Shantel Meek

Shantel Meek, PhD
CEP Founding Director
Professor of Practice

T. Denny School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Dr. Shantel Meek is a Professor of Practice and Director for Policy at the Center for Child and Family Success in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. She is the Founding Director of the Children's Equity Project, a multi-university initiative that aims to close opportunity gaps between children from historically marginalized communities and their peers. Dr. Meek previously served as a consultant in early childhood policy and strategy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington D.C. Prior to founding the CEP, Dr. Meek served in the Obama Administration as a Senior Policy Advisor for Early Childhood Development at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and as a Senior Policy Advisor for Education in the Domestic Policy Council at the White House. During her time in the Obama Administration, Dr. Meek advised senior officials at HHS and at The White House on a wide array of policy issues including promoting equity and reducing disparities in early education. She also worked on drafting official guidance and regulations related to Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant and worked closely with States and communities on implementation. Dr. Meek played a key role in President Obama's My Brother's Keeper Initiative, leading the early childhood policy component of the initiative. Prior to her work with the Obama Administration, Dr. Meek served as a Clinical Interventionist for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center in Phoenix, where she worked one-on-one with children, taught in a toddler classroom, implemented educational consultation and inclusion support services at public schools, and trained families and paraprofessionals on evidence-based strategies to support the development of young children with ASD. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University. Dr. Meek is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants and her personal experiences as a Latina and first-generation college graduate from a small town on the U.S.-Mexico border inform her work and contribute to her drive to improve the learning conditions of children from historically marginalized communities. Today, she lives in Washington D.C. with her husband and two children, both of whom are dual language learners.

Janniqua_Dawkins

Janniqua Dawkins, MC
CEP Program Manager
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics

Janniqua Dawkins is the Program Manager for the Center for Child and Family Success in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. She received her Honors Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Western Kentucky University in 2015 and her Masters in Mental Health Counseling in 2017. Before returning to ASU in 2019, Janniqua dedicated her professional career as a mental health professional to enhancing the lives of underserved populations, specifically youth and families, racial and ethnic minorities, and people within the LGBTQIA community. Janniqua's commitment to diversity and inclusion is to enhance communities' well-being via equity, empowerment, and promoting access to higher education for underrepresented students.

Postdoctoral Scholars

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Darielle Blevins

Darielle Blevins, PhD
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Dr. Darielle Blevins is a postdoctoral research scholar and Start with Equity Fellow with the Children’s Equity Project. Her goal is to use an intersectional approach to elevate communities’ voices in research to inform policy. Grounded in Black Feminist ways of knowing, Dr. Blevins’ work centers the need for love, equity, and justice, to ensure quality learning spaces in early childhood and beyond. She earned her Ph.D. in Education from San Diego State University and Claremont University and was named Outstanding Graduate of the Year.

Her dissertation on Black girlhood in education centered the voices of Black middle school girls as they envisioned their inner selves and the self their teacher saw using self-portraits. She is particularly concerned about the relationship between power, culture, and identity development in the classroom context. Methodologically, she is interested in mixed methods with visual methodologies that provide an opportunity for children, who are usually acted upon, to express themselves and use their power. She has impacted the field of Child Development and early learning through her work as a preschool teacher, behavior specialist, and quality improvement coach. Through one- on-one coaching and behavioral support training for hundreds of parents and educators in San Diego County, she has provided educators with tools to engage in anti-bias, culturally responsive, and developmentally appropriate practice.

Evandra Catherine

Evandra Catherine, PhD
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Dr. Evandra Catherine is a postdoctoral research scholar on the Children’s Equity Project. Her research interests include using a practice-based coaching professional development model to support preschool teachers’ use of emotionally supportive behaviors with Black boys. Dr. Catherine’s dissertation examined the effect of a practice-based coaching model on preschool teachers’ use of emotionally supportive responses to negative emotional expressions of Black boys. Dr. Catherine’s work with the Children’s Equity Project includes translating research into policy recommendations related to the implementation of the LRE provision in early care and learning settings with Black, Indigenous, and children of color. Additionally, she examines federal discipline data on the various discipline methods to include suspension, expulsion, restraint, seclusion, and corporal punishment and use these data to make policy recommendations to ban the use of harsh discipline practices in early care and learning settings.

Dr. Catherine is also the mother of a son with Aspergers and a United States Air Force Veteran. She was a House of Delegates candidate in Virginia’s 2013 democratic primary and was awarded Top 40 Under 40 in Richmond, Virginia in 2015. She holds a B.A. in African American Studies, Master of Public Administration, and a Ph.D. in Special Education Policy from Virginia Commonwealth University.

