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Emerging Leadership Awards 2023

The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Emerging Leadership Award recognizes and celebrates a diversity of early- and mid-career leaders engaged in cutting-edge, transformative work to advance IECMH Practice, Policy, and Research. These advancements are critically important in support of healthy social, emotional, and developmental well-being of our youngest children and our capacity to intervene early in the presence of risk and adversity.

We are pleased to recognize three outstanding professionals who are leading the way and ensuring that IECMH services for young children and their families better support relationships, and are inclusive, equitable, culturally relevant, and fiscally accessible.

Yes, babies have mental health.

Emerging Leadership Award - Policy

Amanda Yancey

Operations Director, Ohio Head Start Association

Amanda Yancey joined Ohio Head Start Association in 2012 and currently serves as the
Operations Director while also overseeing the Parent Ambassador Program and the newly
formed alumni group – Ohio Head Start Parent Advocacy Network. She developed the Parent
Ambassador Program 10 years ago, geared towards parents whose children are currently attending a HeadStart center. 

The innovative program supports parents in elevating their voices at the local, state and national level through a curriculum focused on advocacy, leadership, goal-setting, and storytelling. The year-long program has graduated over 120 parents since its inception. With Amanda as a guide, the newly formed alumni group is presently working with other parents on available resources for childcare, mental health, developmental disabilities and assisting in moving policy in the right direction for caregivers. 

Prior to working with Ohio Head Start Association she worked as the Director of Government Affairs in a lobby firm in Columbus, Ohio and as the Director of the PMO for CareSource Management Group. Amanda’s background in government affairs, human services, community relations and project management has allowed her to cultivate valuable insight into parent voice.

Emerging Leadership Award - Practice

U'nek Clarke, LICSW, LCSW-C, PMH-C

Lead Perinatal Behavioral Health Specialist, Children's National Hospital

U’nek Clarke, LICSW, LCSW-C, PMH-C is the Lead Perinatal Behavior Health Specialist at DC Mother-Baby Wellness Program with the Developing Brain Institute at Children’s National Hospital. Her primary focus is providing therapeutic support to individuals during pregnancy and the postpartum period. U’nek is certified in Perinatal Mental Health, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health, as well as Child-Parent Psychotherapy. Her expertise extends to speaking engagements at conferences and leading training sessions on Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders (PMADs) both in the United States and Europe. 

U’nek has played a pivotal role in the expansion of perinatal mental health services to a dynamic community-based pediatric setting within the Children’s National Hospital System. She is recognized for her critical thinking and unwavering commitment to advocating for the enhancement of mental health treatment, especially for black women and individuals of color during the challenges of an already difficult life transition.

Emerging Leadership Award - Research

Dr. Angela Narayan

Associate Professor, Clinical Child Psychology, Department of Psychology, University of Denver

Dr. Angela Narayan is an Associate Professor in the Clinical Child Psychology PhD program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver (DU). She received her PhD in Developmental Psychopathology and Clinical Science from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. 

At DU, Angela founded the PROTECT Lab, which investigates how risk and resilience transfer across generations. Her research involves a multi-site longitudinal study following 350 low-income families from pregnancy to kindergarten, uncovering protective factors against intergenerational trauma and psychopathology in diverse pregnant individuals, marginalized young fathers, and other non-gestational caregivers.

Angela is a licensed psychologist in Colorado with expertise in relationship-based, trauma-informed treatments for children, adolescents and parents. She is on the editorial board of Adversity and Resilience Science, Child Abuse & Neglect, and Development and Psychopathology. She has also received early career awards for her research on childhood maltreatment and trauma psychology from APA Divisions 37 and 56.  

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