(Sacramento, CA)- Head Start California (HSC) is pleased to announce the appointment of Melanee Cottrill as its new executive director.

Melanee brings a wealth of experience to her new role, having served as executive director of the California Association of School Psychologists (CASP), a statewide association with more than 2,000 members. With a strong background in nonprofit leadership, a commitment to continuous improvement, and a passion for advocacy, Melanee Cottrill is an invaluable addition to the Head Start California team. She earned the esteemed Certified Association Executive (CAE) designation from the American Society of Association Executives. Additionally, she graduated with distinction from California State University, Stanislaus, where she completed a Master of Business Administration. She is excited to embark on this new chapter of her career, stating, “I am grateful for this opportunity and eager to begin working with the HSC staff and Board of Directors. Over the next few months, I am committed to gaining a deep understanding of the needs of the field, the early childhood education landscape, and how best to serve and advocate on behalf of Head Start California members and the children we serve.”

The previous executive director, Christopher Maricle, who served for 6 ½ years before leaving in January 2023 to join the California Department of Education, expressed his delight with the announcement. “The appointment of Melanee Cottrill as executive director is exciting. I am looking forward to watching the association grow under her leadership. Her experience, preparation and passion bring new gifts, strengths and insights to the association and to the Head Start community—one of the most dedicated and passionate groups of people I have ever met.”

Melanee’s appointment marks a significant milestone for Head Start California as she becomes the first female, full-time, professional executive director in the organization’s 28-year history. Jodie Keller, HSC Board President, who oversees the E Center Head Start in Yuba City, emphasized the importance of representative leadership, stating, “Many Head Start program directors are women, as are many educators in early education. Therefore, it is heartening to see the leadership of the association reflect the diversity of the field. We like to see men and women, people of all genders, races and ethnicities in leadership. Diversity brings fresh perspectives and that always contributes to growth. On behalf of the HSC Board of Directors, we wholeheartedly welcome Melanee and look forward to collaborating with her.”

Melanee’s vision for Head Start California aligns with the organization’s mission to empower Head Start programs to reach their full potential through advocacy, professional development, networking, and collaboration. Her official start date is set for July 24, 2023.


Head Start California is a 501c3 nonprofit, and the premier advocacy organization for Head Start agencies throughout California. We work to ensure that members speak with a unified voice about the challenges facing California’s most vulnerable families, and the Head Start community that serves them. Head Start California also supports and empowers Head Start programs with professional development and engagement opportunities so they can reach their full potential. We envision a future where Head Start is recognized as the gold standard in child development and the provider of choice for California’s most vulnerable children and families.


Media Contact:
Lorcan Barnes
916-444-7760 Ext. 5

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