Who We Are

The Center on the Developing Child is a multidisciplinary team committed to driving science-based innovation in policy and practice. Learn about our senior leadership team, staff, affiliated faculty, and Center fellows and senior fellows.

Center Director

Headshot of Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.

Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.

Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., is the Julius B. Richmond FAMRI Professor of Child Health and Development at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the Harvard Graduate School of Education; Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital; Research Staff at Massachusetts General Hospital; and Founding Director of the university-wide Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University.

View Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D.'s Full Bio

Center Leadership Team

Melanie Berry, Psy.D.

Melanie Berry, PsyD., is the Director of the Pediatric Innovation Initiative, a national network of change agents committed to building new measurement capacity to enable providers, parents, and other caregivers to assess and address the effects of early adversity. She’s passionate about helping innovators in early childhood use cutting-edge science and data to promote better outcomes for young children facing adversity.

View Melanie Berry, Psy.D.'s Full Bio

Lindsey C. Burghardt, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP

Lindsey Burghardt, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP, is the Chief Science Officer at the Center and a practicing primary care pediatrician in the community outside of Boston. At the Center, she identifies emerging areas of scientific interest and priority within the field of early childhood and creates a roadmap for the Center’s scientific agenda.   Lindsey synthesizes and translates the science behind ECD 2.0, including the impact of the built and natural environments on health and development. She works closely with the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child as well as with faculty across Harvard to build a multidisciplinary scientific understanding of early childhood and communicate that knowledge to a variety of audiences.

View Lindsey C. Burghardt, M.D., M.P.H., FAAP's Full Bio

James Cairns, M.A.

James Cairns is Senior Director for Strategic Engagements and Organizational Learning. He leads Center-wide efforts focused on understanding the early childhood ecosystem and the Center’s role in it, including developing strategic collaborations and partnerships and leading efforts to understand and measure the impact of our work. He also continues to provide strategic guidance to the Center’s international portfolio and partnerships.

View James Cairns, M.A.'s Full Bio

Rebecca Hansen, M.F.A.

As of April 2022, Rebecca Hansen serves as the Center’s Director of Communications. Rebecca leads the Center’s work to develop and implement innovative, impactful strategies for reaching target audiences in new ways through the Center’s widely respected, global platform for the effective communication of the translated science of child development. Rebecca brings to this work more than 15 years of experience in the science communications realm.

View Rebecca Hansen, M.F.A.'s Full Bio

Dominique Lightsey-Joseph, Ed.D., M.Ed.

Dominique Lightsey-Joseph, EdD, MEd, serves as the Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB) Strategy at the Center on the Developing Child. Dominique develops strategies and action plans to advance the Center’s commitment to fostering equitable outcomes in early childhood development. She also leads the co-creation of an organizational culture where all staff feel respected, included, and able to do their best.

View Dominique Lightsey-Joseph, Ed.D., M.Ed.'s Full Bio
Licong Liu

Licong Liu

Licong Liu is the Center’s Director of Finance. He is responsible for guiding financial planning, policy, and processes at the Center, and for management and oversight of its budgets, contracts, and sponsored awards.

View Licong Liu's Full Bio
Headshot of Gillian Najarian

Gillian A. Najarian, Ed.M.

Gillian Najarian is Managing Director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and was among the Center’s founders in July 2006. She is Chief Operating Officer for the Center, responsible for overseeing and coordinating Center-wide governance issues, including resource assessment and strategic planning around all new initiatives as well as fundraising and donor relations, board management, faculty development, partnership development, and staff deployment and development.

View Gillian A. Najarian, Ed.M.'s Full Bio
Tassy Warren

Tassy Warren, Ed.M.

Tassy Warren is Deputy Director and Chief Strategy Officer at the Center on the Developing Child. She is responsible for leading the Center’s strategy development and ongoing refinement as well as working in collaboration with Center staff to implement our strategies effectively.

View Tassy Warren, Ed.M.'s Full Bio
Corey Zimmerman

Corey Zimmerman, Ed.M.

Corey Zimmerman is Chief Program Officer at the Center on the Developing Child. She provides strategic leadership to the Center’s work to help target audiences apply the science to their work and decision-making, including supporting ventures, programs, and systems to reach impact at scale for children and families facing adversity.

