Bernhard leads the advocacy and policy strategy at Start Early, where she oversees the National Policy Team and the Illinois Policy Team. Prior to joining Start Early, Kristin served as the Deputy Commissioner for System Reform at the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning, where she led the implementation of the state’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge Grant, Quality Rating & Improvement System, Early Head Start Child Care Partnership Grant, Early Childhood Integrated Data System, and other initiatives to strengthen the state’s early learning system. Her career has also included serving as the Education Policy Advisor to Governor Nathan Deal and time in the policy office of Governor Sonny Perdue. She is a member of the inaugural class of the Governor Zell Miller Foundation Leadership Institute and the University of Georgia’s 40 under 40 class of 2018. Kristin is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Georgia State University’s College of Law.
The bold vision for change is moving state advocacy leaders from focusing on access and quality alone in early childhood to an integrated system focused on the whole family that dismantles the structures that have led to generational poverty. I believe that if we are successful in embedding a whole family approach in early learning while simultaneously embedding early learning in a whole family approach, states will finally begin to see the needle move on positive outcomes for all.