Iliana Alan is, Ph.D., is professor of Early Childhood and Elementary Education The University of Texas at San Antonio. With over 20 years in the early childhood field, her work focuses on teaching practices in culturally and linguistically diverse early childhood contexts with an emphasis on the effect of schooling for language minority children in Spanish/English dual language programs. She is especially interested in forms of teaching that promote native language development and its correlation to second language acquisition. Her recent research focuses on higher-order cognitive and linguistic interaction primarily found in student-student exchanges. She has over 48-refereed publications related to dual language education. Dr. Alanis is a former president of the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) and former board member for the National Latino Children's Institute. Currently, she serves as a governing board member for NAEYC and an Early Childhood Advisory Board Member for Scholastic Education. As a member of the Dual Language Training Institute, she has facilitated professional development for early childhood teachers in dual language classrooms across the country. Dr. Alanis has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from The University of Texas at Austin and an M.Ed. in curriculum and instruction from The University of Texas Pan American at Edinburg, Texas.
Iheoma U. Iruka, Ph.D., is the chief research innovation officer and director of The Center for Early Education Research and Evaluation at HighScope Educational Research Foundation after tenure at FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Buffett Institute at the University of Nebraska. Dr. Iruka is engaged in projects and initiatives focused on how evidence-informed policies, systems, and practices in early education can support the optimal development and experiences of low-income, ethnic minority, and immigrant children. She is co-PI for the IES-funded Early Learning Network-Nebraska Site, a large-scale and far-reaching study aimed at identifying malleable factors that support early learning in preschool through grade 3. She is also part of a team conducting evaluation on Educare, a consortium of schools focused on implementing high-quality early education programs for young children placed at risk children. She has been engaged in addressing how best to ensure excellence for young diverse learners, especially Black children, such as through development of a classroom observation measure, examination of nontraditional pedagogical approaches, public policies, and publications geared toward early education practitioners and policymakers.
Dr. Iruka has served or serves on numerous national boards and committees, including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committees on Supporting Parents of Young Children, and Applying Neurobiological and Socio-behavioral Sciences from Prenatal through Early Childhood Development: A Health Equity Approach.
Dr. Iruka has a B.A. in psychology from Temple University, M.A. in psychology from Boston University, and Ph.D. in applied developmental psychology from the University of Miami.
Susan Friedman is senior director of publishing and professional learning at the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). In this role, she leads the content development work of NAEYC's books, periodicals, digital content, and professional learning teams. Early childhood educators rely on NAEYC's award-winning content to stay current on research and best practices they can implement in their classrooms. Susan has extensive prior experience in content programming as well as editorial oversight and production with many years of experience creating content on play, developmentally appropriate uses of media, and other topics for educators and families. She has presented at numerous educational conferences, including NAEYC's Professional Learning Institute and Annual Conference, the South by Southwest Education (SXSW EDU) Conference & Festival, and the School Superintendents Association's Early Learning Cohort. Susan began her career as a preschool teacher at City and Country School in New York City. She holds degrees from Vassar College and the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Barbara Willer is NAEYC's senior advisor for Research and Policy. She coordinates NAEYC's efforts related to developing and revising the association's position statements, supports grant writing activities, and assists in staffing the governing board. Prior to this role, sge served 15 years as deputy executive director, facilitating NAEYC's efforts for standard-setting and accreditation for early childhood education programs serving young children as well as professional preparation programs in institutions of higher education. She has also served NAEYC as interim executive director (Summer 2013), public affairs director, and affiliate group/public policy director.
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