ELKHART, Indiana — A new leader has been selected to guide Building Strong Brains, Elkhart County’s Early Childhood Coalition.

Kimberly Boynton will become the first coalition director for the effort to ensure every kindergartner has the needed skills as they start elementary school. She will begin the new role on June 1 and be employed by the Community Foundation of Elkhart County, a coalition member steering the coalition in conjunction with Horizon Education Alliance; The Source, hosted by Oaklawn; CAPS – Child and Parent Services; and Crossroads United Way.

Boynton is a speech-language pathologist and assistant professor of speech-language pathology who has had a range of roles in public education, higher education, and nonprofit sectors. “As a speech-language pathologist, I know the importance of the individual and collective voice,” she said. “As a leader, I know the significance of empowering individual voices, including parents, caregivers, educators, businesses, legislators, community agencies, and other collaborators, while building the collective voice focused on the Building Strong Brains initiative in Elkhart County.”

She is an assistant professor at Saint Mary’s College and previously worked for Elkhart Community Schools, as well as other organizations. She has bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Purdue University, an administrative license from Ball State University, and a doctoral degree in educational administration from Indiana State University.

Building Strong Brains began with research, planning, and conversations in the last several years as agencies came together to change systems in Elkhart County, where only 42 percent of children demonstrate all the skills ready to succeed in kindergarten on day one. The coalition officially launched in November 2022 and is focused on changing outcomes over the next decade or more.

Three grant applications are already in process or submitted to support this community initiative. In addition to funds committed by CFEC, partner organizations are committed to this collaboration.

“Given her expertise, experience, and tenure in Elkhart County, Kim is well-poised to assure the success of the coalition and therefore students in Elkhart County,” said Candy Yoder, chief program officer for the Community Foundation.

Boynton added, “Families and children are at the heart of the Elkhart County community and we have the opportunity to work with them to support their access to resources and opportunities, working together to positively impact lives. The work is challenging, rewarding, and complex, but the importance is evident in research and practice.”