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Lisa Downey


Assistant Professor, Coordinator Early Childhood Practice Program

Programs/Classes Taught:

Bachelor of Early Childhood Practice courses in the Early Childhood Education program

My teaching philosophy is that I’m in partnership with my students.  I believe that we all come to the learning environment with our own experiences and ideas to share.  I believe I’m a facilitator of learning, as opposed to a teacher, and that I, like my students, learn through discussions, readings and hands-on experiences. 

Areas of Expertise:

My professional focus is ensuring high quality early care and education for all children, regardless of where they live or what type of program they are engaged in.  I am passionate about supporting at risk women and children in low income communities through high quality education experiences.  I think that everyone deserves the same opportunities regardless of who they are or where they come from.


Lisa Downey has worked in the field of early care and education since 1989 in a variety of roles.  She has worked as a child care center teacher, director, resource developer and trainer, non-profit social service agency administrator and consultant.  Her teaching experience is focused primarily with children ages birth through age five.  She joined the team at NLU in 2011 as a field supervisor, quickly assuming a role as an adjunct faculty member.  She became a full time faculty member in 2014. 

The thing that drew Lisa to teaching at NLU was the strong social justice focus at its core.  It is something she is passionate about, especially in terms of ensuring strong foundations for all children during the first years of life, when learning is most critical.  Lisa believes that a well-educated and diverse workforce is the key to guaranteeing long lasting effects on the lives of young children and their families.  To that end, Lisa is interested in finding ways to support the academic success for students who are multi-lingual/ multi-dialectal.  The focus of her dissertation research is to find ways to help her students achieve academic success through improved writing skills. 

The most rewarding part of teaching at NLU is, hands down, the students.  NLU’s students, particularly those in the ECP program, are hard-working and highly motivated to make a difference in their communities.  It is incredibly moving to have a small part in helping someone take a step into a future that includes a college degree that will undoubtedly influence others to also take that step toward knowing more and doing better in their own lives, programs and communities. 

One of the most exciting things about the field of early care and education right now is the focus on quality.  There are many initiatives around the state and country aimed at improving quality in ECE.  Lisa is fortunate enough to be involved in many of the teams working on improvements in professional development and education for early childhood teachers around the state.  She is heavily involved in the Gateways to Opportunity program and has worked diligently to align her program at NLU to the Gateways Competencies and Credentials.

Outside of teaching for NLU, Lisa is a wife and mother.  She is active her children’s school and church as well as the LGBTQIA community.  In her spare time she enjoys writing fiction and spending time with family and friends.    


  • Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education (Roosevelt University, 2000)
  • Master’s Degree in Education, Early Childhood Leadership and Advocacy (National-Louis University, 2003)
  • Doctoral Degree in Education, Educational Leadership (National Louis University, in-progress)

Research and Interests:

Writing, Gateways to Opportunity, improving quality Early Childhood Education

Contact Information:

Chicago Campus #3028
122 S. Michigan Avenue Chicago, IL 60603


    NLU’s Chicago campus on South Michigan Avenue occupies five floors of the historic Peoples Gas Building. This landmark building, across the street from the Art Institute of Chicago and Grant Park, is easily accessible by train, bus and car and is surrounded by restaurants, parking lots/garages and shops.

    122 S. Michigan Avenue
    Chicago, IL 60603
    (888) 658.8632
    Info » | Directions »

    Conveniently located in a fast-growing business district off I-90 and Route 31, NLU Elgin features 10 classrooms with high-tech media equipment; a computer lab with high-speed Internet access; two conference rooms; and comfortable student lounges. Parking is free at this recently remodeled and upgraded teaching site, which now includes wireless Internet access.

    620 Tollgate Road
    Elgin, IL 60123
    (888) 658.8632
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    Opened in the summer of 2006, NLU North Shore at Skokie is a state-of-the-art modern campus located just off the Edens Expressway near the Old Orchard Shopping Center. The campus includes 44 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a walk-in lab in the library; six conference rooms; a public café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; and multiple, comfortable student lounge areas.

    5202 Old Orchard Road
    Skokie, IL 60077
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located just minutes from the East-West Tollway (I-88), NLU Lisle features 42 wireless classrooms equipped with high-tech media equipment; four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, including a separate walk-in lab in the library; a café for beverages and snacks; a student welcome center; a library for research and study; conference rooms; and six comfortable student lounge areas with wireless access.

    850 Warrenville Road
    Lisle, IL 60532
    (888) 658.8632
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    Located in one of Chicago's major northwest suburbs, the newly renovated NLU Wheeling includes 20 classrooms with high-tech media equipment, four conference rooms, four computer labs with high-speed Internet access, large student lounge areas with wireless capabilities and interactive video capabilities, and an extensive research library. The site also houses the university library research collection.

    1000 Capitol Drive
    Wheeling, IL 60090
    (888) 658.8632
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    Established in 1988 and located in one of Tampa's major business districts, NLU's Florida Regional Center serves students in 13 counties in central Florida. In addition to its classrooms, the National Louis University Tampa Regional Center features a computer lab, student lounges, and conference room.

    5110 Sunforest Drive, Suite 102
    Tampa, FL 33634
    (800) 366.6581
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