Dimitri A. Christakis


Editor, JAMA Pediatrics, Director, Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, George Adkins Professor of Pediatrics, Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of Washington, USA

A pediatrician, researcher, and parent, Dimitri Christakis, is the George Adkins Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Washington, Director of the Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development at Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and an attending pediatrician at Seattle Children’s Hospital. He is the author of over 200 original research articles, a textbook of pediatrics and The Elephant in the Living Room: Make Television work for your kids. (September 2006; Rodale) His passion is developing actionable strategies to optimize the cognitive, emotional, and social development of preschool children. The pursuit of that passion has taken him from the exam room, to the community and most recently to cages of newborn mice. Christakis’ laboratory focuses on the effects of early environmental influences on child health and development and his work has been featured on the Today Show, ABC, NBC, CBS and NPR news as well as all major national and international newspapers. He speaks frequently to international audiences of pediatricians, parents, and educators about the impact of early learning on brain development.


Ahmad M. Almai


MD, Consultant, Chief of Child

Psychiatry, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City, United Arab Emirates

Dr. Almai graduated from King Faisal University School of Medicine, Saudi Arabia. His early career included pediatric training and in 1991 he received the diploma of child health (DCH) from the college of physicians and surgeons, Dublin, Ireland. Dr. Almai moved to Tufts University Boston, completing two years of general psychiatric residency before joining Yale University where he completed his general psychiatry residency and immediately followed with a fellowship in child and adolescent psychiatry. He also completed a research fellowship at the Yale Anxiety Disorders Clinic. Dr. Almai has publications and research articles in various Scientific American journals and other publications. He was appointed as assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of medicine, where he remains on staff part time. In addition to the afore mentioned post, Dr Almai has held positions as medical director for varying children’s services and centers and established his own private psychiatric center. Dr. Almai is frequently invited as a guest speaker and has served as chairman for regional conferences. He is American board certified in both general psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. He joined SKMC psychiatric hospital as head of child psychiatry services in August 2011. He is the chairman for the UAE Child Protection Team.


Frederick A. Connell


MD, MPH, Professor Emeritus, School of Public Health, University of Washington, Seattle, US

Frederick Connell is a pediatrician, former Epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and former Associate Dean of the School of Public Health at the Department of Health Services, University of Washington. Dr. Connell's research and teaching focuses on the measurement of the health, health needs, and outcomes of health care in children. His research interest include: Pediatrics health services and epidemiological research; health outcomes; medicaid; and access to care.


Steve Cunningham


Consultant & Honorary Reader in Pediatric Respiratory Medicine, Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, UK

Dr Steve Cunningham is Consultant RespiratoryPediatrician at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, UK. Steve trained in RespiratoryPediatrics in Edinburgh, Great Ormond Street, London, and Sydney, Australia. Steve is active in research and across the spectrum of children’s respiratory disease. He is Chair of the UK NICE Guideline forBronchiolitis and Chief Investigator for the 615 infantBronchiolitis of Infancy Discharge Study. He is a member of the United Kingdom Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium which has recently completely a year longmultidose trial of non-viral gene therapy in cystic fibrosis. Steve is also Chair of the Asthma UK Scottish Advisory Board, and collaborator in the Asthma UK Centre for Applied Research with PhD projects in asthma. As Chair of the BritishPediatric Orphan Lung Disease Registry, Steve promotes rare respiratory disease data collection and research in the UK and Europe, most prominently at this time through core management and project leader for rare interstitial lung disease in the EUFP7 funded project ChILDEU. Steve is Vice-Chair of theMHRA Commission for Human MedicinesPediatric Medicines Expert Advisory Panel and also panel member for the General Medical Council Professional and Linguistics Assessment Board (PLAB).


Jacqueline Harding


PHD, MA CERT ED, Director Tomorrow's Child, Director Parentchannel.tv

Jacqueline set up Tomorrow’s Child in 2005 (a specialised children and parenting film production & media research company) following a successful career as BBC education editor; government consultant; head teacher, and author of best-selling books for children and adults. Internationally known as a leading digital media child development expert, and expert on children’s positive media experience, she has an extensive background of advising programme makers, web and interactive media designers how to match content to the needs of the developing child. Jacqueline has a PhD in Children and media and a Masters in Education. Tomorrow’s Child works with clients from across Europe and America to ensure that their media proposition for children is developmentally correct; engaging the young developing brain in the best way possible and offers an active experience.


Randa Jaroudi Saadeh


Senior Scientist, Consultant on Nutrition and Child Health, Geneva, Switzerland

A scientist, nutritionist and a registered dietitian with a focus on infant and child health and nutrition as background. Over 27 years of experience in international health and development particularly in the UN and last 8 years as the Coordinator of the “Nutrition in the Life Course Unit” (NLU) at the Department of Nutrition for Health and Development (NHD) of the World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters in Geneva. Retired in 2012 and acting as free-lance consultant for international health and nutrition with a focus on infant and young child nutrition including the development of global and national nutrition strategies, implementation/ expansion of the Baby-friendly Hospital Initiative, assessment and implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast milk Substitutes, development and guidance on complementary feeding, and feeding in exceptional situations as HIV settings, malnutrition and emergencies.


Mike Woolridge


University College London, Institute of Child Health, Honorary Senior Lecturer

Mike Woolridge has been Senior Lecturer in Infant Feeding at the School of Healthcare, University of Leeds for the past 15 years. Prior to 1993, he researched the basic physiology of breastfeeding (in Oxford). After moving to Bristol, he ran an outpatient clinic to support breastfeeding women, applying his earlier knowledge to resolve common problems of breastfeeding. He has been a member of the Royal College of Midwives’ Breastfeeding Working Party, producing the handbook “Successful Breastfeeding” and between 1993 & 1995 he was Director of UNICEF-UK’s “Baby Friendly Initiative”. He co-authored (with Mary Renfrew) a structured review of practices which promote or inhibit breastfeeding, with evidence-based guidelines, entitled “Enabling Women to BreastfeedSeo Companies” (HMSO 2000), and has collaborated on the production of several videos. He has been responsible to coordinating two large-scale research studies: ‘LIFT’ (Looking at Infant Feeding Today), which focused on the feeding intentions of socio-economically disadvantaged women, exploring the psychological factors underlying their choice and whether these are open to modification; and ‘SUREmilk’ (Surveillance of Residues in human milk’) which comprised a set of pilot studies aimed at testing the feasibility of establishing a regional archive of breast milk samples, to explore possible contamination in breast milk. Most recently he has undertaken two fresh series of ultrasound studies of breastfeeding, and of bottle-feeding by breast-fed babies.


Antonio Fappiano

Administration Officer

Administrator & Financial Controller of Bright Start Foundation

Education: Master degree in Finance and Accounting (HEC Lausanne), Swiss Chartered Accountant Accreditation: Member of Expert Suisse, Expert-réviseur agréé par l’Autorité de Surveillance des Réviseurs Career path: After a first experience as an accountant, he then moved to PwC as an auditor in 2004. After obtaining his diploma of chartered accountant, he went on an international assignment for 2 years with the PwC Australian firm and after another 2 years with PwC Geneva, in early 2013. Relevant experience: Audit manager (PwC), Internal Audit, International taxes and statutory accounts, Accounting, payroll and financial statements Languages: French: mother tongue, English: fluent, Italian: good knowledge


Cathy Makropoulos


Director, Montclare Children’s School, New York, USA

Cathy Makropoulos is the Director of Montclare Children’s School in NYC. For the past 34 years, Cathy has been an educator of preschool and elementary school students as well as Principal at ACS Athens Elementary School, an American school in Greece, prior to joining Montclare. She is a certified International School Administrator and holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership from Lehigh University. Cathy served as a member on the committee of Institution-Wide-Accreditation of the Middle States Association (MSA). Additionally, she was selected to be a member of the Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS) Early Childhood in 2010 and has remained an active member of this organization.


Gülay Barbarosoğlu


Ph.D, Professor of industrial engineering, General Director of Hisar School, Istanbul, Turkey

Professor Gülay Barbarosoğlu is the General Director of Hisar School since April 2018 after completing her academic career in Boğaziçi University, Istanbul, Turkey. She served as the Rector of Boğaziçi University between August 2012 and November 2016. During her academic life, Professor Barbarosoğlu served as the Vice-Rector for Research, as the founding Chair of Center for Disaster Management, as the Chair of Department of Industrial Engineering, as the Founding Chair of Financial Engineering at Boğaziçi University, and as the Head of the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute.

As a professor of industrial engineering, Professor Barbarosoğlu has contributed significantly to the areas of mathematical programming and optimization, and production planning, stochastic programming and decision theory with her breakthrough publications and innovative projects.

