Board of Directors
Brooke Shannon is the Executive Director and founder of Wait Until 8th. She lives in Austin with her husband Michael and three daughters. Brooke has a Master's in Integrated Marketing Communications from Northwestern University and B.A. in Political Science and Communications from University of Miami.
Brooke believes all children should experience a childhood filled with outside play, long afternoons with a books and puzzles and time without the presence of a screen. After many conversations with friends about the smartphone problem, she wanted to make a change in her community and hopefully beyond. Please join her in equipping and blessing children with more years without the dangers and distractions of a smartphone.
As a husband, father of four children, and native Austinite, Ben Cannatti’s heart is bent toward service. He brings to The Wait Until 8th board over 20 years of experience of designing and creating organizations and operations to raise awareness, influence opinion, build consensus, and impact policy decisions all across the United States. Ben’s company, Caleb Consulting is a full service political, communications, and advocacy firm built on the premise of serving and leading well. The firm has a unique combination of local, state, and national experience developed through creating advocacy and engagement strategies for clients in the political, public policy, and corporate arenas.
Jessica Blacklock lives in Austin with her husband, Jimmy, and three daughters. She is a corporate lawyer and co-founder of Potts Blacklock Senterfitt, PLLC, a business and real estate law firm. Jessica received her law degree from The University of Texas School of Law, and also received a bachelor of business administration from the Business Honors Program of the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, with a second major in Finance.
As a lawyer working with start-ups every day, Jessica knows that smartphone and tablet technology is a critical driver of innovation and growth. As a busy working mom, she uses every app possible to increase her efficiency and give her more time with her family. But as a mom, Jessica sees how her children turn into zombies the second they are in front of a smartphone or tablet. Jessica believes we can balance the advantages of technology with protecting our children’s development. And through Wait Until 8th, she wants to empower other parents who feel the same way.
Megan Whitley lives in Austin with her husband, David, and their two young children. Megan Whitley joins Wait Until 8th with more than a decade of digital public relations and public affairs, across agencies, consumer brands and political campaigns. She spent three years in an Austin technology startup (acquiring ‘grit’) and currently holds the position of Director of Social Media for GOSMiLE. Whitley’s abiding love for her two young children, and her many years of immersion in online media and advertising has culminated in her compelling desire to devote herself to driving the mission of Wait Until 8th forward. Whitley holds a BA in Communication Management from the University of Denver. Whitley loves playing tennis, exploring the outdoors with her children, and relishes date nights with David.
Dr. natahsa burgert
Natasha Burgert, MD, FAAP is an innovative general pediatrician in Kansas City, MO and National Spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Her work with patients has been featured in outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Parents magazine. She also has been highlighted on NBC Nightly News, CBS This Morning,and other local news programs. She has had the opportunity to keynote at various health marketing, vaccine advocacy, and physician-led organizations.
She is fueled by her husband and two young children.
Dr. Catherine Steiner-Adair
Dr. Richard Freed
Dr. Freed is a child and adolescent psychologist and a leading authority on raising children in the digital age. He is the author of the book Wired Child: Reclaiming Childhood in a Digital Age, and his insights have been featured in The New York Times, The Atlantic, on NPR, and other media platforms.
Dr. Freed speaks internationally to groups of parents, teachers, and health care providers. Receiving his professional training at Cambridge Hospital / Harvard Medical School and the California School of Professional Psychology, he now lives in Walnut Creek, California and is the father of two girls, ages 11 and 15.
Honored by Newsweek as one of the “Women Shaping the 21st Century,” Tiffany Shlain is an Emmy-nominated filmmaker, author, founder of The Webby Awards, and co-founder of two global initiatives, Character Day and 50/50 Day.
Tiffany serves on the Leadership Board of The Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard's Boston Children's Hospital and she is a Henry Crown Fellow of The Aspen Institute. She is currently writing a book about her family’s decade long ritual of turning off screens one day each week for what they call their Technology Shabbats. The book will be published by Simon & Schuster in 2019.
Additional Advisory Board Member
Local Voices of Wait Until 8th
Chris Gerosa lives in Westchester county, NY, in a suburb just outside NYC, with her husband and three children. As a full-time mom, Chris is very active in her school PTA and started a committee called PASS - Parenting Around Screens and Social Media - using the Wait Until 8th pledge as a starting point. Her PASS committee hosted an event at their local school where the pledge was rolled out and a panel discussion was led between parents and Clinical Psychologists, who could speak directly to the overwhelming effects of smartphones and screens in our lives. The PASS committee now hosts group discussions to discuss ways to parent around the distractions of smartphones, video games and other screens. Chris believes in giving our children support to resist the pressures and addictive nature of smartphones, social media, video games, and their effects on our children’s wellbeing, and has signed the pledge for all three of her children.
