Press "Enter" to skip to content

Convening: Early Childhood Development & Nutritional Summit

Research on early childhood demonstrates that nutrition plays a vital role in development. Proper nutrition is crucial for children to support robust physical, cognitive, and emotional development, with important implications for each child well into the later years of life. There is much opportunity to harness what is known from research to create bridges to both policy and practice in hopes of addressing a number of developmental needs.

Based on multiple individual conversations with experts, the following priorities emerged for this summit:

  • To connect early childhood development and nutrition (ECDN) research towards unified solutions;
  • To bridge the gaps between research, policy, and practice in developing an integrated system of ECDN services;
  • To develop an action plan of recommendations for real-world application.

By convening leading figures in child development, nutrition, public health, policy, and community intervention, we hope to stimulate unique conversation and to develop an optimal set of research, policy, and intervention recommendations.

Summit Goals

  1. An academic output of consensus on priorities connecting early childhood development and nutrition, and a proposal for addressing existing gaps in implementation science and service integration in community context;
  2. An actionable set of policy recommendations for real-world application in Durham based on community needs, challenges, and opportunities.





  • Marsha Basloe, President, Child Care Services Associations
  • Leann L. Birch, William P. “Bill” Flatt Childhood Obesity Professor, Department of Foods and Nutrition, The University of Georgia
  • MaryAnn Black, NC House of Representatives, Associate Vice President for Community Relations for the Duke University Health System
  • Maureen M. Black, John A. Scholl, MD and Mary Louise Scholl, MD Professor in Pediatrics, School of Medicine, University of Maryland
  • Kelly D. Brownell, Dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy; Robert L. Flowers Professor of Public Policy, Duke University,
  • Anita R. Brown-Graham, Professor of Public Law and Government, School of Government, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dorian Burton, Kenan Trust Charitable Foundation
  • Linda M. Burton, Dean of the Social Sciences; James B. Duke Professor of Sociology, Duke University
  • Jamie Bussel, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation
  • Jeff Capizzano, Founder, Policy Equity Group
  • Heidi Carter, Commissioner, Durham County
  • Nicky Charles, Chief Operating Officer, East Durham Children’s Initiative
  • Nancy G. Creamer, Professor; Director of Center for Environmental Farming Systems, North Carolina State University
  • Todd W. Dalrymple, Research and Program Analyst, The Duke Endowment
  • Merry Davis, Program Officer for Healthy Living, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation
  • William H. Dietz, Professor and Director of the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness, School of Public Health, George Washington University
  • Kenneth A. Dodge, Pritzker Professor of Public Policy, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University
  • Michele Easterling, Nutrition Director, Durham County Department of Public Health
  • Barbara H. Fiese, Director, Family Resiliency Center;  Professor of Human Development & Family Studies, Department of Human Development and Family Studies, University of Illinois
  • Barker French, Board Chair and Co-Founder, East Durham Children’s Initiative
  • Jonathan Goldfinger, National Director, Chief Medical Officer, HealthySteps, ZERO TO THREE
  • Gayle B. Harris, Public Health Director; General Manager, Community Well-Being, Durham County Department of Public Health
  • Joan Lombardi, Senior Advisor, Bernard van Leer Foundation
  • Michelle Lyn, Chief, Division of Community Health, Duke University
  • Susan L. McConnell, Director, Higher Education Program Area, The Duke Endowment
  • Jenni W. Owen, Policy Director, Office of the North Carolina Governor
  • Rafael Pérez-Escamilla, Professor of Epidemiology; Director, Office of Public Health Practice; Director, Global Health Concentration, Yale School of Public Health
  • Eliana Perrin, Division Chief, Primary Care Pediatrics; Director, Duke Center for Childhood Obesity Research, Duke University
  • John Pruette, Executive Director, Office of Early Learning, North Carolina Department of Public Instruction
  • David Reese, President and Chief Executive Officer, East Durham Children’s Initiative
  • Barbara Rumer, Community Nutrition Program Manager, Durham County Department of Public Health
  • Meka Sales, Director of Special Initiatives, The Duke Endowment
  • Steve Schewel, Mayor of Durham
  • Daniel S. Shaw, Director, Pitt Parents and Children Laboratory; Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh
  • Jean Spaulding, Associate Consulting Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Psychiatry, Child & Family Mental Health and Developmental Neuroscience
  • Mary T. Story, Professor, Community and Family Medicine and Global Health; Associate Director for Academic Programs, Global Health Institute, Duke University
  • Roger Thurow, Senior Fellow on Global Food and Agriculture, Chicago Council on Global Affairs
  • Dianne Stanton Ward, Director, Intervention and Policy Division, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention; Professor, Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Kelly Warnock, Nutrition Communications and Health Promotion Program Manager, Durham County Department of Public Health
  • Cindy Watkins, President, North Carolina Partnership for Children
  • Robb Webb, Director, Rural Church Program Area, The Duke Endowment
  • Liz Winer, Trustee, Winer Family Foundation
  • Steven Zeisel, Director, UNC Nutrition Research Institute,  Director, UNC Nutrition Obesity Research Center, Professor, Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hil