View Corey Zimmerman, Ed.M.'s Full Bio

Staff

  • Aeshna Badruzzaman, Ph.D., Senior Project Manager for Instructional Design
    Aeshna Badruzzaman

    Aeshna Badruzzaman, Ph.D. serves as the Senior Project Manager for Instructional Design at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. As part of the Innovator Supports Team, she supports the Center’s efforts to bridge the research/action gap by providing a range of capacity-building experiences and developing curricula, programs, toolkits, and other learning experiences that make the science of early childhood actionable and support the field in increasing the impact and scalability of innovations.

    Prior to joining the Center, Aeshna spent over 15 years as a researcher, educator, and program manager. She has designed and implemented research agendas in collaboration with NGOs and activist partners focusing on climate change, conflict negotiation, workers’ rights, and human rights and advocacy. She has spent years teaching at the university level—designing curricula and facilitating student research and learning experiences (in person and online) that enable critical analysis. She has also worked in academic publishing, striving to highlight emerging scholarship in regions typically underrepresented in traditional academic journals through advising and the development of online programs.

    Aeshna holds a Ph.D. in political science from Northeastern, an M.A. in politics from New York University, and a B.A. in economics and development studies from U.C. Berkeley.

  • Lauren Brulet, M.S., Senior Project Coordinator
    Lauren Brulet, Project Coordinator

    Lauren joined the Center in December 2019 and serves as a Senior Project Coordinator. In this role she provides administrative, logistical, and project support to several pediatric-facing initiatives that aim to promote the healthy development of all young children through empowerment of caregivers and pediatricians. Previously, Lauren worked at Boston Children’s Hospital as a Certified Child Life Specialist. Lauren holds an M.S. in child life and family centered care from Wheelock College (now Boston University) and a B.A. in public policy from the University of Delaware.

  • Susan Crowley, M.P.A., Senior Project Manager
    Susan Crowley

    Susan Crowley joined the Center in April 2011 as Project Manager for the Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) initiative, bringing extensive management experience in health care, early education, and university settings. She works with the FOI team and its partners to develop and test innovative strategies aimed at decreasing barriers to learning, particularly focusing on managing the FOI-sponsored working groups, the Innovation by Design process, and links to policy work. She earned a B.S. in nursing from Boston University and an M.P.A. from Harvard Kennedy School.

  • Alison Driesch, Event Manager and Project Lead for ELP
    Alison Driesch

    Alison Driesch is the Event Manager at the Center on the Developing Child. She supports major meetings and events for all of the Center’s projects and serves as the Project Lead for the Executive Leadership Program in Early Childhood Development. Previously, she worked for Enterprise Community Partners, organizing a broad range of meetings and national conferences. Alison received her B.S. in marketing from Roger Williams University.

  • Andres Garcia Lopez, Ed.M., M.B.A., Senior Project Manager, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation
    Andres Garcia Lopez, Senior Project Manager, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation

    Andres Garcia Lopez is the Senior Project Manager, Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation (aka Entrepreneur-in-Residence) at the Center. In his role, Andres supports early childhood entrepreneurs as they scale their ventures while maintaining impact. He brings 16 years of experience in startups and large corporations.

  • Sally Gibney, M.A., Senior Project Manager
    Sally Pfitzer

    Sally Gibney is a Senior Project Manager at the Center. She provides leadership in developing and executing program strategy for catalyzing innovative practice change in pediatrics by leveraging new measurement capacity. Sally also contributes to the Center’s strategy for engaging key stakeholders in the global ECD field, particularly around the science of play. She manages relationships with key stakeholders, including funders, faculty, community organizations, clinical practices, and international relief and development organizations. Sally has experience as a research assistant in neuropsychology labs and science museums, and as an educator working with young children, both domestically and internationally. Sally holds a master’s degree in child development from Tufts University and a B.A. in psychology from Boston University.

  • Lisa Haidar, M.S., Project Manager, Leadership Programs and Initiatives

    Lisa Haidar joined the Center in August 2012. As a Project Manager, she provides leadership for meaningful interdisciplinary and collaborative student learning opportunities. Lisa has worked in publishing, state government, and alumnae relations, and has extensive experience in volunteer leadership and training. She holds a B.A. in English from Bates College, and an M.S. in mass communication from Boston University.

