Napa, California
Executive Director
Montessori Family Center
In 2004, I graduated from UC Davis with a doctorate in Human Development. I also hold a Master's Degree in Early Childhood Education. I have 25 years of experience in the early childhood field which includes founding, teaching, and directing a preschool, teaching child development and ECE and supervising intern teachers at the college level, and providing monitoring, training, and technical assistance to a variety of programs through West Ed and Head Start. I was appointed as a founding member of the Napa County First Five Commission (Prop. 10) and served as vice chair and headed the evaluation committee.

From my own parenting experience as well as my years of experience teaching children, parents, and teachers, I became acutely aware of how adult development affects child development. Research has demonstrated that adult problem behaviors, negative emotional states, and mental illness can have a devastating effect on the developing child. I reasoned that optimal adult development is essential to optimal child development and I focused my doctoral research on optimal development in adulthood with the goal of applying this understanding to training those who work most closely with children � teachers and parents. My research program has centered on the development of compassion and wisdom, two characteristics essential to working with young children.

My research interests led me to my current position as Project Director of the Cultivating Emotional Balance (CEB), a study under the direction of Professor Margaret Kemeny at the UCSF Health Psychology Program. The study, developed as collaboration between Professor Paul Ekman and the Dalai Lama, is an integration of contemplative practice and psychological techniques for recognizing and calming negative emotional states and cultivating positive emotional states such as empathy and compassion. Teachers were chosen as participants because daily they face situations that try their emotional balance and because of the impact their emotional state has on their pupils and the learning environment. In collaboration with Professor Mark Greenberg of Penn State University, I developed an extension of CEB called The Classroom Project to examine the secondary outcomes in the classroom environment. We are currently collecting data by observing the teachers� classrooms and rating them using standardized observational measures of classroom climate.