About Us

Office of Head Start Leadership

Get acquainted with leadership staff from the Office of Head Start (OHS) at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

Portrait of OHS director, Khari GarvinKhari M. Garvin, director

Khari M. Garvin is the director of the Office of Head Start. He has more than 20 years of national, state, and local experience designing and leading systems serving children and families in low-income communities. Before joining the Biden-Harris administration, Khari served as the president and CEO of the United Way of Greater Greensboro in North Carolina, leading the mission to end generational poverty in the Greensboro metro area.

Khari has modeled service at every level of Head Start programming. He served as the executive director for a large, multi-state Head Start grant recipient serving children in rural communities across five states in the Southern, Southeastern, Midwestern, and Great Plains regions of the U.S. As the director of North Carolina’s Head Start Collaboration Office, he convened 55 affiliate grant recipient organizations — including public school systems, community action agencies, county governments, and private nonprofits — that served over 28,000 children and families in all 100 counties. He also served as a Head Start program manager in Illinois and as assistant Head Start/Early Head Start director at a program in North Carolina.

Khari is a proud alumnus of the National Head Start Fellowship program, in which he worked at the OHS headquarters for a year.

Khari holds a degree in psychology from Emory University and a master’s degree in education from Southern Illinois University.

Portrait of deputy director of OHS, Tala HoobanTala Hooban, deputy director

Tala Hooban is the OHS deputy director. As a public health professional, she brings expertise in how children, families, and systems can thrive — which is an asset to the comprehensive services that Head Start programs implement in partnership with communities across the country.

Throughout her career, Tala has worked to make sure government agencies are supported to deliver strong outcomes for children and families. Tala is a trusted leader at ACF, where she has helped coordinate care for the increased numbers of migrant children at the border and played a vital role spurring action throughout the government to meet children’s needs for safe and supportive environments. She also authored a groundbreaking approach to emergency planning centered on young children and families, which has been adopted by states.

Tala is a commissioned officer of the U.S Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, with the rank of Captain. The Public Health Service is one of our country’s uniformed services and has the mission of advancing public health in the U.S. through service in federal agencies across the government.

Tala received a Master of Public Health degree from the George Washington University and a bachelor’s degree in public health from James Madison University. Tala’s academic studies were focused on maternal and child health.

Shawna Pinckney, associate deputy director

Shawna Pinckney is the associate deputy director at OHS.

Shawna previously served as the director of the Grants Division, where she led the strategic execution of all discretionary, competitive grant programs and the OHS Interim Management Program. Shawna was also responsible for the implementation of the Designation Renewal System, the Early Head Start Expansion and Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships initiative, and other Head Start expansion efforts.

Before joining OHS, Shawna worked on a range of initiatives to improve the experiences of the children and families served in Head Start and Early Head Start communities. At the Office for Children in Virginia, she was the founding executive director of Fairfax Futures, an organization created to raise awareness and build support for quality early childhood education and school readiness in Fairfax County. Shawna has also held multiple leadership positions during her tenure at the National Head Start Association. Most notably, she oversaw the creation and launch of the HeadsUp! Network, the nation’s first satellite television distance-training network for early childhood professionals.

A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Shawna received a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She also holds a Senior Managers in Government certificate from the Harvard Kennedy School and is an Excellence in Government Senior Fellow.

Jess Bialecki, Policy and Planning division director

Jessica (Jess) Bialecki leads efforts in policy development, budget formulation, and in preparing reports and providing technical assistance on legislative issues to Congress.

Jess has worked for over 15 years in early childhood education, including as a teacher, administrator, nonprofit leader, and policymaker. Prior to her role at OHS, she served as the executive director of the Connecticut Children’s Museum, which features an on-site early childhood center serving children ages birth to 5. Jess previously served as the senior director of policy for the Division of Early Childhood Education for the city of New York, where she led policy support for over 1,100 contracted early childhood programs, including those providing Head Start, Early Head Start, and child care services. She also directed efforts to provide emergency child care for the children of first responders across New York City during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jess received a Master of Education degree with a concentration in human development and psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Yale University.

Adia Brown, Monitoring lead

Adia Brown leads efforts in assessing grant recipient performance, quality, and compliance with applicable requirements and regulations through monitoring.

Adia has worked for over 31 years in early childhood education, including as a teacher, nonprofit executive, and policymaker. Since 2001, Adia has served in multiple roles within OHS, including program specialist in Philadelphia and Atlanta, and monitoring lead as well as serving as acting director in the Division of Policy, Planning, and Oversight. During her tenure, Adia has created monitoring and oversight policies and procedures, and conducted monitoring reviews. She has also provided guidance and oversight of OHS contracts, evaluated and negotiated grant applications, and developed IT systems for oversight and quality assurance for Head Start and Early Head Start grant recipients.

Adia holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degrees in early childhood education and curriculum development.

