Parenting While Black 2024

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Upcoming Events


The Parenting While Black series returns in Spring 2024 – Believe, Liberate, and Behold: Beautifully Brilliant Black Babies and Children. This free, engaging webinar series offers real conversations for and between Black parents. Join the open and unapologetic conversations with inspiring guests. Parenting While Black 2024 provides a welcoming space for sharing strength-based and culturally affirming ideas, narratives, and mindsets. Let’s discuss raising Black children and families: 

  • The collective experience of Black parenting, while recognizing our “differences” 
  • Raising bold, brilliant, and culturally grounded Black children  
  • Birth equity and reproductive justice —fertility, pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond 
  • Achieving health and mental health equity for Black children, youth, families, and communities 
  • Neurodiversity and other developmental differences across the early years 
  • Thriving in the midst of harmful environmental barriers 
  • Strategies for protecting and liberating Black children, families, and communities

The five-part series began on Monday, March 18, and continues through June 24, 2024. Each webinar is 1 hour followed by a 30-minute Q&A session with our parent panelists.


This series is moderated by Eurnestine Brown, PhD, Director of Relational Equity and Belonging at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center.


Episode 1: Looking Back, Being Present, and Flourishing Forward
Monday, March 18, 2024, 3 – 4:30 PM ET / 12 – 1:30 PM PT

Join our Spring 2024 virtual conversations as we discuss culturally grounded, liberating, and joyful strategies to guide and support our Black children as they reach towards their unique destinies — releasing and breaking free from the past generational strongholds on their futures. Come share your hopes and dreams for our Black children, families, and communities — the collective experiences of Parenting While Black.

Special Welcome Message from Dr. Leah Austin, President and CEO of the National Black Child Development Institute (NBCDI)

Dr. Shauna Knox

Senior Vice President – National Black Child Development Institute

Dr. Shauna Knox is a researcher, policy activist, philanthro-advocate, and thought leader in Black Humanity by way of designated expertise in the decolonization and re-humanization of Black citizens of the Global South. She is the former Chief of (Racial Equity) Strategy at Associated Black Charities and received the Breakthrough Award from the US Department of Education (8th reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965).

Dr. Kenn Harris

Vice President for Engagement & Community Partnerships
Director of Healthy Start TA & Support Center
National Institute for Children’s Health Quality (NICHQ)

Dr. Kenn Harris is Vice President of Engagement and Community Partnerships and former Project Director at the National Institute for Children’s Health Quality. He has over 30 years of experience working on national initiatives for maternal and child health, community engagement, and infant mortality. Dr. Harris has been a part of the Federal Healthy Start Program since it began in 1991. He is also an expert on men’s health and fatherhood. He spearheads several initiatives to ensure that each initiative has an equity lens and is strengthened to do the deeper work associated with addressing inequities. Dr. Harris is dedicated to the health and well-being of women, children, fathers, and families.

Episode 2: Black Mamas, Birthing People, Babies, Families, and Communities – A Day in the Life
Monday, April 22, 2024, 3 – 4:30 PM ET / 12 – 1:30 PM PT

Join us as we explore protective pathways for embracing pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and the early years that foster health, respectful care, joy, healing, and radical resistance. Share in the conversation.

Soraya DosSantos

Co-founder of the Maternal Nurturing Collective

Soraya is a mother, a birth keeper, and a family wellness advocate. She is on fire about creating a paradigm shift around how we understand the changes during and throughout childbirth and the essentials to support mothers to thrive throughout their motherhood journey.

Soraya co-founded Maternal Nurturing Collective, which provides Afro-Rooted holistic, spiritually connected, and evidence-centered nurturing support to help mothers feel connected, liberated, and thrive. She is also the founder and program director of Sacred Birthing Village Southcoast, bringing joy, dignity, and liberation through SisterFriending for pregnant and birthing families. Soraya believes that if the mother is well, so are our communities, societies, and the world! Soraya lives in New Bedford with her family, although she calls Cabo Verde home.

