Who We Are
Dr. Amy C. Williamson is the Ramona Ware Emmons Paul Professor in Early Childhood in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University. Her research broadly focuses on 1) infant/toddler social-emotional development and mental health and 2) early care and education. Specifically, she is interested in teacher-child and parent-child interactions and relationships and the subsequent socioemotional outcomes for very young children. She is also interested in the development and well-being of ECE professionals. Currently, she is designing and piloting interventions in ECE programs related to teacher self-regulation and building relationships with infants and toddlers as well as collecting data as part of a longitudinal study of mother-infant relationships in Oklahoma. Dr. Williamson is the Director of the Institute for Building Early Relationships (IBEaR).
Governing Board members represent the disciplines of developmental and family science, early childhood education, child psychiatry, social work, psychology, and marriage and family therapy.
Dr. Tessa Chesher is an assistant professor and Oxley Chair in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry in the Department of Psychiatry at the OU School of Community Medicine. Board-certified in child and adolescent psychiatry, she received her general psychiatry training at OU and child and adolescent training at Tulane University School of Medicine where she also completed a Harris Fellowship in Infant and Early Childhood Psychiatry. Dr. Chesher's professional interests include infant and early childhood mental health and pediatric consultation-liaison psychiatry.
Dr. Lucia Ciciolla is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Ciciolla earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in child and family science and quantitative science from Arizona State University (ASU), and completed an APA-accredited internship at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill School of Medicine in the Child-Community track. She is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Specialist (IMH-E®(III)), and is able to provide reflective supervision and consultation. Dr. Ciciolla was trained as a clinical scientist with specializations in infancy and early childhood, perinatal and maternal mental health, parenting, trauma, and longitudinal methodology. Her research is broadly focused on understanding processes of risk and resilience within the context of the parent-child relationship, with primary interests in parental caregiving and parent-child interactions as mechanisms underlying children’s development and the intergenerational transmission of psychopathology.
Melissa Griffin is the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Wellness Specialist at the Oklahoma State Department of Health. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Relations and Child Development and her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has experience as a therapist and as a trainer working in areas that include domestic violence and victim’s services, child development and parenting, and family therapy. Her current position focuses on the development of early childhood systems in Oklahoma to support the promotion of early childhood mental health and the prevention of mental health disorders through co-leadership of the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Strategic Plan: Oklahoma’s Framework for Change.
Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo's research is focused on identifying and modifying the risk factors in the socioemotional environments of young children that contribute to long-term disparities in health and developmental outcomes. As a developmental psychologist, she began her career applying knowledge about the systems and strategies that promote cognitive and socioemotional development to the acquisition of positive health behaviors in low-income and minority families. During the past six years as the PI of the Kaiser Foundation-funded Tulsa Children’s Project, she led an interdisciplinary, inter-institutional team in developing and evaluating a highly integrated set of interventions to lessen the impact of poverty on the health and development of young children. She has mentored numerous students and faculty over her career, and is currently Department Head for the Department of Human Development and Family Science at OSU.
Dr. Laura Hubbs-Tait is a Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University in the Department of Human Development and Family Science where she has conducted research on child development and parenting since 1992. In 2012 she was appointed as a state Parenting Specialist for Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. In that role she provides parent education training to Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Educators across the state of Oklahoma. She also provides education for parents in traditional parent education classes and on television. Her research focuses on how parenting is related to children’s weight and eating, social and emotional competence, and cognitive skills. Since 2011 she has served as vice-chair of two successive USDA multistate projects focused on parenting and child healthy and unhealthy weight. Currently, she serves on the editorial board of the journal, Parenting: Science and Practice. With Dr. Amanda Morris and Ruth Slocum of IBEaR she is a contributing author to Active Parenting First Five Years – a curriculum for parents of infants and young children.
Links to some Fox25 Raising Oklahoma segments with Dr. Hubbs-Tait:
Amy Huffer, LCSW, IMH-M(IV) graduated with her Masters in Social Work from the University of Oklahoma. While pursuing her social work clinical licensure, she specialized in working with children under the age of three. She coordinated the state’s only Diagnostic Nursery where psychiatry residents and fellows evaluated children under the age of 5. She also provided early childhood mental health consultation and eventually became the state trainer for that program. After a three-year hiatus where she worked with patients with chronic kidney disease, she is now serving as Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Trainer and Consultant where she works to develop and strengthen the infant and early childhood workforce in Oklahoma. In addition, Ms. Huffer is pursuing her Doctorate at Oklahoma State University, where she supports research efforts in the field of infant and early childhood mental health. Ms. Huffer has also been endorsed by the Oklahoma Association for Infant Mental Health as an Infant Mental Health Mentor, is Board President of OK-AIMH, and is an adjunct professor at the University of Central Oklahoma. In the Lab, Ms. Huffer is currently working on the Oklahoma Baby Study in Stillwater.
Stacey Leakey, PhD, IMH-E® (IV-C) is the Infant Mental Health Community Consultant for The Parent Child Center of Tulsa. Dr. Leakey provides training and reflective consultation in Infant Mental Health to stakeholders in the child welfare system including legal, medical, child welfare, mental health, and early childhood professionals. Dr. Leakey is the President of the Board of Directors of the Oklahoma Association for Infant Mental Health, and is Endorsed® by OK-AIMH as an Infant Mental Health Mentor. She is also certified by the National Child Traumatic Stress Network as a trainer in Child Parent Psychotherapy, an evidence based treatment for children ages 0-6 and their families who are exposed to trauma. Dr. Leakey has worked in a wide range of settings including residential treatment, a non-public school setting for children on the autism spectrum, an outpatient residential program for psychiatric survivors, an attachment-based group home for young children, and numerous other outpatient clinic settings. Stacey is particularly passionate about infant mental health workforce development, and became involved in IBEaR out of a desire to bridge what we know from science with what we do in practice.
Dr. Amanda Sheffield Morris is the Bryan Close Professor of Child Development at Oklahoma State University. She is a developmental scientist with research interests in parenting, socioemotional development, and infant and early childhood mental health. Her research focuses on the role of emotion regulation in children and adolescents' adjustment and the ways in which children learn successful regulation skills. Another focus of her work is child and family resilience, and she is particularly interested in how early experiences shape later development with an emphasis on the parent-child relationship. Dr. Morris is the director of the CAD-Lab, and currently oversees projects focused on emotion regulation during adolescence, adolescent brain and cognitive development, and the evaluation of community, outreach, and parenting programs and their effects on children's development.
Ruth Slocum, LCSW, IMH-E®(III) serves in a few roles in the Tulsa Children’s Project at OSU. Ruth is an author for the Super Parents program, a parenting program that combines the basic child development and parenting principles of Active Parenting: 1, 2, 3, 4 with training in executive function skills for adults and children and basic mindfulness practice for parents. She co-facilitates OSU’s first Legacy for Children group for mothers and babies. And she provides ABC (Attachment Biobehavioral Catchup) for families in the community. Additionally Ruth provides reflective supervision/consultation services for Tulsa Educare’s Mental Health Specialists and some administrators. Ruth earned her Master’s in Social Work from Bryn Mawr School of Social Work and Social Research in Pennsylvania. Since then she has provided clinical services in a variety of settings, including outpatient general counseling, adolescent in-patient, and early childhood programs. During the years Ruth lived in Philadelphia, she served on the Board of Directors of the Women Against Abuse Emergency Shelter, one of the first emergency shelters for battered women in the US. She currently serves on the Board and Executive Committee of the Oklahoma Infant Mental Health Association.
Dr. Glade Topham is an Associate Professor and program director of the master’s and doctoral program in Marriage and Family Therapy in the School of Family Studies and Human Services at Kansas State University. He is a Licensed Clinical Marital and Family Therapist and an AAMFT Approved Supervisor. He received his Ph.D. from Texas Tech University in Marriage and Family Therapy and his Bachelor of Science degree in Family Science and his Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Brigham Young University. Glade’s research and clinical interests are focused on the parent-child relationship and the most effective/efficacious approaches to early parent-child treatment for vulnerable populations. In addition, Glade is interested in the influence of parenting and family relationships in the establishment of healthy weight balance in young children, and in the efficacy of transdisciplinary obesity prevention approaches that target physical and psychosocial health.