Advocacy Awards – Press Release


For Immediate Release:

April 26, 2016

First3Years Announce the Winners of the 2016 Infant Mental Health Awards

Mary Greene, KERA, Lifetime Advocate Award (posthumously)

Pauline A. Filipek, M.D., of the Children’s Learning Institute, T. Berry Brazelton Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award


Dallas and Austin – First3Years proudly announces this year’s Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award recipients as:

Mary Greene, KERA, for her longtime, trailblazing support to and advocacy of young children (Lifetime Advocate Award, awarded posthumously); and

Pauline A. Filipek, M.D. of The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston’s Autism Center at the Children’s Learning Institute for advancing the body of research and new practices of early screening and intervention solutions (2016 T. Berry Brazelton Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award).

First3Years is the statewide nonprofit which educates, advocates and collaborates to advance the healthy development of infants and toddlers, birth to 3, through professional development and incubating innovative projects to best serve our youngest residents. The awards will be presented at the 2016 First3Years Advocacy Award & Conference, Driving Texas Families Forward: Research and Policy in Practice, held Friday, May 6, 2016 at The University of Texas LBJ School of Public Affairs, in Austin.

The T. Berry Brazelton Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award is given to individuals who have shown exceptional leadership in advocating for the mental health and well-being of young children and their families in Texas, above and beyond the regular scope of one’s job, profession, or professional organization duties. The Lifetime Advocate Award is given to individuals for a lifetime championing of extraordinary and diverse efforts to improving the lives of infants and toddlers. The Awards are bestowed by the First3Years’ Infant Mental Health Advocacy Council, comprised of a diverse group of Texas professional organizations to seek nominations for selecting the T. Berry Brazelton, M.D., Infant Mental Health Advocacy Award and Lifetime Advocate winners. Dr. Brazelton, is a well-known pediatrician, researcher, author and advocate for parents, infants and toddlers.

Pauline A. Filipek, M.D.

Through her ground-breaking clinical work, practice, and tireless advocacy, Dr. Pauline A. Filipek has dedicated her career, research and leadership in the early child development field as a champion for underserved families. Dr. Filipek is the Director of the Autism Center at the Children’s Learning Institute, and Professor of Pediatrics in the Children’s Learning Institute and Division of Child and Adolescent Neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Dr. Filipek’s specific clinical and research passions have been focused for many years on the earliest identification of warning signs for autism and related disorders in very young infants (even before the first birthday), initiating the earliest intensive interventions.

“Dr. Filipek is among the most effective, committed and knowledgeable champions for the necessary system changes that will improve a wide range of services for infants and children at risk for developmental, emotional and behavioral health challenges that I have encountered in 20+ years as a child advocate,” shares Angelo P. Giardino, M.D., Ph.D and Senior Vice President/Chief Quality Officer, Texas Children’s Hospital, in his nomination of Dr. Filipek.

Through Act Early Texas! Dr. Filipek was instrumental in creating and promoting a statewide developmental screening site that assists with assessment and follow up for young children. In conjunction with HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau and the Texas Early Learning Council, Dr. Filipek created a developmental screening website specifically targeted to parents and early childcare professionals. It is designed to drastically reduce the reported 50% attrition between a failed screening and receipt of services by automating the referral process to ECI or the ISD. After a pilot with 53 childcare providers, Act Early Texas! has the potential to secure funding to begin screening every child, birth to 3, in Texas.

Dr. Filipek is also transforming new approaches to care in creating a telemedicine system for autism spectrum screenings in hard to reach, rural areas. Working with University Autism Centers and practitioners across twelve medically underserved areas across Texas, this telemedicine is aimed at saving patients from the hardship of driving afar for screenings and subsequent diagnostic and intervention visits. To date, the telemedicine project has garnered 10 professional sites and two patient sites as partners.