Shannon Griffin, Contracts division director

Shannon Griffin serves as a business advisor, responsible for the oversight of contract operations for OHS’s congressionally mandated and business systems, developing acquisition policy, and the strategic planning of OHS’s $760 million acquisition portfolio. She leads her division’s efforts in providing expert guidance to OHS contracting officer representatives on acquisition and contract administration, and professional development of the OHS acquisition workforce.

Shannon has 20 years’ experience and knowledge in providing cradle-to-grave acquisition services, which includes leading complex/high dollar value and simplified procurement actions, Federal Acquisition Regulations, and administration of federal contracts. She previously served at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) where she was a branch chief for the NIH/NHLBI Consolidate Operations Acquisition Center. Shannon began her career as an IT specialist in the United States Air Force (USAF) PALACE Acquire Intern Program. She transitioned to the contracting career field supporting the USAF and the U.S. Department of the Interior, Acquisition Services Directorate as an unlimited warrant contracting officer and in various leadership roles.

Shannon holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Cincinnati. She is also a member of the National Contract Management Association and is a certified federal contracts manager. She is FAC-COR Level III and FAC-C (Professional) certified.

Kesley Shaw, Competitive Grants division director

Kesley Shaw leads efforts in managing all discretionary grant competitions and oversight of OHS National Interim Management services.

She has over 15 years of experience in early childhood education, including being a teacher, administrator, adjunct faculty, training and technical assistance (TTA) specialist, and policymaker. Prior to her role at OHS, she served as the bureau director for Early Learning Policy and Professional Development for the Department of Human Services (DHS) and the Department of Education (PDE) with the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. In this role, she led collaborations with DHS and PDE to ensure early education programmatic policies align to improve cross-systems efficiencies, identify potential policy barriers, leverage policy opportunities, and guarantee equitable access to high-quality early care and education settings.

Kesley previously served as a senior TTA specialist working on the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five and as an American Indian and Alaska Native TA specialist with the National Center on Tribal Early Childhood Development. She also served as a Tribal Child Development Head Start and Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) program administrator.

Kesley received a Master of Science degree in early education studies with an emphasis in administration and management, and a Bachelor of Science degree in child development.

Heather Wanderski, Program Operations division director

Heather Wanderski leads efforts in providing oversight, direction, and guidance to Regional Offices supporting grant recipient operations. She is also responsible for planning work, implementing administration priorities, and developing strategies to carry out legislative initiatives and national goals to improve the effectiveness of Head Start and Early Head Start programs.

Since 2004, Heather has served in multiple roles within OHS, including as program specialist, supervisory program specialist, and regional program manager within the Chicago regional office. During her tenure, Heather has provided guidance and technical assistance to Head Start and Early Head Start grant recipients on policy and program implementation matters, conducted monitoring reviews to assess compliance, and evaluated and negotiated grant applications.

Heather holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in community psychology and social change.

Sharon Yandian, Comprehensive Services and Training and Technical Assistance division director

Sharon Yandian leads efforts to support Head Start programs in delivering high-quality services to children and families through management of a national and regional TTA system. Within the division, her leadership includes providing content expertise in supporting the workforce, education, disabilities, health, behavioral health and wellness, family engagement, cultural and linguistic responsiveness, and program and fiscal management.

Sharon has been in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years, including as a program specialist at the former Head Start Bureau and a preschool teacher. She previously served as the OHS early language specialist, leading efforts on working with children who are dual language learners and their families. Before joining OHS, Sharon served as director of the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start Technical Assistance Center and vice president/director of the Center for Early Care and Education at the Academy for Educational Development. She also held the position of training and special projects director at Teaching Strategies, Inc.

Sharon holds a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction, with a particular focus on multicultural bilingual education, from George Mason University. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology with a minor in political science from Bowdoin College.

Amanda Bryans, Education and Research to Practice senior branch chief 

Amanda leads OHS’s work on education and research to practice, working to ensure Head Start children have access to the best the nation has to offer.

Amanda began her Head Start career over 30 years ago, spending five years as disabilities services and education coordinator and then five years as the director of a Head Start program in Albany, New York. She arrived in Washington as a National Head Start Fellow in 1998 and never left OHS. During this time, she has led efforts to improve the quality and effectiveness of program services through regulations, research, program monitoring, and training and technical assistance. In addition to early childhood education and research, her expertise includes program leadership, inclusion, and transportation services.

Amanda has a B.S. from Cornell University in Human Development and Family Studies and an M.S. from the State University of New York at Albany in educational psychology, measurement, and statistics. She also has a management certificate from Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and was an Excellence in Government Fellow.

Alana Buroff, Information Systems and Communications team lead

Alana Buroff oversees OHS public communications through the media, official websites, and social media platforms. She also manages direct correspondence with the public.

Alana has been with OHS for over 15 years, beginning as a Presidential Management fellow supporting the Head Start Collaboration Offices. She has also served as a communications specialist and as a program specialist for data and information systems. Before joining OHS, Alana worked in global health, enhancing capacity of local agencies through staff training, board development and grant acquisition.

Alana received a Master of Public Health degree from Tulane University and bachelor’s degrees in biology and Spanish from Pepperdine University.