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ZERO TO THREE Announces Winners of the 2nd Annual Emerging Leadership Award

Honorees in Practice, Policy, and Research leading the way for innovation in infant and early childhood mental health

Washington, D.C., September 24, 2021 – ZERO TO THREE, the leading nonprofit dedicated to ensuring all babies and toddlers have a strong start in life, is pleased to recognize three outstanding professionals with its annual Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH) Emerging Leadership Award. This year’s honorees are Nat Vikitsreth, Founder of Come Back to Care, Inc, Ashley McCormick, Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, and Kathryn Humphreys, Vanderbilt University.

“In our commitment to infant and early childhood mental health, we recognize new leaders who are making incredible advances for babies and toddlers,” stated Matthew Melmed, Executive Director at ZERO TO THREE. “Nat, Ashley, and Kathryn 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. We wholeheartedly congratulate them on this honor and look forward to following their bright careers moving forward.”

Practice Award: Nat Vikitsreth, DT, Ed.M., LSW, CEIM

Nat Vikitsreth is the founder of Come Back to Care, Inc. based in Chicago, Illinois which provides group psychoeducation to parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers interested in strengthening their relationship with their children by addressing intergenerational family trauma and internalized oppression. Vikitsreth also supports the Fussy Baby Network’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion initiative. In addition, she’s created a structure for queer, transgender, Black, indigenous, mixed race, and practitioners of color to be in leadership roles in the review of curriculum to ensure it accurately reflects diversity, inclusion, and equity. Vikitsreth’s work breaks boundaries and unites children and families in ways that are refreshing and currently lacking in the world of early childhood education.


Policy Award: Ashley McCormick, LMSW, IECMH-E®

Ashley McCormick is the endorsement and communications director for the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (Alliance) based in Southgate, Michigan. McCormick is a demonstrated policy leader who coordinates and collaborates with multiple state leaders and administrators as well as with key champions in Ireland and Australia. McCormick has authored three field-leading reports: “What Makes an Infant Mental Health Association Strong?”, “Forming an Association for Infant Mental Health: A Getting Started Idea Booklet” and “Endorsement is Good for Babies.” She is recognized for her exceptional project management abilities, decisive decision-making skill, and inspiring leadership.


Research Award: Kathryn Humphreys, PhD

Kathryn Humphreys is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Human Development at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where she directs the Vanderbilt Stress and Early Adversity (SEA) Laboratory and is a member of the Clinical Sciences and Educational Neuroscience faculty. Her research program centers on three goals: to improve the characterization of early experiences; to trace the impact of those experiences on long-term outcomes; and to conduct interventions to improve children’s early experiences. Her research also includes tools from neuroscience, including magnetic resonance imaging, in infants, children, and adults, as well as biological markers of aging and health.

The IECMH Emerging Leadership Awards acknowledge the efforts of professionals with 5-15 years of experience who have made significant contributions to the field of infant and early childhood mental health. Recipients demonstrate significant visionary and cutting-edge work to transform practices, policies, and systems at the local, state, or national level in promoting IECMH.

ZERO TO THREE will present the Emerging Leadership Awards on October 28, 2021 at the organization’s annual conference, which is being held virtually this year.

Learn more about ZERO TO THREE’s work to advance Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health.


ZERO TO THREE works to ensure all babies and toddlers benefit from the family and community connections critical to their well-being and development. Since 1977, the organization has advanced the proven power of nurturing relationships by transforming the science of early childhood into helpful resources, practical tools and responsive policies for millions of parents, professionals and policymakers. For more information, and to learn how to become a ZERO TO THREE member, please visit zerotothree.orgfacebook.com/zerotothree, or follow @zerotothree on Twitter.


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