Lansford to Lead Center for Child and Family Policy

 June 8, 2022

Jennifer Lansford, research professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy, will be the new director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy as of July 1, Sanford School Dean Judith Kelley announced today. Established at Sanford in 1999, the Center is dedicated to improving the well-being of children and families through research, education, and engagement.

woman, blond hair, smiling
Jennifer Lansford

Lansford has been with the Center since 2000 and has long served on its leadership team. A developmental psychologist, her research focuses on parenting and the development of aggression and other behavior problems in youth. Lansford’s work at the Center includes research on several longitudinal studies, including the Parenting Across Cultures Project, Child Development Project, and Fast Track, funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

“Dr. Babinski led several exciting initiatives during her tenure as director, leaving the Center in an admirable position with respect to research, teaching and service,” said Lansford. “I look forward to building on this strong foundation and advancing the Center’s mission to study factors that influence child outcomes; develop and test promising interventions; and advance evidence-based practices and policies that can inform change and unlock opportunities for all children and their families.”

Lansford succeeds faculty member Leslie Babinski who served as director for the past three years. Babinski will continue her work as a research professor at Sanford with grant funding from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences. Her research team is developing and testing a professional development program for English as a Second Language and classroom teachers to support the language and literacy development of multilingual learners.

Leslie Babinski
Leslie Babinski

“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to serve as director of the Center,” said Babinski. “I’m proud of what our amazing team has accomplished over the past few years. From hosting a national conference on early childhood policy to creating a new student career speaker series, we’ve made great strides in enhancing the connections of our research to policy and practice, and in expanding our community and state partnerships. During this time, Jen has been a key member of the leadership team, and I am excited about the future of the Center as she assumes the role of director.”   

Sanford Dean Judith Kelley recognized Lansford and Babinski for their leadership of the center.

“The Center for Child and Family Policy is advancing Sanford’s focus on social policy, to transform education, inequalities and outcomes for children and families. Jennifer will be a formidable leader for the Center because she is a world-renowned researcher who has a long history of contributing in many ways to the center’s reputation and growth,” said Kelley. “As Leslie resumes research full time, she deserves enormous recognition for her leadership of the Center. Her energy, drive and dedication have given the center a new shared research focus that is benefiting many faculty and students at Sanford and Duke, as well as our many local and national stakeholders. I thank both Jennifer and Leslie for their leadership to support children and families.”

In addition to Lansford’s work as a researcher at Duke, she is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, Association for Psychological Science, and International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development. She currently serves as chair of the U.S. National Committee for Psychological Science of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, and is the incoming editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Behavioral Development.

A Duke University undergraduate alum, Lansford received both her M.A. and Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.