Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has hired two new staff members to help with her efforts on youth and early childhood education.

The mayor said Monday that Angela Watts, the former senior director of health prevention and promotion for the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, will serve as the mayor’s senior policy aide on early childhood education and youth development. Phillipe Cunningham, a former special education teacher in Chicago and member of Minneapolis’ Executive Committee on Youth Violence Prevention, will be the mayor’s senior policy aide for education and youth success.

Watts previously served as the director of the Minneapolis Health Department’s Healthy Start Program and is a licensed clinical social worker.

In a news release, the mayor’s office said Watts will work on “bringing together different sectors to implement the mayor’s Cradle to K initiative.”

The Cradle to K program aims to boost the health and living conditions of babies and young children and their families.

Cunningham, meanwhile, will focus on “addressing racial disparities and closing the achievement gap for youth in Minneapolis.” He will also work on behalf of the city in the My Brother’s Keeper program. That effort was launched by the White House and targets education and employment gaps among minority boys and young men.

Watts replaces Dianne Haulcy, who previously held the same position. Cunningham’s position is new, and brings the mayor’s office to its budgeted staffing level of 12 people. The new position pays $73,000 per year, with a portion of that amount funded by the Minneapolis Foundation.

The mayor’s office has a total budget of $1.9 million.