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2019 Symposium

January 17, 2019

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Oklahoma Early Childhood Research Symposium

Promoting Equity: Comprehensive Early Childhood Strategies


The 2019 Oklahoma Early Childhood Research Symposium will highlight research on effective strategies for reducing inequities in early childhood. It will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the University of Central Oklahoma's Nigh University Center.

This year's keynote speaker will feature Brenda Jones Harden, professor, Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland-College Park.


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Brenda Jones Harden

Professor, Unversity of Maryland-College Park

Harden has worked over thirty-five years in early childhood policy, practice and research arenas. Her research examines the developmental and mental health needs of young children at environmental risk, particularly those who have maltreated or exposed to other forms of trauma.

One of her main focuses is preventing maladaptive outcomes in these populations through early childhood and parenting programs, such as early care and education, home visiting services and infant mental health interventions.

She is the author of numerous publications regarding vulnerable children and families, particularly risk and protective factors that are linked with their developmental and mental health outcomes. And Harden received a doctoral degree in developmental and clinical psychology from Yale University, and her Master in Social Work from New York University.

Susan B. Sisson

Associate Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center 

In addition to her title as associate professor, Sission is also assistant dean for research; director of Master of Science in nutritional sciences; and director of the Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity Laboratory in the Department of Nutritional Sciences where she conducts her research.

This research lab focuses on physical activity and sedentary behavior epidemiology and related risk behaviors such as the consumption of poor quality food. Other research interests include the influence of the physical and social environment on food consumption and physical activity behaviors and the impact of sedentary lifestyle on chronic diseases, such as obesity. Children and disadvantaged populations are of particular interest.

Sisson earned her doctoral degree in exercise and wellness from Arizona State University and her masters in exercise and health promotion from the University of Oklahoma.

Alicia Salvatore

Assistant Professor, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center

Currently, Salvatore serves as the principal investigator on the Work, Stress and Health Among Low-Wage Latinas in Oklahoma research project as well as co-investigator for Tribal Health and Resilience in Vulnerable Environments (THRIVE).

Her research interests include: Latino health, children's environmemental health, chronic diseases prevention, cancer prevention and survivorship, citizen sciences, community health workers and community-based participatory research.

Salvatore earned her doctoral degree in public health from the University of California Berkeley and her masters in public health from the University of North Carolina.


From 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., this year's agenda will feature a light breakfast, keynote speaker, lunch, the Champion for Children award and four more engaging educational sessions.

Sessions will focus on reducing inequities in early childhood while highlighting both national and local research. From how early childhood interventions can reduce adverse childhood experiences to breaking down barriers for Hispanic families in Tulsa's early childhood education system, our symposium has something of interest for all those invested in improved outcomes for Oklahoma children and their families.

8:00 AM: Registration and Light Breakfast

8:30 AM: Welcome

9:00 AM: "Promoting Equity through Early Childhood Interventions" by Keynote Dr. Brenda Jones Harden

10:15 AM: "Mothers Study & the Power of Families" by Dr. Alicia Salvatore

11:15 AM: "Listening to Community Voices in the Development of Early Childhood Intervention" by Susan B. Sission

12:15 PM: Lunch and Champion for Children Award Presentation

1:45 PM: Joint Session with Dr. Alicia Salvatore and Dr. Susan B. Sission

3:00 PM: Interactive Presentation with Dr. Lana Beasley, Dr. Diane Horm, Dr. Alicia Salvatore and Dr. Susan B. Sisson

4:00 PM: Closing Remarks


Thank you!

We couldn’t do it without you! Thank you to all the following organizations for their continued support of OPSR and our mission to improve school readiness.‚Äč


  • Arnall Family Foundation
  • Chesapeake Energy
  • E.L. and Thelma Gaylord Foundation
  • George Kaiser Family Foundation
  • Inasmuch Foundation
  • Oklahoma Department of Human Services
  • Oklahoma Child Care Association
  • Potts Family Foundation
  • TSET
  • UCO Office of Research & Sponsored Programs 

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