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Community Spotlight: Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg

The Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg provides after-school and summer programs for healthy social and academic development.

Since its inception in 1939, the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg has been an after-school and summer safe haven in which youth of the greater Harrisburg area can “develop essential skills, enhance academic knowledge, make lasting connections and have fun daily”.  The Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg offers a wide range of positive and stimulating activities for youth 6-18 years old, including programs for character leadership, social and academic skills (i.e. Power Hour and STEM) and industrial and physical arts. PACT member and previous Executive Director, Yvonne Hollins, has worked with the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg to provide these engaging activities for over 11 years. Since Mrs. Hollins’ retirement, Director of Programs, Tymia Green, continues the mission of providing these activities so that children and teens may have positive outlets for healthy development.  “We realize everyone has a gift and it’s very important to do whatever we can to nurture our children to provide them with all resources they need to become positive productive people . . . in this day and age there’s a dire need for that.”

Over the past several years, the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg has celebrated great accomplishments from their youth. Most recently within their academic Power Hour Program, 100% of youth at the senior level graduated, 57% demonstrated academic growth in reading and math, 100% progressed to the next grade, and 99% of seniors graduated on time. Several of their youth have also gone on to attend college or enlist in the armed forces and 12 members are now college graduates!

Looking ahead, the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg plans to broaden their base to support more youth in their journeys to becoming positive and productive members of society. They currently seek community member volunteers who are willing to share their time and skills with youth of the organization. Additionally, as their current financial support comes to an end, the Boys & Girls Club seeks new donors and sponsors who are willing to support the organization’s great initiatives. More information about the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg and ways to become involved can be found at their website (www.bgchbg.org), social media handles (Twitter and Facebook) and by phone (717-234-3268).

We applaud the Boys & Girls Club for their great work in helping our young people!

Congratulations to Kristin Buss on being named an Association for Psychological Science (APS) Fellow

Fellow status is awarded to APS members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service, and/or application.
Congratulations to Kristin Buss on being named an Association for Psychological Science (APS) Fellow

Kristin Buss, Ph.D.

Fellow status is awarded to APS members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service, and/or application. Fellow status is typically awarded for one’s scientific contributions, but may also be awarded for exceptional contributions to the field through the development of research opportunities and settings. Candidates are considered after 10 years of postdoctoral contribution.

The Society for Psychophysiological Research recently published an interview with Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer

Recently, Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer was the featured researcher spotlight for the Society for Psychophysiological Research.
The Society for Psychophysiological Research recently published an interview with Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer

Erika Lunkenheimer, Ph.D.

Recently, Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer, Associate Professor of Psychology at the Pennsylvania State University and an Associate Director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, was the featured researcher spotlight for the Society for Psychophysiological Research. This interview discusses her “meta-thinking” about her research approach as well the work itself. Click here to be taken to the article.

Dauphin County 5th Annual Recovery Day

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

The Dauphin County 5th Annual Recovery Day was held on September 28, 2019. The event, co-sponsored by PACT, took place between 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. at the Reservoir Park (Bandshell). PACT representatives focused on disseminating research findings at this event. Their goal was 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.

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