Emily Ball holds an A.S. degree from Manchester Community College. Professionally, she splits her time among various organizations related to disability. She serves as the youth outreach coordinator for Parents Available to Help. She helped spearhead a program with the University of Connecticut to speak to young children in their classrooms about disability. Besides these specific endeavors, she has also served as one of two youth advisors for the Connecticut Transition Symposium Planning Committee since 2018.
Harolyn M.E. Belcher (Planning Committee) is the director of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training, Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is the principal investigator for three Centers for Disease Control and Prevention public health leadership training programs that promote diversity in public health research, training, and leadership experiences for undergraduate, public health graduate, medical, dental, pharmacy, and veterinary students. She is co-investigator on a National Institutes of Health grant to conduct a cost comparison of two evidence-based parent interventions for young children with emotional and behavioral problems. Belcher received her B.S. in zoology from Howard University, a medical degree from Howard University College of Medicine, and a master’s in health science focusing on mental health in 2002 from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Kawanza Billy is the program manager of the Black Swan Academy. She became involved because she identified with its mission: making young Black leadership more the rule than the exception. She believes that every
young person is a leader and that, when fully equipped with support and tools, they can accomplish anything. She is the founder and social impact strategist at K. Billy Push, a consulting company dedicated to creating and improving social impact initiatives. She received her B.A. from the City University of New York at John Jay College where she majored in political science with a concentration in urban and community affairs. She is known for her ability to utilize creativity in fostering new processes, programs, and systems that affect experience, sustainability, and visibility.
Claire Brindis, is a professor of pediatrics and health policy in the Department of Pediatrics and the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Health Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco. She also serves as director at the university’s Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies, as well as the co-director of the Adolescent and Young Adult Health National Resource Center. Brindis’ research focuses on ameliorating the effects of social, health, and economic disparities among ethnic and racial populations with a particular focus on women and adolescents. Her research analyzes how disparities impact health outcomes, access to quality care and health insurance coverage, and the impact of migration and acculturation affect Latinx health. Brindis is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine. She served on the Institute of Medicine’s (now NAM) Committee on Preventive Health Services for Women, which developed recommendations for preventive services for women without co-payments that were adopted as part of health care reform.
Tameka “Tami” Brown serves as director of the National Organizations for Youth Safety. In this role, she works with the CEO to manage youth programs, communications, and fundraising initiatives. Previously, Brown served as executive director at the Center for Effective Reading Instruction providing strategic leadership in utilizing evidence-based approaches to reading and learning in promoting high student literacy levels.
Daniel Busso is a director of research at the FrameWorks Institute, where he conducts multimethod social science research to investigate patterns of public thinking about socio-political issues. At FrameWorks, he works with a multidisciplinary team of social scientists and communications practitioners who investigate ways to apply innovative framing research methods to social issues and train nonprofit organizations to put the findings into practice. Prior to working at FrameWorks, his past research focused on emotional, cognitive, and neurobiological mechanisms that underlie the association between early adversity and childhood and adolescent mental disorders. He holds a B.S. in psychology from the University of Bath,
England, an M.S. in cognitive science from University College London, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Conor Curran is a junior at Old Mill High School in Millersville, MD, and is enrolled in the International Baccalaureate Diploma Program. Curran has served his local community for the past 6 years advocating for a more equitable school system and increases in mental health resources. Being involved is second nature for Curran as he serves as the president of the Chesapeake Regional Association of Student Councils, the official voice of the students of Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Currently, he is running for the student position on the Anne Arundel County Board of Education in order to help bring about policy changes.
Kelly Headrick serves as the senior director of state government affairs and grassroots advocacy for Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting solutions to the needs of individuals with autism and their families across the spectrum and throughout the life span. In this role, she and her colleagues work—together with volunteer advocates and ambassadors—to promote autism research funding, access to critical autism-related supports and services, access to high-quality special education, and to support other issues of concern to the autism community. Prior to joining the staff of Autism Speaks in early 2020, Headrick worked in a variety of state, regional, and national roles at organizations such as the American Heart Association, the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, the American Cancer Society, and the Nurse-Family Partnership.
