GUCCHD Scholars

Smiling Asian woman in white blazer sitting with girl with Down's syndrome playing with colorful plastic dinosaur toy.
Asian girl with Down's syndrome play toy with her teacher in classroom. Concept disabled kid learning.

Scholars from the US and internationally partner with faculty from the GUCCHD for research, training, and service provision. Scholars participate in study tours, research fellowships, and long-term study. In addition many international practitioners enroll in the variety of Certificate programs offered by the GUCCHD. 

Fulbright Scholars

Through the Fulbright-NIAF-Georgetown University Research Lectureship in Education, the GUCCHD hosts a Fulbright Scholar from Italy to participate in training and research endeavors related to early childhood.

Fulbright Research Lectureship in Education

Application Deadline for the 2024-2025 Academic Year: February 3, 2024

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF), Georgetown University, and Fulbright, offers the Fulbright-NIAF-Georgetown University Research Lectureship in Education to support an Italian elementary/middle school teacher or university lecturer/researcher with interests in early childhood intervention, teaching methodologies, and disabilities for a 4 to 6-month research lectureship at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. For more information about the requirements, documentation, and the selection procedure, visit the program site.

Carlotta Rivella (2023-2024)

Olive skinned woman with shoulder length dark brown hair smiling in front of a bookshelf

Carlotta is an Italian post-doctoral researcher in Developmental Psychology. Her research interests mainly concern executive functions in typical and atypical development and in acquired brain injuries. She collaborates in the development of software for the assessment and intervention of executive functions in school-age children.

While at the GUCCHD, Carlotta collaborated with several professionals in adapting a pre-existing Executive Functions training program for preschoolers called “Chuck and Nelly Adventures” which was developed by her research group at the University of Genoa (UniGe) (Traverso et al., 2019). She enhanced the training by adding a family handbook and refining the school manual.

She also had the opportunity to join several GUCCHD courses and services. She participated in in the GU Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND) Program and the  GU Certificate in Early Intervention program and lectured in the Children with Disabilities course. In addition, she participated alongside professionals from GUCCHD in the Home Visiting Program for mothers with disabilities and in the Developmental Evaluation Clinic.

Once back in Italy, she plans to disseminate the work she started on the executive function training program and make the training available to schools both in Italy and in the U.S., and to continue collaborating with GUCCHD to test the feasibility and effectiveness of enhanced training.

This was Carlotta’s first opportunity to work abroad, and it was an enriching experience both professionally and personally, thanks to the wide variety of activities carried out and the interdisciplinary nature of the people she collaborated with. The experience not only allowed her to learn about the approach used by GUCCHD and by the U.S. in supporting people with disabilities, but also to generate new questions and stimuli to improve the Italian system.

Carlotta has a PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Genoa (UniGe), Liguria, Italy. She completed her undergraduate studies at the Universities of Genoa and Padova, Italy, where she also took a specialization in Learning Disabilities.

Nadia Ferranti (2019-2020)

Nadia Ferranti completed her Fulbright program during the 2020 Covid Pandemic. Nadia is an Italian teacher and musician (flutist) currently working as a primary school teacher and flute teacher throughout Milan, Italy.  She has a particular interest in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and the Montessori Method.

Nadia has degrees from Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Pedagogy and Didactic for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder); Italy Music Conservatory Giuseppe Verdi (Music opera as a Didactic Tools in Primary Schools and the Flute); and Italy Accademia Teatro alla Scala (Music degree in Flute). While at Georgetown Nadia completed the now published study, Children With Disabilities Attending Montessori Programs in the United States. Although her Fulbright was completed via zoom, she recalls how lucky and honored she is to be part of the GUCCHD community and how grateful for all the opportunities she had and continue to have as part of the Fulbright and Georgetown communities.

Ilaria Navarra (2018-2019)

Ilaria Navarra, the first recipient of the Fulbright-National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)-Georgetown University Research Lectureship in Education, is completing her doctoral degree at the University of Macerata in Macerata Italy. Navarra is a primary school teacher in Episcopia, Basilicata, Italy. She was awarded the Fulbright grant to study the implementation of the Montessori method in US based preschools and primary grade classrooms.

