Tonja currently serves as the Director for Early Childhood Success in the Institute for Youth Education and Families at the National League of Cities. She is responsible for driving the creation and refinement of a strategic early learning agenda and overseeing the execution of innovative and high-impact technical assistance in cities. She conceptualizes and leads efforts to identify and document best practices and contributes to the overall management of the Institute, including strategic planning, and coordination of cross-program initiatives. Tonja works directly with mayors, city councilmembers, and other municipal officials in creating local systems of support for young children and builds alliances with national partners. By helping cities develop the necessary local infrastructure and providing concrete ideas and tools for policy and programmatic action, a significant number of cities and towns have positioned themselves as models for investing in children. Prior to joining the NLC team, Tonja served as Transition Coordinator for Baltimore City and as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Maryland College Park. She serves on a variety of boards and committees. She has a doctorate in Human Development from the University of Maryland College Park and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Spelman College.