Harolyn M.E.

Harolyn M. E. Belcher, M.D., M.H.S.'s picture
Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer
Kennedy Krieger Institute

707 North Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
United States

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Dr. Harolyn M. E. Belcher, is the Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Director, Office for Health, Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, Senior Director, Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Dr. Harolyn M. E. Belcher is a neurodevelopmental pediatrician and research scientist at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is currently the Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer, Director of The Office of Health, Equity, Inclusion & Diversity (O-HEID), and Senior Director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training. Dr. Belcher is jointly appointed as a professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the Department of Mental Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Dr. Belcher received her Bachelor's of Science degree in zoology and medical degree from Howard University as a BS-MD Honors Program scholar. She received a Master's of Health Science focusing on mental health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Belcher was a fellow in developmental pediatrics at Kennedy Krieger Institute. She served on the faculty of George Washington University, Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC (currently an adjunct Professor) and University of South Florida, as the Director of the Developmental Evaluation and Intervention Program, Division of Child Development, Department of Pediatrics. Dr. Belcher was the Assistant Medical Director, Division of Early Intervention Services/Exceptional Family Member Program, Department of Pediatrics at the National Naval Medical Center. She was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Award for her work at the National Navy Medical Center.

Dr. Belcher was the director of research at the Center for Child and Family Traumatic Stress (CCFTS) at Kennedy Krieger Institute from 2003 to 2015. In 2015, Dr. Belcher became the Director of the Center for Diversity in Public Health Leadership Training (Center for Diversity) and Associate Director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program. As the Director of the Center for Diversity, Dr. Belcher and the Center for Diversity faculty and administrative team created a national consortium of universities and institutions that provided clinical, research, and community engagement and advocacy public health experiences for over 600 diverse undergraduate and graduate scholars through funding from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The Office for Health, Equity, Inclusion, and Diversity organizes and supports the annual Room to Grow: Journey to Cultural and Linguistic Competency Conference.

Dr. Belcher serves on the National Academies of Sciences Board on Children Youth and Families and the Forum for Child Well-Being. She is also a member of the Baltimore City Task Force on the Social Determinants of Health.


The Effects of Drug and Traumatic Exposures during Childhood:

In the United States, infants born to mothers who use illicit drugs and/or alcohol during pregnancy may have adverse developmental, emotional, and behavioral health outcomes. Exposure to drugs, tobacco, and alcohol are associated with preventable cognitive and behavioral disorders. Importantly, parental alcohol and drug use may place children at risk for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). ACEs include child maltreatment (childhood trauma) such as physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, caregiver risk factors such as parental drug use, incarceration, untreated mental health disorders, domestic violence, and/or environmental conditions such as poverty. Over 600,000 children in the United States have a history of child maltreatment and over 20% of children live in poverty. These preventable ACEs negatively impact child brain development and may lead to physical, emotional, developmental and behavioral disorders or death during childhood and adulthood.

Dr. Belcher served as a co-investigator on a community-based Head Start prevention intervention grant funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This grant, the Behavioral Enhancement through Training and Teaching to Expand Resiliency (BETTER) Program, studied the impact of on-site mental health clinicians, parent education, and substance abuse prevention programs at two Baltimore City Head Start sites (Belcher et al., 2001; Belcher et al., 2007; Lyn et al., 2014). In addition, Dr. Belcher evaluates children with intrauterine drug exposure in her clinical practice at the Kennedy Krieger Institute. As Director of Research at the CCFTS at Kennedy Krieger Institute, Dr. Belcher and clinical colleagues at worked to develop systematic evaluation of all children treated at the CCFTS to inform best clinical practices. She was the Principal Investigator, for over 10 years, of grants funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative.

These grants promoted the development and evaluation of trauma informed and evidence-based mental health treatment for children and families served by the CCFTS.

Education and Training

Beginning in 2005, Dr. Belcher received funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, to promote diversity in the public health workforce through public health leadership programs. Currently, there are three funded CDC programs. The Maternal and Child Health Careers/ Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement-Undergraduate Program (MCHC/RISE-UP) created a national consortium of institutions and universities (including the Kennedy Krieger Institute (lead), Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Nursing, and Bloomberg School of Public Health, University of South Dakota, partnering with Tribal Serving Institutions, University of Southern California (former) and partnering California State University-Los Angeles (a Hispanic Serving Institution), and University of California-Davis (current) for public health leadership training for up to 50 undergraduate scholars each year. Recent funding from HRSA has expanded maternal and child health experiences for local undergraduate sophomores and junior scholars through the Maternal and Child Health-Leadership Education Advocacy Research Network (MCH-LEARN).

The MCHC/RISE-UP program was built on the LEND and Maryland Center for Developmental Disabilities program training infrastructure creating three public health leadership tracks, namely (1) clinical, (2) research, and (3) community engagement and advocacy at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, University of South Dakota and University of California-Davis locations. The James A. Ferguson Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Initiatives for Student Enhancement (Ferguson RISE) Fellowship provides public health, clinical, and bench research training in infectious diseases, health disparities, mental health, and developmental disabilities at Kennedy Krieger Institute and Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions and the CDC for up to 20 public health graduate or professional scholars from diverse backgrounds.

