Senior Graphic Designer
Candy Allen is WICHE’s senior graphic designer, with responsibilities including: designing and pre-press formatting of WICHE printed documents; designing logos and layouts for new initiatives; designing and producing presentations for the president and others; in-house printing of small-run jobs on a dedicated quality printer; maintaining staff files for business cards, photos, and website updates; advising staff on software use, style, color use, and other information pertaining to documents; and assisting with updates to the WICHE website. She and her family lived abroad, in Germany and England, for 27 years. She graduated from Suffolk College in Ipswich, England, with a National Diploma in Graphic Design and worked in England as an in-house designer for Guardian Royal Exchange and Axa Insurance companies, British Telecom, and a display and exhibit company before moving back to the U.S. and joining WICHE in 2000.
Senior Consultant, Behavioral Health Program
Tom Barrett has been doing human services program evaluation for most of his forty-year professional career. He was the first program evaluator for Bethesda Community Mental Health Center in Denver. He also supervised state-wide program evaluation services when he was the Mental Health Director for the state of Colorado. He conducted international mental health program evaluation activities when he was senior medical office for the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland. Dr. Barrett co-authored “Human Services Program Evaluation: How to Improve Your Accountability and Program Effectiveness” which summarizes a variety of program evaluation techniques including cost benefit analysis. He was also co-director of the Colorado Legislative Task Force on people with mental illness in jails and prisons. This task force was responsible for developing legislation to address the serious problem of people with mental illness in Colorado Correctional Facilities. Dr. Barrett authored an article (with R. Slaughter and C. Jarrett) on “People with Mental Illness in Jails and Prisons – Colorado’s Model for Changing the System”, Spectrum: The Journal of State Government, Fall 2004.
Dr. Barrett has been the program evaluation consultant for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless (CCH) for two federal grants (Renaissance Services Enhancement Team and the Dual Disorder Outreach Team). He is currently the independent assessor for the Kresge Program Related Investment for the CCH. One of the requirements of the Kresge Program Related Investment is an independent assessment of the social outcomes that CCH is achieving. The social outcomes include both residential stability improvement outcomes and system cost reduction outcomes. The system cost reduction outcomes include: reduction in detox use, reduction in emergency use, reduction in hospitalization and reduction in emergency shelter use. As the independent assessor, Dr. Barrett is responsible for verifying the accuracy of the data collection and analysis completed by CCH. In addition, Dr. Barrett has been the program evaluation consultant for a cost benefit study on the Dual Disorder Outreach Team (DDOT) at CCH. This evaluation is examining the cost of publicly funded services such as shelter costs, hospital costs, detox facility expenses, jail expenses, and prison expenses. These cost savings are then compared with the cost of providing program services to determine if there has been a cost savings. Dr. Barrett also serves as an adjunct professor at the DU’s Graduate School of Professional Psychology (GSPP), an accredited program that has offered a Doctor of Psychology degree since 1976. GSPP faculty have been awarded a number of grants over the past few years, providing students with excellent opportunities to develop their research and evaluation skills under the supervision of experienced faculty members. Program evaluation projects are particularly germane to the students’ development as practitioner-scholars: the emphasis on identifying, operationalizing, and supporting clients’ short- and long-term goals; developing practical, relevant outcomes; and appropriately conveying findings and recommendations helps students master sustainable skills that will serve them well throughout their careers.
Project Manager, MHTTC, Behavioral Health Program
Genevieve Berry is the Project Manager for the Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MP-MHTTC), a WICHE project that operates in partnership with the University of North Dakota. Genevieve received her B.A. in psychology from Memphis University. Prior to joining the WICHE Behavioral Health Program team, Genevieve worked for the state of Colorado on the Multi-Use Network Project (MNT) and The Next Mile project, where she developed communications strategies and served as the liaison to rural communities, for each of the state funded broadband programs. In this capacity, she traveled the state presenting each of the projects to various rural communities and learning firsthand about the unique obstacles rural communities encounter when trying to implement and use broadband. For the past three years she worked for the Coleman Institute for Cognitive Disabilities at the University of Colorado. In her role as the Content and Community Outreach Manager, she was responsible for all external communications, website content and design, and she managed the Annual Coleman conference. For over three years, Genevieve worked to develop accessible content and products for people with cognitive disabilities and the communities who serve them.
