August 2019 Newsletter


Spotlight: Sarah Prendergast, Cohort Seven Fellow

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Sarah Prendergast, Cohort Seven fellow, will begin her position as an SRCD Post-Doctoral State Policy Fellow September 2019. For this role, she is placed in the Colorado Department of Human Services Office of Early Childhood and will work closely with Kendra Dunn, the Director of Maltreatment Prevention. An academic mentor, Dr. Kristin Klopfenstein of the University of Denver Evaluation and Action Lab, will also advise Sarah. This new position is an immersive experience, allowing Sarah to conduct policy-relevant research within a state executive branch government agency. As part of her position, Sarah will conduct a cost effectiveness study of a randomized controlled trial of the Colorado Community Response program in addition to several other policy research projects.

Sarah previously worked with Ms. Dunn to evaluate the Child Maltreatment Prevention Framework for Action. Sarah's long-term career goal has always been to conduct policy-relevant research and the Doris Duke Fellowships helped her take actionable steps to reach that goal. Sarah says, “The Doris Duke Fellowship provided me with the tools, opportunities, and mentorship necessary to develop an actionable plan for the next steps following graduation. During the fellowship, I was exposed to so many different career pathways, research topics, and disciplines related to promoting child well-being, all of which helped me get to the next stage of my career. I am eternally grateful for the fellowship and the network!”


SRCD Special Topics Meeting

From Left to Right: Three Doris Duke Fellows:    Barbara Chaiyachati ,  Cohort Three  fellow;  Ericka M. Lewis ,  Cohort Five  fellow; and  Megan Feely ,  Cohort Three  fellow connected at the R25 Summer Training Institute.

The Society for Research in Child Development will be hosting four concurrent Special Topic Workshops from June 12-13, 2020 in St. Louis, MO. One of the workshops on the State of Research Prevention of Child Maltreatment is organized by Cohort Five fellow, Francesca Longo with the support and input by the Doris Duke Fellowships Leadership Committee. The workshop will bring together an interdisciplinary group of experts on early childhood care and education to engage in critical dialog on interventions that aim to positively influence children’s developmental achievements. Stay tuned for the submissions window starting mid-October – mid-November, 2019. For more information, please visit the SRCD website.


Writing Retreats Spotlight


Lisa Schelbe, Cohort One fellow and Writing Retreat Organizer, took a moment to connect with Mickie Anderson of the Doris Duke Fellowships team at Chapin Hall to discuss the impressive success of the in-person and virtual writing retreats fellows and other colleagues have participated in over the past two of years. The retreats have lasted 1-3 days, with each participant bringing their own work and goals. See more about what Lisa has to say below:

Mickie Anderson (MA): How did the idea of in-person and then virtual writing retreats come about?

Lisa Schelbe (LS): The last two years fellows have had writing retreats after the Mid-Year Meetings. When the Leadership Committee met in Chicago this spring, a few of us thought it would be nice to have a mini-writing retreat at the conclusion of the meeting. We invited all fellows to attend. Carlo Panlilio, Cohort Three fellow, asked if it was possible to virtually attend and came up with the idea of using Zoom to attend remotely. Kaela Byers, Cohort Three fellow, figured out the technology at Chapin Hall, and the first virtual writing retreat was a hybrid with some fellows writing in person and others joining by video conference. During the breaks between writing sessions, there was a general consensus that there was interest in pursuing a virtual writing retreat. We piloted it this summer and wrote together one Friday a month.

MA: Can you give a bit more detail about the format/what it is like writing virtually with colleagues?

LS: Fellows sign up for two-hour sessions, which includes 90 minutes of writing and a 30-minute break. During the break, fellows can process what they are working on and connect with other fellows. Sessions started at 9am and ended at 6pm, and participation varied. Some fellows attended one or two sessions, while others attended several. Everyone worked on their own projects, and the general consensus is that the virtual writing retreat increased productivity and accountability and decreased isolation.  

MA: How many sessions have been held? What is the number of “writing hours” and any other numbers to highlight?

LS: Eighteen different fellows across disciplines and cohorts participated in the virtual writing retreats we held in June, July, and August. Together we collectively wrote over 1,000 hours. In June, nine fellows attended 21 sessions, collectively writing 284 hours. In July, 12 fellows wrote 450 hours during 25 sessions. In August nine fellows wrote 288 hours during 24 sessions. 

MA: What has been the biggest surprise about either the in-person or virtual writing retreats?