  • Amelia Johnson, Communications Specialist

    Amelia Johnson is a Communications Specialist at the Center on the Developing Child. As part of our Communications team, Amelia plays a key role effectively communicating to target audiences about the research and work of the Center. Prior to joining the Center in September 2022, Amelia worked for Jumpstart for Young Children, a national early education non-profit. As the Senior Development Writer at Jumpstart, Amelia spread awareness about the importance of high-quality early education and the impact of Jumpstart’s programming.

    Before moving to Boston, Amelia lived in Washington, D.C. and worked in the international policy sector. She wrote content for the E-Collaborative for Civic Education (Tavaana), a non-profit that advocates for civil rights in Iran, and worked as a Participant Manager at the Halifax International Security Forum, a non-profit that fosters collaboration between democracies worldwide.

    Amelia holds a B.A. in Political Science from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, where she also minored in English and Writing Colleagues, a unique peer-tutoring program aimed at helping students improve their writing process.

  • Cindy Martell, Executive Coordinator
    Cindy Martell

    Cindy Martell joined the Center in March 2013 and currently serves as the Executive Coordinator to Dr. Jack Shonkoff. In this role, Cindy skillfully manages Jack’s administrative duties plus is also responsible for assisting the Center’s leadership team as needed. Cindy is the office manager for the Center and ensures the smooth operation of the Center. She is the first point of contact for all office management which includes handling IT and building issues and coordinating staff events. Cindy formerly worked at the Appalachian Mountain Club’s corporate headquarters coordinating volunteer management and events. Cindy earned her A.S. with honors in business management/hospitality from Middlesex Community College.

  • Dominic Mathurin, M.A., Digital Solutions Developer

    Dominic Mathurin is the Digital Solutions Developer at the Center. He is responsible for managing the Center’s various global web platforms and developing new functionality and enhancements. Prior to joining the Center, he worked as a Webmaster for the Hiphop Archive Research Institute at Harvard University. He also spent several years in New York City working at Columbia University Medical center as one of the chief architects of a clinical trials recruitment website. Dominic earned a B.A. in psychology at St. John’s University and received his M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Columbia University.

  • Jessica Nelson, M.A., Senior Project Manager; Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging
    Jessica Nelson

    As Senior Project Manager; Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging (EDIB), Jessica works closely with the Director of EDIB Strategy to advance EDIB initiatives at the Center. This includes leading staff capacity-building efforts, monitoring and assessing their impact, and identifying opportunities to strengthen EDIB in the Center’s science generation, communication, and application processes. She also contributes to the Center’s measurement and evaluation team and innovator supports initiatives.

    Prior to joining the Center in September 2014, Jessica worked for 10 years as a bilingual early childhood educator, focusing on anti-bias education, in Boston (Eliot Pearson Children’s School), Seattle (El Centro de la Raza), and Itauguá, Paraguay (El Centro del Desarrollo de la Niñez). She also coordinated the Shanti volunteer program, which provided emotional support to people living with HIV/AIDS. Jessica has experience as a grassroots organizer with the Boston Dyke March, an event focusing on intersecting oppressions in the LGBTQIA+ community. And at College of the Holy Cross, she helped organize the Multicultural Peer Educator program, focused on consciousness raising, building an inclusive community, and working for social justice. Currently, her activist work centers around the intersection of mindfulness and social justice in her Buddhist community. Jessica received her B.A. in Spanish from College of the Holy Cross and her M.A. in child development from Tufts University.

  • Ayobami Olugbenga, Project Coordinator
    Ayobami Olugbenga, Project Coordinator

    Ayobami Olugbenga joined the Center in 2019 as a Project Coordinator providing technical and organizational support for Science X Design, IDEAS Impact Framework Workshops, and Porticus Grant workstreams. Prior to coming to the Center, Ayobami worked most recently with ERT Boston and Massachusetts General Hospital, and has vast experience in project and clinical research coordination. He earned a B.Sc. in Microbiology from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.

