Keynote Speaker Series

Debbie Behan Garrett’s interest in collecting black dolls commenced after the 1991 catalog purchase of a ‘collectible’ porcelain doll intended for her daughter. After the doll’s arrival, the decision to keep the doll and to begin a collection ensued. Her avid interest in black-doll history prompted research on dolls made during and before her childhood. She began freelance writing in 1998 for Black Doll-E-Gram. Before writing her first black-doll reference book, The Definitive Guide to Collecting Black Dolls, Hobby House Press, Inc., 2003, Garrett’s efforts to connect with other like-minded collectors prompted her to create an email discussion group in 2001, which is now a private Facebook group. In February 2002, as co-founder and editor of The Black Doll-E-Zine, ‘the first and only e-zine devoted to collecting black dolls,’ her doll research, writing, and networking with doll collectors and artists continued.
In 2008, Garrett self-published Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide to Celebrating, Collecting, and Experiencing the Passion, a full-color book that references and values over 1000 black dolls. Her most recent work, The Doll Blogs: When Dolls Speak I Listen, first introduced in 2010 as an eBook through Google Play, became available as an ultra-limited edition paperback in April 2011. The Doll Blogs is the first book featuring dolls that blog their experiences with their humans. Hard copies are now out of print. The electronic versions of Black Dolls: A Comprehensive Guide and The Doll Blogs remain available through Google Play.
Through an associate Motor City Doll Club membership, Garrett is also a member of the United Federation of Doll Clubs. She has contributed to their Doll News quarterly publication and their 2017 convention souvenir journal. Garrett’s articles on black dolls have also been published in several other doll publications.  She maintains two blogs:  Black Doll Collecting and the Ebony-Essence of Dolls in Black.
A native Texan, Garrett is the married mother of two adult children and doting granny of two boys.  In addition to doll collecting, research, reading, writing, editing and publishing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and living each day as if it were Saturday.

Dr. Lisa M. Dinella, Ph.D. is a research scientist who investigates the connection between gender, academic achievement, and career development. Dr. Dinella studies children’s toy play and media exposure, and how gendered experiences shape academic and career pursuits across the lifespan. She is a Professor of Psychology, the Director of the Program in Gender and Intersectionality Studies, and the Principal Investigator of the Gender Development Laboratory at Monmouth University. Her school-based research endeavors led to her edited book Conducting Science-Based Psychology Research in Schools. She co-edited the book Gender Typing of Children’s Toys: How Early Play Experiences Impact Development with Dr. Erica Weisgram.
Dr. Dinella gave an invited address at the White House, Washington D.C. on gender disparities in children’s toys and media. She has been a consultant for Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, and works with global toy companies to help them reduce gender stereotypes for children. Her work has been featured on NPR and PBS.
Dr. Dinella earned the Distinguished Teacher 2019 Award, Monmouth University’s highest honor for professors.
Dr. Dinella’s interest in psychology and gender studies started as an undergraduate at The College of New Jersey.  Her training in conducting school-based empirical research began at the School of Family Dynamics at Arizona State University, where she received her master’s and doctoral degrees in Family Science, with concentrations in Marriage and Family Therapy and Child Development. Additionally, she was an American Psychological Association/Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Education Research Training Fellow.