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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  8:30a-3:00p Virtual

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

This Conference "Racial Equity and Infant/Early Childhood Mental Health in RI: The Power of Cultural Routines" 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 will guide us on a path of reflection, awareness, and learning toward practical application and action.


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: talktouchlisten.webflow.io 

Her full Curriculum Vitae is available at http://tssw.tulane.edu/ 


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.


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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