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Would you like to purchase the book discussed at the Conference? Click HERE (apply discount code for 20% off) Y13xzwSS4MXM2F / Valid Oct 7, 2022 – Nov 4, 2022

Annual Conference

RIAIMH partners with various community and state agencies to offer an annual conference that builds on a specific topic of interest, presented by a nationally-known speaker. We use this opportunity to offer research-based information that serves to broaden our thinking and transform our practices. RIAIMH convenes a Conference Planning Committee (members are from the community, RIAIMH Board, and RIAIMH staff) to work together on the specifics of this event, including intended audience, IMH-related topic; and links to ongoing initiatives in the State.

RIAIMH Annual Making Connections Conference & 20th Anniversary Celebration 

Friday, September 23, 2022

Racial Equity and Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health in RI: 
The Power of Cultural Routines AND REFLECTION

This Conference "Racial Equity and Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health in RI: The Power of Cultural Routines and Reflection" will highlight a keynote address by Dr. Lewis and Dr. Weatherston entitled, The Power of Cultural Rituals & Routines to Heal Legacies of Intergenerational Historical Trauma and Nurture Joy in Parent-Infant Relationships: Talk, Touch & Listen While Combing Hair!

The presentation and afternoon session guided us on a path of reflection, awareness, and learning toward practical application and action.

Thank you for attending our 2022 Conference!

Keynote Speakers:

Marva L. Lewis, PhD, IMH-E®

Deborah J. Weatherston, PhD, IMH-E®

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Marva L. Lewis, Ph.D., IMH-E® Infant Mental Health Mentor, earned a doctorate in Sociocultural Psychology. She is an Associate Professor at Tulane University School of Social Work. For the past twenty years, she conducted grant-funded research on the rituals and routines of hair-combing interaction and parent-infant attachment. She works as a national consultant and trainer with the Zero to Three Safe Baby Court Teams on issues of implicit bias, historical trauma of slavery, and workforce contributions to racial disparities in the child welfare system. She serves on the ad hoc Board of Director’s group developing the Statement on Disrupting Systemic Racism in Academic Publishing for the Infant Mental Health Journal. Since 2020 she has served as chair of the workgroup, Engage Diversity and Difference in Practice for the steering committee of the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE), Curricular Guide for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Developmental Neuroscience. Her book (2021) Therapeutic cultural routines to build family relationships. Talk, touch, and listen while combing hairⓒ she presents strengths-based, culturally valid, community-based interventions for families; and relationship-based, psychosocial measures and tools for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health service providers.

Book Website: 

Her full Curriculum Vitae is available at 

Deborah J. Weatherston, Ph.D., IMH-E® Infant Mental Health Mentor, co-developed and directed one of the first graduate certificate programs in infant mental health at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan (1988-2004) and served as the Executive Director of the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health, the League of States and the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health, Inc. (2002-2017). She has contributed to the infant mental health field with co-edited books about infant mental health principles, practices, training, and reflective supervision, most notably: Infant Mental Health Services Supporting Competencies/Reducing Risks, Case Studies in Infant Mental Health: Risk, Resiliency & Relationships, and Therapeutic Cultural Routines to Build Family Relationships: Talk, Touch & Listen While Combing Hair®. As well, she has co-edited and contributed to special issues of the Infant Mental Health Journal and the Journal for Zero to Three. Her leadership roles included appointment as a ZERO to THREE Graduate Fellow, consulting editor for the Infant Mental Health Journal, an elected At-Large Board Member of the World Association for Infant Mental Health (WAIMH), and Editor of WAIMH Perspectives in Infant Mental Health.

She is currently an infant mental health supervisor and consultant in private practice in Michigan.

"Sankofa with the Comb©"

Marva L. Lewis adapted the symbol of Sankofa, a Twi word from the Akan tribe of Ghana, West Africa meaning 'go back and get it- and her mission to use hair combing routines to connect parents to their child, culture and community.

Here Dr. Lewis' symbol of the Sankofa includes the experience attending our Annual Conference on September 23rd, 2022. 

The group shared their impressions of the conference, feelings watching the Reflective Circle, thoughts when thinking about the DEI&B work being done in our Infant and Early Childhood communities.

Thank you Dr. Lewis for sharing this beautiful image of connection.

