Bipartisan advocacy that gets results.

Our Mission

Our mission is to create a smarter, stronger, healthier, and more productive America through early childhood education for disadvantaged children through bipartisan federal advocacy.

What We Do

Through vision, leadership, influence, funding and accountability the First Five Years Fund advances federal investment in quality early childhood education for disadvantaged children from birth to age five. FFYF provides policymakers, advocates, business leaders and the public with the research and information necessary to make informed investments in quality early childhood development.

We help align best practices with the best possible policies and work with advocacy groups, the White House and both parties in Congress to negotiate federal solutions that work for children, families, taxpayers and state governments. Early childhood development is a practical, not partisan issue—so we collaborate with a diverse and wide range of federal and state advocates, business leaders and policymakers to help craft early childhood policies that provide lasting economic and social returns.

Kris Perry

Kris Perry

Executive Director

Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund, understands that America’s future lies in the health and well being of the country’s youngest children. She has dedicated her career to bringing resources and support to parents, caregivers, and early learning workforce professionals to ensure children grow up healthy…

Kris Perry, Executive Director of the First Five Years Fund, understands that America’s future lies in the health and well being of the country’s youngest children. She has dedicated her career to bringing resources and support to parents, caregivers, and early learning workforce professionals to ensure children grow up healthy and ready to succeed in school and in life. Kris is a national thought leader on early childhood education, who has appeared in the New York Times, POLITICO, New Republic, Salon, Congressional Quarterly and many other new outlets across the country.

Previously, Kris served as Executive Director of First 5 California, fostering their emergence as one of the most well known and respected advocates for early childhood development on the state and national levels. Prior to that, Kris served as Executive Director of First 5 San Mateo County, where she implemented cutting-edge programs and led community design groups to develop countywide initiatives, including preschool for all and universal health care. Her dedication to children and their families began at the Alameda County Social Services Agency where she worked for more than 12 years in various capacities, including child abuse investigator, family preservation case manager, and program manager.

Such leadership has led to state appointments, including co-chair of the California State Early Learning Advisory Council, which was established to position the state for millions of dollars in federal funding for early childhood education. In this and other roles, her work resulted in learning system changes to improve the quality of preschool and school readiness programs.

In addition to her role as a national leader on early childhood education, she was the lead plaintiff in the Perry vs. Hollingsworth legal challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the landmark marriage equality case argued in front of the United States Supreme Court by the bi-partisan legal team of Ted Olson and David Boies.

She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Masters in Social Work from San Francisco State University. She also completed the Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders. Kris is a licensed clinical social worker and a board certified diplomat who holds a postgraduate certificate as a service integration specialist.

Kris and her wife Sandy have two children in college and live in Washington, DC.

Sarah Rittling

Sarah Rittling

National Director

Sarah Rittling is the National Director of the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) where she oversees all policy operations of FFYF and leads advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and among national early childhood coalitions. Rittling comes to FFYF after four years as Senior Policy Advisor at EducationCounsel, an education consulting…

Sarah Rittling is the National Director of the First Five Years Fund (FFYF) where she oversees all policy operations of FFYF and leads advocacy efforts on Capitol Hill and among national early childhood coalitions.

Rittling comes to FFYF after four years as Senior Policy Advisor at EducationCounsel, an education consulting firm, where she was part of a bipartisan education-focused team led by former U.S. Secretary of Education Dick Riley.  Rittling has dedicated her career to creating policy change on education issues, with a particular emphasis on early childhood education. She served as counsel to Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., on education policy before the Senate Health, Education Labor and Pensions Committee and counsel to Rep. Michael N. Castle, R-Del., on education and labor matters before the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Under Sen. Alexander, Rittling was responsible for advancing the Senator’s priorities during the reauthorization of the Higher Education, Head Start and Child Abuse Prevention Treatment Acts. While serving Rep. Castle, Rittling assisted with matters before the Subcommittee on Education Reform, including reauthorization of the National School Lunch and Child Nutrition Act and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Rittling also served as a legislative assistant and deputy press secretary to Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn.

Rittling holds a Bachelor of Arts from Syracuse University and earned her J.D. from Syracuse University’s College of Law.  She lives on Capitol Hill with her husband, Patrick Lyden, and their two young daughters.

