The John R. Lutzker Lecture Series was created to advance understanding of public health solutions that reduce violence, promote healthy development and improve quality of life inclusive of individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities and their families.
The series is named in honor of John R. Lutzker, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the Mark Chaffin Center for Healthy Development (MCCHD) at Georgia State University. Dr. Lutzker is an internationally recognized scholar who dedicated his career to championing the prevention of child maltreatment. He created SafeCare®, one of the few evidence-based programs to prevent child abuse and neglect. With the support of an anonymous donor, the School of Public Health sponsors the annual Lutzker Lecture Series. Read more.
Shahla Alai-Rosales, Ph.D., BCBA-D, CPBA-AP, is a Professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. She has taught courses in Texas, Europe and the Middle East on various topics, including ethics, early autism intervention, parent training, behavioral systems, applied research methods, technology transfer, behavior change techniques, and cultural diversity. Shahla has served on several boards and disciplinary committees and has published and presented research on social justice, ethics in early intervention, play and social skills, family harmony, and supervision and mentoring. Shahla has over four decades of experience working with families and has trained hundreds of behavior analysts. She has received awards for her teaching (SGA‘Fessor Graham Award), her work with families (Onassis Scholar Award), and her sustained contributions(UNT Community Engagement Award, TXABA Career Contributions Award). She is an Associate Editor for Behavior Analysis in Practice. She is co-author of Building and Sustaining Meaningful and Effective Relationships as a Supervisor and Mentor (LeBlanc, Sellers & Alai, 2020) and Responsible and Responsive Parenting in Autism: Between Now and Dreams (Alai-Rosales & Heinkel-Wolfe, 2022).
The 2022 John R. Lutzker Lecture featured Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka, who presented on "3Ps of Protection, Promotion, and Preservation: Centering Race and Racism in Developmental Science." The lecture was held on Monday, September 12, 2022.
Race, place, and zip code should not determine one’s opportunity for a stable and healthy life. However, the dual pandemic of coronavirus and racial reckoning has made the structured nature of access, opportunities, and outcomes visible based on social demographics. This keynote will uncover how the early years are a critical time to ensure that children are provided with equitable opportunities to be successful in school and life. This requires explicit and intentional attention to racism, a multi-dimensional system of oppression and exclusion, which is particularly detrimental to the health and well-being of Black children and communities and other racially and ethnically minoritized children and communities. Attendees will consider how equity can be the bedrock of early childhood programs and systems and other adjacent systems through racial equity and cultural wealth frameworks. Protecting children and families from harm and trauma, promoting their health, wealth, and access to educational excellence, and preserving their cultural identity, language, and heritage must be at the forefront of research, programs, and policies to ensure equity for children.
Dr. Iheoma U. Iruka (pronounced EE-OMAH EE-ROO-KAH) is a Research Professor in the Department of Public Policy, Senior Fellow at Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG), and the Founding Director of the Equity Research Action Coalition at FPG at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Iruka is leading projects and initiatives to ensure that minoritized children and children from low-income households, especially Black children, are thriving. She is focused on ensuring excellence for young diverse learners, especially Black children and their families, through the intersection of anti-bias, anti-racist, culturally grounded research, program, and policy. Some focus areas include family engagement and support, quality rating and improvement systems, and early care and education systems and programs. Dr. Iruka serves on numerous national and local boards and committees, including the National Advisory Committee for the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the American Psychological Association’s Board of Educational Affairs, Brady Education Foundation, and Trust for Learning.
She has a B.A. in psychology from Temple University, an M.A. in psychology from Boston University, and an M.S. and Ph.D. in applied developmental psychology from the University of Miami.
Learn more about Dr. Iruka.
The 2021 John R. Lutzker Lecture featured Dr. Michael A. Lindsey, presenting on "Suffering in Silence: Identifying Suicidal Behavior in Black Youth and Creating a Research, Policy and Practice Agenda."
Suicide is preventable. For Blacks, stigma regarding mental health challenges and a common belief that Blacks don’t die by suicide add complexity to the challenge of saving lives. Sadly, the suicide death rate among Black youth has been found to be increasing faster than any other racial or ethnic group. Black adolescents are significantly less likely to receive care for depression with pervasive structural inequities, social determinants of health, stigma and mistrust of the healthcare system creating daunting barriers to treatment. What can we do to prevent these deaths? What can schools, funders, family members, health institutions and governmental entities do to provide the necessary investment and training to properly address the mental wellness needs of Black youth? Dr. Lindsey explored these complexities and the opportunities before us that can save lives.
Dr. Michael A. Lindsey is a noted scholar in the fields of child and adolescent mental health, as well as a leader in the search for knowledge and solutions to generational poverty and inequality. He is the Executive Director of the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University (NYU), the Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies at NYU Silver School of Social Work, and an Aspen Health Innovators Fellow. He also leads a university-wide Strategies to Reduce Inequality initiative from the NYU McSilver Institute.
At the NYU McSilver Institute, Dr. Lindsey leads a team of researchers, clinicians, social workers and other professionals who are committed to creating new knowledge about the root causes of poverty, developing evidence-based interventions to address its consequences, and rapidly translating their findings into action through policy and best practices. Learn more about Dr. Lindsey.
The 2020 John R. Lutzker Lecture featured Dr. V. Mark Durand, presenting on "Supporting Families of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Challenging Behavior."
Challenging behaviors continue to top the list of concerns for families of persons with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Research shows that the presence of these problem behaviors can negatively impact the mental health of family members. Although we have made impressive gains in helping reduce these problem behaviors, obstacles remain. Dr. Durand covered new insights into these obstacles and how families and others can overcome them and effectively help persons with even the most severe behavioral challenges. Evidenced-based approaches to replacing behavior problems were discussed and Dr. Durand described how advances in positive psychology can help caregivers be more effective in their efforts to help those with ASD and how to help themselves lead happier and less stressful lives.
Dr. Durand is a Distinguished University Professor of Psychology at University of South Florida St. Petersburg and has more than 135 publications. He and his colleague developed a treatment for problem behaviors (functional communication training) that is used around the world. His books include textbooks on abnormal psychology that have been translated into 10 languages and used at more than 1,000 universities world-wide. His other books include the multiple national award winning Optimistic Parenting: Hope and Help for You and Your Challenging Child as well as Sleep Better! A Guide to Improving Sleep for Children with Special Needs. He was named a 2014 Princeton Lecture Series Fellow and received the 2015 Jacobson Award for Critical Thinking from the American Psychological Association (APA). Dr. Durand served as President of Division 33 (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities/ASD) for APA from 2018-2019.
The 2019 John R. Lutzker Lecture featured Dr. Judith Carta, presenting on "Building Multi-Sector Partnerships for Promoting Community Wide Engagement in Evidence-Based Prevention: It Takes More than a Village." Dr. Carta is the associate director of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project, professor of Special Education at the University of Kansas, and a Senior Scientist in the Institute for Life Span Studies. Her science focuses on developing strategies to minimize the effects of poverty on children’s language and social outcomes and developing practices that teachers and parents can use to promote children’s early learning particularly in vulnerable populations.
The Inaugural John R. Lutzker Lecture featured preeminent scholar, Dr. Gregory Aarons, presenting on "Evidence-Based Practice Implementation and Sustainment through Leadership and Partnership." Dr. Aarons, director of the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center at the University of California San Diego, is a clinical and organizational psychologist and professor of Psychiatry. He conducts research on improving systems and organizational factors that support implementation and sustainment of evidence-based practice, use of research evidence, and quality of care. His research is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and W.T. Grant Foundation.
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