By Jennie Noll
With the passing of our beloved friend and colleague, Penelope K. Trickett, let me communicate the extreme humility with which I assume this post. Penny was a visionary, impassioned by the difference research can make in the lives of maltreatment survivors. From her long-term study of child sexual abuse sequelae, to her supreme ability to do large-scale work within complicated child welfare systems, Penny made a huge impact on the field. She touched and influences the lives of countless esteemed colleagues and students over the decades. Indeed, big shoes to fill.
By way of introduction, let me tell you a bit about myself. With Penny Trickett and Frank Putnam, I worked on the long-term, longitudinal study of sexual abuse survivors which is now in its 30th year of follow-up. I have conducted several additional National Institutes of Health-funded longitudinal studies focused on abused females' risk for pre-term parturition, teenage motherhood, premature cognitive aging, and sex trafficking. In 2013, I joined Pennsylvania State University to direct the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network; a cluster hire of 12 faculty across five colleges to conduct impactful research to solve the complex issues of child maltreatment from transdisciplinary lenses. As of March 2017, I am the principal investigator of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development P50 Capstone Center for child maltreatment research and training titled “Penn State's Translational Center for Child Maltreatment Studies.” This P50 Center is aimed at becoming a national model for scientists working in conjunction with advocates, practitioners, and policy makers to resource, conduct and disseminate impactful new science that can change health and developmental trajectories for victims, mobilize public investment in prevention and treatment, accelerate science to practice, spark dynamic system-wide solutions, and support and inspire future generations to do the same.
Now come the challenges of the next phase. Of course, there is the challenge of moving on and honoring Penny's legacy. We'll begin this tribute with the APA presidential symposium to be delivered at the 2017 APA Convention in Washington, D.C., titled “Advancing methods in child maltreatment research to more effectively influence child welfare policy: Honoring Penelope K. Trickett.” We have also contracted with Springer to produce a special issue of Advances that will include papers produced by Penny's students and close colleagues showcasing her legacy in the advancement of their work.
And then there is the very real possibility that, with the changing political climate, public resources devoted to child welfare will continue to shrink. The key issues on the table (including repealing the Medicaid expansion of the ACA, extending MEICHV, and the reauthorization of CAPTA) will require increased vigilance and coalescence around these and other important issues facing abused and at-risk children.
Fortunately, we have a very competent and committed section leadership to take on these challenges and spearhead this coalition. For their patience during this trying time of leadership change and their incredible flexibility and service, I would like to thank the section leadership with whom I have the honor to serve.
Please contact me directly if you have suggestions for how the section can increase its impact for the betterment of children and families. My friends call me Jennie.