Presenter Bios

Biographies of the presenters at 92Y’s Wonderplay Conference are available below.

   

 

Suzette Abbott

Suzette Abbott is a recently retired early childhood teacher with many years of experience teaching young children and teachers in South Africa, London, New York City and Cambridge, Massachusetts. Presently, she teaches Vivian Paley’s Storytelling/Story Acting methodology to early childhood educators in the Cambridge public schools. In addition, she volunteers at a school where she previously taught, and works directly with the children in Storytelling/Story Acting.

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Catherine Steiner-Adair, EdD

Catherine Steiner-Adair, is an internationally recognized clinical psychologist, school consultant and author. Her newest book, The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age, was named top 10 Best Non Fiction in 2013 by the Wall Street Journal and widely praised as "required reading for all parents." She maintains a private practice in Massachusetts, is a clinical instructor in the Dept. of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and as associate psychologist at McLean Hospital. She speaks to numerous audiences, including educators, health professionals, PTA’s, religious groups and corporations. A frequent resource to the media, she has recently appeared on MSNBC, "The Today Show," "PBS News Hour," Aljazeera News, CBS, CNN and "The Diane Rehm Show" and many NPR stations, in The Huffington Post, WSJ, NYTimes, Washington Post, London Times, among others.

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Joan Almon

Joan Almon is an early childhood educator who has worked for over 30 years with Waldorf schools here and abroad. In 1999 she co-founded the Alliance for Childhood to address the decline in children's health and well being. In the U.S., the Alliance has helped create a renewed interest in play in out-of-school and kindergarten settings.

She currently focuses on returning play-based experiential education to preschools and kindergartens and enjoys sharing stories and puppetry with children and adults. Joan co-authored the Alliance’s recent report Crisis in the Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School and is the author of numerous articles and book chapters on child development, play and early learning.

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Ann Biddle

Ann Biddle is a dance educator, staff developer, curriculum consultant, writer and choreographer. She was the Co-Director of the Dance Education Laboratory at 92nd St Y and a Founding DEL Faculty member with Jody Arnhold. Ms. Biddle has designed and taught courses for DEL including Foundations in Dance Education (Jody Arnhold), Planet Dance, Dancing in Early Childhood, Dance and Nature, Teaching from Transformation to Inspiration (Tina Curran) and Dance and Literacy (Barbara Bashaw). She is currently a co-writer for 92Y’s original Wonderdance early childhood initiative, a visiting artist at UMass Dance Department and Mt. Holyoke College, and Interim Director of the Dance Department at the Pioneer Valley Performing Arts Charter School.

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Christina Bingel

Christina Bingel received her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College. Her thesis was based on the importance of clay in young children’s cognitive, emotional, physical and social development. As a Co-Head Teacher at The Nursery School at Habonim she has created and implemented a clay curriculum for three and four-year-olds and has dedicated her time to teaching both adults and children the joys of working with clay.

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Tracy Birkhahn

Tracy Birkhahn is currently the learning specialist at the 92Y Nursery School and a mental health consultant for Project SEED (Supporting Early Emotional Development) at nursery schools throughout Westchester County. Tracy also has a private practice in Irvington, New York where she provides counseling and training for parents of young children.

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Marilyn Bisberg

Marilyn Bisberg is a Clinical Instructor of Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education, Division of Curriculum and Teaching, Graduate School of Education at Fordham University where she provides direct supervision to teachers returning for Special Education Master’s Degree through PEER, PECSE, EEL grant projects.

Marilyn has worked as a Special Education Itinerant Teacher for the Dept of Education, and a special education preschool and toddler classroom teacher .She also served as the Bank Street College project manager and presenter for a District 75, six workshops series, project manager for TITLE 1 twelve workshop series and presenter at Bank Street's infancy institute, YMCA professional development, archdiocese professional development, and Fordham grant projects Summer Institute.

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Jen Katz Burk

Jen Katz Burk is a dance educator, performer and a teacher at the 92Y Nursery School. Committed to integrating dance into the early childhood classroom, she has given workshops, and presentations at national conferences including NDEO, ATIS and the 92Y Wonderplay Conference. Jen is also a contributing writer for WonderDance – a multisensory, and interdisciplinary early childhood dance curriculum at 92Y. She is a student of improvisation and performs with Claire Porter’s PORTABLES. She recently premiered Lady Lamp at the DanceNow Festival.

