Meet Our Staff
Each classroom is staffed with an early childhood professional who has several years teaching experience and holds a B.A. degree and a child development permit from the State of California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. The Children’s Center provides employment opportunities to California State University, Sacramento students interested in acquiring experience and knowledge in early childhood education. Student Assistants participate in continual staff development. Select the name to learn more about that staff member or classroom.
Sherry Velte - Director
Welcome to the ASI Children’s Center.
I started working here in 1988 as a teacher with 13 years as a teacher and 16 years as the Associate Director, now completing my career as the Center Director. My two “adult” daughters attended the Center. I am a certified Infant Toddler Specialist employed by West Ed, the Program for Infant Toddler Care providing college courses, technical assistance, and coaching to programs in the Sacramento Area. Supporting community based programs is one of my passions so I collaborate with Child Action (local resource and referral agency) providing trainings, workshops, and program assessments. Previously, I worked for Chico State, American River College, and Sutter Memorial Hospital delivering services to families.
Like many of you, my educational track had a few turns that became my strengths. I have an AS in Business Administration with a focus in accounting, a BA in Child Development with a minor in Business Administration, and a MA in Human Development with specializations in leadership, adult and college teaching, and Infant Toddler care.
I want to welcome you to the ASI family and encourage you to contact us should you need resources or information about child care, parenting support, fieldwork, course projects/thesis guidance, Child Development Permit advising, employment, or how we might collaborate with your program.
Phone: (916) 278-5120
Samantha Criswell - Associate Director
Samantha has been working with children since 2007. Over the course of her time in the field of ECE, she has worked as both a teacher and an administrator serving children ranging in age from infancy through pre-kindergarten. In 2014, Samantha graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development from CSU Sacramento. Currently, she holds a Directors Permit and is pursuing her Master’s Degree which she hopes to complete in the coming year. Samantha has a passion for learning and can often be found exploring new hobbies or topics when she isn’t busy dabbling in the arts. She takes great joy in learning alongside the children, and she is excited to share in their interests as they explore the many wonderful things our world has to offer.
Nancy Lopez - Operations Manager
Nancy has been working at the Children’s Center since 2004, first as a student, then an Administrative Fellowship. After graduating with her BS degree in Business, Nancy joined the staff fulltime as Administrative Associate with responsibility for enrolling families for the California Department of Education Child Care Subsidy Program. Nancy is the proud mother of two sons.
Phone: (916) 278-2891
Jessica Escobar -Administrative Assistant
Hello, I’m Jessica Escobar the Office Assistant here at the center. I have 10+ years experience in the office setting as an Administrative Assistant. The ASI Children’s Center is a wonderful place to work and I enjoy greeting the “little ones” on a daily bases. When I am not at the office I spend my spare time with my family and friends and enjoy following the sun to places with beautiful blue beaches.
Chanelle Brackens- Front Office Associate
Chanelle grew up in the Bay Area and moved to Sacramento to attend Sac State. She graduated in Spring 2014 with a degree in Organizational Communications. She has worked in customer services for many years, including previously working on campus in the Union. In her free time she enjoys listening to music and going to concerts.
Jennifer Fragata - Cook
Jennifer grew up in San Francisco. She moved to Sacramento to raise her family in 2003. She is a proud mom of 4 children. In her spare time she enjoys cooking, hanging out with friends/family, and working on home projects.
Erin Hammer - Bambini 1
Erin Hammer has been working at the Children’s Center since 2015 and started as a student assistant while she was earning two undergraduate degrees. Erin graduated from Sacramento State in the Spring of 2016 with a degree in Child Development and a degree in Family Studies. Before working at the Children’s Center Erin worked with a variety of different programs with children as young as six weeks and up to six years. Erin is passionate about working with children and loves the diversity and uniqueness that comes with campus child care and is excited to continue to learn and grow at the ASI Children’s Center.
Vanessa Marquis- Bambini 2
Vanessa started working at the Children’s Center as a volunteer in 2012, and was then hired as a student staff member. She has experience working with children from 2 weeks old through middle school in a variety of settings. Vanessa earned her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development with a concentration in Early Development, Care, and Education in 2012 with Cum Laude honors from CSU Sacramento. She is currently finishing her Master’s Degree in Child Development at CSU Sacramento. Vanessa holds a Site Supervisor Permit and is working towards a Directors Permit. She enjoys traveling around the world, golfing, dancing, and spending time with family and friends.
Hannah Werling - Fellowship Teacher Bambini 2
Hannah Werling has been working at the Children’s Center since 2015 and started as a student assistant. A year later she became a student supervisor. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Child Development with a concentration in Early Development, Care, and Education in Spring 2017. Before transferring to Sac State, she attended Humboldt State University where she worked at their on-campus children’s center. In her free time she likes to go hiking, hang out with friends and family, and do craft projects.
