Innovating Through Uncertainty: Bringing Whole Child Research to Practice
Before joining the Education Team at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative to lead the organization's whole child efforts, Dr. Stafford-Brizard worked as an independent consultant supporting the integration of cognitive and social-emotional development into school districts and charter management organizations through a connection between research, policy, and practice. As a Senior Advisor with Turnaround for Children, Stafford-Brizard authored The Building Blocks for Learning, a nationally recognized developmental framework supporting comprehensive student development.
Dr. Stafford-Brizard began her career as a teacher with Teach for America at an intermediate school in the Bronx. Following her graduate work at Columbia University, Stafford-Brizard worked at the New York City Department of Education and co-founded the Young Women’s College Prep Charter School in Rochester, NY. Stafford-Brizard is a Pahara-Aspen Education Fellow and a member of the Aspen Institute’s Global Leadership Network.
Brandi B. Kenner, Ph.D. is currently the Director of Research and Innovation for the Atlanta Speech School, as well as the Chief of Research, Innovation & Learning for the organization’s professional learning arm – The Rollins Center for Language & Literacy. In these roles, she is responsible for ensuring that each of the organization’s 4 schools, 5 clinics, and professional learning arm are adhering to, and implementing, best practices that are in alignment with current research in overall cognitive development, language and literacy development, teaching and learning, and the professional learning and research that supports these efforts. She is also responsible for overseeing all of the organization’s evaluation efforts, and shepherding organizational development and innovation through the leveraging and nurturing of various partnerships. Kenner maintains a higher education affiliation and thereby remains personally engaged in research and teaching education graduate students as well. Dr. Kenner holds expertise in cognitive development broadly, language and literacy acquisition, the intersection of social-emotional learning and literacy, organizational development, program evaluation, and experimental research and methodology.
Dr. Kenner holds a Ph.D. in Psychology: Cognition & Development from Emory University, a Master of Education in Behavior and Learning Disabilities (with a focus in reading disabilities) from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of General Studies with foci in Elementary Education and Sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has been fortunate to serve in many roles for various organizations, and has dedicated her career to obliterating the many opportunity gaps that exist in our country. Brandi is the proud mommy to three children, Imani (13), Kaden (11) and Amina (9) who are, and inspire, her life’s work each day.
Marc Brackett, Ph.D., is founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence and professor in the Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine at Yale University. His grant-funded research focuses on: (1) the role of emotions and emotional intelligence in learning, decision making, creativity, relationship quality, and mental health; (2) the measurement of emotional intelligence; and (3) the influences of emotional intelligence training on children’s and adults’ health, performance, and workplace performance and climate. Marc has published 125 scholarly articles and has received numerous awards, including the Joseph E. Zins Award for his research on social and emotional learning and an honorary doctorate from Manhattanville College. He also is a distinguished scientist on the National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development and on the board of directors for the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL).
Marc is the lead developer of RULER, a systemic, evidence-based approach to social and emotional learning that has been adopted by over 2,000 public, charter, and private pre-school through high schools across the United States and in other countries, including Australia, China, England, Italy, Mexico, and Spain. RULER infuses social and emotion learning into the immune system of schools by enhancing how school administrators lead, educators teach, students learn, and families parent.Research shows that RULER boosts academic performance, decreases school problems like bullying, enriches classroom climates, reduces teacher stress and burnout, and enhances teacher instructional practices. Marc is the author of Permission to Feel (Celadon/Macmillan), which will be released in September of 2019.
Marc regularly consults with large companies on best practices for integrating the principles of emotional intelligence into training and product design. He is co-founder of Oji Life Lab, a corporate learning firm that develops innovative digital learning systems for emotional intelligence. With Facebook, Marc has developed a number of products, including: social resolution tools to help adults and youth resolve online conflict; a bullying prevention hub to support educators, families, and teens; and InspirED, an open-source resource center to support high school students in leading positive change in their schools. Marc also holds a 5th degree black belt in Hapkido, a Korean martial art.
Vanessa Rodriguez began her education career as a bilingual elementary school teacher in the Bronx and as the school chapter leader for the United Federation of Teachers. She joined Citizens of the World as Chief Program Officer after serving as the Chief Talent Officer of Newark Public Schools (NPS) where she led the implementation of a ground-breaking pay for performance teacher contract. NPS has 64 schools, 7,000 employees and a student population of 37,443, and is the largest school system in New Jersey.
Previously Vanessa was the Chief Executive Officer of District 79 - Alternative Schools and Programs for the New York City Department of Education. This district is a unique citywide network of more than 300 alternative schools and programs serving more than 65,000 disengaged, over-aged, under-credited students. Vanessa also served as chief of staff and chief operating officer of District 79, and led the talent development and strategic planning process of the district. Prior to District 79 she was the national director of recruitment and admissions for New Leaders where she helped school districts across the country recruit and select exemplary school leaders. She also worked in various capacities for Teach For America, including leadership roles in Houston and New York City.