Carolyn Brinkmann
Costars Early Childhood Services, a Division of Best Point Education and Behavioral Health

Carolyn Brinkmann is RCFP Director and the Vice President of Early Childhood and School Age Services at CoStars.  She has been a member of the RCFP team since 2008.  Carolyn is a licensed social worker who has extensive clinical experience working with children and families. She has focused much of her professional career in the areas of family engagement, resiliency theory, and trauma-informed care. Carolyn is an active member of several regional and national initiatives focused on raising the resilience of communities, families, and children.

“Hope is knowing I can get out of a jam, it’s believing that others have my back, and it’s faith that our children will live in a better world.”
– Carolyn Brinkmann

Whitney Smith
MA, LPCC-S, Northkey Community Care

Whitney Smith is a RCFP Program Coordinator and the Team Leader of Early Childhood Services at NorthKey Community Care.  She has been a member of the RCFP team since 2015.  Whitney is a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor and Supervisor, providing outpatient therapy services to children and families.  Whitney prides herself in using trauma-informed practices to promote healing in the children and families she works with.  Whitney is an active member of regional initiatives focused on early childhood best practices and promoting resilience in our communities. 

“Play, while it cannot change the external realities of children’s lives, can be a vehicle for children to explore and enjoy their differences and similarities and to create, even for a brief time, a more just world where everyone is an equal and valued participant.”
– Patricia G. Ramsey

Connie Hawkins
Costars Early Childhood Services, a Division of Best Point Education and Behavioral Health

Connie Hawkins is the RCFP Coordinator and Coach from CoStars.  She has been a member of the RCFP team since 2007. Connie believes that establishing a trusting relationship between parents and teachers nurtures a stronger foundation for children’s academic success.   Connie understands the parent’s role is crucial to children’s development and sees early childhood educators as playing a significant role in the social and emotional development of children, which is crucial to a child’s success in life. 

“If you are going to get along…. You have to get to know each other”
– Ruth Hall

Nicole Johnson
Young Child Institute of Central Clinic

Nicole Johnson is a RCFP Coach from Young Child Institute of Central Clinic.  She has been a member of the RCFP team since 2007. Nicole recognizes the importance of helping teachers and parents understand their role in shaping children’s social and emotional well-being.  With her experiences as a teacher, program director, coach, and parent, Nicole has developed expertise in the areas of infant and toddler care, parent engagement, and connecting children to community supports.

“Feeling heard and understood allows children to release the feelings, let go, and move on.”
– Janet Lansbury

Mary Nebergall
MEd, LPCC, LPAT, Northkey Community Care

Mary Nebergall is a RCFP coach from Northkey Community Care. She has been a member of the RCFP team since 2016. Mary is an independently licensed Clinical Counselor and licensed professional art therapist who provides early childhood therapy services. Mary enjoys working with schools, centers, and families to support a growth mindset, recognizing the importance of a calm mind.

“One cannot regulate an emotional arousal without learning to regulate physical arousals.”
 – Stuart Shankar

Learning Grove

Delorise Pennington is a RCFP coach from Learning Grove.  Although she is new to our RCFP team, she is not new to the early childhood field. She understands the importance of the relationships between teacher, child, and family. Delorise will support educators’ understanding of how healthy attachments and the inner life of children play a key role in their growth and development.  She will work together with teachers to meet children and families where they are, so that they can reach their goals.

“Relationships are the fertile soil from which all advancement, all success, all achievement in real life grows.” – Ben Stein.



BOB Welker
M.Ed. ECE, Learning Grove

Bob Welker is a RCFP Coach from Learning Grove.  He has been a member of the RCFP team since 2007. Bob’s work centers on the principle that children learn best within the context of nurturing relationships, and he believes there is no more important work than the care and education of young children. Bob works with providers and families to promote engagement in reflective practice about children’s behavior, and to enhance knowledge that caregiver response to those behaviors is essential to a deepened understanding of children and the roles caregivers play in their lives.

Behaviors are feelings to be understood.
 – Ruth Hall