CEP Partners

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Rosemarie Allen

Rosemarie Allen, PhD
President and CEO
Institute for Racial Equity & Excellence
Assistant Professor
School of Education, Metropolitan State University of Denver

Dr. Rosemarie Allen is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Metropolitan State University of Denver. Her classes are focused on ensuring teachers are aware of how issues of equity, bias, privilege, and power impact teaching practices. She is also the founder and CEO of the Institute for Racial Equity & Excellence (IREE) which serves as the lead agency for ensuring equity in educational practices. Dr. Allen's life's work is focused on reducing the number of children of color suspended and expelled from early childhood programs.

Rosemarie has served in directorship roles with the Colorado Department of Human Services where she was responsible for the State's child care licensing program, the federal child care assistance program, the redesign of the State's quality rating and improvement system, the implementation of the State's professional development plan, and assisted in the creation of Colorado's early learning guidelines. Rosemarie serves on the Pyramid Equity Program team, is a respected keynote speaker, and has the distinct honor of being appointed as a "Global Leader" representing the United States at World Conferences. Dr. Allen also served on President Obama's "My Brother's Keeper" (MBK) initiative, Early Childhood Task Force. In that role, she was the national expert on implicit bias and culturally responsive practices, speaking at conferences across the country. Rosemarie earned her B. A. from California State University, Masters of Education from Lesley University and Doctorate Degree in Leadership for Equity in Education from the University of Colorado, Denver.

Dianna Carrizales-Engelmann

Dianna Carrizales-Engelmann, PhD
Director of Administration
College of Education Leadership, University of Oregon

Dianna Carrizales-Engelmann, PhD, is Director of Administration for the College. She has published in the areas of assessment, measurement, standard setting, and assessment policy, and is co-author of the Strong Kids and Strong Teens social/emotional learning curricula. Dr. Carrizales-Engelmann serves many roles including liaison for the dean of the college to all internal and external stakeholders. Dr. Carrizales-Engelmann served at the Oregon Department of Education as Director of Monitoring, Systems, and Outcomes in the (then) Office of Student Learning and Partnerships in which she was responsible for the oversight of district compliance with IDEA as well as district assessment expectations under NCLB/ESEA. In that role she provided leadership around the implementation of active statewide initiatives such as Safe and Drug Free Schools, District Response to Intervention, Kindergarten Readiness, Scaling up Initiatives, Accommodations, and Oregon's Alternate Assessments. Dianna also served as a contract manager on the Smarter Balanced Consortium development team.

Dina Castro

Dina C. Castro, PhD
Professor and the Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education
University of North Texas

Dr. Dina C. Castro is a Professor and the Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education at the University of North Texas. She holds degrees in Early Childhood Education and Special Education (PhD, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Public Health (MPH, University of Alabama in Birmingham) and Psychology (BS and Professional License, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia), as well as, a graduate certificate in Latin American Studies. Her scholarship focuses on equity in the early care and education of bilingual children, in particular those in immigrant, migrant and indigenous communities, considering the intersection among language, culture, race, ethnicity, and disability. She is currently studying the extent to which early education policies governing curricula, programming, and teacher preparation are addressing the characteristics and experiences of bilingual children. Internationally, she is co-leading a study on the experiences of transnational students in schools in México and the United States, and is involved in research on intercultural and bilingual education in Latin America.

Dr. Castro has directed or co-directed various federally funded research and evaluation studies of national relevance, including serving as Director of the Center for Early Care and Education Research: Dual Language Learners, a national research center funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Her previous research also includes developing and evaluating the efficacy of professional development programs for teachers serving bilingual children, the development of research measures to assess quality of early education programs serving bilingual children, and the assessment of second language acquisition in young children.

Prior to joining UNT, Dr. Castro was a Research Professor at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University (2013-2014), and a Senior Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1997-2013). She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, research and policy reports, and presents nationally and internationally as an expert on the early education of children from diverse cultural, racial, ethnic and language backgrounds. She is the lead author of the book New Voices ~ Nuevas Voces Guide to Cultural and Linguistic Diversity in Early Childhood, and co-editor of the book Language, Learning and Disability: Issues & Opportunities in the Education of Young Bilingual Children (forthcoming).

Kelly L. Edyburn

Kelly L. Edyburn, PhD
PhD Assistant Professor Loyola University Chicago

Dr. Kelly L. Edyburn is an Assistant Professor in the School Psychology program at Loyola University Chicago. Dr. Edyburn earned her Ph.D. in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, completing an APA-accredited internship at Travis County Juvenile Probation Department in Austin, Texas and then working as a postdoctoral research scholar at the Children’s Equity Project. Dr. Edyburn’s work involves striving for intersectional justice by centering and supporting the developmental, mental health, and academic needs of marginalized children and families through strengths-based and culturally and linguistically responsive practice, research, collaboration, and policy and systems change. Her research interests lie in the interconnected areas of bilingual language development, mental health, (dis)ability, immigration, and academic achievement. She is currently engaged in scholarly work in four primary areas: (1) assessment and promotion of bilingual language development among Latinx dual language learners, (2) culturally responsive prevention and intervention to promote resilience and wellbeing among immigrant children and youth, (3) family–school-community partnerships, and (4) multicultural measurement and validity issues in education and psychology. Methodologically, she is interested in mixed methods and latent variable modeling. Dr. Edyburn has worked clinically in various roles in early childhood, K-12, community mental health, and juvenile justice settings and has interests in serving children and youth from Latinx, multiracial, and immigrant backgrounds and youth with emotional/behavioral difficulties or disorders. In her clinical work, she is especially passionate about mental health and psychoeducational assessment, early childhood and school-based consultation, and intervention with families.

