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News & Press December 2022

Inside Erikson | December 2022

a monthly comm(unity) newsletter

December 2022 - Welcome to the December edition of the Inside Erikson newsletter!

Our accomplished faculty and staff displayed Erikson expertise on a national stage last month at two annual events — the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) annual program meeting in Anaheim California, and the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference in Washington, DC.

Cassandra McKay Jackson, Associate Professor and Director of Erikson’s Social Work program; Rhoda Smith, Assistant Clinical Professor; Maggie Brett, Director of Field Education and Career Counseling; and Erika Avila, Associate Director of Field Education and Career Services all attended CSWE from November 10-13 to learn, network, and work the Erikson recruitment booth. Professor Linda Gilkerson showcased CSWE’s new Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health curriculum guide. Linda chaired the national task force consisting of more than 80 social work educators and practitioners that produced the guide. You can see some photos from CSWE below.

Top Left: Maggie Brett, Erika Avila,Top Right: Cassandra McKay-JacksonBottom: Maggie Brett, Erika Avila, and Cassandra McKay-Jackson at the Erikson booth

Top Left: Maggie Brett, Erika Avila,
Top Right: Cassandra McKay-Jackson
Bottom: Maggie Brett, Erika Avila, and Cassandra McKay-Jackson at the Erikson booth


The NAEYC conference was held in Nashville from November 15 -19, and Erikson was well represented. President Mariana Souto-Manning gave the keynote address for the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) which is part of the NAEYC Conference. Jie-Qi Chen, Professor of Early Education, made two presentations: “Conversational math counts from the start: Developing number sense in young children,” with co-presenter Mary Hynes-Berry, a former Erikson faculty member, and Lisa Ginet, Director of the Early Math Collaborative; and “Pedagogical content knowledge: The what, who, and how of teaching across six early childhood curricular areas.” Lisa Ginet co-presented on “Programs, innovations and partnerships that have brought us together to support children, educators, families and communities in early math” with Alissa Lange and Kehinde Orimaye from East Tennessee University. Adjunct professor and Erikson alum Angela Searcy presented on “To be safe, children need to feel safe: How to keep everyone safe when intense challenging classroom behaviors occur.” Meghan Gowin, Post-Doctoral Researcher, presented on her dissertation, “Sister Outsider: Lived Experiences of Anti-Racist Black Women Early Childhood Educators.” Other attendees included Samina Hadi-Tabassum, Associate Clinical Professor; Jeanette Banashak, Senior Instructor; Jennifer Park, Executive Director of Professional Development; and adjunct faculty member Margo Sipes.

NAEYC is like a big family reunion, with Erikson alums everywhere. In an audience of 6,000, NAEYC President Natalie Vega O’Neil gave Erikson (her alma mater) a shout out. Carol Brunson Day, an alumna of Erikson’s first graduating class and former President of NAEYC stopped by the Erikson booth to visit.

Meghan Gowin summed it all up. “This year’s conference centered the stories of early childhood educators. Stories of hope, reflection, and dreams for what might be if we stood in our authenticity while holding space for each other. Storytelling was highlighted as a form of resistance and a source joy!” she said.

Congratulations to all our stellar faculty and staff who are influencing the early childhood field. You did Erikson proud at these national events.

Top Left: President Souto-Manning delivers keynote at NAECTETop Right: Jeanette Banashak, NAEYC President Natalie Vega O'Neil, and Samina Hadi-TabassumBottom Left: Erikson Colleagues: L. Ginet, M. Gowin, J.Chen, M.Sipes, J.Banashak, and J.Park Bottom Right: Meghan Gowin presenting on her dissertation

Top Left: President Souto-Manning delivers keynote at NAECTE
Top Right: Jeanette Banashak, NAEYC President Natalie Vega O’Neil, and Samina Hadi-Tabassum
Bottom Left: Erikson Colleagues: L. Ginet, M. Gowin, J.Chen, M.Sipes, J.Banashak, and J.Park
Bottom Right: Meghan Gowin presenting on her dissertation


Erikson Updates

Erikson President Mariana Souto-Manning lectures in New Zealand and Australia

After presenting the keynote address for the National Association of Early Childhood Teacher Educators (NAECTE) during NAEYC, Mariana Souto-Manning traveled abroad to further amplify the work that Erikson Institute is doing in early childhood education. On November 22, she presented a lecture titled “Suspending Harm, Fostering Justice: Toward an expansive politics of belonging in early education” to a group at the University of Auckland in Auckland, New Zealand. On December 1, she presented “Toward Justice and Belonging in Early Childhood Teacher Education: A Moral and Ethical Imperative” for the University of Melbourne’s Global Childhood Seminar series in Melbourne, Australia. Check out some photos from Mariana’s travels below. In the upper right photo, Mariana stands with Professor Nicola Yelland (L) and Dr. Sonja Arndt (R).