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Sherry M. Cleary, MS Ed

Sherry M. Cleary is the Executive Director of the New York City Early Childhood Professional Development Institute, which is housed at the City University of New York. She leads the work of a dynamic, intelligent, and passionate team dedicated to building essential systems to insure a highly effective early childhood workforce for the state of New York, to guarantee that young children have access to excellence. Some hallmarks of the vision and leadership that Sherry has brought to New York include collaborative efforts to create New York Works for Children (New York’s early childhood workforce development system), a new competency-based Core Body of Knowledge, Early Learning Guidelines (Birth to Age 5), the completion of the NYS Trainer Credential, ASPIRE – NYS’ workforce registry, and oversight for the implementation of New York’s quality rating and improvement system, QUALITYstarsNY. She co-chairs the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council, for the state of New York, and co-chairs its Work Force Work Group. She is also the President of the New York State Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NYSAECTE). Most recently, Sherry was named to Mayor de Blasio’s 6-member Early Childhood Working Group, initially charged with building the model to be used for a Universal Pre-kindergarten implementation in New York City.

Ms. Cleary has worked in the field of early childhood education as a classroom teacher, a program administrator, and as both a faculty member and higher education administrator for more than 35 years. Early in her career she worked in Fredonia, the Cattaraugus Indian Reservation, Buffalo, and Elmira, New York. For the 14 years before returning to New York, Sherry was at the University of Pittsburgh where she was the Director of the University Child Development Center, the founding and Executive Director of the University of Pittsburgh Institute for Excellence in Early Childhood Education, and a faculty member in the School of Education, teaching a full-time load of graduate courses. Sherry has served on several Boards of Directors and College Advisory Boards as well as presided over national and regional membership organizations. She has particular experience and interest in leadership, creating positive change for children, and teacher education and speaks widely on these and related topics.

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Rose Coffield

Rose Coffield is a Fours teacher at the Riverside Church Weekday School. She has an M.A. in Early Childhood from New York University and a B.A. in Psychology and Women's Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has been working at the Weekday School since 2007 and has developed and used the Empowered Playground curriculum in her own class for the last four years.

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Patsy Cooper, PhD

Dr. Patsy Cooper is an Assoc. Professor of Early Childhood Education at Queens College, CUNY. A frequent presenter on issues related to effective teaching and practice in early childhood education, she is the author of many articles and the book The Classrooms All Young Children Need: Lessons in Teaching From Vivian Paley.

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Carey Cromelin

Carey Cromelin has been a music specialist at the Lab school in Washington DC, Gillen Brewer and many educational programs. She is co-creator of The Music Room and has been teaching early childhood music classes at the 92nd street Y since 1996. She is an actor and playwright having written and performed in many off Broadway shows including “The Man In the Flying Lawn Chair” and she appeared regularly as Wanda Hyatt on “Guiding Light.”

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Deborah Damast

Deborah Damast is the Artistic Advisor of the Dance Education Program at NYU Steinhardt and Master Teacher of technique, pedagogy and choreography courses. She is the Artistic Director of Dance Concerts and Kaleidoscope Dancers, and directs a yearly study abroad /cultural dance exchange program to Uganda. Her work has been shown in NYC venues including Ailey/Citigroup, Judson Church, Riverside Church, Peridance, University Settlement, World Financial Center; and internationally in Italy, Japan, Korea and Uganda. She teaches dance at LREI, conducts professional development for the NYC Department of Education and is a co-teacher for 92Y Wonderdance.

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Terrence Deak, PhD

Dr. Terence Deak serves as Chief of Staff at State University of New York at Binghamton (Binghamton University). A behavioral neuroscientist, Dr. Deak is also an Associate Professor of Psychology and Deputy to the President at Binghamton University. In his new role, he oversees the operations of the President office, including staff reports, budget issues and projects important to the president and the senior officers. Before joining the faculty at Binghamton in 2001, he worked as a Senior Scientist at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, performing contract research for the U.S. Navy in Neurotoxicology. His research examines neuroendocrine and neuroimmune consequences of stress, seeking to determine the mechanisms by which acute and chronic stress lead to complex disease states as diverse as major depression, alcoholism and Parkinsons disease. He received a Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression (NARSAD) in 2003, and completed a full-year sabbatical funded in part by the James McKeen Cattell Foundation. Mr. Deak serves on the editorial board for Endocrinology, a top-tier journal in biomedical research, and has published more than 50 articles. He has research funding through the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. He earned his Bachelors Degree in Psychology with a minor in Chemistry from Bowling Green State University, and his Masters and Doctoral Degrees from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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JoAnn Deak, PhD

