Deborah Weatherston, PhD, IMH-E®, founding Executive Director for the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, after 38-years of state, national and global leadership in the field of infant mental health plans to step down from her Executive Director role.
The Board of Directors for the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health (Alliance) announces that Debbie Weatherston will step down as Executive Director June 30, 2018 and will serve as a consultant to the Alliance through June 30, 2019. The Board announces that its leadership will transition to Nichole Paradis, LMSW, IMH-E®, currently Associate Director for the Alliance, July 1, 2018.
Accomplishments during Debbie’s tenure with the Alliance include securing national partnerships with Healthy Families America, Ounce of Prevention and others, launching the Early Childhood Mental Health Endorsement® for professionals working with or on behalf of 3 – 6 year olds, the creation and co-hosting of two Annual Reflective Supervision Symposiums, and growing the Alliance to 31 IMH associations.
When asked to think about the work Debbie has done, Margaret Holmberg, President of the Alliance, said, “The Board, our members and the entire field of infant mental health have Debbie to thank for her caring, competent and compassionate leadership that has brought us together in so many venues: conferences, publications, presentations, trainings – each focused on relationships to make our world better for babies and their families.”
Sheryl Goldberg, Executive Director of the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health, has known Debbie for over 30-years and has had the opportunity to work alongside her in numerous professional capacities. Sheryl shared, “Debbie’s leadership embodies what is precious in infant mental health. Her ability to ‘observe, listen, wonder, and respond,’ a set of words she uses to describe best practice in our development of relationships with others, has provided the foundation for all she has built in both Michigan and the Alliance.”
Debbie’s career in the field of infant mental health has been expansive and remarkable. Debbie served as the Infant Mental Health Program Director at Wayne State University Merrill-Palmer Skillman Institute for 16-years, where she co-developed, organized and directed the interdisciplinary Graduate Certificate Program in Infant Mental Health. From there, she moved into the role as Executive Director for the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH). Debbie spent 15-years with MI-AIMH, where, under her leadership, both the Competency Guidelines® and the MI-AIMH Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant Mental Health® were brought to fruition. Debbie is a ZERO TO THREE Fellow (1999 – 2001), co-author of two books, Case Studies in Infant Mental Health: Risk, Resiliency & Relationships (2002) and Infant Mental
Health Home Vising: Supporting Competencies and Reducing Risks (2015) and author to numerous articles. Debbie is actively involved with the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH) where she currently serves on the Board of Directors as the Editor of WAIMH Perspectives in Infant Mental Health.
In Nichole’s application letter to the Alliance Board of Directors, she outlined passionately and clearly a road map for our future. Her 10-years of working alongside Debbie, in addition to her 12-years of infant mental health practice, her extensive publication and presentation background, and her strong relationships both within the Alliance and with other supporting organizations will keep the Alliance moving forward in its mission to assure that those working with infants and young children and their families are competent in infant and early childhood knowledge, principles and practice.
Nichole has been instrumental in developing and expanding the Competency Guidelines® and Endorsement for Culturally Sensitive, Relationship-Focused Practice Promoting Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health®, creating an on-line system for submitting professional applications, systematizing the application review process, and promoting an infant and early childhood mental health competent workforce both nationally and globally. Her relationships with our members and partners demonstrate her belief that relationships at every level are vitally important.
When asked to reflect on the transition, Nichole stated, “I have been incredibly fortunate to learn from and alongside Debbie for many years now. I owe her a great debt for the learning opportunities she has offered, as well as the confidence she has expressed in my abilities to promote infant and early childhood mental health. And the same is true for the field. Infant mental health has grown in recognition, in large part due to Debbie’s perseverance and commitment to babies and the relationships that surround them. It is now my honor to grow this work from the roots that she has so successfully planted.”
The Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health is a 501c3 organization
composed of 29 state members, Western Australia and Ireland. All members hold the license to promote the Competency Guidelines® and offer Endorsement® to those who demonstrate a fulfilment and understanding of the competencies. Its goals include supporting those in the infant and early childhood-family workforce through guided training in education, work experience, in-service training and reflective supervision/consultation.