As the Head of the Kandilli Earthquake Observatory, she expanded and upgraded the Turkey’s National Seismic Monitoring Network, participated in and contributed to global risk mitigation and crisis management research and projects. In her efforts to enhance risk mitigation capability in the academia, she not only founded the Center for Disaster Management at Boğaziçi University, but networked with other academic instituitions to promote academic awareness in the field of disaster and risk management.

As the Vice-Chair of EURO (the Association of European Operational Research Societies),and the board member of EUA (European Universities Association), she has worked with many universities in close collaboration to strengthen universities’ role in the development of knowledge society.

Currently she serves as a board member of several well-known companies and universities.


Chris Perakis


Professor of industrial engineering, General Director of Hisar School, Istanbul, Turkey

Mrs. Chris Perakis holds a Bachelors of Arts in Elementary and Special Education from Salve Regina College and a Masters of Arts in Special Education from Lesley College.

For ten years, she co organized the ACS Athens Annual Learning Differences Conference, a continuing effort to raise awareness on the subject of educating children with learning differences.

Mrs. Perakis has also served as a team member on the Committee of Institution-wide Accreditation of the Middle School Association of Colleges and School (MSA), and on the study and research group at John Hopkins University for bringing the Center of Talented Youth (CTY) program to Greece.

Since 2010, she has been selected to serve on The Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS) Special Education Needs (SEN) Committee. Currently she is the co chair of the Learning Support TEAM.

She is a founding member of several professional associations that focus on students that need learning support; and is a trainer in administering and interpreting Educational and Psychological Assessments.

Currently she is an adjunct professor at the Hellenic American University and works as a consultant to support schools build up their own learning support programs, Educational & Diagnostic testing centers, as well as, audit school programs and make suggestions for best fit support services.

She’s a passionate life long learner that believes that every student can reach his/her own potential given the appropriate support.


Ann Botten Pleij


Transition kindergarten teacher, American School of The Hague, Netherlands

Ann Pleij is a passionate educator and advocate for young children. For over 30 years she has explored the importance of connections, relationship and social emotional learning. In particular as it also relates to children’s developmentally appropriate academic achievement. She has been an early childhood educator at the American School of the Hague in the Netherlands for many years, but her interest in promoting affective education has led her to administer conferences for the Educational Collaborative for International Schools (ECIS), leading professional development opportunities in Athens, Zurich, Brussels, Barcelona, Copenhagen and other European cities. She has also worked in Nepal and Mozambique to develop sustainable learning programs for teachers and students. Ann is a certified Council of International Schools (CIS) Accreditation Evaluator, supporting schools globally to meet high academic and professional standards.


Mariah Schug


Associate Professor of Psychology at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, USA

Mariah Schug is an Associate Professor of Psychology at Widener University in Chester, Pennsylvania, USA. Dr. Schug is trained as an anthropologist and currently specializes in the study of cross-cultural psychology. Much of her work is done in the Faroe Islands, where she examines the development of intergroup attitudes and spatial reasoning in childhood. She also studies the experiences of adult and child immigrants. Dr. Schug has participated in large-scale cross-cultural studies through the Culture and the Mind Project and the Spatial Cognition and Navigation Project. She is currently working with a team from Widener University to assess an educational program for unaccompanied refugee youth at the American Community Schools of Athens.


Sibel Yalkin


Preschool Principal and K12 Head of Counselling Department of Hisar School, Istanbul, Turkey

Sibel Yalkin is the preschool principal and K12 Head of Counselling Department of Hisar School, Istanbul. As principal of Hisar preschool, Ms Yalkin strives to build a positive, trusting and a collaborative environment among children, parents, teachers, and staff. In light of Hisar School’s vision and mission she aims to integrate innovative and progressive approaches (such as 21st century skills and critical thinking) along with blending values and attitudes having centered around active learning. As the head of counseling department she coordinates the effort of integrating the function on a K12 scale and forming a counselling model for Hisar school.

In addition to her duty in Hisar School, she has been giving lectures in the field of Early Childhood Education (ECE) in Boğaziçi University for 10 years as a part time instructor.

Prior to joining Hisar School, Ms Yalkin has worked as a principal of private preschools with a range of ECE programs for 25 years out of almost 30 years of experience in total.

Ms. Yalkin holds an MA in ECE program and a BA in Guidance and Psychological Counseling Department from Education Faculty of Bogazici University in Istanbul.