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Building Equitable Futures



Listed in alphabetical order, you can learn more about all of our presenters from the entire webinar series. Check back frequently as presenters will be added as soon as more details are available.

Sara Anderson, PhD

Senior Research Scientist, Child Trends

Presenting "The Legacies of Pre-K Research in Tulsa for Practice, Policy, and Science" as part of Webinar #1: "Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country."

For 10 years, Sara Anderson, PhD, has been conducting research on neighborhoods, schools and policies (pre-K and child care) that support children from diverse backgrounds. Her work has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed journals including Child Development and the Journal of Policy Analysis and Management. She is a Fellow of the Robert Wood Johnson Interdisciplinary Research Leadership program (2019-2021) and co-leads a community-based participatory research project on school-based health centers in rural West Virginia. This work will inform approaches to delivering health care to children and families in rural areas of the US. She also is a co-principal investigator on the high school follow-up of the Tulsa, Okla. pre-K program, one of the longest running studies of a school-based pre-K program. In addition, Anderson has expertise in quasi-experimental methods, latent class analyses and growth modeling.

Much of her current work focuses on early childhood programs (such as home visiting and child care) in rural areas of the US. Children and families living in rural contexts face additional challenges related to living in rural, isolated contexts, and Anderson aims to understand factors of these contexts that may impede early childhood programs and services.

Justin Brown

Director, Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Cabinet Secretary of Human Services & Early Childhood Initiatives

Opening remarks as part of Webinar #2: "Investments in Teachers: Key to Quality Early Childhood Education, Child Well-Being and a Strong Economic Future."

In June 2019 Governor J. Kevin Stitt appointed Justin B. Brown as Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the state’s largest agency by workforce. In March 2020, Governor Stitt further appointed Brown to the position of Cabinet Secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives. As CEO of a regional senior housing company prior to these appointments, Brown built a deep experience in organizational leadership, finance and strategic planning & execution. With this experience, Brown is well suited to build a vision based on a customer first mentality, motivating the team to execute on a vision of serving the State of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable citizens. As a strong relationship builder, Brown was uniquely qualified to position the Department of Human Services as a collaborative agency that engages with partners across the state to serve together. 

In addition to having built a passion for serving seniors with Alzheimer’s Disease through his prior profession and Board of Directors engagement with the Alzheimer’s Association, Brown has built a life of service to children through non-profit service including the OU Children’s Hospital Foundation, the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City, the OKC Zoo, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, among others. He and his wife, Kelly, have been married for 19 years and have two children, Hannah and Ford.

Sherri Castle, PhD

Assistant Director, Research, Early Childhood Education Institute

Presenting "Tulsa Pre-K Research 2.0: Emerging Results from the Ongoing Tulsa SEED Study" as part of Webinar #1: "Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country."

Sherri Castle, PhD, serves as principal investigator for the CAP-Tulsa Program Evaluation Project. Her responsibilities include overseeing project staff and collaborating on project design, data analysis and dissemination of findings. In addition, Castle leads the ECEI Research Infrastructure Team, Project Leadership Team and Writing Club.

Abby Charles

Program Director, Institute for Public Health Innovation

Presenting "Steps to Advance Equity in Oklahoma Early Childhood Policies, Systems and Programs" as part of Webinar #3: "Oklahoma's Roadmap: Driving Early Childhood Policy and Research."

Abby Charles is a program director at the Institute for Public Health Innovation (IPHI), having joined the organization after serving for five years at the Women’s Collective, a nationally recognized organization providing care, prevention, and advocacy services for women, girls and their families living with and at risk for HIV in the Metropolitan DC area. Charles' primary role at IPHI is to provide leadership and coordination for the Community Health Worker Initiatives, overseeing a network of peer Community Health Workers and a portfolio of programs in which the IPHI addresses program refinement, implementation and evaluation.

In addition, she coordinated the Women’s Collective’s Policy and Advocacy Program, in which she managed the dissemination of their service delivery model and toolkit and worked to train the TWC peer advocacy group, Positive Leaders Uplifting Sisters, to ensure that women’s voices were heard at policy-making tables. Prior to this role, Charles spearheaded the intergenerational and youth focused HIV prevention projects, the female condom (FC2) outreach and education project, and the Prosper! Prevention with Positives program. For her work with the Women’s Collective, Charles was awarded the Tranquil Space Foundation award for creative expression and leadership development for women and girls in October 2009.

Charles is a graduate of the George Washington University where she earned a Bachelors of Science in Environmental Science and a Masters of Public Health in Global Health. In 2006, she was awarded the George Washington University Martin Luther King Junior Award for Service and was honored with an Impact Award from the GW Black Alumni Association. Charles is also an inductee of the George Washington University ‘Wall of Fame.’

