Mary Leppert, MB, BCh, and Joyce Harrison, MD, of Kennedy Krieger Institute Receive Johns Hopkins Medicine Institute for Excellence in Education’s (IEE) Outstanding Educator Award in Innovation

BALTIMORE, April 21, 2020 – Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Mary Leppert, MB, BCh, director of the Center for Development and Learning , and Joyce Harrison, MD, child psychiatrist in the Psychiatry and Mental Health Program, were selected as recipients of the 2020 Johns Hopkins Medicine Institute for Excellence in Education’s (IEE) Outstanding Educator Award in Innovation for the creation of the KKI-NECT program, a workforce multiplier that seeks to increase the ability of primary care physicians to care for children with developmental and behavioral problems. The IEE Outstanding Educator Award in Innovation recognizes an individual or, in the rare case, a two-person team, for having developed a resource that directly improves medical or biomedical education. Although led by Leppert and Harrison, the KKI-NECT program is the result of a team effort and includes Anna Maria Wilms Floet, MD, Nancy Grace, PhD, Deepa Menon, MD, Janna Steinberg, MSW, and Belinda Chen.

Brad Schlaggar, MD, PhD, Kennedy Krieger’s president and CEO commented: “The timing of this award could not be better, given the current crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The importance of KKI-NECT is heightened at this time as it is crucial for educating community-based health care professionals to serve children with concerns about developmental disorders and mental health close to their homes or, with telehealth, in their homes. These community-based providers also have access to expert consultation from Kennedy Krieger through KKI-NECT. We at Kennedy Krieger are incredibly proud of their work and congratulate them both on this well-deserved award.”

Developmental and behavioral disorders are among the top five reasons families seek primary care. Current estimates approximate that there is only one child and adolescent psychiatrist per 1,800 children with a mental health disorder, and one developmental behavioral or neurodevelopmental disabilities-certified physician per 11,000 children with disabilities. The KKI-NECT program is the first developmental and behavioral ECHO project, meaning it uses technology-enabled, collaborative education and learning to increase access to high-quality specialty care, in local communities, to better meet pressing public health needs.

“Creating and delivering the KKI-NECT tele-education program at Kennedy Krieger Institute has been a tremendously rewarding experience. Our interface with fellow professionals in the community has been so positively received. We’ve learned much from them and are proud that our work together has had a positive impact on so many children, teens and families. Dr. Harrison and I are very pleased and honored to receive this recognition but know that the success of the program is also due to our tremendous team—the collegiality and expertise of Drs. Anna Maria Wilms Floet, Deepa Menon and Nancy Grace; and the incredible program coordination of Janna Steinberg and Belinda Chen.” Leppert said.

Since beginning the KKI-NECT program in 2016, results show that participants from Western Maryland, the Eastern Shore, school-based clinics and West Virginia are more comfortable managing developmental and behavioral cases; that their medical knowledge has increased; and that almost all of their patients can be served in their practices. Additionally, several KKI-NECT participants have since received developmental and behavioral-related referrals from other providers in their community.

Drs. Leppert and Harrison, and a team of collaborators, are leveraging their tele-education technology to help healthcare professionals better serve their patients and families during the COVID-19 pandemic. They expanded their program to include a series of topics to address the challenges of social isolation and separation from school and services, particularly in children with disabilities in the areas of Maryland and West Virginia where specialty pediatric services are limited. Their innovative, passionate approach has positively impacted underserved communities and improved health and care for thousands.

In addition to award recognition on the IEE website “Awards” page, Leppert and Harrison will receive a $1,000 honorarium. The IEE awards are open to all full or part-time faculty members of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and are peer-nominated, reviewed and selected. For more information about Kennedy Krieger Institute’s KKI-NECT program, email

About Kennedy Krieger Institute:   
Internationally recognized for improving the lives of children and adolescents with disorders and injuries of the brain, spinal cord and musculoskeletal system, Kennedy Krieger Institute in the greater Baltimore/Washington, D.C. region serves 24,000 individuals a year through inpatient and outpatient clinics, home and community services, and school-based programs. Kennedy Krieger provides a wide range of services for children with neurological issues, from mild to severe, and is home to a team of investigators who are contributing to the understanding of how disorders develop, while at the same time pioneering new interventions and methods of early diagnosis.   


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