Biographies

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Grace Baranek, PhD, OTR/L, FAOTA
University of Southern California
2019-2022

Dr. Baranek is an expert on sensory features of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). She earned her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from the University of Illinois at the Medical Center and both her master’s and PhD degrees in psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to her 2016 appointment as associate dean and chair of the USC Chan Division, she was a professor and associate chair for research in the Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Beginning in 2003, Dr. Baranek was the Principal Investigator of the Sensory Experiences Project funded by the National Institute Health (NIH) National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Dr. Baranek has served as either the Principal or Co-Principal Investigator of extramural grants funded by the NIH/NICHD, the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Education, the Autism Speaks Foundation, and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA). She has received the American Occupational Therapy Foundation (AOTF) A. Jean Ayres Award and in 2008 she was inducted into the AOTF Academy of Research. She is also a Fellow of the American Occupational Therapy Association.

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Emma S. Battle
Market Vigor, LLC
2020-2023

Ms. Battle is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of Market Vigor, LLC, a strategic consulting, e-commerce marketing, and digital analytics firm. She also serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of Higher Education Works, a non-profit organization that advocates for support of North Carolina public universities and community colleges. She previously served as the President and Chief Operating Officer of CRISP Agency, a digital advertising agency, before which she served in executive and senior marketing and sales roles at Red Hat, Inc. and Hanesbrands Inc. She holds a BA in Economics from Duke University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Ms. Battle expressed her excitement about joining the Executive Leadership Board saying, “Having benefited from Head Start in the late 1960s, I personally know how critical early childhood education is for shaping the trajectory of lives for generations. I am honored and excited to join the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute Executive Leadership Board and look forward to contributing to its ‘mission to conduct research that makes a difference in children’s lives, supports families, and informs public policy’.”

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Brian A. Boyd, PhD
Scientific Advisory Committee Co-Chair
The University of Kansas
2019-2022

Dr. Boyd is an Associate Professor and Director of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas. He has over 20 years of experience working with young children with autism spectrum and related developmental disorders in a variety of capacities, including as a teacher and classroom consultant. In Dr. Boyd’s academic career, his research interests have focused on the development and evaluation of evidence-based interventions for children with developmental disabilities and understanding the impact of repetitive and sensory behaviors on the ability of these children to participate in their environment. Various federal agencies, including the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Institutes of Health, have funded his research.

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Renée Boynton-Jarrett, MD, ScD
Boston Medical Center
2020-2023

Dr. Boynton-Jarrett is a pediatrician and social epidemiologist and the founding director of the Vital Village Community Engagement Network (www.vitalvillage.org). Her work focuses on the role of early-life adversities as life course social determinants of health. She has a specific concentration on psychosocial stress and neuroendocrine and reproductive health outcomes, including obesity and early puberty. She is interested in social ecology and the role of neighborhood attributes in influencing health trajectory. Specifically, she has studied the intersection of community violence, intimate partner violence, and child abuse and neglect and neighborhood characteristics that influence these patterns. Her current work is developing community-based strategies to promote child well-being and reduce child maltreatment using a collective impact approach in three Boston neighborhoods.

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Elizabeth Pungello Bruno, PhD
Board Chair
Brady Education Foundation
2014-2022

Dr. Bruno is the President of the Brady Education Foundation. Prior to shifting her primary professional efforts to the Foundation, Dr. Bruno was a Research Associate Professor in the Developmental Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Scientist at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute where her main research focus was on early care and education environments and school readiness skills of at-promise children. She led the initial phases of the FPG Infant-Toddler Initiative and served on the Non-Biomedical Institutional Review Board at UNC-CH for over a decade. Dr. Bruno received her B.A. in psychology from the University of Rochester and her M.A. in child clinical psychology and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Bruce A. Cairns, MD, FACS
UNC Medicine
2019-2022

Dr. Cairns is the John Stackhouse Distinguished Professor of Surgery and a Professor of Microbiology/Immunology at UNC Chapel Hill. Dr. Cairns directs the Jaycee Burn Center at UNC Chapel Hill. His specialties include critical care, trauma, burn surgery, cellular immunology, disaster management, and telemedicine, to name but a few. Dr. Cairns received his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and completed his postgraduate training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He and his wife Ellen, a UNC nurse, have four children.

