The University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Advisory Board

The Rudd Adoption Research Program Advisory Board includes eleven internationally-recognized scholars with great depth in contributions to adoption research and its application to practice and policy. Members of the advisory board hail from the US, UK, Spain, and the Netherlands, and have broad and deep expertise spanning diverse aspects of adoption. The group is a critically important sounding board, providing input about current programs, programs being considered for the future, how we communicate with constituents, the annual conference, and other programmatic work.

Amanda L. Baden, Ph.D.

Amanda Baden is Associate Professor in the Department of Counseling and Educational Leadership at Montclair State University, New Jersey. Her research and clinical practice are focused on adoption triad members, transracial/international adoption issues, racial and cultural identity, and multicultural counseling competence.

Dr. Baden co-created the Cultural-Racial Identity Model for transracial and international adoptees. She co-edited the Handbook of Adoption: Implications for Researchers, Practitioners, and Families (Sage, 2007) and serves on the editorial board for Adoption Quarterly. She also co-chairs the Biennial Adoption Initiative Conferences held at St. John’s University, New York City. Dr. Baden was named an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption and is a Senior Research Fellow of the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

Amy Conley Wright, Ph.D.

Dr Amy Conley Wright, BA, MSW, PhD, is Associate Professor of Social Work and Policy Studies at the University of Sydney and Director of the Research Centre for Children and Families and the Institute of Open Adoption Studies. She leads applied research to build evidence about children and their best interests in child protection and out-of-home care systems. A key focus is the active exchange of research findings into policy and practice through substantial engagement with policy makers, practitioners, judiciary and people with lived experience. She leads a substantial body of research that has attracted over $2.3 million in external research funding, including from Australian Research Council and NSW government, and more than $100,000 in internal university funding. Her research is multi-disciplinary and has involved collaboration with colleagues in law, sociology and economics. These projects use a range of methods, including surveys, case file review, interviews and focus groups, administrative data analysis and systematic review. Amy has published 4 books as well as authored numerous peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and commissioned research reports, on topics including child advocacy, family support and disability. Her collaborative international research and applied work have been recognized as influencing child and family services in Australia, the U.S., Taiwan, Romania and other countries.

Mary Dozier, Ph.D.

Mary Dozier is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware.  She obtained her Ph.D. from Duke University in 1983. She was named the Amy E. DuPont Chair in Child Development in 2007, and in 2016 was named the Francis Alison Professor, the university’s highest faculty honor. Over the last 25 years, she has studied the brain and behavioral development of young children who have experienced early adversity, including neglected children, foster children, and children adopted following orphanage care. Along with her graduate students and research team, she developed an intervention, Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-up, that targets specific issues that have been identified as problematic for young children who have experienced adversity. This intervention has been shown to enhance children’s ability to form secure attachments, and to regulate physiology and behavior normatively, among other things. She received the International Congress on Infant Studies’ Translational Research Award in 2018, and the the APA Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution in Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society in 2019.

Kerry Homstead, Ed.D.

Kerry Homstead, is the Community Facilitator for Treehouse Foundation, an intergenerational community designed to help move children out of foster care and into permanent loving families. Kerry joined Treehouse in 2005, during the construction of the first community established in Easthampton, MA. She has been key to building the Treehouse Foundation from a grassroots movement to a nationally recognized and award-winning organization. Kerry welcomed the opportunity to promote collaborative change “outside the foster care box.” She continues to facilitate the Re-envisioning Foster Care in America Movement and Intergenerational Treehouse Community with creative programming, partnerships and leadership.

Dana Johnson, Ph.D.

Dana Johnson is a professor of pediatrics and member of the Divisions of Neonatology and Global Pediatrics at the University of Minnesota Medical School, where he co-founded the International Adoption Program in 1986. His research interests include the effects of early institutionalization on growth and development and the outcomes of internationally adopted children.

Johnson is an invited speaker worldwide, serves on the editorial boards of Adoption Quarterly and Adoptive Families Magazine and has authored over 200 scholarly works. He received the Distinguished Service Award from Joint Council for International Children’s Services, Friend of Children Award from the North American Council on Adoptable Children and the Harry Holt Award from Holt International. He serves on the boards of directors of Joint Council on International Children’s Services, Half The Sky Foundation and SPOON Foundation. 

Hollee McGinnis, Ph.D.

Hollee A. McGinnis is an assistant professor in the VCU School of Social Work. She is interested in children’s mental health and well-being, child welfare and alternative care systems, and global social work. Her research broadly examines the social and cultural determinants of children’s mental health and well-being, with a specific focus on improving outcomes across the lifespan for children with histories of early childhood adversity and child welfare involvement in the U.S. and globally. This research is informed by her post-MSW training in children’s mental health at the Yale Child Study Center, work as the policy director at the Donaldson Adoption Institute, and founder of the non-profit organization for adult intercountry adoptees and adoptive families, Also-Known-As, Inc.

Ruth McRoy, Ph.D.

In 2009, Ruth G. McRoy became the first holder of the Donahue and DiFelice Endowed Professorship at Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. Prior to joining the Boston College faculty, McRoy was a member of the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work faculty for 25 years and held the Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professorship. A practitioner, academician, researcher, trainer, and lecturer in the field for over 30 years, her work has focused on such topics as open adoptions, birthmothers, kinship care, adoptive family recruitment, minority recruitment, racial identity development, transracial adoptions, older child adoptions, family preservation, adolescent pregnancy, and post adoption services. Since the 1980s she and Harold Grotevant have conducted longitudinal research on outcomes of openness in adoption for birthmothers, adoptive parents, and adopted children.

