Gesell Staff

Peg Oliveira, PhD

Executive Director

Dr. Peg Oliveira is a child development expert and an activist. Since receiving her doctorate in developmental psychology from Brandeis University in 2000, Peg has advocated for fair pay for early childhood educators, child care assistance for working parents and equitable access to high quality education. Peg brings the work of Gesell to educators and parents in approachable and humorous seminars and webinars.

Peg is a member the Board of Directors of the Becket Chimney Corners YMCA, and serves as founding director of 108 Monkeys, a yoga service organization.

Click here to access Peg's CV

What do you enjoyed most about working at Gesell?

"The inspiration I get from my conversations with teachers and parents. From the grown ups I work with I have learned a great deal about how to connect with kids, how to imagine their intentions, understand their motivations, and empathize with their impeccable choices.”

How have you seen Gesell’s theory of child development at work in your own life?

“When my daughter was finishing Kindergarten we were told that, unlike her peers, she was not falling in love with reading. It was suggested that some literacy supports might be useful over the summer break. So... as a family we went swimming, crab catching, sea shell gathering, mountain climbing and camping! At some point during these excursions, I found her one rainy afternoon holed up in a blanket fort. She was reading The Trumpet of the Swan, a book I had read to her numerous times before. Dr. Arnold Gesell encouraged us to see each child as a unique being, and to allow them to find their own path & pace through the rituals of child development. Keeping this in mind allowed me to get out of the way, to put my own anxieties on the shelf and allow my daughter the space to find the deep connection she now has with story.”


Dominique O'Connell

Education Program Coordinator

Dominique O’Connell is a mother, educator, and passionate practitioner of mindfulness and yoga. A graduate of Boston College, Dominique has 15 years of experience in professional education. She holds a master’s degree in Secondary Education/ English and a 6th year degree in Educational Leadership. Dominique’s career as an educator began in Brooklyn, NY, where she taught 7th grade ELA at the School for International Studies and attended Reading and Writing Project Institutes at Columbia Teachers College. Dominique continued her teaching career in Hamden, CT where she taught English, Writing, and Film Studies while serving as a Freshman teacher leader.

With certifications in yoga, mindfulness, and perinatal wellness, Dominique brings the benefits of mindfulness practices to educators, caregivers, school leaders and community programs through guided yoga and meditation workshops. She serves on the board of Calvin Hill Daycare Center and is dedicated to supporting early childhood education programs. She resides in New Haven, CT, where she delights in observing her three young daughters experience the joy and wonder of childhood.

Gilad Seckler

Program Administrator

Gilad Seckler is a former high school teacher with years of experience as an educator, athletic coach, and camp counselor. Prior to Gesell, he taught 9th and 10th grade English at Beacon High School in New York City. He holds an MAT in secondary English education and an AB in psychology and literary arts from Brown University.


Bailey Woods

National Lecture Staff - California

Bailey Woods is an educator with an expertise in early childhood development and instruction.  Since receiving her masters in curriculum and instruction from Fresno State University, Bailey has teaching experience in both private and public schools.

Bailey advocates for developmentally appropriate practices, meeting each child where they uniquely are and is passionate about challenging teaching practices to evolve alongside our ever changing world.

Sally Coleman Keller, MAT

National Lecture Staff - Michigan

Sally Coleman Keller is an Early Childhood educator and advocate. She has retired from her most recent position of teaching and directing a local preschool. After receiving her BA from Alma College in Michigan, she continued on to earn her MAT in Early Childhood Education from Oakland University, in Rochester, MI.

Sally started in Early Childhood and throughout her career has held various educational roles including initiating programs for young children in her community, working with parents, consulting, as well as teaching and leading a preschool. Sally has been a member of the National Lecture Staff for nearly 40 years, and previously served as the NLS Director. Sally is a parent and a grandparent which gives her a special connection when explaining to parents and educators the important connection between child development and the overall learning continuum.

Cecilia Locke, MAC, LPC

National Lecture Staff - Texas

Cecilia Locke holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Counseling degrees from St. Edward's University in Austin TX.  She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and completed a Montessori Teaching Certification. Cecilia has worked in the education field for over 30 years; 20 in early childhood. Cecilia is now retired from her last position as the Director of Students Support Services at a private school in Texas.  In this role she supported the learning and development of children in Pre-K 3 through 8th grade who needed guidance in order to be successful in school.

Cecilia completed her first Gesell GDO-R workshop in Grapevine, Texas in 1999; she was immediately hooked. Cecilia joined the National Lecture Staff in 2015. Over her many years using the Gesell Assessment System she is convinced of the value of a tool to help in placing children with their developmental peer group.  She is fond of saying, “Viewing children through a developmental lens is life changing; it provides insight into developmentally appropriate behavior and academic expectations for each unique child.”

Cheryl Wolfe

National Lecture Staff - North Carolina

Cheryl’s work in child development and early education spans over 30 years; she was privileged to join the National Lecture Staff in 2004. She holds a BS in Psychology with a concentration in early childhood development and a Master’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences, an interdisciplinary degree concentrating on early childhood in Human Development and Family Studies, as well as early childhood education and education measurement.  Pursuing the Interdisciplinary Master’s afforded her the unique opportunity to study with Dr. Andrea Huang from the University of North Carolina’s Center for Developmental Sciences. While there Cheryl interacted with and learned from prominent researchers - whose continued work focuses on brain development, the impact of early child maltreatment on the developing brain and maladaptive behavior in teens with early childhood maltreatment. She holds a graduate certificate in Global Studies and soon will complete further studies in inclusive environments, and leadership in early learning.

Cheryl’s background is diverse. She is passionate about her belief that every individual has infinite worth, and in need of quality, safe, and compassionate environments, all essential for healthy growth and development, particularly in the early years. Her work as a consultant includes a variety of organizations, public and private schools, as well as individual families. Cheryl has observed over 1500 children and trained over 500 professionals/parents and worked across the US, in Costa Rica, Chile and South Africa. Cheryl has a variety of interests and most recently began raising butterflies and restoring furniture. She resides in North Carolina with her husband and rescue dog, Josie. They enjoy life with their four adult children and their families, including five grandchildren.