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NOTE: as of April 17, 2007, the Free to Grow program has closed.

National Advisory Committee Directory

Angela Blackwell

Angela Glover Blackwell is founder and President of PolicyLink, a national nonprofit organization devoted to lifting and advancing a new generation of policies from the wisdom, voice and experience of local constituencies to achieve social and economic equity and build strong, organized communities.  For three-and-a-half years, Ms. Blackwell served as Senior Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation, where she oversaw the foundation's domestic and cultural divisions. While at the Foundation, she developed the Building Democracy Division and the Next Generation Leadership program. Ms. Blackwell gained national recognition as founder of Oakland, California's Urban Strategies Council. The Council's efforts in Oakland have been instrumental in reducing infant mortality and births to teenage mothers, focusing school reform on equity and attracting significant resources to the community's visions for improvement. Over the years she has served on many boards, including those of Children Now, The Urban Institute, The James Irvine Foundation, Public/Private Ventures and The Foundation for Child Development and Common Cause.  She is currently on the board of Levi Strauss and Co. and the Children's Defense Fund.

Geoffrey Canada
President/CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone

Geoffrey Canada is the acclaimed author of Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence in America and was the recipient of the first Heinz Award in 1994 for his work as President/CEO of the Harlem Children's Zone (HCZ), formerly known as Rheedlen Centers for Children and Families, in New York City.  He was chosen to receive the award because of his passionate concern for children and his selfless determination to make their lives safer and saner.  He also is the author of Reaching Up for Manhood, which was published in January 1998.  Mr. Canada grew up in the South Bronx and has dedicated his life to helping children who grew up in similar conditions to secure educational and economic opportunities.  Prominent among his many efforts are HCZ's Beacon School, Harlem Peacemakers Program, and Community Pride Initiative.  The Beacon School program provides support 12 hours a day, 365 days a year to children and families in Central Harlem.  Before joining HCZ, he served as Director of the Robert White School, a private day school for troubled inner city youth in Boston.

Sarah Greene
Chief Executive Officer of the National Head Start Association

Sarah M. Greene has been Chief Executive Officer of the National Head Start Association (NHSA) since July 1991.  NHSA is dedicated to meeting the concerns of the Head Start community and represents more than 900,000 children, 148,000 staff members and 2,196 Head Start programs nationwide.  Among her duties at the Alexandria-based association, Ms. Greene supervises office operations to ensure implementation of NHSA's goals and objectives as established by the Board of Directors, acts as ambassador and advocate for the Head Start community and provides insight for the future direction of Head Start.  Ms. Greene's ambassadorship has recently taken her to an international level.  With Head Start delegates from across the United States, she served as delegation leader in educational exchange programs to Australia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, China and Paris, France.

Gloria Johnson-Powell
Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics, University of Wisconsin Medical School at Madison

Gloria Johnson-Powell, formerly Professor of Child Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, is now Associate Dean of Faculty, Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics and Director of the newly founded Center for Research on Ethnicity in Medicine (CREM) at the University of Wisconsin Medical School in Madison.  Dr. Johnson-Powell is continuing her research on the psychological development of culturally diverse children, this time with a focus on African immigrant children in the United States and England. In addition to co-authoring a book with Dr. Rodney Powell, entitled Cultural Competence and Service Delivery: Beyond the Buzz Words, Dr. Johnson-Powell has published Black Mondays Children: The Effects of Desegregation on Southern School Children; The Psychosocial Development of Minority Group Children with Drs. Joe Yamamoto and Armando Morales; The Lasting Effects of Child Sexual Abuse with Dr. Gail Wyatt; Transcultural Child Development with Drs. Yamamoto, William Arroyo and Wyatt; The Assessment and Treatment of the Afro-American Family with Ms. Barbara Bass and Dr. Wyatt, and numerous chapters and articles.  

