Colleen Vesely

Colleen K. Vesely, Ph.D. is an associate professor and Graduate Coordinator of the Early Childhood Education program in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Her work examines the experiences of diverse, marginalized and minoritized young children and their families. Dr. Vesely’s scholarship also focuses on family engagement, particularly among families from diverse racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, linguistic, and ability backgrounds. Dr. Vesely’s most recent work uses a Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approach to understand immigrant families’ experiences accessing early care and education, while negotiating parenthood in the US, such that attuned, aligned, and responsive systems for family partnership can be developed. A second area of work is focused on anti-racism and equity in education. In collaboration with colleagues and students in CEHD, Dr. Vesely developed a course equity audit tool for university instructors to examine anti-racism opportunities in their individual courses. Dr. Vesely also contributed to creating tools to examine college-level equity data specific to race and gender. Also, Dr. Vesely co-leads work with ECE faculty members focused on developing preservice teachers’ knowledge, skills, and abilities for implementing antiracist pedagogy in their early childhood classrooms. A third area of work, funded by the Center for the Advancement of Well-being at George Mason University is focused on early childhood education teachers’ psychological and financial well-being, and how this shapes teachers’ interactions with young children. Dr. Vesely’s work is published in Early Childhood Education Journal, Early Childhood Research Quarterly, Journal of Early Childhod Teacher Education, Journal of Family Theory & Review, and Journal of Marriage and Family. Her work has been funded by Fairfax County Office for Children, Bruhn Morris Family Foundation, Office for Child Care in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as a Child Care Scholar, and the Bernard van Leer Foundation. Dr. Vesely teaches courses focused on family engagement in early care and education, family processes and dynamics, as well as research methods. Dr. Vesely is the creator of the Raising Unicorns website ( focused on raising gender expansive children in a gender binary world. Raising Unicorns provides resources for parents, teachers, and caregivers to support and affirm gender expansive children. Dr. Vesely received her PhD in Family Science from the University of Maryland- College Park in 2011.