JoAnn Deak, Ph.D., is a widely recognized educator and psychologist who works with parents and teachers in their roles as guides or 'neurosculptors' of children. Dr. Deak’s perspective is best described on her website "Every interaction a child has, during the course of a day, influences the adult that child will become."

In the 1980's, Dr. Deak worked with the Laurel School as a consulting psychologist, where she participated in a six-year study with Harvard and a team of researchers led by Carol Gilligan. She currently consults with organizations, schools, associations and parenting groups across the United States and internationally.

Dr. Deak has written several books, including Your Fantastic Elastic Brain, How Girls Thrive and Girls Will Be Girls: Raising Confident and Courageous Daughters. Her first children's book was published in 2010. Her new book will be available in November: The Owner's Manual for Driving Your Adolescent Brain.

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Lora DelPonte

Lora DelPonte has been a teacher at the 92Y Nursery School since 2006. She is currently the director of the 92Y Camp K’Ton Ton and was the director of the Wonderplay Conference from 2011-2013. She has her BA from the University of Rochester and her M.S.T. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education from Fordham University.

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Julie Diamond

Julie Diamond was a teacher of young children for over twenty-five years in both preschools and in public schools. She taught Early Childhood Curriculum at Bank Street, and has supervised student teachers at NYU and CCNY for the past seven years. Her book on teaching, Kindergarten: A Teacher, Her Students, and a Year of Teaching was published by The New Press in 2011 (in hardcover as Welcome to the Aquarium).

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Renée Dinnerstein

Renée Dinnerstein was an Early Childhood Staff Developer in the N.Y.C. Department of Education, where she led study groups and helped write the New York City Pre Kindergarten Standards. A past member of the Teachers’ College Reading and Writing Project Early Childhood Reading ‘think tank’, she received the Bank Street Early Childhood Educator of the Year Award in 1999. She is currently a consultant and writing a book on developing literacy-rich and inquiry-based exploration centers in early childhood classes.

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Heather Kaplan Egert

Heather Kaplan Egert is an associate teacher at the 92nd Street Y nursery school currently in her 7th year in the Blue Room. Heather holds a dual degree in early childhood special education from Hunter College.

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Aaron Feinstein

Aaron Feinstein is the Executive Director of Actionplay, a theater arts educator and advocate for people of all abilities. He has created sensory friendly programming for children with autism and developmental disabilities at The Brooklyn Museum and The Brooklyn Children's Museum. He has also directed the Miracle Project, New York's inclusive theatre and music programming at 92nd Street Y, Rebecca School, and the Educational Alliance among other schools and performance institutions.

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Lisa Fiore, PhD

Dr. Lisa Fiore is Dean of Faculty and an associate professor of Early Childhood Education at Lesley University. She is the author of Lifesmart: Exploring Human Development and co-author of Your Anxious Child: How Parents and Teachers Can Relieve Anxiety in Children and The Safe Child Handbook: How to Protect Your Family and Cope with Anxiety in a Threat-filled World. Her current research and professional development interests focus on mobile learning experiences in early childhood classrooms and drawing inspiration from the citizens and practices in Reggio Emilia, Italy—documenting ordinary classroom movements to analyze and celebrate the competence of young children.

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Regina Gallagher

Regina Gallagher has been a teacher of young children for over 15 years. Originally involved in the creation of an Off-Broadway theatre company, she became interested in the field of education after the birth of her children. She was intrigued by discussions of Dewey, progressive education and "educative experiences" and after reflecting on her own experiences as a learner, she set about trying to understand how children learn best while keeping the joy of early childhood alive. She devoted her energy to teaching at a small nursery program on the Upper West Side, and continued to further the cause of high quality public education as a PTA president, classroom volunteer and public school fundraiser. She earned a Master's of Science in both Early Childhood Education and General Education from the Bank Street College of Education. Regina was a teacher and director at the Goddard Riverside Head Start Center in New York City. She is committed to progressive education for young children and is currently at work on a book about her own experiences in teaching young children and the importance of high quality early childhood education for all children. Regina has recently obtained a Master's in Special Education in Early Childhood. In 2013 she received the Vivian Gussin Paley Award for Early Childhood Excellence at 92Y’s Wonderplay Conference. She is currently a K/1 teacher at the Ella Baker School, a progressive public school on the upper eastside of Manhattan.

