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Dauphin County 5th Annual Recovery Day

The Dauphin County 5th Annual Recovery Day is September 28, 2019.

The Dauphin County 5th Annual Recovery Day will be held on September 28, 2019. The event, co-sponsored by PACT, will take place between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. at the Reservoir Park (Bandshell). PACT representatives will focus on disseminating research findings at this event. Their goal is to share with and inform members of the community about research findings coming from their work in the Harrisburg area.

Dawn Witherspoon featured in video from The Society for Research in Child Development

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) recently published a video from the 2019 Biennial SRCD pre-conference, “Conceptualizing and Measuring Culture, Context, Race and Ethnicity: A Focus on Science, Ethics, and Collaboration in the Spirit of 2044”, featuring Dawn Witherspoon.
Dawn Witherspoon featured in video from The Society for Research in Child Development

Dawn Witherspoon, Ph.D.

The Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) recently published a video from the 2019 Biennial SRCD pre-conference, “Conceptualizing and Measuring Culture, Context, Race and Ethnicity: A Focus on Science, Ethics, and Collaboration in the Spirit of 2044”, featuring Dawn Witherspoon. A McCourtney Family Early Career Professor in Psychology and Director of PACT, Dr. Witherspoon was one of the organizers of this pre-conference event, held March 20, 2019, at the Biennial SRCD meeting in Baltimore, MD. Click here to see the video.

Community Spotlight: The KING Community Center

The KING Community Center's Girls' Summer Enrichment Program provides opportunities for young girls.

The KING Community Center's Girls' Summer Enrichment Program provides opportunities for young girls. Read more about this community spotlight here.

10th Annual LHACC Caribbean Luna Night

The Latino Hispanic American Community Center (LHACC) held its annual fundraiser, Caribbean Luna Night, on Friday, July 12th, at the Hershey Lodge.

The Latino Hispanic American Community Center (LHACC) held its annual fundraiser, Caribbean Luna Night, on Friday, July 12th, at the Hershey Lodge. LHACC, a United Way Partner Organization, provides services that support basic human needs, as well as supporting individuals with immigration matters, employment assistance, education needs, both physical and mental health services, intervention services, and housing and tenant issues. Its mission is to empower, promote, and advocate for the Latino Hispanic American community of the Greater Harrisburg Area. The fundraiser included live music, a reception, and dinner.

New Director Announced for PACT

Dawn Witherspoon, Associate Professor and McCourtney Family Early Career Professor in Psychology at Penn State, was named as the incoming Director of PACT effective July 1, 2019.
New Director Announced for PACT

Dawn Witherspoon, Ph.D.

Dawn Witherspoon, Associate Professor and McCourtney Family Early Career Professor in Psychology at Penn State, was named as the incoming Director of PACT effective July 1, 2019. Kristin Buss, past Director (2007 – 2019), is stepping down in order to take on the role of Department Head of the Penn State University Park Psychology Department. Laura Bray, Assistant Professor of Education at Penn State, will join PACT as an Associate Director. Laureen Teti will remain with PACT as an Associate Director as well.

Since arriving at Penn State in 2010, Dr. Witherspoon has created lasting relationships with the Harrisburg, PA community. As Associate Director of PACT and a Penn State researcher, she has enhanced outreach efforts with families and organizations in Harrisburg. In her efforts, she has formed important connections with the Boys and Girls Club, YMCA, and the Latino Hispanic American Community Center (LHACC) in Harrisburg, PA, which has helped to add multiple perspectives and voices to the table regarding the needs of the broader Harrisburg community. She helped to bridge and build these relationships, cultivating trust –an integral part of meaningful community-engaged research. As an active member of PACT, Dr. Witherspoon created the Families, Adolescents, and Neighborhoods in Context (FAN-C) Study, which focused on how the neighborhood context influences family functioning and adolescent well-being in both African American and Latino families. Her research has shown that even though parents and youth live together in the same household, they perceive the problems and strengths of their neighborhoods very differently! Dr. Witherspoon has also collaborated with Dr. Mayra Bámaca (Associate Professor, Penn State) and Gloria Vázquez Merrick (Executive Director, LHACC) on projects in Harrisburg, including Navigating Environments of Latino Families (NELF) and PLACES/LUGARES. Those projects focus on how minority adolescents in a majority-minority community (i.e., a Latino immigrant in a predominately African American community) develop unique ways of navigating and experiencing their neighborhood environments and how these experiences impact parenting practices and youth development.

Prior to arriving at Penn State, Dr. Witherspoon completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Center for Developmental Science and in the Department of Psychology’s Black Child Training Grant Program. Dr. Witherspoon received her doctorate in Community Psychology from New York University. Broadly, her research focuses on the ways in which urban and rural families and youth are influenced by the contexts in which they are embedded, particularly focusing on how neighborhood, school, and family factors affect adolescent’s academic, psycho-social, and behavioral well-being. In addition, Dr. Witherspoon, examines the mechanisms (e.g., racial socialization and identity) by which race and/or ethnicity influence development in these various contexts. Dr. Witherspoon uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to examine her research questions with racially and socioeconomically diverse families.

