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Candidate Holly Brophy-Herb
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President Elect Candidate

Holly Brophy-Herb, Ph.D., IMH-E® (IV)



Holly Brophy-Herb, professor and IMH endorsed (IMH-E®), Michigan State University-USA, examines emotion socialization practices and toddlers’ social-emotional development. Her community-based research and training initiatives have resulted in parenting/caregiving program development and the establishment of the Michigan Infant/Toddler Research Exchange, a consortium of infancy researchers focused on IMH-informed early intervention research and practices. She is a core collaborator in national initiatives to articulate competencies for infant/toddler workforce preparation, co-author on a forthcoming book, Working Well with Babies, focus on high quality, relationship based practices in infant/toddler settings, and is a member of the Network of Infant/Toddler Researchers. Holly currently serves on the WAIMH board of directors and on the board of the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health. She was Associate Editor for the Infant Mental Health Journal for many years, and is currently Editor in Chief of the Infant Mental Health Journal.


Holly Brophy-Herb

Nomination letter for WAIMH President-Elect position

Dear Colleagues, I am honored to submit my letter of interest regarding nomination for President-elect to the Board of Directors of WAIMH.  

WAIMH has been an important part of my professional identity for many years now, and I’ve enjoyed my role on the WAIMH board in recent years as the advisor for the US Incorporation status and now as editor of IMHJ.  My work in infant mental health began during my graduate training when I first learned to think about the stories of infants, toddlers, young children and families from relationship-based perspectives.  Having opportunities to learn from infant mental health pioneers here in the U.S. and around the world via interactions with IMH scholars on the board and involved with IMHJ and at WAIMH Congresses and other trainings, continue to affirm my commitment and passion for the field.  I have great respect for the WAIMH executive board, the mission of the organization, and the work enthusiastically embraced by WAIMH. 

My early training focused on infant/toddler and early childhood and involved work in center-based and home settings.  My interests in early development in the contexts of relationships led me to pursue endorsement in infant massage from the International Association for Infant Massage and an infant mental health endorsement (research/faculty) from the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health and Alliance for the Infant Mental Health.  I have been deeply involved in the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health for many years, having served on the board in several capacities and planned several of the biennial conferences.  My current work in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Michigan State University has focused primarily on early emotion socialization practices (particularly adults’ uses of mental state talk, mentalization, beliefs about and responses to infants’ and toddlers’ emotions) associated with toddlers’ early regulatory competencies. I’ve also been investigating characteristics associated with parents’ and caregivers’ emotional socialization practices including their attachment histories, reflective capacities and mindfulness.  This work has deeply involved collaborators from the community (e.g., early  parenting support programs), MSU (e.g., MSU Extension which promotes active engagements between universities and communities) and other universities across the state and across the country (and I am eagerly seeking international partners!).  The complex issues related to the well-being of infants and very young children and their families require and provide the immense opportunities for collaborations across settings and across countries. 

I am in the first year of my five-year term as IMHJ Editor (i.e., ending at roughly the time a new president takes office) and am excited about the continued opportunities for IMHJ to support and promote the work of WAIMH and infant/early childhood mental health.  One of my goals is to continue to enrich IMHJ’s role as the official journal of WAIMH.  I describe this example to underscore the vital, bidirectional role between WAIMH and IMHJ, one that I would continue to promote as a President-elect. I am working on several ideas that I hope to share soon, but one strategy that has come to fruition is a new partnership between IMHJ and WAIMH Perspectives. It’s been a delight to work with Maree Foley, Kaija Puura, Minna Sorsa and others on this.  We are selecting IMHJ articles with particularly salient practical implications for the field and inviting authors to write enhanced abstracts that are then shared on the Perspectives webpage with a link to the full articles.  We have recently completed our first shared article which will be available on the Perspectives page soon.  It has been incredibly exciting to see how much Perspectives has grown in recent years on its own, and I look forward to additional collaborations between Perspectives and IMHJ that will benefit both publications and WAIMH as whole.   

WAIMH plays a crucial role in promoting understandings and applications of infant and early childhood mental health in applied practice, policy, and research.  There are numerous ways to continue and to promote this mission.  In addition to increased collaborations between Perspectives and IMHJ, one of the ways I have supported this is by ensuring that all IHMJ articles now include three key highlights/implications of study practice for practice, policy or future research as well as a clear statement of the relevance of the work for infant and early childhood mental health.  We also expanded the journal to include manuscripts focusing on infant and early childhood mental health, while retaining a primary and strong focus on infant mental health.  I see WAIMH as contributing significantly to the promotion of infant mental health-based principles and practices in the early childhood developmental period and related settings.  

