Esther Calzada, Ph.D., is the Norma and Clay Leben Fellow in Child and Family Behavioral Health at the Steve Hicks School of Social Work. This fellowship, established with the generous support of Norma and Clay Leben, supports an outstanding social work professor whose research, teaching, writing, lecturing and other activities are devoted to child and family behavioral health.

“With this fellowship we are giving a more permanent leadership to the Endowment for the Excellence in Play Therapy Methods we established in 2003,” the Lebens said. “The Leben Fellow, a respected expert and teacher in the field of child and family behavior, will guide play therapy studies, the annual play therapy symposium, and the selection of social work students as Leben scholars.”

Calzada is an expert in parenting and early childhood development among ethnic minority, particularly Latino, families. Her research focuses on family and inter-generational processes and interventions, and aims to reduce racial/ethnic disparities in academic achievement, behavior problems, and socio-emotional problems. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Science Foundation, her work has advanced understanding of the unique risk factors (such as acculturative stress, linguistic isolation, experiences of discrimination, migration trauma, undocumented status) that undermine healthy child development among Latinos, as well as the protective and promoting factors (such as ethnic identity, family cohesion) that offset such risk.

Calzada is an associate professor of social work at The University of Texas at Austin. She also holds faculty affiliate positions in the Population Research Center and the Llilas Benson Latin American Studies and Collections at UT Austin, and in the Department of Population Health at the New York University School of Medicine. She serves as associate editor for the Journal of Latin@ Psychology and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida and her B.A. from Duke University.