Brenda Jones Harden

BRENDA JONES HARDEN is the Ruth Ottman Class of ’45 Professor of Child and Family Welfare at the Columbia University School of Social Work. Before joining CSSW, Brenda Jones Harden was the Alison Richman Professor for Children and Families at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, and a Professor of Human Development at University of Maryland College Park. 

Her research focuses on the developmental and mental health needs of young children who have experienced adversity, particularly those who have been maltreated or have experienced other forms of trauma. She is currently a PI on a longitudinal study to examine the brain and behavioral development of children experiencing adversity from the prenatal period through middle childhood. A particular focus of her research is preventing maladaptive outcomes in young children and their families who experience adversity through early childhood programs. She conducts numerous evaluations of such programs, including parenting interventions, early care and education, home visiting services, and infant mental health programs. 

Dr. Jones Harden has consulted with and provided training to numerous organizations regarding effective home visiting, infant and early childhood mental health, reflective supervision, infant/toddler development and intervention, early care and education, and working with parents from impoverished backgrounds. She began her career as a child welfare social worker, working in foster care, special needs adoption, and prevention services, the latter of which became her long-term practice and research focus. She is a scientist-practitioner who uses research to improve the quality and effectiveness of child and family services and to inform child and family policy. 

She is the immediate past-President of the Board of Zero to Three, and serves on various federal, state, local, foundation, and research advisory boards. She received a PhD in developmental and clinical psychology from Yale University and a Master’s in Social Work from New York University.