STAFF

Olga Acosta Price, PhD

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Director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools and Associate Professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Her faculty appointment is in the Department of Prevention and Community Health. She comes to the Center with experience in managing school-based mental health programs in Washington, D.C. where she was Director of the School Mental Health Program at the D.C. Department of Mental Health, an award-winning community-based program.

Dr. Acosta Price managed the development, implementation, and evaluation of this program in 30 public schools for over five years. Before coming to Washington, Dr. Acosta Price was associate director at the Center for School Mental Health Assistance and assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore. She has presented at local and national meetings on school-based mental health, program evaluation, and violence prevention and has written several articles and book chapters on these topics. Dr. Acosta Price graduated from Vassar College and received her master’s degree and doctorate from the State University of New York at Buffalo.


Julia Graham Lear, PhD

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Senior Advisor and Founder of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools. For 20 years she has worked to develop school-based health programs and services as a means of promoting the well-being of children and adolescents. During this period she has worked with The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, directing a number of grant programs focused on improving health service delivery. for children and teens. She is professor emeritus at The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health, writes and speaks frequently on the organization of health care for children and adolescents, and serves on advisory boards of a number of organizations dedicated to improving child health. She graduated from Brown University and received her master's degree and doctorate from Tufts University.


Linda Sheriff, M.Ed.

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Deputy Director of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools. Her 25 years of experience span school health, education, nonprofit communications and promotion, and publishing. Most recently she has been consulting on education programs for education nonprofits and working on her Masters in Social Foundations of Education at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Before starting graduate school, she spent six years championing coordinated school health, asthma management, and family engagement in school health at the National School Boards Association under cooperative agreements with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She has presented at national meetings and webinars on family engagement in health, conducted analyses of school health policies, provided technical assistance and capacity building activities to health and education stakeholders, taught English in Slovakia, and managed the creation of published educational products for the Smithsonian Institution. She graduated from Colgate University and earned a Masters of Education, Social Foundations of Education from the University of Virginia.

CHHCS ASSOCIATES

Evelyn Frankford, MSW

Principal of Frankford Consulting, helps organizations with public policy analysis and strategic planning, evaluation services, technical assistance and capacity-building, government relations, and public education. Currently, she is a consultant for the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools located at the George Washington University, where she works with staff on social-emotional learning and school mental health initiatives, and a Visiting Fellow at the Center for Social Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she has led evaluations of adult education programs, analyses of school-based mental health programs, and organized a seminar series on schools and student support challenges associated with poverty.

Ms. Frankford has organized stakeholders and built capacity on inter-disciplinary child and youth development and mental health projects for state government, local school districts, national technical assistance centers, and non-profits. She designed a school-mental health-social services initiative for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and developed capacity-building “roadmaps” for a local Board of Cooperative Education Services in upstate New York and the District of Columbia Department of Mental Health. For 20 years, she served as Deputy Director of a statewide non-profit in Albany, New York where she developed and advanced statutory and regulatory proposals in collaboration with broad-based coalitions.


Kathleen M. Roche, MSW, PhD

Associate Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at the George Washington University. Trained in fields of public health and social work, Professor Kathleen Roche’s research program examines socially modifiable factors shaping the health and well-being of adolescents, particularly those living in low-income urban areas. Her research expertise is in adolescent health and well-being, parenting, neighborhood-by-parenting interaction effects, and immigrant Latino families. She applies a “development-in-context” approach to understanding how families in challenging environments successfully raise their adolescent youth.

Dr. Roche integrates developmental and ecological theories with the social epidemiology of adolescent health in order to better understand social influences on youth behaviors, success in school, and mental health. She uses longitudinal structural equation modeling methods in many of her studies. Her current research focuses on a school-based sample of adolescent children of immigrant Latino parents in Atlanta, GA, an important new immigrant destination area. In this research, she is exploring issues of language brokering and acculturation as each influences parent-child interactions around youth’s behavioral autonomy and, in turn, adolescent adjustment.


Michael Long, Sc.D.

