The NCS3 is comprised of a team of national and regional leaders with collective expertise in comprehensive school mental health systems, cultural responsiveness and equity, and trauma-responsive schools.
University of Maryland School of Medicine, National Center for School Mental Health
Sharon Hoover, PhD
Dr. Hoover is the Principal Investigator and Director of the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She is a licensed clinical psychologist and Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. Dr. Hoover also serves as Co-Director of the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH). She currently leads national efforts to support states, districts and schools in the adoption of national quality performance standards of comprehensive school mental health systems (www.theSHAPEsystem.com). Dr. Hoover has led and collaborated on multiple federal and state grants, with a commitment to the study and implementation of quality children’s mental health services. Creating safe, supportive and trauma-responsive schools has been a major emphasis of Dr. Hoover’s research, education and clinical work. She has trained school and community behavioral health staff and educators in districts across the United States, as well as internationally, including consultation on building safe and supportive school mental health systems in Canada, China, Northern Ireland, South Korea, Ukraine, and New Zealand.
As an advisor to the World Health Organization, Dr. Hoover has provided consultation and technical assistance on comprehensive school mental health in several countries, including developing and implementing a student mental health curriculum for teachers throughout the Middle East and developing and evaluating a school-based intervention to support immigrant and refugee youth in Canada and the United States.
Sarah Barber, MPH
Sarah Barber is a recent graduate from Florida State University where she earned her Master in Public Health degree as well as her B.S. in Family and Child Sciences with a minor in Sociology. She has previously worked for the Florida Department of Health as a Rural Health Analyst where her primary duties were to research and analyze disparities amongst rural populations in the state of Florida. Sarah's interest in mental health stemmed from studies and research about childhood trauma and the impacts this has on the psychological, emotional, and physical development of individuals. She is passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion and working with children and families. She is excited to continue to increase her knowledge about mental health as a public health issue and work as the Project Coordinator for the NCS3 team and also serves as Research Coordinator for the School Mental Health Response Program to best create and implement trauma response initiative in K-12 schools.
Tiffany Beason, PhD
Director of Cultural Responsiveness and Equity
Dr. Beason is the NCS3 Director of Cultural Responsiveness and Equity. She is a Clinical-Community Psychologist for the National Center for School Mental Health and an Assistant Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Dr. Beason’s research interests relate to academic achievement, positive racial/ethnic identity, adaptive social and coping skills, and sense of community among youth and young adults. Dr. Beason has served as a school mental health clinician in the Baltimore City Public School System for several years, where she provides supports that promote positive mental health for all as well as early intervention and treatment services for youth experiencing significant mental health difficulties. Dr. Beason is a co-developer of a national curriculum for educators to promote culturally responsive and equitable mental health support in classrooms.
Taneisha Carter, MS
Senior Research Assistant
Taneisha Carter serves as a Senior Research Assistant at the NCS3. She is a Senior Clinical Research Assistant at the National Center for School Mental Health aids on various projects related to the advancement of the quality and sustainability of school mental health services. Broadly, Ms. Carter is interested in understanding school mental health systems and utilizing this research to inform treatment, assessment, and public policy. Specifically, I am interested in the etiology, maintenance, and conceptualization of trauma as it relates to severe emotional distress as well as the implementation of trauma-informed practices in mental health services, particularly in school settings. Over the last two years, Ms. Carter co-leaded the youth leadership summit during the Annual Conference on Advancing School Mental Health. In this role, she facilitates workshops and activities to provide youth and young adults with an opportunity to learn about and discuss topics related to mental health, while encouraging leadership, advocacy, and personal development.
Ellie Davis, MSW, LCSW-C
Business and Operations Manager
Ellie Davis is the Business and Operations Manager for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She has worked in the field of school mental health for more than 20 years, first as a clinician in Baltimore City Schools followed by Associate Director of the School Mental Health clinical program and currently as the Business and Operations Manager for the National Center for School Mental Health. In her current role, Ms. Davis oversees all budgetary and fiscal aspects of the Center including proposal preparation and post award administration. Ms. Davis manages faculty and staff effort on a complex portfolio of contracts, grants and service agreements.
