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Inside Erikson | November 2022

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

November is a month for gratitude, and Erikson is extremely grateful for our record-breaking annual luncheon, highlighted by our special guest, Former First Lady Michelle Obama. Our program honored Cari Sacks, a long-time Erikson Trustee and graduate (M.Ed. ’91) who has spearheaded major philanthropic efforts for the Institute, including student scholarship support and critical funding to establish Erikson’s Center for Children and Families in Chicago’s Little Village Community.

Our annual event raised more than $3 million and drew more than 1,200 people to the Chicago Hilton and Towers for an inspiring and heartwarming program featuring a Q & A session between Mrs. Obama and Michelle Collins, a Chicago business leader and Erikson Life Trustee who grew up in the same South Shore community and during the same time frame as Mrs. Obama, and who also attended Harvard. The two women discussed their own early educational experiences, current challenges facing the field, and promising approaches.

This year’s luncheon was also attended by several VIP guests including Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering, Illinois Lt. Govenor Juliana Stratton, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, and Michelle Obama’s mother Marian Robinson.

Social Media lit up during and after the event, with attendees sharing about the experience across platforms. Some of the notable posts came from Valerie Jarrett, Chicago’s First Lady Amy Eshleman, and Illinois Lt. Govenor Juliana Stratton.

Erikson thanks the event Co-Chairs, Tom and Diane Meagher and the entire Luncheon Committee for their incredible fundraising success. Erikson staff were also highly involved–especially our Institutional Advancement team who worked tirelessly to support the committee and create a truly memorable event. You can view the Erikson video shown at the event, the Cari Sacks tribute video, and keep revisiting our 2022 luncheon webpage for new images and video links.

Erikson Updates

Erikson Students Awarded Prestigious Scholarships from the ACLP

Congratulations to Master of Child Development students Kelsey Lynch and Paulina Lopez on receiving $5,000 scholarships from the Association of Child Life Professionals. Both students are currently interning for the ACLP; Kelsey at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Paulina at Comer Children’s Hospital.

Congratulations to Erikson alum, Tiffany Gorman, on her new book

Erikson alum Tiffany Gorman recently published a book titled “Mindful Minutes for Mothers”, a meditation book for mothers of all ages. The self-improvement book includes practices as short as 5 minutes to as long as an hour to help mothers everywhere relax and be mindful. You can purchase the book here.

Erikson Institute’s Facilitating Attuned Interactions (FAN) reaching more through National Service Office (NSO) Collaboration

In 2018, the National Service Office (NSO), a unified non-for-profit for Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP) and Child First that provides information, support, and specialized education for their partners; reached out to Erikson Institute’s Facilitating Attuned Interactions (FAN) to provide training and mentoring to nurses. From January 2019 to January 2021, the NSO staff embraced FAN, and two nurse educators obtained FAN trainer certification so the NFP can directly offer FAN education sessions. After two pilot programs in 2021, NFP officially rolled out FAN education for nurse supervisors. To date, 213 individuals have completed FAN Level 1 Supervisor training, another 81 signed up for future FAN Level 1 training sessions. By the end of 2022, nearly 150 nurses will have completed the entire FAN for Nurse Supervisors training. The remainder of supervisors in the network, around 300, will complete FAN by early 2024. Congratulations to Linda Gilkerson, Tori Graham and the entire team! Learn more about the NSO/FAN partnership in this blog.

Seulki Ku at International Society for Developmental Psychobiology

Seulki Ku

Congratulations to one of Erikson’s newest faculty members, Assistant Professor Seulki Ku, who presented on the growth of preschoolers’ executive function in relation to maternal parenting at the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology (ISDP) in San Diego.

Erikson Researchers Influence Funding for Home Based Child Care

In an example of research to practice in action, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation has issued a new RFP aimed at supporting home-based child care (HBCC) networks that directly implements a recently published evidence-based framework for high quality HBCC networks from the HBCC Research Team (Juliet Bromer, Marina Ragonese-Barnes). To be eligible for funding, the Foundation is asking applicants to demonstrate alignment between the benchmarks and indicators laid out in the brief and the network’s plans and practices.

New Report from Project Connect

Project Connect is professional development for kindergarten teachers through a learning partnership between Erikson Institute and the Illinois State Board of Education. Nearly 200 kindergarten teachers across the state of Illinois have increased their capacity to assess and address the needs of every child using the state-mandated Kindergarten Individual Development Survey (KIDS). Project Connect makes use of technology to bring learning to teachers on the job, creating protected time for diagnostic work and reflective practice within the school day. Read more about the innovative program design of Project Connect that has contributed to its success.

James Roche

James Roche

Erikson Institute mourns the loss of life trustee, James Roche. James was a Chicago native who had a distinguished 45-year career as an attorney. He joined the Erikson Board in 1992 and became a Life Trustee in 2014. Over the years, he served on the Capital Campaign Steering Committee, the Facilities Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee.

Bernice Weissbourd

Left to Right: Barbara Bowman and Bernice Weissbourd

The Erikson community mourns the passing of Bernice Weissbourd, a long-time leader in the field of early childhood. A life-long resident of the Chicago area, Bernice had national impact through her innovative approach to supporting families of young children. Bernice was an early supporter of Erikson and joined our Board of Trustees in 1966. In 1990 she was named a Life Trustee. In 2010 she received an honorary degree from Erikson, and in 2011 she was a member of the Gala Host Committee. Barbara Bowman remembers Bernice fondly. “Bernice was one of the most outstanding innovators in the field of family support. She was a creative thinker and an enthusiastic advocate on behalf of children and families. She was a friend and colleague for over 70 years and will be sorely missed,” Barbara says.

More information about Bernice’s life

Jennifer Park

Jennifer Park

Erikson Institute is delighted to announce that Jennifer Park has accepted the new role of Executive Director of Professional Development and Continuing Education, effective October 1, working at 50% time. This position will build upon the strong foundation laid by the faculty and staff who created and nurtured Erikson’s long-standing professional development programs. A leader with Jennifer’s skills and experience can take our efforts to the next level. In addition, Jennifer’s passion aligns with Erikson’s–to create high quality, equitable opportunities for young children and families to reach their full potential.

Upcoming Erikson Events

Policy & Leadership’s Decolonizing Data and Language Workshop is back!

Early Childhood Family Fest to Feature CCF Erikson’s Senior Policy Advisor and State Senator Cristina Pacione-Zayas is co-sponsoring an early childhood resource Fair this Saturday, November 12 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the McCormick YMCA, 1834 N. Lawndale Avenue, Chicago. Our Center for Children and Families is one of the event partners and will staff a table with CCF information. If you know a family who would like to attend, please share the registration link: or they can call Sen. Pacione-Zayas’ office at (773) 278-2020.

Decolonizing Language Update/Recap

On October 19, our Policy and Leadership team held the third installment of their Decolonizing Data and Language workshop. This two-part workshop explores how labels can dehumanize individuals and communities and contradict our advocacy efforts. After the first session, attendees received information and resources to help them apply what they have learned to their everyday communication. Part two of this workshop will be held in December 2022.

Faculty Spotlight

Erikson Insititute’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.

Our November feature is the Director of Social Work, Dr. Cassandra McKay-Jackson

Dr. Cassandra McKay-Jackson

Name: Cassandra McKay-Jackson

Faculty Member Since: 2017

Of all the colleges and universities worldwide, why did you decide to teach at Erikson?

I previously worked at UIC as a faculty member of the Jane Addams College of Social Work. Once I received tenure I had expected to retire from there, but then an opportunity to help shape the MSW program at Erikson came along, and with the support of my then Dean I jumped at the opportunity to become the director of this new program. Erikson’s emphasis on child development knowledge is unique and extremely important to social work practitioners practicing with children, youth and families. My area of expertise is in school social work so I thought that this unique perspective would breathe new life into school social work practice. School social workers are in desperate need of this child development knowledge.

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

Having the program reaccredited in 2020 by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) , with no issues or concerns. This was indeed a full team effort.

What is your hidden (or secret) talent?

I am a kinesthetic learner, and cycling (gearing up to do my first century–100 miles in one ride), dancing and singing are my jam!

Erikson in the News

Mariana Souto-Manning, President of Erikson Institute, was featured on WTTW/Chicago PBS “Chicago Tonight” with Heather Hahn of Urban Institute to discuss the recent spike and expected decline in federal spending on children. Watch the segment

Executive Fellows alum and State Representative Jackie Haas recently spoke with the Rockford Register Star about the well-being of young children and her experience with our Executive Fellows program. Read the article

Linda Gilkerson and Fussy Baby Network was highlighted by MaryLou Costa in a recent “Reasons to Be Cheerful” article on organizations offer a helping hand for overwhelmed parents. Read more

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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