Mariana Souto-Manning in New Zealand and Australia


Linda Gilkerson presents webinar for Newborn Behavior International

On December 2, Erikson faculty, Linda Gilkerson, PhD presented “Journey Toward Connection and Understanding: Story of Facilitating Attuned Interactions (FAN)” for Newborn Behavior International’s Leaders in the Field – First Friday Webinar Series. Learn more about the webinar series


Jie-Qi Chen appointed to NBPTS Board of Directors

Erikson Institute’s Professor of Early Childhood Education and Founding Executive Director of Early Teaching and Learning Academy, Jie-Qi Chen was recently appointed to the Board of Directors for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Jie-Qi, along with 3 other accomplished educators, joins a board of 25 members which includes classroom teachers, and Teachers of Color. “I couldn’t be more excited to welcome our newly elected Board members. They bring a wide range of experience and insight, and I’m confident that they will help us advance our mission,” said Peggy Brookins, National Board-Certified Teacher (NBCT), president and CEO of the National Board.


Whitney Mittons

Whitney Mittons

Erikson is delighted to announce our new (and first) Director of Student Experience and Support, Whitney Mittons, MA. Whitney will have a pivotal role in both listening to students’ concerns and working to enhance their experience. She will engage students in a collaborative partnership to determine their interests and needs. She will also espouse and demonstrate a commitment to the principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging, & Justice (DEIBJ) and integrate those into the work they carry out with students. Whitney will also partner with students to create, plan, and execute student-focused activities and supports that enhance the student experience, including their sense of community and belonging within Erikson. Congratulations Whitney and welcome to Erikson Institute!


Elizabeth Rowan Chandler

Elizabeth Rowan Chandler

The MarCom team is thrilled to welcome Elizabeth Rowan Chandler as Associate Director of Communications and PR. Elizabeth is already very familiar with Erikson as she worked as a freelancer this autumn, scripting and project managing our video assets and speeches to perfection for our annual luncheon. She is a collaborative, mission-driven communications leader with more than 20 years of progressive experience and proven success in developing marketing and communication strategies and programs that increase public awareness, drive engagement and support organizational growth. Elizabeth comes to Erikson after a long career at Feeding America. She is a skilled storyteller, project manager and team leader with expertise in content creation, creative asset production, and integrated marketing campaigns.


Marisa Leger

Marisa Leger

MarCom also welcomes a new Marketing Manager, Marisa Leger. Marisa is a creative marketer with experience producing compelling, smart, and thoughtful marketing solutions for a broad set of organizations including local government, start-ups, nonprofits and within agency settings. Marisa is passionate about producing brand-oriented, results-driven campaigns that align with broad organizational goals. As part of the MarCom team, she will assist in producing integrated marketing campaigns to advance Erikson’s strategic vision.

Faculty Spotlight

Jeanette Banashak

Erikson Institute’s reputation in the early childhood field has been strengthened by the contributions of our world-renowned faculty. Learn more about this dynamic group and what makes them stand out.

Next on our list is the Program Director, Online Master of Science in Early Childhood Education, Dr. Jeanette Banashak

Name: Jeanette Banashak

Faculty Member Since: 2018 (started working at Erikson in 2016)

Of all the colleges and universities worldwide, why did you decide to teach at Erikson? I chose Erikson because the mission, vision, and core values are so closely aligned with my own and because of the SEL and child development focus areas as well as the SEL team.

What has been the most rewarding moment in your career at Erikson?

It is difficult to pick one moment. Every semester is full of rewarding moments, and this fall had many meaningful moments: I heard students tell stories about professional practice that is shifting; students engaged in dialogue around difficult issues where many had profound insights; I guided students in shinrin yoku (forest bathing) and was delighted by the ways students connected with nature; and, I have tried to be intentional in my engagement with colleagues around community-building efforts.

What is your hidden (or secret) talent?

I’d like to share my secret-not-so-secret talent by telling a story that may illuminate who I am, at least from the perspective of my 5-year-old nephew, Winston. Over Labor Day weekend, I participated in the 18th annual siblings camping trip with my siblings and our partners and kids. I brought my kick scooter and so did 3 other nephews/nieces. Winston asked if I wanted to race, and of course I said, “yes!” We raced from the parking lot to his cabin, about a 30 second scooter ride, over and over again. After one of the races (which I lost), my Kindergarten-aged nephew looked at me and asked, “Auntie Nettie (my nickname from Jeanette), are you an adult?”

About Erikson

Graduate Education

Recognized for our groundbreaking work in the field of early childhood, Erikson specializes in preparing child development, education, and social work leaders to improve the lives of young children, families, and their communities. For more information on our degree and certificate programs, visit our website or email our admissions team.

Clinical and Community Services

Erikson’s Center for Children and Families offers pediatric mental health services for children birth to age 8 and their families. Services can be provided in both English and Spanish, and are available to families regardless of their ability to pay.

Policy and Leadership

Erikson’s Policy and Leadership department engages leaders in government, business, and nonprofit sectors to inform effective policies that benefit children and families. They offer unique programming that equips decision-makers and influencers with the resources, skills, and deep knowledge about early childhood development that will support their efforts to make lasting change. Learn more about our Policy and Leadership

Give to Erikson

The first 1,800 days of life set the stage for a child’s long-term physical and emotional health, socioeconomic trajectory, life expectancy, happiness, and well-being. Can we count on you to make a gift to strengthen our ability to serve children and families, as well as our students, faculty, and staff, during this time? Your support for Erikson prepares the heroes in young children’s lives—teachers, social workers, civic leaders, parents and caregivers—to get them safely through this crisis so they can soar into promising futures. Please donate here

More Ways to Connect

Learn more about Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative and TEC Center.

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