While at the GUCCHD, Ilaria participated in a variety of activities. Along with school visits she taught within the GU undergraduate Disability Studies minor, participated in the GU Certificate in Early Intervention program, created a short documentary on the Montessori method and US education system, presented at the Association of University Centers of Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (AUCD) conference, and lectured at the Italian Embassy. When she returned to Italy Navarra continued her CCHD research at the University of Macerata. Ilaria was especially impressed with the interdisciplinary nature of the GUCCHD. This is the first opportunity she had to collaborate with so many different professionals, creating an “incredible and stimulating work environment”. Ilaria completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Salerno and spent a year studying communications at the Paris-London University in Salzburg, Austria. She then earned a degree in Italian language instruction at the Ca’ Foscari University in Venice, Italy. She is GU-Sponsored University Associate within the Educating Young Children with Disabilities – A Global Comparison undergraduate summer study abroad program in Fiesole, Italy.

Diversity Fellows

The Office of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (OIDD), of The Administration on Community Living (ACL), funded the GUCCHD, University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) from 2016-2019 to develop a diversity fellowship program to support recruitment and retention of diverse trainees, and build cultural and linguistic competence within their Centers.

Chioma Oruh (2018-2019)

Chioma Oruh, Ph.D. is a disabilities rights parent-advocate and a co-founder of Mothering Hands, a nonprofit organization working to improve the quality of life for all families, especially those with children with disabilities. Working with government, business and community partners she  provides dynamic and enriching out-of-school opportunities for children and youth with disabilities in the District of Columbia. 

Dr. Oruh is also a blogger and organizer for the Inclusive Prosperity Coalition for the educational protection of children in public and public charter schools in the DC and an active member of Parents Amplifying Voices in Education (PAVE). She is also a member of the Early Childhood Education Policy Council, which is a DC Public Schools body that reviews and advises on the city’s Head Start grant application to the Department of Health and Human Services, a Consumer Advisory Member of the Georgetown University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities, an Ex-officio Member of Family Support Council of the District’s Department of Disabilities Services and a member of the National Advisory Council for the Georgetown’s National Center for Cultural Competency. As a consultant, Dr. Oruh is grant writer and policy analyst with experience in offering supportive data and program support for projects in the public and private sectors. She currently consults with Advocates for Justice in Education (AJE), the District of Columbia’s Protective and Advocacy Council. Dr. Oruh earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Howard University and currently lives in the historic Takoma neighborhood in Washington, DC with her two sons.

Sharice Lane (2017-2018)

Sharice Lane is a pediatric Speech-Language Pathologist currently the Manager, Office of Elementary Schools at District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS). She received her undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in Speech and Hearing Science. She continued her graduate studies at Rush University in Speech-Language Pathology. 

Sharice is completing her doctoral degree at American University. With a strong interest in program monitoring, evaluation, and policy, Sharice earned a graduate degree in Public Administration and Policy and a Certificate in Early Intervention at GU. She is credentialed as an Assistive Technology Practitioner.  She furthered her interests in global disability-inclusive society by working on projects for American University Institute on Disability and Public Policy and the World Bank Group.

Ehvyn McDaniels (2016-2017)

Ehvyn McDaniels participated in a variety of service, teaching, research, and training activities while at the GUCCHD.  Ehvyn completed the Georgetown University Certificate in Early Intervention program, completing the capstone project, Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation in Family, Friend, and Neighbor Care and the blog, The Intersection of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Early Intervention.  

Ehvyn was also a teaching assistant for the Georgetown University undergraduate course, Children with Disabilities, and completed the National Center on Cultural Competence Leadership Academy. She received her MSW at Columbia University and is currently a social worker with Arlington VA Public Schools.

Visiting Scholars

The GUCCHD welcomes scholars from all over the US and internationally to study and/or collaborate with faculty from the GUCCHD on a wide range of research, service, and practice projects.

