Dennis D. Embry, Ph.D., is the CEO/president of PAXIS Institute in Tucson, Arizona; co-investigator at the
National Center on Early Adolescence in Oregon, and co-investigator at the Center on Prevention and Early Intervention at Johns Hopkins University. His work on prevention of health, safety, substance abuse, violence and mental illness among children has been featured in national media such as the Today Show, Good Morning America, Life Magazine, People Magazine, the New York Times, the LA Times, the Associated Press and others. He has been a policy and program consultant for very diverse organizations on child and family issues, from Sesame Street to the Pentagon, from state governments to foreign governments, from foundations to corporations.
Dr. Embry and PAXIS have prevention and research projects in Arizona, Maryland, Wisconsin, Kansas, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Florida, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, California, Texas, Virginia and various Native American sites. His recent prevention work focuses on low-cost evidence-based kernels and behavioral vaccines.
Dr. Embry is the author of more than 40 books and training materials for science-based prevention of children’s injuries, parenting and family difficulties, violence, substance abuse and mental health and on positive youth and child development. He is the scientist and creator behind PeaceBuilders®, the PAX Good Behavior Game™ and other “best practices.” Dr. Embry writes extensively on behavior and the brain, with publications in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Intervention in School and Clinic, Developmental Psychology, Brain and Mind, Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, and the Journal of Community Psychology. Dr. Embry and his colleagues have recently completed the first prevention project with a scientific evaluation of success across states.
Dr. Embry gives frequent workshops and lectures on children’s brain development, prevention and social policy using low-cost or no-cost practices. He also gives workshops and presentations on community-based approaches to reducing drug endangerment. He has been a keynote speaker for various national and state organizations across the United States and overseas. He is he scientist behind the $25 million legislative appropriation in Wyoming on substance abuse treatment and prevention as well as the Wyoming Parenting Initiative, the first statewide universal parenting support project in the US. Dr. Embry’s workshops, seminars and speeches receive comments like, “the whole event was worth hearing Dr. Embry–the best speaker I’ve heard.”
Dr. Embry holds a number of honors, including being a National Research Advisory Council Senior Fellow for the New Zealand Government and the British Commonwealth as well as being a reviewer for the National Institutes of Health. He is a developmental and child psychologist, with his degree awarded from the University of Kansas. He is also a licensed psychologist. In 2006, Dr. Embry was recognized by the Society for Prevention Research as being national leader for bringing science into practice.
Dr. Embry was born in Great Bend, KS, and lived in 17 communities as a child. His talents as a scientist and entrepreneur were evident as a five-year old who took apart everything, sold paintings door-to-door to get attention and pocket change, while being labeled as “educationally mentally retarded” in the Phoenix school system in 1stgrade. He sold his first exhibited painting at age 13, and won his first grant from the National Science Foundation in the 8th grade. At age 16, while his parents spiraled into addiction and other tragedies, he was a appointed a US Capital Page by Congressman Robert Dole, and supported himself. He won college scholarships for public speaking. As college junior, he started a universal student evaluation of teachers at the University of Kansas, where he was also the elected student representative on the university promotion and tenure committee. He is an accomplished graphic artist, which also helped him earn a living as a student. Now, he illustrates most of his own medical or scientific graphics. Dr. Embry has lived in Tucson since 1987, where he is active in civic affairs and boards, residing with his life partner of 16 years. Dr. Embry often uses his own personal history of overcoming family and personal risk factors to illustrate how children who are written off can rise to do great things in the world.
B.A., University of Kansas, History and American Studies (Honors), 1972
M.A., University of Kansas, Child and Developmental Psychology, 1979
Ph.D., University of Kansas, Child and Developmental Psychology, 1981