Mylien Duong, PhD

Senior Research Scientist, Committee for Children

Presenting "Social Emotional Learning: Not Just for Kids" as part of Webinar #2: "Investments in Teachers: Key to Quality Early Childhood Education, Child Well-Being and a Strong Economic Future."

Mylien Duong, PhD, is senior research scientist at the Committee for Children, a non-profit organization that develops social emotional learning programs for school-based settings. With support from the Institute of Education Sciences, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute of Justice and private foundations, her research focuses on developing and evaluating interventions that promote social-emotional and academic success and prevent and treat mental health problems. She believes that every child deserves the opportunity to excel and thrive, and that access to opportunity should not be determined at birth. Duong's aim is to develop empirically-supported interventions that are responsive to the needs of ethnic and economic minority youth. Additionally, her work is focused on developing interventions that are brief, fit within the routines and rituals of schools, and can be delivered by personnel without specialized mental health training.

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, PhD

Vice President for Research and Partnerships, University of Oklahoma

Opening remarks as part of Webinar #3: "Oklahoma's Roadmap: Driving Early Childhood Policy and Research."

Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, PhD, is a science and technology leader, strategist and administrator with extensive experience in government, academia and the private sector. At present, Díaz de la Rubia is the vice president for Research and Partnerships at the University of Oklahoma (OU). In this capacity, he leads OU’s efforts to enhance the scale and scope of the university’s research enterprise, and to develop a new strategic framework for research to propel the university forward, particularly in the areas of national security, energy and sustainability and the life sciences.

Prior to his current position, Díaz de la Rubia was the chief scientific officer and senior vice president for strategic initiatives at Purdue University. In that capacity, he helped the university pursue major new research initiatives and contracts, and led Discovery Park, a transdisciplinary complex of centers, institutes and facilities focused on turning new ideas and discoveries into disruptive innovations with global impact on society. During his tenure at Purdue from 2015 to 2019, Discovery Park focused strategically on the development of real world solutions to major global challenges in health and the life sciences; sustainability and the nexus of energy, food, water, climate and the environment; and national security and defense.

In addition to these leadership roles, Díaz de la Rubia is a member of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine Intelligence Community Studies Board, which was tasked in 2016 by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and discusses science and technology issues of importance to the nations’ intelligence community. He is also a board member of the National Defense Industry Association, and of CRFD Global.

Bill Gormley, PhD

Professor, Government & Public Policy, Georgetown University

Presenting "The Legacies of Pre-K Research in Tulsa for Practice, Policy, and Science" as part of Webinar #1: "Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country."

William T. Gormley, Jr., PhD, is a professor at Georgetown University. He is also co-director of the Center for Research on Children in the U.S. Gormley is the author of several books, including Everybody’s Children: Child Care as a Public Problem (Brookings 1995), Organizational Report Cards (Harvard University Press, 1999), and Voices for Children: Rhetoric and Public Policy (Brookings, 2012). His latest book is The Critical Advantage: Developing Critical Thinking Skills in School (Harvard Education Press, 2017). His research on early childhood education has been featured in the New York Times and on NPR, the PBS News Hour and the CBS Evening News. Gormley is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and a past president of the Public Policy Section of the American Political Science Association.

Erica Greenberg, PhD

Senior Research Associate, Urban Institute

Presenting "From Disparate Need to Equitable Futures: Perspectives from Oklahoma and around the Country" as part of Webinar #3: "Oklahoma's Roadmap: Driving Early Childhood Policy and Research."

Erica Greenberg, PhD, is a senior research associate at the Urban Institute with 15 years’ experience in early childhood research. As part of Oklahoma’s Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five, she and her team worked with the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness to conduct the OKFutures Needs Assessment and support the Strategic Plan. Her broader work examines issues of equity in ECE access, quality, and impact across a variety of local, state, and federal programs. A former public pre-kindergarten teacher, she is currently leading a national study of the ECE workforce, the District of Columbia Prekindergarten Study, the District of Columbia Child Care Policy Research Partnership, and rapid-response research on the effects of the pandemic on the well-being of families with young children.

Joy Hofmeister

State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Oklahoma State Department of Education

Opening remarks as part of Webinar #1: "Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country."

