The Simms/Mann Institute develops and implements innovative programs and resources to address the complex challenges of the 21st century. The Institute seeks to empower professionals and individuals alike to make informed decisions and personalized choices by promoting the exploration, cross-fertilization, and dissemination of cutting-edge research and best practices in the fields of education and medicine.
Dr. Victoria Simms is a nationally recognized child development specialist and philanthropist. As the President of The Simms/Mann Family Foundation and Simms/Mann Institute, she is the architect of all the initiatives and programs the Foundation and Institute is currently funding and implementing. In 2011, Dr. Simms founded the Simms/Mann Institute for Education and Community Development. With a mission to develop, implement and support groundbreaking initiatives that offer authentic solutions to the complex issues facing individuals, families, and communities in the 21st Century, the Simms/Mann Institute is in the forefront of philanthropy in Education, Health, Wellness, Art and Culture.
Lauren Wagman is the Director of the Simms/Mann Institute. In this capacity, Lauren leads strategy development and manages implementation for the Institute’s innovative programs and resources, which are designed to make research about the field of early childhood development more accessible to families and communities. Specifically, the Institute’s annual Think Tank, Faculty Fellowship and The First 36 Project are all efforts to bring the most cutting-edge science of early childhood to professionals and practitioners. CuddleBright Experience is a strategy to bring this same science directly to parents through a research-based resource kit. The Institute partners with other 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations to provide in-kind contributions of CuddleBright to amplify existing parent-child programming and curricula.
Prior to joining the Institute, Lauren consulted with nonprofit organizations, providing leadership for fundraising, strategic planning and board recruitment efforts. Lauren has a BA from Vanderbilt University, where she was an Ingram Scholar, and an MBA from the USC Marshall School of Business, where she was a Society and Business Lab Fellow.
Leslie has a B.A. in Linguistics from UCLA and a double Masters in Social Work and Jewish Communal Services from USC and Hebrew Union College. Her work experience includes: Program Manager at the Early Childhood Parenting Center: Parent and Me instructor (Spanish/English): Pre-School teacher; Assistant Director of Admissions at American Jewish University, Program Director at Los Angeles Hillel Council. Leslie grew up in Mexico City, is fluent in Spanish, Hebrew and French. She is married, has four children and is the proud grandmother of two baby girls and 2 baby boys.
Rachel Barchie serves as a philanthropic advisor to the Simms/Mann Family Foundation and Institute. Prior to joining the philanthropy sector, Rachel practiced litigation and employment law for a decade at a Los Angeles law firm and served as board chair for a national nonprofit organization that focuses on healthy relationships for teens. Rachel received her BA in Foreign Languages from Scripps College, and her JD from the UCLA School of Law.
Brianna Ziegler, LCSW, leads the Simms/Mann Institute’s CuddleBright Cares philanthropic initiative, which aims to bring the science of early child development directly to underserved and vulnerable families. As Program Manager, she oversees partnerships with various community organizations, both locally and internationally. Brianna received her BA in Sociology from the University of California, Berkeley and earned her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University. Having worked in hospitals, schools, nonprofits, and a startup, Brianna draws upon diverse professional experience to cultivate innovative social impact strategies.
As Executive Assistant, Destiny provides administrative and logistical assistance to Simms/Mann Institute President & Founder, Dr. Victoria Simms, and supports the implementation of all programmatic initiatives of the Institute. In addition, Destiny manages and oversees fulfillment for the Institute’s philanthropic initiative, CuddleBright. Prior to moving to Los Angeles and joining the Institute in 2017, Destiny held various positions related to real estate and property management in New York City. Destiny feels privileged to work with the Institute, surrounded by people with a passion to make a difference.
Ruth Feldman, PhD, is the Simms-Mann professor of developmental social neuroscience and director of the Center for Developmental, Social, and Relationship Neuroscience at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzlia with a joint appointment at Yale University Child Study Center. She is also director of the Irving B. Harris community-based clinic and internship program for young children and their families. Her research focuses on the biological basis of social affiliation, processes of biobehavioral synchrony, longitudinal follow-up of infants at high risk stemming from biological (e.g., prematurity), maternal (e.g., postpartum depression), and contextual (e.g., war-related trauma) risk conditions, the neuroscience of empathy, and the effects of touch-based interventions. Her studies on the role of oxytocin in health and psychopathology have been instrumental for understanding the biological basis of social collaboration in humans. Her research on the maternal and paternal brain, human bond formation, the long-term effects of Kangaroo-Care on premature infants, the brain basis of conflict resolution, and the effects of maternal postpartum depression on children’s brain and behavior received substantial empirical and media attention. Dr. Feldman is a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, has been on the editorial board of several high-impact journals, and has published over 300 articles in scientific journals and book chapters.
