Start Early. Start well.

Board of Advisors

Our work is supported by a distinguished panel of highly respected educators who form the Buffett Institute’s Board of Advisors.
Hiram Fitzgerald

Hiram Fitzgerald, PH.D.
Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology and Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement, Michigan State University

Dr. Fitzgerald is past president and executive director of the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health and the International Association for Infant Mental Health. He served as executive director of the World Association for Infant Mental Health for 16 years and has been associated with the Early Head Start National Research Consortium and the American Indian/Alaska Native Head Start Research Center. He is editor-in-chief of the Infant Mental Health Journal, associate editor of Perspectives in Infant Mental Health, and senior editor for the Mental Health and Child Development book series published by Praeger Press.

Vivian Gadsden

Vivian Gadsden, ED.D.
William T. Carter Professor of Child Development and Education, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Gadsden’s research interests focus on cultural and social factors affecting learning and literacy across the life-course and within families, particularly those at greatest risk for academic and social vulnerability. Her writing focuses on intergenerational learning, particularly on the relationships between literacy in families and issues of culture, race, gender, and poverty in diverse learning contexts. Her research studies examine the intergenerational and cross-cultural nature of learning, literacy, and identity within families and the relationship between family members' beliefs and practices around learning, educational access, and educational persistence.

Engene Garcia

Eugene Garcia, PH.D.
Professor of Education Emeritus, Arizona State University

Dr. García was vice president for Education Partnerships and dean of the Mary Lou Fulton College of Education at Arizona State University. He was formerly dean of the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Berkeley, and has served as an elected member of a local school board and a senior officer in the U.S. Department of Education. Dr. García has published extensively in areas of early learning, bilingual development, and equal educational opportunity.

Betj Graue

Beth Graue, PH.D.
Sorenson Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Dr. Graue, a former Kindergarten teacher, chairs the Department of Curriculum & Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She teaches courses in research methods and early childhood policy and is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association. Dr. Graue is known for her work on readiness for school and home-school relations. She studies pre-K professional development for developmentally and culturally responsive early math and is engaged in a comparative study of pre-K policy enactment in New Jersey and Wisconsin.

Lynn Kagan

Sharon Lynn Kagan, ED.D.
Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, Teachers College, Columbia University

Dr. Kagan helps shape the design and quality of early childhood practice and policies in the United States and in over 75 countries around the world. She consults with the White House, numerous federal and state agencies, elected and appointed policymakers including governors, members of Congress and legislatures, foundations, and corporations. Dr. Kagan’s research focuses on the institutions that impact child and family life. Acknowledged for her scholarship, she is a fellow of the American Educational Research Association and a member of the National Academy of Education.

Tammy Mann

Tammy Mann, PH.D.
President and Chief Executive Officer, The Campagna Center

Dr. Mann is president and CEO of The Campagna Center in Alexandria, Virginia, which provides a range of early childhood, school age, and youth and family development programs to more than 1,700 children. She was appointed commissioner of the city’s Children, Youth, and Families Collaborative Commission and led the commission in completing its first comprehensive Children and Youth Master Plan. She currently serves as an at-large member on the Governing Board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children and is an affiliate associate professor appointment at George Mason University in the College of Education and Human Development.

Jessie Ramussen

Jessie Rasmussen
President, Buffett Early Childhood Fund

Jessie Rasmussen’s career has focused on improving outcomes for children and families, first as an early childhood practitioner and administrator and later as a Nebraska state senator and state human services director in both Nebraska and Iowa. At the Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, she played an instrumental role in the development and passage of legislation that established a $60 million early childhood endowment funded through a public and private partnership. She is now president of the Buffett Early Childhood Fund, where she manages early childhood investments.

 Arnold sameroff

Arnold Samerof, PH.D.
Professor of Human Development and Distinguished Research Scientist Emeritus, University of Michigan

Dr. Sameroff is a developmental psychologist and pioneer in the field of developmental psychopathology. He is best known for his influential transactional model of development, which describes the ways in which the child, parent, and environment affect each other and the child's development. His research on environmental risk and promotive factors has fostered a more comprehensive understanding of interventions to improve the emotional, social, and cognitive welfare of children. Dr. Sameroff is a former president of the Society for Research in Child Development, the Developmental Division of the American Psychological Association, and the International Society for Infant Studies.

Ross Thompson

Ross Thompson, PH.D.
Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of California, Davis

A developmental psychologist and former faculty member at UNL, Dr. Thompson studies early parent-child relationships, the development of emotion understanding and emotion regulation, conscience development, and the growth of self-understanding in young children. He also works on the applications of developmental research to public policy concerns, including school readiness and its development, early childhood investments, and early mental health. He is a founding member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child and was a member of the Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development of the National Academy of Sciences.

Kathy Thornburg

Kathy Thornburg, PH.D.
Emerita Professor of Education, University of Missouri-Columbia

Dr. Thornburg is a former president of the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Her research and policy efforts relate to early childhood programs, teacher training, school readiness, and parenting education. Dr. Thornburg has taught third grade, been a professor at the Universities of Kentucky and Missouri, directed child development labs serving children ages six weeks to 10 years, directed the Center for Family Policy & Research at MU, and served as assistant commissioner for the Missouri Department of Education. She currently directs the Institute for Professional Development at the University of Missouri.

Scroll to top