Michael H. Levine
Executive Director of the National Campaign for International Education

Michael H. Levine is the executive director of the National Campaign for International Education at the Asia Society in New York City. Prior to that, he was Executive Director of the I Am Your Child Foundation.  He also is a Senior Fellow affiliated with Yale University's Bush Center for Child Development and Social Policy.  During the 1990's, Dr. Levine oversaw Carnegie Corporation of New York's philanthropic programs in early childhood development, primary grades reforms and school leadership.  Before that, he was senior assistant to the Chancellor of the New York City Board of Education. Dr. Levine has developed influential scientific reports and follow-up grants programs that stimulated national and state policy reforms.  He has served on numerous national expert task forces and is a frequent adviser to the U.S. Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. In 1997, Working Mother magazine chose him as one of America's 25 most influential men in shaping family policy.

Joan Lombardi
Director, The Children's Project

Joan Lombardi currently serves as Director of The Children's Project, a non–partisan effort to improve public, private and civic investments in children and families.  In this capacity, she advises organizations and foundations across the country and helps create partnerships that support children and families.  Before becoming Deputy Assistant Secretary for External Affairs in the Administration for Children and Families, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Lombardi served as the first Associate Commissioner of the Child Care Bureau.  In that role, she managed the Child Care and Development Fund, and was instrumental in planning the White House Conference on Child Care in 1997 and the President's 1998 Child Care Initiative.  In addition, she served as staff director of the Secretary's Advisory Committee on Head Start Quality and Expansion and was the primary author of Creating a 21st Century Head Start. She is the co-author of Right From the Start: The Report of the National Early Childhood Task Force and Caring Communities, The Report of the National School Readiness Task Force.  In 2001, working with several national and state organizations, Dr. Lombardi launched the Better Baby Care Campaign.  More recently, she completed a new book, Time to Care: Redesigning Child Care to Promote Education, Support Families and Build Communities. She is currently co-editing A Beacon of Hope:  The Promise of Early Head Start for America's Youngest Children.

Tom McLellan
Professor of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Tom McLellan is a Professor in the Psychiatry Department at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Director of a National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Center devoted to development and testing of evaluation instruments and methods.   He is also the Founder and Scientific Director of the Treatment Research Institute. Dr. McLellan has been a principal investigator in several large, multicenter, collaborative studies of treatment outcome and has specialized in study design, methodology and instrument development.  He is a member of the National Academy of Science, Institute of Medicine Committee on Technology Transfer in Community Substance Abuse Treatment and Associate Editor of the Journal of Studies of Alcohol. 

Aubrey Nehring
Head Start Director for Audubon Area Community Services

As Head Start Director for Audubon Area Community Services, Inc., in Owensboro, Kentucky, Mr. Nehring administers a Head Start and Early Head Start program serving more than 2,600 children and families in 16 counties in western Kentucky, with a budget in excess of $10 million.  He has extensive experience in education, budgeting, fiscal and personnel management, grant writing and general administration.  Under his leadership, Audubon Area Head Start was selected in April 2000 as a Program of Excellence, a prestigious quality initiative award of the National Head Start Association and the Carnegie Foundation, making it one of only 12 Head Start programs in the country to have achieved this distinction.  Mr. Nehring is a member of the National Head Start Association and National Association for the Education of Young Children and currently serves as First Vice President of the Kentucky Head Start Association.  In 1999, he was appointed by the Governor to serve on Kentucky's Council for Community Education and has served on Kentucky's Even Start Advisory Council.

Abraham Wandersman
Professor of Psychology at the University of South Carolina-Columbia

Abraham Wandersman is a Professor of Psychology at the University of South Carolina-Columbia. He also was interim Co-Director of the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina. Dr. Wandersman has performed research on environmental issues and community responses and research and program evaluation on citizen participation in community organizations and coalitions and interagency collaboration. A co-author of Prevention Plus III and a co-editor of Empowerment Evaluation: Knowledge and Tools for Self Assessment and Accountability and many other books and articles, Dr. Wandersman is currently engaged in work with the Governor's office on a statewide initiative for improving school readiness, involving county partnerships in the 46 counties in South Carolina.  This work includes developing and evaluating the Results-Oriented Grant Making and Grant Implementation System being used in the initiative.


copyright 2008 Free To Grow
Free To Grow is a national program supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation with direction and technical assistance provided by the Mailman School of Public Health of Columbia University.