Joy Hofmeister was originally elected to serve as State Supt. of Public Instruction in Nov. 2014 and began her second term as Oklahoma's State Superintendent in Jan. 2019. Since taking office, the state has repealed ineffective state exams; released a more meaningful and user-friendly accountability system; and bolstered student safety. With an emphasis on collaboration and a focus on ensuring Oklahoma's children have access to opportunities to achieve academic success, Hofmeister has strengthened academic standards and testing, revamped teacher evaluation and brought statewide attention to the need for trauma-informed instructional practices that meet children where they are.

Anna Johnson, PhD

Associate Professor, Psychology, Georgetown University

Presenting "Tulsa Pre-K Research 2.0: Emerging Results from the Ongoing Tulsa SEED Study" as part of Webinar #1: "Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country."

A hybrid scholar with dual degrees in developmental psychology and public policy, Anna Johnson’s, PhD, research sits at the intersection of the two disciplines by blending the theory and measures of developmental psychology with advanced quantitative methods to ask exploratory and evaluative questions about how public policies can impact vulnerable children's early development. Her primary research focus is on the effects of publicly funded early care and education experiences on low-income children's development. Johnson is currently the principal investigator of the multi-million dollar, 7-year longitudinal study of low-income children in Tulsa, Okla., the Tulsa Study of Early Education and Development (Tulsa SEED) that is following a cohort of children from age three (2016) through fourth grade (2023).

In a parallel line of research, Anna co-leads studies exploring the predictors and consequences of food insecurity, which disproportionately impacts low-income households with young children and can be ameliorated by public policies such as food assistance and school-based food provision programs. 

Across all of her research areas and projects, Anna maintains a focus on barriers to early education and food access as well as particular strengths of vulnerable subgroups of students and families. These vulnerable subgroups include children who are dual-language learners, children with special needs, and households that face other stressors known to impede access to services and positive developmental outcomes like food insecurity and maternal depression. 

Lynn Karoly, PhD

Senior Economist, RAND Corporation

Presenting "Research on the Cost of Quality Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) in Oklahoma: Implications for the ECCE Workforce" as part of Webinar #2: "Investments in Teachers: Key to Quality Early Childhood Education, Child Well-Being and a Strong Economic Future."

Lynn Karoly's, PhD, research has examined human capital investments, social welfare policy, child and family well-being, and labor markets. Much of her recent child policy research has focused on early childhood care and education (ECCE) programs with studies of their use and quality, publicly subsidized programs such as Head Start, professional development for the ECCE workforce, quality rating and improvement systems, ECCE cost and financing, and birth through five (B–5) systems.

She is currently leading an evaluation of recent reforms to CalWORKs, California's Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Related work includes an assessment of causal impacts of the major U.S. means-tested cash, in-kind, and human capital investment programs and a comprehensive synthesis of the welfare reforms of the 1990s. In other research, she has applied benefit-cost analysis and related tools to evaluate social programs including early childhood interventions and youth development programs. Other studies have focused on the future of the workforce and workplace in the United States, state-level immigration policies, self-employment behavior and labor markets in the Middle East.

Karoly served as director of RAND's Office of Research Quality Assurance from 2004 to 2014 and director of RAND Labor and Population from 1995 to 2003. Her professional service includes serving as the 2017 president of the Society for Benefit-Cost Analysis and editorial roles for the Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis and the Journal of Human Resources. Karoly received her Ph.D. in economics from Yale University.

Maddie Kim

Research Associate, Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, University of Texas-Austin

Presenting "Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center: Research for Action and Outcomes" as part of Webinar #3: "Oklahoma's Roadmap: Driving Early Childhood Policy and Research."

Maddie Kim is a Research Associate at the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center at the University of Texas-Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs. The Policy Impact Center translates the science of the developing child into the most effective state-level policies and strategies that foster the conditions in which children and families thrive and that strengthen equity and outcomes. The center's team of researchers and nonpartisan policy experts works with policymakers, practitioners, and advocates to navigate the evidence of what works, set priorities, act with confidence, and analyze results for continuous improvement. Kim is part of the Policy-Research Exchange team and helps states with their own Prenatal-to-3 State Policy Roadmap and also facilitates the sharing of information among states. Prior to the Prenatal-to-3 Policy Impact Center, Kim worked on NIH-funded research project, the Tulane Innovations in Positive Parenting Study, which seeks the evaluate the impact of universal parenting programs on parenting behaviors and the Early Childhood Policy Leadership Institute, which aims to educate policymakers in Louisiana about the prenatal-to-three period of life.

Kyong-Ah Kwon, PhD

Associate Professor, Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum, University of Oklahoma

Presenting "The Price of Happiness: Needs for Investing in Teacher Well-Being" as part of Webinar #2: "Investments in Teachers: Key to Quality Early Childhood Education, Child Well-Being and a Strong Economic Future."