  • Priscila Pumarada Urrutia, Ed.M., Assistant Director, Innovation Partnerships and Business Development
    Priscila Pumarada Urrutia

    As the Assistant Director, Innovation Partnerships and Business Development, Priscila is responsible for the strategic direction and the implementation of the Center’s partnership and business development efforts for building innovator supports. Prior to joining the Center, Priscila worked at several education-focused nonprofits across the United States and Puerto Rico, and early in her career, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua. Priscila holds a master’s degree in education policy and management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Saint Joseph University.

  • Melissa Rivard, Ed.M., Assistant Director, Innovation Strategies
    Melissa Rivard

    As the Assistant Director, Innovation Strategies, Melissa is responsible for strategically directing and overseeing implementation of the Center’s efforts around building and delivering innovator supports, and leads several of the Center’s larger innovation initiatives. Melissa joined the Center in December 2015, bringing extensive experience in program design and qualitative research, and a passion for supporting shared learning and co-creation among diverse stakeholders. Previously, she worked at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education across a number of educational research initiatives, including a long-term collaboration between early childhood educators in Reggio Emilia and researchers and educators from the U.S. Melissa holds an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. from the University of Minnesota.

  • Nirka Rosa, Senior Project Manager, Administration and Culture

    As the Senior Project Manager of Administration and Culture, Nirka works in collaboration with the Director of EDIB Strategy and the Senior Project Manager of EDIB to foster a culture that is values-driven and focused on excellence. Nirka is the principal liaison between HGSE Human Resources and the Center, and as such, partners with staff at every level of the organization to help develop, implement, and manage a wide array of internal processes, procedures and activities that foster accountability, promote EDIB engagement, encourage professional development, and create transparent and equitable growth pathways for team members.

    With more than 20 years of experience in Human Resources, Operations, and Project Management, Nirka previously worked for both Mass General Hospital (MGH) and Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) where she was responsible for the continued improvement of the Flexible Workplace Program. Prior to joining the Center, Nirka has utilized her project management skills to collaborate with colleagues and institutional partners to drive innovation and process improvements. She’s managed multiple Human Resources and Operations projects, including recruitment, training and onboarding, and related operational support for new hires and employee moves. Nirka also served as BWH’s Development Office DEI Committee Co-Chair and the department’s DEI Advocate, enhancing employee engagement, creating a sense of belonging, and improving the employee experience. Prior to that, she served as the Assistant Director of a state-wide Human Services organization where she interfaced with local, state, and federal departments, and collaboratively created and deployed strategies for service improvement, and served as the Human Resources Liaison. Nirka holds a B.S. in Human Services from Springfield College.

  • Evan Roth-Howe, M.A., Project Manager
    Evan Roth-Howe

    Evan Roth-Howe joined the Center in April 2015 as Project Manager for the Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) initiative, and supports the initiative’s Latin American portfolio. He previously worked with a variety of development and educational organizations to design and implement early childhood development interventions in India, Rwanda, and the U.S. Evan is a licensed Early Intervention Specialist and holds M.A. degrees in child development from Tufts University and international development from The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University.

  • Katie Sherman, Project Manager
    Katie Sherman, Senior Project Coordinator

    Katie Sherman is a Project Manager at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Katie has been at the Center since 2017, and over her tenure has developed an increasingly diverse portfolio of work supporting both the Center’s measurement development work as well as internal standards for staff management, namely in the areas of project management and equitable hiring practices. As part of the measurement development work, Katie oversees the Health’s Early Roots & Origins (HERO) Study, managing a cohort of more than 15 sites investigating children’s biological and behavioral responses to stress. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.A. in Environmental Studies from the University of Rochester.

Affiliated Faculty

In keeping with the Center’s university-wide mandate to draw upon the intellectual resources across the campus, faculty members from most of the University’s schools have been engaged to help build the Center’s agenda.

View Our Affiliated Faculty

Center Fellows & Senior Fellows

Our multidisciplinary Center fellows and senior fellows collaborate with our staff and bring their diverse areas of expertise to our shared vision of leveraging science to drive innovation in early childhood policy and practice.

