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National I-VE Mini Roundtable Speaker Bios

Andrea Hightower, MS

Andrea oversees the full grant management lifecycle for federal, state, local and private funding awarded to Childhelp, a national non-profit organization concerned with prevention, intervention, and treatment of child abuse and neglect. Andrea has held managerial and program development roles within state and national organizations serving children, youth and families for 30 years including: Arizona’s Department of Child Safety; Arizona State University’s Center for Child Well-Being; University of Washington’s Partners for Our Children; the National Alliance for Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds; the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; and Casey Family Programs. Andrea is both an alumni of foster care and adoptee. Andrea has served as a board member for Foster Care Alumni of America, and participates in the National Prevention Science Coalitions’ Child Welfare Rapid Response Network. Andrea has expertise and special interest in federal Title IV-E funding and has participated actively since 2015 in The National Title IV-E Roundtable conference.

Anita P. Barbee, Ph.D., MSSW

Anita P. Barbee, Ph.D., MSSW is Professor and Distinguished University Scholar at the Center for Family and Community Well-Being, Kent School of Social Work, University of Louisville.  Dr. Barbee practiced on the Medically Fragile Team in the Louisville child welfare office.  She has evaluated Kentucky’s child welfare training as PI of an evaluation contract funded from Children’s Bureau funds every year since 1992. She has also been a Principal Investigator on seven federal grants for such agencies as the Children’s Bureau, the Office of Adolescent Health, and the Family and Youth Services Bureau. She has been Co-Investigator on five federal grants for such agencies as Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and Health Resources and Services Administration. Finally, she has been evaluator for nine federal grants and contracts including two for the Office of Financial Assistance and seven for the Children’s Bureau. Three of those were discretionary grants and three were as an evaluator for the Children’s Bureau Training and Technical Assistance Network, and the current Capacity Building Centers (since 2004). She is currently the lead evaluator for the Children’s Bureau funded Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development. The QIC-WD is testing the efficacy of different workforce interventions to reduce turnover in eight jurisdictions across the nation using rigorous evaluation designs. She is sharing some research findings regarding the pivot to COVID from some of the QIC-WD sites at the 2021 Title IV-E Roundtable.

Dr. Barbee serves on the Editorial Boards of the Journal of Public Child Welfare, Families in Society, Journal of the Society of Social Work Research, Social Service Review, and Personal Relationships.  She also regularly reviews for Children and Youth Services Review and other social work and psychology journals. She is a Fellow in the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare, APA’s Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and the Society for Experimental Social Psychologists. She has produced or delivered over 650 scholarly publications and presentations over her 35-year career.  

Austin Griffiths, Ph.D.

Dr. Austin Griffiths is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Work at Western Kentucky University and the Director of the Center for Child Welfare Education and Research.  He has almost 15 years of professional practice experience in both child and adult protective services and in facilitating applied research.  He is currently the Principal Investigator on a Medicaid funded project entitled the Kentucky Child Welfare Workforce Wellness Initiative and the co-author of the textbook Child Welfare and Child Protection: An Introduction.  Dr. Griffiths is passionate about improving the lives of families and children and the majority of his research is focused on child welfare practice, training, and workforce development

Dean Tania Basta

Dr. Tania B. Basta, Ph.D., MPHis a Professor of Public Health and the Dean of the College of Health and Human Services at Western Kentucky University (WKU).  She received an MPH in Community Health Education from Indiana University in 2003 and a Ph.D. in Health Promotion and Behavior from the University of Georgia in 2006.  Prior to joining WKU in 2019, she was a faculty member at Ohio University for 13 years.

Dr. Basta has over 20 years of combined public health research and professional experience.  She started her public health career as a worksite health practitioner, but in the past decade has worked extensively with domestic community-based organizations focused on HIV/AIDS.  She has been very active in local and national public health leadership, including leadership in the HIV/AIDS Section of the American Public Health Association and most recently on the Board of Health for the Athens County-City Board of Health in Ohio.

Dr. Basta’s research focuses on community-engaged infectious disease prevention in rural communities; both domestically and internationally.  Specifically, her research explores sexual health from a social and behavioral perspective.  She has considerable experience conducting community-based research in rural Appalachia.

Jessica Pryce, Ph.D.

Dr. Pryce is an Assistant Professor at Florida State University and currently the Executive Director of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. For the past 10 years, she has been involved at multiple angles of child welfare (direct practice, teaching + training & policy and research). She has published on child welfare related topics, such as, training and education, racial disparity and anti-poverty practices. She has presented at 40+ virtual and in-person conferences both nationally and internationally. She is the author is several op-eds focused on racial disparity and effective strategies to impact racial disproportionality within child welfare. Pryce has worked on the frontlines of child welfare, conducted primary research, been a policy advisor to Florida?s legislature and taught graduate level courses in child welfare. Previously holding the positions of Child Protective Caseworker with the Department of Children and Families, and the Deputy Director of the University at Albany's New York State Education Consortium. In 2019, she received a 5-year appointment to the Advisory Board of the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute, where she consults and advises on leadership and workforce interventions around the country. She currently sits on the Florida Dependency Court Improvement Panel, alongside judges and advocates who are working towards a more trauma informed approach within the judicial system. She has maintained and cultivated a commitment to the wellbeing of vulnerable children and families, the sustainability of the child welfare workforce, and effectively addressing inequity. Her paramount goal includes re-building and leading a child welfare system that focuses on strengthening families instead of pulling them apart.

Kimberly Green, Ed.D

Dr. Kimberly J. Green is a pediatric speech-language pathologist and assistant professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders Department at Western Kentucky University (WKU).  She holds a certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) from Cornell University and has served as the first Chief Diversity Officer (CDO) for the WKU College of Health and Human Services (CHHS). 

In addition, Dr. Green has authored articles centered on cultural competence and proficiency, and has developed regional and national continuing education workshops on providing inclusive and culturally competent services. Having taught 15 internationally based courses, Dr. Green’s focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion also encompass issues related to internationalization and global affairs, including refugee populations. She is a long-standing member of the Warren County Public Schools Equity Council and serves on the International Centers of Kentucky Board of Directors, which oversees refugee resettlement agencies in the south-central region. 

Kirstin O'Dell, MSW

Kirstin O’Dell is the Child Welfare Workforce Evaluations Manager for the Child Welfare Partnership at Portland State University. For the past 15 years, her work has focused on the evaluation of training for child welfare staff, caregivers, and community partners. Ms. O'Dell has expertise developing competency-based evaluations using utilization focused and participatory approaches. She has worked with trainers and subject matter experts to develop knowledge and skill assessments, including five simulated practice experiences for new child welfare workers. She also has extensive experience developing effective quality assurance measures and feedback tools for training. 

Marie Bolstad, MPA

Marie manages the finances and operations of an innovation center at the UW School of Social Work. She has been with the University of Washington for over 13 years beginning in the School of Social Work’s Dean’s finance office, then Partners for Our Children, and now CSSAT. Marie has expertise and interest in Title IV-E funding and its use to support systems assessment, data management, and technology for child welfare systems.

Robin Leake, Ph.D.

Dr. Robin Leake, Ph.D. is a Research Professor at the Graduate School of Social Work the Acting Executive Director of the Butler Institute of Families at the University of Denver.  Dr. Leake has over 20 years of experience in social science and intervention research and evaluation, with an emphasis on implementation of trauma-informed practice and organizational and workforce development in child welfare. Dr.  Leake is the Project Director for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI) and the co-Principal Investigator for the Children’s Bureau Capacity Building Center for Tribes.

Sharon Kollar, LMSW

Sharon Kollar, LMSW, leads information-sharing networks, knowledge management, and dissemination efforts for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI). She supports child welfare programs in developing a diverse, inclusive, and effective workforce by creating, sharing, and supporting the application of resources, strategies, and tools.


For any questions or concerns regarding the registration process or the event itself, please call (270) 745-4254 or email TitleIVE2021@wku.edu.

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 Last Modified 4/20/21