A project of the Child Trends News Service supported by the National Science Foundation

Advisory Panel

An advisory panel of experts contributes to Positive Parenting News Service in various capacities. The panel includes experts in child development, children and technology, dual language learners, and communications science. The panel also includes practitioners who provide services to families and children, news professionals, and a pediatric surgeon.

Informal STEM learning/ communication science research

Brian Southwell, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in Communication and is an expert in the relationship between communication and human behavior. He currently serves as program director of Science in the Public Sphere at RTI International and holds professor positions at Duke University and University of North Carolina. His work has looked at public understanding, attitudes, and perceptions of the public on a variety of health and scientific topics. Dr. Southwell’s expertise informs our science communication research.

Federico Subervi, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in Mass Communication. He is an expert on issues related to mass media and ethnic minorities, particularly Latinos in the United States, and also on media and journalism in Puerto Rico, his home country. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Oxford Encyclopedia of Race, Ethnicity and Communication and is Honorary Associate/Fellow of the Latin American, Caribbean and Iberian Studies Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Subervi’s vast experience and expertise informs our science communication research.


Sandra Gutierrez is the founder and national director of Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors, the nation’s first evidence-based training program for Latino parents with children under age six. She has more than 40 years of experience with children’s advocacy and community service organizations: she founded the first service organization to assist Central American refugees, developed a series of training programs with Parents Action for Children to support children and families involved in the child welfare system, and was a founding member for First 5 California where she established the Advisory Committee on Equity. In 2014, the White House recognized Ms. Gutierrez as a Cesar E. Chavez Champion of Change for her contribution to Latino early childhood development.

Dana Suskind, M.D., is a Professor of Surgery and Director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program at the University of Chicago. Inspired by research that shows the importance of early language exposure on the developing child, Dr. Suskind was inspired to create Thirty Million Words, an evidence-based initiative that helps parents enhance the home language environment to optimize their young children’s brain development. She is also the founder and director of Project ASPIRE, which supports disadvantaged parents of children with hearing loss in order to close the achievement gap.

Child Research Area

Linda Espinosa, Ph.D., is an expert in education research and dual-language learners. She has previously served as co-principal investigator for the Center for Early Care and Education Research—Dual Language Learners (CECER-DLL) at Frank Porter Graham CDI at the University of North Carolina; co-director of the National Institute for Early Education Research at Rutgers University; vice president at Bright Horizons Family Solutions; and as a school administrator and program director working with low-income Latino children and families in California. Dr. Espinosa’s extensive experience informs the child research area of the project.

Rosemarie Truglio, Ph.D., is a developmental psychologist and the senior vice president of Curriculum and Content at Sesame Workshop, where she oversees the curriculum on which Sesame Street is based. She has been at Sesame Workshop since 1997 and has become an expert in curricula and media that inspire preschoolers and the adults in their lives to incorporate STEM concepts into everyday life. She brings her expertise in child research to the project.

Rachel Barr, Ph.D., was trained as a developmental and clinical psychologist in New Zealand. She has been director of the Georgetown Early Learning Project (ELP) since 2001. The ELP shows that babies, toddlers and young children pick up information from a variety of sources, from television, from books, from computers, from touchscreens, from siblings, and across contexts. She is currently a reviewer for peer journals including: Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, Infant Behavior and Development, Developmental Psychobiology, Developmental Psychology, Child Development, Infant and Child Development, among others.

Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Ph.D., is the Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology at Temple University and is a Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Her research in the areas of early language development and infant cognition has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health and Human Development, and the Institute of Education. Kathy has a strong interest in bridging the gap between research and application. She was an investigator on the NICHD Study of Early Child Care, is on the Advisory Boards of the Boston Children’s Museum, Jumpstart, and Disney Junior.


Laura Speer brings her leadership in philanthropy to this project. For the last 13 years Ms. Speer has served as associate director of policy reform and advocacy at The Annie E. Casey Foundation, where she has developed expertise in the areas of early childhood and education philanthropy. At The Annie E. Casey Foundation Ms. Speer also serves as senior associate and coordinator for the national KIDSCOUNT network and has overseen the international KIDSCOUNT initiative to support the development of data-based advocacy projects across the United States and 12 Latin American countries.

Alejandro Villanueva is a Spanish-language business expert. He serves as the executive director of Televisa Foundation that addresses Latino education issues through innovative solutions. Mr. Villanueva is the founder and executive director of Posible Mexico, a program that supports entrepreneurs who strive to solve social and environmental issues and has vast business experience having worked with the financial sector, social projects, public philanthropies, and private organizations. He brings his business acumen and experience with Spanish-language organizations to this project.

Tracy Costigan, Ph.D., is the senior learning officer in the Research-Evaluation-Learning (REL) unit at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). Dr. Costigan is responsible for leading organizational learning and coordinating institutional knowledge in support of effective and responsive strategies and programs. She has managed a research and evaluation portfolio related to creating healthier school environments and supporting early childhood development. Dr. Costigan has also supported research related to building community resilience, particularly in the context of achieving equity and addressing impacts of environmental change on health and well-being.

News Professional

Wayne Lynch is an Emmy award-winning media executive who brings more than four decades of innovation in local and regional television news and programming. Throughout his career, Mr. Lynch has held various positions from on-air reporter and anchor, television news manager, and vice president of news and programming at NewsChannel 8 in Washington, D.C. He is currently a part-time lecturer at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Mr. Lynch contributes knowledge and experience that he has acquired throughout his long career as a news professional.

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