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.

Tina Adkins has an MA in Counseling and MS in Developmental Psychology and is currently a Research Associate with the Institute. Prior to this position, she was a clinical trainer and project manager for Cenpatico Behavioral Health and the Star Health Foster Care program where she created and delivered trauma-focused trainings for clinicians, professionals and parents. She has many years experience working within the mental health field and the child welfare community, both as direct care staff and as a researcher. Tina is presently finishing up her Ph.D. from University of London (UCL).

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. She has worked on several project implementation and evaluation efforts targeting activities designed to enhance services for youth with mental health needs,  including those associated with the efforts of the Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Action Network (MHJJAN),  the Texas Recovery Focused Learning Community (RFLC) and the ASSET planning grant. 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. She currently serves as a key  collaborator for The Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change, providing technical assistance and training  alongside a select group of local and state leaders in the juvenile justice and mental health fields.

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.

Michele Murphy-Smith, Ph.D., RN, RD, RD, is a Research Associate within the Texas Institute for Excellence in Mental Health. Dr. Murphy-Smith worked with the Texas Department of Health in the 1990s to help primary care organizations provide evidence-based clinical preventive services. Through the work with community health centers and residency programs across the State, she learned about the essential role of the full spectrum of staff members in creating organizations that did excellent work. Measurable outcomes were exciting, but more so the creativity and joy that were unleashed when all staff members valued each other and started working together to create the workplace in which they and their patients could thrive. Following that work with program evaluation in addiction treatment, she became convinced of the value of having a recovery perspective in many different health arenas, as well as the essential nature of peer support. She is now proud to work towards the vision of ensuring excellent recovery support services for all Texans.

Tegan Henke, LMFT,  is the State Development Specialist for the Texas System of Care. In this role, she coordinates with state agencies, local communities and community members to shape the policies that will help sustain and support the system of care framework across Texas. Previously, Tegan worked with the Children’s Mental Health Team at the Department of State Health Services where she was a leader in the re-design of the Children’s Mental Health Service Delivery System in Texas. Tegan has her master’s in Couple and Family Therapy, and spent several years working as a crisis counselor for children, youth and their families. She is passionate about children’s mental health and partnering to create systems that can meet individuals’ needs and improve communities.

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.

Michael Cox, MA, serves as the Youth Engagement and Cultural and Linguistic Competency Specialist on the Texas System of Care initiative. Michael began his professional career with 14 years of full-time vocational ministry working with children and adolescents from all walks of life. In addition to this experience, Michael brings a wealth of expertise from his previous role as Youth Engagement Specialist for the Rural Children’s Initiative of West Texas. In this role he was able to establish strong leadership and youth involvement within the community and SOC project, eventually becoming Deputy Project Director of the initiative. Michael has served as a consultant for the Georgetown University’s National Technical Assistance Center for Children’s Mental Health and served for two years on the planning committee for the Center’s summer institutes.  American Institute for Research’s Technical Assistance Partnership has also contracted with Michael to train SOC communities on project development, youth involvement, and conference planning. Michael most recently served as counselor for the Student Counseling program at Wayland Baptist University.

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 two youth mental health projects: The Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Waiver Program and the Zero Suicide in Texas (ZEST) project. 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.

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