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

James Cairns,Director, International Programs and Shared Learning

James Cairns

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.

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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.

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Headshot of Gillian Najarian

Gillian A. Najarian

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.

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Al Race

Al Race

Al Race is Deputy Director and Chief Knowledge Officer at the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University. His focus is on how to use the knowledge generated by the Center’s work, internally and externally, in order to transform the landscape in which science-based innovation for children and families facing adversity can thrive and grow.

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Tassy Warren

Tassy Warren

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.

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Corey Zimmerman

Corey Zimmerman

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.

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Staff

  • Hannah Barber, Project Manager
    Hannah Barber, project manager

    Hannah Barber joined the Center on the Developing Child in 2017. As Project Manager, Hannah leads strategy and content development for the Center’s Science X Design offering, a suite of strategies to support the design, evaluation, and scale of sustainable policies and practices using the latest insights from the science of early childhood development, adversity, and resilience. She works with a range of national and international innovators, including policy makers, system leaders, practitioners, and social entrepreneurs. Hannah brings extensive international experience in child development and adult learning. She holds a BA in Politics and International Studies, a Master of Teaching from the University of Melbourne, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Melanie Berry, Director of Innovation Strategies
    Melanie Berry, Director of Innovation Strategies

    As Director of Innovation Strategies, Melanie Berry provides strategic leadership around the incubation of promising new programs within the Center’s Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) initiative. She is part of the team that developed the IDEAS Impact Framework, the model used within FOI to develop, test and improve programs.

    Prior to joining the Center, Melanie was a clinical scientist with the Stress Neurobiology and Prevention Laboratory at the University of Oregon. She holds a doctoral degree in clinical psychology from the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium and has extensive experience serving children and families facing adversity.

  • Lauren Brulet, Project Coordinator
    Lauren Brulet, Project Coordinator

    Lauren joined the Center on the Developing Child in December 2019 as a Project Coordinator. In this role she provides administrative, logistical, and project support to the Pediatric Innovation Initiative, which aims to promote the healthy development of all young children through empowerment of parents and pediatricians. Previously, Lauren worked at Boston Children’s Hospital as a Certified Child Life Specialist where she provided procedural preparation and support, education, and therapeutic play opportunities for hospitalized children and families. 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, 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.

  • Michelle Foley, Senior Project Manager
    Michelle Foley

    Michelle Foley is Senior Project Manager supporting the Center’s strategy of conducting and aligning new research, and the focus of her portfolio is centered around the JPB Research Network on Toxic Stress. She joined the Center in April 2013. Prior to joining the Center, she worked as a Program Manager for Harvard Catalyst, the Harvard Clinical and Translational Science Center, overseeing a portfolio of courses and programs within Catalyst’s Education Program. Michelle holds a B.S. in nutrition and dietetics from Simmons College and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Andres Garcia Lopez, 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. Andres has founded two startups in the educational media industry, Merken Read More

  • Charley Gibney, Senior Developer, Digital Solutions
    Charley Gibney, Senior Developer, Digital Solutions

    Charley Gibney is the Senior Developer, Digital Solutions at the Center. An experienced web developer, technical trainer, and application support specialist, she helps to implement and measure digital communications strategies across the Center’s website, Salesforce, and other productivity applications. Previously, Charley worked in digital publishing and IT. She has a B.A. in English and Philosophy from Gordon College, and an M.St. in Creative Writing from the University of Oxford.

  • Lisa Haidar, 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.

  • Kristen Holmstrand, Senior Communications Manager
    Kristen Holmstrand

    Kristen Holmstrand joined the Center in June 2015 as a Senior Communications Manager. In this role, she leads the Center’s content strategy, oversees the generation of content across platforms, and manages the Center’s media relations strategy and efforts. Kristen has worked in education, publishing, nonprofit research, and consulting organizations, and has extensive writing, editing, and proofreading experience. Kristen holds a B.A. in religion from Wellesley College.

  • Amanda Lubniewski, Project Manager
    Amanda Lubniewski, Project Manager

    Amanda Lubniewski is a Project Manager for several teams across the Center. In her role, she works together with early childhood innovators to develop tools and strategies to apply the science, improve impact, and scale effectively. She feels invigorated to contribute to, and find new ways to push, the Center’s mission. Amanda brings extensive international experience, after volunteering in the Dominican Republic, Tanzania, and Chile, and working as a bilingual early childhood educator in northern Chile for four years. Her early childhood knowledge is supplemented by her experience as a research assistant, focusing on a range of areas, including executive function, early numeracy skills, the role of play in learning, and bilingualism. She holds an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Early Childhood Development and Spanish from SUNY Buffalo.

  • Cindy Martell, Senior Finance and Administration Coordinator
    Cindy Martell

    Cindy Martell joined the Center in March 2013 and currently serves as the Financial and Administrative Coordinator. In her financial role, she coordinates the Center’s contracts and agreements, ensuring all financial reports reflect up-to-date commitments. In her administrative role, Cindy is the first point of contact for all office management and ensures that the Center runs smoothly, 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.

  • Jessica Nelson, Project Manager
    Jessica Nelson

    Jessica Nelson joined the Center in September 2014 and is a Project Manager with the Frontiers of Innovation initiative. At the Center, she works closely with the Washington Innovation Cluster, the measurement and evaluation support team, and manages the Science-Based Innovation workshops. Previously, Jessica worked as an early childhood teacher for 10 years in Boston, Seattle, and Paraguay. At Multifaith Works in Washington state, she coordinated a volunteer program that provided emotional support to people living with HIV/AIDS. Jessica received her B.A. in Spanish from College of the Holy Cross and her M.A. in Child Development from Tufts University.

