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Presenter and Moderator Biographies
April Allen, Spark Learning for Organizations LLC
(Session 3 and Planning for Action 3A)
April Allen (Ph.D., M.P.A.) is the Founder and CEO of Spark Learning for Organizations LLC, an independent consulting firm that supports human services organizations with community-engaged research, performance measurement, and organizational learning that builds data competence. She has held senior roles in research, government, and nonprofit settings. Dr. Allen recently launched Amplify Action Research, an initiative that trains and empowers people with lived experience to be the authors and leaders of the research, evaluation, and performance measurements that drive change in child welfare and related human services systems. In addition, Dr. Allen is a founding partner of Breakthrough Convenings, a boutique firm that provides virtual and blended facilitation services to organizations seeking to connect their people, move their work forward, and deepen their impact.
Anita Barbee, Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development
Anita Barbee (Ph.D., M.S.S.W.) is Professor and Distinguished University Scholar at the Center for Family and Community Well-Being, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville and serves as the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development (QIC-WD) Evaluation Director. Dr. Barbee worked on the Medically Fragile Team in the Louisville child welfare office handling investigations, ongoing work with families and children, foster care placement, termination of parental rights paperwork, and adoptions. She has evaluated child welfare training since 1992 and worked as Principal Investigator or evaluator on five Children’s Bureau discretionary grants, the Children’s Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network, and the current Capacity Building Collaborative.
Reiko Boyd, University of Houston
Reiko Boyd (Ph.D., M.S.W.) is an Assistant Professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. Dr. Boyd’s research focuses on addressing racial inequities that impact Black families in contact with foster care systems; Black infant and maternal health; emancipating youth; and structural inequality at the community level. A primary goal of her research is empowering Black communities by pursuing racial equity in infant health and well-being. Dr. Boyd’s work applies a multilevel, life-course perspective that directs attention beyond individual factors to examine and intervene on structures, systems, and conditions to cultivate healthy contexts and increase opportunities for Black families to thrive.
Veronica Burroughs, Ohio Department of Job and Family Services
Veronica Burroughs (LISW-S) is a project manager for the Ohio Kinship and Adoption Navigator Program at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. She has managed grants for the Supreme Court of Ohio’s federal Court Improvement Program to assist juvenile courts in handling child welfare cases. Ms. Burroughs has experience in multiple roles at private child-serving agencies and with children and adults with mental health and substance use disorders. She also serves as an adjunct professor at Columbus State Community College.
Carla Carpenter, Capacity Building Center for States
(Planning for Action Session 2C)
Carla K. Carpenter, MSSW currently serves as Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) and Data Team Manager with the Capacity Building Center for States (the Center), where she also leads the Center’s peer group for State CQI Managers as well as the Center’s internal CQI efforts. Prior to joining the Center, Ms. Carpenter served as the Child Welfare Director for the State of Ohio and as Deputy Director over the Office of Families & Children at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. In this role, she was responsible for administration and oversight of child abuse prevention, protective services, foster care, adoption services, and adult protection services across the state. Prior to her time with the Office of Families and Children, Ms. Carpenter served as Associate Director of the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy (now the Family & Youth Law Center) at Capital University Law School. She has a bachelor’s degree in social work from Capital University in Columbus, Ohio and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University in New York City.
Melissa Correia, Capacity Building Center for States
Melissa Correia has over 19 years of experience working with federal child welfare data sets and local administrative data. Since joining the Capacity Building Center for States (the Center) in 2014, she has been leading the development of products, tools, and services that promote capacity building for data analysis and continuous quality improvement (CQI) in child welfare. She works directly with state and county agencies to build data capacity and promote responsible data sharing, transparency, and data literacy so that disparities in outcomes by race, ethnicity, and neighborhood can be clearly articulated and discussed in partnership with community members. Ms. Correia has also joined several agencywide efforts to elevate conversations about, understand, and reduce racial disproportionality and disparity. Prior to joining the Center, Melissa was an Advisor with Casey Family Programs where she developed analytic tools and worked to improve outcomes for children and families nationwide and among several tribal nations.
Sade Daniels, California Youth Connection
Sade Daniels (M.S.W.) is the Curriculum and Training Managing Director for the California Youth Connection and recently completed a tenure as Chair for the California Foster Youth Education Task Force. She is a highly sought public speaker, award-winning spoken-word artist, and has amassed over a decade of experience working for child welfare and reform efforts. Beginning at age 16, Ms. Daniels has been a part of groundbreaking research on group homes and instrumental in widespread curriculum development for child welfare professionals throughout California. She has continued work as a dedicated practitioner serving marginalized transition-age youth in the foster care system. Ms. Daniels analyzes and confronts the disproportionality of children of color in foster care and works collaboratively with key stakeholders to address implicit biases and the systemic racism that impacts children and families throughout the state. Ms. Daniels’ own journey has been featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, Essence Magazine, and the Wee Pals Comic Strip. She is currently finishing her first novel, scheduled for release in 2021.
