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Megan Monaghan and Nancy Nichols are new leaders for Kids First

Staff report
Taxpayer-funded Kids First program making progress on Aspen City Council two-year goal.
File photo

Megan Monaghan and Nancy Nichols will be co-managers of Kids First, a city of Aspen department serving as an early childhood resource center.

The two will move into their new roles Oct. 19, and current Kids First Director Shirley Ritte will retire Nov. 18 after serving the city for 25 years, city officials said.

“With over 27 years of combined experience in Kids First, Megan and Nancy shifting into a shared leadership role of Kids First is an exciting choice,” said Assistant City Manager Diane Foster. “The city has the opportunity to promote two leaders who already understand the challenges facing our early childhood community and are well positioned to move forward on Kids First’s existing programs and develop new ones to help address this council goal.”



Monaghan

Monaghan has worked for Kids First since 2015 as early childhood teacher, coach and most recently, senior quality improvement coach. At the heart of her work is training and mentoring the Kids First early childhood substitute teachers and educators in Pitkin County.

Megan Monaghan
Megan-Monaghan

She also recently launched an internship program designed to find and train qualified teachers for the childcare programs in Pitkin County.




“I’m excited to continue my work with Kids First to ensure that all children using licensed child care in Pitkin County have access to excellent teachers,” Monaghan said. “An essential part of my role is to use research-based tools for observation and coaching and reflective supervision processes to support early childhood teachers in their learning.”

She was born and grew up in Aspen until moving away in eighth grade. She moved back to the valley in 2009 with her husband and three children. She received her bachelor’s degree in literature from the University of Denver, a master’s degree in education from the University of Phoenix, and an infant family associate endorsement through the Colorado Association for Infant Mental Health.

In addition to her seven years with Kids First, Monaghan has worked in the classroom as an early childhood teacher for 11 years.

She also teaches a statewide course, “Expanding Quality for Infants and Toddlers,” to support infant and toddler caregivers in their learning.

Some immediate goals in her new role are to listen to the needs of the community and build and strengthen relationships, she said. She also is focused on opening the new infant room at Colorado Mountain College and increasing teacher and parent education opportunities.

Nichols

Nichols has worked for Kids First for over 20 years, starting in 2002. During her tenure, she has been an early childhood teacher, coach, program coordinator, and most recently as the Kids First building and office manager.

Nancy Nichols
Nancy-Nichols

City officials said her years of experience enable her to understand the operational coordination and programming that Kids First provides, from event logistics to building functions to budget management.

“Advocating for young children and the people who educate and care for them is part of who I am,” said Nichols. “I enjoy finding ways to better organize and communicate our work, so that the community knows how we support them, and how to access our services.”

Born and raised in Aspen, she earned a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her background includes owning and operating a property management company for 10 years, owning and operating her own child-care business for three years and spending four years as an early childhood teacher.

She said she plans to advocate for quality child care by identifying and supporting the needs of families, programs and teachers.

Kids First began in 1990 with funding from a dedicated sales tax in the city. The department has been recognized locally, regionally and nationally. It funds an average of 40 families at a time with financial aid.

For information about Kids First services, programs and facilities, visit aspen.gov/kidsfirst. For information about the city, visit cityofaspen.com.