  • Susan Nall Bales, M.A., Senior Fellow

    Susan Nall Bales, M.A., a Senior Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child, is president of the nonprofit FrameWorks Institute, which conducts communications research on social issues. Her work with scholars from the social and cognitive sciences has led to the development of Strategic Frame Analysis™, a multi-method, multi-disciplinary approach to understanding public thinking. She has commissioned, written, and published numerous reports on how Americans view diverse issues such as child development, the environment, and foreign policy. A veteran communications strategist and issues campaigner, she has more than 30 years of experience researching, designing, implementing, and critiquing campaigns on social issues. She has served as a lecturer at Pitzer College and as a visiting scholar at The Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University. A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles, she earned an M.A. in literature and language from Middlebury College.

  • Steve Cohen, M.P.A., Senior Fellow

    Steve Cohen, M.P.A., a Senior Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child, is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy, where he leads CSSP’s partnership with the Center, with a particular focus on helping public systems take up emerging knowledge about child development to improve policy and practice. Steve was previously vice president and chief program officer of the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where he worked to reform child welfare systems facing class action litigation. Earlier in his career, Steve served as associate executive director of the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services, a large human services agency in New York City. He also held senior positions in child welfare and juvenile justice in New York City government. Steve has a master’s degree in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, and a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University.

  • Cerella Craig, M.P.H, Senior Fellow

    Cerella Craig is a Research Assistant II at the SEICHE Center for Health and Justice at Yale School of Medicine. Cerella’s role with the Transitions Clinic Network – Post Incarceration Addiction Treatment, Healthcare and Social Support (TCN PATHS) research team is a continuation of her commitment to supporting health equity among marginalized populations. She is a mother of two and considers herself a lifelong student and social justice advocate. In 2021, Cerella founded Onward and Upward Job and Career Services LLC, which provides resume writing, and job placement services. Cerella is an active member of the Pediatric Innovation Initiative’s Community Leadership Council. She holds a BS in Health and Social Inequalities from the University of Connecticut, and an MPH from Southern Connecticut State University.

  • Erin C. Dunn, Sc.D., M.P.H., Senior Fellow

    Dr. Erin C. Dunn is a social and psychiatric epidemiologist with expertise in genetics and epigenetics. Her research laboratory uses interdisciplinary approaches to better understand the social and biological factors that influence the etiology of depression among women, children, and adolescents. The goal of her work is to identify the causal mechanisms underlying risk for depression, translate that knowledge to population-based strategies for prevention, and target those strategies to “sensitive periods” in development. Sensitive periods are high-risk/high-reward stages in the course of the lifespan when experience, whether exposure to adversity on the one hand or health-promoting interventions on the other, can have lasting impacts on brain health. Through her efforts to determine when these sensitive periods occur, her goal is to design interventions that not only promote brain health across the lifespan, but are also uniquely timed to minimize the consequences of stress exposure, prevent depression before it onsets, and make the most efficient use of limited public health dollars. Dr. Dunn is currently an Associate Professor at the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Harvard Medical School and is affiliated with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard, and the Henry and Allison McCance Center for Brain Health at MGH.

  • Philip A. Fisher, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

    Philip A. Fisher, Ph.D., Senior Fellow, is also a member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and the National Forum on Early Childhood Policy and Programs. He is Philip H. Knight Chair and Professor of Psychology at the University of Oregon, where he directs the Center for Translational Neuroscience. Philip’s work on children in foster care and the child welfare system includes (a) basic research characterizing the effects of early stress on neurobiological systems such as the HPA axis and areas of the prefrontal cortex involved in executive functioning; (b) the development of preventive interventions, including the Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care Program for Preschoolers (MTFC-P) and the Kids in Transition to School Program (KITS); and (c) the dissemination of evidence-based practice in community settings. His work has been funded by a number of institutes of the National Institutes of Health, including NIDA, NIMH, and NICHD, as well as the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. He serves on a number of national advisory groups related to prevention science and community based research. He is the recipient of the 2012 Society for Prevention Research Translational Science Award.