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Kenneth A. Dodge, PhD
Duke University
2014-2022

Dr. Dodge is the Pritzker Professor of Early Learning Policy Studies and Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University. He is also the founding and past director of the Center for Child and Family Policy. Dodge joined the faculty of the Sanford School of Public Policy in September 1998. He is trained as a clinical and developmental psychologist, having earned his B.A. in psychology at Northwestern University in 1975 and his PhD in psychology at Duke University in 1978. Prior to joining Duke, Dodge served on the faculty at Indiana University, the University of Colorado, and Vanderbilt University. Dodge was elected into the National Academy of Medicine in 2015. A few of Dr. Dodge’s honors include President, Society for Research in Child Development; Distinguished Scientist, Child Mind Institute; Research Scientist Award from the National Institutes of Health; and inaugural recipient of the Presidential Citation Award for Excellence in Research from the Society for Research on Adolescence.

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Mary Frances “Muffy” Grant, MA
Advancement Committee Chair
North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation
2019-2022

Ms. Grant is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation. Prior to this role, she was Director of Development at both Prevent Child Abuse NC and the Institute for Child Success in Greenville, South Carolina. Before making a career change by entering the world of child advocacy in 2015, Muffy spent the previous decade involved in exchange visitor programs in public/private partnership with the Department of State. Muffy has traveled to many countries in support of public diplomacy efforts but believes that diplomacy truly begins early and at home and is happy to be a champion for the children of her native state, North Carolina. Muffy holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Humanistic Studies from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame. She has a master’s degree in International Affairs focusing on demographics and labor migration from Georgetown University and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management from Duke University. She and her husband have four children ranging in age from eight to two.

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Karen Hall
UNC Chapel Hill
2020-2022

Ms. Hall is a doctoral student in the School Psychology program within the UNC School of Education. She received her BA from Grand Valley State University in Psychology and Special Education and her MEd from North Carolina State University in Curriculum and Instruction. Ms. Hall has nearly ten years of experience as an educator working in various roles, including as an elementary teacher, special education teacher, and instructional coach.

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Ronald T. Haskins, PhD
Emeritus
The Brookings Institution
2006-2020

Dr. Haskins is a Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Brookings Institution, where he formerly co-directed the Center on Children and Families. He is formerly a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and was the President of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management in 2016. Dr. Haskins previously co-chaired the Evidence-Based Policymaking Commission appointed by Speaker Paul Ryan. He is the co-author of Show Me the Evidence: Obama’s Fight for Rigor and Evidence in Social Policy (2015) and the author of Work over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law (2006). Beginning in 1986, he spent 14 years on the staff of the House Ways and Means Committee and was subsequently appointed to be the Senior Advisor to President Bush for Welfare Policy. He and his colleague Isabel Sawhill were awarded the 2016 Moynihan Prize by the American Academy of Political and Social Science for being champions of the public good and advocates for public policy based on social science research. He has formerly served on the CORE Advisory Board, the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy advisory board, the leadership council for Opportunity Nation, the Couples Advancing Together advisory committee, the Association for Public Policy Management, the North Carolina Early Childhood Advisory Council, and the U.S. General Accounting Office Committee on Early Childhood Education and Care and the Committee on Promoting and Supporting Work. He lives with his wife in Rockville, Maryland and has four grown children and three grandchildren.

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Olson Huff, MD, FAAP
Membership Committee Chair
Mission Children’s Hospital
2008-2021

Dr. Huff is a pediatrician, child advocate, founder of the Olson Huff Center for Child Development, and Founding Medical Director of Mission Children’s Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. He was instrumental in the development of health care resources, such as the “toothbus”, that provide care for underserved children in rural western North Carolina. He is past president of the North Carolina Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and past chair of the Board of Directors of the North Carolina Partnership for Children as well as past chair of the Committee on Federal Government Affairs of the AAP. He is a veteran of the USAF, a graduate of the University of Kentucky, received his medical degree from the University of Louisville, internship at Wilford Hall USAF Hospital, pediatric residency at Charlotte Memorial Hospital, and fellowship in child development at UNC-Chapel Hill. He is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and an avid reader of US History. He and his wife, Marylyn, live in Black Mountain, North Carolina, and have three sons and four growing grandchildren.

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Maria Elizabeth “Liz” Jaramillo
UNC Chapel Hill
2020-2022

Ms. Jaramillo is a doctoral student in Speech and Hearing Sciences within the UNC School of Medicine. Her primary focus is on service delivery for children with developmental disorders from culturally and linguistically diverse global populations. Her areas of interest include autism and bilingualism, implementation science, and psychometrics. She has a master’s degree in Global Health from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health and a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Latin American Studies from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She obtained a master’s degree and professional licensure in Speech-Language Pathology in 2013. Previously, she worked in a non-profit community education center serving a low-income African American community. She also worked at a bilingual charter school serving a Hispanic community. Prior to starting her doctoral program, she was an ORISE Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities (CEC NCBDDD). Her international work experience spans Chile, Belize, and Guatemala.

