Currently, as Director of ECP at the University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development, Ms. Larson provides strategic administrative and clinical oversight for ECP’s applied research and practice initiatives, staff and interns. She works closely with community partners to design, implement, and/or evaluate innovative programs aimed at improving the practices of early childhood professionals and caregivers to in turn improve the lives of vulnerable young children. ECP’s current partners include Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) Head Start, Early Head Start and Child Care Partners (1994-present), PPS Beechwood Elementary (2017-present), the Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center (COTRAIC) Early Head Start and Child Care Partners (2014-present), Propel Schools (2016-present), Pace School (2017-present) and the Pa. Dept. of Education (2010-present).
Ms. Larson is also Co-Chair of the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Workgroup and member of the Local Young Child Wellness Council, both part of Project LAUNCH. She presents ECP’s work at professional conferences and recently co-authored an article on HealthyInfants: a tiered mentoring model for high risk teen parents and their infants that was published in Perspectives on Early Childhood Psychology and Education.
Ms. Larson is a Pittsburgh native and lives in Northern Allegheny County. She enjoys nature and spending time outdoors, kayaking, biking and hiking, with her husband and three children, ages 10, 17 and 21. She is pursuing her doctorate degree in Special Education at the University of Pittsburgh with a focus on early intervention for children at-risk for or diagnosed with emotional and behavioral challenges.
Stacy graduated from West Virginia University in 2001 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work with a Minor in Child Development and Family Studies. Upon graduation, Stacy worked for Autism Services Center in Huntington, WV under the direction of Ruth Christ Sullivan as a Service Coordinator and Social Worker. Stacy worked directly with clients of various ages who have been diagnosed with Autism and other Developmental Disabilities. She played an intricate role in establishing Title XIX MR/DD Waiver Services for these individuals.
In October 2005, Stacy took a position with Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh/ UPMC as the Coordinator and Developmental Healthcare Consultant for HealthyCHILD. She has provided on-site classroom consultation to classrooms and individual children within Pittsburgh Public Schools and West Virginia Northern Panhandle Head Start.
Stacy is currently continuing her education by pursuing a Masters in Social Work and is also becoming licensed in the state of West Virginia. Stacy is certified in Positive Behavior Support through West Virginia University Center for Excellence in Disabilities. She works actively with the Governor’s Substance Abuse Task Force in West Virginia and is a Board Member for Never Alone, a West Virginia non-profit organization assisting individuals and families struggling with drug addiction. Stacy also serves as a Board Member for the Comfort House, a Child Advocacy Center in Weirton, WV. Stacy has an interest in helping families and children who have been affected by substance abuse and the violence associated with.
Stacy enjoys spending her free time with her husband and their two year old daughter, Vivienne. Stacy and her husband enjoy spending time outdoors, they reside in West Virginia.
Denise received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Health Related Professions with majors in child development and childcare. She is a Certified Child Life Specialist. During her graduate studies, Ms. Esposto was a Graduate Student Assistant at the renowned Arsenal Family and Children’s Center, which was then the developmental preschool affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh.
Ms. Esposto has over thirty years of professional experience working with and for children and families in a variety of settings. She was the Manager of the Child Life Department for 12 years and the Manager of the Volunteer Services Department for 2 years at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Prior to that, she had 18 years of experience as a child life specialist working with a variety of ages, diagnosis and programs. Most of those years were at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, with 2 years of casual work as a child life specialist at West Penn Hospital in their pediatric and burn units. Early in her career, Ms. Esposto was a supervisor at Horizon Homes, Inc. and a child care worker at the Shuman Detention Center and McIntyre Shelter.
Ms. Esposto has been an adjunct professor at the University of Pittsburgh since 2000 and teaches courses related to the psychosocial needs of ill children in the Applied Developmental Psychology Program. She is also an adjunct professor at Community College of Allegheny County and teaches courses in the Early Education and Child Development Program. Ms. Esposto has served as a child development and child life resource to hospital staff and faculty. In addition, she has developed educational programs, in-services, materials and presentations for hospital, community groups, organizations and national presentations.
Ms. Esposto’s professional interest is to work directly and support children to maintain and enhance their development in a healthy, safe, and nurturing environment. She joined the University of Pittsburgh, Office of Child Development, Division of Early Childhood Partnerships (ECP) in September, 2014 in the role of Developmental Healthcare Consultant for ECP’s HealthyCHILD program and provides developmental, behavioral, and mental health care consultation, services, supports and resources for children, families and early care providers using evidence-based practices and procedures. Ms. Esposto is a volunteer at The Caring Place and with Surgicorps, International and has gone on two medical missions to Antigua, Guatemala. She is most proud of her two adult children and spends her free time at home relaxing with her 2 dogs.
