The 2019 Think Tank was held on October 28, 2019 at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. As in prior years, it convened a group of 500 stakeholders from fields including education, business, philanthropy, and medicine who directly impacted policy and practice in early child development, and served as a platform to showcase cutting-edge research.

The 2019 Think Tank departed from its tradition of speakers largely in the area of neuroscience, with presenters consisting of a diverse group of medical doctors and researchers. The theme, “Rituals, Routines and Body Rhythms: The Simple and Profound Impacts of When We Eat, Sleep, and Play for Health Across the Lifespan” emphasized the importance of the circadian rhythm in everyday routines.

Desired Impact

The 2019 Think Tank provided participants with an understanding of the body’s natural rhythms and patterns to promote health and wellness. The speakers each explained, through the lens of their own area of expertise, how all of life is governed by rhythms and what happens when disruptions to rhythms occur. Specific topics included:

  • The circadian clock: an internal system in each body organ that interacts with the timing of light and food to produce our daily rhythms
  • Building a culture of health through routines, including bedtime routines
  • Attention and attention bias
  • Mindfulness and meditation in practice
  • How music training impacts child development
  • Parent-infant synchrony
  • Sharing microbes with our surroundings
  • Underwater diving as an avenue for stress reduction

Whole Child Awards were presented to Samuel Meisels, EdD (Visionary); David Schonfeld, MD (Medical); and Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, PhD (Community).

2019 Think Tank Speakers

Pat Levitt, PhD

Chief Scientific Officer at the Saban Research Institute, and Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

Panel Discussion: The Tension Between the Many Components of Wellbeing and How to Incorporate New Scientific Understandings Into Daily Practices.

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Satchin Panda, PhD

Rita and Richard Atkinson Chair and Professor at the Salk Institute, La Jolla, California

Topic: The Circadian Code

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Jodi Mindell, PhD

Associate Director of the Sleep Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

Topic: Power of Bedtime Routines: Sleep and Beyond

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Wendy Slusser, MD, MS, FAAP

Associate Vice Provost for the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative Center and Clinical Professor of Pediatrics in the Schools of Medicine and Public Health at UCLA

Topic: Building a Culture of Health for Our Nation’s Children: One Routine at a Time

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Nathan Fox, PhD

Distinguished University Professor at the University of Maryland in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology

Topic: Attention and Attention Bias: A Pathway to Reducing Stress

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Jill Heinerth

Canadian cave diver, underwater explorer, writer, photographer, and filmmaker. First Explorer in Residence for the Royal Canadian Geographical Society

Topic: Into the Planet

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Susan Kaiser Greenland

Author, speaker, and leader in teaching mindfulness and meditation to children, teens, and families

Topic: Everyday Freedom (Through Mindfulness)

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Assal Habibi, PhD

Assistant Research Professor of Psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute at University of Southern California

Topic: The Brain’s Crescendo: How Music Training Impacts Child Development

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Ruth Feldman, PhD

Simms/Mann Professor of Developmental Social Neuroscience, Reichman University

Topic: Biological Rhythms to Social Rhythms; Neonatal Precursors and Adult Consequences

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Fernando Martinez, MD

Regents’ Professor and Director of the Asthma and Airway Disease Research Center at the University of Arizona in Tucson

Topic: Sharing Microbes with Our Surroundings in Early Life: A Key to Long-term Health

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2019 Whole Child Award winners

Samuel Meisels, EdD

2019 Whole Child Award Winner – Visionary

Expert on Early Childhood Assessment and Child Development and Founding Executive Director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute at the University of Nebraska

David Schonfeld, MD

2019 Whole Child Award Winner – Medical

Developmental-behavioral Pediatrician in General Pediatrics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Director of the National Center for School Crisis and Bereavement (NCSCB)

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, PhD

2019 Whole Child Award Winner – Community

Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow in Psychology at Temple University and Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution. Director of Temple University’s Infant Language Laboratory