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Elsevier Fingerprint Engine Profile for Harolyn Belcher

Google Scholar Profile

Research Publications

Belcher HME, Piggott D, Sanders R, Trent M. Research Accountability Groups and Mentoring Minutes: The M3 Approach to Promote Public Health Infectious Diseases Research for Diverse Graduate Students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2019; 89:390-399.

Woods-Jaeger B, Briggs EC, Vivrette RL, Lee RC, Belcher HME. The Association between caregiver substance abuse and mental health problems and outcomes for trauma-exposed youth. Journal of Child and Adolescent Trauma 2019; 12:447-456. doi: 10.1007/s40653-019-00251-7 [OR]

Gross, D., Belcher, H. M., Budhathoki, C., Ofonedu, M., Kurtz, M. Does parent training format affect treatment engagement? A randomized study of families at social risk. Journal of Child and Family Studies 2018; 27:1579-1593. doi: 10.1007/s10826-017-0984-1

Belcher HMStone JD, McFadden JA, Hemmingson TA, Kreutzer C, Harris LG, Wheeler BY, Van Osdel J, Avila M, Yorker B, Hoffman BR, Turner-Musa JO (2015). Evaluating Maternal and Child Health and Leadership Competencies of Emerging MCH Leaders: The MCHC/RISE-UP Experience. Matern Child Health J. 19(12), 2560-7. 

Belcher HM, McFadden J (2015). RISE: Promoting Diversity Among Public Health Professionals. J Public Health Manag Pract. 21(4), 384-91. 

Greeson JK, Briggs EC, Layne CM, Belcher HM, Ostrowski SA, Kim S, Lee RC, Vivrette RL, Pynoos RS, Fairbank JA (2014). Traumatic childhood experiences in the 21st century: broadening and building on the ACE studies with data from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network. J Interpers Violence. 29(3), 536-56.

Hart SL, Hodgkinson SC, Belcher HM, Hyman C, Cooley-Strickland M (2013). Somatic symptoms, peer and school stress, and family and community violence exposure among urban elementary school children. J Behav Med. 36(5), 454-65.

Onigu-Otite EC, Belcher HM (2012). Maternal drug abuse history, maltreatment, and functioning in a clinical sample of urban children. Child Abuse Negl. 36(6), 491-7.

Suarez LM, Belcher HM, Briggs EC, Titus JC (2012). Supporting the need for an integrated system of care for youth with co-occurring traumatic stress and substance abuse problems. Am J Community Psychol. 49(3-4), 430-40.

Hunt KL, Martens PM, Belcher HM (2011). Risky business: trauma exposure and rate of posttraumatic stress disorder in African American children and adolescents. J Trauma Stress. 24(3), 365-9.

Hodgkinson SC, Colantuoni E, Roberts D, Berg-Cross L, Belcher HM (2010). Depressive symptoms and birth outcomes among pregnant teenagers. J Pediatr Adolesc Gynecol. 23(1), 16-22.

Allen D, Belcher HM, Young A, Gibson LW, Colantuoni E, Trent M (2000). BMI, Body Image, Emotional Well-Being and Weight-Control Behaviors in Urban African American Adolescents. Int J Child Health Nutr. 5(3), 55-104.

Other Publications

Wyatt GE and Belcher HME. Establishing the Foundation: Culturally Congruent Mentoring for Research Scholars and Faculty from Underrepresented Populations. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2019; 89: 313-316. doi: 10.1037/ort0000417

Wyatt GE, Chin D, Milburn N, Hamilton A, Lopez S, Kim A, Stone JD, Belcher HME. Mentoring the Mentors of Students from Diverse Backgrounds for Research. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 2019; 89: 321-328. dx.doi.org/10.1037/ort0000414

Beltran M., Brown-Elhillali A., Held A., Ryce P., Ofonedu M., Hoover D., Ensor K., Belcher H.M.E. Using Yoga-Based Psychotherapy groups for boys exposed to trauma in urban settings. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 2015; 22:39-46. PMID: 26773320 [OR]

Offerman BJ, Johnson E, Johnson-Brooks ST, Belcher HM. (2014). Get SMART: Effective Treatment for Sexually Abused Children with Problematic Sexual behaviorJournal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 1(3), 179-191. doi: 10.1080/19361520802313445.

Lyn A, Turner-Musa J, Morgan I, Belcher HM. (2014). Maternal characteristics associated with child behavior reports in Head StartJournal of Community Psychology, 42(5), 571-582. doi: 10.1002/jcop.21638.

Ofonedu ME, Percy WH, Harris-Britt A, Belcher HM. (2013). Depression in Inner City African American Youth: A Phenomenological StudyJournal of Child and Family Studies, 22(1), 96-106. doi: 10.1007/s10826-012-9583-3.

Briggs EC, Fairbank JA, Greeson JK, Layne CM, Steinberg AM, Amaya-Jackson LM, Ostrowski SA, Gerrity ET, Elmore DL, Belcher HM, Pynoos RS. (2013). Links Between Child and Adolescent Trauma Exposure and Service Use Histories in a National Clinic-Referred SamplePsychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, 5(2), 101-109. doi: 10.1037/a0027312.

Jamora MS, Brylske PD, Martens P, Braxton D, Colantuoni E, Belcher HM. (2009). Children in Foster Care: Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychiatric DiagnosesJournal of Child & Adolescent Trauma, 2(3), 198-208. doi: 10.1080/19361520903120491