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2020 Infant & Early Childhood Conference Featured Speakers

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Monday Keynote Presentation

ACES: Strategies for Addressing Adversity in the Lives of Young Children and their Families

Monday, October 26 | 9 – 10:30 a.m. CST | Online

This keynote will explore the impact of adverse childhood and community experiences on the development and mental health of infants, toddlers, preschoolers and their caregivers. Strategies for optimizing young children’s outcomes in the face of these challenges will be discussed, including interventions for the children themselves, parenting programs, and community-based initiatives.

Presented by Dr. Brenda Jones Harden, PhD, Alison Richman Professor for Children & Families – University of Maryland School of Social Work

Dr. Brenda Jones Harden is the Alison Richman Professor for Children and Families, at the University of Maryland School of Social Work. She directs the Prevention and Early Adversity Research Laboratory, where she and her research team examine the developmental and mental health needs of young children who have experienced early adversity and toxic stress, particularly those who have been maltreated or have experienced other forms of trauma. A particular focus is preventing maladaptive outcomes in these populations through early childhood programs. She has conducted numerous evaluations of such programs, including early care and education, home visiting services, parenting interventions, and infant mental health programs. Dr. Jones Harden is a scientist-practitioner who uses research to improve the quality and effectiveness of child and family services and to inform child and family policy. She received a PhD in developmental and clinical psychology from Yale University and a Master’s in Social Work from New York University.


Tuesday Keynote Presentation

Structural Factors and Inequities in Maternal and Infant Health and the Path Towards Birth Equity

Tuesday, October 27 | 9 – 10:30 a.m. CST | Online

Structural racism disadvantages parents of color before, during and after pregnancy, leading to heartbreaking perinatal health inequities for both birthgivers and their babies. Relationship-centered and culturally-centered care models provide needed support to parents of color, making strides on the path towards racial birth equity. Building anti-racism into medical, educational, and policy systems beyond perinatal care is necessary for sustainable racial health equity throughout the lives of people of color.

Presented by Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman, PhD, MPH, Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy & Management – University of Minnesota, School of Public Health

Dr. Rachel R. Hardeman is a tenured Associate Professor in the Division of Health Policy & Management, University of Minnesota, School of Public Health and the Blue Cross Endowed Professor in Health and Racial Equity. A reproductive health equity researcher, she applies the tools of population health science and health services research to elucidate a critical and complex determinant of health inequity—racism. Dr. Hardeman leverages the frameworks of critical race theory and reproductive justice to inform her equity-centered work which aims to build the empirical evidence of racism’s impact on health particularly for Black birthing people and their babies. Dr. Hardeman’s research includes a partnership with Roots Community Birth Center, in North Minneapolis, one of five Black-owned freestanding birth centers in the United States. Her work also examines the potential mental health impacts for Black birthing people when living in a community that has experienced the killing of an unarmed Black person by police. Published in journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine and the American Journal of Public Health, Dr. Hardeman’s research has elicited important conversations on the topics of culturally-centered care, police brutality and structural racism as a fundamental cause of health inequities. Her overarching goal is to contribute to a body of knowledge that links structural racism to health in a tangible way, identifies opportunities for intervention, and dismantles the systems, structures, and institutions that allow inequities to persist.