About Us

Early Engagement is an infant and toddler mental-wellness non-profit inspired by great teachers.

Our operating model is to leverage our strengths through strategic partnerships that will help us support as many families as possible.

Background:

Lifelong social, emotional, cognitive and communication skills are “taught” by the young child’s environment, which is dominated by the behavioral habits and perspectives of caregiving adults, particularly parents. We coach adults in the pleasurable experience of managing themselves to create an environment that gives their young children the best chance of developing the tools that will help them succeed in school and in life. Often called “People Skills,” these include the ability to manage the self; to interact with the world and other people; to be resilient in the face of adversity; to learn to learn & to grow; to empathize, to connect, and to be responsible. In one sentence: We coach adults to create a supportive but reflective environment in which the young child can self-direct – leading to the confidence and skills required for taking care of oneself, one’s work, and, ultimately, of others.

Products/Outputs:

Our primary focus is coaching fathers and other male caregivers, through our Strong StartTM Team Practices. Similar to RIE © Observation/Demonstration classes, but with more structure, these child-led sessions help fathers be more confident as they develop attunement skills and learn specific tips, techniques and perspective, resulting in a more supportive, connected and productive life-long relationship with their child, as well as a better environment right away.

Other “open” Strong Start classes are available to mothers, teachers, grandparents, nannies and other caregivers.

Adult engagement classes & presentations, class leader training, and Parent Engagement Programs for Preschoolers are also be offered.

Pending support and community partner development, we hope to develop Online/Mobile instructional and inspiration content. Our simple guide (“The Playbook”) will be made available to students.

Advocacy and Strategic Consulting will continue, to improve the mental development environment for all young children, and thus offer an investment with extraordinary returns.

Ben Swett, Founder & Chairman

Ben has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He has completed RIE © teacher training, Project Fatherhood MIRG leader training, and has worked as a teacher in the Santa Monica/Malibu public schools. A former small-company founder and CEO, Ben has also had bottom-line responsibility as Fortune 100 brand manager and as a technology executive. He has served a variety of educational non-profits as a board member, volunteer, and consultant, and worked as a television writer. Ben developed and teaches the Smart Start™ for Dads program in Santa Monica.

Ben believes that there are smart, simple ways to support children’s natural development and give them mental wellness tools. These approaches are not always intuitive, but they are simple, based on values, and they work in most populations. Ben agrees that there is no better investment than quality Early Education, and there is nothing else he wants to do.


People:

Ben Swett

Ben Swett, Founder & Chairman

Ben has an MBA from the University of Chicago. He has completed RIE© teacher training, and has worked as a teacher in the Santa Monica/Malibu public schools. A former small-company founder and CEO, Ben has also had bottom-line responsibility as Fortune 100 brand manager and as a technology executive. He has served a variety of educational non-profits as a board member, volunteer, and consultant, and worked as a television writer. Ben developed and teaches the Smart StartTM for Dads program in Santa Monica.

Ben believes that there are smart, simple ways to support children’s natural development and give them mental wellness tools. These approaches are not always intuitive, but they are simple, based on values, and they work in most populations. Ben gets that there is no better investment than quality Early Education, and there is nothing else he wants to do.


Board Of Directors

Ben Swett – Chair

Dr. Lorelei Shoemaker – Research Scientist, Neurosurgery

Dr. Shoemaker is a member of the Stanford Neurogenetics Innovation Program (SNIP) in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford. Her research is focused on a rare disorder of the neurovasculature, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs).

Dr. Lorelei Shoemaker

Her honours include an Outstanding Poster Award from the North American Vascular Biology Organization, the William Randolph Hearst Fund Postdoctoral Award, a Phi Beta Kappa (Alpha Association) International Scholarship, the RIKEN Internship Program (Japan), the Corine Tyler Walker Student Book Collection Prize, the Institute for Biodiagnostics Award for Science Education, a National Science and Engineering Research Council Award, and the University of Winnipeg Alumni Entrance Full Scholarship.

Dr. Shoemaker received her Ph.D. in the Neuroscience Interdepartmental Program at UCLA, where she studied membrane protein expression of cortical neural stem and progenitor cells using mass spectrometry. She received her B. Sc. (4 year, Chemistry Co-operative Program) from the University of Winnipeg, Canada. She joined Stanford in 2009, following a postdoctoral fellowship at the Harvard/MGH Center for Regenerative Medicine where she studied corticospinal motor neuron development.

View Dr. Shoemaker on LinkedIn >>

Lisa M. Wilson

Lisa M. Wilson

Ms. Wilson is Director/CEO of Early Bird Learning Centers, NAEYC-certified infant / toddler centers with branches in Inglewood and Santa Monica. Her M. Ed degree is in Multicultural Curriculum, and she is completing the dissertation for her Ed. D. degree. As well as managing her centers and opening new ones, Ms. Wilson has served as an Early Education Consultant to Los Angeles County, specializing in implementing QRIS/quality systems. She is an adjunct instructor in Santa Monica College’s Early Ed program, as well as a USC-affiliated consultant to Head Start programs, where she helps implement the CLASSTM assessment tool to improve teacher/child interaction.

Early Bird Learning Centers >>

Scott Woolley – Treasurer

Scott Woolley

Scott is a technology and business writer. Formerly a Forbes Telecom correspondent and the magazine’s West Coast Bureau Chief, he has written about technology and business affairs for the MIT Technology Review, Forune, and Slate, among other publications. He studied economics and public policy at Claremount McKenna College and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Jeff Swimmer

Jeff Swimmer

While most of us only dream of flying over Istanbul, walking across volcanoes in Hawaii, and being in the epicenter of the tsunami that hit Indonesia, Jeff Swimmer can only smile and say, “Somewhere down the road I got really lucky, being able to pursue my childhood dream of traveling.” Working with brand networks such as NBS, CNN, National Geographic and the Discovery channel, Jeff has seen it all.

During the production of several documentary projects, Jeff discovered an interest in teaching and now oversees the International Documentary program at Dodge, where he encourages students to pursue exactly what they want. “There is only so much you can learn in the classroom, but to go overseas and work with an international program improves the learning curve of students in ways that they can’t even imagine. The overall transformation is amazing.”

Advisory Board

Richard C Wirthlin – Secretary

Mr. Wirthlin is a transactional partner in the Los Angeles office of Irell & Manella LLP.

Richard Wirthlin

His practice focuses on mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, securities law, joint ventures and executive compensation. He has extensive experience in a wide range of corporate transactions, including mergers, acquisitions and divestitures of private and publicly held companies, equity and debt financings, private placements, public offerings, venture capital transactions, joint ventures and executive employment contracts.

Mr. Wirthlin’s clients include corporate clients ranging from privately held start-up and emerging growth companies to publicly held companies, corporate and individual investors, including institutional investors and private equity funds and entrepreneurs and corporate executives.