Introducing the new Best Starts for Kids Co-Leads!

This was originally posted on the Best Starts for Kids blog.

After a robust process that drew a competitive and open pool of applicants and included multiple stages of interviews with Best Starts staff and community partners, the team is excited to announce the new Best Starts of Kids Co-leads: Jamalia Jones and Jessica Tollenaar Cafferty! 

Jamalia Jones (she/her) is starting her role as the Best Starts Co-Lead sitting in DCHS effective immediately. Jamalia has been the interim Best Starts Co-Lead since summer 2022 and joined our team after working six years with the Children Youth and Young Adult Division leading YouthSource’s education and employment programs for youth and young adults. Jamalia’s background includes working in non-profit agencies supporting women and their career development as well as sixteen years supporting people with disabilities with education and employment goals. Jamalia is a part-time lecturer at the University of Washington in the School of Education where she helps students consider becoming teachers and reimagine education for all children. In her free time, Jamalia enjoys traveling, reading, and spending time with her family.   

Jessica Tollenaar Cafferty (she/her) will be starting her role as the Best Starts Co-Lead sitting in Public Health on July 10. In 2017 Jessica joined Best Starts to lead child care health consultation work, and since 2019, she has been the Child Care Policy Lead for King County and Best Starts for Kids. In this role she partners with families and providers to build a regional child care subsidy system and grow provider wages. Jessica’s background includes work as a child care provider, child care health consultation, early learning and inclusion in child care settings, policy and advocacy, and hospitality. She brings a deep commitment to equity and justice. Jessica and her partner, Jacob, have two kids: Varden, 7, and Luther, 2. In her free time, Jessica enjoys gardening, eating great food, hosting friends and neighbors, and adventuring with her family. 

As Sheila Ater Capestany said in 2022 when announcing her transition from Best Starts Co-Lead to a Co-Sponsor role, this provides an opportunity to “take Best Starts from its ‘start-up’ phase to its sustainability phase.”  

The Best Starts team is grateful to Marcy Miller for laying the groundwork for the launch of Best Starts since 2016 and serving as the Public Health Best Starts Co-Lead since 2019.  On July 10, she will begin her role as the Maternal and Child Health Policy Lead in Public Health. The team is so grateful for her leadership of the levy through its start up phase, renewal, and the transition into the second levy.