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Marvin H. McKinney, PhD
Equity Committee Chair
Michigan State University
2001-2021

Dr. McKinney is currently a senior consultant in University Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University. He was the program director for education and youth programs at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation until his retirement in 2006. At Kellogg Foundation, he developed and reviewed programming priorities, evaluated and recommended proposals for funding, and administered projects both domestic and international. Dr. McKinney has been a public school teacher and administrator. He has also worked for the Michigan Department of Education as a consultant for Title I Compensatory Education and as the state coordinator for early childhood programs. He has a doctorate from the University of Michigan/Ann Arbor and was a recipient of a Bush Foundation post doctorate fellowship in child development and public policy from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Duncan E. Munn, MEd
2008-2021

Mr. Munn started one of the first community early intervention (EI) programs in North Carolina, served as a local and regional coordinator for services for all children and adults with developmental disabilities, and as the Chief of Community Support Services for the state Division of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities. For the next 25 years he directed the NC EI Program. Following retirement as Part C Coordinator, he helped plan and design an interagency, integrated early childhood data system through North Carolina’s Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge grant. Duncan later became involved in the Beyond Academics program at UNC-Greensboro and chairs the private, non-profit board that partners with the University to operationalize and administer the initiative. Duncan stays involved with other statewide planning and advocacy efforts to expand the diversity and availability of post-secondary education opportunities. He has served as Director of Early Intervention in the NC Division on Public Health; Director of Community Support Services through the NC Division of MH/DD/SAS; and as Systems Change Manager on the NC Council on Developmental Disabilities. His affiliations include North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, NC First in Families, and Monarch, a nonprofit provider of supports and services for children and adults with I/DD. He is past President of the National Association of State Early Intervention Directors.

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James M. Perrin, MD, FAAP
Scientific Advisory Committee Co-Chair
MassGeneral Hospital for Children
2008-2022

Dr. Perrin is the John C. Robinson distinguished chair of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and associate chair of pediatrics at the MassGeneral Hospital for Children. As past director of the Division of General Pediatrics, he founded the MGH Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy and its associated research fellowship program and directed the center for over 15 years. He is a past president of the American Academy of Pediatrics, former chair of its Committee on Children with Disabilities, and past president of the Ambulatory (Academic) Pediatric Association. For 10 years, he headed the Clinical Coordinating Center for the national Autism Speaks Autism Treatment Network and directed the federally funded Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health. Dr. Perrin is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Children, Youth, and Families, and has served on many Institute of Medicine committees on maternal and child health, health care reform, health care quality, long-term care, disability, and children’s mental health. A graduate of Harvard College and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, he had his residency and fellowship training at the University of Rochester and has also been on the faculties of the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University, in pediatrics and public policy.

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Cheryl Polk, PhD
Safe and Sound
2020-2023

Dr. Polk is a psychologist who brings to her role of Chief Program Officer at Safe and Sound her outstanding contributions to the creation of initiatives and public policies on behalf of children and their families. She has a long record of success in translating research knowledge about programs that address the families’ needs, from social services and high quality child care to mental health consultation and treatment, with specific focus on those who are most underserved. In her prior position as Executive Director of the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund, Dr. Polk parlayed her dual expertise in early childhood development and philanthropy to guide the creation of groundbreaking intervention programs for children exposed to community and interpersonal trauma. Dr. Polk was president of the board of directors of Zero to Three: National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families and was a board member of that organization for more than 15 years.

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Karen Ponder
Emeritus
BUILD Initiative
2008-2020

Ms. Ponder began her career as a kindergarten teacher, taught preschool, and directed church-based weekday school programs for 20 years. She worked for the NC Division of Child Development for 3 years, managing the state’s programs for children with special needs. In 1993 Karen helped Governor James B. Hunt create NC Smart Start, including 74 local coalitions that covered 100 counties and administered Smart Start through the NC Partnership for Children for 15 years. Upon retirement, Karen has worked with the BUILD Initiative and other national organizations as an early childhood systems consultant, assisting 48 states in state systems work. Board memberships include Project Enlightenment in Raleigh, North Carolina; Reach Out & Read for the Carolinas; the McCormick Center for Early Childhood Leadership at National Louis University; and the Community Development Institute in Denver, Colorado. Currently, she chairs the National Task Force at the National Association for the Education of Young Children for Power to the Profession (P2P), to create a profession of early childhood educator.

