Shannon (she/her) Wanless
Associate Professor

Associate Professor and Director of the Office of Child Development
Health and Human Development

Dr. Shannon Beth Wanless began her career as a YMCA Summer Camp Director and a Head Start Teacher. She worked in urban and rural settings, and with children whose families showed incredible resilience in the face of the never-ending challenges of being refugees or being undocumented in the U.S.

She earned a master’s degree in Early Childhood Education at the University of Michigan, a doctoral degree in Human Development and Family Sciences at Oregon State University and a post-doctorate with the Center for Advanced Study of Teaching & Learning (CASTL) at the University of Virginia. During that time Shannon was a Fulbright scholar for one year in Taiwan and researched the ways that social-emotional skills and self-regulation develop in a collectivist culture.

Shannon is now the Director of the Office of Child Development, a large university-community partnership center in the School of Education, that is focused on ensuring that all children thrive. For more news about the Office of Child Development, visit or like it on Facebook.

Having been in Pittsburgh for almost a decade now, Shannon continues to focus on young child’s development and the adults that help them thrive. Her current work is on social justice and equity (SJ&E). She explores ways that children, preservice teachers, and organizational leaders develop SJ&E skills and how to create classroom, school, and organizational climates that reflect SJ&E tenets. Shannon currently teaches Attentional Teaching Practices (ATP), PSYED 1004, which is part of the CASE program for early childhood preservice teachers.

Instructional Interests

  • PSYED 1004, C.A.S.E. Early Childhood Preservice Teacher Education Program. Learn more

  • Study Abroad Cross-Cultural Psychology PSYED 2588. Learn more

Scholarly Interests

  • Cultivating Adult and Child Social Emotional Development and Social Justice & Equity Development
  • Organizational and School Climates that Promote Learning, Humanity, and Anti-Oppression

Selected Grants

  • The Grable Foundation, Pittsburgh, PA The Greater Pittsburgh Education Leaders Academy (PELA): Infusing Educational Ecosystems with Culturally Responsive SEL Leadership (May 2020-April 2021) $40,000 Co-PIs: Tina Raspanti, Shannon Wanless, Michelle King

  • Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, D.C. Early Head Start Home Visiting Program (2019-2020) $4,319,152 PI: Shannon Wanless Team: Family Foundations, Directed by Chris Dunkerley

  • Remake Learning, Pittsburgh, PA Igniting Racial Equity in Allegheny County's Out-of-School Literacy Ecosystem (May 2020 - April 2021) $5,000 PI: Meghan Orman* Team: The 3Rs Community Strand of The Pittsburgh Study

  • Wanless, S.B. (2019). My Racial Journey. Open Access Education Resources Award, $5,000, Provost's Office, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA.

  • Wanless, S.B., White, A., Jackson, M, Mulvey, L. (2017-2020). A World of PRIDE (Positive Racial Identity Development in Early education) in Pittsburgh. $1,081,987, Kellogg Foundation.

Featured Publications

  • Zinsser, K.M. & Wanless, S.B. (2020). Racial disproportionality in the school-to-prison pipeline. In M.C. Stevenson, B.L. Bottoms, & K.C. Burke (Eds.), The legacy of racism for children: Psychology, law, and public policy (pp. 129-150). New York, NY: Oxford.

  • Wanless, S.B. & Barnes, T.N. (2020, March). The missing link in social emotional learning. Blog posted online in honor of SELday 2020, calling for more focus on social justice and equity in the social emotional learning field.

  • Wanless, S.B., Cornell, D., Davis, D. (2019). Emotional and physical safety. In D. Osher, M. Mayer, T. Osher, R. Jagers, & K. Kendziora (Eds.), Keeping students safe and helping them thrive: A collaborative handbook for education, mental health, child welfare, safety, and justice professionals, families, and communities: Vol. 1. (Chapter 8). Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger.

  • White, A. & Wanless, S.B. (2019). P.R.I.D.E.: Positive Racial Identity Development in Early Education, Journal of Curriculum, Teaching, Learning and Leadership in Education, 4(2), 73-84.

  • Miller, J., Wanless, S.B., & Weissberg, R. (2018). Parenting for competence and parenting with competence: Essential connections between parenting and social and emotional learning. The School-Community Journal, 28(2), 9-28.

Awards and Honors

  • Selected Participants for the Transformative Educational Leadership Program. (June 2020 -May 2021). This intensive yearlong program focuses on developing the leadership skills of educational leaders, with a focus on equity, social emotional learning, and mindfulness.

  • Women in Academic Leadership (WIN-AL) Program Participant (2019 – 2020), University of Pittsburgh,

  • Selected Member of the PIOSA (Performance Imperative Organizational Self-Assessment Learning Community (Jan – Dec 2018), Forbes Funds, led by Don Goughler. Mentors: Susanne Cole, CEO Pressley Ridge; Maggie Jensen, CEO YWCA of Pittsburgh

  • Outstanding Reviewer for Early Childhood Research Quarterly (2014)

  • Council of Graduate Students in Education “Extra Mile” Award (2012), University of Pittsburgh

Engagement, Partnerships, and Professional Service

  • Chair-Elect and long-time executive committee member of the Social Emotional Learning Special Interest Group of the American Education Research Association.

  • Advisory Board Member, Child Care Lounge,

  • United for Children Strategic Allocation Committee Member, United Way, Pittsburgh PA.

  • Steering Committee & Equity and Justice Committee Member, SEL4PA, Statewide Social Emotional Learning Task Force, Housed at CPSEL, Harrisburg, PA.

  • Co-Lead of the Pittsburgh Study’s K-3rd grade Cohort: The 3Rs (Reading, Racial Equity, & Relationships) with Shallegra Moye.
Shannon (she/her) Wanless


University of Pittsburgh
5123 Wesley W. Posvar Hall
230 South Bouquet Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

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