Juan Irby LD, PD, NPE

Birth/Postpartum Dudla, New Parent Educator, Owner and Founder of Dad to Dudla

Juan Irby is a male birth and postpartum doula and new parent educator, owner, and founder of Dad to Dudla. His focus is to help dads be better prepared for the birth of their child or children and to help moms and dads navigate the postpartum experience. Pregnancy, birth, parenting, and postpartum are areas in particular with which we need all the support.

His role as a doula and educator is to support parents in finding the information, education, and support to birth and feed their babies the way they want to; the way that works for their lives.

Episode 3: Black Fathers — Where is the Love? It’s Right Here
Monday, May 20, 2024, 3 – 4:30 PM ET / 12 – 1:30 PM ET

Black Fathers Matter (period). Join our father-focused conversation. Listen with us as Black fathers share their journeys into and through fatherhood. Learn more about and appreciate the vital roles of Black fathers throughout a child’s life. There is no developmental ending to the love.

Dorian L. Wingard, MPA, EdD

Co-founder and partner at Restoring Our Own Through Transformation (ROOTT)

Dorian L. Wingard, MPA is a co-founder and partner at Restoring Our Own Through Transformation (ROOTT), and serves as its Chief Operations Officer, Policy Director. 

ROOTT is a collective of concerned Black Families, community members, advocates & interdisciplinary professionals dedicated to eliminating Black health inequities causing maternal & infant mortality in Ohio.​ 
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ROOTT’s mission is to comprehensively restore our collective well-being through collaboration, resource allocation, research & re-empowerment, in order to meet the needs of Black parents & families within communities.​ 

Known as an innovative and strategic executive, prior C-suite posts include Chief Executive Officer & Consultant at Midwest Strategies, Chief Operations Officer at Columbus Area Integrated Health, VP & Chief Operations Officer of the Columbus Urban League, Assistant Director & Chief of Staff of the Franklin County DJFS and Special Assistant to the Superintendent & CEO of Columbus City Schools, Ohio’s largest school district. Dorian has a demonstrated record of impactful and productive leadership in large and complex organizations. 

Dorian is the proud father of two young adults, Taariq, 30 & Tahirah 27, and grandfather to Saniyah, Sovi, Saige, Nasir and Aedan, and resides in Columbus, Ohio.

Eric L. Johnson, Ph.D.

Author, educator, and motivational speaker

Eric L Johnson is the former Chief of Research Publications for the United States Air Force Academy. He also served as the Director of the Urban Education Program in the School of Education at Drake University. He has facilitated workshops on a variety of topics that include: using difference as an organizational asset, leadership facilitation, organizational development, and more recently topics related to fatherhood. He has conducted seminars in many organizations nationally and internationally in places such as Russia, China, Canada, Namibia, South Africa, and Central America.

Dr. Johnson has been involved in developing strategies to respond to systemic disparities of minority youth in general and black males in particular. In addition, he has authored three inspirational books: Beyond Self Help: A Journey to be Better, 10 Deadly Aspects of Pride, and Livin’ in the Shade: Implications Father and Son Relationships Explored. He remains involved in efforts around the country that target young males of color and their disproportionate representation in special needs, suspensions, attrition inequalities, and even in-school contacts with police officers. As a former special needs teacher in the area of ADD/ADHD, where black males are over-represented, he understands the importance of thinking about equity in programs, teaching quality, and student achievement.

Kenneth R. Scarborough, MDiv., MPH

Principal Consultant of Legacy Enterprise Group

Kenneth Scarborough is the Principal Consultant of Legacy Enterprise Group, LLC a business consulting company designed to help businesses, groups, and individuals “Sustain Their Future On Purpose.” In one of his many contracts, he serves as the Fatherhood & Men’s Health Consultant to the National Healthy Start Association Where Dads Matter Initiative (DMI). He provides technical support to 101 federally-funded healthy start projects advancing best practices and training for fatherhood and male involvement.