Senior Research Analyst, Policy Analysis and Research
Peace Bransberger, senior research analyst, leads the production and analysis of WICHE’s Knocking at the College Door projections of high school graduates and contributes to many of WICHE’s perennial data products and other research focused on equitable college access, success and financing. Previously, Peace was a consultant, evaluation researcher and licensed adult educator in Washington, DC, working to improve job training and postsecondary education among minoritized, immigrant and adult student populations. Peace is a former foster youth and first-generation college graduate with an M.A. from American University, Washington, DC and B.A. from St. Cloud State University, Minnesota.
Research and Technical Assistance Associate, Behavioral Health Program
Erin Briley recently began working for WICHE’s Behavioral Health Program as a Research and Technical Assistant Associate. She earned her Bachelor’s in Human Development and Family Studies at Colorado State University, her Master’s in Counseling/School Psychology and a Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis at California State University Los Angeles, and is working on her PhD (ABD) in Clinical Psychology; she is also a Nationally Certified School Psychologist. Ms. Briley’s work with the WICHE Behavioral Health Program includes a variety of behavioral health projects, but her primary role is currently assisting the creation and implementation of Psychology Internship Consortiums in rural western states as well as involvement with school behavioral health projects. Prior to coming to WICHE, Briley worked about 20 years in the schools, serving primarily as a school psychologist for school districts in California, Hawaii, and Colorado providing direct and indirect supports for children ages 3 through 22 of all developmental levels. While in Hawaii, Briley also served temporarily as a special education administrator and as program manager for the School Based Behavioral Health program for Hawaii’s Department of Education, as well as trained and supervised paraprofessionals providing individualized supports to children with special needs.
Director of Veterans Initiatives, Behavioral Health Program
Gina Brimner, MSW, LCSW Gina holds a master’s degree in Social Work and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her career spans direct service, management and leadership roles in government and non-profit health and behavioral health sectors in multiple western states. Most recently, Gina held independent consultant contracts with health care organizations, states, and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE BHP) before joining WICHE as an employee in 2019. In her role at WICHE BHP, she leads Together With Veterans Projects, a rural veteran suicide prevention collaborative developed in partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Positions Gina held previously include Senior Vice President of Youth and Family Services at Albertina Kerr Centers in Portland, OR; Adolescent Unit Supervisor for the Policy Division of the Washington State Children’s Administration; Clinical Director of Juneau Mental Health, Inc.; and multiple roles in the State of Alaska Division of Behavioral Health.
Manager, Digital Design, WCET
Rosa Calabrese has been with WICHE since 2014. As the manager of digital and project support services for WCET, she is responsible for creating and maintaining WCET’s digital assets, and undertakes web and graphic design of WCET and its initiatives. Before coming to WICHE, she worked as a program assistant at the Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen. She received a bachelor’s degree at the University of Denver, where she studied electronic media arts design and sociology. Outside of work, she can be found volunteering with both cats and dogs at a local animal shelter.
Chief of Digital Services
Dave Clark is WICHE’s chief of digital services. In this role, he contributes to and oversees all operational, tactical, and strategic IT operations and initiatives. His work experiences include research associate at UC San Diego (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), where he supported various geology/geophysics departments with network design and implementation, programming interfaces to geophysical equipment, and system/network administration; senior network engineer and director of IT at Cable Labs (where the cable modem specification was born), and director of infrastructure for two managed services/hosting service providers. Dave earned his bachelor’s in geology (University Honors Program) from the University of Delaware. His hobbies include drumming (since age 7), fossil/mineral collecting, and enjoying the beautiful Colorado outdoors.
Director of Student Access Programs, Programs and Services
Margo Colalancia directs WICHE’s student access programs – WUE, WRGP and PSEP– which provide access to a broad range of higher education options for 45,000+ students. Previously she served as associate project director for a trinational consortium of Mexican, Canadian and U.S. universities and colleges. She holds a bachelor’s in business French from the University of Colorado and the Université de Bordeaux III, and a master’s in international policy studies from the Monterey Institute of International Studies. Colalancia spent seven years in Gabon, Central Africa, teaching English as a foreign language with the Peace Corps and on private contract with the Gabonese Ministry of Education.
Associate Director, Every Learner Everywhere, WCET
Laura DaVinci has dedicated her career to helping increase educational outcomes for underrepresented students through innovative approaches and grant-funded programs. As the program manager for Every Learner Everywhere, she works with a strong network of partners committed to improving educational outcomes through technology-enhanced education. Prior to joining the Every Learner Everywhere team, Laura was the grants manager for Aims Community College, taught computer science, held multiple TRIO positions, and managed multiple international educational grants funded by the European Commission. She earned her M.B.A from Eastern New Mexico University, and her bachelor’s degree in international business in Romania.
Research Assistant, Behavioral Health Program
Jasmine Davis is currently working as a Research Assistant for the NIMH Rural Monograph grant. Davis is a second-year Counseling Psychology doctoral student at the University of Denver. Davis received her B.A. in psychology from Saint John Fisher College and her M.S. in marriage and family therapy from the University of Rochester.
Policy Analyst, Policy Analysis and Research
Liliana Diaz, as a policy analyst with WICHE works on a diverse range of activities including conducting and communicating policy research on a wide array of higher education-related topics, developing and sustaining relationships with external stakeholders, and conceptualizing and executing short- and long-term collaborative projects with states. Diaz received her B.S. in journalism and mass communication, B.A. in film studies, and a certificate in Technology, Arts, and Media from the University of Colorado at Boulder, earned her M.A. in higher education in from the University of Denver, where she is currently a Ph.D. candidate in higher education administration.
Senior Director, Policy Innovations, WCET
Cheryl Dowd serves as the Director of the State Authorization Network (SAN) for WCET and Cyber Fellow for WICHE. Dowd directs the activities and research to manage State and Federal regulatory compliance requirements for the out of state activities of the member institutions. As Cyber Fellow, Dowd is developing relationships with national education and security agencies to develop institutional data protection, privacy resources, and training opportunities to share with the WICHE community. Dowd earned her JD from the University of Richmond, MS in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University, and BS in Political Science from James Madison University.
Assistant Director, Communications and Community, WCET
Lindsey Downs is manager of communications for the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET) and has a background in communications, marketing, instructional design, higher education,and educational technology. She holds a M.Ed. in adult and higher education and a certification in college teaching from Montana State University, and is a certified instructional designer. Lindsey’s interests include teaching with technology, effective classroom facilitation, training, and classroom design.When not enjoying her work, Lindsey spends time in beautiful Helena, Mont. with her husband, boxer dog Piper, and cat Boo. Follow her adventures on Twitter: @lindsey0427.
Administrative Assistant III, Programs and Services
Julie Esterline is the Administrative Assistant for Interstate Passport at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Prior to joining WICHE, Esterline worked at a transportation non-profit, assisting with grant administration, membership retention, and bookkeeping. She has a B.S. in Business Administration from Southeast Missouri State University.
Executive Assistant to the President and to the Commission
Laura Ewing has been with WICHE since 2007 and currently serves as the Executive Assistant to the President and to the 48 member Commission that governs WICHE. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts with a concentration in Public Relations from Graceland University in Lamoni, IA. Community service is important to Laura. Most recently, she served and led the board of a local performing arts nonprofit for several years, and is an active volunteer with ministry programs.
Senior Research Analyst, Policy Analysis and Research
Colleen Falkenstern serves as a research analyst in WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit. In her role, she supports the development of WICHE’s annual data resources—Regional Fact Book for Higher Education in the West, Benchmarks (of access and success), and Tuition and Fees in Public Higher Education in the West. She also provides analytical support for WICHE’s quadrennial projections of high school graduates, Knocking at the College Door. She received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and management from the University of South Carolina—Columbia and a master’s degree in higher education from the University of Denver.
Senior Director of Operations and Membership Administration, WCET
Sherri Artz Gilbert, assistant director of operations and member services for WCET, has been with WICHE since 1999. Her principal responsibilities include preparing and managing the budget, coordinating the membership effort, and database maintenance. Previously, she worked for the Reading Musical Foundation, a nonprofit that promotes and facilitates music education and appreciation to preserve and develop musical experience and culture in Berks County, Pa. While there she was responsible for donor management and administration of the Blues in the Schools program. She received a B.S./B.A. from Kutztown University in Pennsylvania with a major in management and marketing. Originally from Pennsylvania Dutch country, Sherri currently resides above 9,200 feet in the Colorado mountains with her husband and two dogs.
Rural Opioid Technical Assistance Coordinator, Behavioral Health Program
Vanessa Gonzalez is a Technical Assistance Associate for the Behavioral Health Program. She works primarily on the Rural Opioid Prevention Project, supporting the provision of TA to HRSA grantees. Additionally, Vanessa supports the coordination of activities for the Mountain Plains MHTTC. A May 2018 graduate of CU-Boulder, Vanessa earned a Double Bachelor of Arts — Biology, Environmental Studies, with Minors in Business & Communications, and a Certificate in Public Health. After completing her education accolades in four years, she is excited to join the WICHE Behavioral Health Program team.
Budget Coordinator, Behavioral Health Program
Andie Hancock is a Budget Coordinator for the WICHE Behavioral Health Program. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas and has 37 years of experience in administration. She previously worked for the City of Boulder Parks and Recreation Department for 34 years and learned everything from flowers to financials!
Director of Research and Evaluation, Behavioral Health Program
Rebecca Helfand received her Ph.D. in psychology from Baylor University before moving to Colorado as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado’s Institute for Behavioral Genetics. Prior to joining the WICHE Behavioral Health Program team, Rebecca worked for the Office of Behavioral Health (OBH) in the State of Colorado Department of Human Services. In her four years with OBH, she worked on a variety of projects with other state agencies,namely the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. Rebecca served as the director of OBH’s Data and Evaluation unit, where she supervised a team of 12 people,affording her the opportunity to work on projects throughout the OBH office.
Administrative Assistant III, Every Learner Everywhere, WCET
Joyce Holliday is an administrative assistant for the Every Learning Everywhere program in the WCET unit of WICHE. She earned a bachelor of science degree from Colorado State University and has 25 years of experience in administration. Joyce recently earned a Professional Certification of Excellence with the American Society of Administrative Professionals. She previously worked for CU Boulder for 22 years. Outside of work, she keeps busy with her Angora show rabbits, grooming and attending shows across the country. Joyce uses the fiber from her angoras and alpacas to spin and create various fiber art creations.
Manager, Institution Services, Programs and Services
Kay Hulstrom serves as WICHE’s manager of institution services. She works on a variety of projects including Interstate Passport®, Online Course Exchange, the Western Academic Leadership Forum, and the Western Alliance of Community College Academic Leaders. The latter two are membership organizations for the chief academic officers of WICHE-region two and four-year institutions and system offices. She holds a B.S. in finance from Colorado State University.
Senior Consultant, Behavioral Health Program
Debra Kupfer has more than 40 years of public behavioral health experience as both a clinician and an administrator, including 15 years with the WICHE Behavioral Health Program as a senior consultant.
Kupfer spent 25 years with the Colorado Department of Human Services, serving as the mental health commissioner; manager; director of policy and planning of hospital services for the Colorado Office/Division of Behavioral Health; and as clinical therapist and adult division deputy administrator for the Colorado Mental Health Institute at Fort Logan.
Currently, she is an executive board member for Rocky Mountain Crisis Partners in Colorado and serves on the executive committee of National Dialogues on Behavioral Health. Kupfer also served as a reviewer, monitor, and consultant for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) Mental Health Block Grant for more than 15 years and as a national facilitator for Advocates for Human Potential’s Olmstead Community of Practice Initiative funded by SAMHSA.
Since 2007, Kupfer has worked with the U.S. Pacific Jurisdictions and the U.S. Virgin Islands on consulting projects, including:
In recent years, Kupfer has served as the lead and/or supported several projects with the WICHE Behavioral Health Program, including:
Additionally, Kupfer is a technical expert lead on the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) – Technical Assistance Project. These efforts have involved providing technical assistance, facilitating stakeholder groups, developing data collection instruments, leading focus groups, conducting key informant interviews, reporting findings, and developing recommendations for the enhancement of behavioral health systems.
Vice President, Policy Analysis and Research
Patrick Lane is the vice president of WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit. He previously was its director of data initiatives, a role that has included managing the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange, which seeks to improve linkages between state data systems to provide better information to students and their families while also improving education, workforce, and economic development policy. He previously coordinated WICHE’s Adult College Completion Network and has worked extensively on the Non-Traditional No More: Policy Solutions for Adult Learners project. Both projects focused on identifying policy and practice solutions to help adults with prior college credit return to postsecondary education to complete their degrees. Lane also coordinated WICHE’s College Access Regional Network, which focused on increasing the number of low-income students prepared to enter and succeed in post secondary education. He came to WICHE having spent several years working in education policy in the Republic of the Marshall Islands. Lane received a master’s degree from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University in 2007 and completed a Ph.D. in public administration at the University of Colorado Denver in 2015.
Director, Academic Leadership Initiatives
Sarah Leibrandt, Ph.D., is the director of academic leadership initiatives for Interstate Passport at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education and has over 15 years of experience working in secondary and postsecondary education. Since joining WICHE in 2013, Leibrandt has led several initiatives including WICHE’s Recognizing Learning in the 21st Century, a large-scale research study and landscape analysis of the scaling of prior learning assessment policies and practices. Sarah has also helped state agencies share education and workforce data with each other through the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange as a way to provide better information to students and their families while also improving education, workforce, and economic development policy. Prior to joining WICHE, Leibrandt worked for the Colorado Department of Education and Red Rocks Community College. Leibrandt earned a B.A. in Spanish from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Education Policy from the University of Colorado Boulder.
Demarée K. Michelau is the president of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE). Located in Boulder, CO, WICHE is a regional interstate compact that partners with states, territories, and postsecondary institutions to share knowledge, create resources, and develop innovative solutions that address some of our society’s most pressing needs. From promoting high-quality, affordable postsecondary education to helping states get the most from their technology investments and addressing behavioral health challenges, WICHE improves lives across the West through innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy. Prior to her role as WICHE’s president, Dr. Michelau was WICHE’s vice president of policy analysis and research, a role in which she managed WICHE’s Policy Analysis and Research unit and oversaw externally-funded projects related to projections of high school graduates, closing postsecondary attainment gaps, and the development of a multistate longitudinal data exchange. The author of numerous reports and policy briefs, she has experience in a variety of higher education policy issues, including those related to equity and attainment, strategic planning, adult learners, articulation and transfer, accelerated learning options, college affordability, workforce linkages, and K-16 reform. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Consortium for North American Higher Education Collaboration (CONAHEC) and the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA). Previously, she held positions with the National Conference of State Legislatures and with former Colorado Congressman David Skaggs. Michelau received her bachelor’s degree in public law from Northern Illinois University and her master’s degree and Ph.D. in political science from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Vice President, Programs and Services
Jere J. Mock is vice president of programs and services, overseeing WICHE’s regional student access programs: the Professional Student Exchange Program (PSEP), Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), Western Undergraduate Exchange (WUE), and Online Course Exchange (OCE). Together, these expand affordable access to higher education at some 200 institutions for more than 42,000 students and help develop the West’s workforce. She also directs externally funded regional initiatives that foster college and university collaborations to enhance students’educational opportunities, increase institutional effectiveness, and enable institutions to reduce their administrative costs and offer expanded services to students. Prior to joining WICHE in 1988, she was executive director of a regional telecommunications company’s corporate philanthropy through the seven-state Mountain Bell Foundation in Denver, and worked in public relations and government affairs at Mountain Bell. She received her bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Colorado Boulder, a master’s of public administration from the University of Colorado Denver, and a master’s of business administration from Regis University. She has served on the boards of several nonprofit organizations.
Vice President, Behavioral Health & Co-Director, Mental Health Technology Transfer Center
Dennis Mohatt is vice president for behavioral health at WICHE, leading since 2001 its behavioral health program and its Center for Rural Mental Health Research. He has over 30 years of public mental health service. His work has included direct clinical care, clinical supervision, and CEO tenure in a rural CMHC serving Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Additionally, he led a HRSA-funded effort in the early 1990s to successfully integrate mental health and primary care in multiple rural family practice settings. During the late 1990s, he was deputy director for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, also serving as the state’s commissioner of mental health. He has served as a member of the National Rural Health Advisory Committee, and led national efforts relating to rural mental health including a role as chief consultant to the president’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health. He is actively engaged in efforts focused on improving services to Veterans, Guard, and Reserve and their families; rural mental health policy; workforce development, and increasing adoption of integrated approaches to behavioral and primary care practice. His graduate training, supported by a NIMH Fellowship, focused on rural community-clinical psychology.
Senior Manager of Business Operations and Strategic Initiatives, Every Learner Everywhere, WCET
Robert Perez, manager of network development and strategic partnerships for the Every Learner Everywhere network initiative, is a native of Austin, Texas and joined WICHE/WCET in November 2018. Perez manages the network’s contract and finances, and assists in facilitating its growth and impact. Having grown up in a minority-majority community, the network’s efforts to bring greater equity to higher education for first-generation, low-income, and students of color are especially important to him. Perez earned a B.A. in philosophy from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas, and an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Missouri-Columbia.
Executive Director, WCET & Vice President for Technology-Enhanced Education
As the executive director of WCET, Russell Poulin leads an organization focusing on the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET member institutions and organizations hail from all fifty states and Canada. As WICHE’s vice president for technology-enhanced education, Poulin advises on policies and projects. Poulin served on federal negotiated rulemaking panels and received recognition for national policy contributions. Poulin previously lead distance education collaboration for the North Dakota University System and earned a bachelors from the University of Colorado Denver and masters from the University of Northern Colorado. Poulin is partial to movies, cats, and his wife.
Senior Director of Membership and Programs, WCET
Megan Raymond has been with WICHE since 2007. She directs the programs, events, and sponsorships for WCET, the national leader in the practice, policy, and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Prior to WICHE, Megan was entrenched in student affairs at a small liberal arts college. In her spare time she enjoys racing mountain bikes and chasing her son on his bike or feet. Her overly hyper and eternal puppy, Rango, also keeps her on her toes.
Fidelity Reviewer, Behavioral Health Program (AZ)
Annette Robertson, LMSW is a Fidelity Reviewer with the WICHE Behavioral Health Program and has been a licensed social worker for more than 25 years. She earned a Master of Social Work degree with a focus in Policy, Administration and Communities from Arizona State University and a Bachelor of Social Work degree from Moorhead State University, Minnesota. Prior to joining WICHE in 2017, she delivered: behavioral health services to adults in one of the largest populated counties in the U.S.; school based behavioral health services to children and their families on an Ojibwe reservation in rural Minnesota; family based services to families whose children were at risk of being placed out of the home; and for a brief period, supported persons with chronic kidney failure. Annette currently works on a contract with the State of Arizona Medicaid program, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, one of the first Medicaid programs to bring integrated mental and physical health care to its residents. For WICHE, Annette evaluates adult behavioral health programs’ ability to meet the fidelity of SAMHSA’s Evidenced Based Practices being used throughout Arizona.
Director of Policy Initiatives and State Authorization, Policy Analysis and Research
Christina Sedney is the Director of Policy Initiatives and State Authorization at WICHE, where she works on a variety of topics including the WICHE State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (W-SARA), approaches to serving underrepresented student populations, higher education governance issues, and policy solutions for adult learners. Prior to WICHE, Sedney worked for international nonprofit Teach For All and completed a fellowship with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation. She also held multiple roles with the AmeriCorps program City Year, from classroom-based corps member to project manager on their public policy team. She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and a master’s degree in public policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Director of Communications
Melanie Sidwell is the Director of Communications at WICHE, where she supports our mission through strategic communications, media relations, social and digital media, and content services. Prior to joining WICHE, she served in a variety of marketing, communications and alumni relations roles at the University of Colorado, and she worked as a journalist for newspapers in Nebraska, Florida and Colorado. A first-generation college graduate, Sidwell holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, a master’s degree in media studies from the University of Colorado Boulder, and currently is a PhD student in information science at CU Boulder.
Director, Open Policy, WCET
Tanya Spilovoy is the director of open policy at the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET). Spilovoy leads the Z Initiative, which focuses on the policy, practice, and implementation of Open Educational Resources in states, systems, and higher education institutions. Previously, she served as the director of distance education and state authorization at the North Dakota University System and has taught college English and English as a second language in K-12 and abroad. Spilovoy received a bachelor’s degree in English from Union College, a master’s degree in education from Hamline University, and a doctorate in higher education leadership and organizational change from Benedictine University.
Together with Veterans Program Manager, Behavioral Health Program
Gretchen Stage is the Project Manager for Together with Veterans, a community-based suicide prevention program for rural Veterans carried out in collaboration with Rocky Mountain Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center (MIRECC) for Suicide Prevention, WICHE BHP, local Veterans, and other community stakeholders. Gretchen received her M.A. in Medical Anthropology from the University of Colorado, Denver and her B.S. from the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. Prior to joining the WICHE Behavioral Health Program team, she worked for Telligen as a Quality Improvement Facilitator and Program Evaluator on the Quality Improvement National Coordinating Center (QIN NCC) contract for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Her work supported 14 Quality Improvement Network (QIN) organizations and by extension 53 QIOs in their implementation of antibiotic stewardship and alcohol and depression screenings for Medicare beneficiaries. In addition, she worked in collaboration with the Partnerships to Advance Tribal Health (PATH) to support the CMS Quality Improvement Network initiative to enhance culturally-relevant, quality care for American Indian/Alaska Natives receiving their care from federally-funded Indian Health Service (IHS) facilities. As a U.S. Navy Veteran she is excited to work with Veterans and their community partners to reduce Veteran suicide in rural communities across the nation.
Desktop and Windows Administrator
Gary Toon is WICHE’s Desktop and Windows Administrator and in this role he supports the computer systems and peripherals use by the staff at WICHE, both onsite and remote. His work history includes working for years in large global data centers for Education Services as well as providing PC and Systems support. Gary earned his Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Indiana University and his Master of Science in Management from Regis University. His hobbies include telemark skiing, ice fishing, and whitewater kayaking on the beautiful Colorado rivers. To stay safe in the backcountry he earned his Wilderness First Responder certification from Colorado Mountain College in 2017 and recertified it with Desert Mountain Medicine in 2019.
Technical Expert Lead, RCORP, Behavioral Health Program
Ivory Tubbs: Prior to earning his doctorate in psychology, Ivory served in the United States Air Force during Operation Desert Shield in logistics in 1991. Prior to his discharge from the military, Ivory’s career in the mental/behavioral health field began in Las Vegas, Nevada as a crisis intervention specialist. Later, he transitioned to the role of child development assistant with Clark County Family Services.
In 1999 he was appointed as the Executive Director of Windsor Village Social Services, an agency working in conjunction with FEMA to provide emergency food, shelter and utility assistance for area residents. In addition to fulfilling his duties as Executive Director, Ivory was also a Senior Public Health Investigator with the City of Houston, Bureau of Epidemiology conducting psycho-social assessments regarding sexual practices and opioid use within the HIV/AIDS community for the CDC. After his simultaneous roles as Executive Director and Senior Public Health Investigator, Ivory began adding to his knowledge base by joining the University of Texas School of Health Sciences, Psychiatric Center working with acute and subacute psychosis patients as well as patients in the forensic psychology unit for the Houston Police Department.
Ivory was also a Psychological Assessor focusing on dual diagnosis patients as well as outpatient therapy to monitor psychotropic drug interactions. Ivory took a hiatus from behavioral health to become an HR Manager in compliance and performance management for Walmart US. Ivory has served on several boards of directors and has done extensive work in the homeless community. He has also held the role of director working with the developmentally delayed population.
Fidelity Reviewer, Behavioral Health Program (AZ)
Karen Voyer-Caravona earned a Master of Expressive Therapy (art therapy) at the University of Louisville in 1993, subsequently working in a variety of settings including inpatient psychiatric, partial hospitalization, community mental health, public school schools, and child advocacy. Her areas of clinical concentration were adults diagnosed with serious mental illness and child sexual abuse. In 2014, Karen completed a Master of Social Work at Arizona State University, concentrating in macro practice, and soon joined WICHE as a Fidelity Reviewer for the Arnold vs Sarn EBP project, for which she continues to serve. Karen lives in Phoenix with husband and three dogs. During her free time, she enjoys gardening, urban sketching, reading on a wide range of topics, and bicycling to area coffee shops in search of the perfect latte. Karen is a past member of the National Association of Social Workers Arizona Chapter Board of Directors, and currently enjoys volunteering for community projects in her neighborhood.
Administrative Assistant III, Behavioral Health Program
Darlene Williams is an administrative assistant for the WICHE Behavioral Health Program. She brings over 25 years of experience serving the nonprofit and quasi-governmental sector. She has served in several capacities for agricultural, heritage, multicultural, arts and health service organizations as administrator, events and project manager, and corporate secretary. As an arts educator, mentor and consultant, she has extensive experience working in a variety of public and private educational settings in urban, rural, and remote communities throughout Western Canada. Long active in the community, Williams has served on a number of nonprofit boards, leading initiatives to increase the accessibility of arts education for everyone.
MHTTC Research and Technical Assistance Coordinator, Behavioral Health Program
Stefanie Winfield is a Research and Technical Assistance Associate with the Behavioral Health Program. Her work at WICHE focuses on the Mental Health Technical Transfers Center’s work providing intensive technical assistance and training to elementary schools. Stefanie comes to WICHE with extensive experience working in schools promoting youth sexual health, conflict and angry management, behavioral health education, and school-based health care. With over 17 years of experience working with nonprofits and community organizations, Stefanie has done everything from grant management and implementation, to program and outcome evaluation, training and facilitation. Stefanie received her BSW from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY and her MSW from the University of Denver. She has also completed certificates in the Advanced Study of Program Evaluation, Accelerated Learning, E-learning Design and Organization Development.