In Memoriam: A Tribute to Rebecca Shahmoon-Shanok
By Matthew Melmed, Executive Director and Kathy Mulrooney, Program Director, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
Editor’s Note: On Saturday, March 14, 2020, the ZERO TO THREE family and the field of infant and early childhood mental health lost a leader, colleague, and friend. Dr. Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok was a long-time Board member of ZERO TO THREE who meant a great deal to many, including our Executive Director Matthew Melmed and Kathy Mulrooney, Program Director of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Healthy.
Matthew Melmed, Executive Director
I have known and worked with Rebecca for more than 25 years. She had a special passion for babies and toddlers and an unyielding commitment to seeing that the professionals who served them had the best training and support. She tutored me on the importance of reflection, sensitivity, and compassion in dealing with the needs of the most challenged families and babies. She was a giant in our field who has been taken away from us well before her time. She was so full of life, energy, creativity, and passion. Words cannot express the sense of loss and grief so many of us experience at the news of her untimely passing.
“She was so full of life, energy, creativity, and passion.”
Kathy Mulrooney, Program Director, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health
I met Rebecca Shahmoon-Shanok about 20 years ago when she served as a reflective supervision consultant at an Institute for Infant and Preschool Mental Health in New Jersey for many years. Her ability to be present with each clinician provided a model of mindfulness that has stayed with me throughout my career and across many roles. Rebecca described reflective supervision as a collaborative relationship in which strengths were cherished and vulnerabilities were partnered. She truly saw the strengths in those she worked with and helped us to feel we were not alone in the work. Rebecca was playful and curious, and these characteristics were reflected in her many “wonderings” about the work. Rebecca’s smile was radiant and genuine. Rebecca was highly intelligent, knowledgeable, intense, and open to new ideas, information, and experiences. I learned from and was inspired by her teaching, consulting, writing, and ever-reflective presence. She was a generous soul, willing to share time, space, and insights. When I joined ZERO TO THREE, our relationship continued as she was a beloved board member and our paths would cross at Annual Conference and other organizational gatherings.
“She was a generous soul, willing to share time, space, and insights.”
Besides the more formal ways we met or collaborated, I had the pleasure of Rebecca’s company over the years in less formal, but always informative interactions—driving her to meetings in New Jersey, meeting her at diners in New York City, and working with her in her home office. Rebecca allowed me to participate in her Child–Parent Psychotherapy training shortly after superstorm Sandy, and she went on to become a Certified DC:0–5 Trainer in New York state. Her lifelong commitment to infants, young children, and their families continues to be inspirational. She has left an amazing legacy and will be missed greatly.