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Walter S. Gilliam, PhD

Professor Adjunct in the Child Study Center

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Walter S. Gilliam, PhD



Walter Gilliam is the executive director of the Buffett Early Childhood Institute and the Richard D. Holland Presidential Chair in Early Childhood Development at the University of Nebraska. He is a tenured professor at the Munroe-Meyer Institute, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and a professor adjunct at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale School of Medicine, where he previously was the Elizabeth Mears & House Jameson Professor of Child Psychiatry and Psychology and director of Yale’s Edward Zigler Center in Child Development and Social Policy.

He is vice president of ZERO TO THREE; a past president of Child Care Aware of America; board treasurer for the Irving Harris Foundation; a director for First Children’s Finance, All Our Kin, and the National Workforce Registry Alliance; a former senior advisor to the National Association for the Education of Young Children; and a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center. Gilliam was co-recipient of the prestigious 2008 Grawemeyer Award in Education for the coauthored book, A Vision for Universal Preschool Education. His research involves early childhood education and intervention policy analysis (specifically how policies translate into effective services), ways to improve the quality of PreKindergarten and child care services, the impact of early childhood education programs on children’s school readiness, and effective methods for reducing classroom behavior problems and preschool expulsion, as well as issues of COVID-19 transmission, vaccination, and health and safety promotion in early childhood settings. His scholarly writing addresses early childhood care and education programs, school readiness, and developmental assessment of young children.

Gilliam has led national analyses of state-funded PreKindergarten policies and mandates, how PreKindergarten programs are being implemented across the range of policy contexts, and the effectiveness of these programs at improving school readiness and educational achievement, as well as experimental and quasi-experimental studies on methods to improve early education quality. His work frequently has been covered in major national and international news outlets for print (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, LA Times), radio (e.g., NPR), and television (e.g., CNN Headline News, NBC TODAY Show, CBS Early Show, ABC Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, FOX News). Gilliam has actively provided consultation to state and federal decision-makers in the United States and other countries (such as the People’s Republic of China and the United Arab Emirates) and frequently provides testimony and briefings before Congress on issues related to early care and education.

Education & Training

  • Research Postdoctoral Fellowship
    Yale University School of Medicine (1999)
  • Postdoctoral Fellowship in Clinical Psychology
    Yale University School of Medicine (1997)
  • Internship in Clinical Psychology
    Yale University School of Medicine (1996)
  • PhD
    University of Kentucky (1996)
  • MSEd
    University of Kentucky (1993)


  • Early childhood development: An investment and an opportunity for Abu Dhabi
    Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (2013-2016)
    Building a comprehensive early childhood development infrastructure for Abu Dhabi and the UAE
  • Early Education Policy
    China 2011
    Consultation with Ministry of Education regarding national early education policy
  • Early child development and education policy
    Israel (2009-2010)
    Invited presentation
  • Early Childhood Education Policy
    Singapore 2009
    Invited presentation at the National Child Education Conference and Exposition
  • Early Child Development Policy Consultation
    Bulgaria (2008-2009)
    Consultation regarding national policies to support young children's development
  • Early Education
    Japan 2008
    Release of the book, A Vision for Universal Preschool Education, in Japanese

Honors & Recognition

AwardAwarding OrganizationDate
First for Kids Award, Priscilla Canny Research AwardConnecticut Voices for Children2008
Grawemeyer Award in EducationGrawemeyer Committee, University of Louisville2008

Professional Service

National Workforce Registry AllianceBoard of Directors2021 - Present
National Advisory Council, Rollins Center for Language and LiteracyMember2020 - Present
National Early Education Council, JumpstartMember2019 - Present
National Research Council, Parents as TeachersMember2019 - Present
All Our KinBoard of Directors2017 - Present
First Children's FinanceBoard of Directors2017 - Present
Irving Harris FoundationBoard of Directors2015 - Present
ZERO TO THREEBoard of Directors2012 - Present
Journal of School Psychology2011 - Present
Connecticut Early Childhood Education Cabinet, Connecticut Governor’s State Advisory Council (SAC)Data Systems Workgroup2011 - Present
Child Care Aware of AmericaBoard of Directors2010 - 2021
NHSA Dialog: A Research-to-Practice Journal for the Early Childhood Field2009 - Present
National Research Council, National AcademiesReview Committee, Developmental Outcomes & Assessments for Young Children2008
National Association for the Education of Young ChildrenAdvisor2007 - 2009
U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education SciencesEarly Childhood Technical Working Group2007
Connecticut Early Childhood Research and Policy CouncilAppointed by Governor Rell to the Connecticut Early Childhood Research and Policy Council2007 - 2009
Topics in Early Childhood Special Education2006 - Present
Early Childhood Research Quarterly2006 - Present
Infants and Young Children2005 - Present
Connecticut Association for Human ServicesBoard of Directors2003 - Present
Connecticut Association for Human Services, Hartford, CTBoard of Directors2003 - 2018

Departments & Organizations