Rick Fabes

Richard Fabes, PhD
Professor
T. Denny School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Dr. Richard A. Fabes is the John O. Whiteman Dean's Distinguished Professor at Arizona State University. He also is the Inaugural Director of the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics and the Co-Executive Director of ASU's Center for the Advanced Study and Practice of Hope. He has strong expertise related to social-emotional development, gender segregation and integration, and peer influence and relationships. He is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and has served on editorial boards of several journals. He has published more than 250 papers, with publications appearing in top-tier journals (Science, Psychological Bulletin, Annual Review of Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Child Development, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology) and his work has been funded by NICHD, NSF, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, the T. Denny Sanford Foundation, First Things First, and the Brady Education Foundation. Dr. Fabes also has expertise in the translation of scientific findings related to peer relationships and classroom functioning to schools and is one of the creators of the Better Together Challenge (https://thesanfordschool.asu.edu/better-together), designed to help students and educators address issues related to inclusion and safety at their schools. He is a co-creator of the Sanford Harmony Program.

Veronica A. Fernandez

Veronica A. Fernandez, PhD
Research Scientist
University of Miami

Veronica A. Fernandez, PhD, is currently a Research Scientist at the University of Miami. Her research focuses on understanding and improving the quality of early learning experiences for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, as well as the transition to kindergarten. She has expertise in measurement development, advanced statistical analyses, program evaluation, teacher professional development, as well as child social-emotional and cognitive outcomes, focused on culturally and linguistically diverse children, families and teachers. Dr. Fernandez currently serves as the Co-PI on an RCT of an inquiry-based responsive coaching intervention for infant/toddler teachers and families, funded by the ACF. She is also leading the evaluation and redesign of the QRIS in Miami-Dade and the local evaluation efforts for an Early Head Start Child Care Partnership grantee. In addition, Dr. Fernandez consults to support state and national efforts around quality improvement.

Dr. Fernandez also has extensive experience in early care and education as a practitioner. She comes from a family of early educators; in fact, her mom owned and directed a preschool for over 25 years, where she worked as preschool teacher and then as a curriculum specialist for several years. During her time as a practitioner, she became increasingly involved in local, state and national ECE advocacy efforts. At the state-level, she served for several years on the Florida Early Learning Advisory Council (ELAC), the State board responsible for advising the Governor on early learning best practices and policy. Dr. Fernandez also served as an expert panelist in the Florida Department of Education's effort to review, revise and consolidate Florida's Early Learning Standards. Locally, she has served on various committees for the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade and Monroe, on the Social Emotional committee for the Young Children with Special Needs and Disabilities Council, the School Readiness Taskforce for the local Head Start grantee and the Early Education Committee for the United Way of Miami-Dade.

Eugene Garcia

Eugene E. García, PhD
Professor Emeritus
Arizona State University

Dr. Eugene García is Professor Emeritus at Arizona State University.  He served as Professor and Vice President for Education Partnerships at ASU from 2006-2011 and as Dean of the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education from 2002-2006.  He joined ASU from the University of California, Berkeley where he was Professor and Dean of The Graduate School of Education (1995-2001). He has served as an elected member of a local school board and a Senior Officer in the US Department of Education.  He has published extensively in areas of early learning, bilingual development and equal educational opportunity. He received an Honorary Doctorate from the Erikson Institute and is an AERA Fellow. He has published 16 books and over 200 articles and book chapters. His most recent books include Understanding the Language Development and Early Education of Hispanic Children (2012) with Erminda Garcia, Teachers College Press, and, An Asset Based Approach to Latino Education in the United States (2018) with Dali Ozturk, Routledge Press.

