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CAFE Staff

Mariela Puentes

Mariela Puentes

Senior Education Equity Specialist

Mariela serves as Program Manager for the Collaborative Action for Family Engagement Center (CAFE) and as the Senior Education Equity Specialist for MAEC. She works with educators and families to help them build effective partnerships for supporting student learning and well-being. Mariela has spent her career working with educators, families, and communities to promote equitable learning outcomes for all students. In crafting trainings and technical assistance focused on reducing disparate outcomes based on race, gender, language, and socioeconomic status, she has helped school leaders across several states develop skills and strategies for equitable and effective family engagement practices. Prior to her role at MAEC, Mariela hired and supervised staff, and directed the summer program at a public charter school in Washington, D.C., and she managed enrichment programs for educational nonprofits in New York City. Mariela holds a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the Lynch School of Education at Boston College, where she was also a Donovan Scholar with a focus on urban education, and a B.A. in Educational Psychology from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania.

Carol Gant

Carol Gant

Senior Early Childhood Equity Specialist

Carol  Gant works as a part of the Together Juntos team in providing Technical Assistance and Training to assist the state of Maryland Department of Education in their efforts to improve early childhood services and outcomes. Carol has over 20 years’ experience in the field of early childhood special education. After starting her career as an early childhood special education teacher, Carol went on to serve as the Early Head Start and Head Start Special Education Program Coordinator for Johns Hopkins Hospital/ Department of Pediatrics and Educare of Washington DC. She later joined Bowie State University as Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Special Education and Bethany College as Assistant Professor of Special Education. 

 Carol joined The National Center on Quality Teaching and Learning (NCQTL) in 2013 where she served as a Regional Field Specialist in the Migrant and Seasonal Program Branch of the Federal Office of Head Start Head and transitioned to the same position at the National Center for Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning (NCECDTL) in 2015 when the contract shifted from the University of Washington to Zero to Three. Carol’s primary responsibilities were to support the Office of Head Start (OHS) staff in improving their efforts to put research-based concepts into everyday practice in Head Start programs, to deliver  training and technical assistance,  provide consultation on using data collection and analysis to make changes that improve child outcomes in support of school readiness and to provide oversight of grantees to assess program performance to ensure federal school readiness requirements were met. 

 Carol holds a BS Interpersonal Communication from Ohio University and a Masters of Education from Bowie State University with a concentration in Special Education. Carol completed her doctoral coursework in Early Childhood Special Education at the University of Maryland and is ABD. 

Photo of Han

Young-chan Han

Senior Family Engagement Specialist

As a Senior Family Engagement Specialist at MAEC,  Young-chan Han coordinates the delivery of highimpact family, school, and community engagement programming and technical assistance with partner organizations to underserved communities across Maryland and Pennsylvania.   

Before MAEC, Ms. Han served as a Title I/Family Engagement and Title III Specialist at the Maryland State Department of Education.  In her role, she provided technical assistance and guidance to local school systems on the implementation of Title I and Title III requirements.  She also worked closely with Family Involvement Coordinators to ensure all families, especially low-income families, are meaningfully engaged in education. In 2020Ms. Han spearheaded the State’s publication, A Guide to School for Families of English Learners.  

Committed to equip and empower immigrant families, as an International Student and Family Engagement Specialist at the Howard County Public School System (1999-2007), Ms. Han was instrumental in building a sustainable structure of support for immigrant families including, the creation of the Interpreting/Translation Office.  Ms. Han has over 20 years of experience in language access, family engagement, leadership development, and English learners.   

Ms. Han has been recognized for leadership in educational equity and family engagement. She received the 2017 Human Rights Award by the Howard County Human Rights Commission for her dedicated leadership and outstanding achievement to support equal access to programs and services for all familiesShe also received the 2017 Konrad Lindenberg Memorial Award for Leadership in Developing Community Partnerships awarded by the Pennsylvania Coalition Involvement.   


Karmen Rouland

Karmen Rouland

Director of Programs and Delivery

Karmen Rouland, PhD serves as the Director of Programs and Delivery at MAEC. In this role, she provides leadership, supervision, oversight, and management of MAEC’s programs and services, as well as, collaborating with senior leadership to develop future business for MAEC. Karmen also manages technical assistance and training services to state departments of education, school districts, and schools on civil rights and educational equity issues. Specifically, she provides training on issues related to cultural competence, family engagement, equitable access to education, implicit bias, privilege, and structural inequality. Karmen has published several peer-reviewed journal articles and technical papers on issues related to family engagement and equity. Prior to joining MAEC, Karmen worked at the intersection of education policy and data at the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).

Karmen has extensive experience in educational research and youth development programs. Karmen also served as School Liaison for the Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) and as a Co-Site Director for It’s Great to Be a Girl Mentoring Program. Before working for the government of the District of Columbia, Karmen worked at Howard University as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow studying the role of HBCUs in diversifying the K-12 teacher pipeline. She has also provided research consultation for several non-profit organizations and school districts.

For more than 15 years, Karmen has taught undergraduate and graduate-level education courses for pre-service and in-service teachers at Howard University, George Washington University, the University of Michigan, and Washington Adventist University. She graduated summa cum laude from Howard University in Washington, DC with a B.S. in psychology. She received her Master’s degree and Ph.D. from the Combined Program in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan. Karmen is a 2021 Leadership Montgomery CORE participant, a board member of Girls Prep, Inc and a Co-Troop Leader with her daughter’s Girl Scout troop.

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