We are excited to announce three plenary sessions covering a variety of topics related to upstream child abuse and neglect prevention. 

Opening Plenary Keynote: 
Leslie Crutchfield

Leslie Crutchfield is an author, educator, Executive Director of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and a senior advisor at FSG Social Impact Consultants. Her three books include How Change Happens: Why Some Movements Succeed While Others Don’t; Forces for Good: The Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits (recognized by The Economist on its Best Books of the Year list); and Do More Than Give: The Six Practices of Donors Who Change the World. Leslie was previously a managing director at Ashoka, the global venture fund for social entrepreneurs, and she cofounded a national nonprofit social enterprise in her 20s. She has contributed to Fortune, Forbes, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, and Stanford Social Innovation Review, and has appeared on programs such as FOX, NPR, and ABC News. Leslie has served as a trustee of the SEED Foundation and Kiva, and volunteered with Crossroads Africa. She holds an MBA and BA from Harvard, and resides in the Washington, DC, region.


Leslie Crutchfield’s plenary will draw upon lessons learned from successful social movements, providing important insights for harnessing grassroots change-agents in child maltreatment prevention.

Plenary Speaker:
Pradeep Gidwani, M.D., M.P.H, F.A.A.P.

Dr. Pradeep Gidwani is a pediatrician and community health leader focused on creating systematic solutions and changes to improve the lives of children and their families.


Dr. Gidwani is currently the Medical Director at the American Academy of Pediatrics, California Chapter 3, San Diego and Imperial Counties (AAP-CA3), providing countywide coordination and support of Healthy Development Services and First 5 San Diego’s First Steps family support program. These communitywide programs reach over 25,000 children annually for the last 10 years.


In addition to his work with AAP-CA3, Dr. Gidwani serves on numerous community advisory boards as well as the National Advisory Committee of Healthy Families America and State Advisory Board for California Nurse Family Partnership. He teaches at San Diego State University in the Department of Child and Family Development.  Dr. Gidwani also is a Child Trauma Academy Fellow and a member of the Child Health Leadership Network through the Annie E Casey and David and Lucile Packard Foundations.


Dr. Gidwani completed a Pediatric Health Services Research fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and earned a Master’s in Public Health degree at Harvard School of Public Health. He completed his residency at Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Cincinnati, OH and received his Doctor of Medicine degree from George Washington University in Washington, DC. 


Dr. Gidwani’s plenary will focus on the "big three” in home visiting–mental health, intimate partner violence, and substance abuse–and how relationships are a critical factor in building resilience.

Plenary Speaker:
Melissa T. Merrick, PhD
Dr. Melissa T. Merrick is a Senior Epidemiologist at CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control and is currently serving on a detail in the Office of the Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau, an office of the Administration for Children & Families. Dr. Merrick has over 18 years of clinical, research, and leadership experience related to the etiology, course, and prevention of child abuse and neglect. Dr. Merrick is involved in multiple projects that examine safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments, as they relate to child maltreatment prevention, and examine the effects of adverse childhood experiences throughout the lifespan. In partnership with the HHS Office of Child Abuse and Neglect (OCAN), she serves as the Lead Scientist for the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study at CDC.
Dr. Merrick received her BA in psychology, magna cum laude, from the University of Pennsylvania, and her masters and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, where she served as a program coordinator for the San Diego site of the Longitudinal Studies on Child Abuse and Neglect (LONGSCAN) consortium. Prior to joining the CDC, Dr. Merrick was an NIH-funded Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Miami Child Protection Team (CPT) involved in a multi-site program of research that examined child maltreatment risk and protective factors in families evaluated by CPTs across the state of Florida.
Dr. Merrick’s plenary will leverage her clinical and research experiences and focus on the critical public health importance of preventing early adversity and the need to focus on upstream prevention.