Walter S. Gilliam

Walter S. Gilliam, PhD
Director
The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy
Professor
Yale University Child Study Center

Dr. Walter S. Gilliam is Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology at the Yale University Child Study Center, as well as the Director of The Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy. He is a member of the board of directors for ZERO TO THREE, Child Care Aware of America, the Irving Harris Foundation; All Our Kin, and First Children's Finance; a research fellow of the National Institute for Early Education Research; and former Senior Advisor to the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Dr. Gilliam is co-recipient of the prestigious 2008 Grawemeyer Award in Education for the coauthored book A Vision for Universal Preschool Education. Dr. Gilliam's research involves early childhood education and intervention policy analysis (specifically how policies translate into effective services), ways to improve the quality of prekindergarten and child care services, the impact of early childhood education programs on children's school readiness, and effective methods for reducing classroom behavior problems and preschool expulsion. His scholarly writing addresses early childhood care and education programs, school readiness, and developmental assessment of young children. Dr. Gilliam has led national analyses of state-funded prekindergarten policies and mandates, how prekindergarten programs are being implemented across the range of policy contexts, and the effectiveness of these programs at improving school readiness and educational achievement, as well as experimental and quasi-experimental studies on methods to improve early education quality. His work frequently has been covered in major national and international news outlets for print (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, LA Times), radio (e.g., NPR), and television (e.g., CNN Headline News, NBC TODAY Show, CBS Early Show, ABC Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, FOX News). Dr. Gilliam actively provides consultation to state and federal decision-makers in the U.S. and other countries and is frequently called to provide U.S. Congressional testimony and briefings on issues related to early care and education.

Lisa Gordon

Lisa Gordon
Project Director
School Systems Partnerships and Programs with the Bank Street Education Center at Bank Street College

Lisa Gordon, is Project Director, School Systems Partnerships and Programs with the Bank Street Education Center at Bank Street College where she partners with schools, school systems, and districts across the US, to support positive learning outcomes for students and educators. Central to her work is a focus on strengths-based, learner-centered, and equitable educational practices, programs, and policies to affect systemic change.

Lisa has worked in early childhood education for the past 20 years designing and delivering professional development, training, technical assistance, and programs at both the state and federal levels that facilitate the well-being of children and families. She is co-founder of Colorful World, a women-owned diversity educational consulting firm whose mission is to facilitate the creation of inclusive learning environments that empower all children and families to succeed. Lisa served as Associate Director of Early Childhood Programs for the Center for Culture, Race & Equity at the Education Center at Bank Street, where she focused on elevating issues of culture, race, and implicit bias that have created opportunity gaps for children and families in disenfranchised communities and children and families of color. Prior to her work with the Education Center, Lisa was an Early Childhood Development Trainer with the Office of Head Start National Center on Culture and Linguistic Responsiveness where she co-developed research to practice materials for dissemination and facilitated trainings across the country. She has served as Director of the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency and the Professional Development Registry for the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education, and on several national school readiness and research initiatives with National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI) and the Center on Health and Education at Georgetown University. Lisa has been a mentor and coach to elementary school principals to help strengthen their capacity to lead high quality early childhood programming and to improve the quality and coherence of teaching and learning across the PreK to Grade 3 continuum. Her areas of expertise include creating high quality culturally responsive teaching and learning environments, supporting social emotional development and learning, building early childhood leadership capacity, and teacher effectiveness and professional development.

Laura Hanish

Laura D. Hanish, PhD
Professor
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Dr. Laura Hanish is a Professor of Child Development and the Deputy Director in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University (ASU). Her research addresses the importance of classroom peers for young children's developmental and academic outcomes in early childhood education settings. Central to her work is a focus on building relationships among diverse classroom peers with an eye toward mitigating aggression and exclusion and building harmonious, inclusive, and supportive relationships. In her role as Co-Executive Director of the Link Enterprise at ASU, a research and translational initiative with the goal of promoting children's well-being by building relationship strengths and competencies, she has worked with teams to develop and implement intervention strategies and materials for use in building peer relationships in early childhood classrooms and professional development programs to support teachers in building positive peer environments. Funding to support her research has come from NICHD, NSF, Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute for Educational Sciences, and the T. Denny Sanford Foundation.

Mary Louise Hemmeter

Mary Louise Hemmeter, PhD
Professor
Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University

Dr. Mary Louise Hemmeter is a professor of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Her research focuses on effective instruction, supporting social emotional development and addressing challenging behavior, and supporting teachers. She has been a PI or Co-PI on numerous projects funded by the US Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. Through her work on the National Center on the Social Emotional Foundations for Early Learning and funded research projects, she was involved in the development of the Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Young Children and a model for coaching teachers to implement effective practices known as Practice Based Coaching. She is currently involved in projects focused on examining the efficacy of the Pyramid Model in infant toddler, pre-k and kindergarten settings, studying issues related to the prevention of early childhood suspensions/expulsions, and evaluating professional development interventions. She is a co-author on the Connect4Learning Pre-K Curriculum. She was a co-editor of the Journal of Early Intervention and President of the Council for Exceptional Children's Division for Early Childhood. She received the Mary McEvoy Service to the Field Award and Merle B, Karnes Service to the Division Award from the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children.