She and her team at the University of Texas at Austin currently serve as evaluators for AdoptUSKids, a service of the U.S. Children’s Bureau. McRoy has published over 100 journal articles and book chapters and ten books, including: Transracial and Inracial Adoptees: The Adolescent Years (with L. Zurcher), Special Needs Adoptions: Practice Issues, and Openness in Adoption: Exploring Family Connections (with H. Grotevant). In 2010 McRoy was selected as a fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare and also was named the recipient of the St. John’s 2010 Outstanding Scholar in Adoption Award. She also received the 2013 U.S. Children’s Bureau’s Adoption Excellence Award and the 2014 North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) Child Advocate of the Year Award. McRoy recently completed her term as a member of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Board, and as board member and president of the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) Board. 

Elsbeth Neil, Ph.D.

Elsbeth Neil is a senior lecturer in social work at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. Dr. Neil has been undertaking research in the field of adoption for almost 20 years. She has conducted a longitudinal study, following young children placed for adoption and studying the impact of birth family contact on these children and their birth and adoptive parents. She recently completed a follow-up of this sample, the adopted young people now being in late adolescence/early adulthood and a summary of the key findings has been published by the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

She has carried out two studies funded as part of the UK government’s Adoption Research Initiative: the ‘Helping Birth Families’ study has examined support services for birth relatives of children adopted from care, and the ‘Supporting Direct Contact’ study has looked at how adoption agencies support face-to-face contact arrangements between adoptive children and their birth relatives. Both of these studies have also been published by BAAF. She has also published a number of journal articles about her research and has edited two collections of adoption research (E. Neil and D. Howe, 2004, Contact in Adoption and Permanent Foster Care published by BAAF; and G. Wrobel and E. Neil, International Advances in Adoption Research for Practice, published by Wiley in 2009). In 2006 she organised and chaired the Second International Conference on Adoption Research, held at UEA. 

Jesús Palacios, Ph.D.

Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Seville, Spain

Professor Jesús Palacios was the first adoption researcher appointed to the Rudd Family Visiting Professorship. In May 2017, he spent two weeks at UMass, delivering a major talk at the UMass Springfield campus entitled,  "Adoptive Parenting: Navigating the Calm and Rough Waters," followed by a week-long engagement in the first Rudd Summer Adoption Research Institute (SARI), where he presented on the topic of "Disseminating Research Findings to Adoptive Parents and Policymakers for Impact." Dr. Palacios has also been one of the international representatives on the Rudd program Advisory Board since its beginning. Dr. Palacios has conducted research on both domestic and international adoption in Spain, especially focusing on issues of parent-child relationships and parenting stress. He has published numerous books and articles on foster care and adoption, including  Psychological Issues in Adoption: Research and Practice, co-edited with David Brodzinsky (Praeger, 2005). He has also co-authored a preadoption training program for prospective adopters as well as a book for adoptive parents (Adelante con la adopción [Ahead with Adoption]). He consults regularly with governmental agencies about how to improve systems of foster care and adoption on behalf of children, and he has played a leadership role in connecting adoption researchers around the world. He hosted the Fourth International Conference on Adoption Research in Spain in 2013. In 2019, he was the lead author on an important paper that appeared in Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, entitled, "Adoption in the service of child protection: An international interdisciplinary perspective."

Maureen Perry-Jenkins, Ph.D.

Maureen Perry-Jenkins is professor of psychology and director of the Center for Research on Families at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Her research focuses on the ways in which socio-cultural factors such as race, gender, and social class, shape the mental health and family relationships of employed parents and their children.

Her current research involves a ten-year, longitudinal study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health that examines the transition to parenthood and transition back to paid employment for working-class, low wage couples and for African American, Latino and European American single mothers. The project examines how risk and resilience factors across these multiple life transitions affect new parents’ well-being, relationship quality, and the socioemotional well-being of their children.

She is the author of numerous articles and chapters published in Journal of Marriage and Family, Journal of Family Psychology, and Family Relations. She was a recipient of the University of Massachusetts Distinguished Outreach Research Award for her efforts to apply her research to policy as well as the Outstanding Teacher Award on the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Professor Perry-Jenkins was recently designated a Fellow of the National Council on Family Relations and completed a term on its board of directors.

Sally Powers, Ed.D.

Sally Powers is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Director of the Center for Research on Families, and Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the College of Natural Sciences. Dr. Powers’ research investigates psychosocial risk factors (particularly adolescent and family-related social and behavioral stressors) and biological risk factors (endocrine dysregulation) that influence gender differences in the longitudinal course of depression and anxiety.

Her research has been funded by NSF, NIMH, NICHD, and the William T. Grant Foundation, and is currently funded by the National Cancer Institute. At UMass, Dr. Powers has been awarded a Conti Faculty Fellowship for outstanding research, and the Chancellor’s Medal for Distinguished Faculty Lecturer. She recently served as a member of the Committee on the Science of Family Research of the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine.

Caren Rotello, Ph.D.

Caren Rotello is professor and chair of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a current associate editor for Cognitive Psychology and Psychological Science and was previously associate editor of Psychonomic Bulletin and Review and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition. Professor Rotello also served a four-year term on the cognition and perception grant-review panel for the National Institutes of Health. Her research focuses on applications of signal detection theory to recognition memory and reasoning processes, including eyewitness identification, and has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, and the United States Department of the Interior. She became an elected fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 2017.