Ruby Takanishi, PhD

Ruby Takanishi 250px

Ruby Takanishi, PhD

In Memory Of…Ruby Takanishi

Honoring scientists who have made important and lasting contributions to the sciences of mind, brain, and behavior and committed leadership of FABBS.

1946 ─ 2020

Dr. Ruby Takanishi led a full and illustrious career focusing on how research on children’s development can inform public policy and programs, and left a legacy in social science advocacy as a whole. Takanishi was the founding executive director of FABBS, then called the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences (FBPCS).

In 1980, Takanishi left her position at UCLA to take a Congressional Science Fellowship in the Senate Appropriations Committee, sponsored by the Society for Research in Child Development and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as one of the few behavioral scientists in the program at the time. During this era, there were many threats to funding for behavioral and social science research, especially in the Department of Education. As a legislative assistant, she did not have much power, but was able to “observe what was going on, and to see how advocacy occurred, how effective it was, how ineffective it was”.

After a brief return to teaching, she felt the pull of the policy world and returned to Washington, DC. At this time, she became the founding Executive Director of FBPCS and Administrative Officer for Children, Youth and Families as a registered lobbyist in the National Policy Studies Division of the American Psychological Association. Under Takanishi’s guidance, FBPCS worked in science policy, tracking funding through the Department of Defense, and creating Congressional Science Seminars, where about 50 or 60 congressional staff would be invited to lunch to hear about the contributions of behavioral, cognitive, neuroscience, and social science research and its uses or applications to children’s programs or health issues.

From 1996-2012, Takanishi served as the President/CEO of the Foundation of Child Development (FCD). Under her leadership, FCD developed and launched the Prekindergarten-3rd Grade Framework, supported the development and use of the Child and Youth Well-Being Index (CWI), and re-instituted its Young Scholars Program (YSP) which was designed to continue to nurture an emerging group of diverse early career scholars. 

In addition to her roles at FBPCS and FCD, Takanishi left long-standing impacts for the behavioral sciences, with other positions including Assistant Professor in UCLA’s Graduate School of Education; Director of the Office of Scientific Affairs at the American Psychological Association; Executive Director of the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development; Assistant Director in the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy for Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education; and her most recent position, Senior Research Fellow with the Early and Elementary Education Policy program at New America. She will be sorely missed.

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