Leadership & Collaboration

Steering Committee

Our Steering Committee is tasked with helping the IRIS Center to prioritize Module and Case Study content and otherwise guide the Center’s work to ensure that our mission stays on track. Steering Committee members also foster partnerships with their organizations or agencies with the purpose of leveraging resources. Information about each of them is included below.

John Bransford, Hank Clark, and Nancy Vye are members of the Learning in Informal and Formal Environments Center (LIFE), a multi-institution group of scientists whose purpose is to develop and test principles regarding the social foundations of learning. LIFE Center investigators focus on complex human learning over the lifespan with the goal of understanding how and why human social processes affect learning. Bransford, Clark, and Vye will take part in the IRIS Steering Committee on a rotating basis.

Janet Digmon is the director of the California State Personnel Development Grant. Her new project focuses on building and delivering professional development to help improve the outcomes of students (particularly those with disabilities) to some of that state’s at-need middle schools.

Laurie Dinnebeil is a professor at the University of Toledo where she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in both early childhood education and early childhood special education. She is active in the Division of Early Childhood (DEC; of which she was president in 2003–2004) and is a 2001 Mid-Career Fellow for Zero to Three.

Cathy Kea is a professor of special education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at North Carolina A&T State University. Her areas of interest include critical teaching variables, multicultural education, and special education.

Katherine Mitchem is a professor in the Department of Special Education at California University of Pennsylvania and an inaugural recipient of the Edith L. Trees Charitable Trust Endowed Chair in Education. Her research interests include bridging the research-to-practice gap in special education, multimedia case-based instruction and the use of software to support learners in school and higher education, and autism. Dr. Mitchem is a 325T project director.

Deborah Speece is the former Commissioner of IES’ National Center for Special Education Research (NCSER), which oversees a program that funds research projects, evaluations, and multi-site centers. A professor and Associate Dean of Research and Faculty Development at Virginia Commonwealth University, she is an expert on disability classification and inclusion of students with disabilities in regular classes. Her research interests include learning disabilities, reading development, children at risk for school failure, and response to instruction (RTI).

Pamela Winton is a research professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Education. For the last three decades, her work has included outreach, professional development, and scholarly publishing related to early childhood. Dr. Winton has served as Director and PI of the National Professional Development Center on Inclusion (NPDCI) and CONNECT: The Center to Mobilize Early Childhood Knowledge.

Juliann Woods is a professor in—and former chair of—the School of Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University. Her research interests include service delivery models, early intervention and prevention, routines-based intervention, and clinical and distance education.

EI/EC Task Force

Among its many duties, our Early Intervention/ Early Childhood Task Force is charged with helping our IRIS Leadership Team to develop and prioritize a list of topics for IRIS EI/EC products, recommend content experts for the development of future products, and serve as external reviewers for IRIS EI/EC-developed resources. The task force is instrumental in assisting us in determining the appropriate audience for EI/EC resources and materials, as well as in identifying key gaps and weaknesses in EI/EC provider preparation and existing PD resources for practitioners. Information about each member of the task force is below.

Vivian Correa is a professor in the department of Child Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. Her research interests include early childhood special education, Latino/ Hispanic families, English learners, diversity issues, teacher education, and collaboration and teaming. Dr. Correra has served as co-editor of Teacher Education and Special Education and is the recipient of numerous OSERS and OSEP grants.

Mary Louise Hemmeter is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Among her research interests are social emotional development and challenging behavior and translating research to practice. She has served the Center for the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning as principle investigator, and is co-investigator on the National Center for Quality Teaching and Learning and the Center on Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation both funded by the Office of Head Start. Dr. Hemmeter is a co-editor of the Journal of Early Intervention.

Cindy O’Dell is the Education Department Chair and instructor for the Early Childhood and Elementary Education programs at Salish Kootenai College, a tribal college in Montana. In her role as Special Services Coordinator/ Teacher, she has worked with young children and teachers at the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes Head Start and Early Head Start Program.

Ilene Schwartz is currently Director of the Norris and Dorothy Haring Center for Applied Research, and the director of the Haring Center. Her research interests involve early childhood special education, specifically instructional strategies and environmental arrangements shown to be effective in facilitating the learning of young children with autism and related disabilities, as well as behavior management. Dr. Schwartz has served on various committees for DEC and other professional organizations, and has been the recipient of a number of grants from OSERS and other funding agencies.

Phil Strain is the Director of the Positive Early Learning Experiences (PELE) Center in the School of Education & Human Development at the University of Colorado, Denver. The PELE Center is made up of five programs: Family-Driven Autism Services and Learning (FASL), LEAP-USA, Prevent-Teach-Reinforce, Technical Assistance Center on Social Emotional Interventions (TACSEI), and Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations of Early Learning (CSEFEL).

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The IRIS Center Peabody College Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN 37203 iris@vanderbilt.edu. The IRIS Center is funded through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) Grant #H325E170001. The contents of this Website do not necessarily represent the policy of the U.S. Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer, Sarah Allen.

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