Dana Westbrook - Bambini 3
Hello! My name is Dana Westbrook and I originally started at the Children’s Center in the Fall of 2014. I moved to Oregon for the 2015/2016 school year, but I have been back at the Children’s Center again since Fall 2016. I have been working with infants and toddlers since 2005 in various settings including the Child Development Lab at Chico State and the Moss Street Children’s Center at the University of Oregon. I went to college at CSU Chico, earning my BA with honors in Child Development in 2011 and my MA in Education with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction 2013. I love this position in particular because I get the opportunity to care for and teach infants and toddlers, but I also get to mentor college students training to work in the field of early childhood. My other loves are camping, hiking, playing with my dog Hendrix, vacationing with family, and going to the movies.
Daphne Vivar- La Casita 1
Daphne began with the ASI Children’s Center Fall of 2015. She has over 10 years of experience, in a variety of child development settings, working with children ranging from infants to school age. She received a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Studies and graduated with honors in 2010 from CSU Channel Islands. Daphne is currently in the Child Development Master’s program here at Sacramento State. She holds a Site Supervisor permit and is working towards her Director’s Permit. She is passionate about collaborating with families to make not only the child’s experience, but the whole family’s experience at the Children’s Center, memorable. In her free time Daphne enjoys bowling, shopping, and spending time with her family, friends, and dogs.
Phone: (916) 278-5115
Hailey Morgenstern - La Casita 2
This is my second year at the ASI Children’s Center, but I come from a background in campus-based childcare. I recently relocated from the San Francisco Bay area where I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Adolescent Development with an emphasis in Young Children and Families. I worked for nearly five years at the ASI early Childhood Education Center at San Francisco State campus and fell in love with the commitment to excellence that comes along with campus-based care. Before the SFSU Children’s Center I spent time in a Co-op Program in my home town. In my time outside of the center, I often escape to Lake Tahoe! I look forward to beginning a Master’s program in the Fall of 2017.
Pa Dao Vang - Casa 1
Pa Dao Vang began working in the field of Child Development in 2006, as a Student Assistant here at the ASI Children’s Center. While earning her undergrad degree at California State University of Sacramento, Dao has spent three years working with the infants/toddlers and eight years working with the preschoolers. She received her BA degree in Child Development A with a concentration in Social and Community Settings, and minor in Social Welfare. After graduating, Dao worked with AmeriCorps through the Child Abuse Prevention Center in various services and community settings. She is passionate about creating a safe and secure environment to promote healthy relationships and developments. She enjoys doing photography, exploring nature, and spending time with her loved ones.
Phone: (916) 278-5114
Jagdish Majju- Casa 2
Jagdish Majju is tri-lingual and she completed two Bachelor’s degrees from UC Davis in Human Development and Women/Gender Studies. She is working towards a Master’s degree in Child Development here at Sacramento State. She has worked in the early childhood field for the past five years in different capacities such as interning, researching, and teaching young children. Jagdish is excited about joining the ASI Children’s Center and collaborating with a diverse population!
Phone: (916) 278-2114
Alma Ponce - Casa 3
Alma Ponce has been with the Children’s Center since 1983. She has a BA in Liberal Arts from Sac State, has experience in various preschool programs including Nature Rangers and Migrant Education, and has presented at professional conferences. Alma is fluently bilingual in English and Spanish and holds the Child Development Program Director Permit. Alma works with the Project Approach in her classroom and enjoys teaching the preschool class about their pet turtle Sofie. Alma has been the Mentor Teacher for the Preschool Fellowship and enjoys learning new things and exploring experiences to their fullest potential. Alma delights in cooking, gardening, shopping (especially bargain shopping) and enjoys spending time with her family.
Phone: (916) 278-5127
Alma Gutierrez - Fellowship Teacher Casa 3
Alma Gutierrez has been working at the Children’s Center since 2013. She started as a Student Assistant while she was earning her undergraduate degree. Alma graduated from Sacramento State in the fall of 2016 with a degree in Child Development and holds a Child Development Site Supervisor Permit. While working as a Student Assistant and Student Supervisor, she has gained familiarity with children from the ages of 6 months to 5 years. This experience has given Alma the opportunity to have a deep understanding of Child Development and an appreciation for the importance of best practice. During Alma’s free time she enjoys shopping, trying new foods, being adventurous, but most importantly loves to spend the majority of her time with family. Alma is excited and looking forward to continue to grow at the Children’s Center as the Fellowship Preschool Teacher.
Phone: (916) 278-5127