spanish and Arabic

CDEC Vision

All Colorado children, families, and early childhood professionals are valued, healthy and thriving.

CDEC Mission

The Colorado Department of Early Childhood ensures the delivery of an inclusive, community-centered, data-driven, high quality, and equitable early childhood system that supports the care, education, and well-being of all Colorado’s young children, their caregivers, and early childhood professionals in all settings.

Newsletters and Announcements
Sign up for Department of Early Childhood notifications.

Job Opportunities
View State of Colorado job openings.