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Our Staff

The principal office of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council is in Nashville, Tennessee. Staff and contractors pursue our ambitious agenda in research, training, education, organizing, and advocacy from offices in various locations. Staff members include:

 

 

Bobby Watts

Bobby Watts, MPH, MS, CPH

Chief Executive Officer

G. Robert “Bobby” Watts is the chief executive officer of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and oversees all aspects of the Council’s activity in advocacy, training, technical assistance, research, peer support, organizing, and fund development.

A nationally recognized advocate and leader in meeting the health needs of people without homes, he has more than 25 years of experience in administration, direct service, and implementation of homeless health services. He began his work with people experiencing homelessness as a live-in staff member of the New York City Rescue Mission in Manhattan. Learn more about Bobby.

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292 | Email Address: bwatts@nhchc.org

 

Hugo Aguas, MA

Research Associate

Hugo works with the research team to research health outcomes using data driven methodologies, Hugo collaborates with other community health partners throughout the country to develop educational materials pertaining to medical care for those experiencing homelessness. Hugo also disseminates data and provides ease-of-access to community partners throughout the nation, and assists in writing publications and scheduling educational seminars on public health amongst those experiencing homelessness.

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292 | Email Address: haguas@nhchc.org

 

Lauryn Berner, MSW, MPH

Research Manager

Lauryn works with the research team to support the Health Care for the Homeless field by developing and disseminating knowledge, increasing visibility of HCH-related research through publications and external collaborations, and providing data-driven support to inter-departmental teams and workgroups. Lauryn serves as the Council’s subject matter expert on housing and HIV, and her work has focused on the social determinants of health.

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 230 | Email Address: lberner@nhchc.org

 

 

Alaina Boyer, PhD

Director of Research

Alaina provides oversight and guidance for the research activities of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, which include quality improvement projects and providing educational resources for health care clinics that serve individuals experiencing homelessness. She coordinates and facilitates the Research Committee and Practice Based Research Network initiatives, which are currently focused on improving health outcomes and providing quality care across systems for vulnerable populations.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 233 | Email Address: aboyer@nhchc.org 

 

Lily Catalano, BA

Clinical Manager

Lily coordinates the work of the Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians’ Network and develops resources to improve access to and quality of health care for people experiencing homelessness.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 231 | Email Address: lcatalano@nhchc.org

 

 

Katherine Cavanaugh, MSW

Consumer Advocate

Katherine staffs the National Consumer Advisory Board (NCAB), helps to coordinate consumer initiatives, and further develops Council relationships with local Consumer Advisory Boards (CABs).

Contact Information

Phone Number: (443) 703-1320 | Email Address: kcavanaugh@nhchc.org

 

Andrea Crowe, MA

Advancement Coordinator

Andrea maintains the Council's donor and membership database; manages fundraising lists of individuals, organizations, and foundations; and provides a range of administrative services in the areas of philanthropy and member relations.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 234 | Email Address: acrowe@nhchc.org

Brandon de la Cruz, MM

Media and Technology Manager

Brandon manages media-based communication activities for the Council -- including webinars, videography, photography, and music production -- and provides guidance and support for information technology services.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 249 | Email Address: bdelacruz@nhchc.org

Barbara DiPietro, PhD

Senior Director of Policy

Barbara directs the policy and advocacy activities for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. This includes conducting policy analysis, providing educational materials and presentations to a broad range of policymakers and other stakeholders, coordinating the Council’s policy priorities with national partners, and organizing staff assistance to the Policy Committee and the National Consumer Advisory Board.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (443) 703-1346 | Email Address: bdipietro@nhchc.org

 

 

Jennifer Dix, BBA

Communications Coordinator

Jenn provides assistance with the Council’s marketing and branding efforts. This includes supporting effective communication strategies via email communications, newsletters, marketing materials, website content, and social media.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 225 | Email Address: jdix@nhchc.org

 

 

Julia Dobbins, MSW

Director of Medical Respite Care

Julia joined the Council in 2012 and leads our work on medical respite care. She provides guidance and oversight for medical respite activities including training, technical assistance, and resource and program development. Additionally, she is the staff liaison to the Respite Care Providers’ Network (RCPN) and coordinates and facilitates the activities of the RCPN steering committee.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 232 | Email Address: jdobbins@nhchc.org

 

D. Michael Durham, MTS

Community Engagement Manager

Michael is responsible for strategic relationship-building and increasing representation of marginalized communities in all of the Council’s work. Leaning on these relationships, he coordinates the Council’s largely peer-to-peer technical assistance program, which provides support to health centers and other organizations serving people experiencing homelessness. He also supports the CEO in certain racial equity initiatives.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 246 | Email Address: mdurham@nhchc.org

 

 

Dorothy (Dott) Freeman, PhD

Senior Director of Advancement

Dott is the Council's Senior Director of Advancement and has more than 25 years of fundraising experience in a variety of areas, including service-oriented nonprofits, health care, and education. Heading the Council's Advancement Team, she leads our philanthropy, communications, membership, media, and technology initiatives.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (207) 333-8877 | Email Address: dfreeman@nhchc.org

 

 

Melanie Harper, BA, LSSGB

Director of Finance & Administration

Melanie is responsible for oversight of all the financial and administrative functions of the Council and staffs the Finance & Personnel Committee.

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 229 | Email Address: mharper@nhchc.org

 

 

Darlene Jenkins, DrPH

Senior Director of Programs

Darlene oversees the work of the Education and Research Teams.

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 228 | Email Address: djenkins@nhchc.org

 

 

Joseph Kenkel, BS

Research Assistant

Joey works with the research team to support the Health Care for the Homeless field by developing and disseminating information, increasing visibility of HCH-related research through publications and external collaborations, and improving the HCH field and community’s capacity for quality improvement and engagement in research. Joey also performs activities aimed to increase the knowledge base, skill set, and resources of health center staff engaged in supportive housing initiatives in partnership with the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 226 | Email Address: jkenkel@nhchc.org

 

Kelli Klein, BA

Behavioral Health Coordinator

Kelli provides technical assistance and supports the Council’s work on behavioral health and homelessness, focusing on the integration of behavioral health into primary care settings. She works specifically on the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Center of Excellence (CoE) for Behavioral Health Technical Assistance (BHTA), which includes the development and execution of webinars and peer learning opportunities through communities of practice.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 247 | Email Address: kklein@nhchc.org

 

Katie League, LCSW-C

COVID-19 Project Manager (Policy Team)

Katie works with the policy team to support the Council’s efforts surrounding the COVID-19 global pandemic. She works to identify and promote promising practices, common challenges, and key policy issues faced by the HCH community. 

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292 | Email Address: kleague@nhchc.org

Cindy Manginelli, BS

Director of Community Engagement

Cindy directs the Council’s efforts to engage and create a diverse community of individuals, coalitions, and programs that directly address issues at the intersection of homelessness and health care. She also manages the Council’s ongoing work to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion within the community of those who experience and address homelessness.  

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 239 | Email Address: cmanginelli@nhchc.org

 

Julia Nettles-Clemons, BA 

Administrative Coordinator

Julia has a variety of responsibilities in the areas of finance and administration that include accounts receivable and accounts payable, office maintenance,  clerical work, operations, and database support.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 221| Email Address: jnettles@nhchc.org

Courtney Pladsen, DNP, FNP-BC, RN

Director of Clinical and Quality Improvement

Courtney leads initiatives to improve the delivery of primary care, substance use treatment, and mental health care nationally. She directs training and quality improvement initiatives, and contributes to research and policy recommendations on emerging clinical issues affecting people experiencing homelessness.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292 | Email Address: cpladsen@nhchc.org

 

 

Brett W. PoeBrett Poe, BS

Research Associate

Brett works with the research team to support the Health Care for the Homeless field by developing and disseminating information, increasing visibility of HCH-related research through publications and external collaborations, and providing data-driven support to inter-departmental teams and workgroups.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 242 | Email Address: bpoe@nhchc.org

 

 

Regina ReedRegina Reed, MPH

Health Policy Manager

Regina is responsible for representing the interests of the Council to policymakers and organizational partners in Washington, D.C., working with the Policy Committee to advance the Council’s advocacy agenda, developing policy positions and analyses, and mobilizing member organizations, service providers, and other advocates to end poverty and homelessness.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (443) 703-1337 | Email Address: rreed@nhchc.org

 

 

Caitlin Synovec, OTD, OTR/L, BCMH

Medical Respite Manager

Caitlin is an occupational therapist with clinical experience working with adults experiencing homelessness to improve quality of life and engagement in their preferred communities. As the Medical Respite Manager, she works with the Director of Medical Respite on projects of the National Institute for Medical Respite Care (NIMRC) and the Respite Care Providers’ Network (RCPN).

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292 | Email Address: csynovec@nhchc.org

 

Cecilia Willoughby, BA

Training and Meetings Coordinator

Cecilia manages logistics and educational content for the Council’s major training events, including our annual National Health Care for the Homeless Conference and Policy Symposium, Regional Training, and Governing Membership Meeting. She serves as the point person for these major training events working in concert with the Director of Finance and Administration, Administrators Committee, other staff members, and other stakeholders.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 241 | Email Address: cwilloughby@nhchc.org

Cecilia Willoughby, BA

Training and Meetings Coordinator

Cecilia manages logistics and educational content for the Council’s major training events, including our annual National Health Care for the Homeless Conference and Policy Symposium, Regional Training, and Governing Membership Meeting. She serves as the point person for these major training events working in concert with the Director of Finance and Administration, Administrators Committee, other staff members, and other stakeholders.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 241 | Email Address: cwilloughby@nhchc.org

Terri Woodmore, MS

Communications Manager

As part of the advancement team, Terri develops and coordinates ongoing communications and media strategies, and maintains high-quality communications including mass emails, newsletters, marketing materials, website design and content, social media, and audio/video packages.

 

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 245 | Email Address: twoodmore@nhchc.org

 

Brenda Wright

Executive Assistant

Brenda serves as Executive Assistant to the CEO and is responsible for Board meeting preparation, special projects, and administrative support including scheduling, preparing executive documents and correspondence, managing travel itineraries, maintaining files, and other administrative duties.

Contact Information

Phone Number: (615) 226-2292, Ext. 251 | Email Address: bwright@nhchc.org

Partners and Collaborations

Routine, Rapid HIV Testing

In 2013, the National HCH Council partnered with Dr. Catherine Fogg (Saint Anselm College) to survey HCH clinic staff regarding HIV testing practices and assess barriers and facilitators of this testing. A report of survey findings will be available fall 2014. The report will highlight how HCH clinic staff informs patients of HIV testing availability, testing practices, and care models utilized.

The Council will further assess the qualitative findings of this survey to:

  • Explore reported best practices around HIV testing, including routine, rapid implementation;
  • Examine staff perceptions to further assess barriers to successful implementation of routine, rapid HIV testing in HCH clinics; and
  • Compare survey findings to the Health Promotion Model, which aims to increase behaviors that enhance patient well-being and associated positive health outcomes.

Nicotine Anonymous

Nicotine Anonymous is a 12-step peer support group for smoking cessation. Three members of the HCH Practice-Based Research Network (Providence, RI; Boston, MA; Nashville, TN) will implement NicA meetings at their sites for three months to explore the feasibility of hosting these meetings within the HCH setting. If the NicA groups are found to be feasible, the National HCH Council will seek funding to test the effectiveness of NicA for smoking cessation with individuals who are homeless.

On January 5, 2014, the National HCH Council hosted a webinar to train sites on how to conduct NicA meetings. Sharon Czabafy, LSW, CAADC, TTS, CET (Tobacco Treatment Specialist of Ephrata Community Hospital Wellness Center) and Molly Meinbresse, MPH (Program & Research Specialist of the National HCH Council) presented. View the archived webinar Nicotine Anonymous Feasibility Study: Study Protocol & Running Meetings. Click here to learn more about NicA.

 

Teaching Health Centers

In 2012, the National Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Council began exploring the collaborative relationships between medical/allied health professional training schools and health centers that provide services to individuals experiencing homelessness. In order to understand more about the dynamics of these collaborations and learn the factors that contribute to successful collaborations, the Council conducted a survey of all HCH grantees to explore their existing collaborations.  The findings revealed that while many health centers have a long history of established “informal” collaborations with academic institutions and recognize the benefit of having medical residents serve patients and learn at their sites, they are not accredited and do not receive additional funding for providing these educational opportunities. The findings also revealed several advantages of collaborating with academic institutions, some of which have been evidenced in other research, and provides rationale for why seeking accreditation may be a beneficial endeavor for HCH grantees.

To provide a contextual understanding of Teaching Health Centers (THC) and further assist grantees in formalizing their collaborations by pursuing THC accreditation, the Council has developed a case study, which explores the experiences and benefits of seeking accreditation. A toolkit that details promising practices in this process will be available in May 2013. Qualitative interviews of grantees that have existing academic collaborations are currently being conducted and will help inform a journal article submission around barriers and facilitators to successful health center collaborations with academic institutions.

 

Health & Homelessness among Veterans

Over 22,000 veterans received services from Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) grantees in 2011, yet existing research is predominantly focused on unstably housed veterans served by the Veterans Health Administration. To examine the characteristics and needs of veterans within the HCH setting, the National HCH Council launched a veterans research initiative in December 2011. In Phase 1 of the initiative, the National HCH Council conducted key expert interviews and focus groups with HCH clinicians and administrators to learn more about veterans accessing HCH services. The Phase 1 Report presents the major themes that resulted from the qualitative research, which informed future phases of the veterans research initiative. In the fall of 2012, the National HCH Council began Phase 2 of the study by conducting a needs assessment survey of all HCH grantees to further explore these issues. The Final Report synthesizes findings from Phases 1 and 2 of the study.

 

Health Care for the Homeless Quality Leaders

With increased focus on quality of care and improvement processes, the National HCH Council initiated a study of HCH grantees leading the way in key quality measures. To highlight these high-performing grantees, a case study, quick guide, clinician tip sheet, and QI resource list were produced to identify the practices that HCH quality leaders have instituted to improve and support quality of care, as well as techniques they use to track, evaluate, and improve their performances. This initiative has identified fresh ideas, promising practices, and tools that HCH grantees can integrate into their work—all to improve quality of care and patient outcomes.

 

Chronic Pain Management

In a direct response to clinical priorities expressed by the HCH Clinician’s Network, the Network Steering Committee decided to survey HCH clinicians across the country regarding chronic pain management practices, knowledge, attitudes and resources. A report of the 2010 survey results is now available and can be downloaded here: Pain Management Survey of Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians: Summary of Results.

Most recently, the HCH PBRN submitted research grant proposal to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to compare the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) versus usual care in managing patients with chronic, noncancer pain who are homeless. If funded, a group CBT intervention (based on the John Otis model) will be implemented at 2 PBRN sites in Portland and Baltimore. Molly Meinbresse is Principal Investigator for this project with Joseph Schumacher from the University of Alabama as Co-Principal Investigator. Barbara Wismer, Director of the HCH PBRN, is Co-Investigator.

 

Clinical Outcome Measures

The Council received funding from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to conduct a feasibility study to identify supplemental clinical outcome measures specific to homeless individuals who seek care at HCH projects and Medical Respite Care facilities.

A task force was formed and made decisions regarding which clinical outcome measures would be included in the feasibility study and assisted in the construction of a survey that was distributed electronically to Medical Directors who serve in HCH projects and Coordinators at Medical Respite Care programs. Representatives from 11 projects also participated in focus groups for the study.

Results of the survey and focus groups are documented in a report entitled Clinical Outcomes Feasibility Study Report. The National HCH Council hopes that additional funding will be obtained in the near future to conduct a pilot study as a follow-up to this feasibility report.

 

Violence on the Streets

Each year NCAB conducts a Consumer Participation Outreach survey on rotating topics. Consumer Advisory Board members at local HCH projects across the country go out in the streets and survey individuals experiencing homelessness about various topics from health care utilization to perceived quality of services.

The Research Coordinating Committee (RCC) provided consultation to the NCAB Executive Committee in developing a rigorous research process to explore the prevalence and impact of violence experienced while homeless. This research project was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the Nashville Metropolitan Department of Public Health with NCAB Chair Amy Grassette as Principal Investigator. Surveying began in July 2010.  View the poster of the violence study findings presented at the 2011 American Public Health Association conference.

The manuscript detailing results of the survey–“Exploring the Experiences of Violence Among Individuals Who are Homeless Using a Consumer-Led Approach”–was accepted for publication in the journal Violence and Victims for early 2014. Authors include National Health Care for the Homeless Council research staff (Molly Meinbresse and Darlene Jenkins, DrPH), National Consumer Advisory Board members (Amy Grassette, Joseph Benson, Carol Hall, Reginald Hamilton, and Marianne Mallot), and a Vanderbilt University PhD candidate (Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein).

 

Traumatic Brain Injury

In February 2010, the HCH PBRN submitted a research proposal to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality for a $100,000 grant to study the prevalence and impact of traumatic brain injuries in homeless patients. All HCH PBRN organizational members were invited to participate in this pilot study and 10 organizations submitted letters of support for the grant application. If funded, the Boston HCH program will serve as the lead agency with Dr. Carol Waldmann as Principal Investigator. Other researchers serving as consultants on the study include:

  • Dr. Stephen Hwang – Toronto, Canada
  • Dr. Lillian Gelberg – Los Angeles, CA
  • Dr. Pam Diamond – Houston, TX
  • Dr Barbara Wismer – San Francisco, CA

Thanks to everyone who came together to develop this grant application. Unfortunately, the application was not approved for funding, but we are continuing to discuss how to study the impact of TBI on homelessness. The RCC has plans to conduct a survey of HCH clinicians regarding knowledge and practices surrounding TBI for the 2013-2014 year.

 

Contraceptive Services in the Health Care for the Homeless Setting

This survey of HCH providers regarding the availability of contraceptive services at their projects and barriers to providing those services was the first project conducted with the HCH Practice-Based Research Network. The investigators were Barry G. Saver, Linda Weinreb, Lillian Gelberg and Suzanne Zerger. The survey revealed that a majority of the participants provided some form of contraception (i.e. condoms, oral, injectable) but that very few provided the most effective forms of contraception (i.e. intrauterine devices, implants). Read the abstract of the article published in Women & Health (2012) – Provision of Contraceptive Services to Homeless Women: Results of a Survey of Health Care for the Homeless Providers.

 

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