As Vice President of Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation and Training (ECMHC) at Kidango, Tena is responsible for shaping and executing an overarching vision and strategic direction for the ECMHC programs internally and externally across the organization. Tena and her team of consultants join in partnership and collaboration with early learning teams in their devoted efforts to ensure the highest quality of care for the children and families they serve. Tena and the ECMHC team provides consultation and training that empowers and builds the capacity of staff and families to cultivate positive and inclusive environments, support the social-emotional health and development of all children in the classroom or home, and work effectively, responsively and collaboratively with children and families with mental health concerns, challenging behaviors and individual developmental differences. The aim of ECMHC is to enhance all relationships involved in the care setting, cultivate and sustain nurturing and emotionally responsive environments, strengthen staff effectiveness in interactions with young children and families, and build strong school/home alliances.
Tena strives to inspire connection, empowerment, compassion and wellness one interaction, one experience and one relationship at a time. Tena believes all young children and their families have the inalienable right to be embedded in relationships and systems that empower, preserve and nurture their sense of worth, significance, and inner wisdom. Tena’s personal and professional pursuit is for every child to be seen, heard, understood, valued and cared for deeply. Tena believes the adults – teachers, parents and other caregivers – who care for our youngest and most vulnerable members of our community deserve support and resources to be well and to be at their most optimal for the benefit of the children.
Tena is a licensed therapist, endorsed as an Infant-Family Early Childhood Specialist/Reflective Practice Facilitator II and a fellow of the Napa-based Infant-Parent Mental Health Post-Graduate Fellowship Program through the University of Massachusetts, Boston. Tena holds a B.S. in Communication and a M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy. Tena is an adjunct lecturer within the psychology graduate programs at John F. Kennedy University and Santa Clara University.
Tena has extensive clinical experience with under-resourced communities and families with young children as an early childhood mental health consultant, therapist, supervisor and trainer including with Early Head Start, Head Start and State-Preschool programs.
Tena is trained in several clinical evidenced-based practices that include: Neurodeveopmental Model of Therapeutics (NMT) by Bruce Perry MD of the Child Trauma Academy; Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) by Chandra Gosh-Ippen Ph.D. of the UCSF Child Trauma Research Program; Trauma‐Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF‐CBT); TOUCHPOINTS developed by the T. Berry Brazelton of the The Brazelton Touchpoints Center; Newborn Behavior Observations System (NBO) through The Brazelton Institute of Children’s Hospital Boston; and the NCAST Parent‐Child Feeding Scale developed at the University of Washington.
Tena does speaking and training at professional conferences and other professional venues on topics related to early childhood mental health; mental health consultation; trauma, toxic stress and adverse childhood experiences (ACEs); trauma-informed care; foster care/adoption; neuroscience and early (brain) development; social-emotional development; learning, behavior and regulation; family engagement; professional burnout and compassion fatigue, interpersonal organizational culture and staff wellness, as well as reflective practice in supervision and consultation.