Diana Lucía Abarca
Communication Science & Disorders, Florida State University
Diana Lucía Abarca is a doctoral student in Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University and a practicing early intervention speech-language pathologist in Tallahassee, Florida. She received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Central Florida. Diana was born in Costa Rica and is motivated by her upbringing as a Latina woman to center Black and Latino/Hispanic families in her research and clinical practice. Diana uses funds of knowledge, family-centered, and culturally sustaining frameworks to understand the knowledge, skills, values, priorities, and beliefs that minoritized families bring with them when involved in early intervention. She aims to develop and evaluate equitable early intervention practices that pre-service and practicing early interventionists can use to sustain the culture of minoritized families with children with disabilities.
Amanda LaTasha Armstrong
College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation, New Mexico State University
Amanda LaTasha Armstrong is a doctoral candidate at New Mexico State University (NMSU)’s College of Health, Education, and Social Transformation and the Lab Coordinator of NMSU’s Learning Games Lab team in the department of Innovative Media Research and Extension. Her dissertation study examines traits, associated with racial, ethnic, and gender groups, found in characters of preschool apps.
Amanda LaTasha is also a research fellow with New America’s Education Policy Program’s Teaching, Learning, and Tech Team and contributing writer for Edutopia. She was a 2020 CADRE Fellow with the National Science Foundation’s DRK-12 program and a member of the Technology Working Group to refresh the International Society for Technology in Education’s Standards for Educators in 2017. Prior to NMSU, Amanda conducted quantitative and qualitative research with Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative and was the program coordinator for the Technology in Early Childhood (TEC) Center at Erikson, where she supported educators, families, and administrators in the selection, use, integration, and evaluation of technology and media in their settings.
School of Sciences, Mathematics, and Education, Marymount University Arlington
Ashley Watts is earning her doctorate degree in Leadership and Organizational Innovation from Marymount University Arlington. She is also a program director for the ACE-YMCA of Greater Houston. Her roots began in early childhood as she operated both private and public programs for children birth-to-five. She then transitioned to need-based programs where she worked with single mothers to address school readiness, quality care, and adult education. Ashley currently works with 1st - 5th graders predominantly underrepresented, in an expanded learning space to address learning disparities and campus-community needs. Her myriad of experiences has led her to her research and policy interest in early childhood initiatives, education equity, out-of-school time, family and community engagement, and youth development. She looks forward to addressing equity and advocating for early childhood education, the foundation for K-12.
Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University
Brandy Locchetta is a behavior analyst and doctoral student in early childhood special education at Vanderbilt University. Brandy is from the metro Atlanta area where she spent more than 15 years building her career in early childhood education. Brandy has a wealth of experience across a variety of roles in early childhood from childcare teacher, to center director, and leadership positions at the Georgia Department of Early Care and Learning where she was central to the establishment and expansion of the Inclusion and Behavior Support program. Increasing equitable access to high-quality inclusive early learning environments for young children with disabilities and their families is central to Brandy’s policy and advocacy interests. In partnership with her interests in policy and advocacy, her research interests include teacher-implemented interventions that improve outcomes for all children and the support systems necessary to sustain implementation, barriers to preschool inclusion, disproportionate discipline practices in early childhood, and positive behavior supports.
Carlos Pérez Valle
Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders, McGill University
Carlos Pérez Valle is a doctoral student in Communication Sciences & Disorders at McGill University in Montréal. His research interests include the development and acquisition of written language in diverse pediatric populations and the use of diverse children’s literature in clinical interventions. Through this research, he hopes to learn research skills that will help him advance innovative and equitable change.
Carlos Pérez Valle was born in Tulcingo de Valle, México and moved to New York City as a toddler. After high school, he became involved in promoting equitable educational opportunities for low-income and immigrant communities. He has worked for several nonprofit and government organizations such as the NYC Dept. of Education, Masa, The Parent-Child Home Program, Breakthrough New York, and various public and charter schools.
Department of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Massachusetts Boston
Ozden Pinar-Irmak is a doctoral candidate and teaching fellow in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Ozden received her M.A. in Early Childhood Education from Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development at New York University. She has extensive experience working with young children in multicultural settings and she held various positions as a teacher, coordinator, and leader. Her research interests include early intervention programs for refugee and immigrant children, trauma-informed policies and practices in early childhood education, and international inclusive education. In particular, her works aim to promote equitable early care and education systems and increase access to early education services for young children of refugees and immigrants. She believes that inclusive, high-quality, equitable, and affordable early care and education for children can be achieved through long-term collaborations between researchers, policymakers, and practitioners.