Joan L. Benso is President and CEO of Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children (PPC). Since 1995, Ms. Benso has been responsible for the organization's daily administration and effective functioning. She is directly involved in the organization's interaction with state-level public policymakers, Pennsylvania's congressional delegation, the news media, the children's advocacy community, funders and service sectors.
Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children is a strong, effective and trusted voice to improve the health, education, and well-being of the commonwealth's children.
In Harrisburg and Washington, D.C., PPC voices policy solutions proven to guide Pennsylvania's children toward lifetime success and away from failure. PPC's vision is to move Pennsylvania into position as one of the top 10 states in the nation to be a child and to raise a child. PPC uses research and analysis, government relations, strategic communications, and grassroots and grasstops mobilization as core strategies to drive change.
Ms. Benso's leadership in child advocacy has had a profound impact on the well-being of Pennsylvania's children. PPC has championed many issues and led a broad array of coalitions during her tenure, including those which had yielded the passage of state universal children's health insurance law, creation of a state pre-kindergarten program and a more rational funding system for public education. Ms. Benso's work has led to landmark investments in early childhood education including child care subsidy, quality, Head Start and pre-K, state support for full-day kindergarten, reduced elementary class, high school reform, dual high school/college enrollment, youth development programs and the implementation of tax strategies that allow low-income working families to keep more of their wages to raise their children.
Ms. Benso has served on various state and national boards addressing health care, school readiness, youth development, college and career readiness and other critical children's issues.
Ashleigh Martell Brunsink joined Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in May 2016 as Child Welfare Policy Analyst, following the completion of her Master's in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania. In this position, she supports PPC's child welfare policy development and implementation work, which focuses on ensuring children are raised in loving and knowledgeable families free from abuse and neglect.
While at Penn, Ashleigh completed a specialization in Child Welfare and Child Well-Being, was published in the Children and Youth Services Review and the Chronicle of Social Change, and completed internships with the Interdisciplinary Child Advocacy Clinic at Penn Law and Children's Home of York.
Prior to graduate school, Ashleigh spent three years in development and program management at Pepperdine University School of Law. She has also worked in agencies providing residential care and transitional housing services for youth in and aging out of foster care.
Ashleigh holds a BS in Nonprofit Management and Bible and Theology from Johnson University. She lives in Lancaster with her husband.
Kelly Hoffman joined Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in July 2012 as the KIDS COUNT Director. In this role, Kelly serves as the liaison to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s national KIDS COUNT project, which seeks to enrich local, state and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children and raise the visibility of children's issues through a nonpartisan, evidence-based lens.
Prior to joining PPC, Kelly was the Statistical Analyst Supervisor at the commonwealth’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning. She has more than 11 years of experience working with early childhood education data. Kelly holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Millersville University.
George L. Hoover joined Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in January 2011 as Health Policy Director. Prior to joining PPC, George worked in human services in state government for more than 36 years in numerous capacities. In 2005 he was appointed as Deputy Insurance Commissioner of the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the adultBasic Program in the Pennsylvania Insurance Department.
His work during this period was key to the 2007 expansion of Pennsylvania's CHIP through the Cover All Kids initiative, which allows uninsured children of any income to access CHIP coverage. George also administered adultBasic, a health care coverage program for low-income uninsured adults.
Prior to joining the Insurance Department, George worked in the Department of Public Welfare for more than 30 years, serving in a variety of key management positions, including the executive director of a local welfare office and director of eligibility policy for the Food Stamp Program (now known as SNAP), and from 1993 to 2005, directing Medicaid eligibility policy.
George holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the Pennsylvania State University and lives in Mechanicsburg with his wife.
Kari King is the Vice President of Public Policy for PPC. Kari leads PPC's government relations efforts and oversees the organization's policy development and implementation work, representing the organization before the Pennsylvania General Assembly, state agencies, regulatory bodies and Pennsylvania's federal congressional delegation. Her lobbying focuses are on the state and federal budget, health care, child welfare and early learning issues.
Kari joined PPC in April 2015. She previously served in various positions in former Gov. Tom Corbett's administration, starting as the Legislative Director for the Pennsylvania Insurance Department. From there, she was promoted to Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs in the governor's office and ultimately rose to the position of Deputy Chief of Staff. As Deputy Chief of Staff, Kari concentrated on health care, insurance and human services issues in the governor's office.
Prior to entering state government, she worked in government affairs for a three-state trade association representing insurance brokers, as well as for the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry.
Kari is a graduate of Susquehanna University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science. She earned a Master's degree in Political Science from Lehigh University. She resides in New Cumberland with her husband and son.
Aaron McMahan joined Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in July 2016 as the Early Learning and K-12 Policy Manager. In this position, he supports PPC's education policy development and implementation work.
Prior to joining PPC, Aaron worked in the Governor's Office of the Budget (GBO) as a fiscal policy and legislative specialist for five years. In addition to focusing on education issues, he worked with other state agencies, including the Department of General Services, Department of State and various executive offices.
Aaron holds a bachelor of science degree and a Master's in Public Administration from Shippensburg University. During his undergraduate and graduate career, he interned at both GBO and the Legislative Office for Research Liaison (LORL). He currently lives in Mechanicsburg with his wife, Britanny.
Michael Race joined Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in September 2011 as Director of Communications.
He previously served as communications director for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Pennsylvania Department of Education. He also has nearly 20 years of experience as a reporter and editor in print and electronic journalism, including 15 years covering state government for numerous Pennsylvania media outlets.
He is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where he received a B.A. in English.
Meaghan Sprout is the Government Affairs Director for PPC. Meaghan supports PPC'S government relations efforts by representing the organization before the Pennsylvania General Assembly, state agencies, regulatory bodies and Pennsylvania's federal delegation. Her lobbying focuses are on the state and federal budget, child welfare and early learning issues.
Meaghan joined PPC in June 2015. She previously served in several positions in the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services' Office of Policy Development and the Office of Legislative Affairs. As the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs, Meaghan led the department's negotiations with the Pennsylvania General Assembly on a comprehensive package of child protection legislation which resulted in the enactment of 23 new laws during the 2013-2014 legislative session.
Prior to her employment at the Department of Human Services, she worked in government relations for the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, where she represented county human services interests before the Pennsylvania General Assembly.
Meaghan is a graduate of Saint Joseph's University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science.