Congratulations to Dr. Witherspoon!

PACT welcomes Dr. Laura Bray

Assistant Professor of Education at Penn State, Laura Bray, has joined PACT as an Associate Director.
PACT welcomes Dr. Laura Bray

Laura Bray, Ph.D.

We’re delighted to announce Dr. Laura Bray will become an Associate Director of PACT effective July 1, 2019. Dr. Bray is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling, and Special Education at Penn State University Park. Dr. Bray received her Ph.D. in Education with a specialization in Learning Sciences and Policy in 2014 from the University of Pittsburgh. Her research draws from various theoretical frameworks and mixed methods to examine issues of practice and policy pertaining to children with disabilities and their families. She aims to understand and attend to complex issues, which demand insights into the interconnectedness of the actions, beliefs, and artifacts of different stakeholders, organizations, and institutions. While her research interests are diverse in nature, they speak to the nuanced and multifaceted ways that people, learning, resources, institutions, and policy impact one another.

Dr. Bray is currently involved in four distinct threads of research involving special education policy and practice.

1. Implementation of Policy and Reform Initiatives: This work explores how schools implement Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) and the role of school administrators in supporting inclusive reform. Dr. Bray is also designing interventions to improve the implementation of IEPs and inclusive reform. 

2. Pre-Service and Teacher Training: Dr. Bray is examining the development of special education teachers' professional identities, as well as the influence of learning environments on these identities.

3. Policy Formation: In this work, Dr. Bray examines the role of system and non-system actors in the reauthorization of special education legislation.

4. Families' Access to Support: This research explores how to support families who have a child identified with a disability. Dr. Bray is also designing interventions to better connect families to resources, as well as training them in the implementation of evidence-based practices. 

We welcome Dr. Bray to the PACT family!

SRCD highlights accomplishments of the Ethnic and Racial Issues Committee during Dawn Witherspoon's tenure as Chair

Originally founded as the Minority Committee in 1984, the Ethnic and Racial Issues Committee focuses on increasing diversity in developmental science and SRCD through programmatic initiatives and acts as a liaison for internal groups interested in research pertaining to racial-ethnic minorities.
SRCD highlights accomplishments of the Ethnic and Racial Issues Committee during Dawn Witherspoon's tenure as Chair

Dawn Witherspoon, Ph.D.

Originally founded as the Minority Committee in 1984, the Ethnic and Racial Issues Committee focuses on increasing diversity in developmental science and SRCD through programmatic initiatives and acts as a liaison for internal groups interested in research pertaining to racial-ethnic minorities. The committee aims to impact diversity and inclusion at multiple levels of the pipeline and promotes research with racial-ethnic minority populations. Dawn Witherspoon served as Chair of this committee from April 2017 until March 2019.

Click here to see the full article.

Congratulations to Laureen Teti

Laureen Teti has been promoted to Associate Director of the Penn State Child Study Center and Associate Research Professor of Psychology.
Congratulations to Laureen Teti

Laureen Teti, Ph.D.

PACT is thrilled to announce the recent promotion of Laureen Teti, Ph.D., Associate Director of PACT, to Associate Director of the Penn State Child Study Center (CSC) and Associate Research Professor of Psychology. Please join us in congratulating Laureen on this well-earned set of honors.

Laureen received her Ph.D. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in 2000 and has served as the Assistant Director of the CSC since 2003. Her research focuses on parenting and the development of children’s emotion regulation in families exposed to high levels of adversity. Since 2006, she has worked with Penn State faculty to promote relations between the African American community in Harrisburg and CSC researchers, helping to establish and maintain the Parents and Children Together (PACT) community-university partnership. At the CSC, she works closely with the director on strategic planning and event planning; facilitates research initiatives and events; oversees center administration, resources, and budget; and serves as a key liaison to other university offices and community stakeholders.

We are lucky to have Laureen on the PACT team and warmly congratulate her on her recent promotions.

Community-Engaged Research Day

The Better Together Community Driven Awareness Community-Engaged Research Day took place June 6, 2019.

The Better Together Community Driven Awareness Community-Engaged Research Day was an opportunity for Community-Based Organization (CBO) leaders to make connections with Penn State faculty from University Park, Harrisburg, and Hershey. The Community-Engaged Research Core (CERC) provided an opportunity to apply for small seed grants (up to $5K) to foster sustainable partnerships between faculty and CBOs after the event. Their Steering Committee (comprised of PSU staff and CBOs) was excited to offer this mutually beneficial opportunity and decided to target mental health and nutrition as themes for the event.

The event took place June 6, 2019, 9:00 a.m. - Noon at the Dixon Center, Harrisburg, PA

For more information, contact:

PACT Community Advisory Board member Robin Perry-Smith featured on Health Care Education Association website

Robin Perry-Smith discusses why she joined the Health Care Education Association and one of her greatest career achievements.
PACT Community Advisory Board member Robin Perry-Smith featured on Health Care Education Association website

Robin Perry-Smith, MHA

Robin Perry-Smith discusses why she joined the Health Care Education Association and one of her greatest career achievements. Click here to view the interview.

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