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2019 Symposium

January 17, 2019

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Oklahoma Early Childhood Research Symposium

Promoting Equity: Comprehensive Early Childhood Strategies


The 2019 Oklahoma Early Childhood Research Symposium highlighted research on effective strategies for promoting equity. The keynote speaker was Brenda Jones Harden, professor, Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland-College Park.

From how early childhood interventions can reduce adverse childhood experiences to breaking down barriers for Hispanic families in Tulsa, our symposium had something of interest for all those invested in improved outcomes for Oklahoma children and families.

Click here to see feedback from our attendees. 



Brenda Jones Harden

Professor, Unversity of Maryland-College Park

Harden has worked over thirty-five years in early childhood policy, practice and research arenas. Her research examines the developmental and mental health needs of young children at environmental risk, particularly those who have maltreated or exposed to other forms of trauma.

One of her main focuses is preventing maladaptive outcomes in these populations through early childhood and parenting programs, such as early care and education, home visiting services and infant mental health interventions.

She is the author of numerous publications regarding vulnerable children and families, particularly risk and protective factors that are linked with their developmental and mental health outcomes. And Harden received a doctoral degree in developmental and clinical psychology from Yale University, and her Master in Social Work from New York University.

Alicia Salvatore

Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Currently, Salvatore serves as the principal investigator on the Work, Stress and Health Among Low-Wage Latinas in Oklahoma research project as well as co-investigator for Tribal Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE).

Her research interests include: Latino health, children's environmental health, chronic diseases prevention, cancer prevention and survivorship, citizen sciences, community health workers and community-based participatory research.

Salvatore earned her doctoral degree in public health from the University of California Berkeley and her masters in public health from the University of North Carolina.

Susan B. Sisson

Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

In addition to her title as associate professor, Sisson is also assistant dean for research; director of Master of Science in nutritional sciences; and director of Behaviorial Nutrition and Physical Activity Laboratory in the Department of Nutritional Sciences where she conducts her research.

This research lab focuses on physical activity and sedentary behavior epidemiology and related risk behavoirs, such as the consumption of poor quality food. Other research interests include the influence of the physical and social environment on food consumption and the impact of sedentary lifestyle on chronic diseases like obesity. She is also interested in research related to children and disadvantaged popluations.

Sisson earned her doctoral degree in exercise and wellness from Arizona State University and her masters in exercise and helath promotion from the University of Oklahoma.

Champion for Children

Bill Doenges

From Tulsa, Bill Doenges has been an advocate for early childhood since before the inception of the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness. In fact, he was named one of OPSR’s very first board members in 2003. Throughout the years, his commitment to children, families and community has made an impact.

Now retired from over 60 years in the automobile industry, Bill is still president of the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness Foundation and involved with the 4-H Club of Oklahoma. We are grateful to have Bill as our 2019 Champion for Children.

Click here to see the Champion for Children presentation.


Couldn't make it but want to learn more? Click below for PDFs and videos.


Promoting Equity through Early Childhood Interventions

Dr. Brenda Jones Harden

Engaging with Hispanic Communities to Promote Strong Families and Healthy Children

Dr. Alicia Salvatore

Listening to Community Voices in the Development of an Early Childhood Intervention

Dr. Susan B. Sisson

Promoting Healthy Environments in Early Care and Education: Recommendations for Happy, Healthy Homes

Dr. Alicia Salvatore and Dr. Susan B. Sisson

Putting It All Together: Looking at Early Childhood in Oklahoma Through an Equity Lens

Dr. Lana Beasley, Dr. Diane Horm, Dr. Alicia Salvatore and Dr. Susan B. Sisson

Thank you!

We couldn’t do it without you! Thank you to all the following organizations for their continued support of OPSR and our mission to improve school readiness.‚Äč

Want to become a supporter of our research symposiums? Click here to learn more.


  • Arnall Family Foundation
  • Chesapeake Energy
  • E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation
  • George Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Inasmuch Foundation
  • Oklahoma Department of Human Services
  • Oklahoma Child Care Association
  • Potts Family Foundation
  • TSET
  • UCO Office of Research & Sponsored Programs