Erika Franta, PhD
School Mental Health District Faculty Lead
Dr. Erika is a School Mental Health District Faculty Lead with our National Center for Safe Supportive Schools team. Dr. Erika Franta is the school mental health program director for the Mid-America MHTTC and an assistant professor in the psychology department at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Dr. Franta has specialized training in working with children and adolescents in school, medical, forensic and community settings. Dr. Franta applies a strengths-based and prevention lens to create systems-level change in implementation efforts. She oversees our Center's team of faculty and regional trainers and engages in training and technical assistance with teams and stakeholders in implementation of comprehensive school mental health. Dr. Franta provides training and supervision in psycho-educational assessments, school consultation, school-based mental health services and integrated primary care. She received her doctorate in School Psychology from the University of Nebraska - Lincoln.
Jerica Knox, PhD
Evaluation Lead and Postdoctoral Fellow
Dr. Knox is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the National Center for School Mental Health where she primarily focuses her evaluative efforts on the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools. Dr. Knox takes a strengths-based approach to understanding home and school contextual factors that promote well-being in children and adolescents. She uses qualitative and quantitative methods to examine the effectiveness of culturally responsive and trauma-informed approaches.
Dr. Knox is from Georgetown County, South Carolina. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina and her Master of Science and PhD in School Psychology from North Carolina State University.
Nancy Lever, PhD
Director of Training
Dr. Lever is the Director of Training for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools. She is a licensed clinical psychologist and Associate Professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Co-Director of the National Center for School Mental Health (NCSMH). As Co-Director of the NCSMH and Executive Director of the University of Maryland School Mental Health Program, Dr. Lever has worked to advance innovative training and technical assistance efforts that aim to improve school mental services and supports. For over 20 years she has led the advancement of interdisciplinary school behavioral health training for advanced graduate psychology, psychiatry, and social work students, as well as for the current education, health, and behavioral health workforce. She has helped to advance a school mental health multi-tiered framework that is based on school-family-community partnerships, and culturally responsive, high-quality behavioral health services.
Dr. Lever serves as a leader for National Quality Initiative on School Based Health Services (funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration) supporting states, districts, and schools in advancing school mental health policy and adopting national school mental health quality performance standards (www.theSHAPEsystem.com). She co-led the development of a national school mental health curriculum and is currently collaborating with leaders from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Mental Health Technology Transfer Centers to develop an online mental health literacy training curriculum for educators. She has had leadership roles on numerous federal and state research projects related to school mental health quality and sustainability and has represented the school mental health voice on national, state, and local committees.
Graduate Research Assistant
Ayla Novruz is a graduate research assistant at the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She is currently a Clinical and Behavioral Medicine PhD student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Before joining NCS3, she managed a wide range of research projects focusing on social determents of health inequities. Her interests lie on the impact of early life adversity (ELA) and various forms of trauma during childhood on later life mental and physical health.
Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago,
Center for Childhood Resilience
Colleen Cicchetti, PhD, MEd
Midwest Regional Site Co-Director
Dr. Cicchetti is the Midwest Regional Site Co-Director for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools. She is an Associate Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine and Executive Director of the Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR) at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, she has worked as a clinical psychologist for nearly three decades. CCR provides training to school professionals, community agencies, and parents, connecting children with mental health services and identifying evidence-based interventions addressing their mental health needs. Dr. Cicchetti received her Bachelor of Science degree from Duke University, Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Doctorate in clinical psychology from Northwestern University Medical School.
Tali Raviv, PhD
Midwest Regional Site Co-Director
Dr. Raviv is the Midwest Regional Site Co-Director for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools. She is the Associate Director of the Center for Childhood Resilience at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and an associate professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. Her work focuses on promoting resilience for children and communities impacted by poverty, toxic stress and trauma, and racism. She has particular expertise in the implementation and dissemination of evidence-based interventions for youth to school and community settings and program development and evaluation.
Dr. Raviv serves on several local and regional advocacy groups, including the PATHH Collaborative, the Illinois Childhood Trauma Coalition, and the School Health Access Collaborative. She is a regional trainer for the Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS) and Bounce Back interventions. Dr. Raviv has published work in the areas of school mental health, child maltreatment, risk and resilience factors for youth exposed to stress and trauma, and the dissemination and implementation of evidence-based mental health programs. Most recently, she co-authored the resource book, Creating Healing School Communities: School-Based Interventions for Students Exposed to Trauma.
