Leadership Team

One of the aspects of Corning Children’s Center that sets us apart is our full-time, professional Leadership Team. Here’s a little bit about each of member of the Team:

Paula Detar

Executive Director

Corning Children’s Center welcomed Paula Detar as its new Executive Director in June 2019. Paula has her Masters in Arts in Early Childhood and Special Education. She comes to the Center with 8 years of administrative experience and 12 years of teaching experience in a variety of age levels and settings. Prior to joining the Center team, she worked as the Birth-5 Education and Staff Development Coordinator for Pro Action of Steuben and Yates County Head Start programs. Paula and her husband have two adult children.

Cindy Lewis-Black

Development Director

Cindy Lewis-Black joined the team in April 2019 as our full-time Development Director. Her main responsibilities include fundraising, public relations, marketing, and event management. Cindy currently serves on the Education Committee of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Finger Lakes Chapter. Cindy’s prior work history has given her vast experience in marketing, event planning, management of volunteers, and grant writing. She resides in Corning with her son.

Stacy Nickerson

Operations/Human Resources Director

Stacy Nickerson, the Center’s Operations/Human Resources Director, came onboard in July 2021. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Child and Family Development, her PHR certificate, and is in the process of completing coursework to receive her Senior HR certification. Stacy brings over 25 years of experience in staffing, hiring, compliance, and operations to the Corning Children’s Center.


Finance Director

Keith Martin joined our team in October 2022 as the Finance Director having worked and volunteered in the southern tier region for 28 years for non-profits and financial institutions in finance and administration. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Science and Master’s Degree in Accounting. Keith resides in Elmira Heights with his wife. They have two grown children.

Shanna VanPatten

Program Director

Shanna VanPatten has worked at Corning Children’s Center since 2005. Her responsibilities as Program Director include overseeing developmentally appropriate classrooms for all age levels. In addition, Shanna participates in staff selection and supervision, curriculum development and implementation, and development of a positive working relationship with anyone who enters our facility. Shanna also maintains the role of the Pre-K Age Level Specialist. Her two boys are alumnae of the program.



Laura Fish

Child Development Specialists

Corning Children’s Center employs Child Development Specialists to supervise the education of each age group. They are experienced in working with their age level in a group care/education setting. We believe it is important for them to remain close to the experience of working with children, so each CDS works as part of a classroom team two days each week. They spend the other three days meeting with staff and families, observing classrooms and providing resources to their teams.

Laura Fish graduated from Buffalo State with a Bachelor’s degree in early and elementary education and joined the Corning Children’s Center in 2007. She was promoted to Child Development Specialist in 2011. Laura feels strongly that the first 5 years of life are the most critical since a child’s brain develops more and faster than at any other time in life and uses that belief to guide her in her role. Her main responsibilities include enrollment, coaching, and supervision of her staff. Outside of work she enjoys spending time with her two daughters, reading, and being outside.

Dakota Carr & Kate Downing

Administrative Assistants

Dakota Carr and Kate Downing are the first two faces that you will meet when walking through our front doors. Both are committed to making every adult and child who enters our doors feel welcomed and appreciated.

Dakota has an Associates degree in Business Administration and a Bachelors degree in Business Management and was hired in April 2018. Dakota has experience in organizational management and customer service.

Kate joined our the Center in September 2021. She has Bachelors degree in Business Administration from SUNY Delhi and comes to the Center with experience in administrative support, graphic design, and customer service. Prior to college graduation, Kate was employed at the Center as a substitute teacher.