Leadership Connections

News from the Academy of ZERO TO THREE Fellows
May 2023

Dear ZERO TO THREE Fellows,

HAPPY SUMMER! We have some exciting events coming up, be sure to save the dates and add to your calendars.

Fellows Academy Reception at the LEARN Conference: Minneapolis, MN (September 19, 2023, 7-9 p.m. | Location: TBD)

The Academy Council is hosting an Academy Reception for past and present Fellows at this year’s LEARN Conference. Learn more about current Academy initiatives over cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Stay tuned for location details.

Academy of Fellows Retreat:
Potomac, MD (October 18-20, 2023 | William F. Bolger Center)

Are you missing your fellow Fellows from your cohort? Are you looking to reconnect in-person after a few years of virtual meetings? If so, join us at the William F. Bolger Center – Potomac MD (just outside of Washington, DC) for a retreat with Fellows across all fellowship years! At the retreat, Academy Fellows can meet the current Fellowship cohort.

We will also create space for support, reflection, professional development activities, and building-connection activities (tango, anyone?).

   Max Capacity: 40 Fellows can attend this retreat in-person.

   Lodging & Food Covered!: Accommodations at the Bolger Center are provided by the Academy Council at no cost (a total saving of $518!). This includes single-room accommodations for Wednesday and Thursday nights and all meals (Wednesday dinner – Friday lunch).

   Travel Expenses: Attendees will be responsible for covering travel costs to and from the Retreat.

Please sign up for this exciting opportunity as soon as possible via this form.

ZERO TO THREE LEARN Institute Academy Reception: 
Palm Springs, California (December, 2023 | Location: TBD)

ZERO TO THREE will be hosting the 2023 LEARN Institute on December 5-6, 2023 in Palm Springs. The Academy Council will host an Academy Reception for past and present Fellows at the Institute. Stay tuned for additional details.

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    We are so thrilled to announce the new Co-Chairs of the Academy Council: Aimee Hilado and Ann Chu.  We are confident the Academy will be in great hands when these two volunteers assume their leadership in June 2023.  We also want to extend a warm welcome and tremendous thanks to Jennifer Harman who has also volunteered to be on the Council to help coordinate work with the Policy, Advocacy, and Research award process. 

    Attention all past Fellows – the Academy Council would LOVE to have more volunteers to help further advance our vision and mission so PLEASE consider volunteering to be part of this amazing group.

    The vision of the ZERO TO THREE Academy of Fellows is the development of a thriving, relationship-based community of Fellows that promotes the well-being of infants, children, and families.

    The mission is to build and grow a professional community of ZERO TO THREE leadership fellows that strives to promote ongoing collaboration, mentorship, and relationships to support our work and the mission of ZERO TO THREE.

     Current Academy Council Co-Chairs: 

    Mary Ellen Warren (2007)

    Therese Ahlers

    Therese Ahlers (2003)

    News from the Policy Advocacy Research (PAR) Collaboration Awards Committee

    ALERT: It is approaching that time when we will be issuing a Call for Applications for the 2024 PAR Collaboration Awards. Please watch your emails for the announcement coming in June. These awards are for two or more Fellows collaborating on a project to advance the wellbeing of young children and their families in support of the goals of ZERO TO THREE.  It’s good to start thinking about possible collaborations with other Fellows if you have an idea for a project.  Also check out the accomplishments of our 2022 Awardees and the project summary for an additional 2023 PAR Award in this newsletter!


    Although the awards are small, its remarkable how collaborating Fellows have used them to seed and grow their ideas and collaborations into larger initiatives. This is evident in the final report summaries of the four 2022 PAR Collaboration Awarded projects. In no specific order, the first two are featured here, with the other two to follow in the next newsletter.

    Project 1: Development of a Reflective Use of Self Tool for Practitioners, Supervisors, and Programs

    Collaborating Fellows: Deborah Bremond (‘01-‘03), Donna Weston (’86-’88), Barbara Ivins (85-’86)

    Awarded $2,500

    This project involved developing a self-assessment tool designed to support practitioners (in the context of their agencies/organizations) across disciplines to assess their learning levels and self-reported learning needs for applied understanding of Use of Self (UoS) in daily work.  Review of extant literature showed that the Use of Self-concept is addressed across the professions that include work with young children, their families, and the providers who support them. Use-of-Self is discussed in terms of “therapist as instrument of treatment,” as a form of mindful attention that depends on self-awareness of race, equity and social location, active monitoring of internal and external experiences, self-reflection, and as a set of skills that requires both practitioner growth and organizational/agency supports. However, there is not a unifying framework that links the thinking about Use of Self across disciplines despite the central importance the construct holds.