Associate of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health. Dr. Long conducts research at the intersection of epidemiology and quantitative policy analysis with the goal of identifying cost-effective and politically feasible policy solutions to reduce the chronic disease burden in the United States. Much of his research has focused on preventing childhood obesity through improvements to the food and physical activity environments for children in schools and other community settings. Prior to joining the faculty at GW in 2015, Dr. Long was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health focused on obesity epidemiology and cost-effectiveness analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health Prevention Research Center. He earned his Doctor of Science degree in 2013 from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Social and Behavioral Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree from the Yale School of Public Health, where he worked at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Princeton University.


Tamara Henry, Ed.D.

Associate of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools serves as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Prevention and Community Health. She currently teaches Social and Behavioral Approaches to Health to graduate students and Introduction to Public Health, and Principles of Health Education and Health Promotion to undergraduates. She also serves as the Practicum Director for Health Promotion students. Dr. Tamara A. Henry provides health care consultation services to a number of community based organizations that address health disparities as it relates to HIV/AIDS and Diabetes in the African American community. Previously, she was a Special projects coordinator for the District of Columbia Department of Health where she worked on special initiatives in the Director's office. Additionally, Dr. Henry has worked for local/state government in New Jersey as well as abroad in both South Africa and her native country of Jamaica, W.I. teaching HIV/AIDS education.

Wendy Ellis, DrPH (c), MPH

Wendy Ellis is the Project Director of the Building Community Resilience collaborative at the Sumner M. Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University. The Building Community Resilience (BCR) collaborative is testing and implementing a model based on Ms. Ellis’ research in designing a strategic process for child health systems and cross-sector partners to align resources, programs and initiatives with community based partners to address childhood adversity and reduce the effects of social determinants that culminate in toxic stress. The strengths based approach is aimed at building the infrastructure to promote resilience in vulnerable communities. The BCR model is being tested in five major U.S. cities. Prior to joining The George Washington University, she served as Manager of Child Health Policy in Nemours’ National Office of Child Health Policy and Practice in Washington, DC. In this role, she led policy research and development efforts in the area of population health, prevention, child behavioral health, toxic stress, and adverse childhood experiences. Ms. Ellis also managed Policy and Communications for the Kresge-funded Moving Health Care Upstream initiative. Previously, she served as Manager of Health Services Research and Health Policy at CSR, Incorporated, a research and technical services firm in Arlington, VA. At the University of Washington, she led a study investigating factors associated with disparities in access to mental health care among children in Washington State which was published in Health Affairs. Ms. Ellis is a Milken Scholar at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at The George Washington University where she is completing dissertation research toward a DrPH in Health Policy. Ms. Ellis holds an MPH from the University of Washington’s School of Public Health and a BS from Seattle University.


Donna Behrens, RN, MPH, BSN

Associate of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools. Prior to coming to the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools, Ms. Behrens held the position of Executive Director of the Maryland Assembly on School-Based Health Care. The Maryland Assembly on School-Based Health Care is an advocacy organization devoted to increasing access to health care for children in Maryland and nationally through school based health centers. Prior to that, she served as Director of Health Policy and Director of the School-Based Health Center Initiative in the Maryland Governor’s Office for Children, Youth and Families. In these two positions she used her extensive background in nursing, children’s health, mental health, policy and program development to help develop stronger systems to prevent teen pregnancy, expand children’s mental health services, reduce infant mortality, and increase access to school mental health programs. Ms. Behrens received Associate and Bachelor’s degrees in nursing from Prince George’s County Community College and Catholic University of America respectively and a Masters Degree in Public Health from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.


Dr. Travis Wright

Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His mission is to make the world a better place for children, especially those growing in the midst of challenging circumstances. Through his research and clinical practice, Dr. Wright seeks to better understand risk and resilience in the lives of young people navigating various forms of trauma and toxic stress. He is especially focused on how schools and student-teacher relationships influence their development. Dr. Wright’s current research projects focus on 1) documenting how homeless children experience schools and other educational settings; and 2) strengthening the capacity of schools, and especially teachers, to serve students with social-emotional and behavioral challenges; Dr. Wright completed his graduate work at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he specialized in the areas of human development and psychology, risk and prevention, and mental health counseling. Previously, Dr. Wright worked as a school-based mental health counselor in Boston Public Schools and public school teacher in Washington, DC.

