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Pikler/Lóczy USA Board of Trustees

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PRESIDENT AND TREASURER

Elsa Chahin

Elsa Chahin is an in-demand speaker, writer, teacher, lactation educator, and infant-toddler consultant, and is one of only two Pikler® certified and accredited trainers of the Pikler® Pedagogy in North America. In addition, Chahin has served as a keynote speaker and presenter at over 100 national and international conferences and seminars on the topic of caring for babies with respect. She recently co-authored the book, In Loving Hands: How the Rights for Young Children Living in Children’s Homes Offer Hope and Happiness In Today’s World, with Anna Tardos, Dr. Pikler’s daughter. Chahin, who has been mentored by Ute Strub since 2004 and named as her successor, is a working group leader for World Forum Foundation™, a RIE® Associate, PITC Trainer and a UCLA Certified Lactation Educator. Chahin, a rare leader who not only brings passion and commitment to her work, but also a deep knowledge coupled with both insight and generosity, has practiced yoga, meditation and mindfulness for over 20 years. Above all, she is a joyous mom.

VICE PRESIDENT

Johanna Herwitz, Ph.D.

Johanna Herwitz has completed three Intensive Pikler trainings in the United States. She holds a PhD. in Clinical Psychology and has a private practice treating adults in New York City. She is a RIE Mentor and teaches Certified RIE Parent Infant Guidance Classes for parents of children from four to twenty four months-old in Manhattan. She also works privately with parents, helping them to implement Piklerian principles in their homes to create a peaceful environment for the entire family.

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CHAIR OF MARKETING COMMITTEE

Gabrielle Anwar

Born in Berkshire, England, the endearing and accomplished Gabrielle Anwar has over 45 film and television performances to her credit in both Europe and the States. In 2001 Gabrielle discovered the work of Emmi Pikler after the birth of her second child. Her three children were raised within the Pikler method, Gabrielle siting the insightful work as “life-changing.” In 2017 Gabrielle completed a biographic screenplay about Pikler’s life, and hopes to continue working with PLUSA to develop a documentary to bring this same enlightenment to parents globally. An actress, painter, writer and director, Gabrielle has emphatically enthused, “When children are raised without violence, even in it’s most subtle form, they learn not how to harm another, instead with this approach, they learn how to love. Herein lies the key to peace.”

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SECRETARY

Larissa Nielson J.D.

Author, infant/toddler specialist, CEO and Founder of Riesers Inc., Dr. Neilson is a Pikler® Pedagogue candidate, who has studied under the tutelage of Anna Tardos (Dr. Pikler's daughter) at the Pikler® House in Budapest, Hungary.

A RIE® Intern, Dr. Neilson is also the author of "The L.A. Nanny Book", a comprehensive book that includes practical information to anyone interested in working as a professional child care provider. Dr. Nielson has cared for children ages zero to three for the past 17 years. In addition, Dr. Neilson has presented at various national conferences, including National Nanny Training Day, INA - International Nanny Association Conference, as well as the Annual RIE® Conference. Her work involves consulting privately with parents and professionals, speaking at events, and spending time with her daughter Esther.

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CHAIR OF EDUCATION COMMITTEE

Enid Elliot, Ph.D.

Currently Enid works at Camosun College educating caregivers who will work with babies and young children. As a college instructor she is interested in encouraging students to be curious about babies’ and toddlers’ explorations and learn to attend to the relationships that they form with babies. As a board member of Pikler USA she has worked on proofreading and editing the videos and text, which will be in English. After working with babies, young mothers and infant toddler caregivers she did a PhD in Early Childhood Education. From her dissertation came the book, We’re not robots, listening to the voices of daycare providers, which examined the experiences of women who worked with babies, and she has written several chapters in books on infant/toddler care.

Ann Meyers

BOARD MEMBER

Anna Ruth Myers. M.A.

Founded by RIE® Associate and Pikler® Pedagogue candidate, Anna Ruth Myers, The Nurtured Child offers RIE® Certified classes in NYC’s only RIE® dedicated classroom designed specifically to support the competence, autonomy, and integrity of the young child.