Elinam Dellor, The Ohio State University, College of Social Work
(Planning for Action Session 2C)
Elinam Dellor (Ph.D., M.P.H.) conducts research on the short- and long-term consequences of child abuse and neglect; a key area of interest is the effect of early life trauma on adult behavior and health. Dr. Dellor’s expertise is in trauma-related physiologic processes as mediating pathways to adult chronic health conditions. Her research focuses on the feasibility of collecting chronic stress biomarkers among child welfare-involved families and caregivers with an emphasis on the HPA-axis (hair for cortisol) and immune system (dried blood spots for C-reactive protein) activity. She also studies the use of internet technology in linking vulnerable families to social, behavioral, and health services.
Julia Donovan, Ohio Kinship & Adoption Navigator Program at Kinnect
Julia Donovan (M.B.A.) is the founding Program Director of OhioKAN at Kinnect, a statewide kinship and adoption navigator program developed in partnership with the State of Ohio. Prior to Kinnect, Ms. Donovan was the Employment Services Director at Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential (LEAP), which works to advance participation and equality in society for people with disabilities in Northeast Ohio. She worked to increase the effectiveness of several LEAP initiatives, resulting in measurably improved outcomes for job seekers with disabilities. She has also worked in the nonprofit sector fundraising, managing volunteers, and teaching therapeutic riding for people with disabilities.
Vannessa Dorantes, Connecticut Department of Children and Families
Vannessa Dorantes (L.M.S.W.) is Commissioner of the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families. She oversees a staff of 3,200 and cochairs Connecticut’s Alcohol and Drug Policy Council and the Council on Women and Girls, Health and Safety Subcommittee. Commissioner Dorantes has served on the social work advisory boards of Central Connecticut State University (CCSU) and Western Connecticut State University, and on the University of Connecticut Board of Advocates. She has also been an adjunct instructor at CCSU and is certified in field instruction. In March 2021, Commissioner Dorantes participated in a roundtable on the impacts of child poverty with Vice President Kamala Harris and the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.
Haley Eakin, Capacity Building Center for States
(Planning for Action 2B)
Aubrey Edwards-Luce, First Focus on Children
(Session 3 and Planning for Action Session 3A)
Aubrey Edwards-Luce (J.D., M.S.W.) is the Senior Director of Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice at First Focus on Children, where she leverages her legal and clinical research expertise, field experience, and communication skills to put children at the forefront of federal policies and agendas. Since joining First Focus on Children, she has launched a coalition of policy strategists and lived experience experts to transform the child welfare system into an antiracist system that supports the freedom of children and families to thrive in their homes and communities. Ms. Edwards-Luce previously worked as a senior policy and guardian ad litem attorney at Children’s Law Center (CLC) in Washington, D.C.
Bridget Freisthler, The Ohio State University, College of Social Work
(Planning for Action Session 2C)
Bridget Freisthler’s (Ph.D.) expertise is in studying how substance use affects parenting, particularly child abuse and neglect. Her research focuses on how drinking and drug use contexts (e.g., situations where a person drinks or uses drugs) affect abusive and neglectful parenting practices. Dr. Freisthler uses geographic information systems (GIS; mapping) to identify those contexts and to develop preventive interventions. She is particularly interested in how the substance use environment (e.g., alcohol outlet and medical marijuana dispensaries) is related to a variety of harms, such as child maltreatment, and is currently focusing efforts on reducing child maltreatment among families misusing opioids.
Louie Gasper, Capacity Building Center for States (Center for States)
Louie Gasper, Young Adult Consultant, has 10 years of experience as a child welfare advocate and consultant for youth in foster care. Mr. Gasper has been an agent of change with multiple foster care organizations that have shifted their curriculum, programming, and strategic plans to prioritize race equity. In his role at the Center for States, he leads a jurisdictional subcommittee on developing a shared language and strategic vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Mr. Gasper also serves on the Center for States’ race equity committee to inform ongoing efforts in strategic planning and has conducted committee research on antiracist frameworks. He has informed and facilitated diversity, inclusion, and race equity training for the California Youth Connection, FosterClub, Inc., Think of Us, Youth MOVE National, and the International Foster Care Alliance.
Devon Gilchrist, Minnesota Department of Human Services
(Planning for Action 2B)
Yolanda Green-Rogers, Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago
(Planning for Action Session 2C)
Yolanda Green-Rogers (M.S.W.) is a Senior Policy Analyst at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. She works with public and private human service agencies across the country on the implementation of continuous quality improvement (CQI) practices that support performance monitoring and decision-making. Ms. Green-Rogers also conducts assessments of CQI processes, makes recommendations to leaders on using the CQI process to achieve priority outcomes, and delivers training and coaching to increase staff capacity to operationalize CQI principles. She has served as a Quality Assurance Specialist for federal Child and Family Services Reviews and teaches a graduate course on quality improvement in the social services at the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Prior to coming to Chapin Hall, Ms. Green-Rogers was the Program Director for the Foster Care Utilization Review Program (FCURP) at the Children and Family Research Center at the University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign. Her work with FCURP focused on managing initiatives and providing technical guidance to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (IDCFS) and its private agency partners in the areas of quality improvement and outcomes monitoring. Ms. Green-Rogers led the design and implementation of the Illinois Private Agency Continuous Quality Improvement Capacity Assessment commissioned by IDCFS to assess the ability of private agencies across the state to use CQI mechanisms to improve performance.