The Imagine Neighborhood is a podcast designed to help children and grown-ups grow their social-emotional skills.
What is social-emotional learning?
You may have heard of social-emotional learning, or SEL, in the same context with emotional intelligence, mindfulness, and 'people skills.' And we all know that these are important.
SEL is a way that we can build up those skills and learn how to manage big emotions, build relationships and empathy, and solve problems. These are just a few of the social-emotional skills that can help kids and grown-ups communicate better, manage their conflicts, and solve problems together.
How does the show work?
In The Imagine Neighborhood, we use stories, music, and activities to help kids and grown-ups talk about big feelings and solve problems together.
No one gives a toddler a book and expects them to immediately know how to read. Reading is a skill that’s taught—the same is true with social and emotional skills like sharing, making friends, or empathizing with someone else’s feelings. And we give grown-ups extra tools, like activities and conversation starters, that match the topic of each show.
Do I need to listen with my child?
We love it when grown-ups listen with their children and talk together about the stories in the show. But we also understand that it might be hard to find time. You can sign up for our mailing list here, and for each episode launch, you’ll get a description of each show, the topics covered, and some conversation-starting questions to get the ball rolling.
Mia Doces is the vice president of innovation at Committee for Children, where she spends her time creating programs and products that help build children’s social and emotional competence. She has advised a number of organizations on how to do the same, such as Sesame Workshop, Cartoon Network, and the Born This Way Foundation. Working on The Imagine Neighborhood episodes is the highlight of every week. She hopes to meet a Fire Pirate some day.
Creator and Host
Scotty Iseri is an award-winning producer and narrative designer. He spent 10 years as a media producer for Chicago Public Radio and the nationally syndicated programs HIV Talk Radio Project and Smart City Radio. As a fellow at the Center for Asian American Media, Scotty created the award-winning mobile app and video program, The Digits. He’s the inventor of the Paper Hat Game, and his favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is when listeners tell us how they were kind today.
SHERRI WIDEN, PHD
Director of Research
Sherri Widen is the Director of Research for Committee for Children. She received her BA in psychology and MA in developmental psychology from the University of British Columbia, and her PhD in developmental psychology from Boston College. Sherri studies the latest research in child development and social-emotional growth, and she makes sure each episode of The Imagine Neighborhood is research-informed and evidence-based. Sherri’s favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is the bike path with the super sweet jumps.
AISHA WHITE, PHD
University of Pittsburgh Positive Radial Identity
Development in Early Education Program Director
Aisha White is a mother and grandmother born and raised in Pittsburgh where she grew up in public housing communities. She was educated at the University of Pittsburgh where she earned her bachelor's, master’s, and PhD. She has held positions at many early education programs including Family Communications, Inc. – now Fred Rogers Productions – where she is a consultant to the Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood television show. She has coordinated arts and social activism efforts for more than 40 years. She is currently the director of the P.R.I.D.E. Program (positive racial identity development in early education), at the Office of Child Development.
KELLY MENDOZA, PHD
Senior Director, Education Programs at Common Sense Education
Kelly is Vice President of Education Programs at Common Sense Education. She has developed research-based, award-winning curricula in digital citizenship, media literacy, information literacy, and social-emotional learning. Kelly has worked with teams to build curricula, games, and education programs from the ground-up. She develops resources that help students, parents, and educators thrive in a world of media and technology, and that help schools create a positive culture around learning and technology. In her free time, she likes to look for sea glass on the beach and listen to music!
JASMINE WILLIAMS, PHD
Researcher: Facebook Youth Platforms
Jasmine Williams is a Developmental Psychologist with expertise in social emotional learning, bullying prevention, and educational equity. She received her BS in Psychology and Human Development from Virginia Tech, and her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh School of Education. Jasmine helps out The Imagine Neighborhood with tough topics like racism and social justice. She is also a researcher in the tech industry where she helps create safe and fun online experiences for kids. Jasmine’s favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is all the cool, smart people that help make the neighborhood come alive.
Michal Richardson is a children’s media writer, podcast producer, and calligrapher based in New York City. Michal helps each episode of The Imagine Neighborhood make sense and sound fabulous. She also builds puppets, creates costumes, and carries her dance shoes with her just in case. Michal aspires to one day perform a song on her ukulele from atop a unicycle. Her favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is the Fire Pirates' trusty schooner, The Bonny Turnip.
Melissa Victor, also known as Melly, is the creator and host of Stoopkid Stories podcast. While chasing her Broadway dream in NYC, in between gigs, she decided to take her training, creativity and her own experiences growing up, put them all together to create a storybook podcast that features Black characters. Her background in music and theatre has allowed her to create a fun and exciting world for young kids to listen to. “I want young kids who look like me to see and hear themselves in all forms of storytelling”. Melly is excited to bring some of her energy and creativity to The Imagine Neighborhood!
Bilal Dardai is an award-winning playwright and performer based out of the Chicago area. He is an ensemble member of Lifeline Theatre, an alumnus ensemble member of The Neo-Futurists, and a staff writer on the acclaimed audio dramas Unwell: A Midwestern Gothic Mystery (HartLife) and Alba Salix, Royal Physician (Fable & Folly). Bilal has also created the audio series Spellcast as a New Adventure for the Zombies! Run fitness app. As a parent himself, Bilal is extremely grateful to the entire Imagine Neighborhood team for giving him an opportunity to tell the sorts of stories that not only make children laugh themselves silly but also learn how to navigate the world and their own emotions.
Sound and Music Design
Lindsay Jones is an award-winning composer and sound designer. In theatre, he has been nominated for the Tony Awards of Best Score and Best Sound Design of a Play. Lindsay has created music and sound for over 500 productions in Broadway, off-Broadway, and regional theatres across the US and internationally. In film, he has scored over 35 projects, including HBO Films’ A Note Of Triumph: The Golden Age of Norman Corwin, which won the 2006 Academy Award for Best Documentary. In television and commercials, Lindsay created the score for Sony Pictures’ series Family Practice for Lifetime Television, as well as music for commercials for clients like Martha Stewart, Staples, Nike, Smarty Pants, and many others. He is very grateful to team up once again with Scotty Iseri, with whom he has collaborated with on projects in theatre, videogames and music.
CASEY (CRICKET) ESCOLA
Associate Program Manager
Casey Escola has worked in the field of education for over a decade, as a preschool teacher, Peace Corps Volunteer, literacy specialist, and educational researcher. She graduated from NYU’s Sociology of Education graduate program with a strong emphasis on education and social inequality; writing her master’s thesis about the importance of developing empathy at critical stages of childhood development. Casey joined the Innovation team in 2020 and is eager to connect families, classrooms, kiddos, and grown-ups to the wonderful world of The Imagine Neighborhood! Casey’s favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is when Cardboard Scotty speaks in rhyme.
Director of MarCom
Jodi Kingsley is a hardened veteran of the Internet Wars, with a career spanning 20+ years and a client base ranging from Olympic athletes and Platinum-selling musicians to non-profits, international professional associations, and arts organizations of all kinds. She’s also an avid napper, inveterate alliterator, and occasional actress. Her favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is anytime Scotty sings. Her second favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is Macho Supreme falling down stairs.
Leslie Radin helps The Imagine Neighborhood set up recording sessions, and she helps Vac find special guests to interview. She is a stage manager at theatres around the Bay Area and runs a small business (Sweet Surprise Bay Area) which delivers homemade treats to make people smile. Leslie loves hiking, kayaking, reading, cooking, baseball, and all kinds of animals. Her favorite part of The Imagine Neighborhood is seeing the pictures listeners draw to show us how they were kind.
Kristyn Asseff is a copy editor and writer who works on everything from blogs, books, and research articles to the marketing copy of Fortune 100 companies. She thinks being able to fine-tune the newsletters and web pages for The Imagine Neighborhood is the coolest thing ever. Kristyn is based in Seattle, where she thinks rainy days are cozy and she still gets excited about mountains and ferries. Her favorite day in The Imagine Neighborhood was when Macho Supreme found a way to shut down the Toucan't, and she loves how brave and honest Doc Apoc is in sharing her feelings.
About Committee for Children
Since 1979, Committee for Children is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit best known for our innovative social-emotional learning curriculum, Second Step. Our programs blend research and rigor with intuitive design, empowering children with skills to help them realize their goals in the classroom and throughout their lives. Reaching more than 15 million children each year, Committee for Children supports children today so they’ll be able to create a safe and positive society for the future.