Previously, he served as the Chief Program Officer and Director of Ready4Work at Operation New Hope, Inc. in Jacksonville, Florida. He managed a full range of wrap-around life course services for men and women returning to the community from prison and/or jail. He directed a team of 31 serving over 1500 returning citizens annually. He also served as Chair of the Northeast Florida Healthy Start Coalition. Prior to Chief Program Officer, he served as the Project Manager and Male Involvement Coordinator for REACHUP, Incorporated in Tampa, Florida. He managed the 1.5M Healthy Start Grant and directed a number of projects and programs to improve services to men, fathers, and families.

For over forty years, he has worked with African American and Hispanic men and boys through equipping and mentoring relationships. He believes mentoring relationships are essential for improving lives and building healthy communities. He created Brotha I Got Your Back and other leadership programs in New York, South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, and Costa Rica. He received his Master of Divinity in Youth and Family Ministry at Denver Seminary in Denver, Colorado, and a Master of Public Health in Health Services Administration from the University of South Carolina in Columbia. He is married and they have two children. His family also serves as missionaries to Costa Rica while living domestically in South Carolina

Episode 4: Embracing Developmental Differences in Black Children (Part II) Showing up and Flourishing in Our Own Way
Monday, June 10, 2024, 3 – 4:30 PM ET / 12 – 1:30 PM PT

Together, we can examine and change the narrative about our Black children who are neurodivergent and/or experiencing related developmental differences. Join us as we learn about parent, family, and community strategies to support and strengthen our developmental toolbox — ensuring that our Black children with developmental differences thrive and flourish. 

Camille Proctor

Founder, Executive Director, Advocate, Public Speaker, Researcher, and Mom

Camille Proctor is a remarkable advocate, dedicated mother, and a driving force behind autism awareness and inclusion initiatives. Her journey into advocacy began in 2008 when her son received an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis shortly after turning two. Faced with the challenge of finding support services for her family, Camille recognized a significant disparity within the black community regarding autism awareness and resources.

In response, she took action. In 2009, Camille Proctor founded The Color of Autism Foundation, a U.S. Non-Profit (501 c3) organization committed to educating and assisting African American families affected by autism spectrum disorders. The foundation’s mission is to empower families by helping them identify the early warning signs of autism, enabling them to become their child’s best advocate. By providing culturally competent support and training, Camille and her foundation aim to improve outcomes for children in underserved communities on the autism spectrum.

Camille’s advocacy extends beyond the autism community. She has served as a diversity and inclusion advisor for both television and film, contributing to more inclusive storytelling in the entertainment industry.
Her dedication to raising autism awareness has also taken her to international platforms. Camille Proctor, Founder and Executive Director of The Color of Autism Foundation (COA), has been a dedicated collaborator and facilitator of Guaranty Trust Holding Company PLC’s (GTCO) Annual Autism Conference since 2018. Guaranty Trust Holding Company (GTCO) headquartered in Victoria Island, Lagos, Nigeria is a leading financial institution known for its commitment to excellence and innovation in the banking industry. GTCO is renowned for its corporate social responsibility initiatives, including the Annual Autism Conference. The conference is a significant gathering that brings together experts, advocates, and families to raise awareness and share insights about autism.

Camille Proctor’s commitment to advocating for marginalized communities has earned her significant recognition. In September 2020, she was appointed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer to the Michigan State Disability Council, supporting people with developmental disabilities in achieving their life dreams. Camille’s voice is not confined to conferences and councils alone. She authored a CNN Essay titled “For the Walter Wallaces of the world, the police are not the answer” in October 2020, shedding light on pressing societal issues. Camille Proctor’s passion for education and advocacy extends to research. In March 2022, she co-authored a research paper titled “A culturally grounded autism parent training program with Black parents.”

