Meet the Team behind Behavior Checker®
Our Foundation is the first grassroots national nonprofit organization to fill the gap in universally connecting and “tethering” child-facing organizations, as well as the families they support, to over 150 evidence-based, standardized, front-line parenting prescriptions for the most common, predictable behavior challenges children experience as they grow. In short, we create practical tools and partnerships to empower providers, parents and everyone who touches the life of a child to recognize that parenting is healthcare.
As a contributor to the new national movement of healthy parenting in primary care, the Foundation is on the front line in preventing and reversing the effects of toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences. We help adults establish safe, stable and nurturing relationships through through the innovative clinic-delivered, parent skill-building tool kit, Behavior Checker; the new completely revised edition of Discipline with Love and Limits; and the companion, groundbreaking online education course, Parenting is Healthcare.
Our Foundation Co-Founders
The three founding partners of the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation see our roles as parents, grandparents, authors, healthcare professionals and social entrepreneurs through three positive lenses: curiosity, learning and hope. Our hope burns brightly that the words and actions we communicate encourage you to do what you do best--open your mind and heart to making joyful positive emotional connections every day, and understanding the power we have when building relationships that nurture everyone's emotional, mental, physical and spiritual health. With that in mind, say hello to...
Barbara C. Unell, Co-Founder
Since authoring her first book at the age of 8, Barbara has passionately pursued being an author, publisher, educator and social entrepreneur, asking questions and seeking answers, always with the ultimate goal of putting more kindness, respect and compassion into the world. Her curiosity and delight in words has only grown stronger since graduating with degrees in journalism and psychology from The University of Texas at Austin and pursuing professional dreams in communications in all of its vast possibilities. Barbara has co-authored 17 books, including Discipline Without Shouting and Spanking, which has sold over a million copies worldwide; How to Discipline Your Six to Twelve Year Old Without Losing Your Mind; 20 Teachable Virtues; The 8 Seasons of Parenthood; and Discipline with Love and Limits, all with Jerry L. Wyckoff, Ph. D. She has also been a columnist for The Kansas City Star; writer/host of the nationally syndicated radio feature, “Kid’s Stuff”; community partner of “The Baby Buffer” online parenting project of the Kansas chapter of The American Academy of Pediatrics; and co-founder and editor of national and regional magazines and newsletters, including TWINS Magazine, Caring Parent, and Kansas City Parent. Barbara co-founded “Kindness is Contagious…Catch It!”; the award-winning “Sunflower Ambassador” program; and “Uncle Dan’s Report Card”. She served as an adjunct professor in the Communications Studies Department at UMKC, and in 2000, founded the national nonprofit organization, Back in the Swing, which launched the first clinical breast cancer survivorship center in the United States at the University of Kansas Cancer Center in 2006. She and Judith Fertig co-authored the IACP award-winning lifestyle cookbook, The Back in the Swing Cookbook: Recipes for Eating and Living Well Every Day after Breast Cancer, in 2012. Co-founding the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation the same year she became a enthusiastic "G'Ma" planted new seeds of love, laughter and learning she feels blessed to cheer on, from generation to generation to generation.
Jerry L. Wyckoff, PhD, Co-Founder
Dr. Wyckoff earned his Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas. He has worked as a psychologist at the Kansas Neurological Institute in Topeka, Kansas; as a school psychologist and special education administrator for the Shawnee Mission School District in Kansas; and a licensed psychologist in private practice. Dr. Wyckoff has been a frequent speaker for the Parents as Teachers Program and a consultant to school districts in Chicago; St. Louis; San Francisco; Naples, Florida; Seattle, Washington; and Kansas City. He was chairperson of the Stop Violence Committee; a part of the Kansas Committee for the Prevention of Child Abuse; and has served on the professional advisory boards of CASA, CHADD, and TWINS Magazine. Dr. Wyckoff published “Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Who Has It and Who Doesn’t”, in School Law in Review, 1997. He has been an Adjunct Professor in the University of Kansas Department of Human Development and an Associate Professor in Education at Ottawa University, Kansas City. Dr. Wyckoff and his wife of 55 years are the parents of two children and grandparents of four.
