Erikson news

Present at the creation

Speaking at the 2010 commencement ceremony, honoree Bernice Weissbourd made the following remarks.

Bernice Weissbourd

Bernice Weissbourd

“I remember, many years ago, when Maria Piers came to my house in Hyde Park to talk about an idea she had. She was concerned that Head Start was growing rapidly all over the country, and there just weren’t enough trained teachers to serve young children well.

“Planning with Barbara Bowman and Lorraine Wallach, this idea germinated into what Erikson Institute is today—a nationally and internationally known school for the very best education in a comprehensive understanding of early childhood.

“Harboring such memories, I’m a bit overwhelmed to be receiving this honorary degree.

“And along with those personal feelings are my thoughts as a professional in the field. In these years, the society has moved from a concern about kids starting at first grade to a focus on children’s development from birth. Erikson has been, and under the direction of Sam Meisels will continue to be, a leader in this cultural revolution—a change towards children which affects our political, economic, and social landscape.

“So I accept this honor with heartfelt personal thanks, and with deep appreciation of the eminence of Erikson Institute.”

Speech, speech

Sam Meisels

Samuel J. Meisels

Erikson president Samuel J. Meisels, Ed.D., will be delivering a second commencement address this year, this one at Roosevelt University in December, where he will also accept the doctorate of humane letters, honoris causa. The honorary degree, the highest awarded by the university, is being given in recognition of Meisels’s long and distinguished career as an educator in the field of early childhood development and for his many public service accomplishments.

Center for Children gets a little hug

Teddy Bear

This spring, Erikson received a $1,000 grant from the Build-A-Bear Workshop Bear Hugs Foundation to support the Center for Children and Families. The grant underwrites the purchase of toys needed for play-based assessments of children with social-emotional, behavioral, and developmental concerns.

“Toys not only make for a welcoming space at the Center,” says Center executive director Margret Nickels, “They are key to our assessment of the child since so much is evident in how a toy is used. We are grateful to Build-A-Bear Workshop.”

The foundation, which supports children’s health and wellness causes, is committed to making life more “bearable” for children and families in need. Proceeds from the sale of each “Champ–A Champion Fur Kids” at Build-A-Bear Workshops support these efforts.

Project Match founder honored

In 1985, Toby Herr, ’82, had an insight into the lives of the chronically unemployed: the problem wasn’t the lack of a job.

Just as giving a toddler a pen didn’t magically confer an ability to write, giving a person a job didn’t give that person the whole constellation of competencies that make a person employable.

Toby Herr

Toby Herr

On Friday, October 29, the Alumni of Erikson Institute will recognize the power of Herr’s insight—and of the organization she created to act on it—with the Founders Award, given during association’s annual meeting at Erikson.

The organization Herr founded is Project Match, designed to give the unemployed the developmental supports they needed to join the world of work. Long admired by policymakers and program administrators dealing with workforce attachment, the project’s employment model for community-based organizations and case management system for welfare agencies have both been replicated at sites around the country. In 2008, the organization accepted the ultimate accolade. It was only one of eight nonprofits internationally to receive the MacArthur Foundation Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.

Project Match recently expanded its direct service activities and is now focused on Chicago’s West Haven neighborhood.

Career moves

Stephanie Bynum

Stephanie Bynum

Stephanie Bynum, ’02, who launched Erikson’s Office of Career Services six years ago, has been promoted to assistant dean for academic affairs. In her new position she will oversee and coordinate critical components of academic programs, including adjunct faculty, certificate programs, student academic support, and internships.

Bynum brings extraordinary experience to the job: in addition to getting her degree here, she has taught in the master’s program, directed the administration specialization, and served on the alumni board.

Partners in Care receives grant

Partners in Care booklet

Prince Charitable Trusts awarded a $25,000 grant to adapt the Fussy Baby Partners in Care training, consultation, and resources to meet the needs of Early Head Start (EHS) programs.

Partners in Care materials, which are produced in Spanish and English, help infant and child care center personnel recognize and address the challenges of caring for the very young outside the home.

Small world

Two Erikson faculty members represented Erikson at the World Association for Infant Mental Health’s 12th World Congress in Leipzig, Germany, this summer.

Jon Korfmacher

Jon Korfmacher

Associate professor Jon Korfmacher participated in symposiums on the role of helping relationships in early interventions and the challenges of assessing early prevention programs around the world.

Together with research associate Aimee Hilado, ’06, he also presented a study that compared how five states define the competencies—or specialized knowledge and skills—needed by early childhood mental health specialists. The study will help develop training standards for the fledgling field.

Tracy Moran

Tracy Moran

Assistant professor Tracy Moran presented two studies, one examining the role of maternal depression on infant emotion and the second on the Assessment of Parenting Tool, a developmentally sensitive measure of how efficacious parents of children birth to 24 months feel.

Parents of children under 2 years of age are invited to participate in the ongoing study by taking an online survey at

Consultation project ends

The start of the new fiscal year brought to a close a state-funded program that provided ongoing mental health consultation to practitioners working in Birth to Three Prevention Initiative and Pre-K programs throughout Illinois

The Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Program, an initiative of the Illinois State Board of Education launched at Erikson by Sam Wulfsohn, Ph.D., in summer of 2007 fielded consultants to more than 100 programs and 450 home visitors, pre-K teachers, program directors, and other staff, helping them to understand children’s social-emotional development and its effect on children’s interactions with parents, caregivers, and peers.

Paper dolls

The goal was to better prepare practitioners to teach the children at greatest risk.

In an email to the Erikson community announcing the closure, Irving Harris Professor of Infant Studies Linda Gilkerson expressed her “heartfelt appreciation” to the entire team for their role in “advancing Erikson’s mission to improve the lives of children and families.”

The project included Laurie Kabb, executive director; Lauren Wiley, director; project manager Gregory Tate and past-director Tonya Bibbs, a doctoral student; Chicago-area consultants Maggie Brett, Teresa Collado, ’10, Tina Dorow, M.S. ’10, Vicki Pendelton, Darcie Price-Wallace and Olga Silva-Zletz, M.Ed. ’96; and statewide consultants Colleen Berman, Jill Corder, Elizabeth Frisbie, Lynn Liston, and Angela Marvel.

Warren reports

James Warren, columnist for the Chicago News Cooperative and former managing editor and Washington bureau chief of the Chicago Tribune, has high praise for two Erikson alumnae. In a piece that ran in the New York Times, Warren wrote:

“On Wednesday, my wife and I attended the kindergarten graduation at Ravenswood Elementary, a North Side school with a high poverty rate. As we watched our son and his proud classmates sing John Lennon’s ‘Imagine,’ we were grateful that he had experienced a young and stellar teacher after two years with another young star, his pre-K teacher.

“The kindergarten teacher, Meghan Residori [current student], showed parts of a nifty film about the past year and gave us all a copy of it, as well as a laminated folder that contained our child’s kindergarten memories in the form of his thoughts on various photos taken during the year, and a month-by-month compendium of his writing, evidence of heartening progress.

“She and the pre-K teacher, Kira Hamann [M.S. ’09], are probably as good as you’ll find in any public or private school. Each has a commitment to the students and an ability to build a cohesive community. But, in seniority-driven layoffs, they might be goners.

“It’s absurd. A sane system would include real standards. It would give flexibility to and demand accountability of principals. It would replace clearly mediocre teachers with clones of these two women.



Chautauqua beckons Bowman

“How we treat children between birth and age 7 or 8 … makes an enormous difference in how they lead their lives.”

The message was one Barbara Bowman has delivered hundreds of times over the course of her 50-odd-year career as an early childhood educator and advocate. The venue, however, was unique.

Barbara Bowman

Barbara Bowman
Photo by Emily Fox/The Chautauquan Daily

It was the amphitheater at Chautauqua, one of the most venerable of American institutions. Bowman had been invited to deliver the lecture (available from the Chautauqua bookstore) as part of the 136-year-old learning community’s summer 2010 offerings.

The experience puts her in some fairly distinguished company. Thomas Edison, Thurgood Marshall, Franklin Roosevelt, Susan B. Anthony, Helen Keller, Margaret Mead, Al Gore, Ken Burns, Bill Cosby, Calvin O. Butts, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and Elie Wiesel, to name just a few, have all lectured at Chautauqua.

New faces

Randy Holgate

Randy Holgate

Randy L. Holgate, formerly senior vice president for university resources at the University of Chicago, is Erikson’s newest vice president for institutional advancement. Holgate began her career in institutional advancement at Yale University and Hampshire College before serving in multiple roles during a 30-year career at the University of Chicago. She received the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals in 1995 for significant fundraising achievements and service as a role model to the profession. Holgate is on the boards of the Chicago Children’s Choir and the Smart Museum of Art, as well as the University of Chicago Women’s Board.

Susan Wallace

Susan Wallace

Susan H. Wallace joined Erikson this summer as vice president for finance and operations. Previously, Wallace was vice president and chief financial officer at the Illinois Institute of Technology, where she oversaw annual and long-term financial operations and planning, managed investment portfolios, and supervised a team of 55 employees across multiple departments. During her 30-year career, Wallace held similar positions at DePaul University and the Poetry Foundation. She is currently a board member of Catalyst Charter Schools and a trustee of the Union League Club Boys and Girls Club. A certified public accountant, Wallace earned an M.B.A. from DePaul University.

Good work

Michael Olenick, M.Ed. ’79, was elected to the board of directors of the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies. He also was re-elected as president of the board of the California Childcare Resource and Referral Network.

Associate professor Chipo Dyanda, ’97, was appointed to the post of deputy vice chancellor for the University of Zimbabwe.

Zully JF Alvarado, ’84, served as a delegate to the invitation-only National Disability Policy Summit hosted by the National Council on Disability. Participants met in Washington, D.C., to discuss the future of disability policies and programs.

Jamilah R. Jor’dan, M.Ed. ’94, joined the faculty at Chicago State University as an assistant professor in the Department of Early Childhood-Primary/Bilingual Education.

Sarah Sivright, M.Ed. ’96, is a co-director and teacher at All Seasons Preschool in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. The preschool, which shares space with Inver Glen Senior Living, encourages children to interact with residents of the senior housing community through structured activities and casual visits. Sivright writes, “The relationships between the children and the ‘grandmas and grandpas’ are nothing short of miracles to witness.” The school features an art- and nature-focused curriculum.

Amy Morgan, M.S./M.S.W. ’05, provides therapy for individuals, couples, and families through her private practice, Amy Morgan Counseling, and continues to be a writing tutor at Erikson. She has two boys, 3-year-old Dino and 1-year-old Jake.

Angela Searcy, M.S. ’05, is the owner and founder of Simple Solutions Educational Services. In November 2009, her company provided consultation and training services for 17 Head Starts and Early Head Starts in Cook County, Illinois. The work was funded through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant to the Community and Economic Development Association of Cook County. Searcy also serves as a consultant with The Multisensory Training Institute of the Stratford Foundation in Needham, Massachusetts, which seeks to prevent and address reading difficulties in students by increasing teachers’ knowledge of evidence-based strategies.

Sara Sladoje, M.S. ’05, and Alison Kramme, LCPC, are launching a new mother and infant support group, GRASP (Gathering, Reflecting, AS Parents) beginning in September. Each week, the group will focus on a specific topic ranging from couplehood after baby to infant/parent attachment.

Shira Miller, M.S. ’06, recently received Rush Hospital’s Employee of the Year Award. She is the first child life specialist at Rush to ever receive this hospital-wide award.

Claire Halloran, ’07, is a speech-language pathologist who works primarily in early intervention. In September, she affiliated her practice with the Learning Through Play Center and will work with children up to age 6. Halloran sends a special thank you to a number of Erikson staff and faculty for their support, including Linda Gilkerson, Anne Powers, Marsha Baker, Robin Manus, Judy Bertacci, and Maeve O’Shiel.

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