Tomasina is a recent graduate, May 2016, of Chatham University’s Master of Science of
Counseling Psychology program. A Pittsburgh native, she received her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh In 2013. Tomasina passed the National Counselor’s Examination and is now able to work towards becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). While her education was in the realm of counseling, Tomasina was able to balance her passion in the pursuit of becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) as well. Tomasina has completed both a Child Life practicum and internship at Children’s
Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC having rotations in the NICU, PICU, general pediatric unit, and Emergency Department. While completing her internship this summer she was able to attend training to become a Certified Infant Massage Instructor (CIMI). She just recently completed the CIMI exam and is awaiting certification. Having completed all of the requirements to sit for the exam, Tomasina will be taking the Child Life Professional Certification Examination this November in pursuit of becoming a CCLS.
Upon entering graduate school, Tomasina interned and then worked full time for two years at
Carnegie Mellon University’s Cyert Center for Early Education. With her time at Cyert, Tomasina was an educator in a preschool and a toddler classroom. As an educator Tomasina created and facilitated play experiences for both large and small group experiences, which met the cognitive, emotional, social, and physical needs of children while communicating the Reggio Emilia philosophy.
Tomasina’s research experience includes working on the SEED lab under Dr. Shannon Wanless from the University of Pittsburgh and as an infant mental health research assistant to Dr. Robert Gallen on the HAPPi project. Tomasina completed her counseling practicum and internship through Early Childhood Partnerships’ HealthyCHILD as a Developmental Healthcare Consultant traveling to both Pittsburgh Public and West Virginia early childhood care centers.
Tomasina is very excited to be back as a HealthyCHILD Developmental Healthcare Consultant. She is happy to continue to build relationships with children, teachers and families to support children’s social emotional wellness.
Audra is a graduate of West Virginia University, where she received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education. She obtained a Master’s Degree in Special Education and Certificate in Special Education from Waynesburg University.
Audra has worked in the Early Childhood Education field for the last 19 years. She began her ECE career as a preschool teacher. She has taught both preschool and kindergarten in an inclusive setting. Audra also served as Early Childhood Director for United Cerebral Palsy of SWPA and Associate Director of Washington County Head Start. She was also a Keystone STARS program specialist for the SW Regional Key, in PA’s Keystone STARS program.
Audra has worked for Early Childhood Partnerships since 2006, as a Developmental Healthcare Consultant for the HealthyCHILD (HC) program in both Head Start and Early Head Start. In her work with HC she provides in classroom and in home consultation for teachers and families. She provides guidance and modeling for best practices as well as resources and training on behavior and disabilities. She provides play based lessons and resources about social emotional skills for young children. She also conducts parent training groups utilizing evidence based positive parenting curriculum. Audra has also worked a member of the COMET research team at ECP and was the coordinator for the HealthyInfants model development program.
Audra is especially interested in Early Childhood Education; she believes that the key indicators of school success are the skills learned before Kindergarten. Audra is the President of the Childcare Craft Committee at Western Area Career and Technology Center and a Volunteer for her local 4-H Club. In her spare time, Audra enjoys collecting children’s books, photography and is an avid fan of Steeler and Mountaineer Football.
Molly is an educator, consultant, and researcher working on multiple projects with the Office of Child Development. She has a bachelors degree in elementary and special education from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania and a Masters degree in special education from the University of Pittsburgh. She earned her doctoral degree in special education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017. Throughout her doctoral study, she worked as a researcher, college instructor, and consultant. Molly has a strong background in applied behavior analysis and precisions teaching. Prior to graduate school, she worked as a special education teacher. She worked primarily with students with low-incidence disabilities in an urban setting.
Molly’s research interests include academic instructional design, technology, and behavioral interventions. Her other professional interests include pre-service teacher preparation, professional development, and classroom management strategies.
She currently lives in Tarentum with her husband and daughter, Violet. She enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family, and is a huge fan of the Steelers and all things Pittsburgh.
Rachel received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology with minors in music and religion from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI in June of 2015. Currently, she is working towards obtaining her Master’s of Science degree in Applied Developmental Psychology with a specialization in Infant Mental Health at the University of Pittsburgh. After graduating from Kalamazoo College, Rachel moved to Pittsburgh to work as a Research Associate for Dr. Erika Forbes in the Affective Neuroscience and Developmental Psychopathology laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. The lab’s research focused on adolescent family risk for affective disorders such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Rachel has recently begun an internship for the University of Pittsburgh’s Office of Child Development’s HealthyCHILD program.
After her first Developmental Psychology course in her sophomore year, Rachel knew her passion rested in early childhood development. While gaining experience with older adolescents, she always knew that she would come back to the young ones for her career!
Also during her undergraduate career, Rachel volunteered in Wayne State University’s Social Cognitive Affective Neurodevelopment laboratory investigating prenatal neuroimaging and early childhood trauma. Further, Rachel participated in an after-school tutoring program with preschool through high school students in which homework assignments were completed and presented together with the students.
Rachel’s special interests lie in the ADP program’s new Infant Mental Health concentration. As this is her first year in the program, her career aspirations are wide open. She is excited to gain more hands-on experience with the 0-5 population at HealthyCHILD and hopes that this experience hones her post-grad career goals!