Brazelton Touchpoints Project Welcomes New Leaders

The Brazelton Touchpoints Project, Inc., supports the work of BTC through advocacy, outreach, partnership development, and strategic advising.  Members of the Project’s Board of Directors are critical in this endeavor and are passionately committed to BTC’s mission of ensuring that all children – whatever their life circumstances, challenges, and resources may be – will be healthy, succeed as early learners, and have the opportunity to thrive.  Join us in welcoming these newest members to the Board of Directors!


Candidate I – Stella B. Biira, Ph.D. (Mansfield, MA)

Stella B. Biira, Ph.D., is currently a Vice President in the ERM – Risk Review department of Eastern Bank, which prior to its initial public offering in 2020 was the oldest and largest mutual bank in the United States.  Prior to Eastern Bank, Stella served for four years as Vice President of risk in the Commercial Banking Middle Market Underwriting & Portfolio Management group at Banco Santander and a Vice President in the Global Banking and Markets risk department, handling Santander’s international financial institution services and sovereign/country credit risk. Before that, Stella was an Assistant Vice President for 9 years in the Risk and Credit Services department of State Street Corporation, where she managed secured lending for high net worth individuals, family offices, advisors, trusts, limited liability corporations, and limited partnerships.  At State Street, Stella also worked on lending to large corporations and insurance companies and was a credit analyst supporting the lending business by assessing the credit risk of corporations, insurance companies, and mutual fund counterparties.

Before joining State Street, Stella was a Credit Risk Analyst at Boston Private Bank & Trust, covering CRE, C&I, Small Businesses, and various individual loans. Stella also has experience working with venture capital investments and funding. Prior to moving to the U.S., Stella worked as a lender in a commercial bank in Uganda.

Stella holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Health with research focused on diabetes and tertiary level prevention. She moved to the U.S. to attend Brandeis University (Waltham, MA) after winning a full scholarship from the Ford Foundation and earning a Master’s degree in International Economics and Finance. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Quantitative Economics from Makerere University (Kampala, Uganda), obtained on a merit scholarship from the government of Uganda. Stella holds several professional and post-graduate certificates in Lending, Financial Analysis and reporting, nonprofit organizations, personal finance analysis, and risk management. She also has a certificate in advocacy and leadership and was recognized by the Ford Foundation for her post-graduate work.

Stella is a member of the prestigious National Society of Leadership and Success, the largest leadership honor society in the US with 736 chapters and 1,615,554 active members. She served as a Treasurer and voting member on the board of MathPower, a Boston-based nonprofit organization, for over 10 years.  Stella is passionate about equity, maternal and child health, and diabetes. She serves in her local church and likes to play drums, guitar, and the flute.


Candidate II – Sadie Funk, MS (Dallas, TX)

Sadie Funk, MS, is the Director of Best Place for Kids!, a whole-community approach to ensuring every child is on a path to learning and life success – from cradle to career. Together with leaders from philanthropy, education, healthcare, business, nonprofits, and local cities and counties, Best Place for Kids! is building a more connected and supportive local ecosystem that enables children and families to thrive.

The Best Place for Working Parents is a growing network of business leaders proving that family-friendly is business-friendly. Originating in Fort Worth, Texas, The Best Place for Working Parents effort has expanded nationally, supporting businesses with research-backed strategies that benefit working parents and businesses’ bottom line.

Prior to joining Best Place, Sadie was CEO of First3Years, a state-wide nonprofit in Texas working to advance the healthy development of infants, toddlers, and their families. While leading First3Years, Sadie vastly grew the organization’s reach and impact to include programming that can build a specialized infant-toddler workforce, address the unique developmental needs of maltreated children and their families, promote early relational health, and host Baby Day, a celebration of the first three years of a child’s life.

In her earlier career, Sadie led a dual-generation program for immigrant families in Dallas and has extensive experience working with communities to drive change. Sadie began her career serving with the Peace Corps in the Oriente (Amazon) Region of Ecuador.  She currently serves on several local and state boards/committees, including the University of Texas at Dallas – Center for Children and Families. She is a founding board member of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, and currently is a ZERO TO THREE Fellow.

