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Keynote and Featured Speakers

Opening Keynote: Roberta Golinkoff 

Professor & Director of the Child’s Play, Learning, and Development Laboratory

University of Delaware 

Dr. Golinkoff has received numerous awards for her contributions to developmental science, including the 2017 Society for Research in Child Development’s Distinguished Scientific Contributions Award. Funded by federal agencies, she has written 16 books and monographs.  Passionate about the dissemination of psychological science for improving our schools and families’ lives, she and Kathy Hirsh-Pasek (her long standing collaborator) wrote, How Babies Talk (Penguin/Dutton) and Einstein Never Used Flash Cards (Rodale). Their latest book is, Becoming Brilliant: What Science Tells Us About Raising Successful Children (APA Press).  Dr. Golinkoff also co-founded the Ultimate Block Party movement to celebrate the science of playful learning as well as the Urban Thinkscape project.  She has appeared on Good Morning America, other radio and television shows, and in print media. She never turns down an opportunity to spread the findings of developmental and educational science to the lay public. She can be followed through her blogs in the Huffington Post, the Brookings Institute, and on Twitter at @KathyandRo1.


Plenary: Laura Justice 

Professor and Editor-in-Chief of Early Childhood Research Quarterly

Ohio State University 

Laura Justice is EHE Distinguished Professor in the Educational Psychology program at Ohio State University. She is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Early Childhood Research Quarterly, the premier peer-reviewed journal for research related to early childhood development and education. With a strong belief in life-work balance, when Justice isn’t working she is hanging out with her husband and two kids as well as their three dogs, two cats, and three parakeets.

Featured Presenter: Carol Connor 


Chancellor's Professor & Department of Education IES Early Learning Network Center Lead  
University of California Irvine 

Dr. Carol McDonald Connor is a Chancellor’s Professor at University of California Irvine, in the School of Education. Her research focuses on early childhood development in executive functioning and self-regulation, language, and literacy – focusing on instruction and the classroom learning environment. She currently heads one of the Department of Education IES Early Learning Network centers focused on assessing classroom learning environments from preschool through third grade.

Featured Presenter: Catherine Tamis-Lemonda 


Professor & Co-Director of the Center for Research on Culture, Development and Education ; and Director of the Developmental PhD program at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development
New York University 

Dr. Tamis-Lemonda's research investigates the social and cultural contexts that promote early learning and school readiness (from birth to preschool), with a focus on infant and toddler communication, language, play, emergent literacy, and motor development. She has advanced an understanding of the nature of children’s everyday experiences and learning in the home setting and during object play and book sharing. She conducts her research across cultural communities in the United States and internationally (including Korea, China, Tajikistan), with the goal of identifying cultural specificity and generalizability in early child experiences and learning processes. Tamis-LeMonda has longstanding partnerships with hospitals, clinics, and community agencies in New York City, where she holds workshops for staff and families and contributes to the design and implementation of evidence-based parenting programs for low-income, mainly immigrant families. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Development, National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, Administration for Children and Families, the Ford Foundation, and the Robinhood Foundation. She has approximately 200 publications in peer-reviewed journals and books, and has co-edited the volumes Child Psychology: A Handbook of Contemporary Issues (editions 1, 2, and 3), Handbook of Father Involvement: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (editions 1 and 2), and The Development of Social Cognition and Communication. She is currently Associate Editor of Infancy and Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. 

 Featured Presenter: David Dickinson  

Associate Dean for Research and the Margaret Cowan Chair in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School of Education
Vanderbilt University

David Dickinson is the Associate Dean for Research and the Margaret Cowan Chair in the Department of Teaching and Learning at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody School of Education. He received his doctoral training at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education after teaching elementary school in the Philadelphia area five years. He studies language and early literacy development among low-income populations, focusing on the role of oral language in literacy development. He has developed interventions and tools to describe classroom environments, has authored over 100 articles and chapters, and co-authored three volumes of the Handbook of Early Literacy Research and the preschool curriculum Opening the World of Learning. Currently he is developing an intervention designed to foster language learning using book reading linked to use of games in preschool classrooms.  

 Featured Speaker: Tom Bedard  

Board member of the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children

Tom Bedard, M.Ed., Early Childhood Education, University of Minnesota, 1989. I am a current board member of the Minnesota Association for the Education of Young Children and a past validator for National Association for the Education of Young Children accreditation program. In 2009, I was the first early childhood teacher to be named finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year Program. In the spring of 2013, I received the Kate Davidson Tanner Award for demonstrating excellence in his/her profession from the state early childhood association. Before retiring in June 2016, I worked in the field of early childhood education in Minnesota for 38 years. During that time, I taught thousands of children in all age groups from infants to preschoolers representing diverse backgrounds and abilities. My particular interest in the field has been to promote and analyze exploration in the area of the classroom devoted to sensory play to better understand children’s curiosity and competence in all areas of development. Through international, national, regional, and local presentations and through blogging on sand a water tables, I have created a platform for parents and practitioners from all over the world to reflect on children as learners and inspire them to imagine new possibilities for dynamic play and learning at the sensory table.

Closing Keynote: Angela Russ-Ayon 

 Early childhood music and movement consultant & Children's Author

Angela Russ, owner of, is a nationally recognized, award-winning producer, children’s author, presenter, and keynote speaker on the subject of music and movement for young children. She uses PowerPoint visuals along with an infusion of music and activities to connect with attendees. Her specialty is engaging children, age toddler thru early primary, in interactive songs and active play improving motor skills and their imaginative. Through fee-based contracts, she has worked with thousands of young children in classrooms, museums, and performing arts centers. Her nationwide adult-oriented presentations are energized and informative. Everyone walks away with something useful to try with their kids. Take a sound track through life and get ready to MOVE, PLAY and LEARN!


Presenters Information