Neal Horen

Neal Horen, PhD
Director
Early Childhood Division, Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development

Dr. Neal Horen is a clinical psychologist who has focused on early childhood mental health for the last 20 years. He is the Director of the Early Childhood Division for the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. Neal has worked closely with numerous states, tribes, territories, and communities in supporting their development of systems of care for young children and their families. He is the co-director of mental health on the Head Start National Center on Health. In that capacity, he has delivered approximately 200 trainings across the country and has co-led development of numerous materials related to infant and early childhood mental health. More recently, he has co-led efforts at building on-line professional development curricula on infant and early childhood mental health consultation. Dr. Horen is the Georgetown lead for the HV-ImpACT TA Center for MIECHV grantees, the lead for early childhood for SAMHSA funded system of care sites, the TA Director for the National Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, the PI for a Robert Wood Johnson funded study of Mental Health in Family, Friend and Neighbor Care. In addition, Dr. Horen has helped to develop many of the seminal materials related to infant and early childhood mental health consultation, including training guides, evaluation guides, and monographs. He also continues to be active in providing mental health consultation as part of his clinical practice. Neal continues to spend time working in direct clinical care including development of social skills interventions for young children, and he is director of the HOYA Clinic, which offers therapeutic and assessment services for young children and families.

Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos

Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos, PhD
Chair
Department of Education
Murchison Endowed Professor of Education
Trinity University in San Antonio
Executive Director
The Center for Educational Leadership

Oscar Jiménez-Castellanos, PhD, is the Chair of the Department of Education and Murchison Endowed Professor of Education at Trinity University in San Antonio. He also serves as Executive Director of the Center for Educational Leadership. Previously, Dr. Jiménez-Castellanos was associate professor and Director of Educational Leadership as well as Founding Director of the Latinx Education Research Center (LERC) at Santa Clara University. He also served as a visiting scholar in 2016-17 at University of California, Berkeley and affiliated with the Policy Analysis for California Education (PACE) at Stanford University. He began his academic career at Arizona State University where he served as assistant professor and associate professor.

Dr. Jiménez-Castellanos is a distinguished scholar, having published more than 50 research articles or book chapters in leading journals such as Teachers College Record, Journal of Educational Finance, and Review of Educational Research. His areas of scholarly expertise include k-12 education finance and policy and its impact on opportunity, equity and outcomes in low-income and linguistically diverse communities. In 2017, he received the Early Career Award from the Hispanic Research SIG of the American Education Research Association (AERA), the leading research association in the discipline, and a 2012 Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. Throughout his career, his research has been supported by grants from the Raise Your Hand Texas Foundation, the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), the Ford Foundation, and the Morrison Institute of Public Policy.

Michael L. López

Michael L. López, PhD
Vice President
Education and Child Development NORC, University of Chicago

Dr. Michael López is Vice President for Education and Child Development at NORC at the University of Chicago, where he provides strategic oversight and direction for the growing portfolio of early childhood research at NORC. Dr. López is a nationally recognized expert on early childhood research, with a particular emphasis on low-income or culturally and linguistically diverse populations. He has over 25 years of experience conducting applied policy research in the areas of early childhood care and education, children's socioemotional development, health and mental health, racial and ethnic disparities, cultural and linguistic diversity, and appropriate assessments for cultural and linguistically diverse dual language learners.

Prior to joining NORC, López worked as a principal associate at Abt Associates where he conducted and disseminated early childhood research spanning topics such as Head Start, state preschool, child care, and childhood obesity. Among his achievements, López has co-led the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families, a 5-year, $5 million national center to conduct and disseminate research, informing Administration for Children and Families programs and policies supporting low-income Hispanic children and families. He also has served as co-principal investigator on the National Study of the Migrant and Seasonal Head Start (MSHS) program, where he oversaw the design and implementation of a nationally representative study describing the characteristics of children and families enrolled in MSHS, as well as program practices and services.

Earlier in his career, Dr. López directed the Child Outcomes Research and Evaluation team in the Administration for Children and Families, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 1991 to 2005, where he developed and directed large-scale, national evaluation studies of federal programs—including the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey and the National Head Start Impact Study, the largest, nationally representative, randomized study examining the impact of Head Start on children's school readiness—among others.

Throughout his career, Dr. López has established numerous strategic, interdisciplinary, collaborative partnerships and leveraged coalitions with key Federal and non-Federal entities that share a common emphasis on early childhood and child and family well-being. Across the past 20 years, he also has worked to expand mentoring opportunities for early career scholars, and to increase the racial and ethnic diversity of the next generation of researchers, including, but not limited to his role overseeing two mentoring and professional development programs within ACF: the Head Start Graduate Student Research Scholars and Society for Research in Child Development Policy Research Fellowship programs.

Dr. López has written numerous peer-reviewed research articles, reports, and briefs on issues related to early childhood, Head Start, early care and education utilization, and cultural and linguistic diversity issues, including the psychometrics of language, literacy, and classroom observational measures for young dual language learners. He earned his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles, and earned his master's degree and PhD in child clinical psychology at Michigan State University. Dr. López currently serves as a board member of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute Executive Leadership Board. He is also a member of the advisory committee supporting the PNC Grow Up Great early childhood initiative.

