Board of Directors

Board Members


Nicki Dublenko, Chair

As a long term member and regional representative of AECEA Nicki is honoured to now serve as Chair. Nicki is passionate about high quality early childhood programs and experiences for children, families and early childhood educators. In July 2013, she graduated from the University of Alberta with a Master’s of Education in Early Learning. She currently co-chairs the Alberta Early Learning and Care Leaders Caucus which is supported and funded by the Canadian Child Care Federation. She has served on many boards and committees including the Alberta Family Child Care Association, Success by Six Council of Partners and the MacEwan Early Learning and Child Care Program Advisory Board. Nicki has advised on and participated in the pilot project for the Alberta Early Learning and Care Curriculum Framework. Particularly interested in policy and policy development that affects children and families, she is very excited about the current provincial initiatives and partnerships taking place between government and community. Nicki believes in a strong professional association for early childhood educators and values the professionals working with young children for the very important work we all do.  


Manna Middleton, Vice Chair

Manna Middleton is supported by her husband and 3 children to accept her new role as Vice Chair on AECEA. Her experience in running Bee Hive Child Care Centre and relationships built one family at a time is what drives her passion to be involved in the following roles to gain insight and add perspective from her rural Alberta experiences:

  • Long term member of AECEA/CCCF
  • Alberta Early Learning and Care Leaders Caucus (ALC)
  • President - Child Care Directors Association of Southwest Alberta (CCDASA)
  • Co-chair - County of Lethbridge Early Child Mapping Project (ECmap)
  • Advisory committee and participant of phase I & II for the Early Learning and Child Care Curriculum Framework Project
    • Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement (ARCQE)

She is honoured to be part of the AECEA board alongside admirable and respectable individuals involved with the association. She believes in the future success for Alberta’s children! She wants to insure the best opportunities for children and educators are happening in our province. She believes in the mission set by AECEA and its National partners at CCCF and will adhere to all it stands for. She hopes that her experience in working with children, their families and communities for the past 20 years would prove to be an asset for the association.


Susan Garrow-Oliver, Secretary

Susan is an Associate Professor at Mount Royal University teaching in the Bachelor of Child Studies and has been active in the ECE profession in Alberta for over 25 years. Susan's research for her MA looked at childcare directors critically reflective communities of practice, while her recent PhD research explored ECE Directors' understanding of leadership. Key interests are in leadership, strengthening the ece profession, social justice advocacy, ethical practice, critically reflective practice and communities of learning.





Patricia MacDonald, Treasurer 

Pat is excited to begin her newly elected role as Treasure on the AECEA board. Pat brings over 30 years of early childhood experience to the position. Pat has worked in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta, as a front line staff, program manager for Family Day Home Agency and Day Care and Early Intervention consultant. Pat has been employed with the Alberta Association for the Accreditation of Early Learning and Care Services as Accreditation Consultant/Moderation Coordinator since 2007. Pat has also participated in the Curriculum Framework Project Phase III Leaders Learning Community and the Community Learning Series.



MaryAnn Farebrother

MaryAnn Farebrother (M.Ed.) has had extensive experience working with early learning students and educators in child care programs, preschool programs, school-age programs, and family day home agencies. She is the co-ordinator of the Mount Royal University pilot for the Alberta Early Learning Curriculum Framework Project and the Project Manager for the Mount Royal University / AB Health Services CHEERS Project. MaryAnn teaches in the ELCC Major in the Bachelor of Child Studies at Mount Royal University. MaryAnn was the recipient of the 2014 AECEA Award of Distinction. MaryAnn has been a life-long learner and a strong advocate for quality care for young children throughout her career and believes that an educated, supported workforce is required to provide quality programs for young children to support young families.




Liz Simmons

Liz is an independent Early Learning and Child Care Consultant who has been involved in the early childhood field for over forty years.  She has recently retired from the profession, but still keeps involved in the sector by working as a moderator for the accreditation agency, AELCS.  She also volunteers with the local ECD Coalition in Calgary Northwest and is a strong advocate for quality early learning and child care.  As a retiring member of the AECEA Board, Liz intends to continue to encourage other members to actively participate in their professional association to further enhance the profile of Early Learning and Child Care in Alberta.





Paxton Bruce

Paxton Bruce is a recent graduate of the Bachelor of Child Studies degree at Mount Royal University. Completing her leadership practicum at the Association of Early Childhood Educators of Alberta sparked her passions towards professionalism and advancement of the early learning sector. Paxton has worked front line with infants and is currently working with Calgary Reads and the First 2000 Days Network. Paxton has extremely enjoyed her first year as an AECEA board member and will continue her work on the membership committee. Connecting with students who will become the next professionals in the field has been a great component to the board and membership committee. Paxton expresses her experiences with the AECEA board have been incredible. The opportunities and learning that has come from being part of the conversations with like-minded professionals has shaped her professional identity.



Carol Sullivan

Carol joins AECEA with over 30 years experience in the field, having worked  front line with children and their families, coordinated and managed various early childhood and family support programs, taught part time with MacEwan University, Early Childhood Development Program and worked in a mentoring capacity with the Alberta Resource Centre for Quality Enhancement. Carol believes that high quality child care can improve the quality of life for children and families and has the potential to play a significant role as part of a strong social infrastructure that enhances the overall quality of community life, education and care.