Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Talk to Me: How Early Conversations Impact a Child’s Life

Closing the word gap in Minnesota through simple practices, strategic partnerships, and innovative research.

Click here to view a video recap from this event. | Click here to view photos from this event.


Scott McConnell

Professor, Educational Psychology at the University of Minnesota

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Scott is currently the University of Minnesota’s Director of Community Engagement at the Center for Early Education & Development (CEED). In 2008-2009, he served as the Fesler-Lampert Chair in Urban and Regional Affairs and also devotes time to the University’s Northside Initiative. Scott’s teaching interests focus on the application of behavioral assessment and intervention planning techniques in school psychology, especially in early education and preventive intervention for academic and social problems. His research focuses on children’s development of the necessary skills for social interaction and school adjustment, development of tools for measuring that development, studies with children exposed prenatally to drugs or alcohol, and design of intervention procedures. Scott is also co-creator of ICDIs. He holds a PhD from the University of Oregon.

Dianne Haulcy

Senior Vice President for Family Engagement at Think Small

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Diane has over 25 years of experience in the non-profit sector. She has directed five early childhood programs serving inner-city, low-income, ethnically diverse populations.  She has overseen many human services programs in the areas of behavioral health; in-home parenting; youth outreach and out-of-school-time services; shelter and services to homeless families and individuals; and many other family and community programs. Most recently, she served as Senior Policy Aide for Mayor Betsy Hodges working on issues of early childhood, education and youth. Part of her work includes spearheading the mayor’s Cradle to K Cabinet, focused on children prenatal to three years old to ensure they are ready for early childhood education opportunities. Haulcy previously was the Chief Operating Officer of The Family Partnership.  Haulcy has a BA in Sociology from Spelman College and an MA in Public Affairs from the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota. Known for her leadership in the early childhood field, she currently serves on the Governor’s Early Learning Council, the Parent Aware Advisory Committee, and is the co-chair of the Northside Achievement Zone Early Childhood Action Team as well as Think Small’s Executive Leadership Team.

Gerri Fisher

Parent Engagement Coordinator at Think Small

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After spending 10 years in human resource development and management with a large insurance company, Gerri made the transition into parent and family education. She spent 8 years in Early Childhood and Family Education within the public schools before joining Think Small as Parent Engagement Coordinator. Gerri has a BS in Adult Education and Communication and later obtained her parent education license.


Barbara Yates

President and CEO at Think Small

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Barb, President and CEO, joined Think Small in February 2008. Over the past three decades, her professional and community service has been inspired by research showing that quality care and education for children in their earliest years yields tremendous human, economic and social benefits later on, especially for families living in poverty. She served as chair of Governor Mark Dayton’s Early Learning Council; sits on the Kindergarten Readiness Strategy Team for Generation Next; served as an officer of the board of directors and as a member of the finance committee for the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). She has served as an advisor to the Minnesota Growth Fund for First Children’s Finance as well as served on the Executive Committee for MinneMinds. She co-led the national BUILD initiative for Minnesota and sits on the Minnesota team for the National Women’s Law Center to advise on national child care issues. Previous to Think Small, she was co-executive director, with Duane Benson, of the Minnesota Early Learning Foundation. There, she built a complex multi-million-dollar enterprise to study cost effective ways to increase school readiness for Minnesota’s children. As a veteran state education official, Yates was a key learning administrator for Governors Perpich, Carlson, Ventura, Pawlenty and Dayton. She served as deputy commissioner, assistant commissioner and several director positions for the Minnesota Department of Education and director for Child Development Services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services.  




Learn more about LENA Start and how they are improving talk between parents and children.

Video recap from this event

Talk to Me: How Early Conversations Impact a Child’s Life was the topic of the first Think Small Small Talks event which took place August 15, 2017, at the University of Minnesota’s Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center in Minneapolis. The panel presentation and discussion focused on closing the word gap in Minnesota through simple practices, strategic partnerships, and innovative research.


Photos from this event

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