  • Nathaniel Foote, J.D., M.B.A., Senior Fellow

    Nathaniel Foote, J.D., M.B.A., a Senior Fellow at the Center, is a director of the TruePoint Center for Higher Ambition Leadership. A co-author of the recent book, Higher Ambition: How Great Leaders Create Economic and Social Value, he has helped clients in a wide range of settings to build more effective institutions that achieve objectives for accelerated growth, increased innovation, and improved performance for all stakeholders. Since 2009, Nathaniel has worked closely with the Center on the Developing Child as part of the Frontiers of Innovation Initiative. Nathaniel was with McKinsey & Company for 19 years, where he was a partner and leader of McKinsey’s Organization Design practice, and had global responsibility for the effectiveness of McKinsey’s communities of practice. He received an M.B.A. degree from Harvard Business School, where he was a Baker Scholar, and a J.D. degree from Harvard Law School, magna cum laude. He attended the University of Cambridge as the Fiske Scholar, after receiving his B.A. degree from Harvard.

  • Nathan A. Fox, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

    Nathan A. Fox is Distinguished University Professor, Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science at the University of Maryland College Park. He has completed research on the biological bases of social and emotional behavior, developing methods for assessing brain activity in infants and young children during tasks designed to elicit a range of emotions. His work on the temperamental antecedents of anxiety is funded by the National Institutes of Health, where he was awarded a MERIT award for excellence of his research program. He is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Association for Psychological Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Recently, he received the Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award from the Society for Research in Child Development and the Distinguished Mentor Award and the G. Stanley Hall Award for Lifelong Achievement in Developmental Science from Division 7 of the American Psychological Association. He is a founding member of the National Scientific Council for the Developing Child and is currently co-Scientific Director of this group. He is one of three Principal Investigators on the Bucharest Early Intervention Project.

  • Nat Kendall-Taylor, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

    Nat Kendall-Taylor, Ph.D., is chief executive officer at the FrameWorks Institute, a communications think tank in Washington, DC. As CEO, he leads a multi-disciplinary team of social scientists and communications practitioners who investigate ways to apply innovative framing research methods to social issues and train nonprofit organizations to put the findings into practice. An expert in psychological anthropology and communications science, Nat publishes widely in the popular and professional press and lectures frequently in the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in peer-reviewed journals such as Science CommunicationHuman OrganizationApplied Communications Research, Child Abuse and Neglect, and the Annals of Anthropological Practice. He is a senior fellow at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, a visiting professor at the Child Study Center at Yale School of Medicine, and a fellow at the British-American Project.

  • Pat Levitt, Ph.D., Senior Fellow

    Pat Levitt, Ph.D., a Senior Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child, is also the Science Co-Director of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, an initiative of the Center. He is the Chief Scientific Officer, Vice President and Director of The Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). He is the Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at CHLA, and the W.M. Keck Provost Professor of Neurogenetics at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. He received his B.A. in Biological Sciences from the University of Chicago; Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego; and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Yale University. Dr. Levitt has held leadership positions at the University of Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt University, the University of Southern California, and CHLA. Dr. Levitt has served as a member of the U.S. National Advisory Mental Health Council for the National Institute of Mental Health, and is a member of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine Committee Report “Vibrant and Healthy Kids: Aligning Science, Practice and Policy.” He is also on the editorial boards of 10 scientific journals, including his current role as Editor-in Chief of “Mind, Brain and Education.” He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives. In his capacity as Science Co-Director of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, Dr. Levitt has spoken to groups of policymakers, service providers, and business leaders about making wise decisions regarding child brain and physical health program investments in 42 states, Mexico, and Canada.

    Dr. Levitt has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health and numerous private foundations since 1982. His laboratory does both translational and clinical research. The program focuses on identifying the factors that assure healthy development of brain architecture, which controls learning, emotional, and social behavior. His clinical research studies address how toxic stress responses in infants and toddlers may be detected as early as possible in order to develop best practices for promoting resilience and better prevention and intervention. He also engages families in research who have a child with autism spectrum disorder and co-occurring medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal disorders. He has published over 300 scientific papers.