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Lella Gandini, EdD

Dr. Lella Gandini taught at both Smith College and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from the Erikson Institute in Chicago in 2004 and the Smith College Medal in 2008. She is Reggio Children’s United States liaison for the dissemination of the Reggio Emilia approach, and serves as associate editor of Innovations in Early Education: the International Reggio Exchange.

Lecturer and author of many articles and book chapters about early childhood education in Italy, she is co-author and co-editor of the first, second and now third edition of The Hundred Languages of Children: The Reggio Emilia Experience in Transformation. Other books include Beautiful Stuff: Learning with Found Materials; Bambini: The Italian Approach to Infant/Toddler Care; In the Spirit of the Studio: Learning from the Atelier of Reggio Emilia; and Insights and Inspirations from Reggio Emilia: Stories of Children and Teachers from North America. With George Forman, she produced videos presenting and examining projects in the schools of Reggio Emilia, including An Amusement Park for Birds. She is the author of several books for children in Italian. She is a board member of the North American Reggio Emilia Alliance (NAREA).

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Barry Goldberg

Barry Goldberg is a sculptor who has taught at the 92Y Nursery School for thirty years, and was an instructor in the innovative art program Red, Yellow, Blue and Glue for three- to five-year old children also held at 92Y. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Cooper Union and was awarded the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Grant in 1987 and 1989.

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Wendy Goldstein

Wendy Goldstein has been on the faculty of the 92Y Parenting Center for nearly a decade. She teaches Little Explorers, Parkbench, Twos Together and Threes Together. She has a Master’s Degree from the Wurzweiler School of Social Work at Yeshiva University, and an AB in history from Bryn Mawr College. Before joining the Parenting Center, she worked as a psychotherapist with adolescents and teens.

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Gabrielle Greenberg

Gabrielle Greenberg has been on the faculty and has played a key role in the growth and expansion of the Parenting Center program for over 25 years. She works with parents and caregivers, babies and toddlers, leads groups in the Parenting Center classes and co-leads the separation programs for two and three year olds. She is a co-author of the 92Y Wonderplay Best Practices Handbook and has also developed a parenting series for teen mothers living in group home settings and for women in prison as they prepared to re-unite with their young children.

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Betsy Grob

Betsy Grob has served on the faculty at Bank Street College of Education, supervised student teachers and taught at City College of New York (CCNY). She began her teaching career in Sierra Leone and works with educators and young children both nationally and internationally. Most recently, Ms. Grob has trained teachers in public and private schools throughout the tri-state area, as well as in Romania and Chile. She is a frequent presenter at early childhood conferences on a variety of topics including Block Building and Early Childhood Curriculum.

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Nina Jaffe

Nina Jaffe is an award-winning author and storyteller on the graduate faculty of Bank Street College of Education and project director of FEAST: Folklore Education & Storytelling for Teachers. Recent titles include: The golden flower: A taíno myth from Puerto Rico and The way meat loves salt: A Cinderella tale from the Jewish tradition. Nina's cross-cultural work is featured in: “Multicultural Storytelling, music and community building: Dual-language resources for Head Start and Early Head Start Programs” - a webcast for The Office of Head Start’s Early Childhood Learning & Knowledge Center. She is founder and co-director of: TASITAS: World music, storytelling & community-building project launched at PS24 Dual Language School for International Studies in Brooklyn, NY.

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Lauryn Karmitz

Lauryn Karmitz has been a teacher the 92Y Nursery School since 2011. She works during the summer at Camp K’Ton Ton. She received her BA and her MA in Early Childhood Education from Syracuse University.

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Louise Kurshan

Louise Kurshan has a degree in Early Childhood Education from Bank Street College and has both been a classroom teacher and run library programs in various nursery schools since 1976. Currently, she is the librarian at Plymouth Church School and at Grace Church School, both in Brooklyn Heights. She is also a consultant to nursery schools seeking to build or automate their book collections.

