Capita & the Aspen Institute launch the US Early Years Climate Action Task Force


WINSTON-SALEM, NC (June 3rd, 2022) – Capita and the Aspen Institute have announced the launch of the Early Years Climate Action Task Force with Dr. Louis Finney, Jr., the CEO and President of Smart Start of Forsyth County serving on this National Task Force. The Task Force will be co-chaired by Diana Rauner, President of Start Early, and Antwayne Ford, President, and CEO, Enlightened, Inc. and Chair, District of Columbia Workforce Investment Council. Dr. Louis Finney, Jr., CEO, and President of Smart Start of Forsyth County is a member of the Task Force. "At Smart Start of Forsyth County, we take pride in prioritizing the well-being of our children and families. I look forward to serving on The Task Force with my colleagues." 


The Task Force will draft the Early Years Action Plan that will include recommendations on how the US can support young children, ages 0 to 8 to thrive despite facing the impacts of climate change. The Task Force will identify best practices for government, child-serving systems, businesses, not-for-profits, and philanthropy to mitigate, adapt, and respond to climate change as it relates to children. It will also develop policy frameworks for implementation at all levels of government.


“Climate change is arguably the biggest threat to the earliest years of child development of this millennium,” said Joe Waters, CEO of Capita. “It is imperiling our children’s health, security, and future. Climate change is already having long-term impacts on child health, development, and flourishing whether it be due to toxic stress or destruction of physical care environments.


Over the next year, The Task Force will meet, and the Early Years Climate Action Plan will be published in 2023. It will gain insight by holding a series of listening sessions that will highlight the particular vulnerabilities of young children to climate change and opportunities for the early years sector to take action. The objective is to share recommendations that can be adapted by other countries and international organizations. Smart Start of Forsyth County looks forward to reviewing and implementing change in the community with the Early Years Climate Plan recommendations. To follow the development of the Early Years Climate Action Task Force, visit or contact Michael Bettis at 

The Early Years Climate Action Task Force Members:

Louis Finney, Jr., Board President, National Association of Family Child Care & CEO, Smart Start of Forsyth County (NC)

Leah Austin, President & CEO, National Black Child Development Institute

Elizabeth Bechard, Senior Policy Analyst, Moms Clean Air Force & Author, Parenting in a Changing Climate

Claudia Benitez-Nelson, Associate Dean & Professor of Marine Studies, University of South Carolina & leader, Science Moms

Miriam Calderon, Chief Policy Officer, Zero To Three

Felicia DeHaney, Director of Program & Strategy, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Antwanye Ford, President & CEO, Enlightened, Inc. & Chair, District of Columbia Workforce Investment Council

Barry Ford, President & CEO, Council for a Strong America

Lynette Fraga, CEO, Child Care Aware of America

Angie Garling, Vice President of Early Care & Education, Low Income Investment Fund

Andrew Garner, Professor of Pediatrics, Schubert Center for Child Studies, Case Western Reserve University

Walter Gilliam, Professor of Psychiatry & Psychology & Director, Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy, Yale University

Michelle Kang, CEO, National Association for the Education of Young Children 

Kahlil Kettering, Bezos Earth Fund Project Director, The Nature Conservancy

Jennifer McClellan, State Senator, Commonwealth of Virginia (District 9)

Shantel Meek, Founding Director, The Children’s Equity Project, Arizona State University

Alicia Mousseau, Vice President, Oglala Sioux Tribe

Diana Rauner, President, Start Early & Former First Lady of Illinois 

Melissa Rooker, Executive Director, Kansas Children’s Cabinet & Trust Fund, & former member, Kansas House of Representatives

Patricia Sullivan-Steward, Parent Leader, Darlington County (SC) First Steps

Derek Walker, Vice President of U.S. Climate, Environmental Defense Fund