As Executive Director of the Fred Rogers Center, Rick Fernandes is responsible for strategic partnerships, program development, and outreach and communications. He has been involved in children’s television for 30 years where he has worked on shows including Blues Room, Between the Lions, Out of the Box, Bear in the Big Blue House, and Reading Rainbow. Rick’s achievements include 11 Emmy nominations covering five different children’s series for PBS, Disney Channel and Nickelodeon, and one Emmy win for directing Disney Channel’s Bear in the Big Blue House. He also has experience in general entertainment, working on sitcoms, reality, game shows and music videos. Previously, Rick served as Executive Director, General Entertainment Content in Southeast Asia for Turner International Asia Pacific Limited.
Michael Robb, Ph.D.
Director of Education and Research
As Director of Education and Research, Michael Robb oversees the planning and development for one of the Center’s signature programs, the Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment™ (Ele). Dr. Robb has been involved in issues surrounding media and children for over a decade. He has published research on the impact of electronic media on young children’s language development, early literacy outcomes, and problem solving abilities in a variety of academic journals, including Child Development and Developmental Review. Dr. Robb has also supervised community educational outreach efforts for KCET/PBS, helping parents and teachers to make the most of quality children’s programming. He was the recipient of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation Fred Rogers Memorial Scholarship, awarded to students for research on the relationship between children’s use of media and learning. Dr. Robb holds a B.A. in child development from Tufts University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in psychology from University of California, Riverside.
Karen Struble Myers, CFRE
Director of Development
As Director of Development, Karen Struble Myers oversees a multi-year, multifaceted fundraising plan designed to support the operations, signature programs, and endowment fund of the Fred Rogers Center. In this role, she is responsible for annual giving and major gifts as well as stewardship initiatives. Ms. Struble Myers has over ten years of experience in fund development, marketing, and public relations in a variety of nonprofit settings. A 2000 graduate of Penn State University, Ms. Struble Myers holds a B.A. in Advertising-Public Relations, and minors in Speech Communication and Business. She received an M.S. in Professional Leadership, Training, and Development from Carlow University in 2007. A frequent guest lecturer on annual fund strategies, Ms. Struble Myers is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Association of Fundraising Professionals of Western Pennsylvania, where she chairs the scholarship committee.
Junlei Li, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Early Learning and Children’s Media
As the Center’s resident faculty member, Junlei Li integrates the work and mission of the Center, the College, and child-serving partners in our larger community. His research lab Incubator 143 partners with educators, trainers, advocates, and researchers. It incubates development initiatives that intersect the disciplines of developmental and behavioral science, communication and design, and social change. With active projects in low-income child care centers, urban schools, community programs, and the larger child-serving non-profit sector, the Incubators focus on identifying and amplifying the simple active ingredient that universally work and serve children across settings – The Power of Human Connection. Throughout all these efforts, Junlei and his students ponder the question “What Would Mister Rogers Do?” in addressing present day challenges and opportunities for children’s learning and growing. Junlei joins the Center after serving as the Principal Research Scientist at the Fred Rogers Company, Director of Applied Research and Evaluation at University of Pittsburgh Office of Child Development, and principal investigator on federal research grants at Carnegie Mellon University. He holds a Ph.D. in psychology and M.A. in instructional science from Carnegie Mellon University, and a B.S. in computer science from University of Notre Dame.
Tanya B. Smith
Program Coordinator, Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment™
Tanya B. Smith is the program coordinator for the Fred Rogers Center Early Learning Environment™ (Ele). Using Ele as the main resource and focal point, she is designing and delivering professional development seminars for early childhood educators and workshops for parents on the appropriate use of technology and digital media for our youngest learners. Ms. Smith also will be promoting Ele throughout southwestern Pennsylvania by building relationships and collaborations with agencies and schools that serve the needs of our most underserved young children and their families. Additional work experiences include professional development (PQAS certification), college teaching, early literacy, counseling, mobile therapy, and case management. Ms. Smith has a B.A. and M.Ed. from the Pennsylvania State University, and a M.S. degree in early childhood education from the Erikson Institute.
As Archivist, Emily Uhrin oversees the cataloging, indexing and organization of materials related to Fred Rogers’ personal and professional life, formulates and implements archival usage and access policies, and manages the collection of digitized print and video materials in the Fred Rogers Archive. Emily is a 2005 graduate of Saint Vincent College where she studied English and worked in the library as a student assistant. Her enjoyment of library work led her to the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh. She received her M.L.I.S. in 2007 with a concentration in Archives and Records Management. While studying at Pitt, Emily worked for the Fred Rogers Center as an intern, completing an inventory of files that were housed at Family Communications, Inc. She also worked at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History Library to gain field experience.
Theresa Noel joined the Fred Rogers Center staff as secretary in 2012. She provides general secretarial and clerical support to the Center’s professional staff including greeting visitors, scheduling, making travel arrangements, and handling other day to day office duties. Prior to joining the Fred Rogers Center staff, Ms. Noel was employed by the Greater Latrobe School District as a personal assistant. She is married and has three sons.