Charles Joughin

Charles Joughin

Communications Director

Charles Joughin is a seasoned public relations professional with a broad range of strategic communications and political experience in Washington, DC. His professional history includes two years in the office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and nearly five years helping to lead and execute communications strategy as national press secretary…

Charles Joughin is a seasoned public relations professional with a broad range of strategic communications and political experience in Washington, DC. His professional history includes two years in the office of U.S. Senator Bill Nelson and nearly five years helping to lead and execute communications strategy as national press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization. Joughin is experienced in every aspect of developing and implementing nationwide strategic media campaigns, from creating compelling narrative, to skillfully managing crisis communications. His later work with HRC centered on directing HRC’s marriage equality initiatives, from brand cultivation and positioning to understanding and messaging the complexities of more than 70 court cases across the country as the white-hot spotlight of the media centered on the Supreme Court resolving the issue nationwide. Joughin is an experienced, skillful press relations professional, but at his core, he is an idea generator who is at his best when he is conceptualizing, developing and executing creative ideas.  A native of Tampa, Florida, Joughin graduated from the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, where he studied Political Science and Spanish.

Amanda Guarino

Amanda Guarino

Policy Director

Amanda Guarino, Policy Director for the First Five Years Fund, has over a decade of experience and policy expertise in early childhood education. Guarino joined FFYF after nearly twelve years with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she has played a crucial role in the Administration for…

Amanda Guarino, Policy Director for the First Five Years Fund, has over a decade of experience and policy expertise in early childhood education. Guarino joined FFYF after nearly twelve years with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), where she has played a crucial role in the Administration for Children & Families’ management of programs that support early childhood education and development. Beginning in 2010, Guarino served as Management and Program Analyst within the Office of Child Care at the Administration for Children & Families.  In this role she provided strategic direction, leadership, and consultation regarding the coordination and delivery of Technical Assistance (TA) activities. This coordination included implementation of process quality improvement, budget monitoring considerations, Child Care/Head Start collaboration activities, and effective communication across federal programs and TA projects. Guarino also managed several TA projects including the State Capacity Building Center, the next iteration of the State Systems Specialist Network. In this role she worked tirelessly to ensure the delivery of TA is systematic, of high quality, responsive to grantee needs, and outcome driven. Guarino holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the College of the Holy Cross and earned a Masters of Arts Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Administration from Columbia University in the city of New York. She was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and lives on Capitol Hill.

Megan Salzman

Megan Salzman

Communications and Outreach Manager

Megan Salzman is the Communications and Outreach Manager for FFYF. Megan comes to FFYF after working as a Senior Communications Coordinator at Burness, a social impact communications firm. Her work on the Health & Social Policy team provided communications support through media and social media outreach, event planning, and research…

Megan Salzman is the Communications and Outreach Manager for FFYF. Megan comes to FFYF after working as a Senior Communications Coordinator at Burness, a social impact communications firm. Her work on the Health & Social Policy team provided communications support through media and social media outreach, event planning, and research and writing for clients, including, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, National Children’s Study, and the Low-Income Investment Fund. Previously, Megan was an Online Advocacy Associate at Families USA, a national nonprofit organization focused on improving access to high-quality health care. During her two years there, Megan developed social media strategy and created long-term digital campaigns. Additionally, Megan interned at The Education Trust and The Center for Community change, advocating for low-income children and families. A California native, Megan graduated from Case Western Reserve University with a degree in Cognitive Science.

Fae Rabin

Fae Rabin

Policy Associate

Fae Rabin is the Policy Associate of the First Five Years Fund where she supports FFYF’s policy and advocacy efforts at the federal level. She believes what is good for the baby is good for the country. As a Head Start teacher in Chicago, she worked in the classroom to…

Fae Rabin is the Policy Associate of the First Five Years Fund where she supports FFYF’s policy and advocacy efforts at the federal level. She believes what is good for the baby is good for the country. As a Head Start teacher in Chicago, she worked in the classroom to improve outcomes for children from low-income backgrounds. Following a Policy and Advocacy Fellowship with Zero To Three, Fae joined Teaching Strategies, LLC in supporting district and state adoptions of early childhood assessment tools. Recognizing that the need outmatches the available opportunities for a strong start in communities across the country, she is committed to positive change at the policy level such that luck and circumstance no longer play a significant role in child outcomes.

Fae completed her Master of Science in Education with a concentration in Early Childhood Education at the Johns Hopkins University, and her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and Political Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago.