Theresa S. Betancourt, ScD, is the Salem Professor in Global Practice at the Boston College School of Social Work and Director of the Research Program on Children and Adversity (RPCA). Her central research interests include the developmental and psychosocial consequences of concentrated adversity on children, youth and families; resilience and protective processes in child and adolescent mental health and child development; refugee families; and applied cross-cultural mental health research. She is Principal Investigator of an intergenerational study of war/prospective longitudinal study of war-affected youth in Sierra Leone (LSWAY). This research led to the development of a group mental health intervention for war-affected youth that demonstrated effectiveness for improving emotion regulation, daily functioning and school functioning in war-affected youth. This intervention, the Youth Readiness Intervention (YRI), is now at the core of a scale-up study within youth employment programs now underway in collaboration with the World Bank and Government of Sierra Leone as a part of the NIMH-funded Mental Health Services and Implementation Science Research Hub called Youth FORWARD.
Betancourt has also developed and evaluated the impact of a Family Strengthening Intervention for HIV-affected children and families and is leading the investigation of a home-visiting early childhood development (ECD) intervention to promote enriched parent-child relationships and prevent violence that can be integrated within poverty reduction/social protection initiatives in Rwanda. Domestically, she is engaged in community-based participatory research on family-based prevention of emotional and behavioral problems in refugee children and adolescents resettled in the U.S. She has written extensively on mental health and resilience in children facing adversity including recent articles in Child Development, The Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Social Science and Medicine, JAMA Psychiatry, AJPH and PLOS One. Her work has been profiled in the New Yorker, National Geographic, NPR, CNN.com and in an interview with Larry King.
Betancourt holds an ScD from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health and an MA from the University of Louisville.
Cassie Landers, EdD, is a Professor of Population and Family Health at the Columbia University Medical Center. Since 1985, Dr. Landers has worked with UNICEF and other international agencies to promote policies and programs in support of young children and their families. Over the past 20 years, she has provided technical assistance and support to child development programs in over 60 countries throughout Southern Africa, South Asia, East Asia, Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
In collaboration with the Open Society Foundations, Dr. Landers has designed a Master degree program in Early Childhood Development, BRAC University, Bangladesh and was a visiting professor at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Studies. She has extensive experience in the design, implementation, and training of practitioners at all levels, developing global interventions ranging from parenting education to developmental pediatrics. Landers has participated in rapid assessment missions in areas of conflict including Haiti, Liberia, East Timor, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and Romania and has designed interventions for children in conflict and post conflict situations. An early literacy initiative in collaboration with Head Start National Literacy Center brings her international expertise to young children and families throughout the US.
She holds a Doctorate in Education, as well as a Master's in Public Health, both from Harvard University.