Zeina Ismail-Allouche (2021-2022)

Dr. Allouche is a Senior Child Protection and Communications expert with over 20 years of experience in designing, implementing and monitoring strategic, integrated, multidisciplinary, and participatory reform interventions in support of child and youth protection with a special focus on gender-based violence, preventing separation, and the alternative care sector. At Georgetown Dr. Allouche collaborated with faculty on the Abu Dhabi Early Childhood Authority project, Collaboration to Enhance Knowledge and Skills about Child Protection for Service Providers.

Franziska Israel (2017)

A recent graduate of the Albert-Ludwigs University, Ms. Israel participated in an internship focusing on early childhood care and learning. Ms. Israel participated in a variety of activities including observing clinical services, attending home visits, and participating in several onsite training activities.

Mohammed Yousef (2014-2015)

Mr. Yousef, a physical therapist, is Director of the Physical & Occupational Therapy Department, and Director of the Early Intervention Center in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. He joined the 2014-2015 Georgetown University Certificate in Early Intervention cohort and visited with community and center based early childhood intervention providers to understand how early intervention systems work in the United States to inform practices in the UAE.

Meng Lyu (2013-2014)

Ms. Lyu was with us as a doctoral candidate in special education at East China Normal University. The goal of her stay was to learn about early intervention for children with disabilities, especially children with autism spectrum disorder, including evaluation, diagnosis and intervention strategies.

During her experience with the GUCCHD, Meng participated in clinical services at the Developmental Evaluation Clinic and Bright Beginnings, a Head Start early childhood program. She also participated in the GU Autism and Communication Disorders Clinic to learn the interdisciplinary team process for the diagnosis and support of ASD and other developmental disabilities.

Oleksandra (Sasha) Khvorostenko (2013)

Funded by the Open Society Foundation, Sasha Khvorostenko, PT spent two weeks at the Center observing a variety of early intervention service delivery models. As a senior early interventionists at the Early Intervention Institute, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sasha’s role is to support training and technical assistance efforts of the Institute

Lianjun (June) Chen, PhD (2010-2011)

As a doctoral candidate in special education at East China Normal University, Dr. Chen was awarded a government scholarship (China Scholarship Council) to study at the GUCCHD. In addition to attending LEND, Dr. Chen participated in a variety of clinical services and research projects. She collaborated on a MCH funded autism research program which dove-tailed with her own dissertation research. Dr. Chen also built two online databases that are incorporated into the Contemporary Practices in Early Intervention, online curriculum.

Yunying Chen, EdD (2009-2010)

Dr. Yunying Chen, the founding director of the Chinese National Institute for Educational Research Special Education Division from 1988-2005, spent the year at GUCCHD collaborating on a variety of early childhood initiatives. 

Dr. Chen is the Principal Researcher of China National Institute for Education Research, Deputy of the National People Congress, Vice President of Special Education Society, Member of Academic Board of China Society of Education Research, Chief Editor of Chinese Journal of Special Education, Adjunct Professor of the People University, Peking University, Beijing Normal University, and East China Normal University. At the GUCCHD she participated in a variety of clinical, training, and community initiatives.

Xueyun Su, PhD (2007-2008)

Dr. Su, an Associate Professor of Special Education and current Associate Dean at East China Normal University in Shanghai was awarded a prestigious China Scholarship Council grant to study at the GUCCHD for 12 months. 

During that time Dr. Su participated in a variety of training activities such as LEND as well as a host of clinical teams broadening her perspective of intervention for young children with disabilities. She also continued her collaboration with Dr. Toby Long a variety of research publications, book chapters, and research presentations.

Nianli Zhou, PhD (2005)

Dr. Nianli Zhou from East China Normal University studied at the GUCCHD as part of her U.S. Fellowship year at Arizona State University.

Other Learning Opportunities

GUCCHD Scholars

Study and/or collaborate with faculty on a research, service, or practice project.


Certificate Courses

Enhance your knowledge and skills as a service provider, administrator, or policy-maker.

Online Learning Modules

Increase your knowledge as a professional in the early childhood workforce.