Get to know our research team & affiliations

Our team of interdisciplinary research contributors use their unique perspectives in developing Baby TALK’s research agenda and evidence base.

“Baby TALK has been in the field for 25 years. Now is the time to understand the model’s impact on the lives of children, families, and the communities in which they live. We know the Baby TALK model is effective in practice. Our goal as researchers is to study that effectiveness and provide the evidence that shows the Baby TALK model indeed identifies and serves those families most in need of services."

—Aimee Hilado Villalpando, PhD, LCSW, Research Contributor

Our Team

Samantha Allweiss, MA
Ms. Allweiss is a mixed methods researcher for Baby TALK, Inc. She graduated from the University of Chicago's School of Social Service and Administration program with an emphasis on international social work and policy research. Prior to entering the field of social work, Ms. Allweiss served as an early childhood counselor and had spent time abroad, facilitating community empowerment programs for youth ages 2-18 in Central Mexico. Additionally, Ms. Allweiss conducted research through the Perinatal Depression Program at Northshore Hospital where her work focused on supportive services to mother's suffering from postpartum depression. Her practice and research interest revolve around culturally-sensitive interventions with ethnically diverse children and families.

Pamela Bonsu, M.A.
Data Collection Coordinator for the Baby TALK Home Visiting RCT, Bonsu is a researcher at AIR and she is a key staff member on several projects in the Midwest region including working with the Illinois Early Learning Council and Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest. Her list of responsibilities include conducting literature reviews, policy scans, developing implementation measures, interviewing, qualitative data analysis, report writing, and providing technical assistance. Bonsu also served as an external evaluator for the Spring Branch Independent School District’s Afterschool Centers on Education Program and the Texas Head Start Association Annual Conference. She received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Loyola University Chicago and a master’s degree in public health from Columbia University.

Annelise Cunningham, BS
Ms. Cunningham is a contributing research currently collaborating with Baby TALK, Inc., to develop an empirically supported prenatal curriculum. Ms. Cunningham graduated from DePaul University with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology, and is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Central Florida, under the supervision of Dr. Kimberly Renk at the Young Child and Families Research Laboratory. Ms. Cunningham’s research interest focus on the variables influencing parenting competence, reflective functioning, maternal self-efficacy in mothers with adverse childhood experiences.

Patricia García-Arena, Ph.D.
Project Director for the Baby TALK Home Visiting RCT, Dr. García-Arena is a senior researcher at the Center for English language learners at AIR. Dr. García-Arena has more than a decade of experience in child development and education. Her research experiences and interests have always included young English language learners and their families, concentrating on such topics as childhood bilingualism, language development, cross-cultural child development studies, emergent literacy practices, language socialization, assessment development, and the educational attainment of minority students. Along with extensive research experience, Dr. García-Arena has also applied her research knowledge in child development and education to technical assistance initiatives to support minority children and their families.

Ariela Greenberg, Ph.D.
Dr. Greenberg, Lead Sampling and Quantitative Analyst for the Baby TALK Home Visiting RCT, is a researcher at AIR with more than eight years of early childhood research experience. She currently examines a broad scope of early education topics including measure development and validation. Dr. Greenberg serves on a Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest study team that examines Great Start to Quality, Michigan’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for the distribution of quality in early childhood education settings in Michigan and alternative calculation systems for Michigan’s QRIS. As project director for the Teaching Strategies GOLD Concurrent Validity Study, she was responsible for managing the methodology and day-to-day tasks of the data collection.

Aimee Hilado, PhD, LCSW
Dr. Hilado leads the research initiatives for Baby TALK, Inc. She is an Assistant Professor at Northeastern Illinois University and the Manager of the Wellness program at RefugeeOne, a mental health program serving refugees in Chicago. Dr. Hilado has a Ph.D. in Social Work and an M.S. in Applied Child Development, with a specialization in infant and toddler development. Her research interests include child welfare, early childhood mental health, program evaluation, and clinical practice with immigrant populations.

John Hornstein, EdD
Dr. Hornstein is a content expert and lead contributing researcher at Baby TALK, Inc. Dr. Hornstein is a research associate at Children's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston as well as a faculty member of the Touchpoints Project. He has a M.Ed in Child Study and a doctorate in Human Development and Psychology. Dr. Hornstein’s research focuses on the emotional development in young children with additional interest in cross-cultural issues, parenting, and creativity.

Eboni C. Howard, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator of the Baby TALK Home Visiting RCT, Dr. Howard is a principal researcher and the early childhood specialist at AIR. She is nationally recognized for her knowledge of school-readiness assessments and professional development supports in early childhood education. She is currently directing a task order for U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to design an experimental study to test the effectiveness of different components of early childhood coaching and is the senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Education’s Investing in Innovation grant evaluating the impact of a family engagement intervention in an RCT in 60 schools in Philadelphia. Dr. Howard also is the early childhood alliance lead for the Regional Educational Laboratory Midwest, overseeing the development of early childhood technical assistance and research studies.

Christine Leow, PhD
Dr. Leow is a Senior Research Associate at Higher Education Line of Business, Pearson and serves as the quantitative methodologist for Baby TALK. Inc. She has a Ph.D in Policy Research, Evaluation and Measurement and is also trained as a school psychologist with an M.Ed and Ed.S degree. Her research interests focus on addressing selection bias, using rigorous evidence-based research to inform policy, and specializes in program evaluation within early childhood education settings.

Kimberly Renk, PhD
Dr. Kimberly Renk, an Associate Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, is a recent research collaborator with Baby TALK.  Although Dr. Renk has her early educational roots in Illinois, having completed her B.S. in Psychology at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana and her M.A. in Clinical Psychology at Illinois State University in Bloomington-Normal, she moved to Florida to complete her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of South Florida.  As part of her doctoral training, Dr. Renk completed her predoctoral internship, with an inclusive Infant Mental Health Fellowship, at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans.  This experience started her career path as a scientist-practitioner who specializes in work with young children, particularly those who have experienced difficult family situations and trauma.

Ellen Walsh, MA
Ms. Walsh joined Baby TALK as the Baby TALK Professional Association (BTPA) Manager in 2011and leads Baby TALK’s Chicago office. After spending 13 years in the IT world as a System/Business Process Design Consultant, Ellen changed her career path and obtained her Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago. During her time obtaining her degree, Ellen actively sought a field placement within early childhood and use the Baby TALK model in her work as a family support specialist. She is part of the National Baby TALK Training Faculty and brings her professional skills to her work in support of Baby TALK programs and Baby TALK research efforts.

Yinmei Yang, BA
Ms. Yang's background is in data management, statistical analysis, and quantitative research. She recieved a bachelor's degree in economics and she is currently working on a master's degree in Applied Statistics at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She also took several graduate level courses in educational research, measurment, and statistics. Ms. Yang has broad research and data analysis expereince in a number of areas, including marketing, pharmaceutical, and education.

Research Support Staff

Jasmine Carson
Brianna Claytor
Cynthia Townsend

Research Affiliations