University of Minnesota
Driven to Discover

McEvoy Lecture: May 22, 2012

Are We "Immune to Change"?
Coordinating Minnesota Systems of Care to Promote Healthy Development in Young Children

Cowles Auditorium, Humphrey School of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota West Bank Campus

Lecture video and handout

McEvoy Small Discussion Groups

About the 2012 Lecture

The 2012 Mary McEvoy Lecture Series explored the critical question of how we can best translate what works in research from the fields of early childhood education, developmental psychology, public health and child welfare, among others, into what’s working.

This lecture:

  • Considered the dynamics of the interdisciplinary landscape of service delivery systems and examined how systemic “immunities to change” can de-rail even the most well designed collaborations
  • Investigated how current Minnesota policymakers are working to address these issues to improve the identification of children and families at greatest risk, including children in the child welfare system, children in poverty, and children with disabilities, and to increase access to comprehensive, high-quality services
  • Provided an opportunity for audience members to think critically about the problems and solutions and how they impact their work with families

Small Group Conversations a New Component of McEvoy Lecture

As part of the 2012 McEvoy Lecture Series, CEED held small group conversations in which audience members could reflect on coordination and collaboration across the systems of care in Minnesota and offer up ideas about how to bring change to Minnesota. In addition, the small groups provided a structured way for the audience members to interact with a panel of key stakeholders about this topic by nominating one or two ideas to bring back to the panel for further reflection and comment.

We anticipated an audience with diverse disciplinary backgrounds within the field of early childhood, so we used a model that would facilitate discussion of and help bridge any differences that may exist as a result of this diversity. To this end, we partnered with a team from the Science Museum of Minnesota (SMM), who has experience facilitating conversations across a wide array of topics and issues, to create the model we would use for the small group conversations. The model we designed is based on a process that the SMM has used in coordination with Public Agenda as part of the Wonder Years Exhibit. Their model is specifically designed to create dialogue and consensus building among people with diverse experiences and beliefs about a particular topic and as such, we felt it was a great fit for the McEvoy Conversations.

McEvoy Lecture Small Group Discussion Ideas for Action and Collaboration (1 page)

Light a Candle Award

Light a Candle Award Recipients
Scott McConnell (L) and Christopher Watson (R) presented the Light a Candle Award to Todd Otis (on behalf of Ready 4 K) and Representative Nora Slawik.

The 2012 McEvoy Light a Candle Award is presented to an individual or group that successfully promotes ties between research, policy, and practice to improve the lives of young children in Minnesota and throughout the world.

The 2012 McEvoy Light a Candle Awards were presented to:

  • Todd Otis, on behalf of Ready for K
  • Representative Nora Slawik

Keynote Speaker

Julia Johnsen

Julia Johnsen, MPH, is the Director of Community Outreach at the Center for Leadership Education in Maternal and Child Public Health in the School of Public Health at the University of Minnesota, where she oversees the provision of continuing education, technical assistance, and outreach to maternal and child public health and allied professionals. She has over 15 years of experience working in service to the public's health, with a focus on promoting the conditions necessary for advancing the health and wellbeing of adolescents and young children. In addition to her training in maternal and child public health, she has trained under “Immunity to Change” (ITC) co-creators Harvard University researchers Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan and is a certified ITC facilitator. She has also completed training with the Coaches Training Institute in San Rafael, CA and serves as a personal and team leadership coach.

Lecture Video and Handout

(Welcome, Light a Candle award presentations, full lecture)

Requires Flash Player

May 22, 2012  McEvoy Lecture


Quicktime/iPhone | Audio only (MP3)

Lecture presentation handout



Afternoon Panel Discussion Video and Handout

May 22, 2012  McEvoy Lecture


Quicktime/iPhone | Audio only (MP3)

Small Groups Discussion Handout




Alexandra Fitzsimmons

 Alexandra Fitzsimmons, Legislative Affairs and Advocacy Director
Children's Defense Fund - Minnesota

Alexandra Fitzsimmons is Legislative Affairs and Advocacy Director at Children’s Defense Fund-Minnesota (CDF-MN). Alexandra is responsible for advancing CDF-MN’s agenda to promote the healthy growth and development of Minnesota children. She advocates for policies and practices to improve child well-being across systems and strengthen the economic security of families. Alexandra first came to CDF-MN as a Public Interest Law Fellow during law school. She rejoined CDF-MN after directing social justice policy for Minnesota’s Catholic bishops, representing low-income clients in consumer rights matters, and teaching street law to at-risk youth. She received her B.A. from St. Catherine University and her J.D. from William Mitchell College of Law. Alexandra and her husband, Brandon, enjoy gathering pinecones and playing kitchen with their one-year-old son, Francesco.


Erin Sullivan SuttonErin Sullivan Sutton, Assistant Commissioner
Children and Family Services, Minnesota Department of Human Services

Erin Sullivan Sutton is the assistant commissioner for Children and Family Services for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS). She is responsible for programs and policies that promote economic stability, child safety and permanency, opportunities for children to develop to their potentials and successful transition for immigrant families. Named assistant commissioner in June 2010, she previously served as director of the department’s Child Safety and Permanency Division, where she oversaw adoption, foster care, child protection and other children’s services for the state. An attorney and social worker, Sullivan Sutton has worked for the department since 1987, earning a reputation as an articulate champion of children’s issues at the department, in the community and at the Minnesota Legislature. She has served on numerous task forces with the Minnesota Judicial Branch. She is past president and current Executive Committee member of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators.

Jim KoppelJim Koppel, Deputy Commissioner
Minnesota Department of Health

James Koppel was appointed in April 2011 to serve as deputy commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Health. As deputy commissioner, Koppel serves as the chief of staff of the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). MDH is the state's lead public health agency, responsible for protecting, maintaining and improving the health of all Minnesotans. Prior to his appointment, Koppel served as executive director of Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) Minnesota and regional director of Children’s Defense Fund Upper Midwest Region. During his time as the state director, Minnesota made significant public policy improvements in children’s health coverage, child welfare, low-income family tax policy, and welfare reform (Minnesota is the only state that actually moves families out of poverty as part of their welfare policy). Previously, Koppel was the vice president of policy for the Minnesota Hospital and Healthcare Partnership for ten years.

Barb FabreBarb Fabre, Director
White Earth Child Care Programs

Barb Fabre is an enrolled member of the Ojibwe Nation in Minnesota and has worked for the White Earth Reservation for the past 23 years working in the Education and Human Services Department, with Youth Services, WIC, Indian Child Welfare, Employment & Training and Child Care Services. Barb is the Director for the White Earth Child Care/Early Childhood Programs (CCDF), Co-Chair and co-founder of the Communities Collaborative Conference (Minnesota’s largest annual Brain Development Conference). Barb is a former public school board member, advisory member for CEED/University of Minnesota, MN Guardian Ad Litem Advisory Board, member of the MN Early Learning Council and recently appointed by DHHS Secretary Sebelius to the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health & Human Services. The White Earth Child Care/Early Childhood Program manages two child care learning centers, a basic sliding fee subsidy program, a tribal licensing program, an early childhood read mobile/early literacy program, parent mentor program and is one of the 26 early childhood community initiatives in Minnesota.

Karen Cadigan

Karen Cadigan, Director, Office of Early Learning
Minnesota Department of Education

Dr. Karen Cadigan is the Director of the Minnesota Office of Early Learning. Cadigan, together with Deputy Commissioner of Health Jim Koppel and Assistant Commissioner of Human Services Erin Sullivan-Sutton, form the Minnesota Office of Early Learning (MOEL) Leadership Team and work together to align, coordinate, and improve the statewide system for children from birth to eight years old and their families. Prior to August 2011, Dr. Cadigan was Research Fellow at the Center for Early Education and Development and the Policy Director at the University of Minnesota’s Children, Youth and Family Consortium (CYFC) where she led the Family Impact Seminars, a model used in 26 states to connect research to public policymaking. Cadigan also co-created and led the development of Wonder Years: The Science of Early Development, a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration with the Science Museum of Minnesota. Cadigan has a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Minnesota and an M.Ed. in School Psychology from the University of Washington. Dr. Cadigan is a licensed school psychologist and worked in public schools for seven years, most recently as the coordinator of the Minneapolis Schools’ early childhood autism programs.


CASCW logo        CEED logo      CEED logo


This partnership is funded, in part, under the auspices of Federal Title IV-E Funding, Minnesota Department of Human Services (Contract # 439481), The Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare at the School of Social Work in the College of Education and Human Development.

Related Resource

  • Harvard Family Research Project


Contact Deb Ottman at or 612-624-7395.

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Last modified on February 21, 2013.