Her dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion is evident in her achievements. She obtained a Diversity Equity and Inclusion Certificate from Cornell University in January 2023. Camille’s tireless efforts were further recognized when she received the Boris L. Henson 2023 Joy Award, acknowledging her outstanding contributions to advocacy and inclusion. In September 2023, Proctor received a significant appointment to the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC). This federal advisory committee plays a crucial role in coordinating federal activities and providing advice to the HHS Secretary on autism-related issues. Camille’s role in the committee is instrumental in shaping policy and research related to autism. In November 2023, she was named a Crain’s Detroit Business Notable Leader in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.
Camille Proctor’s journey is an inspiring testament to the power of advocacy, education, and inclusion. Her unwavering commitment to making a difference in the lives of individuals and families affected by autism is a beacon of hope and change.

Brian Boyd, Ph.D

Professor in the UNC School of Education and interim director of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Dr. Brian Boyd is the William C. Friday Distinguished Professor in the UNC School of Education and Interim Director of the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Boyd was previously the Director of the Juniper Gardens Children’s Project at the University of Kansas. Professor Boyd is quite engaged in research that involves the most vulnerable, and often marginalized, populations.

As a special educator by training, much of his research has involved the development and evaluation of evidence-based practices that could be implemented within school and home contexts. Dr. Boyd’s more recent work has focused on how issues of implicit bias and race affect the outcomes of children with and without disabilities. His research has been continuously funded by federal agencies such as the Institute of Education Sciences and the National Institutes of Health. Professor Boyd is past Vice President of the International Society for Autism Research. He also serves on multiple national boards that are dedicated to improving the outcomes of autistic persons and those from historically underserved communities.

During this conversation, we will highlight ways Black children, families, and communities continue to thrive in the midst of our rapidly changing world. Share in the conversation.

LesLeigh D. Ford

Associate Director in the Office of Race and Equity Research at the Urban Institute

LesLeigh Ford is an associate director in the Office of Race and Equity Research (ORER) at the Urban Institute, where she leads and contributes to research and policy advising projects that explore sources of and solutions to racial inequities. She regularly leads and contributes to research- and policy-focused projects that explore sources of and solutions to racial inequities. LesLeigh has led research in ORER on topics such as diversifying the health care workforce, expanding the Black maternal health workforce, improving access to leadership development programs for racial equity–focused leaders of color, and reparations for Black Americans.

LesLeigh currently leads a body of work in ORER that focuses on advancing wealth equity, and she recently launched a new initiative called Black Family Thriving focused on wealth building among Black middle-class Americans. Her previous work includes evaluations of philanthropic and government-funded grant programs and research and advising to inform funder decisionmaking and practice. Her research has focused on a range of topics, including philanthropic and federal grantmaking, programs, and practice; economic mobility; and health policy.

Ford holds a BA from the University of Michigan, an MEd in Education Policy and Management from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and a PhD in Sociology from Duke University.

Shimica Gaskins

President & CEO of GRACE & End Child Poverty CA

Shimica Gaskins is the President & CEO of GRACE & End Child Poverty CA. She has worked in law and public policy specializing in legislative, regulatory, and policy issues associated with criminal justice reform and children’s rights. Prior to joining GRACE, she was executive director of Children’s Defense Fund-California, where she led statewide advocacy, policy, program, and organizing efforts to ensure access to quality affordable health coverage and care for children and low-income families, reform the juvenile justice system, promote educational equity, end child poverty, and improve outcomes for children of color. 

She formerly served as the Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Policy (OLP) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) where she worked to develop and implement innovative policy initiatives of the department and administration in areas such as smart on crime, law enforcement and emerging technologies, prison reform, reentry, and issues affecting children with incarcerated parents. Prior to joining DOJ, she was in private practice at Covington & Burling LLP where she managed complex civil litigation. Shimica began her career as a law clerk for the Honorable Roger L. Gregory on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the Honorable Victoria Roberts on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

Shimica serves on the boards of Impact Justice and California Budget & Policy Center and is a commissioner on the LA County Commission for Children and Families. Shimica earned her JD from Georgetown University Law Center and graduated cum laude with a BA in philosophy from the Catholic University of America. Her writings have appeared in USA Today, Sacramento Bee, Los Angeles Daily News, CalMatters, and legal journals.


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