Dr. Raviv holds a Bachelor of Arts from Emory University, a Master of Science in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver, and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Denver.
Sybil Baker, LCSW
Tier II Lead Trainer and Product Developer
Sybil Baker is the Tier II Lead Trainer and Product Developer for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). Her work focuses on the development and implementation of trauma-informed practices, as well as implementation training in multiple Tier II interventions for youth in school and community settings. At Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR), Sybil is the Tier II lead, organizing and facilitating evidence-based trainings and on-going supported implementation for school-based clinicians on a variety of interventions including Cognitive Behavioral Intervention for Trauma in Schools (CBITS), Bounce Back, and Anger Coping. She also provides consultation, coaching and training to school districts, after-school programs, and community organizations on the development and implementation of trauma-informed practices.
In addition, Sybil has worked with school districts in Chicagoland to support the development and sustainability of Behavioral Health Teams (BHTs). Sybil holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Seattle Pacific University, a Master of Science in Clinical Social Work from the University of Chicago, and a certificate in Advanced Practice in Schools from Loyola University.
Caryn Curry, LCSW
Tier I Lead Trainer and Product Developer
Caryn Curry is the Tier I Lead Trainer and Product Developer for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She provides consultation, training and implementation support in school and community settings to increase capacity to meet children’s social, emotional and mental health needs. Her work focuses on training and implementation of trauma-informed practices and social and emotional learning. She is particularly interested in developing adult social and emotional competency, anti-racist and equitable practices toward the creation of optimal learning environments for all children and youth to thrive. Ms. Curry holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University and a Master of Science degree in Clinical Practice from the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago. She also holds certificates in Social and Emotional Intelligence for Leadership and Coaching from the Wright Graduate University for the Realization of Human Potential. She serves on two local non-profit boards.
Saadia Elahi, BA
Graduate Research Assistant
Saadia Elahi is a graduate research assistant at the NCS3 through the Center for Childhood Resilience at Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She is currently a Clinical Psychology PhD student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Previously, she worked at the Children Adapting to Stress and Adversity Lab at Loyola University Chicago, where she worked on the evaluation of the STRONG intervention in Chicago Public Schools. Saadia is interested in combating stigma and increasing access to mental health care and resources through school- and community-based settings, particularly for ethnic minority youth. She also has a particular interest in supporting immigrant and refugee youth mental health.
Rebecca Ford-Paz, PhD
Rebecca Ford-Paz is a clinical child psychologist and mental health consultant with Lurie Children’s Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR) and an Associate Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Ford-Paz has over 20 years of experience in community and school settings. Her work focuses on promoting health equity by increasing access to evidence-based and culturally attuned prevention and treatment interventions, building the capacity of community-based providers, and conducting community-engaged research. Dr. Ford-Paz has a longstanding interest in Latinx mental health, and engages in clinical work, research, and advocacy with Latinx and immigrant/refugee populations. Her expertise at the community level focuses on advocacy initiatives and building the capacity of non-mental health professionals to create welcoming environments and promote the emotional wellness of refugee/immigrant children and families. In her clinical work, Dr. Ford-Paz specializes in culturally attuned cognitive behavioral therapy and is a certified therapist and trainer for the Unified Protocols for Transdiagnostic Treatment of Emotional Disorders in Children and Adolescents. In 2020, she co-founded the Forensic Assessment for Immigration Relief (FAIR) Clinic at Lurie Children’s to provide psychiatric and medical evaluations to minors seeking asylum or other forms of humanitarian relief.
Dr. Ford-Paz has received multiple philanthropic grants and published her work on community partnerships that engaged in participatory curriculum development work, staff training, and formative program evaluation. Dr. Ford-Paz co-chairs the Lurie Children’s Immigrant Family Learning Collaborative at Lurie Children’s and is on the Steering Committee of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant Mental Health and the Midwest Human Rights Consortium. She is also the Co-chair of the Mental Health and Wellness Subcommittee of the Chicago is With You Task Force in the Mayor’s Office of New Americans, tasked with operationalizing the Welcoming City ordinance in the City of Chicago.
She holds Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees from Northwestern University, a Master’s degree in Applied Psychology from Teachers College, Columbia University and a PhD in Clinical Psychology (Child Track) from DePaul University.
Mashana Smith, PhD
Dr. Smith is a Trainer for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). Her work focuses largely on urban children’s mental health. Her work has been primarily centered on school-based mental health, including training of school-based mental health professionals in evidence-based aggression-prevention, depression and trauma-focused interventions. Dr. Smith has a particular emphasis on childhood and adolescent trauma. Specifically, Dr. Smith’s interest focuses on the intersection of racism and trauma, the interface of school climate and trauma-informed practices and the role of child-serving systems in developing and advocating for structures, policies and practices that contribute to positive mental health and resilience among youth.
Dr. Smith serves on several local boards and councils, including the University of Chicago Community Advisory Board, the Educators for Excellence Advisory Board, the Illinois Adverse Childhood Experiences Advisory Council and the Working on Womanhood Executive Council. Dr. Smith received her B.A. degree from Hampton University, and her Master’s and doctoral degrees in Clinical Community Psychology from DePaul University. She completed her post-doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and was a National Institute for Mental Health Prevention Research in Urban Children’s Mental Health fellow.
Bianca Vargas-Ocasio, LSW
Bianca Vargas-Ocasio is a Trainer for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She graduated from the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, Metropolitan Campus, obtaining a Bachelor of Arts and a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Direct Services. She joined the Center for Childhood Resilience in 2018 as a Mental Health Consultant. Mrs. Vargas has over four years of experience providing mental health supports and interventions to children and adolescents in school and community settings in Puerto Rico and New York City. Mrs. Vargas is involved in multiple projects with the Center, namely supporting the work of the School Mental Health Team, providing training, on-site support and coaching to school and community partners.
Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention, Center for Trauma Care in Schools
Robert Kilkenny, EdD
Northeast Regional Site Director
Dr. Kilkenny is the Northeast Regional Site Director for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). He is the founder and Executive Director of the Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention (AIP) in Boston. Bob has long experience in children’s mental health, with particular emphasis on helping schools become centers for mental health service delivery in order to increase access, reduce stigma, and promote trauma-informed schooling. He is currently the Principal Investigator on a SAMHSA-funded program, the Center for Trauma Care in Schools, and has held research and teaching appointments at Harvard University and Dartmouth College.
Bob is also editor of a series of books published by Cornell University Press on adolescent identity development among ethnic American subgroups, including African American, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Multiracial, and Native American adolescents. Bob has presented widely on ways to integrate school-based mental health, special education, evidence-based therapies, school-community partnerships, and prevention programming for at-risk urban youth
Lisa Baron, EdD
Northeast Regional Project Director
Lisa Baron is the Northeast Regional Project Developer for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She is a Licensed Psychologist in Massachusetts and a Certified Health Services Provider with the Alliance for Inclusion and Prevention (AIP) in Boston. She has over 30 years of clinical, supervisory, and training experience in schools, outpatient and inpatient settings, and 20 years of program administration experience in community mental health and non-profit organizations. Dr. Baron is the Project Director of AIP’s Center for Trauma Care in Schools, funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in collaboration with the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) to build a comprehensive, school-based system of care in Massachusetts for children and youth who have been exposed to trauma.
For the past 13 years, Dr. Baron has trained school-based clinicians working in the Boston Public Schools in Trauma Systems Therapy (TST), and adapted the model for use in schools. Dr. Baron is the 2019 recipient of the Harvard Club Friends of Education award for Significant Contribution to Schools.
Ruth Bodian, MSW, LCSW
Multisystemic Therapy Clinician
Ruth Bodian is an independent trainer and consultant on trauma informed practices and permanency for youth involved with the Department of Children and Families (DCF). Her training incorporates individual, intergenerational, community, racial, as well as historical trauma and focus on promoting healing and resilience. She was previously the Project Manager for the Massachusetts Child Trauma Project, which was a federally funded initiative to enhance trauma informed knowledge and practices within DCF as well as partnering agencies. Ruth also has extensive experience working to promote parent engagement in the Boston Public Schools, at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Her approach to working with children, youth, families, colleagues, and others has been greatly impacted by her experience as an adoptive parent and is based on a firm commitment to respect, validation, empathy, and empowerment.
