Skip top navigation

Dr. Colleen K. Vesely
PhD, University of Maryland
Associate Professor
Academic Program Coordinator (Graduate), Early Childhood Education
Human Development and Family Science

Contact Information

Send email to Dr. Vesely

Phone: (703) 993-5346
Fax: (703) 993-4370
Email: cvesely (

Colleen Vesely's website

George Mason University
Fairfax Campus
West Building 2104
4400 University Dr.
MS 4C2
Fairfax, VA 22030


Colleen K. Vesely, Ph.D. is an associate professor and graduate Academic Program Coordinator (APC) of Early Childhood Education in the College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Her work examines the experiences of young children and families who are marginalized and minoritized by society. 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 Action Research (CBPAR) 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. 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 ECE teachers’ ecosystemic 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 Childhood 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 ECE, 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.

Research Interests
  • antiracism and equity in education
  • immigrant families' access to early care and education 
  • Community-based Participatory Action Research (CBPAR)
  • qualitative methods
  • ecosystemic well-being
  • culture and parenting
  • family engagement
  • ecological connections to children's social and emotional learning
Recent Publications

La Croix, L., Steen, B., & Vesely, C.K. (accepted). Using historical fiction with young children to spark historical inquiry with an antiracist lens. Young Children.

Gerry, M., Vesely, C.K., & Choe, J. (in press). Building partnerships with families of children with disabilities: Considering culture and cultural humility. In Musyoka, M., & Guofeng, S. Meaningful and active engagement of families of students with disabilities. IGI, Global.

Vesely, C.K., Letiecq, B.L. et al., Goodman, R.D., & DeMulder, E.  (in press). Amigas de la Comunidad: A Critical Case Study of Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) with Central American Immigrant Mothers. In M. Call Cummings G. Dazzo, G., & M. Hauber-Özer, M., Critical Participatory Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Introduction and Guide. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE Press. 

Brown, E.L., Stark, K., Vesely, C.K., & Choe, J. (in press). “Acting often and everywhere:” Teachers’ emotional labor across professional interactions and responsibilities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 132.

Vesely, C.K., Sansbury, A.B., Call-Cummings, M., Dodman, S., Chen, X.*, Ndiaye, N.*, Bethea, C.*, DeMulder, E., Frank, T., Letiecq, B., Shaklee, B, View, J. (in press). Putting antiracism into action in teacher education: Developing and implementing an antiracist pedagogy course audit. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education.

Francis, G. L., Vesely, C. K., Choe, J., Leyva, K., & Tukan, T.  (2023). Collaborate with families to support student learning and secure needed services. In J. McLeskey, L. Maheady, B. Billingsley, M.T. Brownell, T.J. Lewis, & S.R. Alber-Morgan (Eds.), High Leverage Practices for Intense Interventions. New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis.

Letiecq, B.L., Williams, J., Vesely, C.K., & Smith Lee, J. (2023). Publicly-housed Black mothers’ experiences of structural racism in their everyday lives.  Journal of Marriage and Family, 85, 701-722.

La Croix, L., Kidd, J.K., Walter, H., Stone, D., Ferguson, D., Fisher-Maltese, C., Steen, B., & Vesely, C.K. (2023). A dynamic process model for blending ECE/ECSE teacher preparation programs. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 44, 216-233.

Vesely, C. K., Brown, E. L., Mehta, S., & Horner, C. (2022).  ‘Staying afloat’: A mixed methods study of the financial and psychological well-being of early childhood educators. Early Childhood Education Journal, 1-12.

Brown, E.L., Vesely, C.K., Mehta, S., & Stark, K. (2022). Preschool teachers’ emotional acting and school-based interactions. Early Childhood Education Journal

Letiecq, B.L., Davis, E., Vesely, C.K., Goodman, R.D., Zeledon, D., & Marquez, M. (2022). Central American immigrant mothers’ narratives of intersecting oppressions: A resistant knowledge project. Journal of Marriage and Family,

Vesely, C.K., DeMulder, E., Sansbury, A., Davis, E., Letiecq, B., Willard, I., Goodman, R., & Amigas de la Comunidad. (2021). ‘A place where my children could learn to read, write, and play’: The search for early care and education among undocumented Central American immigrant mothers. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 56,  306-319.

Vesely, C.K., Mehta, S., Sansbury, A., Gundling, R., & Arora, S. (2021). Reimagining teacher education for family engagement: A response to the 2020 health and sociohistorical context. The Teacher Educators’ Journal, 14, 170-191.

Other Information


Steen, B., La Croix, L., & Vesely, C.K. (2022). Building an undergraduate program identity: Nurturing our community of learners and promoting culturally responsive antiracist pedagogies through children’s literature. Program Innovation grant, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University. Requested: $9,650. Role: Co-PI.

