California Center Leadership Team

Housed at the WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention, the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health Leadership Team is comprised of many of the initial working group members that began California’s early childhood mental health efforts and reflect the interdisciplinary nature of this field. The Leadership Team was instrumental in the development and implementation of Delivery of Infant-Family and Early Mental Health Services Training Guidelines and Recommended Personnel Competencies (2003), a seminal work in establishing the foundation of the skills and knowledge professionals in infant-family and early childhood mental health must master to effectively serve the population. In 2009, the Leadership Team published its updated successor, California Training Guidelines and Personnel Competencies for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health, Revised, as well as created a statewide endorsement program and training programs to promote the core competencies of the Training Guidelines.

Working to assure the qualify of infant-family and early childhood services throughout California, the Leadership Team represents higher education, infant-family and early childhood service delivery, reflective practice facilitation, training leadership and system change.

Marie Kanne Poulsen, PhD
Karen Moran Finello, PhD
Mary Claire Heffron, PhD
Virginia Reynolds, MA
Kristie Brandt, PhD
Sue Bollig, LCSW
Monica Mathur-Kalluri, OTD

Marie Kanne Poulsen, PhD,is professor of pediatrics at the University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine and is chief psychologist at the USC Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Dr. Poulsen has worked extensively with research, service delivery, program development, and policy addressing the developmental and mental health needs of infants, young children, and families in early intervention, child welfare, and Head Start. She has a Governor’s appointment to State Interagency Coordinating Council on Early Intervention and serves on the International Scientific Advisory Committee for Beit Issie Shapiro in Israel. National Committees have included the Infant Mental Health Summit and Head Start Enhancement. Dr. Poulsen was an invited participant at the White House Conference on Mental Health and has presented internationally in Amsterdam, Kyoto and Ra’anana, Israel.
Karen Moran Finello, PhD is an applied developmental psychologist with a specialization in birth to five-year-olds and their families. She is a Project Director at the WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention and faculty in the Emeriti Center at the University of Southern California. Dr. Finello has provided training and technical assistance (T/TA) and has developed, directed, and evaluated programs focused on infants, toddlers, and preschoolers with behavioral, health, and mental health issues since 1983. She provides training and consultation to school districts, hospitals, and community, state, national and international organizations in the areas of infant mental health, early childhood development, reflective supervision, evaluation, and program development. Dr. Finello was the Project Director for a SAMHSA System of Care Cooperative Agreement for birth to five year olds and their families in Los Angeles from 2005 to 2011. She was the WestEd Training Director for an infant-preschool mental health program between 2009 and 2012, funded by First 5 Yolo County. Dr. Finello also served as Principal Investigator for the external evaluation of the California Maternal Infant & Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program between 2011 and 2016.
Mary Claire Heffron, PhD, is clinical director of the Early Childhood Mental Health Training Programs in the Early Intervention Services Unit at Children’s Hospital & Research Center Oakland and director of the Irving B. Harris Early Childhood Mental Health Training Program (pdf) and other consultation and internship training programs in the Early Childhood Mental Health Program. She also directs The Fussy Baby Program. Author of numerous articles and chapters on aspects of early mental health services and program development, Dr. Heffron is currently completing a book on reflective supervision and leadership for infant and early childhood programs. Also working in private practice, she speaks frequently on the importance of local systems of care for infants and very young children. Additional interests include the impact of culture on development and intervention, relationship-based intervention approaches, and the support and development of clinicians and interventionists working with infants, young children, and their families.
Virginia Reynolds, MA, is executive director of the WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention (CPEI). An experienced educator, she has extensive background in designing and delivering state, regional and local technical assistance and professional development services for children and youth at risk, those with identified disabilities (preschool through post-secondary), their families, and the agencies that support them. Her areas of expertise include the development and management of statewide training and technical assistance systems, infant-family and early childhood mental health competencies and interagency models of service delivery. Ms. Reynolds is recognized throughout the early intervention field for her unique ability to bring together individuals and organizations to share, support, complement, and enhance one another’s work.
Dr. Kristie Brandt, PhD is a teacher, trainer, clinician, and consultant, and directs the Parent-Infant & Child Institute (PICI) in Napa, CA that provides clinical services for children 0-5, consultation for parents and providers, and professional training. In 2002, she founded the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship and for 15 years has directed this program that is now affiliated with the University of California Davis. She is a Child Trauma Academy (CTA) Fellow with Dr. Bruce Perry, and the PICI is a CTA Flagship Site providing child trauma training and services. She is visiting faculty at the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Boston Children’s Hospital, and NBO training faculty with the Brazelton Institute. Brandt is lead editor of the book “Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health: Core Concepts & Clinical Practice” (2014, American Psychiatric Publishing) and author of the book “Facilitating the Reflective Process: An Introductory Workbook”. She earned her Master’s and Doctorate at Case Western Reserve University, and completed a post-doctoral Fellowship in Infant-Parent Mental Health. Brandt is an endorsed Infant Mental Health Specialist & Clinical Mentor through MI-AIMH, and endorsed as an Infant-Family & Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Reflective Practice Mentor in California through the CA-CIFECM.
Sue Bollig, LCSW, is a program associate with the WestEd Center for Prevention and Early Intervention (CPEI). She has a background in early childhood development and infant family and early childhood mental health with a focus on social and emotional wellness and special needs. As the California Center for Infant Family Early Childhood Mental Health endorsement coordinator, she is responsible for supporting the endorsement applicant process.
Monica Mathur-Kalluri, OTD is the project director of the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health at WestEd’s Center for Prevention and Early Intervention. She also co-leads a national Cross-State Learning Collaborative on social and emotional development and provides technical assistance to states on their Part C early intervention programs. Dr. Mathur-Kalluri formerly coordinated the curriculum for California’s Part C Comprehensive System for Personnel Development. She is an occupational therapist, a graduate fellow of the ZERO TO THREE Fellowship program, and the founding chair of the Academy of ZERO TO THREE Fellows.