The Think Tank was held on February 9, 2017 at the Eli and Edythe Broad Stage at the Santa Monica College Performing Arts Center. It continued the tradition of convening a group of 500 stakeholders from fields including education, business, philanthropy, and medicine who directly impact policy and practice in early child development, and serving as a platform to showcase cutting-edge neuroscience research related to children ages 0-3. The theme was “Stress and the Brain: The Value of Early Relationships and Self-Regulation.”

Desired Impact

The 2017 Think Tank featured a diverse group of neuroscientists speaking on different topics related to early relationships and self-regulation, including:

  • The role of adult self-regulation in shaping a child’s experience of the world
  • Goldilocks parenting and how it helps build executive functioning skills
  • What practitioners can do to support parents, caregivers, and communities in ensuring that children build the skills needed to perform to the best of their ability

The Whole Child Award was expanded in 2017 to 3 separate awards: Medical, Community, and Visionary. Whole Child Awards were presented to Ben Danielson, MD (Medical); Alicia Lieberman, PhD (Community); and Jack Shonkoff, MD (Visionary).

2017 Think Tank Speakers

Stephanie Carlson, PhD

Professor at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

Topic: Shaping Executive Function Skills: What Can Caregivers Do?

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Ruth Feldman, PhD

Simms/Mann Professor of Developmental Neurogenetics, Reichman University

Topic: How Parent-Infant Synchrony Supports Children’s Regulatory Capacities 

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Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, PhD

Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Distinguished Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Temple Infant and Child Laboratory at Temple University

Topic: Play: Rethinking How We Educate Our Children

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Patricia K. Kuhl, PhD

Bezos Family Foundation Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Learning, Co-Director of the University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences

Topic: Music and the Baby Brain

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Andrew Meltzoff, PhD

Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair, Co-Director of the University of Washington Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences

Topic: Bodies, Brains and Emotions in Infant Development

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Jonathan Mooney

Founder and President of Project Eye-To-Eye, a mentoring and advocacy non-profit organization for students with learning differences

Topic: Different Kinds of Minds

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Catherine Monk, PhD

Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry, and Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Director for Research at the Women’s Program, Columbia University Medical Center

Topic: The Mother-Infant Relationship Before Birth and Why it Matters

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Pat Levitt, PhD

Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Topic: When Does Baby Brain Development Start?

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Harmony Zhu

Concert Pianist and recipient of the Simms/Mann Aspen School of Music Piano Fellowship 2017, 2018, and 2019

Topic: Piano Performance Followed by a Conversation with Dr. Pat Levitt

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2017 Whole Child Award Winner

Jack Shonkoff, MD

2017 Whole Child Award Winner – Visionary

Director, Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University

Ben Danielson, MD

2017 Whole Child Award Winner – Medical

Senior Medical Director of Odessa’s Children’s Clinic

Alicia Lieberman, PhD

2017 Whole Child Award Winner – Community

Director, Child Trauma Research Program, UCSF