As an expertise in clinical and research aspects of children with autism spectrum disorders, Dr. Filipek has been instrumental in groundbreaking planning, such as the Texas State Autism Planning grant, including the design and completion of surveys to more than 2,000 parents of children with autism; educational visits to senators and representatives on Capitol Hill; and the development of six policy briefs drafted on behalf of children with autism. The Needs Assessment Report and Texas Autism State Plan are expected to be published in Summer 2016. Dr. Filipek also serves as director of the LoneStar LEND Program, an interdisciplinary fellowship program that creates leaders in the field of Autism Spectrum and other Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

Dr. Filipek completed her medical degree at Georgetown University School of Medicine, after which she pursued a pediatric/chief residency at the University of Massachusetts and a child neurology fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital/ Harvard Medical School. She served on the National Research Council Committee that authored Educational Interventions for Children with Autism.

Mary Greene

 When Mary Lee Dodd Greene, longtime children’s advocate and social justice trailblazer, passed away October 28, 2015, she left a huge legacy—and an immeasurable void in the community of friends and colleagues whose lives she had touched along the way. Mary’s life embodied espousing, supporting, defending, promoting, and championing issues and efforts that enhanced the healthy emotional development of infants, young children and their families. At the time of her passing, Mary was a Senior Outreach Coordinator at KERA, and also served as First3Years’ Board Secretary.

From her time at the Urban League of Greater Dallas, to the Children’s Television Workshop, Sesame Street, to KERA, Mary proved to be a tireless, boundless community activist who was driven by making it better for younger children, in particular, those facing poverty and other social barriers.

At KERA, Mary was instrumental in the creation of the Ready for Life series which was designed to help parents and caregivers raise children who are socially and emotionally healthy and ready to succeed in school and life, covering Attachment and Socialization, Early Literacy, Nutrition and Fitness, and Temperament.

Mary received her degree in Early Childhood Development from Texas State College for Women (now University of North Texas) in 1953. She had planned on teaching after her graduation but was expecting their first child and pregnant women were not allowed to teach. Mary and her husband move their family to Dallas. The family joined the Casa View United Methodist Church. She joined the outreach programs and began to focus her efforts on behalf of “underserved and marginalized communities, particularly women, children and people of color.” During the height of the Civil Rights movement, she served as the educational director with the Urban League of Greater Dallas, charged with helping black citizens find work and housing, and brought the national school lunch program to Dallas.

In 1969, she was recruited by the Children’s Television Workshop, Sesame Street Southwest to help reach the intended audience of children in poverty and their families. Mary traveled the southern states introducing the program to urban, rural and isolated areas including all of Texas. She showed how Sesame Street could be used in unregulated daycare centers, and for children of migrant families in farms in south Texas through the Texas Migrant Council Head Start Program.

In the late 1970s, Mary launched “Sesame Street Goes to Prison.” While visiting a friend who was incarcerated, Mary saw that waiting rooms were too small to allow families room to play or for young children to move around. Mary spoke with the warden and convinced him to put televisions in the waiting rooms. She then helped create Sesame Street videos to play in the waiting rooms which helped parents learn how to help their children grow and learn. As her son Doug said, “Mom transformed a prison into an early childhood development center…” The program was replicated in other prisons around the state.

Mary left an indelible mark on all organizations for which she volunteered. Mary was especially generous with her time to First3Years, when it was then known as the Texas Association for Infant Mental Health. She was TAIMH’s unofficial marketing officer, opened KERA’s facilities for trainings and meetings, facilitated instrumental donor introductions, and active in planning infant advocacy conferences. Mary is missed, and spirit lives on. As Mary likely would advise: “Life goes on. Eat, drink… and be Mary.”


First3Years’ mission is to educate, advocate, and collaborate to advance the healthy development of infants and toddlers. Research shows that 80% of brain development occurs between ages 0-3, and lifelong learning capacity and emotional resilience are shaped during these formative years. Through research-based training, mentoring, advocacy, and collaboration, First3Years programs build awareness of the critical importance of the first three years of life, enhance the quality of relationships between infants/toddlers and their caregivers, and educate professionals in best practices. First3Years is the only organization in Texas working across sectors to improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers (birth to three), including launching programs to better serve vulnerable children in child welfare (Safe Babies) and teen parents in the juvenile justice system (Just Beginning). In 2015, First3Years reached more than 2,100 professionals, impacting the lives of more than 300,000 infants and toddlers.

For interview requests and/or coverage of the May 6 Awards Luncheon, contact:

Soudary Kittivong-Greenbaum

(469) 763-4936 /

Mary Greene                         Pauline A. Filipek, M.D.