Sherrie-Ann Hodge-Kerr, MSW, LICSW
Multisystemic Therapy Supervisor
Sherrie-Ann is a licensed clinical social worker and earned her MSW from Simmons College. She is the supervisor of the Multisystemic Therapy team [MST] and was one of the first clinicians hired in 2007 for DCF-MST Team. Sherrie-Ann has worked both as a clinician and supervisor in supporting families through goal oriented treatment to address youth anti-social and PSB behaviors.
James Magerman, MBA/MSIS
Technology & Production Manager
James Magerman is the Technology and Production manager for the Northeast region. He is a graduate of Boston University’s MS-MBA program, concentrating in Public and Nonprofit Management. Before coming to AIP, James worked in a number of different mental health direct support positions in addition to his work in psychology research. He helps manage special initiatives and collaborations for AIP, as well as AIP’s data collection and analysis efforts for program and policy improvement. James is also responsible for the upkeep of AIP’s technology infrastructure, and the implementation of new technology projects to benefit staff and students alike.
Paul Reinert, MSW, LICSW
Trainer and Product Developer
Paul Reinert is a Trainer and Product Developer for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). He received an MSW from Simmons College and has over 30 years of experience working with at-risk children and families in the Boston area. For many years, he directed home-based therapy teams that worked with families involved with MA Department of Children and Families and MA Department of Mental Health. Paul joined AIP in 1998 and for 18 years was the Director of the Inclusion Day Program at Washington Irving Middle School, a therapeutic day program that helped support Boston Public Schools students with serious emotional and behavioral challenges. Currently, Paul is a Program Director at AIP’s SAMHSA-funded Center for Trauma Care in Schools, coordinating training in evidence-based practices to treat symptoms of traumatic stress in schools.
Alisa Ritchie, MSW, LCSW
Multisystemic Therapy Clinician
Alisa Ritchie has been a dedicated member of the Alliance for Inclusion & Prevention team for more than a decade, first working as a counselor for AIP's school based Inclusion Day Program, and now as a key member of their Multisystemic Therapy team.
Meg Smith, MSW, LICSW, ACSW
Workforce Development Coordinator
Meg Smith is the Workforce Development Coordinator for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She received an MSW from Boston College and has over 25 years of experience working with at-risk children, youth, and families in Boston. Smith has extensive experience working with troubled adolescents in the school setting. Currently, she provides coordination of the Trauma-focused Intern Training Program, a workforce development initiative that is designed to provide specialized training and consultation to MSW and LMHC interns in providing trauma treatment services to students in school settings.
Joyce Dorado, PhD
Dr. Dorado is a consultant for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). She is faculty at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and Co-founder and Director of UCSF Healthy Environments and Response to Trauma in Schools (HEARTS). Dr. Dorado is an expert in partnering with schools and youth-serving systems to create trauma-informed, equitable, and healing organizations. She serves as an appointed member of the California State Supreme Court Justice’s statewide steering committee for the Keeping Kids in School and Out of Courts initiative. She is also the Lead Curriculum Developer, a Master Trainer, and a member of the founding workgroup for the San Francisco Department of Public Health (SFDPH) Trauma-Informed Systems Initiative, and provides training and consultation across the Bay Area in collaboration with Trauma Transformed: Bay Area Regional Trauma-Informed Systems Center. Additionally, she has served as a lead consultant in CLEAR California, a partnership between the Washington State University CLEAR program and UCSF HEARTS.
Michael Lindsey, PhD
Dr. Lindsey is a consultant for the National Center for Safe Supportive Schools (NCS3). Dr. Lindsey is a noted scholar in the fields of child and adolescent mental health, as well as a leader in the search for knowledge and solutions to generational poverty and inequality. He is Dean of the NYU Silver School of Social Work, the Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies at NYU Silver School of Social Work and an Aspen Health Innovators Fellow. Previously, he was the Executive Director of the McSilver Institute. He also leads a university-wide Strategies to Reduce Inequality initiative from the NYU McSilver Institute.