Robert Unell, Co-Founder
Robert Unell brings over 40 years to the Foundation as an educator, publisher, marketing executive and business owner. In 1984, after working for three Kansas City advertising agencies, Bob founded his own firm, Unell Associates, Inc., which specialized in healthcare, agribusiness and business-to-business accounts. That same year, Bob, with his wife Barbara, co-founded Twins Magazine, and in 1986, they launched Kansas City Parent Magazine. In 2000, Bob and his wife Barbara established Back in the Swing. Bob has served as adjunct professor in the Communications Studies Department at UMKC. Today, Bob serves as the Director of Marketing for The Raised with Love and Limits Foundation. He is a father of two and crazy about being a "Pops" to his grandchildren. Part of his "fun" time is spent as an editorial cartoonist for the Kansas City Star 913 Edition.
Our Parenting Imagineers
We are honored to introduce you to our advisory team of dedicated psychologists, pediatricians, researchers, scientists, child development experts, nurses, social workers, parent educators and mental health champions who have supported our mission since our inception and continue to be invaluable pioneering advocates who recognize the transformative power of parenting healthcare.
Kathryn Ellerbeck, MD, MPH, FAAP
Dr. Ellerbeck was instrumental from concept, to pilot, to implementation of Behavior Checker since we first met when she served as the President of the Kansas Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and led the team who developed Baby Buffer. She is a developmental pediatrician, mother, and grandmother who currently is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Sciences in Pediatrics at the University of Kansas School of Medicine. Her clinical practice has primarily been the diagnosis and management of children with developmental delays and autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Ellerbeck is faculty in the University of Kansas’ Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) program. She has also served on the Executive Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council of Children with Disabilities (COCWD). Dr. Ellerbeck will be retiring this year and says that she is excited to continue her career with involvement in the work of the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation.
Katy Harvey, MS, RD, LD, CEDRD
Katy Harvey is a master’s level dietitian and expert in the psychology behind our relationship with food and our bodies. She uses a non-diet and intuitive eating based approach to nutrition, so that people can learn to trust themselves and their bodies with food, an approach we have enthusiastically incorporated into Behavior Checker. Katy is committed to providing practical and easy ways for parents to to raise healthy and normalized eaters (in a world filled with lots of nonsense about food and wellness) a commitment we share in all aspects of our Foundation's work. She loves showing parents how they can help their kids enjoy all foods (yes, even veggies), while also including sweets without going overboard. All foods truly can fit as part of a healthy eating pattern for kids and parents alike. Eating should be a joyful part of the family experience, not a stressful one!
Stephen Lauer, MD, PhD
Dr. Lauer received his undergraduate degree from KU and his PhD in biochemistry from the University of Texas, Austin. After working for several years in a molecular biology laboratory studying atherosclerosis, he went back to medical school and graduated from University of California, Irvine School of Medicine. After completing a pediatric residency at UC – San Francisco, he accepted a position on as a general pediatrician at the University of Kansas Medical School where he has been since 2001, now also serving as Associate Chair, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kansas Health System. As the leader of our first pilot program during the development of Behavior Checker, Dr. Lauer states, in his introduction to families, "I believe that this approach will allow for a better, brighter future for our children by teaching their parents how to effectively address the daily challenges of successfully raising children in today's stressful world".