Conference Materials:

Slides:  RIAIMH_ Conference Morning_2022.pdfRIAIMH Conference Afternoon_2022.pdf

Event Reflections: 2022 Conference Word Cloud.pdf

Book:  Therapeutic Cultural Routines to Build Family Relationships: Talk, Touch & Listen While Combing Hair©

Article: Call to action: Centering Blackness and disrupting systemic racism in academic publishing

Tools:  Take Action For Health & Wellness Workshop Series African American Communities

Suggested IMH-Competency Knowledge Areas: Theoretical Foundations: Cultural Humility (3h); Reflection: (3h)


Dr. Afyia Mmbilishaka 

Dark girls:

Doll Test in Italy:


Bocknek, E. L, Lewis, M. L., & Raveau, H. A. (2017). African American Fathers’ Mental Health & Child Wellbeing: A Cultural Practices, Strengths-Based Perspective. African American Children. In Early Childhood Education: Making the Case for Policy Investments in Families, Schools, and Communities Advances in Race and Ethnicity in Education, Volume 5, Emerald Publishing Limited DOI:10.1108/S2051-231720170000005010

Lewis, M. L., Editor, D. Weatherston, Co-Ed. (2021) Therapeutic cultural routines to build family relationships. Talk, touch, and listen while combing hairⓒ, Springer Publishers.

Lewis, M. L. (2019). The Intergenerational Transmission of Protective Parenting Responses to Historical Trauma. In (Editors)

H. E. Fitzgerald, D. Johnson, D. Qin, F. Villarruel, and J. Norder. The Handbook of children and prejudice: Integrating research practice and policy, 43-61. Springer Publishers. DOI

Lewis, M. L., & Norwood, R. G. (2019). “When I go to heaven, I’ll be White”: The ethics of transracial adoption within the context of childhood trauma and racial identity development. Zero to Three Journal, 40(1), 12-21.

Good Morning Hellos!

IMH Tenet Discussion

Exploring Diversity Informed Practice


SPECIAL OFFER / Get 20% off the printed book or eBook!

Enter the following coupon code at checkout on SPRINGER to apply discount.

Y13xzwSS4MXM2F / Valid Oct 7, 2022 – Nov 4, 2022

“Power at its best, is love implementing the demands of justice. Justice at its best, is love correcting everything that stands against love.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1967)

Gratitude to our conference sponsors. As a result of generous donations from the following people and organizations, we are able to "bring" these two brilliant IMH Champions to RI and keep registration fees especially low for members and students.

Alan and Bari Harlam Judith and Jack Remondi

Anonymous Fund at Rhode Island Foundation

If you or your organization is interested in supporting our Annual Making Connections Conference, please visit our DONATE page.
Thank you!

Registration and Cancellation:

Pre-registration is required. Cancellation requests emailed to the event manager prior to 11:59 pm 24 hours before, will receive a full refund. No refunds for cancellation requests received on or after the day of, regardless of the cause for cancellation including failure to join meeting on the day of the training. If the training cannot be held due to circumstances beyond the hosts’ control (natural disaster, strike, fire, severe weather, illness of speaker, speaker cancellation, etc.) the seminar will be rescheduled, if possible, and the registration fee applied to that date. If rescheduling is not possible or registrant cannot attend the rescheduled date, reimbursement will be provided less any actual costs accrued.

Instructions for Zoom will be included in the confirmation email sent to all participants upon completion of registration.

For questions please contact Sheila Grant Orphanides, the RIAIMH Professional Development Coordinator,

Continuing Education Credits:

Full attendance meets the qualifications for 6.0 hours of continuing education credit as required by the National Association of Social Workers, Rhode Island Chapter-NASW units (including 3 Cross-Cultural Practice hours)  and the Center for Early Learning Professionals (CELP)-credit for Rhode Island's Early Childhood Workforce.  Attendance also meets the requirements for 6.0 IMH-Competency aligned training hours Suggested IMH-Competency Knowledge Areas: Theoretical Foundations: Cultural Humility (3h) and Reflection: (3h). IMH Endorsement® applicants may select other appropriate IMH Competencies® based on their learning. 

In order to receive CE Credits, participants must purchase CE units ($60) in addition to registration (CE unit price is NOT included in registration). Full attendance is required in order to receive CE units and no partial credit will be offered (participants must join meeting by 9:45 am at the latest). Failure to meet these requirements will prohibit RIAIMH from issuing CE certificates and no refund will be provided.

RIAIMH is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.

RIAIMH is a founding member of the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health.

RIAIMH is an affiliate of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.

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