I am delighted by WAIMH’s enhanced presence on social media and I think this is a very good strategy for promoting the visibility and reputation of the organization.  I also wonder if we want to make more frequent use of the WAIMH listserv to increase connections and communications among WAIMH members around the globe.  

Collaborations with other organizations provide additional avenues to advance infant and early childhood mental health.  I thought the initial meeting with Zero to Three that took place at the Rome board meeting was very interesting, and I think WAIMH has an important role to play in potential collaborations with organizations like Zero to Three and similar organization around the world.  Importantly WAIMH is the global link across country-specific or regional-specific organizations, which makes WAIMH a critical partner.  WAIMH’s stature as a global voice for infants, toddlers, very young children and their families is highlighted through the creation and dissemination of salient position papers such as the recent WAIMH Position Paper on the Rights of Infants, which has now become among the top 10 most downloaded papers from IMHJ.  Additional position papers led or co-led by WAIMH will be important as the world moves forward after significant crises such as COVID-19 that has placed vulnerable children and families at risk and exposed inequities in resources to contend with the virus.  WAIMH was quick to respond to the COVID-19 crisis by compiling resources in collaboration with IMHJ (including access for all to articles relevant to promoting healthy parent-child relationships) to families and communities.  Kai von Klitzing’s summary of research to date on what the pandemic means for pregnant and nursing mothers now being disseminated widely is a testament to the work of WAIMH in responding to global needs in infant and early childhood mental health work. 

It is so unfortunate that the pandemic necessitated the cancellation of the WAIMH Congress, but I look forward to the time when we can gather again.  The Congress is a vital bridge between research, practice and policy.  For better or worse, the COVID 19 pandemic has caused us all to think deeply about key issues such as access to supports and services (and inequities in access) and the provision of programming for families/reflective supervision/training in virtual environments.  The cancellation of the conference, too, has created conversation about how to extend professional sharing and collaborations to virtual spaces.  While I eagerly await the next face to face Congress, I also look forward to ideas about extending conference content in available online modules based on conference content, interviews, and “live reports” from the next Congress to hear the brief reports and experiences of attendees and presenters.  

Maree Foley has shared with me fascinating search statistics from Perspectives that underscore the extent to which lay audiences and professionals are actively looking for information on infant and early childhood mental health.   I know there have been ongoing conversations in WAIMH about posting or conducting trainings or serving as a reference point for those seeking training in their countries or regions.  I think these are important directions not only for promoting infant and early childhood mental health practices, policy and research, but also because housing such information provides excellent models that are in place around the world.  It’s an excellent opportunity for countries and colleagues around the world to learn from each other.  I look forward to ongoing discussion and actions that evolve from those discussions. 

To this same end, I think highlighting cross-country research collaborations could be a key strategy for promoting international research partnerships.  The website is a natural place to feature information, with potential supplementation from use of the WAIMH listserv.  In recent months I have been fortunate to have some insightful and meaningful conversations with scholars such as Mark Tomlinson on inequities across countries regarding capacities to implement research such as randomized control trials as well as inequities in access to trainings.  Differences in research capacities, the meaningfulness of measures or program evaluation tools in cultural contexts, the need for culturally competent research and training staff are all issues that impact the quality of infant and early childhood research and practices.  I have often wondered about some collective work on these topics that promote solutions or work toward solutions in these areas. One strategy might be to work closely with our affiliate organizations as well as with linked international organization such as the European Society for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (ESCAP), international Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP), and World Health Organization. 

I am aware that the organization must also be fiscally sounds with a business plan that supports the work of the organization. As the US financial liaison, I have had the pleasure of working closely with other board members.  Serving in this role has promoted my deeper understanding of the business aspects of the organization including the financial needs and responsibilities of WAIMH.  Such background would be helpful in serving in executive roles for WAIMH. 

In summary, I am invigorated by the excellent work of WAIMH and would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the organization as President-elect.  If appointed to the position of President-elect, I will work closely with the WAIMH Executive and Secretariat and current president, Kai von Klitzing, and upcoming president Campbell Paul.

Thank you for considering my nomination for the role of President-Elect. 

Best Regards, 
Holly E. Brophy-Herb, Ph.D.
Professor of Child Development
Infant Mental Health Endorsement, IMH-E® (Research Faculty)