Elaine Trull is a native of Austin, graduated from the University of Texas and is a full-time mom. She and her husband, Asa, have two children. Elaine has observed that young minds are like sponges; they are wildly curious, but lack discernment. Elaine believes our children deserve the opportunity for their minds to be filled with all the wonder this world has to offer, free from the dangers of the internet, predators and the snares technology uniquely provides. Without the distraction of a smartphone, children can foster relationships, build communication skills and grow their imagination - priceless assets for life.
Tera Ferguson lives in Austin with her husband, Douglas Rivera, and their three children. Tera has a B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Duke University. She has more than 15 years of professional experience in business and technology consulting. She is currently a part-time independent consultant, full-time mom, and active volunteer in the Austin community. Tera and her family enjoy spending time outdoors, traveling and watching movies together. She believes the social pressures we all face in an online environment take confidence and maturity to navigate, and that delaying access to social media will help her children handle it in a responsible way.
Krista's passion for the next generation is an extension of her background as a middle school teacher. She earned bachelor's degrees in English and Psychology at the University of Kansas, and her Masters in Education at Rockhurst University. Krista dreams of a world where kids can be kids a little longer, so that when they are adults and facing giants of their own, they can refer back to the years they spent looking up--not down--for answers. She loves encouraging and empowering local communities to link arms for the good of our kids--our future leaders. She lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Scott, and their four children.
Stephanie Strain is a wife, mother and local artist based in Austin. She was born and raised in California and received her BA in Linguistics from University of California at Santa Cruz. She is very involved in her community and serves as the Booster Club president of her children’s elementary school. She encourages her two children to be independent thinkers and to love travel, the outdoors and reading.
Stephanie believes that middle school can be a tricky time for children and that those years are better spent away from the added stresses of social media and the pressures that come with having a smartphone.
Melissa Byrkit lives in Austin with her husband, Doug, and their three children. Originally from the Seattle area, Melissa has B.A. in Speech Communications from University of Washington. She has worked more than 15 years in professional investment planning and management. Currently Melissa takes care of her young children and helps lead a kid’s bible study. Melissa’s hope is that families will develop healthy habits as it pertains to online activity.
Kim Levell was born and raised in Dallas and now lives in Austin with her husband Michael and two children. She has a bachelor's degree in Child and Family Studies and Psychology, a Masters in Counseling, and is a former Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas. As a former special education teacher and behavior specialist, she has seen firsthand how an overindulgence of screentime can negatively affect mood and behavior in children. As a full-time mom, Kim is actively involved in her children's schools and her family's church.
Erin Breitenbach lives in Austin with her two sons. She has a PhD in Health Education from The University of Texas and works as an Associate Professor and Department Chair for a Doctorate in Health Education program (DHEd) and a Doctorate in Education (EdD) in Health Professions Education program. Erin believes that the hours a child could spend on screens could easily be replaced with time spent on meaningful relationships, experiences, activities, and skills development. She is a firm believer that childhood is the easiest time to develop the habits and skills that will last a lifetime. Erin enjoys athletics, traveling, reading, and lots of outdoor adventures with her children.
Cathy York lives in Austin with her husband Brian and their four children. She received her BBA from the University of Texas in Austin. She is an active volunteer in her children’s schools, church and community.
Cathy thinks children are maturing at a faster rate now than previous generations. She believes in growing a strong foundation of self-confidence and self-esteem in her children to help them navigate the risks of social media. She wants her children to take full advantage of their childhood and feels smartphones can impede this.
ANGELA TAPP, LPC
Angela Tapp is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Denver and has a Master's in Counseling from St. Edward's University. Her practice incorporates a technology background that was acquired prior to switching to a counseling career. As a data scientist and former member of worldwide strategy in IBM's Software Development Group, Angela offers the team at Wait Until 8th strategic software development support.
Angela's private practice includes a focus on technology and its impact on children. She also offers families, schools and the community, education as it relates to technology and mental health. Her work with other professionals including the producers of Screenagers and the Away for the Day initiative allows her to focus on her passion - which is to promote current mental health research and raise awareness about smartphone addiction, depression, suicide and overall mental health challenges with today's youth.