    Our collaboration involved reviewing this diverse literature, creating an integrative framework for the construct, defining core processes in Use of Self, drafting definitions, drafting Use of Self knowledge statements, and developing a Learning Levels rating scale that operationalizes our conceptualization of Use of Self.

    Our goal has been to develop a self-assessment tool that will assist individual practitioners and their supervisors to identify their goals for professional growth in Use of Self and to promote workforce development for the infant/family arena. Use of Self, along with the existing self-assessment tool for developmental concepts (The Learning Curve), will support and organize practitioner growth in their capacities to work effectively with families.

    We produced a draft Use of Self (UoS) Assessment Tool that was first reviewed by colleagues with expertise in Use of Self.  Their feedback helped us to refine and clarify statements used in the assessment tool. Currently the revised Use of Self Assessment is being piloted with several groups of practitioners that represent the early childhood workforce.  This pilot draft includes a feedback section of questions designed to support further refinement. The seed funding provided by the PAR Award helped us in the development process of this project. We have met the goal of the project which was to develop the Use of Self Assessment tool based on review of existing literature and invite colleagues to review it. 

    Beyond the award: We are now in the second pilot phase of the project. Moving forward, we will complete another revision of the tool based on data from this current pilot phase. We are considering further development steps including considering funding possibilities for the remaining work developing data to complete psychometric analysis of the tool. These are the components that need additional funding: recruitment for field-testing, data analysis, subscale structure, draft user manual, data summaries, written manuscript, develop strategies for dissemination of the tool, including making it available through our website (www.imhlearningcurve.org)

    Project 2: Cultivating an Inclusion Focused Infant Mental Health Community in the Global Children & Nature Movement

    Collaborating Fellows: Sheri Hill (’07-’09), Jane West (’07-’09)

    Awarded $2,500

    The 2022 PARC Award led Jane and Sheri to exciting new collaborations and ways of thinking. The funds supported our poster presentation at the Children and Nature Network’s International Inside Out Conference in Atlanta in June 2022. Networking there led to exciting weekly discussions around the role of infant mental health & early childhood systems/services in global sustainable development work.

    Beyond the award: Our participation at the conference led to putting together a very well attended, fully live Issue Intensive for ZERO TO THREE’s Virtual Event: Nature Babies: From Children to Communities to Climate moderated by Sheri. The session sought to bring both global and local perspectives on environmental impacts on young children and families and to discover tools for engaging with the early childhood community in nature and strategies for addressing climate change.

    Speakers included people we met through our participation in the Children and Nature Conference or that Jane knew from her global grantmaking work: Adrián Cerezo, Ph.D., M.E.Sc., Visiting Researcher and CHILD project Fellow at the Yale Child Study Center, and Senior Advisor on Early Childhood Development and Climate Change to the Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC), UNICEF Pacific, and the Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN); Charmaine Godley, the Inaugural Green Schoolyards Health and Nature Fellow (in Metro Atlanta, GA) for the Children and Nature Network www.childrenandnature.org whose goal is to ensure all children have equitable access to outdoor spaces where they can learn, play, and grow; and Jessica Carrillo Alatorre executive director of Hike It Baby(HiB) (www.hikeitbaby.com ). Adrian made a clear case for why/how doing early childhood work right was globally essential if we truly want to obtain the sustainable future envisioned by the United Nations https://sdgs.un.org/.  Discussion focused on advancing equitable engagement with/access to nature as an opportunity for healing, relationship support, joy and delight across communities.

    Since the issue intensive, Jane has had the chance to speak several times with ZERO TO THREE’s Senior Policy Director Miriam Calderon (including consults with Adrian Cerezo). As a result, Jane’s fund is giving a small grant to support a deeper exploration at ZTT of the impact of climate change on young children’s lives and the policies ZTT might want to consider.

    DRUMROLL ……..Another 2023 PAR Collaboration Award Announcement

    Sankofa Videos – BIPOC Perspectives and Retrospectives on Infant Mental Health

    Collaborating Fellows: Natasha Pérez Byars (’18-’20) and Eva Marie Shivers (‘05-’07)

    Award: $2,500

    Summary: As a part of a larger BIPOC IMH history project for which we are being funded, we seek PAR funding to support the video production component, for which we do not have full funding.  The videos will promote the larger history project and will be made available for use by other professionals for training and advocacy.  We also anticipate they will inspire future research and policy within early childhood. 

    Commonly, the telling of the history of the infant mental health field has largely centered on White theorists and professionals. Often untold are the stories and contributions of people of color who supported, led, and labored on behalf of infants, children, and families, as well as how power and privilege has impacted the field’s development and directional focus through the decades.

    By interviewing diverse practitioners, scholars, community organizers, and other historians, we expect to catalogue narratives and perspectives that both resonate with and challenge our current professional understanding and approaches. We will synthesize and distill some of this deep learning into accessible videos that can be used to inform policy and action in the early childhood field. Additionally, we expect this project will spur on future projects that align with deepening inclusion and representation within infant and early childhood mental health and the larger healing justice movement.