Carol Lynn Martin

Carol Lynn Martin, PhD
Professor
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Dr. Carol Lynn Martin is Cowden Distinguished Professor in the T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics at Arizona State University. She has strong expertise related to gender development, gender segregation and integration, and peer influence and relationships, and wrote an influential theory of gender development. She has written (with Dr. Diane Ruble) two chapters outlining the state of the science of gender development for the Handbook of Child Psychology. She was an Associate Editor for Developmental Psychology and has served on editorial boards of several journals. In the past 15 years or so, her work has turned toward the study of gender in peer relationships and academics. She has published more than 100 papers, with publications appearing in top-tier journals (Science, Psychological Bulletin, Annual Review of Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Child Development, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology). Her work has been funded by NICHD, NSF, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Education, and the T. Denny Sanford Foundation. Dr. Martin also has expertise in the translation of scientific findings related to peer relationships and classroom functioning to schools. Dr. Martin also co-organizes (with Dr. Campbell Leaper, UC-Santa Cruz) the Gender Development Research Conference in which scholars from all over the world present the latest gender-related research. She is a co-creator of the Sanford Harmony Program.

Kent McIntosh

Kent McIntosh, PhD
Professor
Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences, University of Oregon

Kent McIntosh, PhD, is a Professor in the Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences at the University of Oregon and Director of Educational and Community Supports, a research unit in the College of Education. His current research focuses on implementation and sustainability of school-based interventions, reducing discipline disparities, and integrated academic and behavior support. He is lead author of over 75 peer reviewed journal articles, presenter of over 40 keynote addresses, and principal or co-investigator of over $50 million in federal grant funding. He is Co-Director on the OSEP National Technical Assistance Center on PBIS and lead of the Center's Equity Workgroup, as well as a founding member of the PBIS-SCP Canada Network and a member of the board of directors of the Association for Positive Behavior Support. He has also worked as a school psychologist, teacher trainer, and teacher in both general and special education.

Deborah F. Perry

Deborah F. Perry, PhD
Director of Research and Evaluation, Research Professor
Center for Child and Human Development, Georgetown University

Dr. Deborah F. Perry is the Director of Research and Evaluation and a professor at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development. In this role, Dr. Perry provides leadership on a broad portfolio of applied research and rigorous program evaluation. Dr. Perry's research focuses on approaches to designing and testing preventive interventions for low-income young children and their caregivers. An area of focus for her community-based research is the prevention of perinatal depression in high-risk women. Dr. Perry helped develop the evidence base for the effectiveness of early childhood mental health consultation, evaluating several statewide projects in the Washington DC region. She co-chairs the RAINE group—a think tank focused on mental health consultation policy, practice and research and is faculty for the Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation. She also serves as the external evaluator for several federally funded grants including: Washington DC's Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting program, and the SAMHSA-funded early childhood system of care grant in DC. Dr. Perry is the director of research for the Georgetown University Health Justice Alliance—a medical-legal partnership that seeks to reduce the effects of health-harming legal issues for vulnerable families in DC.

Ryan Pontier

Ryan Pontier, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Education & Human Development, Florida International University

Dr. Ryan Pontier is an Assistant Professor in the School of Education & Human Development at Florida International University. He previously served as faculty at Miami Dade College, after earning his Ph.D. in Language and Literacy Learning from the University of Miami. His research interests include appropriate and effective instructional practices for emergent bilingual learners, teacher education preparation for working with emergent bilingual learners, and teachers’ language ideology. Dr. Pontier serves as an expert in bilingualism and bilingual education for the United Way of Miami Center for Excellence in Early Education, Immediate Past President of Miami-Dade TESOL and Bilingual Education Association, Member-at-Large for Sunshine State Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL), Co-Chair of the Advocacy Committee for the Florida Association for Bilingual Education (FABE), Co-Chair for the Research and Evaluation Special Interest Group within the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE), Co-Moderator of the Sunshine State TESOL advocacy group, Chair of the Early Childhood Bilingual Education Council for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Florida, and Co-Chair of the Government & Media Relations Committee for LULAC Florida. Dr. Pontier began his education career with Teach For America in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, where he taught 3rd grade in Spanish at a dual language elementary school one mile from the Rio Grande River. He and his wife are raising two bilingual daughters.

Tunette Powell

Tunette Powell, PhD
Interim Director
UCLA Parent Empowerment Project

Dr. Tunette Powell is a powerful storyteller and educator who believes truth is a form of activism and an agent for change. As an established author and lecturer, Dr. Powell has published two nonfiction books and has spoken to groups around the country on topics including the school-to-prison pipeline, parent engagement and school-induced collective trauma. In addition, she was a 2013 TEDx speaker and has appeared on Oprah’s Lifeclass, NPR, CNN and MSNBC.

