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ZERO TO THREE Presents Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Ross Thompson

ZERO TO THREE proudly announces Dr. Ross Thompson as the recipient of the 2023 ZERO TO THREE Lifetime Achievement Award


Siobhan Mueller
(202) 857-2609
[email protected]


Washington, D.C., Sept. 18, 2023 – ZERO TO THREE, the country’s leading nonprofit dedicated to ensuring babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, proudly announces Dr. Ross Thompson as the recipient of the 2023 ZERO TO THREE Lifetime Achievement Award. This annual award honors individuals who have made remarkable contributions to improving the lives of infants, toddlers and their families. Dr. Thompson, a luminary in developmental psychology, former president of the ZERO TO THREE board of directors, and an unwavering early childhood advocate, embodies this honor.

“Ross reshaped the landscape of our field through his pioneering research in attachment and emotional development,” said  Brenda Jones Harden, board president at ZERO TO THREE, “Those fortunate enough to collaborate with him can attest to his unwavering dedication to advocating for young children during their critical early years. His contributions have been instrumental in propelling the movement towards providing all babies with the most robust foundation for life.”

Dr. Thompson has had an exceptional career as a distinguished professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis (UC Davis). He is widely recognized for his leadership in developmental psychology and his authoritative work on the applications of developmental research to public policy concerns such as early childhood mental health, the effects of early care and education policies, and families in adversity. At UC Davis, he established and served as director of the Social and Emotional Development Lab. He also contributed to creating the university’s Center for Poverty and Inequality Research and served on its executive committee for many years. 

Dr. Thompson was a founding member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and a member of the National Academy of Sciences committee that produced the influential report From Neurons to Neighborhoods: The Science of Early Childhood Development, and also contributed to Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth Through Age 8: A Unifying Foundation. Additionally, Thompson has served three times as Associate Editor of Child Development, the flagship journal of the Society for Research in Child Development. He has written over 300 papers and articles related to his work and co-authored several books, including his recent book “The Brain Development Revolution: Science, the Media, and Public Policy.”

In addition to serving on the ZERO TO THREE board of directors from 2005 to 2021–including a term as president of the board lasting from 2015 to 2018–Dr. Thompson served on the boards of several other national nonprofits. He currently serves on the boards of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute and the Stein Early Childhood Development Fund. 

“Honoring Ross with this award is a testament to not only his illustrious and distinguished professional journey but also to his profoundly meaningful contributions spanning numerous years at ZERO TO THREE,” praised Matthew Melmed, the executive director of  ZERO TO THREE. “Beyond his own exceptional accomplishments, Ross stands as a guiding light to others, generously sharing his wisdom and kind camaraderie. The breadth of his influence throughout his career is truly immeasurable, marking him as an extraordinary leader, scholar, colleague and friend.”

ZERO TO THREE will present the Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s annual LEARN Conference on September 20, 2023, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. To learn more and register for the conference, please visit signature.zerotothree.org.

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