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Steven Kurtz, PhD

Dr. Steven Kurtz is the President of Kurtz Psychology Consulting PC, a mental health group serving the emotional and behavioral needs of young children throughout the Metro NY area. They specialize in assessing and treating externalizing behaviors, such as ADHD oppositionality, as well as severe internalizing behaviors, such as anxiety disorders and selective mutism. His team has also done pioneering work in Teacher-Child Interaction Treatment (TCIT) – bringing behavioral coaching for teachers to a new level of effectiveness.

Dr. Kurtz is one of the nation’s leading clinicians in the treatment of children’s behavioral problems and disorders, as well as being a widely respected clinical researcher. He is one of only 20 master trainers in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and a dedicated advocate for children with special needs. An expert commentator, he has appeared on numerous programs addressing child mental health, including NBC’s "Today," CBS’s "The Early Show" and PBS’s "Keeping Kids Healthy." Dr. Kurtz’s Brave Buddies program for SM was also featured on ABC’s "Nightline." Brave Buddies has been formally replicated in Chicago, Boston and Miami.

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Sarah Leibowits

Sarah Leibowits has been a teacher at Manhattan Country School for twenty-one years, fourteen of these as the 4-5s head teacher. Prior to being a teacher, she studied music and continues to be passionate about singing, using her love of song with her students every day. In 2009, Sara recorded a CD, entitled MCS Sings which included many of the MCS’s school repetoire.

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Susan Linn, EdD

Dr. Susan Linn is an Instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She has written extensively about the effects of media and commercial marketing on children. Her articles have appeared in the Boston Globe, Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post, and her commentaries can be heard on NPR's "Marketplace." Her book, Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood has been published on four continents. The Boston Globe called Dr. Linn's new book, The Case for Make-Believe: Saving Play in a Commercialized World "a wonderful look at how playing can heal children."

Dr. Linn is co-founder and director of the national coalition Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. In 2000, she was appointed to the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Advertising to Children. She has been featured on "Sixty Minutes," "Now with Bill Moyers," "World News Tonight," "Dateline" and in the acclaimed film, The Corporation. She received the American Psychological Association's Presidential Citation for her work on behalf of children.

An award winning ventriloquist, Dr. Linn is internationally known for her innovative work using puppets in child psychotherapy. With Family Communications, Inc., the producers of "Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood," Dr. Linn created Different and the Same: Helping Children Identify and Prevent Prejudice. The series won the 1996 Media Award from the Association of Multicultural Educators and is presently being used in forty-seven states around the country.

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Gabriel Lit

Gabriel Lit received his Master's Degree in Music Therapy from New York University, with a clinical internship at the renowned Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy under Dr. Alan Turry, He has worked as a staff Music Therapist at Arts For Healing, was the Music Director of the Miracle Project NYC, and is a founding member of Actionplay. He has worked as a Music Therapist in a wide variety of settings from Early Intervention through End of Life Care, the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, the Creative Music Therapy Studio and Heartsong Inc.

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Andrew Mastin

Andrew Mastin studied childhood education at SUNY Oswego and Special Education at CUNY Hunter. He currently works at the UFT Charter School and has been there since 2011 as a teacher in the early childhood grades.

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Gillian McNamee, PhD

Gillian McNamee, PhD, is director of teacher education at the Erikson Institute in Chicago and co-director of the Assessment for Teaching and Learning Project. She works closely with early childhood teacher candidates during their preparation for teaching and provides long-term consultation to teachers in schools, particularly those serving children and families in challenging social and economic situations.

Dr. McNamee is coauthor of two books: Early Literacy (Harvard University Press, 1990) and Bridging: Assessment for Teaching and Learning in Early Childhood Classrooms (Corwin Press, 2007). She has been a Spencer Fellow with the National Academy of Education. In 1998, she was one of the first recipients of the Sunny Days Award from Children’s Television Workshop/Sesame Street Magazine, which recognized her innovative work in arts infused teacher education.

