NCPMI Fellows

Current NCPMI Fellows

2020-22 Cohort

Working with NCPMI faculty mentors, they will be involved in a variety of activities including developing NCPMI documents, providing training, reviewing research, collaborating on research activities, and developing policy materials.


Gounah Choi
Graduate Research Assistant and PhD candidate in Special Education
University Washington

Mentor: Dr. Kathy Bigelow

Gounah Choi, MEd, BCBA, is a Special Education doctoral student in the College of Education at the University of Washington. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a former special education teacher, she has worked with young children with developmental delays/disabilities in various settings, including home, public/private school, and clinic. She currently supervises special education teaching candidates at the University of Washington and participates in research projects related to professional development systems for promoting children’s social emotional development. Her research interest is in parent-implemented interventions for social-emotional learning of children with disabilities/delays, particularly those from underrepresented communities.


Kelsey Clayback
Graduate Research Assistant and PhD candidate in Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science
University of Virginia

Mentor: Dr. Mary Louise Hemmeter

Kelsey Clayback is a doctoral student in Educational Psychology-Applied Developmental Science at the University of Virginia’s School of Education and Human Development. Kelsey’s program of research aims to enhance classroom and school environments to promote growth and learning across early childhood. She is particularly interested in strategies and interventions to promote young children’s social and emotional skills and prevent challenging behavior. Relatedly, Kelsey is interested in improving teacher well-being and determining how to best support educators to facilitate positive outcomes for both themselves and their students.


Tanika Johnson
Education Consultant and Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider

Mentor: Dr. Lise Fox

Dr. Tanika Johnson is a Licensed Professional Counselor-Mental Health Service Provider, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor, Board-Certified Telemental Health Provider, Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, and Licensed Psychology and Special Education Teacher. She has a Doctor of Education and Education Specialist degree in Educational Leadership with a specialization in leadership, curriculum and instruction, and social and emotional development. Furthermore, Dr. Johnson has a Master of Arts in Professional Counseling and Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She has previously completed a special education teacher education program and was granted special education and psychology endorsements. To add, she has acquired thirty additional graduate hours in Health Services Management. Dr. Johnson has a wealth of experience with education consulting and serving the special education community and the exceptional needs of children, adolescents, and adults with disabilities. Likewise, she works diligently to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations as it relates to individuals with disabilities.

Over the course of Dr. Johnson’s career, she has also served in the capacity of an Early Childhood Specialist, Early Childhood Teacher Mentor, Advisor, Evaluator, Education Consultant, and Contributing Faculty Member. As a practitioner and researcher, her expertise focuses on the social and emotional development and the psychological impact of children and adolescents.


Sharon Loza
Branch Head and Part C Coordinator
North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program

Mentor: Dr. Phil Strain

Dr. Sharon E. Loza is the Branch Head and Part C Coordinator for the NC Infant-Toddler Program (NC ITP) that provides early intervention supports and services for families and their infants and toddlers with varying abilities and special needs. She is also a CDC Act Early Ambassador and Board President for the North Carolina Infant and Young Child Mental Health Association. Dr. Loza participates in multiple cross-sector collaborations focused on practice and policies to support social emotional/early childhood mental health, equity and access to high-quality early childhood services, implementation of evidence-based practices using implementation science, early childhood systems improvement, early childhood workforce development, and family engagement and leadership. She is particularly interested in Pyramid Model implementation with families with infants and toddlers, the intersection of early childhood mental health consultation and competencies with Pyramid Model, data and measurement tools, and research and evaluation efforts focused on demonstrating improvement in child and family outcomes.


Jenny May
619 Coordinator
South Carolina Department of Education, Office of Special Education Services

Mentor: Dr. Judy Carta

Jenny May is the 619 coordinator at the SC Department of Education, Office of Special Education Services. She has been in this role for about 5 years and has been grateful for the opportunities for partnership that it brings! In this role, Jenny participates in many state level workgroups and task forces including: Pyramid state leadership team, SC Act Early, the Child Well-Being Coalition, the Home Visiting Consortium, in Part C Interagency Coordinating Council, and the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Education Partnership among others. Before engaging in the work of early childhood special education, inclusion and social-emotional supports, Jenny worked as a researcher for the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children’s Issues. She completed her PhD in Educational Psychology and MEd in Educational Research from the University of South Carolina in 2015, and prior to that, worked as a special education teacher in Nashville, TN. Jenny completed her undergraduate work at Vanderbilt University and has degrees in Special Education and Human and Organizational Development. When not working hard, Jenny is playing hard with her 2 young sons and husband, Jim.


Courtney O’Grady
Graduate Teaching Assistant and a PhD candidate in Special Education
University of Illinois

Mentor: Dr. Mary Louise Hemmeter

Courtney is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Illinois where her advisor is Dr. Michaelene Ostrosky. She received her undergraduate degree from Saint Xavier University in early childhood education and her master’s degree from the University of Illinois in early childhood special education. She has over ten years’ experience teaching preschool in Illinois. She has also served as an adjunct instructor at Parkland Community College, the University of Illinois and the University of St. Francis, teaching courses in child development and early childhood special education. Her research interests include promoting equitable access to high quality early childhood education, perceptions of challenging behavior, and attenuating the use of suspension and expulsion in early childhood settings.


Hsiu-Wen Yang
Postdoctoral Research Associate
STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) Center

Mentor: Dr. Erin Barton

Dr. Hsiu-Wen Yang is a postdoctoral research associate at the STEM Innovation for Inclusion in Early Education (STEMIE) Center whose work aims to ensure ALL young children are included and can fully participate in learning activities. Her research also focuses on early intervention, family-centered practices, parent coaching, and social-emotional development.