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Little Kids, Big Questions
is a series of 12 podcasts that translates the research of early childhood development into parenting practices that mothers, fathers and other caregivers can tailor to the needs of their own child and family. Click here to listen to or download the podcasts. This podcast series is generously funded by MetLife Foundation.

Fellowship Class of 2009-2010

Class of 2009-2010

Since 1981, ZERO TO THREE’s Fellowship program, now called Leaders for the 21st Century, has brought together a group of talented and outstanding professionals in a two-year opportunity to deepen their involvement in the infant-family field. More than 260 Fellows have gone on to become leaders in a myriad of settings and disciplines, fulfilling the Fellowship’s mission to make positive changes in the lives of infants, toddlers, and families.

The 2009-2010 Fellows hail from 7 states and are employed by universities, state government, and mental health and child care agencies.


Sarah Benjamin, M.A.
Teacher Liaison/Education Advocate
Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Education
Riverhead, New York




Project: The Impact of Relationship on Parents of Poverty in America

As homeless numbers swell in the birth to 5 population, there is an opportunity to combine their stories with research and theory from experts in the infant-family field. Ms. Benjamin’s work during the Fellowship will capture stories of Americans who struggle with issues of poverty, including homelessness, isolation, and fragmentation from mainstream society. By highlighting the narrative of their lives, she hopes to impact the hearts and minds of policymakers in positions to help reverse trends that are harming the lives of young children.

Samantha Berkule-Silberman, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Manhattanville College
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics 
New York University School of Medicine
New York, New York


Project: The Impact of a Relationship-Based Pediatric Primary Care Intervention on Attachment Security in Low Socioeconomic Status Families

Dr. Berkule-Silberman will examine the impact of a pediatric primary care relationship-based intervention, the Video Interaction Project (VIP), on attachment security in low socioeconomic status, at-risk mother-child dyads.  The goal is to support the parent-child relationship through modeling and reinforcing rich verbal and play interactions thereby enhancing maternal responsiveness, child development, and school readiness.

Cecilia Casanueva, Ph.D.
Research Psychologist
RTI International
Research Triangle Park, North Carolina



Project: Early Intervention Services for Maltreated Infants:  Is the Amendment to CAPTA 2003 Working?

Dr. Casanueva’s work will focus on the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act of 2003 (CAPTA). Specifically she is interested in exploring whether provisions of the legislation have improved referrals and receipt of Part C services for maltreated young children. Dr. Casanueva is a member of the team working for the new National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being II (NSCAW II) recently approved by Congress with the goal of analyzing the impact on child maltreatment of policy changes in the last 10 years.

Robert Gallen, Ph.D.
Director, Certificate in Infant Mental Health
at Chatham University
Associate Professor of Psychology
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Project: Bringing Infant Mental Health to Pennsylvania

Dr. Gallen will focus his efforts on developing an infant mental health infrastructure to promote and support academic and professional workforce development for early childhood mental health providers across systems and professions in Pennsylvania. Dr. Gallen’s main objective is the development of a Pennsylvania Infant Mental Health Association and the organization of an annual Infant Mental Health Conference.

Deborah Harris, M.S.W., L.I.S.W.
Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation
and Training
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Project: Infant Mental Health Workforce and Leadership Development in New Mexico

Ms. Harris’s work will center on building a mental health system of care for infants and young children in New Mexico, with a focus on rural and underserved communities. Specifically she anticipates building capacity in New Mexico to provide reflective supervision and consultation for infant and toddler programs and service system alignment.

Maria Kroupina, Ph.D.
Director of Research Programs
International Adoption Medicine Program
Center for Global Pediatrics
University of Minnesota
Minneapolis, Minnesota


Project: A Comprehensive Mental Health Program for Newly Arrived Internationally Adopted (IA) Infants and Toddlers:  Education, Early Screening, and Intervention

Dr. Kroupina will work to design a mental health program for adopted infants and toddlers, taking advantage of the multidisciplinary clinic theme already in place.  The aim is to put in place additional mechanisms for early identification of high-risk children at the time of their initial medical evaluation and to pilot a research-based intervention program in a clinical setting.

Irene Loe, M.D.
Instructor, Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician
Stanford University School of Medicine
Palo Alto, California


Project: Improvement of Executive Function and Attention in Preschool Children With a History of Preterm Birth:  A Family-Centered Approach to a Parent-Training Intervention Study

Dr. Loe intends to conduct a cross-sectional study characterizing the behavioral, executive function, and adaptive profiles of preschool children who have a history of preterm birth compared to those of children born at term. She will hold focus groups with parents of children with preterm birth in order to gather information on feasibility and barriers to a parent-training intervention study. The goal is to improve functional outcomes in children with or at risk of neurodevelopmental disorders.

Mary Ann Marchel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Unified Early
Childhood Studies
University of Minnesota Duluth
Duluth, Minnesota


Project: Building Capacity for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health-Based Practices in Infant and Toddler Care in Rural Areas:  A Model Demonstration Site

Dr. Marchel’s work will focus on increasing the number of professionals in northern Minnesota who have the training necessary to work with young children and families at risk for mental health issues. She will explore funding sources and potential partnerships needed to create a model demonstration project that includes a child care and education program and an infant mental health certificate program accessible to professionals in northern Minnesota.

Allisyn Swift, B.A.
Ph.D. Candidate
School of Psychology
Tulane University
New Orleans, Louisiana


Project: Family-Centered Curriculum for Infants and Toddlers in Out-of-Home Care

Ms. Swift intends to develop a curriculum guide that addresses the needs of the developing child within the context of the family, culture, and community.  The curriculum will include content on the child’s physical, social-emotional, cognitive, and language development informed by different disciplinary perspectives.

Anne Bentley Waddoups, M.A.
Eliot Pearson Department of Child Development
Tufts University
Concord, Massachusetts


Project: Observe, Connect, and Encourage: An Integrated Infant Assessment and Intervention

Ms. Waddoups’ work will involve adapting an existing training guide, developed for training volunteers in an infant clinic in Guatemala, to serve a wider audience. Ms. Waddoups anticipates developing a simple, concise, integrated infant assessment and intervention for use in institutions, hospitals, and orphanages where volunteers and staff would benefit from an “observe, connect, and encourage” approach to their work with children.












ZERO TO THREE Fellowship Program Class of 2014-16
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