  • Laura K. Noll, Ph.D., Junior Fellow

    Dr. Laura K. Noll, a Junior Fellow at the Center, is an Assistant Professor in the areas of Clinical Psychology and Human Neuroscience in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Northern Arizona University (NAU), where she is also an affiliated faculty member of the Southwest Health Equity Collaborative and Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Ph.D. Program. As a prevention scientist working at the intersection of translational neuroscience and developmental psychology, Dr. Noll’s program of research focuses on utilizing multi-modal assessment strategies to delineate the pathways by which parents’ own history of childhood adversity impacts parental function; identifying new intervention targets that may be most sensitive to change; and translating such findings from basic science into effective intervention strategies and novel research tools to forward our ability to support at-risk families. In her role as Junior Fellow, Dr. Noll provides support for program evaluation with the Center’s Frontiers of Innovation R&D platform.

  • James M. Radner, M.Phil., Senior Fellow

    James M. Radner, M.Phil., a Senior Fellow at the Center, is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy & Governance at the University of Toronto (Canada), where he is the executive director and co-founder of The Boreal Institute for Civil Society. He is also a senior fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs at the University of Toronto, where he directs the International Program on Social Entrepreneurship and Civil Society. Since 2009, Jamie has worked closely with the Center on the Developing Child as part of the Frontiers of Innovation initiative. His teaching and action research concern issues of domestic and international social and economic development, and uses of quantitative and qualitative tools to improve the effectiveness of social institutions. He has wide experience in civil society and development, including positions at community health, education, and economic development organizations, as well as program and management work at Amnesty International U.S.A., and consulting assignments for governments, aid institutions, businesses, and civic organizations. Previously, Jamie was a senior advisor at Hogan & Hartson LLP in Washington, DC. He earned a B.A. from Harvard University, an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, and completed the P.M.D. at Harvard Business School.

  • Leslie E. Roos, Ph.D., Junior Fellow

    Dr. Leslie E. Roos, a Junior Fellow at the Center, is an Assistant Professor in the areas of Clinical Psychology, School Psychology, and Pediatrics at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Roos aims to support families facing chronic stress by developing targeted programs that build maternal mental health and responsive parenting capacities. Her research uses a multi-modal approach across epidemiological, stress neurobiology, and parent-child observation methods to identify opportunities for intervention. Community-led partnerships are also a focus of her work, including collaborations with local school districts and social service agencies. Dr. Roos consults on program evaluation with the Frontiers of Innovation at the Center on the Developing Child, is Chair of the Academic Research Committee at the Until the Last Child Foundation, and is an Affiliated Researcher with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba.

  • Aaliyah Samuel, Ed.D., Senior Fellow

    Dr. Aaliyah Samuel, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Local, State and National Engagement at the U.S. Department of Education is a Senior Fellow at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. Formerly, Aaliyah served as Executive Vice President of Government Affairs & Partnerships at NWEA. Aaliyah is a bilingual executive leader with expertise from early childhood through higher education. Her experience includes program evaluation and evidence-based programs; data collection and disaggregation; family and community engagement support strategies; and policy development and implementation at the local, state, and national level. Aaliyah has informed state policy agendas, assisted with developing cross systems approaches to develop policy solutions to support children and families and leading systems-level change. In her role at NWEA, she led a team working on driving a state and federal education agenda. Prior to NWEA, Dr. Samuel was the Director of Education at the National Governors Association (NGA). While at NGA, Aaliyah’s work included business development, strategic planning, and supporting high-ranking state officials on the development of policies that impacted health, education, and workforce. Aaliyah has worked with diverse constituents, philanthropies, and national partners. Aaliyah holds an undergraduate degree from Tuskegee University, a Masters from University of South Florida, and a Specialist and Doctorate Degree from NOVA Southeastern.

  • Holly Schindler, Ph.D., Fellow

    Dr. Holly Schindler, a Fellow at the Center, is an Assistant Professor in the areas of Early Childhood and Family Studies and Educational Psychology at the University of Washington. Prior to her time at the University of Washington, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center. Dr. Schindler’s current research program focuses on how interventions and policies can best target family and school contexts during early childhood to prevent behavior problems and promote mental health in vulnerable populations of families. As part of her work in this area, she conducts meta-analyses using a comprehensive database housing program evaluations of early childhood education, family support, and health-based interventions conducted over the past 5 decades. In a complementary line of research, Dr. Schindler examines how family relationships during early childhood contribute to child and parent mental health and behavior, with an emphasis on the roles of fathers.

  Print this page   Subscribe to our mailing list