  • Kent Neumann, Financial Specialist

    Kent Neumann joined the Center in August 2008. In his role as Financial Specialist, he is responsible for monitoring and reconciling Center accounts; processing invoices, travel and other reimbursements; managing student payroll; and preparing consultant agreements. He also assists with the yearly budget and tracks spending. Kent received his B.A. in communications from the University of New Hampshire.

  • 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.

  • Sally Pfitzer, Senior Project Manager
    Sally Pfitzer

    Sally Pfitzer is a Project Manager for Frontiers of Innovation (FOI), and leads the Center’s work to better understand the science of play and its role in advancing children’s developmental outcomes and buffering them from the effects of toxic stress. She works with the FOI team and its partners to develop and translate evidence focused on play, coping, and resilience in an effort to improve program and practice as well as provide opportunities for shared learning. Sally has experience as a research assistant in numerous neuropsychology labs and science museums, and as an educator working with young children both domestically and globally. Sally holds a master’s degree in child development from Tufts University and a B.A. in psychology from Boston University.

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

    Priscila Pumarada is Senior Project Manager for the Frontiers of Innovation initiative. In this role, Priscila is responsible for the strategic direction and operational success of the Latin America cohort, ensuring seamless project development, management, and delivery in alignment with the Center’s priorities and strategies. 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.

  • Tiara Rankins-Alvarado, Communications Assistant
    Tiara Rankins-Alvarado, Communications Assistant

    Tiara’s role as the Communications Assistant is at the core of the Center’s Communications Team, as she is the front-line contact for the general public for all communications-related inquiries. She brings 10 years of customer service and engagement experience, and her logistics-heavy-yet-creative production skills to the table. Tiara graduated from Emerson College and obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Visual Media Arts, dabbling in all things relating to film and communications, concentrating on pre-production and writing. In her spare time, Tiara enjoys volunteering for organizations that stand up for social causes, expressing empowerment through dialogue, and relationship building. Through all forms of art and storytelling, she lends a hand in a variety of projects, inside and outside the Center, in hopes of sparking the audience’s minds.

  • Melissa Rivard, Senior Project Manager
    Melissa Rivard

    Melissa Rivard is a Senior Project Manager at the Center on the Developing Child, working to help set and support the Center’s strategy for building innovator capacity in the field of early childhood. She leads innovation clusters in the U.S. and the U.K., in addition to providing direct consultation to projects in the Center’s Frontiers of Innovation portfolio. Melissa is part of the IDEAS Impact FrameworkTM development team that continues to refine and train others in the Framework. Melissa joined the Center in December 2015. Previously, she worked at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education as a Project Manager and Pedagogical Documentation Specialist for Making Learning Visible—a long-term collaboration between early childhood educators in Reggio Emilia and researchers and educators from the U.S.—and other projects. Melissa holds a B.A. from the University of Minnesota and an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

  • Yaimani Rivera, Executive Assistant to Dr. Jack P. Shonkoff

    Yaimani Rivera joined the Center in May 2012 as the executive assistant to Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D. In addition to performing administrative tasks such as scheduling, making travel arrangements, and drafting correspondence, she acts as the first public point of contact for the Center and provides customer service for a variety of relationships both within and outside of the University. Yaimani formerly worked in production roles at WBZ-TV and Liz Walker Journey Productions. She has a B.A. in arts in communication from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • Evan Roth-Howe, 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.

  • Jimena Santillán, Senior Program Manager
    Jimena Santillan, Senior Program Manager

    Jimena Santillán joined the Center as a Senior Program Manager in October 2017. In this role, she is responsible for building and strengthening internal and external capacity to implement science-based innovation through the IDEAS Impact Framework. Previously, Jimena had been a consultant on the Frontiers of Innovation (FOI) initiative, providing technical assistance on the IDEAS Impact Framework to FOI project teams in the United States and Mexico. She continues to provide targeted coaching and technical assistance to project teams, and provides consultation and support to other coaches, including FOI liaisons for the Latin American Innovation Clusters. Jimena holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Oregon and a B.A. in psychology from Hunter College of the City University of New York. She has extensive experience implementing and evaluating intervention programs for children and families facing adversity.

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

    Katie Sherman is a Senior Project Coordinator, supporting a diversity of workstreams. She provides coordination support for: the Pediatric Innovation Initiative with an emphasis on the Pediatric Innovation Cluster, ongoing project teams receiving technical support, and the Center’s emerging approach to building external centers of expertise. She is also responsible for developing and implementing documentation strategies for Center materials and ongoing project engagements. Katie previously worked in the manufacturing sector, where she applied her skills in customer service and project coordination as a Senior Account Representative. She holds a B.A. in psychology and environmental studies from the University of Rochester.

  • Brandi Thomas, Communications Manager
    Brandi Thomas, Communications Manager

    Brandi Thomas is the Center’s Senior Communications Coordinator. In this role, she translates complex scientific research into content that is accessible to a variety of audiences. In addition, Brandi helps to develop and ensure the quality of the Center’s publications, online content, presentations, and more. Brandi has worked in both international development policy and child policy centers, and has extensive experience writing, editing, and translating and promoting research. Brandi holds a B.A. in English from The University of Scranton and a M.A. in Liberal Studies from Duke University.

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.

  • 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., Fellow

    Dr. Aaliyah Samuel, a Fellow at the Center, is the Vice President of Policy and Advocacy 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 current role at NWEA, she leads 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.

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