Cecil J. Picard Center get new executive director, research director _lowres

Karen Burstein, Picard Center executive director (Submitted photo by Doug Dugas courtesy of University of Louisiana at Lafayette.)

The Cecil J. Picard Center for Child Development and Lifelong Learning has a new executive director and research director.

Karen Burstein began work as the Picard Center’s executive director on July 1, while Paula Zeanah joins the center as its director of research.

The research center is part of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette and is located within the university’s research park.

Burstein replaces the center’s founding director, Billy Stokes, who retired last year. She holds the Loyd J. Rockhold endowed chair of early childhood at UL-Lafayette.

Burstein was previously director and senior scientist at the Southwest Institute for Families and Children in Phoenix. Her professional work history includes stints as research professor at Arizona State University and director of the ASU Learning and Diagnostic Evaluation Clinic.

For the past 20 years, she’s conducted a series of related studies on child and family access to equitable health care and education. She also conducted numerous large-scale community needs assessments and evaluation studies of early education. She has worked extensively with families and children in culturally diverse rural communities, including American Indians and Latinos from Central and South America.

Burstein’s research interests include early language development, curriculum-based assessments of early literacy skills, evaluation of models of early childhood professional development and community-based participatory research.

Zeanah, a clinical psychologist and registered nurse, holds the university’s Lafayette General Medical Center/Our Lady of the Lake endowed nursing chair.

Zeanah previously was a professor at Tulane University School of Medicine, where she served as chief of the Psychology Division within the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She also was a supervisor for the Pediatric Psychiatry Consultation-Liaison service at Tulane Hospital.

She served as director of infant mental health and was clinical developer for Louisiana’s Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visitation program through the Louisiana Office of Public Health, Bureau of Family Health. Her research interests relate to nurse home visiting, chronic illness in childhood and professional development.