Excel by Eight was honored to participate in the Arkansas Association for Infant Mental Health’s (AAIMH) annual conference in Little Rock. This year’s theme, “Small Steps, Big Impact: Advancing Solutions for Young Children with Trauma,” highlighted the crucial role of prenatal care and the first three years of life in fostering healthy social-emotional development.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary, the AAIMH held an awards ceremony where president Jamie Ward announced the recipients of three awards. Notably, the inaugural Bonnie Limbird AAIMH Outstanding Contributor Award was presented to our executive director, Angela Duran.

The award is named in honor of Bonnie Limbird, LCSW, one of the founding members of AAIMH, and is presented to an individual who significantly strengthens the service systems supporting the social and emotional well-being of young children and their families.

Described by her colleagues as “smart and savvy,” “an expert collaborator,” “wonderful thought partner,” and “true visionary,” Angela has devoted her career to improving the lives of children and families. She has served at the helm of Excel by Eight since it was established in 2011 as the Arkansas Campaign for Grade-Level Reading.

In addition to the awards ceremony, the AAIMH conference featured two prominent speakers: Dr. Deborah F. Perry, Director of Research and Evaluation and Professor at the Georgetown University Center for Child and Human Development, and Dr. Allison Stephens, MEd, Director of Networks and Policy at the Center for Community-Engaged Medicine at HOPE: Healthy Outcomes from Positive Experiences.

A panel of experts also shared how their organizations are advancing the state’s continuum of support for mental health services tailored for families with young children. LeCole White, MSE, MSW, LMSW – manager of public health programs at the Arkansas Children’s Care Network and member of Excel by Eight Foundations’ Leadership Team – discussed the role of HealthySteps in building resilience in families. She was joined by fellow panelists Kerrie Schnake, managing partner at Be Well Care Well; Dr. Sufna John, ARBEST co-director; and Dr. E. Christopher Lloyd, LCSW of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, who served as the panel facilitator.

The conference concluded with a renewed sense of commitment and inspiration among attendees to continue advancing solutions for young children with trauma. Excel by Eight looks forward to furthering this important work and contributing to the ongoing efforts to support the healthy development of children and families across Arkansas.