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40th Annual National Conference:

How Successful Directors Lead

About The Conference

The AELL Annual National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead is the ONE event specifically designed for early learning administrators featuring 40+ educational sessions on leadership, administration, finance, marketing, legal, and program quality presented by national experts.

2023 Conference Sponsors


About the Conference
The AELL Annual National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead is the ONE event specifically designed for early learning administrators featuring 35+ educational sessions on leadership, administration, finance, marketing, legal, and program quality presented by national experts.

Who Should Participate?
Early Care and Education Directors, Owners, VPs & Managers, Agency Administrators, Education Coordinators, Specialists, Trainers & Consultants, Assistant Directors, and Emerging Leaders.

Where can I contact an organizer with questions?
Email us at [email protected] or call 512-316-3679. 

Are there any scholarship opportunities?
Yes! Please click here to view eligibility requirements and apply for the Bobette Thompson Legacy Scholarship. 

Can I update my registration information?
Yes, you can update your registration information at any time! Just email [email protected] for assistance.


Conference Pricing

Pre Conference Events

Leaders’ Night Out


CEUs are offered for every session at no additional cost. The Association for Early Learning Leaders has partnered with Stalwart-Genesis to provide Continuing Education Units for conference attendees.



FOR 3-DAY CONFERENCE: Register four or more directors, owners, or administrators and receive 10% discount for ALL 3-day registrationsPlease email [email protected] or call us at 512-316-3679 for a group promo code.



All cancellations must be made in writing and sent to [email protected]. Cancellations received before December 31, 2023, are refundable minus a $75 processing fee. Cancellations received before February 28, 2024, are refundable minus a $125 processing fee. No-shows and cancellations received on or after March 1, 2024, will not be eligible for a refund.


REGISTRATION TRANSFERS: Registration is transferable (for up to one calendar year) without penalty, or funds can be applied to another posted AELL training event.  



Our events are often blended with family vacations and we encourage and celebrate that! However, in our on-going effort to provide a professional education conference experience and out of respect for our exhibitors, speakers and attendees, we do not allow children to be in breakout sessions, keynote presentations, professional meetings, or the exhibit hall. Attendees will need to make arrangements for child care during these times.


An Italian Taste of New Jersey – Legacy Scholarship Fundraising Dinner

This premier event will be held during our 40th Annual National Conference, April 17-20, 2024, at the East Brunswick Hotel & Conference Center in East Brunswick, NJ. It is our desire and purpose to raise much-needed financial resources that will provide scholarships, training opportunities, and professional resources to leaders in the field of early care and education.

We invite you to support this effort by purchasing tickets to attend the fundraising dinner. Each ticket will include a delicious “Italian Taste of New Jersey” dinner, live entertainment from the Howl2Go Dueling Pianos show, live auction, and much more!


Ticket Pricing

Standard Seats 
  • An Italian Taste of Jersey Dinner
  • Howl2Go Live Dueling Pianos Show
  • Two (2) drink tickets
  • SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase a Standard Ticket and be entered into a drawing to win one free 2025 Conference Registration, 3 Nights Conference Lodging & a Disney-themed luggage set.
Premium Seats 
  • An Italian Taste of Jersey Dinner
  • Howl2Go Live Dueling Pianos Show
  • Open Beer/Wine Bar
  • Event Favor
  • SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase a Premium Ticket and be entered into a drawing to win one free 2025 Conference Registration, 3 Nights Conference Lodging & a Disney-themed luggage set.
V.I.P. Tables 
  • An Italian Taste of Jersey Dinner
  • Howl2Go Live Dueling Pianos Show
  • Seating at stage/dance floor (10 seats per table)
  • Open wine/beer bar with dedicated table server
  • VIP gift for each table guest
  • One-Year Vendor Membership
  • Prominent branding on event signage and marketing pieces
  • Logo on all AELL e-campaigns and website sliders for 12 months
  • SPECIAL OFFER: Purchase a V.I.P. Table and receive one free 2025 Conference Registration!