Kyong-Ah Kwon, PhD, has extensive experience as a teacher of young children in Korea and the United States. She received her doctorate in developmental studies from Purdue University and worked as an associate professor at Georgia State University before coming to the University of Oklahoma (OU). Kwon has an extensive record of scholarly work about parenting, classroom quality and teachers’ well-being and each of these impact on children’s development. She has been published in prestigious journals, such as Teaching and Teacher Education, Journal of Child and Family Studies, Learning and Individual Differences and Early Education and Development. Kwon has also led several grants that contribute to supporting teachers and improving classroom quality. She was recently awarded the Research Scholarship Award from the Jeanine Rainbolt College of Education at OU.

Tiffany Neill

Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Oklahoma State Department of Education

Presenting "OSDE Early Childhood Education Present and Future Projects" as part of Webinar #1: "Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country"

Tiffany Neill is the Deputy Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction for the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE). She is currently a Doctoral candidate at the University of Oklahoma, seeking a degree in Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum. Neill served as the Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction for three years and as the Director of Science and Engineering Education for five years at the Oklahoma State Department of Education. She began her career in education as a middle school and high school science teacher for Vinita Public Schools in Vinita, Okla. before serving as a graduate research assistant at the University of Oklahoma’s K20 Center for Education and Community Renewal. She also served as President of the Council of State Science Supervisors, a committee member for the National Academies of Science, and several other leaderships and service roles committed to fostering excellence in science education in Oklahoma and across the nation. Neill was recently named to the National Science Foundation’s STEM Advisory Panel.

In her role at OSDE she works to support districts and educators in ensuring all students have access to equitable learning experiences and supports twenty-four curriculum directors and specialists in similar efforts with various disciplines. She has overseen the review and revision of various academic standards and corresponding curricular frameworks as well as the development of the Oklahoma Family Guides.

Deborah Phillips, PhD

Professor, Psychology, Georgetown University

Presenting "The Legacies of Pre-K Research in Tulsa for Practice, Policy, and Science" as part of Webinar #1: "Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country."

Deborah Phillips was the first executive director of the Board on Children, Youth and Families of the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine and served as study director for the board’s report: "From Neurons to Neighborhoods. The Science of Early Child Development." She also served as president of the Foundation for Child Development, director of Child Care Information Services at the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and Congressional Science Fellow (Society for Research in Child Development) on the staff of Congressman George Miller.

Her research focuses on the developmental effects of early childhood programs for both typically developing children and those with special needs, including research on child care, Head Start, and pre-Kindergarten programs. Deborah has served on numerous task forces and advisory groups that address child and family policy issues, including the Task Force on Meeting the Needs of Young Children of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, the Head Start FACES Redesign Expert Panel, and the Secretary’s (US DHHS) Committee on the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Evaluation. 

Ken Randall, PhD

Co-director, Office of Community Engagement, University of Oklahoma (OU)-Tulsa; Associate Dean, College of Allied Health, OU Health Sciences Center; and Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, OU Health Sciences Center

Presenting "The Price of Happiness: Needs for Investing in Teacher Well-Being" as part of Webinar #2: "Investments in Teachers: Key to Quality Early Childhood Education, Child Well-Being and a Strong Economic Future."

Ken Randall, PhD,  is the associate dean of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center College of Allied Health. He received his bachelor’s in physical therapy from OU in 1986; his master’s in human relations degree from OU in 1996; and his doctorate in educational psychology at Oklahoma State University in 2009. Randall has taught in the academic environment for 27 years and been in physical therapy field for 33 years. Moreover, he has been involved in interprofessional education for 20 years. Randall is currently involved in three research studies examining fitness and wellness in three distinct populations: 1) Children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (in collaboration with the St. Jude affiliate clinic at St. Francis Children’s Hospital); 2) adults with behavioral diagnoses (a collaboration with OU Tulsa’s IMPACT team and Dr. Jessica Tsotsoros in occupational therapy); and 3) early childhood educators (in collaboration with the Early Childhood Education Institute at OU).

He has published numerous articles in international journals as well as in both Allied Health Education and Physical Therapy, the flagship journals of his profession. In addition, he has presented internationally on four continents. Randall’s publications and presentations address topics that range from academic integrity to novel educational strategies to fostering student success in the practice environment and to individual and community-centered practice. He has received over fifteen teaching and service awards over the years, including the OU-Tulsa President’s Award for leadership in community service in 2009, the Oklahoma Physical Therapy Association Kennett Ball Service Award in 2014, and the inaugural Provost’s Teaching Award at the OU Health Sciences Center in 2017.