Dr. Pamela Cantor
Pamela Cantor M.D. is the Founder, President and CEO of Turnaround for Children, Inc. (Turnaround), formerly the Children's Mental Health Alliance (CMHA). Her professional activities reflect a longstanding interest in public health approaches to trauma and children's developmental issues. Dr. Cantor founded Turnaround to address the profound influence of adversity and trauma on children's ability to learn in high-poverty, low-performing schools, and to deepen public understanding of the vital importance of school culture and climate on learning. In recognition of this work, Dr. Cantor was one of five speakers selected to present at the 2010 Aspen Institute Congressional Retreat on Education Reform.
Currently, Dr. Cantor and Turnaround are directing several initiatives in the New York City public schools and launching work in Washington, D.C. Dr. Cantor believes that an effective school must be designed to confront the barriers to learning that its students face. Turnaround has developed a powerful and effective intervention for low-performing, high-poverty schools that builds their capacity to confront the non-academic and academic barriers to student success by methodically addressing the adverse impact of poverty on students and schools. Turnaround's approach helps schools create systems for academic and behavioral support and culture change, provides for the development of unique skills and knowledge in the teaching staff, creates pathways to services, and permanently embeds these changes in the schools' culture so their successes are sustainable. With this foundation, schools are able to create and maintain improved conditions where students can, and do, achieve. To date, Turnaround has partnered with more than 55 New York City public schools.
The Turnaround model emerged directly from work conducted by Dr. Cantor following the September 11th terrorist attacks. In collaboration with the New York City Board of Education, Dr. Cantor was an instrumental voice in the Partnership for the Recovery of New York City Schools, a partnership of public agencies and private organizations that worked to assess the impact of 9/11 on the city's public school children and create a system through which they (and their families) could receive critical assistance. She and her colleagues recognized that many of the issues with which students struggled were in fact long-standing and that what was needed was an enduring, comprehensive and sustainable approach throughout the city's failing schools.
Prior to her work in New York City, Dr. Cantor participated in several initiatives focused on the tremendous escalation of community and school violence. In collaboration with the United States Department of Justice, she worked with then Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder on the Children Exposed to Violence Initiative, which developed an action plan for statewide implementation of prevention, intervention, and accountability programs throughout the country.
Dr. Cantor was also Co-Director of the Eastern European Child Abuse and Child Mental Health Project, a venture initiated and funded by George Soros and the Open Society Institute. Through this initiative, cadres of child-serving professionals from 12 Eastern European countries were trained in best mental health practices. In addition, self-sustaining non-governmental organizations were created to continue the work after the project ended in 2000.
Dr. Cantor was a practicing child psychiatrist for 18 years. She is married to Richard Cantor and has a large family of children and grandchildren.