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Samuel J. Meisels, EdD

Dr. Meisels served as president of Erikson Institute in Chicago from 2002–13. He came to Erikson after 21 years at the University of Michigan, where he is now professor and research scientist emeritus. Previously, he was a faculty member in the Department of Child Study and director of the Eliot-Pearson Children’s School at Tufts University.
One of the nation’s leading authorities on the assessment of young children, Dr. Meisels has published over 200 articles, books and monographs, and is co-author of the Work Sampling System, the Early Screening Inventory Revised, The Ounce Scale and the Handbook of Early Childhood Intervention.

Dr. Meisels is former president of the board of directors of Zero To Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families and has been an advisor to the national Head Start Bureau. He was a member of the National Academy of Science’s Committee on Early Childhood Pedagogy and has served as a senior investigator for the national Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Kindergarten Cohort and for the Center for the Improvement of Early Reading Achievement.

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Nancy Carlsson-Paige, EdD

Dr. Nancy Carlsson-Paige is Professor Emerita at Lesley University where she was a teacher educator in child development and co-founded Lesley’s Center for Peaceable Schools. She is a writer, speaker and activist and has written five books and more than 50 articles, book chapters and op-eds on media and technology, conflict resolution, peaceable classrooms and education reform.

Her most recent book is Taking Back Childhood: A Proven Roadmap for Raising Confident, Creative, Compassionate Kids. Nancy has received many awards for her leadership and advocacy in peace and early childhood education. In 2013, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Academy of Education Arts and Sciences. Dr. Carlsson-Paige is an advocate for education policies and practices that promote social justice, equity and the well being of all children.

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Hope Prosky

Hope Prosky has been the Director and School Psychologist at the Grace Church School in Brooklyn Heights since 1983 and was a teacher before that. She has presented workshops on early childhood education on the national, state and local levels. The library at the school was a long-time dream which, with the help of colleagues and parents, she was able to make a reality. She is honored that it is named after her.

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Marilyn Rubinstein

Marilyn Rubinstein is Director of the Early Childhood Direction Center (ECDC) at New York-Presbyterian Hospital where she provides information, referral and support to families and professionals working with young children diagnosed or suspected to have special needs. She has an M.S. in Early Childhood Special Education and has been both a teacher and an administrator in programs for children with typical and typical development.

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Barbara Schwartz, PhD

Dr. Barbara Schwartz is a Clinical Associate Professor of Programs in Early Childhood and Early Childhood Special Education in the Department of Teaching and Learning at NYU Steinhardt. She has been an early childhood special educator, researcher and a provider of training and technical assistance for Head Start on including children with disabilities. She is a consultant to the Early Childhood Direction Center at New York-Presbyterian Hospital where she develops and leads workshops on early childhood special education issues.

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Lydia Soifer, PhD

Lydia Soifer, PhD, a language pathologist, is assistant clinical professor of pediatrics in the Early Intervention Training Institute, at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. As a parent educator, teacher trainer and staff developer, she specializes in the needs of children with deficits in learning, behavior and communications.

Dr. Soifer founded the Soifer Center for Learning and Child Development in White Plains, NY in 1991 and is currently its director. The Soifer Center is an interdisciplinary practice of speech and language pathologists, educational therapists and psychologists specializing in identifying individual learning styles to help children achieve their maximum emotional, academic and personal potential.

Dr. Soifer has acted as a consultant to private and public schools, advising faculty on the identification and enhancement of learning for children with different learning styles. She has developed, customized and led workshops and in-service training programs.

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Lydia Spinelli, EdD

Dr. Lydia Spinelli has been Director of the Brick Church School since 1983. She has served on the Accreditation Commission and the Professional Development Committee of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) as well as the ISAAGNY Executive Board. She is the founder of Summer Steps, a program that prepares low-income students for New York City independent school kindergartens and a member of the Board of Early Steps, an organization that promotes racial diversity in New York City independent schools.

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Dr. Ron Taffel

Dr. Ron Taffel is one of the most esteemed specialists in child rearing in the country. He is the author of eight books, the latest entitled, Childhood Unbound: Authoritative Parenting for the 21st Century, and over a hundred articles on parenting and professional training. He consults to schools nationwide, serves as chair of the Institute for Contemporary Psychotherapy, has a child and family therapy private practice in New York City, and is the parent of two children. Dr. Taffel has been featured in The New York Times, on “20/20,” “Dateline,” “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Primetime Live” and “Larry King.”

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Rosemarie T. Truglio, PhD

Dr. Rosemarie T. Truglio is the Sr. Vice President of Education and Research at Sesame Workshop (formerly Children’s Television Workshop). She is responsible for the development of the interdisciplinary curriculum on which “Sesame Street” is based, and oversees all educational research pertaining to the development of “Sesame Street” and “The Electric Company” currently on PBS Kids Go!

Previously she was an Assistant Professor of Communication and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University where she investigated the effects of television on the cognitive and social development of children and adolescents.

She has written many articles, presented her work at national and international conferences; conducted media literacy workshops, and has appeared on numerous broadcast, cable and radio network news and talk programs, including “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” CNN Headline News’ “Showbiz Tonight” and NPR’s “Morning Edition.” Dr. Truglio is co-editor of G is for Growing: Thirty Years of Research on Children and Sesame Street (2001) published by Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

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Dena H. Warren

Dena H. Warren has been a Head Teacher at the 92nd Street Y Nursery School since 1998. She has also held several roles in the administrator at 92nd Street Y’s Camp K’Ton Ton. Currently she is Camp Coordinator. Ms. Warren previously taught at St. Hilda’s & St. Hugh’s School and at the West Side YMCA CO-OP Nursery. Ms. Warren serves on the Wonderplay team at 92nd Street Y and also as Vice President of the Board of ATIS (The Association Of Teachers In Independent Schools).

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Michael Weiner, LCSW

Michael Weiner, LCSW, is an early childhood education consultant at the Riverside Church Weekday School, where he provides workshops and consults with teachers. Previously, he was the senior child psychotherapist and supervisor at the Karen Horney Clinic. Currently, he is a child psychotherapist with a private practice in Manhattan specializing in childhood trauma, and an associate adjunct professor at LaGuardia Community College.

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Roberta Willenken

Roberta Willenken has been teaching 4’s and 5’s at the 92Y Nursery School for many years. She believes that creative and interesting group times are essential for building a thriving classroom community. She is the author of Learn the Alphabet Arts and Crafts, and a book on transition and meeting activities “in the works,” both published by Scholastic, Inc.

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Paul Williams

Paul Williams performed in the folk clubs of his native England when he was 13 years old. He started teaching at The Shaftesbury Society, one of Britain’s largest charitable organizations. Since then he has taught students of all ages and conducted workshops at The Omega institute and The National Guitar Workshop. The songs he has written for children can be found on his CDs, on iTunes and Amazon.com. He is co-creator of The Music Room with his wife Carey Cromelin and has taught early childhood music classes at the Y since 2003. He has a parallel career as a singer/songwriter composer and musician, performing under the name Paul Clements.

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Elaine Winter

Elaine Winter is the Director of the Third Street Preschool and its Early Childhood Programs. For many years, she was the Lower School Head at LREI where she initiated the first Lesbian, Gay, Straight parent alliance. She has since directed early childhood programs throughout the city. Elaine has speaks often on gender related issues and is published in a number of educational journals.

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Jennifer Zebooker

Jennifer Zebooker has been an early childhood educator at the 92Y nursery school for many years. During that time she has taught two year olds through kindergarten and has focused on working with young three year olds for over twenty years. She has a deep interest in how children think, learn and develop new skills as they grow.

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Karina Zilberman

Karina Zilberman is the director of Jewish family life and culture at 92nd Street Y. She is a 2012 recipient of the Covenant Foundation Award for excellence in Jewish Education, and has been educating through the creative arts since her earliest days as a singer in her native Buenos Aires, Argentina. In 2007 Karina joined 92Y to create an innovative Jewish community of families with young children. Today she is widely known as the founder and leader of 92Y Shababa™, a new approach to intergenerational family Jewish experiences.

With Karina’s leadership, 92Y has developed The Shababa Network to bring the Shababa approach beyond 92Y. The Network provides on-site training, one-on-one office hours and monthly webinars for educators, clergy and lay leaders that focus and help others learn about Shababa’s unique approach.

Karina is trained in cantorial singing as well as musical theater, and she sings in English, Spanish, Portuguese, Ladino, Hebrew and Yiddish. She has released four CDs (including Sera Una Noche (1998), Karina Zilberman (2000) and Drawing Close (2005) and two Shababa recordings (92Y Shababa™ with Karina (2008) and 92Y Shababaland (2012)).

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