2024 Conference Schedule

Please click here to access the complete conference session schedule!

Conference Add-On Events

Pre-Conference Events

Leaders’ Night Out

Bobette Thompson Legacy Commission Conference Scholarships


The Legacy Commission was formed by past Board Presidents of the Association with the purpose of “giving back” and supporting the mission and legacy of AELL and all it represents. As an extension of that effort, we are making available a limited number of scholarship awards for use at 40th Annual National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead.  It is truly our joy to support the ongoing professional development of early learning leaders like you!

Conference Scholarship Applications Are Now Closed!

Keynote Speakers



Founder & Chief Playmaker

Steve Gross, MSW, is a clinical social worker and pioneer in the field of using playful engagement and relationships to overcome the devastating impacts of early childhood trauma.

Steve founded Project Joy, a nonprofit organization that used the power of joyful play to heal and strengthen homeless and impoverished children throughout Greater Boston, in 1989. In 2011, Life is Good invited Project Joy, now The Playmaker Project, to be the sole social mission of the brand.

Through an outpouring of love, optimism, experience, and expertise, Steve and a trusted team of researchers and colleagues have spent 30+ years developing the Life is Good Playmaker Project program.



Founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc.

Lisa Murphy has been in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years; she is the oldest of five, grew up in a family childcare home, and eventually moved from being the neighborhood babysitter while in high school to being a nanny for many families while attending college. She has spent most of her adult/professional life teaching and working with children in various environments, including Head Starts, elementary schools, private preschools, family child care homes, Park and Rec centers, group homes, and many child care centers.

Lisa is the founder and CEO of Ooey Gooey, Inc. where her mission is to assist in the transformation of the profession (read: get back to play!) by providing relevant & meaningful workshops, getting the necessary materials & resources into the hands of people in the profession who wish to do the same and facilitating conversations & connections between the people in the early care and education profession. In addition to being the co-host of The Child Care Bar and Grill Podcast she presents hundreds of online and in-person workshops each year to both domestic and international audiences on various topics related to early childhood education.

Lisa has an M.Ed. (2013) in early childhood education from Champlain College in Vermont. She has authored numerous books, produced dozens of teacher training DVDs, is a popular keynote speaker at educational conferences, and is a frequent guest on many early childhood-related podcasts. Her standing-room-only seminars have become nationally known for their information, humor, inspiration, and energetic delivery. Frequently asked if she has ever been a stand-up comic, Lisa practices what she preaches by blending the learning with the laughing. Lisa is known for her ability to link hands-on activities to educational standards, her outspoken advocacy, and her commitment to creating child-centered, play-based early childhood environments. Her understanding of the importance of play is obvious in her personal and professional life.

Hilton East Brunswick Hotel & Executive Meeting Center

The 40th National Conference will be held on April 18-20, 2024, at the beautiful Hilton East Brunswick Hotel & Executive Meeting Center located at 3 Tower Center Boulevard East Brunswick, New Jersey, 08816.






Newly renovated Hilton East Brunswick offers easy access to EWR Airport, conveniently located midway between Philadelphia and NYC and just six miles east of New Brunswick, NJ – the home of Rutgers University. Located straight off the New Jersey Turnpike, which connects you to New York within an hour. Enjoy the heated indoor pool, whirlpool, and fitness center during your stay.



Check-in: 4:00 pm ET
Check-out: 11:00 pm ET
Smoke-Free Property



2 Double Beds – $169 per night
1 King Bed Deluxe with Sofa Bed – $169 per night




Flights & Transportation

The 40th Annual National Conference will be held April 18-20, 2024, at the Hilton East Brunswick Hotel & Executive Meeting Center. This beautiful property is conveniently located within 25 minutes of the Newark International Airport. We recommend using Uber, Lyft, or local taxi services for transportation to the conference hotel.


Self-parking On-site – $14.00 per day
Valet parking – $24.00
EV charging – Nearby, 1 miles

Exhibitors & Sponsors

Raise your profile at the leadership level in the early childhood community by exhibiting at the 40th Anniversary National Conference, How Successful Directors Lead!