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Mark Testa, PhD
UNC Chapel Hill
2020-2023

Professor Testa is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the School of Social Work at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to his retirement in 2020, he held the title of Sandra Reeves Spears and John B. Turner Distinguished Professor. Before joining the UNC faculty in 2010, he was a Professor at the University of Illinois and Director of the Children and Family Research Center, an independent research organization created jointly by the University and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). From 1994 to 2002, he held a joint appointment at the University of Chicago (1994-1999) and the University of Illinois (1999-2002) as Research Director of the Illinois DCFS. Professor Testa was the architect of the Illinois Subsidized Guardianship Demonstration and led the evaluations of similar IV-E waiver demonstrations in the states of Wisconsin and Tennessee. He was the principal investigator for the evaluation of the federal Permanency Innovations Initiative. He was also principal investigator for the evaluation of the Illinois waiver demonstration for foster children aged birth to three years old and currently the Principal Investigator for the evaluation of Safe Families for Children funded by the Arnold Foundation. He was a co-investigator with RTI International for the federal project, Understanding Postadoption and Guardianship Instability and was a co-investigator with RTI International for the Third National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-Being. Professor Testa has received awards for his scholarship and public engagement, including the 2017 Social Policy Award from the Society for Social Work and Research, 2006 Angel in Adoption from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Adoption 2002 Excellence Award for Applied Scholarship and Research on kinship care and permanence. In 2018, he was elected fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

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Rob Thompson
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
2020-2023

Mr. Thompson, Director, Early Childhood, leads the Foundation’s emerging early childhood program area to ensure all children in North Carolina get off to a strong start in life. Prior to joining the Foundation, Rob spent more than a decade advocating for children’s policy issues in North Carolina, including the past six years at NC Child, having most recently served as Deputy Director. He also served as the Executive Director of the Covenant with North Carolina’s Children for six years prior and helped lead the creation of NC Child during that time. Rob's primary expertise is navigating the convergence of programs, policies, and politics.

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Jonathan Todres, JD
Georgia State University
2020-2023

Professor Todres is a Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Georgia State University College of Law. His research focuses on children’s rights and child well-being, with a particular emphasis on vulnerable populations. His primary research interests include child trafficking; the implementation of children’s rights law; human rights and the social determinants of health; human rights education; and legal and cultural constructs of childhood. Professor Todres has authored numerous publications on a range of children’s rights issues. His recent books include "The Oxford Handbook of Children’s Rights Law" (Oxford University Press, 2020) (coeditor), and "Preventing Child Trafficking: A Public Health Approach" (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2019) (coauthor). Professor Todres also serves as a regular advisor to nongovernmental organizations working to address human trafficking and other children’s rights issues. He is a member of the Board on Children, Youth, and Families of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and is a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation. Professor Todres served as a Fulbright Scholar in Ireland in 2018. He holds a JD from Columbia Law School and a BA (International Development) from Clark University. He served as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand.

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Elizabeth “Liz” Star Winer
Winer Family Foundation
2020-2023

Mrs. Winer is a community advocate for health, education, and social justice. Her focus has been on early childhood development with the vision of fostering economic mobility in the Carolinas. She supports programs and initiatives that focus on the whole child and combine education and health – prenatal to age five. Liz serves on the boards of North Carolina Smart Start and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Library Foundation and advisory boards for the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, UNC Charlotte Cato College of Education, and Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute. She sits on the State Board for Nurse Family Partnership and recently become a member of the Mecklenburg County COVID-19 Recovery and Renewal Task Force.

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Tracy Zimmerman
North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services
2020-2023

Ms. Zimmerman is the Senior Director of External Affairs at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. She has more than 25 years of experience working on behalf of public interest organizations. She helped create the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation (NCECF), where she served as Executive Director. Under her leadership, NCECF launched its signature initiative, the NC Pathways to Grade-Level Reading (Pathways), a collaborative effort bringing together the state’s early learning and education, public agency, policy, philanthropic, and business leaders to define a common vision, shared measures of success, and coordinated strategies that support children’s optimal development, beginning at birth. Zimmerman also serves on My Future NC, a statewide commission on educational attainment led by North Carolina’s public education systems, and was appointed to the B-3 Interagency Council. Prior to NCECF, she led the North Carolina Partnership for Children’s public engagement efforts and developed the First 2,000 Days campaign. Tracy previously served as the Public Relations Director at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and as Senior Vice President at The Hauser Group in Washington, DC, where she created an award-winning public health campaign on infertility prevention for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.