TOOTRiS, the nation’s first and only technology solution that unites all the key child care stakeholders – parents, providers, employers, agencies – into a single platform, today announced the appointment of Allison Muhlendorf as Director of Outreach and Government Relations. Muhlendorf brings over 20 years of experience to TOOTRiS, most notably as the architect of Alabama’s successful movement to expand access to high-quality, state-funded pre-k.
As Director of Outreach and Government Relations, Allison will develop partnerships with public and private sector organizations (businesses, nonprofits and government agencies) to help families easily access quality, affordable child care through employer-sponsored child care benefits. She will also work to increase child care supply by advancing TOOTRiS policy priorities at the local, state, and federal level.
Prior to joining TOOTRiS, Allison served as executive director of the Alabama School Readiness Alliance (ASRA) for more than a decade. At ASRA, Allison worked with the business community to launch and advocate for a visionary set of recommendations for expanding high-quality, state-funded pre-k to all Alabama families in a variety of settings, including private child care programs. Thanks to Allison’s leadership and advocacy efforts, state investments in Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program grew from $19 million in 2012 to $182 million in 2023, expanding the program’s reach from six percent to nearly half of the state’s four-year-olds. Alabama First Class Pre-K is widely recognized for its striking outcomes. Allison also worked with lawmakers to establish Alabama’s first-ever state investment in child care in 2022.
“Allison brings tremendous experience and deep knowledge of the legislative child care landscape across to TOOTRiS, as well as strong relationships with early childhood, government, and business leaders,” said Alessandra Lezama, CEO of TOOTRiS. “We’re excited for her to begin opening doors for TOOTRiS so more parents have access to quality child care.”
Allison will remain based in Montgomery, Alabama, where state and community leaders have identified lack of affordable, accessible child care as a major workforce barrier. This has led many to take action. For instance, in 2022 executives at Mazda Toyota Manufacturing’s Greenbrier, Ala. plant chose to partner with TOOTRiS to provide workers $3,000 in annual child care subsidies, and support searching for available child care in the region. Since the partnership, employee turnover at the plant has dropped by 11 percent for men and 20 percent for women.
Prior to her work in Alabama, Allison spent five years in Washington, DC as state policy associate for Pre-K Now, a campaign of The Pew Charitable Trusts. She has also worked in the Oregon State Senate, and at the Children’s Institute – a leading early childhood advocacy organization in Oregon. She began her career as a Pre-K assistant at La Mesa First United Methodist Church in her hometown of San Diego, California.
Allison holds a bachelor’s degree in politics and Spanish from Willamette University and a master’s degree in education policy from the University of Maryland. In 2022, Allison received the Non Nobis Solum Award, given by Willamette University to an alum who has made significant contributions to the greater society. She has also been honored by the Alabama Media Group and the Southern Early Childhood Association.
Allison will be speaking at the 2023 ALABAMAWORKS! Workforce Conference on September 7th. Here session on “Taking Care of Alabama: Childcare Solutions for Alabama’s Labor Force” will address public and private solutions to address child care issues which are currently causing parents to miss or be late for week 4 or more days a month. She’ll be joined on the panel by: Alison Hooper, Associate Professor of Earch Childhood Education at The University of Alabama; Bernard Houston, Director of the Child Care Services Division at the Department of Human Services; and Jon Barganier, COO of Manufacture Alabama.