Dr. Powell recently earned her PhD in education at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Her dissertation, The Scars of School Suspension: Narratives as Testimonies of Collective Trauma, examines the wounds dealt to Black parents of children who have been suspended in early childhood education. She also serves as the interim director of the UCLA Parent Empowerment Project – a project focused on developing, nurturing and sustaining parent engagement and parent leadership in schools, especially schools serving families of color.

Hakim Rashid

Hakim Rashid, PhD
Professor
School of Education, Howard University

Dr. Hakim M. Rashid is a Professor and former Chairman of the Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies in the School of Education at Howard University in Washington, DC. A native of Flint, Michigan, Dr. Rashid received his B.A. degree in Psychology from Pomona College in Claremont, California, a M.A. in Early Childhood Education and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Education and Psychology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He completed post-doctoral work at Michigan State University's Institute for Research on Teaching. Dr. Rashid is a former preschool teacher and a center director. He has also been a research associate at the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Dr. Rashid has served as a Fulbright Scholar at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, a Visiting Professor at Khartoum University in Sudan, and a Fulbright-Hays Seminar Abroad Fellow in China. He has lectured in Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa, Bermuda, Canada, and the United States. In addition to Howard University, Dr. Rashid has served on the faculties of Jackson State University, the University of Michigan at Flint, and the University of South Carolina. Articles written by Dr. Rashid have appeared in the Journal of Negro Education, the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, Muslim Education Quarterly, Educational Research Quarterly, Contemporary Education and Young Children, among other publications. He is also a former co-editor of the online journal African American Learners. Most recently Dr. Rashid has produced and directed a documentary film entitled "Strange Fruit Redux? The Perils of Young Black Boys in Early Childhood Education."

Elizabeth Ricks

Elizabeth Ricks, PhD
Assistant Professor
School of Education, Howard University

Dr. Elizabeth Ricks is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Development and Psychoeducational Studies at Howard University. She currently teaches courses that focus on youth placed at risk and resiliency, parent-child relationships and research methods. Dr. Ricks' research focuses on classroom contextual factors that contribute to the development of cognitive self-regulation, approaches to learning and mathematics and reading achievement in young children. Dr. Ricks earned a doctorate in Educational Psychology with a concentration in Educational Policy from Howard University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Ricks has presented at various conferences on child development, such as the American Education Research Association, Society for Research in Child Development, and the American Psychological Association. In addition to conference presentations, she has published in the Journal of Contemporary School Psychology and the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, among others.

Eva Marie Shivers

Eva Marie Shivers, J.D., PhD
Director
Indigo Cultural Center

Eva Marie Shivers, J.D., Ph.D. is the executive director of Indigo Cultural Center, a non-profit action research firm located in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Shivers' work at Indigo Cultural Center focuses on the developmental niche of infant and early childhood development, mental health and education to explore the evolution of frameworks for understanding families' culturally adaptive responses to poverty, systemic racism, and historical marginalization.

Prior to relocating to Arizona, Dr. Shivers was a faculty member in the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her Ph.D. from UCLA's Department of Education, Psychological Studies in Education. Dr. Shivers also holds a law degree from Howard University School of Law, and a BA in English Literature from Arizona State University.

Dr. Shivers has numerous peer-reviewed publications, and presents her research on equity, child care, mental health consultation, and other early childhood professional development initiatives throughout the country. She has served as Principal Investigator on many child care studies that involve collaborating with community agencies, national organizations, as well as state and county administrations. Racial equity is central to all research, evaluation and training efforts.

She currently provides early childhood racial equity training and consultation to infant and early childhood mental health community agencies and state departments around the country. For the past fifteen years, Dr. Shivers has provided child care research policy consultation to federal, state and local government agencies and administrators.

D. Camille Smith

D. Camille Smith, Ed.S., M.S., CPD, CCCE
Educational Psychologist
National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

D. Camille Smith, Ed.S., M.S., CPD, CCCE is an Educational Psychologist and Certified Childbirth Educator who has spent over 35 years working to strengthen families and communities by helping parents and the providers who serve them feel confident, strong and resilient. Most recently, she has worked as a Behavioral Scientist with the Learn the Signs. Act Early. Program in the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta. This program aims to coordinate early childhood systems and increase early identification of children at risk for or with developmental delay. Also at CDC, she assisted with the design and implementation of a randomized, controlled trial of a group-based parenting intervention called Legacy for Children. Legacy is designed to promote sensitive and responsive parenting, enhance parent – child interactions, and promote a sense of community. She has served on many Boards, including the AAP National Advisory Board on Developmental Screening, Maternal Depression and Social Determinants of Health. She holds certifications as a HUG Your Baby Trainer, Zero to Three the Growing Brain Trainer, Infant Mental Health, and NCAST. In addition, Camille is involved in global initiatives that address building capacity for early childhood programming in low and middle-income countries. Camille currently volunteers teaching prenatal classes and providing postpartum support with new Mothers in the Refugee Resettlement Community close to Atlanta, Ga.

Takiema Bunche Smith

Takiema Bunche Smith
Executive Director
Center on Culture, Race & Equity

Takiema has worked for over two decades in support of children, families and educational programs and systems through her work as a teacher, teacher educator, curriculum director, parent activist, and executive leader. Her life’s work has been guided by a deep commitment to racial equity, social justice, and a belief that centering the histories and perspectives of marginalized people can support individuals, institutions and systems to become more equitable for all.  Her work lives at the intersection of theory, policy and practice, and she uses a culturally responsive and anti-oppression lens to re-frame and re-imagine what educational experiences could look like for children, adults, families and communities. Her wide range of professional and personal experiences, and deeply reflective approach to life and learning, helps her create a culture of collaboration wherever she goes, centered around a vision of liberation for all.

Takiema has presented on education related topics to a variety of audiences across New York, the United States and Sweden, and has published articles and op-eds in venues such as Childhood Education Innovations, NAEYC Young Children, Al-Jazeera and The Washington Post. She is also a doula, and is passionate about creating a culture of self-care, particularly as it relates to professional environments.

Takiema holds Master’s degrees in Early Childhood & Elementary Education from Bank Street College of Education, Urban Education Policy from the CUNY Graduate Center, and from NYU Wagner’s School for Public Service.

Conor P. Williams

Conor P. Williams, PhD
Fellow
The Century Foundation

Dr. Williams is a fellow at The Century Foundation, where he writes about education, immigration, early education, school choice, and work-life balance challenges for American families. He is an expert on American educational inequity, English learner students, dual immersion programs, urban education reform, and the history of progressivism.

Dr. Williams was previously a senior researcher in New America's Education Policy Program, a senior researcher in its Early Education Initiative, and the founding director of its Dual Language Learners National Work Group. He has taught postsecondary courses at Georgetown University, George Washington University, and American University. He is a member of the National Conference of State Legislatures' State Policy and Research for Early Education (SPREE) Working Group.

Dr. Williams holds a PhD and MA in government from Georgetown University, an MS in teaching from Pace University, and a BA in government and Spanish from Bowdoin College. Before beginning his doctoral research, he taught first grade in Brooklyn, New York. Williams attended public schools for his K–12 education, and has two children enrolled in a public elementary school in Washington, D.C.

Dawn A. Yazzie

Dawn A. Yazzie, M.A.
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant and Expert Mentor
Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation

Dawn A. Yazzie, M.A., works as an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant for a program called Smart Support at Southwest Human Development in Arizona. The program is funded by the Arizona First Things First statewide initiative. Dawn also works with the national Center of Excellence for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (CoE for IECMHC) through Southwest Human Development and the Children's Equity Project. Dawn has experience in providing national technical assistance, and experience in providing infant and early childhood mental health consultation to early care directors, teachers, and home visitors on the Navajo Nation.

Doctoral Students

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Brittany Alexander

Brittany Alexander, M.S.
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Brittany Alexander is a doctoral student at Arizona State University and research associate on the Children’s Equity Project, working towards ensuring equitable educational opportunities for all children. Her work broadly focuses on intersectional educational equity, social and emotional learning, and the impact of race on children’s educational experiences. Her research specifically focuses on the development and measurement of compassion and hope in the educational context using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods approaches. Additionally, Brittany is interested in the connection between research, policy, and practice. She is involved in various translational efforts including the creation of the Creating Connected Classrooms professional development for early childhood educators, the development of courses designed to promote compassion and empathy in undergraduate and medical students, and ASU's Center for the Advanced Study and Practice of Hope, university non-profit partnership.

Ana Maria Melendez Guevara

Ana Maria Melendez Guevara, LCSW
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Ana Maria Melendez Guevara, LCSW before joining ASU she worked as a Child and Family therapist in a community mental health agency serving children and families survivors of complex trauma. Generally, Ana' research interest lays in studying child and family development in contexts of risk and adversity within ethnic minorities and vulnerable populations. One of Ana's academic goals is to be able to contribute to the development and evaluation of culturally sensitive interventions that address the complex needs of families who have undergone adversities by identifying micro and macro mechanisms of adaptation and resilience.

Robert Michael Tovar

Robert Michael Tovar
T. Denny Sanford School of Social and Family Dynamics, Arizona State University

Robert Michael Tovar is a graduate of Arizona State University where he received a concurrent degree in Communication and Family and Human Development. He is also the recipient of the Spring 2019 Dean's Medal for the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University. Robert's research interests focus on youth of color and sexual orientation, bullying, educational attainment and inequity, and the role of context in these experiences. His interest in educational inequity stems from his own personal experiences, and his professional experiences through working with the non-profit organization, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE). It is through his research that he hopes to create not only diverse safe spaces, but inclusive spaces where multiple voices are heard, respected, and valued.