DeAngelo Hughes is a sophomore at Ferris State University in Michigan, where he is majoring in social work. A mental health and suicide prevention activist, Hughes struggled with feelings of grief and isolation for years after he lost his mother to hypertensive heart disease when he was 13 and then a brother to life incarceration. In 2014, while a high school sophomore on the east side of Detroit, he came up with a vision to support other young people who were experiencing devastating losses and help them find hope and a sense of comfort in community so that, eventually, no young person would ever have to feel as alone as he did when he lost his mother. With coaching from the Future Project, he launched the Detroit Flutter Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting youth and young adults experiencing loss and grief by teaching them coping skills, raising awareness about teen suicide prevention, mental health, and creating a safe space to share stories of traumatic events.
Stephanie M. Jones is the Gerald S. Lesser Professor in early childhood development at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research, anchored in prevention science, focuses on the effects of poverty and exposure to violence on the social, emotional, and behavioral development of children and youth. Over the last 10 years, her work has focused on both evaluation research addressing the impact of preschool and elementary focused social-emotional learning interventions on behavioral and academic outcomes and classroom practices, as well as new curriculum development, implementation, and testing. Jones’ research portfolio emphasizes the importance of conducting rigorous scientific research and program evaluation that results in accessible content for early and middle childhood practitioners and policy makers. Her developmental and experimental research investigates the causes and consequences of social-emotional problems and competencies; strategies for altering the pathways that shape children’s social-emotional development; and programs, interventions, and pedagogy that foster social-emotional competencies among children, adults, and social environments. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University.
Nicole Kahn, Ph.D., serves as a program officer for the Board on Children, Youth, and Families at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. She is currently the study director for the Committee on Applying Lessons of Optimal Adolescent Health to Improve Behavioral Outcomes for Youth. Before joining the National Academies, Kahn worked as a social research specialist with the Carolina Population Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she collaborated on research projects focused on postsecondary educational attainment, adolescent sexuality, and childhood and adolescent precursors of adult chronic disease. She has also worked as a project researcher at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development in Washington, DC, and served as a Head Start teacher with the Teach for America program in Phoenix, AZ. She received her B.A. in psychology from Bates College, her M.Ed. in early childhood education from Arizona State University, and her Ph.D. in maternal and child health from the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she studied the sexual experiences and related health outcomes of marginalized populations from adolescence through adulthood.
Tamar Mendelson, is a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is a Bloomberg Professor of American Health, director of the Center for Adolescent Health, and co-leader of the Adolescent Health area of the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. A clinical psychologist by training, Mendelson studies the prevention of mental health issues and promotion of positive development in urban adolescents. For over 12 years,
she has tested mindfulness-based prevention programs to enhance student mental health and school success in the Baltimore City schools. Through the center and the Bloomberg Initiative, she collaborates with multiple partners to help reduce the number of young people who become disconnected from school, the workforce, and other key supports.
Cheryl Polk (Planning Committee) is Safe & Sound’s first chief program officer. Safe & Sound has worked for more than 45 years to prevent child abuse and reduce its devastating effects. In this position, Polk supervises the agency’s clinical and family teams: Integrated Children & Family Services, which seeks to promote mental health, and Community Education & Strategic Partnerships. Prior to this role, she served as president of the HighScope Educational Research Foundation. Through her 25-year career as a psychologist, academic, and civic volunteer, Polk has promoted healthy child development, especially for children at risk of school failure and their families. She served as the executive director of the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund where her insight into early childhood development and philanthropy helped create innovative intervention programs for children exposed to community and interpersonal trauma. Polk received her Ph.D. in psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology-San Francisco at Alliant International University.
Carlos E. Santos (Planning Committee) is an associate professor at the University of California, Los Angeles’ Luskin School of Public Affairs. Santos’ research draws on diverse disciplines, theories, and methods to better understand the implications for development and well-being stemming from overlapping oppressions such as racism and heterosexism that create unique conditions shaped by individual social contexts. He is interested in how individuals cope with these overlapping stressors through attitudes produced by belonging to different social groups (such as having pride in one’s ethnic, racial, or sexual identity group) and positions one occupies (being undocumented, for instance), and the effect of such coping on mental health, educational outcomes, and civic engagement. Santos received his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from New York University, a master’s degree in education from Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree from New York University.