Sadie graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with an MS in International Management and received her BA in Anthropology with Honors from Eckerd College.  Sadie’s collective research to spotlight critical zero to three issues has been published in the Texas Tribune, ZERO TO THREE Journal, and Infant Mental Health Journal.


Candidate III – Karen Howard, JD

Karen Howard, JD, is the Founding Partner of Crossover Partners, LLC. She has decades of experience in early childhood policy.  She was previously a policy director at the Alliance for Early Success where she led a portfolio of state and national partnerships and investments focused on home visiting, child welfare, family economic stability, and racially-equitable policies for young children and their families.

Prior to joining the Alliance for Early Success, Karen worked as the Vice President of Early Childhood Policy at First Focus on Children, where she led the organization’s work in cross-cutting policy initiatives that impact the early health, development, and well-being of children, with specific emphasis on children experiencing racial and ethnic disparities. With more than 20 years of experience in the legal, policy, and advocacy arenas, Karen has served as the Director of Policy for the Nurse-Family Partnership, a leading evidence-based home visiting program, and as legislative counsel in the office of Senator Ken Salazar (D-CO) where she focused on health and education policy. Karen was instrumental in helping to create and enact the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV), which is a $1.5 billion grant program supporting the implementation and expansion of evidence-based and promising home-visiting programs nationally to improve the early health and development of pregnant women, children, and families living in poverty.

Earlier in her career, Karen served as Deputy Attorney General in the Colorado Office of Attorney General, where she supervised attorneys practicing employment and regulatory law and worked on higher education policy issues, including affirmative action in higher education. Karen previously practiced product liability and employment law at private law firms in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Colorado, and is the past Treasurer of the Sam Cary Bar Association and a past member of the Colorado Attorney Regulation Committee. Karen currently sits on the board of directors for Nurse-Family Partnership and Bright Beginnings, Inc.

Karen holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the State University of New York at Albany and a Juris Doctor from Georgetown University Law Center.


Candidate IV – Ann Linehan, M.Ed (Falls Church, VA)               

Ann Linehan, M.Ed, recently retired from her position as the Deputy Director of the Office of Head Start (OHS).  Ann served as Deputy Director since 2011 and prior to the Deputy position, she held senior management positions in OHS for 15 years overseeing the Divisions of Program Development, Quality Assurance, and Program Operations.  Ann’s leadership has been instrumental in improving program performance and increasing federal and local accountability.


Ann began her federal career in 1992 in Region I as the Head Start Regional Program Manager responsible for Head Start programs in New England.

Before joining the federal government, she was the Executive Director of a non-profit agency for nearly a decade that provided Head Start and child care services in eight communities in Massachusetts.

Ann began her career as a special needs teacher for medically fragile children.

She holds a BS in Sociology and Psychology and a Master’s in Education from Boston State University (now known as the University of Massachusetts, Boston).


Candidate V – Adrián A. Pedroza, MBA (Albuquerque, NM)      

Adrián A. Pedroza, MBA, serves as the National Executive Director for Abriendo Puertas/Opening Doors – the nation’s first evidence-based comprehensive training program developed by and for Latino parents with children ages 0-5. Prior to Abriendo Puertas, he dedicated ten years of his career as the Executive Director and Social Enterprise Director at the Partnership for Community Action (PCA), a community-based organization in New Mexico that works to build strong, healthy communities by investing in the leadership of people and families. Adrián developed a sustainable path for PCA by focusing his time on building a social enterprise model for the organization.

Earlier in his career, Adrián worked with the University of New Mexico High School Equivalency and College Assistance Migrant Programs, which provide educational opportunities to migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their families. In addition, Adrián worked for former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman in New Mexico. Under Governor Bill Richardson, Adrián was appointed to the inaugural Hispanic Education Advisory Council. In 2011, President Barack Obama appointed Adrián as a Commissioner to the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, where for six years he focused his service on increasing national attention and resources to the issue of early childhood education. Adrián sits on non-profit boards including Explora Children’s Museum and the Rio Grande Community Development Corporation.

