Meet our Leaders

Howard Baker
Howard Baker
Executive Director

Howie, our executive director, has a 45-year career in early education and care as a childcare provider, university teacher, program administrator, policy analyst, advocate, marriage and family counselor, curriculum developer, mentor-teacher and advisor to government leaders.

In 2012, the National Coalition for Campus Children's Center's honored him as "Director of the Year." A member of several professional associations, he is co-president of the Council of Child Development Laboratory Schools (CCDLA). His career with the Lemberg Children's Center at Brandeis University began with teaching in September 1972. In 1979, he was chosen as director and executive director in 1985. From 1979-96, he taught early education course at Brandeis University, and continues to serve as the Brandeis Education Program's Early Education Coordinator.

In addition to providing professional presentations in the United States, he has been a guest presenter in the UK, Canada, Italy, France and China. Earlier in his career, he chaired several Massachusetts governmental committees charged with writing the first standards of care and was a doctoral fellow of the National Institutes for Health for the study of intellectual disabilities at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis University. He also is the director of APA's ACT Raising Safe Kids Boston Regional Center, a part of the Lemberg Center and a Master Trainer for the APA's Violence Prevention Office.

Cassady Adams '22
Head Teacher, Explorers
Kristen Allen, MEd
Head Teacher, Adventurers
Pronouns: She/Her
Megan Burdt
Head Teacher, Navigators (Preschool)
Catrina Combis
Catrina Combis
Head Teacher, Hummingbirds (infants and toddlers)
Pronouns: she/her/hers

Catrina Combis has been at Lemberg since 2018 as a teaching fellow and a head teacher. She is currently the head teacher in the Hummingbird classroom (1- and 2-year-olds). Catrina loves engaging children in play, watching their relationships grow, observing children's development and having fun!

Catrina graduated from the University of Massachusetts–Dartmouth in 2017 with a BA in psychology. While there, she interned with several organizations centered on children's engagement in play and how children learn in different ways. She gained valuable knowledge and experience, which inspired her to attend graduate school the next year. She received her MA in applied developmental and educational psychology from Boston College in 2018. After working part time at an early childhood education center throughout graduate school, she knew she wanted to be a teacher of young children.

Lindsay Cooper, MA
Head Teacher, Butterflies (Infants)
Kaylee Douglas
Navigators Teacher
Charlene Duong
Teacher, Explorers
Pronouns: She/Her
Karen Eichenlaub
Karen Eichenlaub
Director for Scheduling and Program Planning

Karen has been a head teacher in toddler and preschool classrooms for many years and is now director for scheduling and program planning. Hiring, orienting, scheduling and supervising the 50+ Brandeis students who work as teaching assistants are a major part of her job as they are an integral part of Lemberg. She also helps with day-to-day operations of the center.

Having worked with all ages at Lemberg, Karen's skills span many areas. She enjoys working with parents and helping families with the transition between home and school. Mentoring others, supervising student teachers and involvement in outreach programs are a few of the areas she's been involved with.

Her own children attended Lemberg years ago and later returned for a short time as teaching assistants. One of her outside interests has included working with the elderly, especially those with dementia, and helping support family caregivers. She enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, camping and canoeing, and traveling. She's been fortunate to have traveled to many different places and more recently her sons have lived in Australia and Indonesia, wonderful places to visit.

Mohru Faizova
Lead Teacher, Adventurers
Yutong "Amber" Gao
Yutong "Amber" Gao, MEd
Head Teacher, Pathfinders (Preschool))
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Amber was an Explorers teacher from 2019-2020 and now is back to Lemberg to continue to teach and learn alongside children. Amber is a passionate educator with a focus on promoting the whole development and growth of young learners. She strives to foster a positive and inclusive learning environment, believing that every child has their own unique potential and ability to shine.

Amber teaches with an emphasis on developmentally appropriate practices and a commitment to eco-friendly sustainable practices. As we head into a rapidly changing world, Amber aims to instill young learners with the skills and resilience necessary to thrive in the complex environments that will challenge the next generations. 

Outside of the classroom, she enjoys exploring nature, playing the ukulele, and actively participates in climate action seminars and volunteer events. Amber holds a BA in Psychology and Human Development & Family Studies from the University of Connecticut (2019), as well as a Master's of Education from Harvard University (2023). 

Rebecca Hey
Head Teacher, Explorers
Pronouns: She/Her
Scott Kepnes
Head Teacher, Voyagers (preschool)
Associate Director of Music Education
Scott's Website
Pronouns: He/Him

Scott has been a head teacher for the Thunderbirds at Lemberg since October 1993. He loves all aspects of teaching preschoolers, including science experiments, gardening, outdoor games, book making, storytelling, and all creative art and writing activities. He is especially interested in music and movement activities. Scott leads Aloha Friday — Lemberg's weekly, center-wide sing- and dance-along.

Outside of Lemberg, Scott is a writer and performer of songs for children and families. For more than 25 years, he has been entertaining audiences with his upbeat and funky folk songs, rock tunes and stories at libraries, childcare centers, elementary schools, hospitals and town events. Additionally, he leads small music and movement groups for infants, toddlers and preschoolers, and offers workshops for teachers and parents to help them incorporate music into their classrooms and homes.

Scott is a member of the Children's Music Network, a national organization that celebrates the positive power of music in the lives of children by sharing songs, exchanging ideas and creating community.

Scott has a BS in early childhood education from the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, and is EEC-certified. He has two children and absolutely loves being a dad.

