Heather works exclusively with parents to help them raise kids who can thrive while making parenting less stressful, more effective, and more enjoyable. Her specialty is simplifying the science into strategies parents can use right away and giving parents clarity and confidence in what to do and how to do it.
I am a licensed Applied Psychologist with a specialty translating psychological research on motivation, behavior, emotions and development into actionable information for parents. I am passionate about helping parents navigate the complexities of raising happy and successful children in a culture that can be damaging to their healthy growth and development. I understand the pressures facing children and parents and I have developed effective strategies to combat these challenges. My goal is always to make family life less stressful, more effective, and more enjoyable now and in the future. I have a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park, where I studied motivated social cognition – basically, how people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are affected by others. I have a broad base of academic, research, and applied experience, having worked as a psychologist for the United States Census Bureau and General Electric Corporation. I am a member of the American Psychological Association and the Virginia Association for Psychological Science. I frequently speak at public and private schools ranging from pre-K to high school on a variety of parenting topics as well as businesses and community organizations. I am the co-author along with Catherine McCarthy and Jennifer Weaver of the book Raising A Kid Who Can: Simple Strategies to Build a Lifetime of Adaptability and Emotional Strength that was released in September 2023 by Workman Publishing.
As the mother of three children, I know firsthand how incredibly challenging and rewarding parenting is as well as how easy it can be to stumble and to get back on track. As I have tried to instill the characteristics into my own children that I know to be strongly related to happiness and authentic success, I have both succeeded - and failed - repeatedly. Along the way, I have seen a tremendous benefit from parents understanding many aspects of psychological research – topics such as motivation, reinforcement, adaptability, resilience, anxiety, self-esteem, stress management, self control, tolerating difficult feelings, independence, executive functioning, identity formation, and persistence that are routinely undervalued or misinterpreted.
I have also been alarmed at the mental health struggles of so many children, adolescents and young
adults and feel compelled to help families understand the ways in which parenting techniques can mitigate or contribute to this enormous problem. I have immersed myself in current research on parenting and child development, created tools to help parents identify their influences and clarify their goals, values, and dreams and developed strategies to help parents effectively move toward them. The end result is a unique ability to explain the key research on child development and human behavior in a way that parents can use to make their parenting more effective and more rewarding. My mission is to share this critical information and to provide support to parents of kids of all ages.
In my spare time I serve on the Safe Community Coalition's Mental Health Committee, the Children’s Science Center STEM Advisory Council, and am the incoming Chair of the James Madison University Honors College Alumni Council. I live with my husband and children in McLean, where I can usually be found at a variety of school, sports, and community events.