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 quality 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, Ph.D.
Karen Moran Finello, Ph.D.
Mary Claire Heffron, Ph.D. 
Virginia Reynolds, MA 
Kristie Brandt, PhD
Monica Mathur-Kalluri, OTD 
Elvia Cortes, MS, Ph.D. 
Mary Beth Steinfeld, M.D., 
Cindy Collado, Ph.D.
Jennifer Miller, MA
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.
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.
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.
Elvia Cortes, MS, Ph.D, is the executive director of a Part C early intervention program, FINE Infant Program, providing in-home direct services to children 0-3 years and their families in California. Elvia collaborates with regional centers and in-home visitors in evaluating interventions and evidence-based practices used during service delivery based on each individual family’s strengths and needs. She supports programs to integrate Reflective Practice in their work setting, which in return, provides the ability to communicate effectively with families and other professionals by creating a nurturing environment of positive and caring relationships. Her extensive background includes over 20 years in program administration, supporting providers’ professional growth with an understanding that each family is unique, parent-child relationships, reflective parenting, and caregiver training and education. Her research includes foster parents’ experiences when caring for young children 0-5 years.  Elvia continues to contribute to the field presenting in local training, regional, state, and national conferences. She leads reflective practice groups in the Inland Empire and Central Coast areas.
Mary Beth Steinfeld, M.D., is a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics with the UC Davis Department of Pediatrics and Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and faculty member with the UC Davis MIND Institute. She works as a clinician with children and families, and teaches medical students, pediatric residents and developmental-behavioral pediatrics fellows about developmental-behavioral pediatrics and infant mental health. She is the founding Medical Director of the UC Davis Multi-Disciplinary Feeding Clinic. She participates as a discipline director in the Northern California Leadership and Excellence in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (LEND) training program where she co-leads a post-graduate multi-disciplinary Infant Mental Health seminar. She is an Assistant Director of the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Fellowship training program where she lectures and provides reflective supervision. She is endorsed with MI-AIMH as an Infant Mental Health Specialist and Clinical Mentor. She is a CA endorsed Infant-Family & Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Reflective Practice Facilitator II.
Cindy Collado, Ph.D, is Assistant Professor of Special Education at California State University, Sacramento in California. She is the program and field placement coordinator of the blended Early Childhood Special Education (ECSE) teaching credential with Master of Arts in Special Education Teaching (MASET).  She received her Doctorate, Masters, and teaching credential in special education from the University of Illinois at Chicago and Bachelor of Science in Education and Social Policy from Northwestern University. Her research is on inclusive education, the formative assessment practices of preschool teachers in inclusion and self-contained classrooms, and teachers’ engagement of families raising children with disabilities. Dr. Collado teaches a wide range of courses in the ECSE program on assessment, development, collaboration, and preschool methods as well courses across the teaching credential programs on inclusive education. Her work stems from her experiences as an early childhood special education teacher co-teaching in inclusive preschool programs in the Chicago Public Schools and coordinating the Educational Assessment Clinic in the special education credential program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Using her expertise, she contracts with local school districts to provide professional development training and presents at national and local conferences in the field of Early Childhood Special Education. She also serves on various boards and leadership teams including the California subdivision of the Division for Early Childhood of the Council for Exceptional Children, Inclusion Impact California State Leadership Team, and the California Center for Infant-Family and Early Childhood Mental Health.
Jennifer Miller, MA, , is a Project Director at WestEd and leads the California Inclusion and Behavior Consultation (CIBC) Network which provides consultation to early learning and care program administrators, teachers and family child care providers across California to improve staff capacity to provide effective and responsive early learning environments for all children, including those with or at risk for developmental delays, disabilities, challenging behaviors or other special needs. For over 25 years she has worked on behalf of young children and their families applying reflective practice approaches to the design and delivery of direct services and professional development across multiple disciplines and service settings in order to build and sustain cross-sector workforce capacity in early childhood systems and programs, including maternal and child health home visiting, Part C service coordination and early childhood mental health consultation. Miller holds an M.A. in developmental psychology with an emphasis in attachment, relationships and resilience.