Vicki L. Meek, MS, BSN, CNE
Vicki Meek, MS, RN, CNE received her undergraduate nursing degree from Northern Illinois, her Master of Science from the University of Kansas and is a Certified Nursing Educator. She is currently an Associate Professor at Saint Luke’s College of Nursing at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. She previously served as the Department Nursing Chair for a liberal arts college in the Kansas City metropolitan area. Her main clinical practice has focused in psychiatric and community health nursing. She has over 34 years as a nurse educator with broad classroom and clinical teaching a well as administrative experience, all of which she has been critical to our "Parenting is Healthcare" curriculum development, as well as other Foundation educational ventures. Her areas of research, presentations, and journal articles have been in civility within nursing education, mistakes in professional practice, and the impact of Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) scores on nursing students. Having worked with children with behavioral and emotional challenges, she has seen the need to provide parents and caregivers with tools to successfully nurture their children to adulthood in a safe environment. Since parenting skills are not currently taught in healthcare curricula, health professionals often use their own experience from childhood to answer clients' parenting questions. It is time parenting becomes part of health care, so the advice given is based in research and sound principles to provide the a stable foundation for our children, one of our most vulnerable populations.
Christopher J. Mehus, PhD, LMFT
Dr. Mehus is a Research Assistant Professor in the department of Family Social Science and research faculty in the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement at the University of Minnesota, where he has been the Principal Investigator in Behavior Checker research implementation in primary care. He is a prevention scientist with a background in family science, family therapy, and primary care research. The overarching goal of his work is to improve public health by supporting parents in raising healthy children. His research aims to develop strategies to foster engagement in and create sustainable access to effective resources and support for parents, with an emphasis on reaching highly stressed families. A specific focus of his work has been on developing strategies to engage and support parents through primary care clinics. Behavior Checker is one such strategy, which cannot only provide parents with practical tools, but also has the potential to further normalize this type of critical support as a routine part of pediatric healthcare.
Vladimir Sainte, LCSW
Throughout his career, Vlad says that he has learned that displaying empathy, emotional stability, patience, and honesty goes a long way in building trust with not only children and their families, but with his colleagues and members of the community. He also says that these qualities strengthen him as a social worker, husband, and father. They are also the qualities that he values and that helps guide his professional and personal moral compass, he adds. He currently serves as Director of Counseling and Family Support Services at The Children’s Place in Kansas City, Missouri. In his previous work at Truman Medical Centers, he partnered with the Raised with Love and Limits Foundation team and Behavior Checker with his clients and colleagues. His success demonstrates how much good can be done through partnerships with the same goals and values. Looking forward to continuing to grow positive initiatives together.
Wendy Webb has spent her lifetime championing parents, as she has continued to do in her role as an educator for our Foundation's course, "Parenting is Healthcare" and other community-based workshops. Her educational career focused on child development with a degree in early childhood and elementary education. Her graduate work focused on parent education. Early in her career, she worked with the Kansas Legislature to create the Kansas Parents as Teachers program. Blue Valley School District hired her to implement the program. Thirty years and thousands of families have been enriched by the program locally. Along the way, she became a Trainer in the Parents as Teachers model of parent education and trained new educators in the state and internationally. She also was the founder of the Kansas Parents as Teachers Association, an advocacy organization dedicated to a continued funding stream for parent education. Her strong belief that "parents are the first and most influential teacher in a child's life" continues to keep her motivated.
Tara Westerhouse, LPC
Tara Westerhouse is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is certified in perinatal mental health. Tara’s clinical background includes working with children and adolescents in inpatient psychiatric hospitalization, schools, and community mental health. Her experience providing services in these settings helped highlight the importance of education and prevention efforts. Her insightful work with the Foundation and passion for Behavior Checker come from her firsthand experience working with families who faced many of the challenging behaviors that Behavior Checker addresses. She believes that it is incredibly important that parents, guardians, and caregivers can easily access practical strategies to help manage these behaviors. Tara also notes that Mind S.E.T.® illustrates the fact that our ability to care for others begins with our ability to care for ourselves. In her current work, Tara focuses on providing new and expecting mothers with support and resources to address their own mental health. Tara is a therapist at The Counseling Collaborative and specializes in women's mental health with an emphasis on the perinatal population.