    Sankofa remains a powerful symbol, originating from the Akan people of Ghana, serving as a reminder to go back and retrieve what is important from the past as we move forward into the future. One interpretation of the word Sankofa is “go back and get it.”

    There have been many efforts to better integrate BIPOC perspectives, yet it remains an area for growth, a learning edge for the field.  Video can be a powerful and evocative storytelling medium, bringing conciseness and clarity to the viewer and the teller. Through utilization of the voices and images of history tellers through qualitative research methods, we intend to both offer a product that can be used at the end of the funding period for training, action, and policy, as well as, sow seeds for additional projects in the future.  Through retrospectives and current perspectives, we intend to go back and get what could be forgotten.

    Congratulations to Natasha and Eva Marie!

    Submitted by:
    Margaret McLaren (’05-’07)
    PAR Coordinator
    ZERO TO THREE Fellows’ Academy Council

    Fellows Highlights

    ZERO TO THREE Fellow (2014-16) Michael Gaffrey will be joining Children’s Wisconsin and its academic partner the Medical College of Wisconsin as the inaugural Craig Yabuki Research Chair and Director of Mental and Behavioral Health Research for the Children’s Wisconsin health care system. Mike shares that “this is an incredibly exciting opportunity with lots of great possibilities for helping children and their families succeed from the start and across generations. The move will also take us back home to family and friends in Milwaukee, something the whole family is excited about”. Mike as previously Assistant Professor at Duke University in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and Director of Duke’s Early Experience and the Developing Brain (DEED) lab. We wish Mike and his family all the best!

    IECMH Diversity Collective Video

    In 2021, a group of 44 infant and early childhood mental health (IECMH) affiliated professionals and individuals met for the first time to launch the IECMH Clinical Workforce Diversity Collective (the Diversity Collective). The purpose of the Diversity Collective was to begin a conversation exploring issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion in the IECMH clinical workforce, and seed ideas for addressing them. This development of the Diversity Collective was placed in the context of two well established notions: the centrality of the parent(s)/caregiver(s)-child relationship, and the pervasive impact of racism and historical trauma on the accessibility to, and provision of, IECMH services for BIPOC families and communities. Presently, this diverse, predominantly Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) cross-disciplinary group continues to gather to build on their work. ZERO TO THREE Fellows engaged in this work are highlighted below.

    The newly released video, IECMH Diversity Collective – Telling the Story, recounts the experiences of the first year of the Diversity Collective from the perspectives of nine participants: Eva Marie Shivers, Amittia Parker, Haruko Watanabe, Joaniko Kohchi, Carmen Rosa Noroña, Janice Haskins, Aditi Subramaniam, Nucha Isarowong, Kelsey Huynh, and Jennifer Boss) and is broken up into five chapters: Chapter 1: Introductions, Chapter 2: The Diversity Collective Experience, Chapter 3: The Diversity Collective Makeup, Chapter 4: Discomfort and Courage, and Chapter 5: Lessons Learned and Looking to the Future.

    The Diversity Collective hopes this video will serve as a resource to share their process and experiences with others and spark important conversations. Please reach out to Paola Andujar ([email protected]) for inquiries regarding use of the video.

    ZERO TO THREE Highlights

    Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Thought Leaders Advancing Diversity-Informed Practice

    Knowing your value. Speaking your truth. Practicing humility. Being confident yet compassionate in your work. These are just a few key pieces of advice our power list of experienced and inspirational early childhood professionals have for others in the field.  

    Learn more about their perspectives and how their Asian American, Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander heritage influences their approach to diversity-informed practice and the services they provide to young children and their families. CLICK HERE to read more.

    Introducing Safe Babies, ZERO TO THREE’s New Era in Transforming Child Welfare

    Every seven minutes, a baby or toddler is removed from their family due to alleged maltreatment or neglect.

    This is alarming because the first three years of a child’s life are crucial. In communities across the country, families are striving to give their children a good start in life. They share a common desire for their babies to be healthy, happy, and safe, but also face major obstacles; including economic insecurity, material hardship, and extreme stress. Additionally, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) like trauma, community violence, physical and mental health issues, and substance use disorders can further exacerbate these challenges for parents. Far too often, these can lead to over-representation of Black, Hispanic, and American Indian/Alaska Native children in the child welfare system, driven by policy decisions and systemic racism.

    This reality propels our big vision and bold approach – Safe Babies, a network that serves as the Infant-Toddler Court Program National Resource Center, ignites collective action in state and communities to transform child welfare into the practice of child and family well-being by strengthening families and preventing the need for babies and toddlers to be removed from their homes. CLICK HERE to read more.

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