LS:I initially had some reservations about the virtual writing retreats and I was surprised by the interest in them. I have been a fan of writing in community, but I was not sure how it would translate to a virtual setting. I was surprised that the virtual retreats felt very similar to the in-person writing retreats. Many fellows kept the video cameras on and muted the sound while writing, and I found that seeing others writing was a major motivator for me to write. It was almost like an in-person writing retreat where you can look across the room and see your colleagues deep in concentration and working. I felt less isolated knowing that others were writing with me. Additionally, I feel more accountable knowing that others would see if I walked away from my computer. The Fridays when I was participating in a writing retreats were the most productive Fridays I had all summer.

MA: How have the retreats evolved since the first session?

LS: I think there is an increasing interest in the virtual writing retreats. We are continuing to think about ways to improve them. In the fall, we are going to start earlier to ensure that fellows on the East coast can write earlier in the day and benefit from the writing community. Also, we have started using the “chat” feature of Zoom more, so fellows can post questions or updates throughout the day. There is some talk about incorporating specific writing goals to the retreats. Many fellows attend with the goal of “working on X,” but there are some thoughts that we can refine our writing process by using these writing retreats to learn about our writing process and setting goals. Nothing has been decided yet, but there is discussion about encouraging fellows to identify concrete goals for each session.

MA: What would you say are the main components of having a successful writing retreat?

LS: Success begins by signing up to attend a writing retreat, making the commitment to write, logging in for the session, and writing on a selected project. The retreats are successful because fellows support one another and share resources. There are honest conversations during the breaks about struggles with projects. Fellows share insights and ideas, and when there are successes, fellows share in the joy. It is a supportive writing community that is very flexible. Sessions are ever changing and rarely are the same people writing together. It is exciting to see some of the cross-cohort connections being made and the relationships people have with one another deepened.

MA: Anything else you’d like to share or highlight?

LS: We are scheduling virtual writing retreats for the fall. Elizabeth Miller, Cohort Five fellow, will be coordinating the sign-up sheets and email communication. Carlo Panlilio, Cohort Three fellow, will continue to organize the Zoom meeting space through Penn State. There are fellows across cohorts and in different disciplines who have used the virtual writing retreats to work on different projects including dissertations, grants, manuscripts, and technical reports. I highly recommend all fellows give it a try this fall! The writing retreats are always open to fellows and colleagues and everyone should feel personally invited.

Fellows also collaborated on a Writing Tip Sheet and Infographic highlighting best practices and helpful information to increase writing productivity! You can find more tip sheets and reports under the Resources Tab of the website. For more information on the virtual writing retreats, please feel free to contact Lisa Schelbe ( or Mickie Anderson (


Leadership Committee Meeting Update

The Doris Duke Fellowships Leadership Committee convened at Chapin Hall on August 6-7, 2019. The meeting began with feedback and updates from fellowship staff, Deborah Daro and Lee Ann Huang. Then Anne Farrell, Director of Research at Chapin Hall, and Cara Karter, Coordinator of Research Support at Chapin Hall, led them in discussion and activities to generate a collective mission and goals for the future of the fellowships network.

The Leadership Committee continues to have monthly calls focused on defining goals and planning the SRCD workshop. Further details from the Leadership Committee will be circulated to fellows via email.


Mid-Year Meeting: April 22-24, 2020


The 2020 Doris Duke Fellowships Mid-Year Meeting will take place Wednesday, April 22 – Friday, April 24, 2020 at the University of Maryland School of Social Work in Baltimore, MD. All Cohort Eight fellows will be in attendance, and all graduated fellows are invited to attend. Please RSVP on Ning if you plan to be there! The planning committee consists of Cohort Five fellow, Ericka Lewis; Cohort Four fellow, Leah Bartley; Cohort One fellow, Christina Danko; and Cohort Three fellow, Kaela Byers, along with other University of Maryland staff and faculty.


Fellows Updates:

Megan Finno-Velasquez, Cohort Two fellow, has two updates:

  1. She was recently selected to receive one of two 2019 Hispanic Research Scholars Program Awards, funded by the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families. For the next year, Megan will be working with Center staff on a research project related to early childhood supports for Hispanic children, as well as other capacity building and research activities.

  2. Megan was recently appointed Director of Immigration Affairs for the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department. For the next year, her time will be split between a professorship at NMSU and the State of New Mexico, where she will be working to build an immigration unit to improve policies and practices to support immigrant and refugee children along the border and throughout the state. 

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Jennifer Geiger, Cohort One fellow, is the recipient of the 2019 Excellence in Social Work Education Award from the UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work.


Elizabeth Miller, Cohort Five fellow, has a new publication on training psychologists in integrated primary care and child maltreatment in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings.

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Lindsay Zajac, Cohort Seven fellow, started her clinical internship at Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. She will be providing evidence-based interventions in urban and suburban integrated primary care offices, conducting assessments with young children, and delivering Trauma-Focused Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy to children and parents in an outpatient clinic.


Upcoming Dates: