Co-Founders of Child Educational Center in La Cañada to Retire

Eric & Elyssa Nelson

Eric Nelson and Elyssa Nelson, co-founders of the Child Educational Center (CEC) in La Cañada, will be retiring from their current positions with the nonprofit organization in 2020. The Nelsons have dedicated 40 years to the CEC, which they launched in 1979 with the support of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The CEC is dedicated to fulfilling the promise of childhood by providing unique play- and nature-based early education programs that encourage and celebrate children’s development and by sharing its innovative, research-based approach through consulting and professional development. 

The Nelsons have spent four decades successfully building and leading the CEC, with Elyssa serving as the executive director and Eric serving as the director of Consulting and Professional Development. While they are stepping away from their current positions, they plan to continue their educational consulting and teaching in support of the CEC’s mission.

“We have enormous respect, admiration, and gratitude for Eric and Elyssa’s vision and leadership,” said Katie Fallin Kenyon, president of the CEC’s board of trustees. “The board of trustees is deeply grateful for their many years of service and is committed to honoring their legacy moving forward.”

The CEC has retained the Los Angeles-based executive search firm Berkhemer Clayton Inc. to assist with the search for Elyssa Nelson’s successor. The search process will officially begin in January 2020 with the expectation that the new executive director will be in place when she officially steps down in July 2020.

A leader in its field, the CEC is a nationally-accredited early care and education organization with a pioneering focus on progressive education and outdoor learning, including the renowned Outdoor Classroom Project. The CEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

For more information about the CEC, visit