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Press release
June 4, 2018

Shadi Houshyar Joins Families USA to Lead Early Childhood and Child Welfare Policy

Washington, D.C. — Families USA, one of the nation’s leading health care consumer organizations dedicated to improving the health and health care of all in the nation, today announced the selection of Dr. Shadi Houshyar, Ph.D., as Director of Early Childhood and Child Welfare Initiatives. Shadi brings over a dozen years of experience working in the nonprofit sector on federal and state child welfare and early childhood policies with a primary focus on childhood trauma, toxic stress, and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

“We are excited to add someone with Shadi’s outstanding credentials and breadth of experience to the Families USA team. Her early childhood and child welfare expertise combined with her deep commitment to the health and well-being of children will ensure that the latest research and evidence-based interventions are driving national and state health policy conversations on critical children’s issues,” said Frederick Isasi, Executive Eirector of Families USA. 

“With Shadi on board, Families USA is ready to get to work building a movement to ensure that our nation’s most vulnerable children —especially those who are exposed to trauma, violence, racism, and other adverse circumstances— have the supports they need to secure a safe, stable, and healthy future. Our nation’s future success and prosperity will be determined by how we care for our children —and we have no time to waste.”

Shadi brings to Families USA first-hand experience in cutting-edge national and state research. She comes most recently from the Washington, D.C.-based Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP), an organization that promotes policy solutions and provides technical assistance that allows policymakers and community-based organizations to improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. At CSSP, Shadi led a project focused on preventing and mitigating the effects of toxic stress on young children and their families while building and sustaining partnerships with national leaders in the early childhood arena. She also has considerable policy expertise and interest in equity issues, particularly related to children.

Previously, Shadi spent nearly a decade as Vice President of Child Welfare Policy at First Focus, where she led federal child welfare policy efforts, including advocacy on child abuse and neglect prevention, foster care, and health and behavioral health policies affecting children and their families. Shadi also was founding director of First Focus’s State Policy and Advocacy Reform Center (SPARC), a national resource center for state-based advocates aimed at improving outcomes for children and families involved with the child welfare system by building the capacity of and connections between state child welfare advocates.

"I am thrilled to be joining Families USA’s team of nationally respected health policy experts and to work for an organization that has a deeply held social justice mission and a storied history of advocating on behalf of the most vulnerable among us,” said Shadi Houshyar. “I am committed to using my background and research expertise to develop a proactive early childhood policy agenda, applying evidence-based research to improve health and social outcomes for children who have been systematically disadvantaged. I look forward to leveraging Families USA’s impressive policy expertise, state and national partnerships, and mission to ensure that every child in America has the chance to reach their full potential.” 

Shadi holds a Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.S. degrees in Developmental Psychology from Yale University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, MI.

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