Along with two sisters, Ben Danielson was raised by an amazing single mom who instilled in him an appreciation for the value of education and a desire to be a contributing member of the community. In college, he decided that being a doctor was a good way to meld his scientific and human-service interests. Since finishing his undergraduate studies in Boston, Dr. Danielson has spent his medical education, residency, and career in Seattle.
Bob Adler, MD, serves as senior advisor to the chair of the Department of Pediatrics, chief medical officer of the CHLA Pediatric Health Network and sits on the Finance Committee for the Board of Trustees at CHLA. He is also a professor of Pediatrics and former vice chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. Dr. Adler was the first CHLA faculty member on the Residency Review Committee, which develops national training guidelines and policies and accredits all pediatric training programs in the U.S.
Born to a poor immigrant family in New York City, Richard Carmona experienced homelessness, hunger, and health disparities during his youth. The experiences greatly sensitized him to the relationships among culture, health, education and economic status and ultimately shaped his future. After dropping out of high school, Dr. Carmona enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1967 where he received a GED. By the time he left active duty, he was a Special Forces, combat-decorated Vietnam veteran. He then pursued a college degree and entered medical school at the University of California – San Francisco where he won the prestigious Gold Cane award as the top graduate.
Dr. Patricia K. Kuhl is the Bezos Family Foundation Endowed Chair for Early Childhood Learning, Co-Director of the UW Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, Director of the NSF-funded Science of Learning Center, and Professor of Speech and Hearing Sciences. She is internationally recognized for her research on early language and brain development, and studies that show how young children learn. Dr. Kuhl's work has played a major role in demonstrating how early exposure to language alters the brain. It has implications for critical periods in development, for bilingual education and reading readiness, for developmental disabilities involving language, and for research on computer understanding of speech.
Dr. Nathan Fox is the Lab Director at the Child Development Lab at the University of Maryland. Their research focuses on multiple facets of socio-emotional development. They study cognitive, social and emotional processes and are interested in the observation and measurement of attention, memory, as well as emotion expression and social experience. The Child Development Lab specializes in linking these psychological processes to neural activity through brain imaging methods such as EEG, ERP and functional neuro-imaging.
Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz is involved in women’s empowerment and public education, and appears frequently as an expert in women’s and integrative health on TV, online and in print. Dr. Suzanne completed her undergraduate education at Wesleyan University and post-baccalaureate pre-medical studies at Mills College. She earned her medical degree in 1996 from the University of Southern California School of Medicine, completed her residency in obstetrics and gynecology at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and has been in private practice of obstetrics and gynecology in Beverly Hills, CA since 2000. After many years of a personal yoga and meditation practice, she completed her Clinical Ayurvedic Specialist degree at California College of Ayurveda in 2010 and was board certified in Integrative and Holistic medicine in 2008.
Board-certified in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine, nuclear medicine, integrative holistic medicine, Mimi Guarneri, MD, FACC, ABIHM is President of the Academy of Integrative Health and Medicine (AIHM) and the Past President of the American Board of Integrative Holistic Medicine (ABIHM) and serves as Senior Advisor to the Atlantic Health System for the Chambers Center for Well Being and Integrative Medicine. Dr. Guarneri currently serves on the Founding Board of the American Board Physician Specialties in Integrative Medicine, and is a Clinical Associate Professor at University of California, San Diego (UCSD).
Dr. Levitt is the Simms/Mann Chair in Developmental Neurogenetics at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the WM Keck Provost Professor of Neurogenetics at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California. He also serves as the Director of the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program. Dr. Levitt has held chair and institute directorships at the University of Southern California, Vanderbilt University and the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Levitt has been a MERIT awardee from the National Institute of Mental Health and served as a member of the National Advisory Mental Health Council for the National Institute of Mental Health. He is an elected member of the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, an Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.
John Mattison is Chief Medical Information Officer and Assistant Medical Director for Kaiser Permanente, SCAL. John focuses on transforming care delivery with information technology, through exponential technologies and data liquidity. He led the design and implementation of the largest integrated electronic health record in the US, and is the founder of the international XML standard for health record interoperability known as CDA, CCD and CCDA. He has led various national innovation programs including virtual care, sponsored or led numerous digital health projects implemented at scale, is senior advisor to the Tricorder X-Prize, and mentors many digital health startups.
Dr. Andrew N. Meltzoff holds the Job and Gertrud Tamaki Endowed Chair and is the Co-Director of the University of Washington Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. A graduate of Harvard University, with a PhD from Oxford University, he is an internationally renowned expert on infant and child development. His discoveries about infant imitation have revolutionized our understanding of early cognition, personality, and brain development. His research on social-emotional development and children’s understanding of other people has helped shape policy and practice.
Dr. Nelken’s major areas of research include pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence and medical education. She has published extensively in peer reviewed journals, and authored book chapters on various subjects related to women’s pelvic health. She is an active member of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American Urogynecologic Society. After graduating from Columbia College, Columbia University, in New York with a BA in history, Dr. Nelken earned her medical degree from the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California (USC). She went on to perform an internship and residency in obstetrics and gynecology and a fellowship in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery, all at USC.
Dr. Nelson joined the VCU faculty in fall 2016. She is a general pediatrician and child health services researcher with an interest in early childhood development, screening for developmental and behavioral concerns, and promoting healthy development for children living in vulnerable circumstances. Dr. Nelson is a graduate of Wellesley College, Harvard Medical School, and the Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholars Program at UCLA. Prior to medical school she was a bilingual school teacher in New York City, and after medical school completed training in pediatrics in the inaugural year of UCSF’s Pediatric Leadership for the Underserved (PLUS) residency program. Dr. Nelson is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Academic Pediatrics Association.
Arthur J. Rolnick is a Senior Fellow and Co-Director of the Human Capital Research Collaborative at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs, the University of Minnesota. Rolnick is working to advance multidisciplinary research on child development and social policy. He previously served at the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis as a senior vice president and director of research and as an associate economist with the Federal Open Market Committee—the monetary policymaking body for the Federal Reserve System. Rolnick’s essays on public policy issues have gained national attention; his research interests include banking and financial economics, monetary policy, monetary history, the economics of federalism, and the economics of education. His work on early childhood development has garnered numerous awards, including those from the George Lucas Educational Foundation and the Minnesota Department of Health, both in 2007; he was also named 2005 Minnesotan of the Year by Minnesota Monthly magazine.
Dr. Wendy Slusser is Associate Vice Provost of the Healthy Campus Initiative, HS Clinical Professor of Pediatrics in the School of Medicine and Public Health, and Co-Founder and Medical Director of the UCLA Fit for Healthy Weight program. She graduated Cum Laude from Princeton University, received her Medical and Masters Degree in Nutrition from the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University. She completed her internship and residency in Pediatrics at Babies Hospital, Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. Dr. Slusser joined the UCLA faculty in 1996 and since then has been a leader in community, school, clinic, and family based programs related to health promotion, infant and child nutrition and physical fitness. Dr. Slusser is Board Certified in Pediatrics, a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and teaches UCLA Pediatric Residents and Public Health Students.
Dr. Philip Werthman is the most recognized vasectomy reversal surgeon and male fertility specialist in the world. His expertise and skill have been acknowledged by scholars, his colleagues and in the media. An Assistant Clinical Professor of Urology at the University of Southern California School of Medicine, Dr. Werthman is also the author of two definitive textbooks on the subject of male fertility. Past President of the Los Angeles Urologic Society, Dr. Werthman is a recipient of the American Fertility Association’s Illuminations Award, given yearly to the outstanding fertility doctor in the nation. In addition to performing the first-ever network-televised vasectomy reversal surgery on ABC’s Extreme Makeover, he’s been a featured consultant to every news service, from CNN to NBC.
Dr. Yogman has been in pediatric practice in Cambridge, Massachusetts for 20 years after several years working full time at Boston Children’s Hospital with Dr T Berry Brazelton. He is Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School where he teaches and does research on the father-child relationship, developmental interventions,and nutrition and behavior. He has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics since 1973 and was board certified in Developmental Behavioral pediatrics when it first became a subspecialty in 2002.
Program Director, Educational InitiativeLwagman@simmsmanninstitute.org