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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 2012

2012 Class of Leaders for the 21st Century

ZERO TO THREE is pleased to announce the 2012 Class of Leaders for the 21st Century Fellows. The Fellowship program has been in existence since 1981 and has a Graduate Fellows national and international network of over 265 professionals across a broad diversity of disciplines and sectors whose work impacts the health, development, mental health, education, and well-being of infants, toddlers, and families. The goal of the Fellowship program is to support the career advancement of emerging and current leaders across multiple disciplines and to expand their knowledge of infant/toddler research, practice, and public policy. The Fellowship experience provides intensive mentoring, leadership development, public policy and advocacy training, media training, networking, and the opportunity to establish lifelong, collaborative, and rewarding professional relationships.

The ten Fellows were selected through an intensive review process from a competitive pool of applicants. The new Fellows represent five different disciplines including psychology, child development, psychiatry, social work, and early childhood special education. Each Fellow will implement a project related to their work with ongoing guidance and support from ZERO TO THREE Board members, staff, Graduate Fellows, and other experts.  In addition, each Fellow has an opportunity to engage with a ZTT program or project that is related to their professional interests.  


Elizabeth Bicio, LCSW
Program Manager
Early Childhood Consultation Partnership®
Advanced Behavioral Health, Inc.



Project: Develop and operationalize a comprehensive set of evidence informed prevention and early intervention infant and toddler strategies

As a fellow Elizabeth is looking to improve infant and toddler outcomes by supporting practice changes that address the unique needs of infants and toddlers and their caregivers within the existing evidenced-based Early Childhood Consultation Partnership©(ECCP) program. Her goal is to develop a comprehensive set of best practice strategies that can be effectively implemented through the relationship-based service delivery model of ECCP. To promote the application of these strategies, Elizabeth will prepare the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (ECMHC) workforce by developing and implementing a series of related infant and toddler training modules.


Jean Clinton, MD
Child Psychiatrist
Offord Centre for Child Studies
McMaster University & Children’s Hospital


Project: Creating a population health measure of developmental health
at 18 months of age

The goal of the project will be: 1) To develop a brief, perhaps ten item tool, which will reflect the variance in development at 18 months of age. It will need to be simple to collect, able to be analyzed and reflect the developmental status of children.  2) To have a measure that jurisdictions can evaluate “Are we doing enough?”




Lauren Franz, MBChB, MPH
Child Psychiatry and Global Health Fellow
Duke University Medical Center


Project: Cross cultural, developmentally sensitive, adaptation of an autism diagnostic tool

Across all countries, investment and research into preventing and treating early childhood neuropsychiatric disorders, is disproportionately low relative to their disease burden. Controversy exists over the universality of psychiatric disorders, particularly in early childhood, as a result of a lack of scientifically sound studies, heterogeneity of methodological approaches, lack of biological markers, and unanswered questions regarding the influence of culture on the presentation of neuropsychiatric disorders. With the long term goal of developing a cross cultural, developmentally sensitive assessment of early childhood psychopathology, and with the support of the Duke Global Health Fellowship Program, Lauren will be collaborating with researchers in KwaZulu Natal South Africa on a cross-cultural translation of the Autism Diagnostic Observational Schedule. A portion of the children participating in this study, are nested within a cohort of 2000 young children and their caregivers, followed longitudinally, to assess for the effects of caregiver mental health and family functioning on early child cognitive, emotional, and physical health status.




Sarah Gray, M.A.
Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Psychology
University of Massachusetts Boston


Project: Targeting Parent Insight in Young Children’s Trauma Exposure

As a fellow, Sarah will be conducting research among low-income families with children under 6 in the Boston area to promote our understanding of what happens when young children are exposed to violence. In particular, she will be examining how the parent-child relationship and parent’s insight into their children’s behavior may affect children’s reactions to violence exposure. Sarah will also be coordinating with All Our Kin, a Connecticut-based community organization that trains parents to become early childcare providers, to develop training materials and a resource directory on early childhood mental health, stress, and the parent-child relationship.