In 2012, Adrian received the Excellence in Education Award from the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators. In 2013, he was selected to be a part of the WK Kellogg Foundation’s Community Leadership Fellowship Program, where he’s working with diverse leaders to strengthen networks and communities to become vigorous advocates for vulnerable children and their families. Albuquerque Business First recognized Adrián in 2016 as a 40 Under Forty outstanding young professional.

Adrian holds a B.A. in political science and an M.B.A. in Policy and Planning from the University of New Mexico.

COMMUNITIES as RESEARCHERS: Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative Receives Grant to Fund Research by Indigenous Communities

First Light Education Project Starting with What WorksThe Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative (IELC), led by First Light Education Project (Denver, CO) and the Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) (Boston, MA), announces a grant of $573,000 from the Foundation for Child Development for a two-year project starting in March 2022, titled, Indigenous ECD Community-Based Inquiry Project to Strengthen Research to Practice Partnerships, to strengthen the early learning workforce in the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC) in Michigan.

The IELC is partnering with the Wiikwedong Early Childhood Development Collaborative, a team of KBIC early childhood teachers, center directors, and providers. These practitioners are the primary researchers on this inquiry project, investigating ways to strengthen the work of current educators in the community, building new pathways to the profession for prospective early childhood educators, and sharing knowledge about practice—in particular, home visitation and engaging families—across community systems. This project is unique in that the community members are the researchers—designing their own research questions and conducting their own inquiry—making the results of the research relevant to the needs of the community, a critical and often missing aspect of research conducted in Native communities.

“This is Community-Based Inquiry (CBI) in its purest form. Community members are the researchers: they know the questions that need to be studied and generate critical ideas on how to implement solutions in practice,” says Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, Founder and Principal Consultant of First Light Education Project and Director of the IELC. “CBI is especially important for Native communities, who are often the subjects of research but rarely the beneficiaries.”

The IELC is a national initiative designed for Indigenous communities to strengthen early childhood education by developing their own critical questions and constructing local, relevant, and sustainable solutions.

“For more than 20 years, BTC has served as a partner for tribal nations and Native communities. For Indigenous communities, the goal is self-determination and sovereignty—in culture, language, education. This project is one big step toward self-determination and sovereignty in research and knowledge generation,” says Dr. Joshua Sparrow, Executive Director of BTC.

To learn more about the IELC or this funded project, or to schedule an interview with Drs. Yazzie-Mintz or Sparrow, contact BTC’s Director of Resource Development, Michael Accardi.

Discover the Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative at the BTC National Forum

First Light Education Project Starting with What WorksTogether, First Light Education Project and the Brazelton Touchpoints Center (BTC) lead the Indigenous Early Learning Collaborative (IELC), a new national initiative envisioned and designed in consultation with over 50 different tribal individuals, educators, and representatives from early childhood learning and care organizations and tribal departments of early childhood education. Launched in 2021, Native educators, early learning professionals, and leaders from four tribal/Native partner communities are learning how to generate local solutions to historical and current dilemmas of practice. Community-Based Inquiry (CBI) — a process by which Indigenous communities engage in asking and investigating their own questions about their early childhood practices — is the driver and focal point of this project. Come meet our Indigenous partner communities at BTC’s Virtual National Forum on March 29–31.

First Light Education Project and BTC have created a unique partnership to co-facilitate this work side by side with our early childhood partners. First Light Education Project, led by Dr. Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz (Diné), is a Native-run organization built on Indigenous principles and implementing Indigenous practices, with expertise and experience in early childhood education and building systems of care and learning. BTC is a long-time leader in early childhood learning and development, with a long history of working in and strengthening communities in the United States and around the world. We have created an equitable partnership to conceptualize and operationalize the IELC, bringing together expertise, experience, and community connections to jointly implement the IELC. Come meet Dr. Yazzie-Mintz at BTC’s Virtual National Forum on March 29–31.