Anna Ruth Myers is an infant development specialist with over 15 years of experience supporting families and children. As a certified doula, childbirth and breastfeeding educator, she has supported over 100 families through the pregnancy, birth, and postpartum periods. Anna Ruth is a certified RIE® Associate and highly trained Pikler® infant care specialist who has completed multiple trainings at the Pikler Institute® in Budapest. In addition, Anna Ruth holds diplomas in both Montessori and Waldorf education and has completed 2 study groups in the Reggio Emilia approach to early childhood education.

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BOARD MEMBER

Ms. Vivien Wang, M.B.A.

Ms. Vivien Wang, Chairman and CEO of Etonkids Educational Group, started her career as a lecturer in statistics at Xi'an Jiao-Tong University. She later earned her MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management with a concentration in Marketing, Finance, and Education Management. After Kellogg, Ms. Wang worked as an investment strategist at Merrill Lynch's Wall Street Head Office and has since conducted business seminars at the China Europe International Business School, Peking University, and Tsinghua University. Ms. Wang possesses extensive experience in multinational management and operations, having worked throughout the United States, London, Singapore, and Hong Kong. In 2002, she was elected president of the Kellogg Beijing Alumni Club. In 2006, she successfully organized the first Kellogg Asia Marketing Conference. She currently serves as co-chair and senior consultant for the club.
Ms. Wang founded Etonkids Educational Group in 2002 with collaboration of alumni from Harvard University and Kellogg School of Management as well as American Montessori Society (AMS) experts and quickly built it into China's leading provider of early education. She has received numerous awards for her contribution to education in China, including being named as part of the "Top 100 Educators in China." She is the Vice President of the China Private Education-Early Education Committee as well as a member of the American Montessori Society and National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Ms. Wang authored a parenting book entitled Hey, Do You Know Your Baby? This book encapsulates 10 years of Etonkids' Montessori education practice in China and summarizes the educational experience of tens of thousands of Etonkids students from over 50 campuses covering the past 14 years. The book's central message involves the sharing of valuable and practical information for parents to learn how to evolve their parenting skills and how to help their children to develop into individuals.

AGNES

BOARD MEMBER

Agnes Szanto-Feder, Ph.D.

Agnes Szanto-Feder had very early contact with Dr Emmi Pikler, since Emmi Pikler was the family pediatrician when she was born. She has been living in France since 1956 where she received Masters Degree and Doctorate in Psychology in the research of the psychomotor development of young children. She has been working since 1973; first as Psychologist in a nursery, later as Professor of Early Childhood at Universities in France, Belgium, Italy, Argentina. Keynote speaker at International Conferences (U.S.A., South America and Europe). She is a founding-member and Vice-President of the Pikler-Lóczy Association of France and of the International Pikler (Lóczy) Association. She has authored several books translated to different languages. She has two daughters.

VICE PRESIDENT

Laura Willhoite

Laura Willhoite has more than 14 years of experience working with children, both as a high school English teacher and in early childhood education specializing in literacy, imagination, and play-based learning. She is passionate about respectful care, respecting the whole child, and advocating for the rights of children around the world. After discovering the Pikler® approach, she became a student in the process of becoming a Pedagogue candidate. She serves as a member of the Pikler/Lóczy USA Board of Trustees and as PLUSA’s volunteer Director of Communications and Social Media Coordinator.

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Tracy Epps, Ph.D

Tracy Epps received her Montessori training from the Montessori Institute of San Diego, at the Assistants to Infancy (0-3) and Primary (3-6) levels. Tracy holds a master’s degree in Applied Positive Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, a master’s in Montessori Education from Loyola University of Maryland, and a doctorate in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from DePaul University. For eight years she ran a successful home-based, Montessori-inspired school, serving infants through six year olds. Many of her clients shared that they had become better parents while their children were in her care.

Tracy also served as Toddler lead teacher and Head of School for a Wildflower Montessori school in Cambridge, MA. She now resides in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she is planning to open a Wildflower school in Pittsburg, CA. In a previous life, Tracy served as adjunct faculty in management and psychology, a personal and executive coach, an organizational consultant, and a research psychologist for the U.S. Army. In addition to her work in early childhood education, she now serves as an officer in the US Army Reserve.

ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Ken JaffeE, J.D.

Ken founded The International Child Resource Institute in 1981 to improve the lives of children and families. ICRI has established over 500 child and family programs in more than 50 countries. Ken studied child development at the University of Uppsala and UC Berkeley, where he also earned a Masters degree. Additionally, he holds a Juris Doctor degree in law, specializing in juvenile justice and children's rights. Ken has authored two books and numerous articles on ECD. Ken has been a member and chair of ECD Boards, committees and commissions, including the California Governor's Commission and the World Forum on Early Care and Education. He has advised the national governments of Singapore, China, Malaysia, Sweden, Ecuador, Ghana, Bosnia, Croatia, and Nepal.

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ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Peter L. Mangione, Ph.D.

Peter L. Mangione, PhD, co-directs WestEd’s Center for Child and Family Studies. Mangione is one of the lead developers of the Program for Infant/Toddler Care (PITC), a national model for training early childhood practitioners. He is one of the principal collaborators in the development of the California Department of Education’s Desired Results Developmental Profile. Mangione has served on advisory groups for the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and Zero To Three, and participated in meetings conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. Mr. Mangione serves on the Advisory Board of Pikler/Lóczy USA.

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ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Natasha Khazanov, Ph.D.

Prof. Natasha Khazanov, Ph.D. presented at our Pikler® USA Conference 2017, and is a neuropsychologist, a psychotherapist, and creator of the SMARTT™ Parenting program. She also is an Associate Clinical Professor au UCSF School of Medicine, where she teaches medical school students and residents. Her deep interest in the neurobiology of trauma led her to forensic field. She served as an expert witness in over eighty criminal (mostly capital) cases. In her SMARTT™ Parenting Program she was able to integrate all she learned in her thirty-year career about the brain, mind and behavior to assist parents and caregivers in raising children who become resilient, responsible and successful adults. Dr. Khazanov believes that, "Dr. Pikler was an intuitive neuroscientist".

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ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Bonnie Neugebauer

Bonnie Neugebauer is Co-Founder and Director of Program Development for the World Forum Foundation with the mission “of promoting an ongoing global exchange of ideas on the delivery of quality services for young children in diverse settings.” World Forum on Early Care and Education will celebrate its 20 year anniversary in Macao, China, April 6-9, 2019. Bonnie is the recipient of the 2018 Pikler/Lóczy USA Founders Award.
Online, Bonnie curates content for Bonnie’s Global Café — a virtual space that feels like an actual place — inviting people from around the world to share updates and stories and to build connections in order to strengthen this community of advocates for children. Together with her husband Roger Neugebauer, a like-minded risk taker and connection strategist,
Bonnie is also Founding Editor of Exchange Magazine, first published in March of 1978 as a vehicle for exchanging ideas and information among professional advocates in the field of early care and education. Exchange is now in the guiding hands of Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, and Bonnie continues to write her column “Speaking” in each issue and to mentor vision and history.
Bonnie was a Family Child Care Provider, neighborhood play group organizer, high school English teacher. She earned her MS in Education from Wheelock College and was later honored with a Ed.D. (hc) from Wheelock. She and Roger vowed to work together at their wedding (with no idea what that work might be), decided to open a school (but got distracted), and along the way found work to enjoy that required new skills, offered adventures and mission, and created connections with people — remarkable, heart-warming people all over the world.

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ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Eszter Neuman, J.D.

Eszter Neuman moved to the United States from Budapest when she was five years old.  She watched her parents learn how to speak English and adjust to life, including raising a child, stateside.  While she and her parents enjoyed new and wonderful opportunities, she also came to appreciate many of the parenting and family-centered approaches her parents and family back in Hungary practiced. Today, Eszter is a wife, mother, and lawyer.  She and her family live in Los Angeles where she practices healthcare law.  She is excited to continue the Pikler pedagogy and hopes her advocacy experience can be of meaningful use and benefit to the organization.

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ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Octavio Pescador, Ph.D.

Professor Octavio Pescador, Ph.D. is a political analyst, senior research associate at Juarez & Associates, and founding research associate of the UCLA Paulo Freire Institute in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. He has worked extensively domestically and internationally for over two decades designing and conducting qualitative and quantitative research projects in education, health and political participation. His expertise include developing survey instruments, conducting needs analyses, and evaluating program outcomes. Dr. Pescador serves as a global affairs analyst for electronic and print media and was named UCLA Mortar Board Honor Senior Society Distinguished Faculty in 2009 and UCLA Bruin Democrat Faculty of the year in 2012. He obtained a Ph.D. in Education from UCLA, a M.A. International Development Education from Stanford University and a B.A. in Political Science from UCLA.

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ADVISORY BOARD MEMBER

Beth Salcedo, M.D.

Dr. Salcedo is an adult psychiatrist and the Medical Director of The Ross Center. Dr. Salcedo specializes in treating adults with anxiety and mood disorders, including depression, panic disorder, and struggles during life transitions. She is known for her diagnostic expertise, which enables her to customize a treatment plan that includes the optimal mix of therapy and medication management. She is understanding of the ambivalence many patients have regarding medication, and provides non-medication interventions for those who are reluctant to pursue more intensive treatment. Her goal is to minimize symptoms and maximize quality of life for each patient.

A dynamic leader, Dr. Salcedo serves as the President of the prestigious Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) where she has been an active board member for many years. A Distinguished Fellow with The American Psychiatric Association, she is consistently included in Washingtonian Magazine’s “Top Doctors” ranking. Dr. Salcedo completed her residency in psychiatry at The George Washington University School of Medicine, where she was selected Chief Resident. She was also inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical school honor society and awarded for her medical student teaching. She has served as the Medical Director of The Ross Center since 2002, ensuring that all clinicians are providing the highest quality medical care.

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HONORARY BOARD OF EXPERTS

Linda Hinrichs, M.A.

Linda Hinrichs is the Director of The Children’s Corner Play Center, which she founded in 1980. Linda consults with parents and offers parent education evenings at her center. Linda met and began her studies with Magda Gerber in 1979. Through Gerber, she was introduced to Dr. Emmi Pikler and traveled to Budapest, Hungary to attend the first English study tour at Lóczy in 1986. She has returned to Budapest numerous times to study and has participated in all of the Pikler/Lóczy USA Intensives. Linda is currently completing her training as a Pikler® Pedagogue. A RIE® Associate, she continues to learn, grow, and share her love of RIE® and Pikler® through her work and collaboration with others in the field.

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HONORARY BOARD OF EXPERTS

Denise A. Da Ros-Voseles, Ph.D.

Denise Da Ros-Voseles is a professor at Northeastern State University. She teaches graduate and undergraduate infant and toddler development courses and is the co-author of Being with Babies; Understanding and Responding to the Infants in Your Care.

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HONORARY BOARD OF EXPERTS

Brooke Frenkel

Brooke Frenkelis a psychology trainee at Nova Southeastern University. She learned of the Pikler method, through fellow board member and friend, Gabrielle Anwar, when preparing for the birth of her daughter. Intrigued by the gentle and conscious approach developed by Emmi Pikler, Brooke decided to apply to the clinical psychology program at Nova in hopes of researching Pikler at a deeper pedagogical level. She is currently working on her Directed Study that focuses on Emmi Pikler's work in relation to childhood development and psychology.

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HONORARY BOARD OF EXPERTS

Beverly Kovach, M.S.

Beverly A. Kovach, MN began her early childhood profession upon founding Little Learners Lodge in 1977. She eventually transitioned from her family therapy work to train and consult with early childhood centers full time. Beverly currently serves as Vice President of Pikler Fund USA and is endorsed by Anna Tardos to train in the Piklerain Approach. She also serves as teacher trainer for Resources for Infant Educarers (RIE) Associate and Montessori (0-3). Beverly has authored several books relating to infant and toddler care including BEING WITH BABIES and BEING WITH BABIES AND TODDLERS. Her specialty involves consulting and mentoring Infant and Toddler caregivers who work in center.

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HONORARY BOARD OF EXPERTS

Steven Rhodes

Steven Rhodes has been interested in creative activity, education and child development since his own childhood. A high school teacher after college, his passion for music led to a career as a music recording engineer. As his career progressed, he worked at Microsoft for a few years. Later relocating to Los Angeles, he continued recording work working alongside the best in the business – emerging artists as well as heroes and legends – and became a producer of commercial and philanthropic concerts and events at a performance venue in Los Angeles. Since 2013, Steven has been a full-time caregiver to his daughter. He had a strong conviction that something different and deeper than conventional practices was possible for both parent and child. Auspiciously he found the RIE® approach and the work of Dr. Pikler and her institute at Lóczy. These not only gave the support that he and his family sought, but also the desire to help other families. Assisting two wonderful mentors in weekly parent/child classes for the last three years, he leads his own classes and connects with new parents and their children. Steven is a Pikler Pedagogue candidate furthering his own understanding, while continuing to learn how to share the ideas, practices and research that need to have a greater place in the world. As a Sensory Awareness practitioner, he has mentored with Ute Strub, Stefan Laeng, and Lee Kingler Lesser.

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HONORARY BOARD OF EXPERTS

Janet Gonzalez-Mena, M.A.

Janet Gonzalez-Mena (Fairfield, California) became interested in work with babies when she first met Magda Gerber in 1976. At the time Janet was teaching a child development course at a community college and also directing a program of child care services for a counseling agency. Based on what she learned from Magda, she became part of an effort to open an infant-toddler center for the agency where she worked. About that same time she published a book called Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers based on what she learned from Magda Gerber about the care and education of children 0-3 years of age. The book included information from Magda about the Pikler approach and research, but it wasnt until Janet met Elsa Chahin that she actually went to Budapest to see for herself! That's where she met Anna Tardos, director of the Pikler Institute and daughter of Dr. Emmi Pikler. That first trip to the Pikler Institute to observe and learn was followed by 4 more trips for classes, observation, a conference, plus a Pikler study tour and International conference. The Infants, Toddlers, and Caregivers book now in 10th edition reflects the latest from the Pikler Institute in Budapest. The study tour was organized by Laura Briley (late beloved president of the Pikler/Lóczy Fund USA.) Laura had been to Budapest long before Janet got there and after she founded the PLUSA organization she began bringing Anna Tardos over the USA to train. Janet attended the first Pikler training in Tulsa Oklahoma and became one of the assistants to Anna in the second training a year later. Janet is a strong advocate for creating quality in infant-toddler care in the USA. Today Janet is on the faculty for the WestEd Program for Infant-Toddler Caregiver Training of Trainers' Institutes. She retired as a community college teacher from Napa Valley College in California and now conducts seminars and workshops in the USA and internationally.  On a personal note, Janet is mother of 5 and grandmother of 5. She lives out in the country with her husband, Frank and a cat named Pebbles.

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HONORARY BOARD OF EXPERTS

Susan Patrick, Ph.D.

Susan Patrick plays an active role as Assistant Treasurer and the shipping manager for Pikler/Lóczy USA’s on-line bookstore. She worked closely with fellow board member, Beverly Kovach and late Pikler/Lóczy USA founder, Laura Briley to produce the book Being with Infants and Toddlers: A Curriculum that Works for Caregivers. Susan is an assistant professor at Northeastern State University and is the lead faculty for a recently initiated Early Care - Birth to Three Bachelor's Degree Program. She teaches undergraduate courses related to early care and development and maintains a research focus on the relationships and organizational structures that best support the caregivers of infants and toddlers. Susan lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and enjoys collaborating with others who are inspired by the Pikler® approach.

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