Edward Schmit co-founded IDONTMIND, a mental health awareness campaign and lifestyle brand working to inspire conversations about mental health. Since its launch in 2017, IDONTMIND has raised over $350,000 for mental health organizations across the country, and is now an official program of Mental Health America, which now fully funds the nonprofit. As the IDONTMIND website and social platforms continue to grow into
a major destination for all things mental health, Schmit oversees all day-to-day operations including product design, e-commerce, social media, and partnership management. To his current work, Schmit brings with him over 8 years of experience in design, fashion, and marketing he gained as the former creative director of a New York entertainment agency. He has worked with best-in-class brands like Google, Showtime, Starbucks, Icelandic Provisions, Maybelline, and more.
Matthew Shapiro is a 2013 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University where he completed his B.A. in interdisciplinary studies. Throughout college, he participated in several internships with the White House, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and several disability organizations in Virginia. In 2014, he developed a disability consulting company called 6 Wheels Consulting, LLC. It is the goal of 6 Wheels Consulting to work with businesses of all types to help advance their understanding of disability culture.
Deborah Klein Walker (Planning Committee) is the current president of the Global Alliance for Behavioral Health and Social Justice (formerly the American Orthopsychiatric Association) and a former president of the American Public Health Association and the Association of Maternal and Child Health Programs. She formerly served as vice president and senior fellow at Abt Associates, Inc. and as the associate commissioner for programs and prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Prior to state service, Walker was an associate professor of human development at the Harvard School of Public Health and a faculty member at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research and policy interests include child and family policy, program implementation and evaluation, public health practice, disability policy, community health systems, health outcomes, and data systems. She received her Ed.D. in human development from Harvard University.
Leslie R. Walker-Harding, is the Ford-Morgan Endowed Professor and Chair of the Department of Pediatrics and associate dean at the University of Washington and the chief academic officer and senior vice president of Seattle Children’s Hospital. Prior to returning to Seattle, Walker-Harding was chair of the Department of Pediatrics and medical director of Penn State Children’s Hospital. From 2007 to 2016, she was the division chief of adolescent medicine and vice chair of faculty development in pediatrics at the University of Washington. Her research has been focused on preventing a broad span of adolescent risk behaviors and conditions including adolescent and young adult substance abuse, ADHD, and adolescent pregnancy. One national focus of hers has been diversity and inclusion in the health
provider workforce as a way of creating excellence in academic medicine and eliminating health disparities.
David W. Willis (Planning Committee) is a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. He leads a national initiative to advance early relational health for child health and communities. A board-certified developmental behavioral pediatrician, Willis was a clinician in Oregon for more than 30 years with a practice focused on early childhood development and family therapy. Most recently, he was the first executive director of the Perigee Fund, a Seattle-based philanthropy focused on strengthening the social and emotional development of all babies and toddlers, and on increasing workforce capacity to enhance it. From 2012 to 2018, he served as director of the Division of Home Visiting and Early Childhood Services at the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration Maternal Child Health Bureau in Washington, DC, and continues to be a thought leader in home visiting and early childhood systems. Throughout his career, he has worked for the transformation of child health care in coordination with early childhood communities and focused on the advancement of early relational health and young children’s social-emotional and developmental well-being. Willis received his M.D. from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.
Francie Zimmerman is a senior associate at the Center for the Study of Social Policy and works primarily on the Youth Thrive initiative, focusing on adolescents in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. She coordinates Youth Thrive’s National Network and supports New Jersey’s implementation efforts. Previously, Zimmerman was director of family services for Acelero Learning Head Start centers in North Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. In philanthropy, Francie established and operated the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation’s Child Abuse Prevention Program, making grants to national nonprofit organizations for over a decade. Early in her career, she was an advocate for children in foster care, a special-needs adoption caseworker, and an assistant to the director of New York City’s secure detention facility for children, ages 10–15 years old. She has a M.S.W. from Hunter College and a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.
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