Professional News

UK's Mary Howard Selected as Children’s Mental Health Champion

LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 18, 2020) — The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has selected Mary Howard, a University of Kentucky Human Development Institute (HDI) research and development associate for early care and education, as a Children’s Mental Health Champion. 

Howard is one of six people selected for this opportunity to serve as a state liaison to the CDC’s Children’s Mental Health program. She will act as community champion change agent to increase awareness activities and improvement of positive parenting practices, develop and test strategies for building partnerships to promote identification, screening, referral, and intervention and implement effective strategies for mental health promotion, prevention supports, and creation of networks (e.g., school, health care and community) and promote better connections between these systems. 

Howard serves as the director of Child Care Aware of Kentucky and has a network of potential partners serving children and their families across the Commonwealth. 

Kathy Sheppard-Jones, HDI’s executive director, says “We’ve known Mary as a champion for early childhood for many years. This new role is so important in bridging mental health needs for our littlest Kentuckians. Having an opportunity for dialogue at a national level will help strengthen families in the Commonwealth.”

In addition to Kentucky, individuals were selected to represent California, Colorado, New Mexico, Virginia and Washington, D.C. You can learn more about the CDC’s Children’s Mental Health Program at and AUCD at

The University of Kentucky is increasingly the first choice for students, faculty and staff to pursue their passions and their professional goals. In the last two years, Forbes has named UK among the best employers for diversity, and INSIGHT into Diversity recognized us as a Diversity Champion three years running. UK is ranked among the top 30 campuses in the nation for LGBTQ* inclusion and safety. UK has been judged a “Great College to Work for" three years in a row, and UK is among only 22 universities in the country on Forbes' list of "America's Best Employers."  We are ranked among the top 10 percent of public institutions for research expenditures — a tangible symbol of our breadth and depth as a university focused on discovery that changes lives and communities. And our patients know and appreciate the fact that UK HealthCare has been named the state’s top hospital for four straight years. Accolades and honors are great. But they are more important for what they represent: the idea that creating a community of belonging and commitment to excellence is how we honor our mission to be not simply the University of Kentucky, but the University for Kentucky.