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Presenters Biographies: Third Annual Pikler® USA Conference

Eszter Csillag, PhD

Eszter Csillag

Eszter Csillag is a psychologist and infant and toddler consultant. A member of the Lóczy Foundation for Children, she has trained and worked on the Pikler/Lóczy team since 2015. She participates in the still-ongoing methodological research of the Foundation's Psychologist Working Group, and she offers infant-parent consultations. Also at Lóczy, she facilitates Parent-Child™ groups and participates in the further development of their pedagogical program as well as in the development of working practices with parents. She volunteered for three years with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) –supporting the Cordelia Foundation for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims, where she was involved with the professional team in the psychological and psychiatric care of families and children seeking asylum. Her special interests include psychological trauma and coping as well as psychoanalytic developmental psychology. She has been treating young children and families in the Counseling Center in Budapest and at the A-Z International Children's Center (International Kindergarten and Childcare Center) since 2017.

Judit Kelemen: Freedom In a Safe World

Judit Kelemen, Lead Group Caregiver at Lóczy, trained as a healthcare professional and has been working at the Pikler Institute and Pikler Daycare Center for over 30 years. She is a prolific speaker and sought after presenter at national and international conferences. Topics of her lectures have included “Changing the Diaper of a Mobile Infant,” “Relationships and Conflicts Among Children,” “What does the Child Learn by Being Independent?,” “The Development of Play,” “The Role of the Adult in the Child’s Play,” “What Does the Child Learn During Care?,” “The Caregiver’s Professional Development at the Pikler Institute,” “Training for Infants’ Home Employees,” “The Social-Emotional Learning of Toddlers” and “Feeding and Bathing Infants at Home.” Judit, or as she is lovingly called, Jutka, continues her research at the Pikler® House and with the infants and young children at the Emmi Pikler Day care Center. In her own words: “ When the moment came for me to start learning how to provide care to babies after my period of working as an auxiliary caregiver at the Pikler Institute, the experienced trainer-caregiver asked me whether I had given it thorough consideration and if I was sure I wanted to pursue this beautiful but difficult path. She would only train me if I promised to stay in the infants’ home for at least two years. My answer, of course, was yes, so much so that I have now multiplied those two years by 17”.

Peter L. Mangione, PhD: The Heart of Responsive Nurturance: Being Mindful of the Infant’s Point of View

Dr. Mangione 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. Dr. Mangione serves on the Advisory Board of Pikler/Lóczy USA.

Eszter Mózes, PhD: When a Young Child Needs Care Outside the Home: What Do they Need?

Dr. Mózes, Director of the Lóczy Foundation for Children, Author, Researcher, and Clinical child psychologist has been working together with the Pikler/Lóczy team since 1988, either in employment with the team or as an associate in the area of children’s welfare. At Lóczy, she worked with children living in the infant’s home. Working with them through psychotherapy was one of her biggest learning experiences. She also participated in the Lóczy Caregivers’ Training and in research. Her two areas of special interest and research are early manifestations of sense of humor in the youngest age, and the detailed way in which the adult’s role changes in parallel with the development of the child. She has been working with the Early Intervention Centre in Budapest since 1999. In this area of supporting young children with special development or with disability needs – and their families – she finds the Piklerian approach and practice to be of the greatest value. In continuous cooperation with the team of the Pikler® Day Care Center, she endeavors to maintain and further develop the Piklerian pedagogy in her practice. She currently facilitates trainings for the Lóczy Foundation for Children in French, Spanish and Hungarian.

Oleg Palmov, PhD: Pikler® Pedagogy: Training And Supervision of Caregivers In Reformed Orphanages In Russia

Professor Palmov is an Associate Professor, Department of Mental Health and Early Childhood Intervention, Faculty of Psychology, Saint-Petersburg State University, with a focus on young children and families, children with severe mental and physical disabilities, and institutionalized children and their early social-emotional experience and caregiving environment. He has promoted the Pikler® approach for over 10 years through academic courses in university and post-graduate training programs for orphanage caregivers, and is an author in the areas of improved interventions in orphanages, applied developmental psychology, and early intervention.

Szilvia Papp, RN: Regarding The Attention of a Fidgeting Child, Movement and Attention

Szilvia Papp, Special therapist, District Nurse, Pikler pedagogue, and Co-founder of the Pikler Parent-Child Group, became a member of the Lóczy team in 1999. Szilvia worked in the Infants’ Home with young children in need of special development, and as a group pedagogue, as well.  In 2001, alongside Anna Tardos, she became the leader of the first Hungarian Pikler Parent-Child group, working with families and providing them with support. In the Emmi Pikler Day-Care Center, she works as a pedagogue, and she also lecturers in Pikler® Trainings.

Dr. Gabriella Püspöky: Praising Slowness

Dr. Gabriella Püspöki received her medical degree from Semmelweis University in Budapest in 1963. She began working as a pediatrician at the Lóczy Street Infants’ Home (later renamed the Pikler Institute) in 1966 and earned her M.D. in pediatrics in 1969. After taking a seven-year break to raise her three children, she spent her entire professional career at the Pikler Institute. She was later appointed Director of the Institute and held that position for 7 years. The Methodological Institute was shut down in 2011, but the Pikler Day-Care Center still operates at the same location, where she still works, even in retirement, as a pediatrician.

Elsa Chahin

Elsa Chahin is one of only two certified and accredited Pikler® Trainers in North America, and is currently the volunteer President and CEO of Pikler/Lóczy USA. A staunch advocate of early childhood education and development, Ms. Chahin, also a RIE® Associate (Resources for Infant Educators), and PITC Trainer (Program for Infant Toddler Care) has coauthored In Loving Hands with Anna Tardos, in collaboration with World Forum Foundation™. With extensive training in the field, Ms. Chahin, raised in both Mexico and the United States, is a gifted facilitator that brings her expertise in her consulting and advisory positions to parents and professionals. Having served as a keynote speaker and presenter at over 125 national and international conferences and seminars on the topic of caring for babies with respect, she is that rare leader who not only brings passion and commitment to her work, but a deep knowledge coupled with both insight and generosity.

Conference Committee:

Steven Rhodes

Steven Rhodes, Vice President of PLUSA, 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. His career also featured several years at Microsoft for a few years as well as producing commercial and philanthropic concerts and events. Since 2013, Steven has been a full-time caregiver to his daughter. Auspiciously he found the RIE® approach and the work of Dr. Pikler and the institute at Lóczy. These not only gave the support that he and his family sought, but also the desire to help other families. Assisting in weekly parent/child classes for the last three years, Steven is a Pikler® Pedagogue candidate who leads his own classes connecting with new parents and their children. As a Sensory Awareness practitioner, he has studied with Ute Strub and Lee Klinger Lesser.

Laura Willhoite 

Laura Willhoite brings 13+ years of experience working with children, both as a high school English teacher and in early education specializing in literacy, imagination, and play-based learning.  After discovering the Pikler Approach, she became a Pedagogue candidate and most recently accepted the role of PLUSA's Director of Communications.

Linda Hinrichs 

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 Magda, 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 completing her training as a Pikler® Pedagogue at this time. 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..