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Zack has more than a decade of experience researching, analyzing and advancing public policy in Oklahoma. At Healthy Minds, he manages a full-time staff and works with a team of consultants analyzing data trends, examining best practices and evaluating community needs to inform state and local policy conversations around mental health and substance use disorders.
Zack previously served as vice president of government affairs for the Tulsa Regional Chamber, where he managed state policy priorities around health insurance, public health, education and criminal justice. He has a background in journalism and worked as a government and crime reporter for the Tulsa World and several local newspapers. He serves on the leadership team of Tulsa’s Young Professionals and the boards of directors for several Tulsa-area nonprofits in the areas of health care and education.
Zack has a Master of Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts from Rogers State University.
Brittany has years of experience in researching, analyzing, writing, and teaching. At Healthy Minds, she brings her legal and educational experience to her position as the policy director where she researches best and evidence-based practices, as well as analyzes data to help move mental health policy forward. She is particularly interested in the civil and criminal justice systems as well as education at all levels.
Brittany’s past experience includes working as a Mental Health Policy Fellow at OK Policy, clerking at the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals, interning at the Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office, and participating in community advocacy and immigration clinics at the University of Tulsa College of Law. Before attending law school, Brittany taught history and coached competitive speech and debate in Sand Springs, Oklahoma.
Brittany graduated from the University of Tulsa College of Law in 2018 with highest honor. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor’s of Science in political science from Oklahoma State University. She is currently a licensed attorney and teacher in the state of Oklahoma.
Jessica Hawkins leads Healthy Minds’ efforts to transform behavioral health practice in Oklahoma. Before joining the Healthy Minds staff, Jessica was chief operations officer at the United Way of Central Oklahoma. Prior to joining the United Way team, Jessica served as senior director of prevention services for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. In this leadership role, she oversaw the state’s prevention service system, including the allocation of private, state, and federal funds to hundreds of community-based organizations. She also designed and implemented large-scale initiatives for the prevention of substance use, suicide, overdose, and mental health promotion.
Before her 16-year tenure in state government, she served as manager of mission integration and youth programs with the California division of the American Cancer Society. Jessica received her Master of Arts in administrative leadership from the University of Oklahoma and a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from California State University.
Chris brings more than a decade of experience in strategic communications to Healthy Minds. He was most recently vice president of communications at the Tulsa Regional Chamber, where he led the implementation of marketing and public relations strategies for the organization’s economic development, diversity and inclusion, and legislative advocacy initiatives. Before that, Chris worked at the Tulsa NBC affiliate KJRH as an assignment editor, planning producer, and multimedia journalist.
Chris was born and raised in Tulsa and is a citizen of the Osage Nation. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations and Middle East studies from the University of Arkansas. Chris is a graduate of the Leadership Tulsa 360 program (class 56) and past board chair of the Tulsa Global Alliance. He lives in midtown Tulsa with his wife, Sandi.
Whitney Cipolla is a lifelong Tulsan committed to building a more equitable society through policy, advocacy, and service. As a policy analyst at Healthy Minds, Whitney researches and helps implement solutions-oriented and data-driven policies to improve behavioral health outcomes for Oklahomans.
Whitney most recently worked as an advocacy specialist at Mental Health Association Oklahoma and previously taught sixth-grade English language arts. She is actively involved in the community and serves on the boards for the Little Blue House and Oklahomans for Equality, the Teach for America Greater Tulsa alumni board, and the TYPROS leadership team. She is also a graduate of Leadership Tulsa’s Lead Together Class 2, New Voices Class 12, and LT Represent Class 1.
Whitney was named a Top 10 Senior and graduated with honors from the University of Tulsa with a Bachelor of Arts in English and women’s and gender studies and a minor in education. She received her master’s degree in public administration with a concentration in public policy and a graduate certificate in nonprofit management from OU-Tulsa in 2020.
As a community and systems analyst, Vy works to understand mental health needs and service gaps across treatment systems and populations in Oklahoma through research and data analysis. She is passionate about mental health, with a special interest in improving equitable access to treatment.
Vy holds a Bachelor of Science in chemical biosciences with a minor in nonprofit organization from the University of Oklahoma and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in public health with an emphasis in epidemiology. Prior to Healthy Minds, her previous research experience included understanding COVID-19 vaccination hesitancy and examining the allocative efficiency of fiscal aid for health systems. She presently serves as the co-research chair for Unity Clinic, an interdisciplinary, student-led clinic.
Audra was motivated to explore policy as an avenue for social impact following her time in higher education and nonprofit grant writing. She is especially interested in mental and behavioral health services in schools, reducing stigmas associated with mental illness, and improving access to treatment for Oklahomans of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
Before joining HMPI, she worked as a grant writer and consultant for clients across a variety of sectors, including healthcare, animal welfare, and education. She also spent time working in universities as a research fellow and marketing specialist with a focus on supporting and promoting international education. Audra graduated summa cum laude from the University of Oklahoma with her BA and MA in international studies and minors in Spanish and Latin American studies. In 2018, she was awarded OU’s Big Woman on Campus and Letzeiser Bronze Medal honors.
Dana Branham brings years of reporting and audience engagement experience to Healthy Minds, where she is a communications specialist. Before joining the Healthy Minds team, Dana covered health at The Oklahoman, often writing about COVID-19 and the impact it has had on Oklahomans’ mental health. Previously, she was a breaking news reporter at The Dallas Morning News. There, she covered public health, crime, and courts, with a focus on domestic violence.
Dana grew up in College Station, Texas, but Oklahoma has felt like home since she attended the University of Oklahoma, where she received a bachelor’s degree in journalism in 2017.
Juli comes to Healthy Minds with experience in direct service, advocacy, and research. Her passion for mental health is broad, and she has a particular interest in expanding access and equity of care for historically marginalized groups, as well as creating a more trauma-informed mental health crisis response system for those most in need.
Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Juli received her bachelor’s in psychology from Boston University and her master’s in social work from the University of Chicago’s Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Her previous experience includes working with Thresholds as a member of its Homeless Outreach Program on the southwest side of Chicago and with the National Alliance on Mental Illness’ Chicago affiliate, where she focused on workplace wellness best practices. Additionally, Juli co-founded and chaired her university’s mental health committee within their student government, which is still active on campus today, and received the 2017/2018 Alma Baker Campbell award for her work on supporting others in need on campus.
Emily comes to Healthy Minds with a passion for mental health treatment, especially harm reduction and suicide prevention. After more than two years on staff at the Oklahoma House of Representatives, her public policy research experience includes medical marijuana, controlled substances, and revenue and taxation.
Originally from Denton, Texas, Emily moved to Oklahoma in 2015. She received her MPA from the University of Oklahoma in 2019 and an AA in psychology from Oklahoma City Community College in 2021. While in college, she worked in journalism as a copy editor and designer, occasionally reporting on mental health treatment on OU’s campus and in the broader Norman area.
As Healthy Minds’ lead advisor and director of population health analysis, Jim provides mental health expertise and informs strategies related to improving outcomes. Jim has dedicated over 30 years to both academic environments and on-the-ground programs and is focused on helping improve services and approaches in mental health and substance use programs.
He provides consulting and methodological leadership on several health and human services consultation and evaluation projects. He has expertise in the assessment and design of mental health services systems, the implementation of evidence-based practices for adults with mental illnesses, integrated mental health/physical health care, outcome evaluation, and the development and use of implementation fidelity assessment tools.
Jim holds a Ph.D. in clinical and community psychology from the University of Maryland at College Park, was a public policy fellow at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and was a research fellow with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.
Sam brings more than 40 years of experience in the field of mental health services and policy. His consultations focus on creating recovery- and resiliency-oriented systems of care in publicly funded settings. He has special interests and experience in crisis systems, jail diversion, self-directed care, integration of physical and behavioral health systems, and trauma-informed care. Sam has served in several executive leadership positions in his career and has acquired extensive experience in public mental health services policy development, operations, and evaluation.
Sam holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Texas at Austin.
Lisa brings decades of experience working with children, youth, and families and the systems that serve them. Her background includes contributing to the redesign of children’s mental health service delivery in El Paso and the development and implementation of a number of different programs, including a college readiness program for at-risk high school students from underrepresented groups as well as several evidence-based prevention and early intervention programs for families at risk for child welfare system involvement.
Lisa currently leads or supports a number of children’s projects across several states, including behavioral health projects with tribal groups and government systems. She has participated in and led efforts to improve children’s mental health, child welfare, and school-based mental health and to expand trauma-informed care.
Kathy brings more than 40 years of experience across several states and programs to her work for Healthy Minds. In that time, Kathy has helped shape the way behavioral health systems are organized and funded. She has served as a clinician and a senior executive of non-profit and public agencies. In her current work, she focuses on helping organizations navigate Medicaid and other payment systems. She also serves as a mentor for helping colleagues and organizations connect resources and approaches.
For Healthy Minds, Kathy consults on the design, implementation, and evaluation of human services systems with an emphasis on Medicaid managed care. She designs ideal behavioral health systems within primary care and specialty settings for people of all ages. Kathy also helps clients identify the financing mechanisms to support the delivery of best practices. She also held senior positions in behavioral health managed care. She has conducted formal evaluations, quality reviews, and special studies in more than 20 states.
Kathy holds an MBA in strategic management from Boston College and an M.Ed. in community mental health counseling from Northeastern University in Boston.
Jesse has nearly 15 years of experience in helping health and human service programs succeed. He has devoted his time to evaluating federally funded projects, helping clients implement team-based integrated care for people with behavioral health conditions and supporting research and analysis for mental health policy-related reports. He also completed his clinical social work training hours providing crisis and outpatient counseling to rural residents living with serious mental health conditions. Jesse enjoys working on projects that require complex multi-level thinking to address project goals and objectives and anything that allows him to contribute to a project creatively.
As an expert in population health, Jesse is involved in many aspects of health and human service programs, including qualitative and quantitative evaluation of behavioral health provider programs, application of psychiatric epidemiology for systemwide assessments, and preparing briefings on the intersection between behavioral health and special topics such as violence, technology use, and natural disasters.
Jesse holds a Ph.D. in public health and a Master’s in social work from Saint Louis University. He is also a licensed clinical social worker in Missouri.
Michele brings more than 20 years of experience in mental health policy development, evaluation, clinical work, grantmaking, teaching, and research. She supports organizations in improving the impact of their work, collaborating with healthcare organizations in providing their patients with a high-quality experience that addresses both their primary care and behavioral health needs, and working with clients to tackle challenging mental health workforce issues.
Michele also manages projects and provides consultation, technical assistance, and evaluation services – primarily in human services and mental health – to foundations, government agencies, and other organizations. She has extensive experience in diversity and multicultural counseling, mental health policy and services, integrated health care, workforce issues, and evaluation to help organizations better serve their clients.
Michele holds a Ph.D. in counseling psychology from the University at Albany, State University of New York.
Cassie has 15 years of experience in the mental health field as a direct service provider, a behavioral health and health outcomes researcher, a clinical coordinator, and an evaluator. She is passionate about supporting provider efforts – through consultation, research, evaluation, and technical assistance – to improve the health and behavioral health of their communities.
Her consultations focus on the assessment and enhancement of state and local behavioral health systems, as well as the implementation of evidence-based and best practices for people with physical health and behavioral health conditions. She also has extensive experience evaluating outcomes for federally funded projects.
Cassie holds a Master of Science in social work from Saint Louis University and a Bachelor of Arts in biology and psychology from Greenville College. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in Missouri.
Suki applies her more than 20 years of experience in delivering and consulting on evidence-based practices and systems of care aimed at supporting children’s mental health. She has worked for a local community mental health center in clinical supervision, program development, and implementation roles and direct care roles.
In her nearly two dozen years of experience as an evaluator of mental health programs, Suki has coordinated and implemented the evaluation components for multi-agency community projects, including SAMHSA-funded system of care projects in several communities. She has experience with identifying evidence-based and best practices in the areas of child and family mental health, particularly wraparound and early childhood models, and consulting with communities to implement them. She also supports evaluations of children’s mental health systems, both at the regional and state levels.
Suki holds a Master of Education degree in guidance and counseling from the University of Texas at El Paso and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Texas.