APA Congressional Fellow Natacha Blain, JD, PhD, recently completed her PhD in clinical psychology, making her one of the few African-American women to hold joint doctoral degrees in law and psychology.

Blain, who began her congressional fellowship in October, is working with Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), where she divides her time between his office and his Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management, Restructuring and the District of Columbia.

She worked in APA's Public Policy Office as an intern from 1996 to 1997 while completing her psychology doctorate at MCP Hahnemann University, which offers a joint program in law and psychology with the Villanova School of Law, where she earned her JD.

A book on the importance of the first three years of a child's life by developmental psychologists Alison Gopnik, PhD, Patricia K. Kuhl, PhD, and Andrew Meltzoff, PhD, has grabbed the media's attention. This fall, "Scientist in the Crib: Minds, Brains, and How Children Learn" was reported on in the U.S. News and World Report, the New York Times, Time and the Wall Street Journal. The book was also featured on NPR, ABC, NBC and PBS.

The book demonstrates that, in the first three years, children know and learn more about the physical world, people and language than was previously thought, and explains how children's minds and brains are designed to accomplish these tasks. The authors also argue against the idea that babies should be stimulated through interventions such as flash cards or Mozart tapes, but rather, through natural interactions with adults.

Gopnik is a professor of psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. Meltzoff is a professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and Kuhl is professor of speech and hearing sciences at the University of Washington.

Former APA associate executive director for science Christine Hartel, PhD, has joined the National Research Council as director of the Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences. She's charged with overseeing the board's communication with government agencies and managing all board-sponsored research projects. Her first project is to direct a study that will examine the disability determination system used by the Social Security Administration for mental retardation.

In addition, she will develop scientific workshops and policy forums on new behavioral research and technology.

Hartel worked for APA's Science Directorate for five years, where she helped the association form closer relationships with several NIH institutes, as well as with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Before coming to APA, Hartel spent five years at the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Christopher E. Stout, PsyD, has been selected to participate in the Global Leaders for Tomorrow initiative sponsored by the World Economic Forum, an international organization committed to improving the economic, political and social state of the world. The leadership program--which is in its seventh year--establishes a communication network for 100 leaders who are interested in economic and social progress and show potential for global change.

Stout is the newly appointed chief of psychology for the Illinois Office of Mental Health. He volunteers and lectures all over the world through groups and programs such as Amnesty International.

The American Psychological Foundation's (APF) Board of Trustees has promoted APF director Elisabeth Straus to the position of APF executive vice president and executive director. The position will enable Straus to help APF contribute even more to future generations of psychologists. Straus has been at the helm of APF since 1991. She will play a key role in APF's forthcoming fundraising campaign designed to enable the foundation to fund more research and provide more scholarships to students.

"Under her leadership and the excellent staff she recruited, the foundation has become highly visible," says Joseph Matarazzo, PhD, APF president. "Through her excellent administrative and person-to-person skills, Lisa has markedly increased the visibility of the foundation, helped us develop a strategic plan, and nurtured donors and potential donors. The extraordinary results include assets that have grown from $900,000 to $7 million this year."

Wanda Ward, PhD, has been appointed deputy assistant director for the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Ward's primary focus will be the integration and coordination of directorate-wide initiatives. In addition, she will plan and implement representational and policy-related directorate activities.

Ward joined the NSF in 1992 to direct pre-college science education programs intended to increase participation in science, math, engineering and technology among underrepresented groups.

She moved on to be senior staff associate for planning and policy for Education and Human Resources. Most recently, she was assistant to the deputy director for Human Resource Development, where she focused on NSF efforts to promote diversity in science and engineering.