Susan M. Blake, Ph.D.

Associate Research Professor in the Department of Prevention and Community Health. As an applied behavioral scientist, she has conducted extensive research in schools, worksites and communities to reduce behavioral risks, eliminate health disparities, and prevent adverse health and mental health outcomes. Much of her research has focused on health behavior issues such as HIV/STD’s and unintended pregnancy, smoking and tobacco smoke exposure, or obesity and physical activity, but has focused as well on mental health-related issues such as substance use, suicide, and dating violence among vulnerable populations (e.g., pregnant women or immigrant, LGBTQ youth). Since joining the faculty, Dr. Blake has conducted multiple school-based or youth-focused descriptive studies, for example, to identify psychosocial correlates and other determinants of risk behavior, and formative or qualitative studies to inform state and local education agency policy decisions or improve staff training and youth programs. In addition, she has designed and tested interventions in pilot-test, efficacy, and effectiveness studies to assess the impact of school-based health and mental health programs and services. An expert on program development and evaluation, Dr. Blake consults regularly with local, national and international agencies. Dr. Blake received her master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Arizona, specialty training in Behavioral Medicine/Health Psychology at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, and an NHLBI post-doctoral fellowship in the Behavioral Aspects of Cardiovascular Disease from the University of Minnesota.

Jennifer Frey, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Associate of the Center for Health and Health Care in Schools and Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education and Disability Studies in the GW Graduate School of Education and Human Development. Dr. Frey’s research focuses on child and environmental factors affecting language acquisition, partner-mediated approaches to social communication intervention, and response to early intervention for young children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and children classified as at risk due to poverty. She works with parents, teachers, and children across home, school, and clinic settings to improve academic and psychosocial outcomes for children most at risk for school challenges. Dr. Frey in the coordinator of the early childhood special education graduate program at GW and the principal investigator of projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education to support the preparation and training of educators and leaders in the field of special education. She earned her Doctor of Philosophy degree in education and human development in 2012 from Vanderbilt University, where she was a Dunn Family Scholar of Educational and Psychological Assessment. She also holds a Master of Education degree in early childhood special education from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, where she worked on multiple federally funded research projects investigating the effectiveness of school-based interventions for students with disabilities, and a Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, in cognitive studies and child development from Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Beth Tuckwiller

Dr. Dr. Beth Tuckwiller is an Assistant Professor of Special Education and Disability Studies at the Graduate School of Education and Human Development at The George Washington University. She earned her Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Virginia, and holds a B.S. in Psychology and an M.S. in Counseling Psychology. Dr. Tuckwiller was trained in the field of mental health counseling, and focused her clinical work on children and adolescents. She also taught high school students identified with emotional, behavioral and/or learning disabilities and co-coordinated school-based social, emotional and behavioral programming to improve educational experiences and outcomes for students. Dr. Tuckwiller's current research investigates the nonacademic variables associated with teaching and learning in special education and community settings. She investigates positive psychology constructs and skills including optimism, mindset, hope, mindfulness, self-determination, strengths building, self-efficacy, and life satisfaction to better understand their roles in the holistic development and post-secondary transition experiences of students with disabilities. She also investigates the relationships of these variables to the professional preparation, experiences, and retention of special education teachers. Broadly, her work functions to promote increased knowledge of the malleable dispositions, personal constructs, and psychological orientations associated with optimal functioning for children and adolescents identified with disabilities and the educational professionals who serve them. She is a Faculty Affiliate with the GW Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders Institute and a Center Associate at GW's Center for Health and Health Care in Schools at the Milken Institute School of Public Health. She serves as an advisory board member for both the GW Center for Applied Developmental Science and Neuroeducation and GW's service learning ISCOPES initiative.