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In Memoriam: Rebecca Shahmoon Shanok

(1943-2020)

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, a founding director and past president of the New York Zero to Three Network, founding member of the Harris Professional Development Network, and most recently, founding CEO and academic director of Collaborations for Growth.

Well-known as a clinician, teacher, and author in the parenting and pregnancy through preschool fields, Dr. Shahmoon Shanok was among the pioneers of reflective supervision; of integrating mindfulness into the fields of early childhood mental health and care; of interweaving mental health services in community-based settings; and of training professionals across disciplines together since the late 1970s. With degrees and experience as a clinical psychologist, social worker, and early childhood educator, and knowledge of psychoanalysis and the allied disciplines of occupational and speech–language therapy, Dr. Shahmoon Shanok developed a model which integrates mental health consultation plus a range of mental health services within child care and Head Start over four decades. Her expertise included both parent and dyadic development, assessment and intervention; Child– Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) with developmentally and/or traumatically challenged young children and their parents; as well as peer play psychotherapy for a broad range of children with challenges. Recently minted as a DC: 0–5 Trainer, she was also a facilitator-in-training for the Diversity-Informed Tenets for Work With Infants, Children, and Families.

Matthew Melmed, executive director of ZERO TO THREE, stated, “I have known and worked with Rebecca for over 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 our 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.”

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