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DECI Staff
Linda K. LikinsLinda K. Likins, National Project Director for DECI
Linda has been a zealot regarding the need for high quality services for children and families throughout her entire career. She began as a teacher, moved on to direct a large multi-county Head Start Program in Western Kentucky and later built on her grassroots experience to become the Director of Governmental Affairs for the National Head Start Association. In this position, and later as Director of Policy for the National Center for Family Literacy advocated for early childhood and other issues that impacted the lives of young children and their families. She has provided consultation services for the National Head Start Bureau, the U.S. Department of Education, Proliteracy Worldwide as well as being active on many state and national boards including PBS Ready to Learn, National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, and Region IV Head Start. Linda joined Devereux in 1997 to head up the Early Childhood Initiative. As National Director, Linda has provided leadership to this national Initiative to create working partnerships among early childhood educators, families and behavioral health professionals to optimize the social and emotional development of young children.

Paul A. LeBuffePaul A. LeBuffe, Assistant Director of ICTR, co-author of the DECA, DECA-I/T and DECA-C
Paul LeBuffe, M.A., is the Director of the Institute of Clinical Training & Research of the Devereux Foundation. He is a graduate of St. Mary's College of Maryland and received his Master's degree in experimental psychology from Bryn Mawr College. Paul is an author of the Devereux Behavior Rating Scale - School Form, the Devereux Scales of Mental Disorders, the DSMD Scoring Assistant computer program and, most recently, the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment (DECA), the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment Clinical Form (DECA-C) and the Devereux Infant & Toddler (DECA-I/T). His major research interests are the measurement and promotion of resilience in young children, psychometrics and test development, treatment outcome evaluation in behavioral healthcare, and suicide prevention education. He has published and presented to professional audiences throughout the country in these areas. He is active in a number of professional and community organizations concerned with young children and individuals with developmental and psychiatric disorders.

Susan DamicoSusan Damico, Director of Operations for DECI
Susan Damico, M.A., is the Director of Operations for the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative. She is a graduate of Bucknell University and received her Master's degree in Social Service Administration from University of Chicago. Prior to returning to graduate school, Susan worked in Washington, D.C. as Legislative Assistant on Capitol Hill. Susan joined the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative after completing her graduate studies in 1996. In her current role, Susan is responsible for managing and coordinating all aspects of the project, including customer relations, marketing, funding, and new resource development. Susan provides training and presentations across the country, all with the primary purpose of promoting children’s social and emotional well-being and improving the quality of our nation’s early care and education system. Susan is a certified trainer for the DECI.

Karen B. CaironeKaren B. Cairone, Special Projects/Trainer
Karen Cairone, M.Ed., is Special Projects/Trainer for the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative. She is a graduate of Lafayette College and received her Master's degree in Education from Rutgers University. Karen worked as the Disabilities and Mental Health Specialist for Head Start prior to joining Devereux in 1999. Karen was hired as an Early Childhood Specialist with the DECI where she provided training and technical assistance on children's social and emotional health for programs across the country. Karen is responsible for resource development and other special projects for DECI. Her most recent project was as the co-writer and co-producer of the Facing the Challenge DVDs, Classroom Moments DVD and accompanying training. Karen is a certified trainer for the DECI.

Nefertiti K. BruceNefertiti K. Bruce, Early Childhood Specialist and Trainer for DECI
Nefertiti Bruce, M.Ed., is an Early Childhood Specialist and trainer for the Devereux Foundation. In her lectures and trainings, she stresses and emphasizes the importance of social and emotional health and development in children. She has dedicated her work to educating parents, teachers and administrators on the importance of paying attention to not only how our children perform academically, but also how they feel on the inside. She received her undergraduate degree from Virginia State University, and her graduate degree from Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania. Prior to joining the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative, Nefertiti worked as a Preschool and Kindergarten teacher in the city of Philadelphia. Nefertiti is a certified trainer for the DECI.

Debi MahlerDebi Mahler, Training Coordinator
Debi Mahler, LICSW, is the Training Coordinator for the Devereux Early Childhood Intiative. Debi received her Bachelors’ degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin and received a Masters’ in Social Work from Columbia University. Debi spent 7 years working in community mental health as the program manager for an elementary day treatment program and an early childhood services program. Passionate about promoting young children's social and emotional development in an effort to prevent behavior problems, Debi brings her training and mental health consultation experience to this prevention based initiative. Debi is a certified trainer for the DECI.

Rachel SperryRachel Sperry, Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Trainer for the DECI
Rachel Sperry, MSW, is an Early Childhood Mental Health Specialist and Trainer for the Devereux Early Childhood Initiative. Rachel received her Bachelors degree in Clinical Sociology from Ithaca College in New York and received her Masters in Social Work from The University of Albany. Rachel began her career as a preschool teacher for children who were deaf and hard of hearing. Rachel has worked in therapeutic preschool settings as a teacher and therapist. As a Mental Health Coordinator and consultant for Head Start, Rachel has first hand experience implementing the DECA Program. Rachel is based in New York's Capital Region where she worked as the coordinator of an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation Service. Most recently she has developed the FLIP IT approach and training. Rachel is currently responsible for providing training and technical assistance to early childhood programs throughout the nation. Rachel is a certified trainer for the DECI.
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