MDE ECSE Leadership Team

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) team, which is part of the Division of Early Learning Services, is charged with supporting the field in implementation of all Part C and Part B/619 requirements including ´╗┐oversight of the preparation, training, and ongoing support of early intervention service (EIS) and early childhood special education (ECSE) personnel´╗┐. The ECSE team fulfills those requirements through: technical assistance and professional development; data collection and reporting on indicators; participation in the Interagency Early Intervention Committees (IEICs) and Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC); administration of the Help Me Grow referral system; and ongoing collaboration with professional development facilitators (PDFs) to ensure alignment between MNCoE and ECSE. 


To contact the Minnesota Department of Education Early Childhood Special Education team with questions or comments, please use the MDE ECSE Mailbox ( Our team will work to provide a timely response.
Danielle Hayden
Danielle Hayden 
ECSE Supervisor

Danielle is the Part B/619 and Part C Special Education Supervisor overseeing the work of the Minnesota Department of Education’s ECSE team as well as our work with partners in Early Learning Services as well as across agencies and entities. Danielle aims to support the strategic direction of our programs, services and partnerships in order to meet the needs of infants, toddlers, children and families across the state through high quality and responsive technical assistance, professional development and continuous engagement.

Danielle started her career as an early childhood special education teacher. She worked in every role an ECSE teacher can have (community based, segregated and collaborative classrooms, and home visiting birth to 3) before making the decision to move into administration of programs. Danielle has been an early childhood/early childhood special education and elementary special education supervisor and has overseen the work of related services in districts in the twin cities metro area before coming to the Department of Education in August of 2020. Danielle’s passion for families and children and ensuring they have the support and resources necessary to thrive by their definition keeps her grounded and engaged in systems reform work.
Sue Thomas
Susanne Thomas 
Part B/619/CSPD Coordinator

Sue is the Part B/619 and CSPD Coordinator with the Early Childhood Special Education Team. In this dual role, Sue provides technical assistance and professional development on due process and implementation of best practices. She also coordinates Minnesota’s Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) for our early childhood special education personnel.

Sue started her career an educator. After 10 years of eating all of her meals in the classroom with children, she thought it might be interesting to interact more with adults and, after a tour in the United States Peace Corps, went to law school. Practicing law made Sue long for those innocent days of working with children so she took the next logical step and became a complaint investigator at MDE. After thirteen years of investigating complaints and with a desire to be more proactive, Sue transitioned to her current position with the division of Early Childhood Special Education.

Cat Taminga Flores
Cat Tamminga Flores
Part C Coordinator

Cat Tamminga Flores is the Part C (0-3) Coordinator for the state of Minnesota. Prior to moving to Minnesota in 2016, Cat served children and families in natural and tele environments as Lead Early Intervention Specialist for St. Joseph Institute for the Deaf (SJID) and helped collaborate into law the Indiana statewide Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education (CDHHE). Cat is the Secretary-Treasurer for the Infant and Toddler Coordinators Association (ITCA), on the planning teams for the Part C Racial Equity Community and the Family Outcomes Community of Practice with the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center (ECTA) and the Center for IDEA Early Childhood Data Systems (DaSy), a Listening & Spoken Language Specialist (LSLS Cert AVEd) and mentor, a member of various professional and community organizations, a textile artist, a native plants gardener, an emerging Spanish-speaker, and an ally.
Carol Maliszewski
Carol Maliszewski
ECSE Specialist/MCCC/Workforce

Carol Maliszewski is an ECSE Specialist with the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE). She was a licensed ECSE teacher for over 20 years. Prior to joining MDE in 2012, she has worked a teacher in an inclusive ECSE classroom, a Director of a Child Development Center, a Principal of a school serving child with special needs birth to 21, and the 619 Coordinator for the State of Wyoming. She holds a degree in Early Childhood Special Education from Eastern Illinois University. Her current responsibilities at MDE include technical assistance for data submission (including Child Outcome Summary (COS), Family Outcome Survey (FOS) and Common Course Catalogue (MCCC) data), working with the Comprehensive System of Personnel Development (CSPD) and service as Minnesota’s aRPy Ambassador with DEC Recommended Practices.
Jon VanOeveren
Jon VanOeveren
Early Learning Data Manager

Jon VanOeveren has been with the Minnesota Department of Education's Early Learning Services Division serving as the Early Childhood Special Education Data & Fiscal Manager since June 2019. He has eight years of experience working in Minnesota school finance and data, including supervising MDE's General Education Funding unit. Prior to moving to Minnesota, Jon worked for seven years at the New York City Office of Management and Budget overseeing multiple agencies’ budgets including FDNY and Parks. Before leaving New York City, he was appointed to help lead the development and management, as the initial finance director, of the Superstorm Sandy Housing Recovery Office. He also served two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Kazakhstan. Jon has a marketing degree from Michigan State University, a secondary education certificate from Grand Valley State University, and a Master of Public Administration from New York University.
kate Dole
Kate Croswell Dole
ECSE Specialist

Kate is an Education Specialist with the Early Childhood Special Education team. In her role at MDE, Kate provides technical assistance and professional development on due process and implementation of best practices in Part C and Part B/619. She also works closely with her colleagues in general education to bring an ECSE perspective to work that supports collaborative practices for ongoing assessment, successful transitions from ECSE to kindergarten, and use of the Early Childhood Indicators of Progress (ECIPs).

Prior to arriving at MDE, Kate spent 13 years as a speech-language pathologist in both ECSE and at the elementary level in Minnesota public schools, including three years as an ECSE Program Lead. Kate holds an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Minnesota, an M.A. in Public Policy and Leadership from the University of St. Thomas, and a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Rachael Raske
Rachael Raske
Education Program Specialist

Rachael is an Education Program Specialist with the Early Childhood Special Education team. In her role at MDE, Rachael collaborates with the MDE ECSE Team, along with a team of Professional Development Facilitators at the Minnesota Centers of Excellence for Young Children with Disabilities (MNCoE). Their collaborative work is focused on administering a comprehensive system of personnel development that works to ensure ECSE program leaders and practitioners have access to professional development focused on implementing best practices to provide high-quality special education programming to young children and their families.

Prior to her work with MDE, Rachael spent 12 years as an early childhood special education teacher in the preschool and kindergarten settings. She holds an M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Concordia University in St. Paul and a B.A.S. in Unified Early Childhood Studies from the University of Minnesota Duluth. Rachael also holds two Minnesota teaching licenses in Early Childhood Special Education and Early Childhood Education.
Joanie Pankonin
Joanie Pankonin
Help Me Grow Specialist

Joanie is the Help Me Grow Specialist. In her role at MDE, Joanie helps families and others submit Help Me Grow Referrals. Joanie also provides technical assistance to district Early Learning teams.

Joanie has been with Minnesota Department of Education since 1994. She was with the Assistance and Compliance for nearly 20 years. In 2013, Joanie started with Early Learning Services.