Our Approach



The First 2,000 Days is an initiative of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. It is raising awareness about how children’s earliest years have a lasting impact on later learning, health and success and calls attention to how these issues impact our national security, safety and economic well-being.

NC Speakers Bureau

In North Carolina, NCECF offers presenters from the First 2000 Days Speakers Bureau – from a variety of sectors – business, education and faith – who are leaders in their communities.

These professionals and others are part of a statewide initiative – The First 2000 Days – to educate and engage the public about how early child development and learning impacts every North Carolinian – and why it’s a matter of our national security, public safety and economic prosperity.

Are you interested in hosting a First 2000 Days presentation for your business, school board, congregation or other other organized group?  Please complete this online form.

Licensing of Materials for Organizations Outside of NC

Due to the success of the initiative in North Carolina and the numerous requests from across the country to replicate the work, NCECF now offers lifetime licenses to organizations outside of North Carolina. We offer three packages: presentation materials, educational materials and engagement tools.  Materials are provided in the original design format so that customizing for your state or community is easy!

Training is also available to those investing in a First 2000 Days license to learn about the success of the initiative in NC to inform goal setting, strategies and tactics for creating engagement campaigns.

Details about licensing agreements can be found here. 

  • C. John Watts III

    Principal, Renaissance Financial Partners of North Carolina

    C. John Watts III is a principal and founding partner of Renaissance Financial Partners of North Carolina, in Hickory. His career in financial services spans 40 years.

    John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from UNC Chapel Hill in US History.  He has served in the US Army in Vietnam and Germany. John taught US & World History at Vance Senior High School in Henderson as well as coached football, track and wrestling.

    John is the recipient of the William A. Lenoir Alumni Award from the Foothills Carolina Club, the four-county chapter of the UNC Alumni Association for outstanding community service. He has served on the Hickory City Schools Board and also was elected to the Hickory City Council from 2001 to 2005.  He has served as the Board Chairman for the Hickory Community Theatre Board, Board Chairman for Catawba Valley Arts Council, Board Chairman for Catawba Valley Red Cross Chapter, and also Board Chairman for the Catawba County Partnership for Children.  John also has served on the Church Council for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, where he taught Sunday school.

    John believes that early learning is critical to life success. “I am personally convinced that the future of our state, our country, and our place in the world is dependent on helping our youngest citizens become immersed in learning as early as possible.”

  • Terri Colón

    Lead Early Childhood Instructor, Craven Community College

    Dr. Terri Colón is a First 2000 Days Champion. She is also the founding member of the First 2000 Days Speakers Bureau.

    Terri serves on the Craven County Smart Start Board and is a licensed teacher, principal and superintendent.  Recently, she was the guest speaker to 80 faith leaders at a First 2000 Days Faith Summit hosted by Craven Smart Start in New Bern.

    Terri is an inspirational professor and an activist. She knows that educating North Carolinians about the lifelong consequences of the a child’s early years is only part of her life work, she also has to engage them to become involved. Recently Terri said, "I believe education changes the way we think and when we do that, it changes lives."


  • Vivian Correa

    Professor, Department of Special Education and Child Development, UNC-Charlotte

    Vivian I. Correa is a native Puerto Rican, and has worked extensively with culturally diverse young children and their families.

    She has extensive experience in developing training programs for children with disabilities (birth to age five) and their families. Dr. Correa’s expertise includes: early childhood special education, bilingual/special education, multi-cultural education, teacher education and working with Latino families.

    Dr. Correa has over 45 published book chapters and articles in professional journals, and is the co-author of a textbook entitled “Interactive Teaming: Enhancing Programs for Students with Special Needs” (4th Edition).  She is currently working with Latino mothers of preschoolers on home literacy practices and shared book reading.

    “Early learning programs are critical to school success especially for special learners. The First 2000 Days initiative tells this story in a way that is accessible to everyone,” said Dr. Correa.



  • Christopher George

    Senior Vice President & Retail Regional Manager, PNC Bank

    Chris George leads PNC’s consumer banking for more than 15 branches in Wilmington and surrounding areas.  With nearly three decades of experience in the banking industry, Chris has served PNC Bank and its predecessors for more than 20 years in various leadership roles across North and South Carolina including retail, Investments and Commercial Banking.

    He received his bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Montana.  A long-time Wilmington resident with his wife and three children, he is actively involved in the local community, including leadership roles with the Boys & Girls Club, Boy Scouts, the Chamber of Commerce and other volunteer service projects.

    Chris understands the importance of early learning in the development of our future workforce.  He hosted a First 2000 Days Executive Briefing at the Smart Start office of New Hanover County in 2013 to engage business and community leaders in the initiative.

  • Tommy James

    Pastor, First Baptist Church of Burnsville

    Reverend Tommy James is the Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Burnsville, Yancey County, NC.  He serves on the board of directors for the Mitchell-Yancey Partnership for Children and is a First 2000 Days Champion.

    Reverend James is a graduate of Gardner-Webb University where he earned a BA in Religious Studies and a Master of Divinity. He has served churches in North Carolina for more than 20 years and is native of Lenoir, NC. Tommy is married to Jennifer Frady James and they have two grown children, Steven and Tiffany.

    Tommy recently spoke to faith leaders in Rockingham County about the importance of a child’s first 2000 days of life. “My faith calls me to ensure that each child in every community has the opportunity to become the very best person God has created him or her to be,” he said.

    Tommy enjoys anything outdoors, reading and is a fan of NC State!

  • Stacie LeGrow

    Legal Director, Cisco Systems, Inc.

    Stacie LeGrow is a Legal Director at Cisco Systems, Inc. where she manages a team of attorneys who service the legal needs of Cisco engineering units.  Stacie holds a BA in Journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a law degree from North Carolina Central University.

    Stacie lives in Raleigh, North Carolina with her husband Keith, son Jackson, and Lola, the family’s Chihuahua.  She enjoys spending time with her large extended family, reading, and travelling.  Stacie is passionate about social issues, and has served as a volunteer for a number of non-profit organizations, including Wake County Guardian ad Litem and Meals on Wheels, where she currently serves as a Cary community coordinator.  Stacie is also a recent graduate of the Leadership North Carolina program, which has further fueled her passion to address early childhood education issues.

  • Beth Moore

    Senior Director, Little Stepping Stones Child Development Center

    Beth Moore is active in both local and state early childhood organizations.  Beth serves on the State Board of Directors for the North Carolina Association for the Education of Young Children and is a board member for the Partnership for Children of Johnston County.

    Currently Beth is on the capital campaign committee for The Partnership to Build a Miracle. This is a project to build a park and baseball field in Johnston County for children of all abilities. “It is my strong belief that ALL children deserve a safe place to play together,” said Beth.

    She holds a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Education from Northcentral University and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Mount Olive in Early Childhood Education. Beth is a busy mother of three teenagers, two in high school and one in the US Marine Corps. She loves spending time with her family and helping children in her community.