The 22nd Annual Research Conference

Plenary Speakers

Abraham Wandersman

Abraham Wandersman, Ph.D is a Professor of Psychology at the University of South Carolina-Columbia. He received his Ph.D from Cornell University in the areas of social psychology, environmental psychology, and social organization and change.

Dr. Wandersman’s thirty years of contributions to the field include a long and impressive list of presentations, peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and books, as well as participation in many task forces, committees, and professional associations, including 6 divisions of the American Psychological Association (APA).

Since 1990, Dr. Wandersman has worked on evaluations of coalitions for substance abuse prevention. In 2004, he co-authored the RAND publication of Getting To Outcomes: Promoting Accountability Through Methods and Tools for Planning, Implementation and Evaluation, which describes an approach that community practitioners can use to plan, implement, and evaluate any drug or alcohol prevention strategy in order to improve outcomes. Getting to Outcomes was awarded the American Evaluation Association’s Outstanding Publication Award for 2008, presented for a publication that has been, or has strong potential to be, instrumental to the development of theory or practice in the field of evaluation. He is currently engaged in the development of iGTO, an interactive web-based system that promotes results-based accountability in interventions.

Dr. Wandersman has performed much research and program evaluation on citizen participation in community organizations and coalitions and on interagency collaboration. He was interim Co-Director of the Institute for Families in Society at the University of South Carolina. In 2005, he was awarded the Distinguished Theory and Research Contributions Award by the Society for Community Research and action. In 2001, he was first author on a paper on PIE (Planning, Implementation, Evaluation) which won a presidential prize from the American Evaluation Association for Mainstreaming Evaluation.

Dr. Wandersman is currently Co P.I. on a CDC participatory research study of an empowerment evaluation system.  He and his colleagues are studying the training, technical assistance and utilization of the Getting To Outcomes results-based accountability approach. He is also working on a project for the Program Implementation and Dissemination Branch of the CDC's Center for Injury Prevention; the project develops a framework on "how to bring what has been shown to work in child maltreatment prevention and youth violence prevention into more widespread practice" by using both research to practice models and community-centered models.

Brianne Masselli

Brianne Masselli is the Youth Coordinator for Thrive, Maine’s Trauma Informed System of Care. Ms. Masselli has utilized her personal experience in the system to advocate, empower and create system change. