DirectorDr. Amy Williamson Payton is the Ramona Ware Emmons Paul Professor in Early Childhood in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University. She is the Director of the Institute for Building Early Relationships with a mission to build life-long resilience in very young children and families through collaborative research, education, and outreach. Dr. Williamson is the co-editor of the recent volume Building Early Social and Emotional Relationships with Infants and Toddlers: Integrating Research and Practice (Springer). She specializes in infant and toddler development, infant mental health, and early care and education. Dr. Williamson Payton’s research currently focuses on the development of caregiver-child relationships in the context of family and early care and education settings as well as caregiver self-regulation and well-being.
Advisory Board members represent the disciplines of developmental and family science, early childhood education, child psychiatry, social work, psychology, and marriage and family therapy.
Lana Beasley received her PhD in Clinical Child Psychology from the University of Kansas and is currently an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Beasley’s research has included working on randomized clinical trials and program evaluation all in the area of supporting high risk children and families. She holds expertise in qualitative research and has been a co-investigator on several grants involving a program of research developing, implementing, evaluating, and expanding evidence-based home visiting programs serving high-risk populations. Dr. Beasley also conducts mixed-methods research in the area of adaptation of treatments for diverse populations and examining engagement and attrition of high-risk families.
Dr. Tessa Chesher is an associate clinical professor at Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is dually board-certified in general psychiatry as well as child and adolescent psychiatry. She received her general psychiatry training at the University of Oklahoma School of Community Medicine and her child and adolescent psychiatry 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, early childhood trauma, and pediatric consultation-liaison psychiatry. Dr. Chesher provides infant mental health services in an outpatient clinic. She also focuses on increasing infant mental health knowledge in the medical and mental health communities through education and consultation across Oklahoma.
Amy Chlouber, LPC-S, is the Early Childhood Services Mental Health Coordinator at Sunbeam Family Services. She has worked in the mental health field for 20+ years, specializing in infant and early childhood mental health in public, private and non-profit organizations. Amy developed and served as Clinical Director of a private mental health agency satellite office and served on the Board of Directors of CASA in Canadian county. She was one of the original therapists selected in Oklahoma’s Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation pilot in licensed child care facilities. Amy served as the Mental Health/ Disabilities Coordinator for Early Head Start through Sunbeam Family Services where she provided consultation and training for direct care and administrative staff and was instrumental in the design of the mental health program of OKC Educare. At the state level, Amy provided leadership and oversight of the Oklahoma Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Strategic Plan. She serves on numerous local, state and national early childhood committees and work groups and is currently President-elect of the Oklahoma Association for Infant Mental Health (OK-AIMH) Board. Amy is Endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Mentor/IMH-E® (IV-C).
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.
Audra Haney was raised in Oklahoma for most of her life. She earned her Bachelor’s degree from Oklahoma Christian University in December 1992. She went on to earn her Masters of Science in Social Work with an administrative focus from the University of Texas in Austin, TX. Audra has been licensed as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Oklahoma since 1998.
Audra began her career working in Therapeutic Foster Care and then spent time as an Outpatient Mental Health Therapist. In 1999, Audra went to work for the Oklahoma Department of Education in the SoonerStart, Oklahoma’s Early Intervention Program, where she served as a Resource Coordinator for families of infants and toddlers with developmental delays and disabilities. She continued working with SoonerStart as a Regional Coordinator until she moved to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, School of Allied Health to run STARS, the training system for SoonerStart. She then returned to foster care, working in multiple roles, but ultimately serving as the Program Director for Angels Foster Family Network. Audra came to work for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services in July 2018. She serves as the Senior Project Manager for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health. She works collaboratively with other child serving agencies to address the needs of infants and toddlers in Oklahoma
In her spare time, Audra is the proud aunt of two nieces and one nephew. She enjoys singing with the O.K. City Chorus of Sweet Adelines Internationa,l and volunteers her time with Hannah’s Promise, a respite program for children with disabilities and their siblings.
Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo, PhD, is a Regents Professor at Oklahoma State University, and the Director and Principal Investigator of the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity (CIRCA), an $11.3M grant from the National Institutes of Health. The goals of CIRCA are to better understand and ameliorate the effects of early life adversity and to build a strong and sustainable research infrastructure in Oklahoma to reduce the negative effects of trauma and deprivation on children’s health and development. She has taught the Infant Mental Health foundations course for the OSU graduate certificate in IMH. Prior to joining OSU in 2013, she held a George Kaiser Family Foundation chair at OU-Tulsa’s School of Community Medicine, and led the Tulsa Children’s Project, a highly integrated set of interventions designed in collaboration with Harvard’s Center for the Developing Child to improve outcomes for children enrolled at Tulsa Educare.
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:
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.
Amanda Sheffield Morris PhD is Regents Professor of Human Development and Family Science, George Kaiser Family Foundation Chair in Child Development, in the College of Human Sciences, Oklahoma State University. Dr. Morris is a developmental scientist with research interests in parenting, socio-emotional development, and infant and early childhood mental health. She received her Ph.D. from Temple University in psychology and completed a post-doctoral fellowship at Arizona State University in developmental psychology. Her research focuses on the role of emotion regulation in children’s adjustment and the ways in which children learn successful regulation skills. Another focus of her work is on child and family resilience, and she is particularly interested in how early experiences shape later development with an emphasis on the parent-child relationship. She is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Research Mentor, Level IV, and is a certified Trainer of Trainers for Active Parenting programs as well as a contributing author to the new edition of Active Parenting, the First Five Years. Dr. Morris has authored numerous articles and chapters on child and adolescent development, and is co-editor of the book Authoritative Parenting: Synthesizing Nurturance and Discipline for Optimal Child Development, published by the American Psychological Association Press. She is partnering with Northwestern University to study the effectiveness of the Career Advance program at CAP, and with Educare to implement the CDC’s Legacy for children intervention. She has been an external grant reviewer for NIH, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Science Foundation. She has received more than $3 million to support her research.
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.