Sherryl S. Heller, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Tulane University
Institute of Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health

Project: Reflective Supervision and Reflective Functioning

Reflective supervision (RS) is a model that is seen in the field of early intervention as optimizing service delivery and enhancing professional development. RS is an area where much more research is needed to better understand its process and impact on program outcome. My goal for this project would be twofold: 1) to develop a way to assess reflective functioning in early interventionists so that change can be assessed and 2) identify projects using RS where a research protocol could be applied to assess change in reflective functioning.  Additionally, selecting and collecting outcome measures (i.e., decrease in provider stress, decrease in provider sick days, enhanced client outcome) related to RS would be part of this process. Having access to the mentors in ZERO TO THREE’s Leaders for the 21st Century Fellowship program will support me in creating a solid measure and research protocol.



Nucha Isarowong, LCSW
Early Intervention Social Emotional
Specialist and Evaluator
Doctoral Student in Social Work
School of Social Service Administration
University of Chicago


Project: Building Professional Interdisciplinary Collaboration to Support Positive Infant, Toddler, and Family Outcomes in the Illinois Early Intervention Program

As a Fellow, Nucha will be pursuing a project developed from his preliminary work to build professional community among IDEA* Part C funded Early Intervention (EI) professionals and encourage interdisciplinary teaming to better serve infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families. This project aims to better understand the state of interdisciplinary collaboration in Illinois' EI program and address barriers to interdisciplinary collaboration by creating standard documentation forms based on quality assurance (QA) standards, simplifying the process while ensuring compliance.

*Individuals with Disabilities Education Act


LaShawnda Lindsay-Dennis, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Paine College
Department of Education


Project: Project AMPP (Adolescent Mothers Preparing for Parenthood)

LaShawnda has developed several mentoring initiative focused on addressing the needs of African American youth, particularly girls. Her knowledge and experience in this area informs her current project. During this fellowship, LaShawnda will focus on developing a group mentoring program for pregnant and parenting adolescent girls.  The goals of Project AAMP are to provide young mothers with a relatable mentor and a parenting curriculum. The specific goals are to increase parenting efficacy, encourage the development of positive mother-infant/toddler relationships, and provide social support to young mothers. Addressing these areas can help pregnant and parenting adolescent girls to prepare for motherhood and develop skills that will increase their capacity to provide a loving, nurturing environment for their children.




Evelyn Brooks Ridgeway, Ph.D.
Child Development and Mental Health Manager
The Early Head Start Program at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia


Project: Making Infant Mental Health Accessible to African-American Church Leadership

As a Fellow, Evelyn is developing materials to collaborate with African-American church leadership in promoting positive Infant Mental Health to church congregations. She will incorporate Christian teaching in the development of a parenting workbook and accompanying DVD which will focus on understanding how experience influences the social-emotional development of infants and toddlers, and will provide guidance in making positive parenting decisions. In addition, she will develop a workshop training series in Infant Mental Health and use of the workbook and DVD for church leadership to use with their members. The project will be piloted at Life In Christ Cathedral of Faith in Chester, PA, where Evelyn is a member.




Amy C. Thomason, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Education
Elizabethtown College


Project: Building collaborative relationships to support the development of self-regulation in infants and toddlers

As a fellow, Dr. Thomason will design and implement an educational tool for teachers focused on facilitating the development of self-regulation in infants and toddlers. Her goals for the program are to raise awareness on the important role that teacher-child interactions play in facilitating self-regulation and school-readiness and to build collaborative relationships between Elizabethtown College, local early childhood organizations, and local early care and education programs to develop and implement professional development for teachers on these topics.



Robin A. Wells, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Special Education
Eastern New Mexico University


Project: Identification, Planning, and Quality Support for Native American Families, Infants, and Toddlers in New Mexico

As a Fellow, Robin will be collaborating with representatives of Native American agencies in New Mexico to identify and discuss the needs of families and to determine the current status of early intervention services for this specific population. Through this collaborative process, agencies and stakeholders will assess (1) the current early intervention system of services and outcomes for children with disabilities and those at-risk for delay, (2) the unmet needs of this community and specific services needed, (3) the ability for community members to access higher education in order to ‘grow our own’ workforce, and then will develop (4) a strategic plan whereby increased access to resources for communities may be received. Additionally during this process, necessary system and/or legislative changes will be identified and addressed.





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