Melissa Kiley
Head Teacher, Hummingbirds (Infant-Toddlers)
Barbara Krakowsky MA
Administrative Consultant & ECE Specialist
Pronouns: She/Her/Hers
Chanlynn Lian, MACC
OTA Koomar Center consultant for Speech and Language services
Pronouns: She/Her
Sieara Lopez-Jones
Sieara Lopez-Jones, MEd, MSW
Head Teacher, Hummingbirds (infants and toddlers)
Pronouns: she/they

Sieara Lopez-Jones has been at Lemberg since 2012 as a teaching assistant, teaching fellow, head teacher and parent. She is currently a co-head teacher in the Navigator classroom (preschool). Sieara loves developing social justice-infused curricula that create classroom spaces that are safe and meaningful for every child, family, teacher and college student. She focuses on providing developmentally appropriate learning experiences and tools to support young children as they become the caring global citizens that our world needs.

Sieara graduated from Brandeis in 2015 with a BA in psychology and an elementary education initial license. She received her MS in early childhood education and care from Wheelock College in 2017. As a lifelong learner to the core, Sieara is currently enrolled in a part-time MSW program at Simmons University and expects to graduate in 2023. She is passionate about working with and supporting children and families in holistic ways that empower them to be the best versions of themselves.

Kelly Long
Kelly Long
Adventurers Lead Teacher

Hi, my name is Kelly, and I joined the Adventurers classroom in January.  I have over 15 years of experience in the early childhood field and have worked with age groups ranging from Infants through School Age.  I earned my Associate’s Degree in Liberal Arts from Mass Bay Community College in May 2016, and I am currently working on my Bachelor’s Degree at Framingham State University.  I truly enjoy forming bonds with children and watching them grow!

Chandra Pieragostini
Head Teacher, Voyagers (preschool)
Drama Specialist and Director,Creative Connections Camp

Chandra brings an extensive and diverse background in theater to her role as Lemberg's drama specialist. She has studied theater arts at the Royal Shakespeare Company, The National Theatre and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts. Chandra earned her BA in theater arts from Brandeis.

As a theater educator, she has worked in classrooms with children from elementary to high school for many years. Along with her part-time Lemberg responsibilities, she is the associate director for education for Boston's City Stage Co. and, during the summers, is the Young Artists at Play director for the Merrimack Repertory Theatre.

Chandra's acting credits include Clara in "The Nutcracker Players" (Boston Area), Alice/Kristy in "Fitkids" (New England and Indiana), The Wife in "The History and Adventures of Tom Thumb" and various roles in "Shear Madness." She has also worked on numerous commercials, industrial videos, independent films and voice-over spots. She is a member of all three acting union: AEA, AFTER and SAG.

Kim Pittman, MA
Head Teacher, Navigators (Preschool)
Michele Proude
Teacher (all rooms)
Joshua Rose
Head Teacher, Navigators (preschool)

Josh has been working with children since 2000, getting his BA from the University of Massachusett–Amherst in 2006. He started in various after-school and summer camp settings, including the Rowe Camp and Conference Center in the Berkshires, the Easter Seals Goodwill Industries' Family Learning Center in Connecticut, and iD Tech Camps at various locations in New York. While working with youth ages 8-18, Josh has led technical and philosophical workshops that promote creative growth and emphasize acceptance of others.

Josh is an EEC-certified preschool teacher at Lemberg. He has been working in early childhood since 2014, singing songs that he wrote specifically for this profession. Josh plays guitar and leads a group at Lemberg that focuses on mathematical and memory-retaining aspects of music. He builds a positive, creative, fun environment that children look forward to experiencing every day in preschool.

Lusi Sit
Lusi Sit
Voyagers Head Teacher

Lusi started at Lemberg in 2023. She is a head teacher with the Voyagers and quickly fell in love with the class. She especially enjoys engaging with students in arts, crafts, and language acquisition. 

Lusi graduated from the University of Birmingham, England with an MA in Translation Studies. Her interest in language led her to a variety of professional opportunities as an interpreter (English, Cantonese and Mandarin) and IELTS teacher/administrator. However, becoming a mother of two sparked a new passion within her and she began pursuing a career in childcare. After achieving her EEC degree and becoming EEC-certified, she has spent the past five years in the field and was most recently the assistant director at a bilingual preschool academy in the Boston area. In her spare time, she enjoys playing piano, gardening and traveling with her family. 

Sara Skobac '24
Teacher Fellow, Pathfinder
Pronouns: She/Her
Hannah Thomas, MA in OT
OTA Koomar Center consultant for Occupational Therapy and Sensory Processing services
Pronouns: She/Her
Kumiko Yamamoto
Head Teacher, Butterflies (Infants)

Kumiko is new to Lemberg this year as a teacher in the Adventures room. Kumiko began her academic career by studying biology in her original home, Japan. Seventeen years later, she returned to school to explore her passion in early childhood education. After finishing her studies in education, she worked in infant and toddler classrooms for several years before beginning work with preschoolers, whom she has worked with for the past 13 years.

Outside of Lemberg, Kumiko works with The Genki Spark, a Japanese Taiko drumming group. In addition to performing with the group, she teaches drumming and Japanese folk dancing at schools and universities. Kumiko also has a passion for animals, working at a farm when she was young.

She is very excited to work with the Adventures group and to introduce Japanese culture to her Lemberg family.

Chunbo "Jenn" Zhao
Pronouns: She/Her
Jingjing "Daisy" Zheng
Jingjing "Daisy" Zheng

Daisy is a parent with both of her kids who were/are at Lemberg Children's Center. She joined the Lemberg community as webmaster in 2019. Daisy is responsible for planning, developing and managing the school website. She periodically performs regular updates of the pages, provides appropriate technical advice and assistance to the staff in support of curriculum, teaching and learning goals and objectives. She enforces compatibility standards that ensure site accessibility for all users. 

Outside of Lemberg, Daisy works at a high-tech company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She likes hiking, reading and playing tennis with family and friends.

She is very excited to be able to devote some time and energy to Lemberg and be part of its family.