Market your products and services to early childhood professionals who have the buying power–nearly a third of our attendees approve or authorize purchases for their program and another third are involved in the buying process.

Our 2024 Annual National Conference Sponsor/Exhibitor Prospectus will help guide you through our event and available engagement opportunities. You can also find our exhibitor and sponsor applications here.





Please read the following information carefully before submitting your proposal.  

The Association for Early Learning Leaders pursues experts in the early care and education community to present sessions from a national perspective to early care and education directors, administrators, and owners at our Annual Conference, How Successful Directors Lead! The Association prides itself on the high level of quality and professionalism that is upheld throughout the conference.

Sessions incorporate the following areas of expertise: leadership, legal, business administration, budgeting, insurance-liability, health & safety, curriculum, assessment, instructional leadership, parent education, and program quality accreditation. In order to lead a quality early learning program, directors are required to have knowledge, skills, and abilities from diverse areas. Nationally known experts from across the country are secured to share a wealth of knowledge and experience with our participants.

The Association for Early Learning Leaders is a professional organization committed to strengthening the skill level of leaders in the field of early care and education. We believe that effective management is the critical link to superior programs.

The Association will accept applications for the 2024 National Conference through September 30, 2023. The requests are thoroughly reviewed, and presenters will be notified of acceptance by November 15, 2023. Presentations are to be 1 hour and 45 minutes in length. CEU applications will be sent to selected presenters by December 1, 2023, and must be completed no later than January 31, 2024.

Travel and Hotel Arrangements for Presenters

Each presenter is responsible for making individual travel and hotel arrangements. The availability of hotel accommodations is limited at the conference site, so reserve early. Conference group rate information is available on the Conference Accommodations page.

Conference Registration

All presenters will receive one complimentary conference registration that includes many extended conference events, including lunch on Thursday and Friday.  After we receive your signed agreement, we will provide you with information regarding registration.

The Association does not offer honorariums for session presenters but is pleased to provide a letter of participation for you to include in your professional speaking portfolio.


The training room will be set up for approximately 40-80 people with a presenter’s table in front.


Each presenter will have access to a projector and screen. These items will be provided by the Association at no extra cost. We respectfully request that each presenter provide a laptop if one is needed during the presentation. Should additional audio/visual equipment be required, arrangements will be made at your expense with the contracted audio-visual company for the Conference.  Internet access is not always freely available.  Please consider this when building your training content.


The Association requests that each presenter provide a handout corresponding with the topic of discussion and sufficient copies for all attendees. Handouts should be no more than four (4) pages in length and contain a minimum of three website resources and two additional resources or references related to the topic.


The Association for Early Learning Leaders sponsors the National Accreditation Commission for Early Care and Education Programs. If accreditation standards are referenced during the presentation, please include accreditation standards in the reference. For questions on particular standards, contact [email protected].


The Association for Early Learning Leaders recognizes that the National Conference is often used as a vehicle for presenters to expand their own markets.  The Association encourages the dissemination of knowledge, promoting personal and professional development, and enhancing the quality of early care and education programs.  To respectively maintain a balance of dissemination of information and marketing, presenters are encouraged to purchase an exhibit booth in the Exhibit Hall.  Interested presenters may contact Aryam Andom, Member & Event Services Coordinator, at [email protected] for reservations in the Exhibit Hall.

Please help us maintain the professional integrity of the conference by abstaining from the appearance of using your session as a marketing venue.  Presenters will not be allowed to sell, display, or promote their events, publications, materials, and/or services during their training presentation.  You will be permitted to distribute promotional materials to participants at the conclusion of your session, and our conference Ambassadors are happy to facilitate the distribution of your materials.

Failure to abide by presenter guidelines may result in your not being invited to present at future AELL training events.


Please complete the 2024 Conference Request for Proposal and Presenter Guidelines & Agreement no later than September 30, 2023.


The Association for Early Learning Leaders is committed to excellence in the field of early childhood care and education by promoting leadership development and enhancing program quality.

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