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.
Angela Bertugli Spece is the Government Relations Associate for Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children. Her lobbying focuses primarily on PPC’s K-12 education and child welfare agenda, with additional work on early education issues when needed.
Prior to joining PPC in January 2015, Angela was a member of Pennsylvania House Democratic Caucus staff, where she served in various capacities - most recently as legal counsel to several standing committees, including Education, Health, and Human Services. During her tenure with the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Angela focused her work on drafting student-focused education policies, achieving a more equitable school funding formula, and helping to develop the legislation that would eventually become Pennsylvania’s new prescription drug monitoring program.
A Pennsylvania-licensed attorney, Angela holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Washington and Jefferson College, a Master of Public Administration degree with a concentration in Public and Nonprofit Management from the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, and a Juris Doctorate from Widener University School of Law. An avid skier and Disney lifestyle blogger, she originally hails from Southwestern Pennsylvania. She currently resides in Harrisburg with her husband, Gabe, and their black Labrador retriever, Pearl.
Andrea joined PA Partnerships for Children in May 2010. She has 19 years of accounting and management experience in both for profit and not-for-profit environments.
She has served as fiscal manager for other Harrisburg-based organizations as well as CFO for a small family owned business in New Jersey. Andrea holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Rutgers University and is a Certified Management Accountant (CMA). She lives in York.
Jen DeBell is the Vice President of Public Policy for PPC. Jen 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 congressional delegation. Her lobbying focuses are the state and federal budget, early learning and children’s health issues.
Jen joined PPC in April 2012. She previously served as the Special Assistant to the Deputy Secretary of the commonwealth’s Office of Child Development and Early Learning, where she served as a key advisor on early learning legislation, regulations, policies and cost-containment strategies. She began her career as a Legislative Assistant to state Sen. Allyson Y. Schwartz and later worked in the Department of Public Welfare’s Office of Legislative Affairs, where she was promoted to Director.
While with DPW, Jen worked on a variety of issues impacting health care and human services in Pennsylvania by advocating for DPW’s legislative and regulatory agenda. Jen helped lead efforts to achieve passage of Act 62 of 2008, requiring insurers to cover autism services for children, Act 33 of 2008, mandating child fatality review teams to convene in cases where a child dies as a result of abuse, and Act 73 of 2007, requiring additional background checks for foster and adoptive parents and individuals seeking jobs in child care services. She also led efforts to achieve the promulgation of regulations that improved the early learning system by unifying child care subsidy programs, updating health and safety rules for child care facilities and allowing more low-income families to access high-quality child care through subsidy.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Susquehanna University.
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.
Todd Lloyd joined Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children in August 2008 as Child Welfare Director. In this role, Todd will lead PPC's Porch Light Project: Forever Family for Every Child. The goal of this initiative is to enhance child welfare public policy in order to strengthen Pennsylvania families, reduce instances of child abuse and lessen the numbers of children experiencing the foster care system.
Prior to joining PPC, Todd engaged in program administrative work through the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work, Pennsylvania Child Welfare Training Program. His previous work included the management of statewide training and technical assistance provided to state-funded Family Centers, Title IV-E Independent Living Programs and county child welfare agencies. Todd has 10 years of child welfare direct service and social work administration experience, and holds a MSW from Temple University.
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.