Here’s what our first four community partners are saying:

“Great opportunity to create a research question around our community expectations of early childhood education.” – Wiikwedong ECE Collaborative Member, Planning & Visioning Meeting, January 2021

“We survived a genocide; we are coming out. We are still very connected to place. Again, the emotional toll [is there], and how we keep getting up every day and doing the work we do because we also understand what we are doing – the bigger picture – it’s a pathway to recovery for us – so we show up.” – Wicoie Nandagikendan Team Member, Reflective Inquiry Session, December 2021

“We’re calling to our community, calling them into us, we’re not calling them out, we are calling in. And we are calling to our young people our community and letting them know we are here.” – Daybreak Star Team Member, Reflective Inquiry Session, November 2021

“… in order for us to be effective at what we do, from the mindset that we want to approach it, it will come with the grounding of our Indigenous selves first.” – INPEACE / Keiki Steps Team Member, Reflective Inquiry Session, June 2021

Community-Based Inquiry

The unique approach that CBI takes to research and strengthening practices in communities — which originates with and is implemented and sustained by the communities themselves — means that communities are not dependent on either First Light Education Project or BTC to analyze their practices or take action. Instead, we co-design with their approaches and identify methods to answer their questions as, simultaneously, they implement their ideas in practice. Through cycles of inquiry and action, communities ask and answer their own questions, and implement their own solutions.

In CBI, community members are the researchers: they know the context and the questions that need to be studied, have access to relevant data and generate critical ideas on how to implement solutions in practice. In this model, external researchers —from universities, foundations, and organizations — support the work of community-based researchers by helping community members frame their own research questions, design methods that will lead to answers to their questions, and collect and analyze data.

Community-Based Inquiry as an Equitable Practice with Indigenous Early Educational Communities

The implementation of equitable practices is critical in working with communities, particularly Native communities, from which researchers have often taken knowledge for professional gain without valuing community members’ expertise and knowledge. Study findings by researchers building their careers on work in Native communities rarely make it back to the communities and often are of little value to communities making timely practice advances. For too long, Indigenous communities have been over-researched and underserved. In CBI, community members are the center and drivers of the work, as both practitioners and researchers.

The IELC enters and cultivates authentic partnerships with communities, with a balanced approach to who guides, who leads, who learns, and how inquiry happens. We move forward in this work together driven by a collective commitment to answering the community’s questions — not our own. The knowledge of the community partners — of content, context, history, community relationships, and practice — is foundational to this work and their futures. The community teams are composed of members from diverse experiences holding a range of roles in their community to ensure representation of various groups in the communities and opportunities to solve a range of practice dilemmas. The work is focused on learning and process, not conclusion. The knowledge that emerges serves community members immediately. The goal is strengthening practice, not publishing in journals. The community need not wait for peer-reviewed articles or for external researchers to share knowledge before implementing practice changes. Through modeling and practicing authentic, equitable partnerships and centering the work within the community, the IELC is implementing community-based inquiry as an equitable and sustainable practice in Indigenous early educational communities.

Learn more about the IELC from First Light Education Project’s Tarajean Yazzie-Mintz, Ed.D., Brazelton Touchpoints Center’s Joelfre Grant, and our Indigenous partner communities at BTC’s Virtual National Forum on March 29–31.

Register today

Hassan Daniel: Strengthening Fathers and Families through Faith, Fellowship, and Touchpoints

Hassan Daniel

“Touchpoints provides fathers a way into the hearts of our children that interfaces with our babies with intentionality.” — Hassan Daniel

For Hassan Daniel, Brazelton Touchpoints speaks directly to him, opening up the world of fatherhood by facilitating the unique connections that fathers can have with their children, from the very beginning of life. Hassan sees Touchpoints as an equalizer, bringing fathers into focus in a way that fully engages them and invites their strengths, wisdom, courage, and relationship into the child development process. “It doesn’t leave mom out, but it equally includes dads,” says Hassan, a father of two boys, aged 9 and 12, and a devoted husband of 16 years.

As it is for all mothers and fathers, parenting for Hassan is a journey and one that comes with no clear roadmap or instruction manual. Hassan’s experiences have led him to his life’s mission of optimizing affirmative parenting outcomes for fathers and helping them navigate through everyday life despite personal dilemmas.

Like many journeys, Hassan’s path was not entirely linear and involved many steppingstones along the way. Engaging families and working to strengthen communities is part of the fabric of his being, grounded in his faith in God and a desire for justice. As a teenager, Hassan became an ordained minister and by his mid-20s, he was an assistant pastor of a church, providing fellowship and support to families with adversities and struggles. Those formative experiences helped prepare him for his work at the Baby College, a hallmark of the Harlem Children’s Zone’s early childhood initiatives that educates and supports new and expectant parents and other caregivers through the ins and outs of early childhood development.

When he began at the Baby College in 2006, Hassan was a single man without children. Yet he coached expectant parents in the early development of their children and the power of their engagement in their children’s long-term health and success. Brazelton Touchpoints facilitated his work with expectant parents, with the Touchpoints Parent Assumptions an important guide — that “all parents are experts on their children, have strengths, want to do well by their child, have something critical to share at each developmental stage, have ambivalent feelings, and that parenting is a process built on trial and error.”

Later, as Director of the Baby College, Hassan led the integration of key aspects of Touchpoints and its Guiding Principles into the parent program’s multi-week curriculum. The Baby College has now graduated 7,000 parents and caregivers, supporting their knowledge, confidence, and skills since its launch in 2000.

Harnessing the transformative power of storytelling, Hassan authored Where is the Man of the House?, a book arising from his personal experience with fatherhood and his desire for restorative justice for people’s lives — people, he came to realize, who were just like him. Hassan is sought after as a speaker and frequent lecturer for his knowledge and experience, and this coming May will be a featured speaker at the Washington Interagency Fatherhood Council’s upcoming Fatherhood Summit.

Today, Hassan is the Founder and CEO of The Father Factory, a coaching service that addresses the intergenerational impact of childhood trauma, specifically sexual violence experienced by boys. The Father Factory integrates intentional parenting, biblical literacy, and counseling for fathers with a history of childhood sexual trauma to support their healing.  Through a 12-week course, called “The Father Factory Curriculum for Dad’s Surviving Childhood Sexual Abuse,” Hassan provides fathers with a safe place to experience community and restoration. Hassan also reaches fathers through his podcast, “The Father Factory Voice Lessons,” which has featured leading thinkers and practitioners in the field, including BTC’s very own Joshua Sparrow, MD. Hassan’s ability to adopt and adapt the key tenets of Brazelton Touchpoints is both art and science, and he applies these in The Father Factory’s work — his way to finally share his story, and “give fathers back to their families and communities.”

Hassan’s work with BTC has continued and grown in recent years from the seeds cultivated along the way. In 2020, Hassan was featured in an episode of BTC’s Learning to Listen: Conversations for Change series, and recently he joined the BTC National Training Team, which trains providers across the country and the world in the Brazelton Touchpoints approach to family engagement. It’s also personal — in his house, he says, the “Touchpoints books are next to the Bible.” Both serve, he says, as unifying elements of Hassan’s parenting partnership with his wife, bringing them together to raise their children and support and guide their family even as their boys get older. For Hassan, Touchpoints is a way of life that encourages us to be present, to observe and listen to our children, and to work together toward common goals for our families.

Come meet Hassan at the BTC 2022 National Forum on March 29–31, where he will co-facilitate a workshop titled, “Supporting Father Involvement and Co-Parenting Across All Kinds of Differences.” 


Watch Hassan’s Learning to Listen Episode