The Ultimate Block Party | Board of Directors
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Board of Directors

Board of Directors

As Senior Vice President of Early Learning at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Susan Magsamen focuses on providing evidence based programs for children birth to eight years old, their families and child care providers.  A learning expert, award-winning writer and program architect.

With over 30 years’ experience in developing effective learning programs rooted in the science of learning, Susan is an active member of the brain sciences research community. She currently serves as a Senior Advisor to the Science of Learning Institute and the Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University; Chair of the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Special Education at the Kennedy Krieger Institute; and as associate editor of npj Science of Learning.


Prior to founding Curiosityville in 2009, an interactive personalized learning world for young children, Susan co-founded The Johns Hopkins Neuro-Education Initiative, created to foster dialog among educators and researchers in the brain sciences. She was also Founder and CEO of FamilyStories and previously, Curiosity Kits —  both award-winning learning resources for parents and children.


Susan holds a Masters of Advanced Studies from Johns Hopkins University, and is a graduate of Towson and Sheppard Universities.  She serves on the boards of the Early Care and Education Consortium (ECEC), the Port Discovery Museum,  Arts Education in Maryland Schools (AEMS),The Learning Resource Network, the Ultimate Block Party, the Society for Neuroscience Communications and Dissemination Committee, and is a member of the Playful Learning Steering Committee at the Center for the Developing Child at Harvard University.

roberta_golinkoffRoberta Michnick Golinkoff, Ph.D., holds the H. Rodney Sharp Chair in the School of Education at the University of Delaware and is a member of the Departments of Psychology and Linguistics and Cognitive Science. She directs the Infant Language Project, whose goal it is to understand how children tackle the amazing feat of learning language. Roberta also investigates how children learn through play, studying the benefits of acquiring knowledge in contexts where children are actively discovering rather than passive recipients of information. In the present climate where “play” has become a 4-letter word, Dr. Golinkoff’s research spotlights as an important vehicle for children’s learning. Dr. Golinkoff has written dozens of journal articles, chapters, and academic books. Her recent books include Action Meets Word: How Children Learn Verbs and PLAY = LEARNING: How Play Motivates and Enhances Children’s Cognitive and Social-Emotional Growth, both co-edited with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, her longstanding research collaborator.


The recipient of numerous prestigious awards, Roberta is frequently quoted in newspapers and magazines as a scientific advocate for children. She routinely gives keynote addresses at professional conferences. However, her passion is to speak to both lay and professional groups world wide – encouraging them to promote children’s development based on the research in developmental science. Dr. Golinkoff has written a number of popular books for scholars, practitioners, and parents with Kathy Hirsh-Pasek. Their book, Einstein Never Used Flash Cards: How Our Children Really Learn and Why They Need to Play More and Memorize Less, attempts to liberate caring adults from the cult of achievement. Their latest book is A Mandate for Playful Learning in Preschool: Presenting the Evidence.


Dr. Golinkoff is co-director of the Center for Re-Imaging Children’s Learning and Education at Temple University (CiRCLE) and one of the founders of the Ultimate Block Party Initiative and L-rn. She is also currently an associate editor of the journal Child Development.
Dr. Golinkoff obtained her bachelor’s degree at Brooklyn College, her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Cornell University, and had a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Pittsburgh’s Learning Research and Development Center.


Capping her stellar career, Dr. Golinkoff considers her finest achievement to be her two children: Allison (28) and Jordan (32).

andy_ackermanAndrew S. Ackerman has served since 1990 as Executive Director of the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, where he is responsible for the institution’s management and artistic direction. In that time, the museum has doubled its attendance and budget and completed a 10,000 sq. ft. addition.He began his museum career in 1975 as an instructor at The Exhibit Museum in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he taught history and natural science to school groups and conceived and implemented a program for pre-schoolers. In 1977, he returned to his native New York to become Director of Education of The Jewish Museum. He held that position until 1985, when he became Assistant Director of The Jewish Museum, responsible for long-range program planning, fundraising, and the integration of audio-visual technology into exhibition programs.From 1986 to 1990, Mr. Ackerman served as Director of the Arts in Education Program of the New York State Council on the Arts.

shellyFor over twenty-five years, Shelly has been both a practitioner and advisor to nonprofit and philanthropic organizations nationally, as well as nongovernmental organizations globally. She has deep experience in strategy and business planning, organizational and leadership development; and program planning and assessment, as well as being a trained facilitator.


From 2000-2013, Shelly was a Partner with TCC Group a national management consulting firm with offices in Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco. She headed the nonprofit strategy practice as well as being the Chief Financial Officer for the firm. While at TCC, she led numerous organizational assessment and strategic planning assignments for a broad spectrum of nonprofit organizations, philanthropies and corporate giving programs.


Prior to joining TCC Group, Shelly spent six years as Deputy Executive Director of the International Clinical Epidemiology Network (INCLEN, Inc.), an international nonprofit organization working with medical schools in 24 countries to establish centers of research excellence. She came to INCLEN after eleven years in international development, primarily with the international relief and development organization, CARE.


Shelly has written a number of articles on strategic planning over the years including “The Death of Planning” for the Philadelphia Social Innovations Journal; “Funding for Impact: How to Design Strategic Grantmaking Programs,” and with Jared Raynor “When Things Fall Apart: Building Organizational Strength of Humanitarian Organizations” for TCC Group. She has presented numerous workshops on strategic and business planning for mission focused organizations nationally including podcasts on Adaptive Leadership for Nonprofits and Transformational Strategic Planning. She was the primary researcher for Private Foreign Aid: U.S. Philanthropy for Relief and Development, by Landrum Bolling (West View Press, 1982) and authored Third World Women in Agriculture: An Annotated Bibliography (The National Council for Research on Women, 1985).


Shelly received her Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies and a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Brown University.


Currently, Shelly is a member of the boards of Public Citizens for Children and Youth based in Philadelphia and Ultimate Block Party, a national exploration of how children learn and grow.