Children and Screens Announces Appointment of Its First Executive Director, Kris Perry

Perry is a nationally recognized early childhood advocate driving effective early learning policy at local, state, and national levels 

Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development has announced the appointment of award-winning child advocate, Kris Perry, as its first-ever Executive Director. Perry most recently served as Senior Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom of California, focusing on the implementation of early childhood development initiatives, and Deputy Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency. She brings 34 years of service in the public and non-profit sectors. With Perry onboard, Children and Screens will build on the strength and prestigious reputation of its existing work: the funding and dissemination of scientific research focused on the impact of digital media on child development, and the translation of those findings into programs and policies that promote child wellness.

 “There are far too many examples of digital media products designed to take advantage of children during important stages of their development, leading to challenges with fundamental aspects of childhood such as sleep, self-image, mood and attention,” says new Executive Director Kris Perry. “Joining Children and Screens at this watershed moment is an honor, and an opportunity to leverage scientific research to ensure digital media supports healthy child development.”

 As Executive Director, Perry will serve as the strategic and administrative leader of Children and Screens. In this role, Perry will report to the Board of Directors, work in close partnership with the Institute’s staff and Scientific Advisory Board, lead the professional development of staff, and grow investments to support the expansion of essential research. Perry will be the public face of the Institute, leveraging public and government relations to bring more attention to the impact of digital media on child development. 

“I feel grateful that for the past decade, the Institute has been able to advance and fund new interdisciplinary research and provide useful education into digital media’s effects, as well as  help nurture talent in the field. We’ve made real progress on understanding the cognitive, mental and physical effects of new technologies on children’s health and well-being, but there’s so much more work that still needs to be done,” says Children and Screens founder and president Pamela Hurst-Della Pietra. “During the next decade, it will be more important than ever that we have a proven leader that can move forward with an even more ambitious agenda. I have every confidence that Kris will amplify the institute’s reach and influence and  build an even broader coalition of stakeholders and organizations to expand our voice and our work on the impact of digital media on child development.” 

For three decades, Perry has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of young children, winning numerous advocacy awards. Perry’s fierce commitment to children started at the Alameda County Social Services Agency, where she worked in child protective services. Shen then pivoted to leading systems change as executive director of First Five San Mateo, and later as executive director of First Five in California and in Washington, D.C. as executive director of the First Five Years Fund. She then served as President of Save The Children Action Network. Returning to California to serve as Senior Advisor to Governor Gavin Newsom and Deputy Secretary of California Health and Human Services Agency, Perry led the development of the California Master Plan for Early Learning and Care and was instrumental in the expansion of access to high-quality early childhood programs.

Through it all, Perry has fought to protect children, improve and expand early learning programs, and increase investments in low-income children. Perry was instrumental in returning marriage equality to California after the landmark 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling Hollingsworth v. Perry, which she wrote about in her book Love on Trial (Roaring Forties Press, 2017). She was also an early leader in the implementation of Proposition 10, California’s historic early childhood initiative. 

“Kris is the perfect leader for the next stage of the Institute’s development,” says Children and Screens board member Dimitri A Christakis, Editor in Chief, JAMA Pediatrics. “Her deep insights and breadth of her experience will advance our mission of ‘helping children lead healthy lives in a digital world.’” 


Since its inception in 2013, Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development has become one of the nation’s leading non-profit organizations dedicated to advancing and supporting interdisciplinary scientific research, informing and educating the public, advocating for sound public policy for child health and wellness, and enhancing human capital in the field. As public educators in the field, we provide policymakers summaries of research findings and compelling evidence about the cognitive, psychosocial, emotional, physical, and behavioral impacts of digital media use in infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, and adolescence.

Children and Screens: Institute of Digital Media and Child Development’s Board of Directors/Board of Advisors:

Samuel Aronson, PhD
Senior Scientist Emeritus and Former Director,
Brookhaven National Laboratory

Naomi Baron, PhD
Professor Emerita of Linguistics,
American University

Charles Czeisler, PhD, MD
Baldino Professor of Sleep Medicine, Affiliated Faculty, Department of Neurobiology, Harvard Medical School;
Senior Physician, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Departments of Medicine and Neurology,
Brigham and Women’s Hospital

Tracy Day
Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer,
World Science Festival

Elizabeth Englander, PhD
Professor of Psychology;
Director, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center,
Bridgewater State University

Carmen Gill Bailey, MD
Medical Director and Chief Medical Officer,
City of Frederick, Maryland

April Glad
Senior Program Officer, The Pinkerton Foundation

Nancy Goroff, PhD
Former Chair of the Chemistry Department,
Stony Brook University

Lauren Hale, PhD
Professor of Family, Population, and Preventive Medicine,
Stony Brook University School of Medicine;
Founding Editor-in-Chief, Sleep Health

Carrie James, PhD
Research Associate and Principal Investigator, Project Zero, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Heather Kirkorian, PhD
Laura M. Secord Chair in Early Childhood Development,
Associate Professor and Chair, Human Development & Family Studies, School of Human Ecology,
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Colleen Kraft, MD, MBA, FAAP
Immediate Past President,
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP)

Barnaby Marsh, PhD
Visiting Scholar, Princeton Institute for Advanced Study;
Former Executive Vice President, John Templeton Foundation

Marc Potenza, PhD, MD
Professor of Psychiatry, Child Study Center and of Neuroscience; Director, Center of Excellence in Gambling Research;
Director, Yale Program for Research on Impulsivity and Impulse Control Disorders;
Director, Women and Addictive Disorders, Women’s Health Research at Yale University

Mitch Prinstein, PhD
Chief Science Officer, American Psychological Association

John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Co-Director, Winston National Center for Technology Use, Brain, and Psychological Development

Ellen Wartella, PhD
Sheik Hamad bin Kalifa Al-thani Professor of Communication Studies, Professor of Psychology, Professor of Human Development and Social Policy, and Professor of Medical Social Sciences,
Director of the Center on Media and Human Development,
Northwestern University

Paul Weigle, MD
Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist; Associate Medical Director, Natchaug Hospital Ambulatory Service, Natchaug Hospital;
Chair of the Media Committee, American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry