Our team brings unique skills and experience to our work, including:
- Knowledge in best practices in mental health;
- Knowledge in implementation science and transformational change;
- Experience working in policy, program, and evaluation roles in state agencies;
- Experience collaborating with diverse stakeholders in participatory frameworks to facilitate the identification and accomplishment of group goals;
- Experience developing curricula and facilitating learning opportunities;
- Experience conducting complex, rigorous research in real-world settings; and
- Effective communication skills.
Molly Lopez, Ph.D., Director of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health, a licensed clinical psychologist and a research associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work. Her research interests include mental health services, child and adolescent service systems, the implementation of evidence-based practices, and cognitive behavioral therapies. Previously, Dr. Lopez served in several leadership roles within the Texas public mental health agency, the Texas Department of State Health Services. Read Molly’s full bio for more information.
Stacey Stevens Manser, Ph.D., is Associate Director of the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health and a research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work. Her research interests include understanding the effect of organizational context on best practice implementation; interventions to facilitate system change toward recovery; and examining the effects of programs and policies on client outcomes. She previously served as the Director of Research and Evaluation at the Texas Commission on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Director of Community Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services at the Texas Department of State Health Services, and as a Research Assistant Professor at the Texas A&M System Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.
Jill Bellinger, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at the University of Texas at Austin, School of Social Work and a certified school psychologist. Dr. Bellinger collaborates on research, evaluation, and project management activities related to the Via Hope Recovery Institute. Dr. Bellinger is currently working on the Recovery Leadership Academy, which engages organizational leaders in a process of learning about mental health transformation, how to cultivate a culture of learning in organizations, and key issues related to recovery-oriented practice.
Wendy Brooks, Research Associate for the School of Social Work’s Center for Social Work Research and the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. Ms. Brooks collaborates on research, evaluation, and technical assistance activities related to strengthening the recovery-orientation of the adult mental health service system.
Erin Espinosa, Ph.D., is a Research Associate within the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health (TIEMH) in the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. Currently she serves as the Principal Investigator for state-wide expansion of the 1915c (Youth Empowerment Services) waiver and serves as the Implementation Lead for the Texas System of Care. She has worked on several implementation and evaluation efforts targeting activities designed to enhance services for children and adolescents with mental health needs with a focus on juvenile justice and mental health. Prior to joining TIEMH, Erin served as Co-Lead for Texas’ Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Action Network (MHJJAN). Her previous efforts include those associated with the development, implementation of the Front End Diversion Initiative (FEDI) through the MHJJAN coordinated by the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice and funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. She currently serves as a Key Collaborator for the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change and as a consultant to the Child, Adolescent, and Family Branch’s (CAFB) Children’s Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) providing technical assistance and training alongside a select group of local and state leaders in the juvenile justice and mental health fields.
Erin has published a variety of articles on issues related to youth with mental health needs and the juvenile justice system to include systemic responses and the implementation of evidence-based programs and practices. Her research interests include mental health and juvenile delinquency, juvenile competence, gender related issues, trauma and the implementation of evidenced based practices and programs
Laura Kaufman is a Research Associate within the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health at the Center for Social Work Research. She is currently the lead evaluator on the Via Hope’s Person-Centered Recovery (PCRP) Initiative, which facilitates the implementation of person-centered practices at mental health organization in Texas. Ms. Kaufman has collaborated on research and evaluation for several other projects including Veteran’s Jail Diversion and Trauma Recovery, Peer Specialist Training and Certification, the Peer Specialist Learning Community, Assessment of Consumer Operated Service Providers and Local Mental Health Authorities, Peer-Provided Services and Medicaid Billing at the Local Mental Health Authorities in Texas, and a Compendium of Peer Specialist Training and Certification Programs Across the Nation.
Amy Lodge, Ph.D., is a Research Associate at the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. She conducts evaluation research for Mental Health Recovery and Resilience (MHRR) initiatives, including Person-Centered Recovery (PCRP), Peer Specialist Integration (PSI) and the Recovery Institute Leadership Academy (RILA). She holds a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Deborah Cohen, PhD, MSW is a Research Associate for the School of Social Work’s Center for Social Work Research and the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. She currently serves as the Evaluation Lead on the Texas System of Care Implementation cooperative agreement and the Zero Suicides in Texas project. For both projects she coordinates the local evaluation, facilitates participation in the cross-site evaluation, and provides leadership and oversight to the state evaluation efforts. Debbie is an experienced mental health services researcher whose primary focus is on community mental health policies and practices, integrated healthcare, and healthcare information technology.
Robert Shaw, MPH, is the Community Development Specialist for the Texas System of Care. In this role, he is responsible for coordinating support for local implementation of the system of care framework. He provides strategic consultation and coaching to communities at different stages of system of care readiness. Previously, Robert was Executive Director of a rural, community-based organization that offers a variety of free, social services. At his previous job, he implemented a tele-health program where local community members were able to receive free mental health and substance abuse counseling. Robert received his Master’s in Public Health in Social and Behavioral Health from Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Rural Public Health.
Barbara Granger is the Family Involvement Specialist on the Texas System of Care Initiative. She also serves as the Family Coordinator with Via Hope, the Texas Mental Health Resource Center, where she is lead trainer for all family partner certification endeavors. Barbara has been in SOC work for more than 10 years. She joined the ASSET steering committee 2 years ago as a family representative, while serving as a family partner with Coastal Plains Community Center in south Texas. As a family partner, she walked alongside other families who have children with intensive mental health needs. Before moving back to Texas in 2009, Barbara was employed with the Maryland Coalition of Families for Children’s Mental Health as a Family Advocate and a Supervisor of family partners in Southern Maryland. She has served on various local, regional and state advisory committees to bring the family voice. Barbara brings her passion to ensure family voice is heard throughout the state of Texas as she serves with and on behalf of families who face similar challenges as herself.
Victoria Yu is the Communications Lead for the Texas System of Care. In this capacity she leads social marketing to increase awareness and drive engagement for SOC’s core values through social media, video and web platforms, event marketing and earned media. Previously Victoria served as an Account Executive at a Washington, D.C. public relations agency. She led earned media campaigns for a variety of clients within the healthcare industry, including a New York Times best-selling author and a multibillion dollar integrated health systems provider. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Communication from Louisiana State University.
Bonnie Evans serves as an Implementation Specialist/Research Associate within the Institute. Her role involves helping Local Mental Health Authorities implement the Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Waiver Program. Bonnie is also a wraparound coach candidate, learning the skills needed to support wraparound supervisors and facilitators. Wraparound coaching includes actively assisting and leading wraparound trainings, onsite coaching at YES sites across Texas, and virtual coaching support. Back in Australia, Bonnie loved her job working as a School Psychologist in many different schools and as a psychology researcher. Bonnie received her Masters in Psychology (Education and Development) from Monash University, Victoria, Australia.
Rebecca Marquez serves as the Wraparound Implementation Specialist for the Institute. In this position, she assists agencies in their efforts to implement wraparound with quality and fidelity. She is a Wraparound Coach Candidate developing her skills by providing coaching support and training for the wraparound initiative. Rebecca has a background in statewide implementation efforts within large organizations and practical experience in the application of research and programs within a variety of caseloads. In her previous employment with the Texas Juvenile Justice Department (TJJD), Rebecca was intricately involved in the development and implementation of new treatment approaches and corresponding philosophy for the 2007 Texas Youth Commission reform initiative. While employed with TJJD, she began serving as a parent representative within the Texas Family Voice Network, a mission about which she is passionate and continues to be involved with today. Rebecca is a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) and holds a Master’s degree in Education from Northern Arizona University and a Bachelor degree in Social Work.
Elisa V. Borah, PhD, MSW is a Research Associate at the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work’s Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. She currently serves as the Evaluation Lead on the Texas Military Veteran Peer Network (MVPN) contract with the Texas Department of State Health Services. She is currently co-chairing the UT Austin School of Social Work’s Third Annual Military Social Work Conference. Elisa earned her MSW from George Warren Brown at Washington University and her PhD in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin. From 2010-2014, Elisa served as Director of Research at the Ft. Hood site of the STRONG STAR PTSD Research Consortium, a Department of Defense clinical trials research consortium, and as Assistant Professor within the Division of Behavioral Medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA). Elisa is a New Implementation Research Investigator in the NIMH-funded SIRC Network of Expertise within the Society for Implementation Research Collaboration (SIRC) and is a co-facilitator of the Society for Social Work and Research (SSWR) Special Interest Group on Implementation Science. Elisa is an experienced mental health services researcher whose primary focus is on improving the application of implementation science in social work practice to support effective practices within community-based mental health service organizations. Elisa has conducted research related to increasing access to evidence-based behavioral health treatments by examining: methods for reducing stigma among service members, the role of military unit cohesion in PTSD treatment gains, and the roles of military organizational culture, and behavioral health provider factors on effective implementation of evidence-based treatments for PTSD within military treatment settings.
Erica Shapiro, Ph.D. is a Research Associate at the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health within the School of Social Work at the University of Texas at Austin. She is also a licensed psychologist in the State of Texas. Erica currently coordinates the Institute’s wraparound fidelity efforts and facilitates the community implementation of evidence-based practices on the Zero Suicides in Texas project. Erica also has experience providing clinical services to children and families within the private practice and hospital settings. Erica earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and she is passionate about supporting high quality, evidence-based mental health services for children and families.
Glenn Dembowski specializes in solutions. An alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, he has worked for UT since 1996. He currently serves as the Project Services Coordinator for the TX System of Care, operating largely behind the scenes to support the team as they work to ensure that Texas children have access to excellent mental health care. Drawing on his experience in academic, service, and research departments at the University,Glenn facilitates purchasing, travel, event coordination, contracts, web-conferencing, data compilation, and occasionally rescues small animals in distress. He is a writer, musician, poet, and martial arts enthusiast, and his favorite video game is MS Excel. Glenn welcomes your queries at email@example.com.
Laura Stevens, M.Ed. is a research associate at the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. She is currently working on Project LAUNCH, which aims to improve early intervention strategies for promoting children’s mental health, and Texas System of Care’s Supported Employment for Transition-Age Youth. Prior to joining the team at TIEMH, Laura spent five years working as a clinician with youth involved in the criminal justice system. Her professional interests include research and practice related to child and adolescent mental health, trauma and criminal justice involvement, as well as system improvements around these issues. Laura received her Master’s in Education in Human Development Counseling at Vanderbilt University.
Tracy A. Levins, Ph.D. works to shape state policy, strategic planning, and financing strategies for children’s behavioral health services as part of her work with the Texas System of Care and the State Youth Treatment Project. In these roles, she coordinates with state agencies, local communities and community members to influence policies that will help sustain and support behavioral health services for children and adolescents across Texas. With over 25 years of experience in the juvenile justice and mental health systems, Tracy has worked with communities, organizations, policymakers, and professionals throughout Texas to design programs and policies to help youth and families access the services and resources they need. She was a 2010 nominee for Outstanding Woman in Texas Government for her work in family engagement in juvenile justice and has served as one of a select group of collaborators for the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change, a project of the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at Policy Research Associates. Tracy received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Hendrix College in Conway, Arkansas and her PhD in community psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Jennifer M. Aronson works as a program coordinator for the Veteran Spouse Network. Jennifer received a bachelors degree in comparative literature and politics from the University of San Francisco. She has a background in politics through her work in campaigns, at the California State Legislature, and as a consultant. She is experienced in nonprofit project management through her work with the Innocence Project Northwest and as the Violence Against Women Act program coordinator for the Texas Civil Rights Project.