Goodman, R. D., Vesely, C.K, Stone, V., & Letiecq, B. (2022). Developing Community-Driven Support for Central American Immigrant Mothers during COVID-19 through the Lens of Intersectional Trauma and Resilience. Seed Grant, College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University. Requested: $9,940. Role: PI.

Letiecq, B., Vesely, C.K., & DeMulder, E. (2022). Family Partnership Project. Office for Children, Fairfax County, VA. $148,144. Role: PI.

Vesely, C.K., Dodman, S., Mehta, S., & Powell, M. (2021). Towards equity in education through family engagement: Understanding PK-6 teachers’ perspectives of students and families during the on-going COVID-19 health crisis. College of Education and Human Development Research Seed Grant,  $6,410. (Role: Co-PI)

Coogle, C., Walters, H., & Vesely, C.K. (2021). Family-centered coaching to engage families from diverse racial, cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds who have a child with a disability. College of Education and Human Development Research Seed Grant,  $10,000. (Role: Co-PI)

La Croix, L., Vesely, C.K., & Ferguson, D. (2020-2022). Leveraging Bachelor’s to Accelerated Master’s degree pathways to enhance novice educators’ pedagogical practices during their induction years. College of Education and Human Development Innovation Grant,  $7,136. (Role: Co-PI)

Vesely, C.K., Letiecq, B.L., & DeMulder, E. (2019). Early care and education experiences and kindergarten readiness among ACPS students. Bruhn Morris Family Foundation, $80,478. Role: Co-PI.

Letiecq, B.L., Vesely, C.K., DeMulder, E., & Goodman, R.D. (2018). Collaborative data analyses and data dissemination in partnership with two Alexandria communities. Bruhn Morris Family Foundation, $56,388. Role: Co-PI

Kidd, J., LaCroix, L., Stone, D., Coogle, C., Fisher-Maltese, C., & Vesely, C.K. (2018). Collaborative development of a Bachelor of Science in Early Childhood Development. College of Education and Human Development Academic Program Innovation Award, $10,000.

Letiecq, B.L., Vesely, C.K., & Goodman, R.D. (2016). Amigas de la Comunidad: Promoting the health and well-being of Alexandria’s immigrant families. Bruhn Morris Family Foundation, $54,412. Role:     Co-PI

Williams, J., Letiecq, B.L., & Goodman, R.D. (2016). African American children, youth, and their families in Alexandria, VA:  Documenting community strengths, resources, and unmet needs. Bruhn Morris Family Foundation, $72,180.  Role: Advisor.

Letiecq, B.L., Vesely, C.K., DeMulder, E., Stribling, S., & Ginsberg, M.R. (2014). Early childhood care and education for vulnerable families in Alexandria: Building strategic partnerships through community-engaged research. Bruhn Morris Family Foundation, $62,988.  Role: Co-investigator

Brown, E.L., & Vesely, C.K. (2013).   Early childhood educators’ emotional labor and well-being. Center for the Advancement of Well-being, George Mason University, $32,083Role: Co-PI

Vesely, C.K., & Brown, E.L. (2013). Early childhood educators’ emotional labor and well-being. Seed grant.  College of Education and Human Development, George Mason University, $3,000.  Role: Co-PI

Vesely, C.K. (2013).  Role of early childhood educators’ well-being in sensitive interactions with young children and their families.  Summer Research Funding, George Mason University,  $2,500.  Role: PI

Vesely, C.K. (2012). Longview Global Education for Teachers Collaborative Scholar. George Mason University and American University. $250. Role: Consultant ***

Ginsberg, M.R. (2012).  Exploring intergenerational trauma among refugees and their young children. Bernard van Leer Foundation. $25,543.  Role: Co-investigator

Vesely, C.K., Roy, K., & Hofferth, S. (2010).  Child care decision-making, subsidy use, and the development of economic self-sufficiency among immigrant parents of young . U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Planning Research and Evaluation Child Care Research Scholars Dissertation Grant. $29,708.  Role: PI    

Vesely, C.K. (2010).  Jewell L. Taylor National Graduate Fellowship.  American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. $5,000. Role: PI.

Vesely, C.K. (2008).  Jewell L. Taylor National Graduate Fellowship.  American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences. $5,000. Role: PI.


Dr. Vesely is a member of the Child Care and Early Education Policy Research Consortium (CCEEPRC) Parents and Families and Child Care Access theme groups and the CCEEPRC steering committee. CCEEPRC is a national group of child care researchers and policymakers who work to link research, policy and practice. The CCEEPRC is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Child Care, and Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE).