• Eric Karolak

    Chief Executive Officer
    Dr. Eric Karolak is Chief Executive Officer of Action for Children, the source for child care and early learning services in central Ohio. Previously, he directed the efforts of the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC), an alliance of more than 8,000 early learning programs providing care and education for nearly 1 million children across the U.S.
    From 2001 to 2006, Dr. Karolak led the National Child Care Information Center, the largest federal clearinghouse and technical assistance center focused on child care and early education for low income families. He has worked closely with states developing the technical aspects of child care assistance programs, quality rating systems, and partnerships across early childhood programs. He has conducted policy research and fiscal analysis in the areas of child welfare, child care, women’s labor force participation, and public housing, and has testified before committees of several state legislatures and both houses of Congress.
    Dr. Karolak also has served on numerous boards and advisory panels of national early childhood organizations, a non-profit child care center, a local government agency, and a metropolitan United Way. He is currently President of the Board of the Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association, a member of the Executive Committee of groundWork Ohio and plays a leadership role with Groundwork Ohio and the Ohio Alliance of Early Learning Advocates. He holds a doctorate from The Ohio State University.
  • Jan Betz

    Director of Quality Initiatives
    Jan Betz joined Action for Children in 2005 as an Education Consultant for AFC's Early Learning Initiative. Since that time, she has held a number of positions of increasing responsibility, including Education Specialist and Education Coordinator-each focused on building the capacity of local child care centers, administrators, and teachers. In addition to assisting Head Start programs to implement Federal Performance Standards, she has provided Step Up To Quality and Licensing technical assistance. Prior to joining AFC, Jan served as a Head Start Teacher, Mentor, Education Coordinator and Center Director. She even owned and operated a Childcare Center, served as a Special Education Instructor, and as Executive Director at the Ariel Cultural and Performing Arts Center in Gallipolis, Ohio. When she has free time, Jan enjoys spending time with her seven grandchildren, knitting, reading, and playing the piano and organ for local churches and high school music programs.
  • Jessica Brown

    Director of Organizational Advancement
    Jessica Brown joined Action for Children in early 2018 to serve as the Director of Organizational Advancement, where she is responsible for all development and marketing activities for the agency. Jessica holds a longstanding dedication to positively impacting the lives of children, in our community and throughout the world. She has more than ten years of experience in the field of nonprofit development and fundraising. Previously, Jessica served as the Development Director at the Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights, where she created the development strategy as well as specific tactics to grow revenue, securing financial support from individuals, foundations, and corporations. She also served as the Director of Grants for Heshima Kenya, an NGO that protects and empowers unaccompanied refugee girls and young women living in Nairobi, Kenya. Prior to Heshima Kenya, she held positions with the Ounce of Prevention Fund and the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, both located in Chicago. She previously served on the board of the Chicago Chapter of the National Organization for Women (CNOW), and was the CNOW Health Team Leader where she coordinated yearly activities for volunteer staff in order to impact and improve health of women and girls in Chicago. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Dayton, and a dual Masters Degree from the University of Chicago’s Harris School for Public Policy and the School of Social Administration.
  • Mike Middendorf

    Director of Accountability
    Mike serves as the Director of Accountability for Action for Children. 24 of his 25 years in the early childhood field have been with AFC, fulfilling a variety of roles: home visitor, information and referral specialist, program manager and contract manager. In his current role he works with staff to accomplish program/contract goals, works with funders/partners and is responsible for agency reporting.
    Mike holds a degree Political Science from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Yes, he is a transplant to Ohio. And no, he is not a Buckeye. The agency vision to ensure that children have opportunities for quality early learning experiences that prepare them for success in school and life is what keeps Mike coming to work each day. Mike and his wife raised their children while at AFC.
  • Judy Williams

    Director of Family and Community Engagement
    Judy oversees the work of the Parenting Services, Columbus Kids, and SPARK teams. The dedicated staffs on these teams support children's first and most important teachers: parents and those in a parenting role. Columbus Kids is a home visiting program that supports parents of children age 2 - 5 to ensure school readiness through developmental screenings and connecting the families with community resources to help overcome barriers. SPARK is a home visiting program that focuses on literacy skills development in children ages 3 - 5. The Parent Partners provide education and resources to the family so that the parents can nurture their child's literacy skills development in preparation for Kindergarten. The Parenting Services team provides parenting skills education and support through programs such as The Art of Positive Parenting, Mothers Matter, Father Factor, New Beginnings for New Fathers and Putting the Children First.
    Judy has been with Action for Children since 2002, serving as Program Manager for Parenting Services and, previously, as the technology lead and supervisor of Information and Referral. Prior to joining Action for Children, Judy worked at Bank One (Chase Bank) for more than 25 years. Judy and her husband live in Columbus, where she has lived her entire life. She has two adult children and one grandson.
  • Dana Wright

    Managing Director, Programs
    Dana has spent most the past two decades as an advocate for children, their parents and their families. She joined Action for Children in 2006 as a family wellness specialist and assumed the role of managing director, programs earlier this year.
    As part of the agency’s leadership team, Dana provides guidance to a team of directors, project managers, coordinators and support staff to ensure programming deliverables are achieved on time and on budget. She also collaborates with area community leaders to promote and maintain effective agency partnerships.
    Dana holds a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Community Services from Bowling Green State University and a Master of Arts in Early Childhood Education from Ball State University. She and her husband have two children and live in Westerville. Most of her free time revolves around youth sports, but she also finds time to tinker with making custom jewelry.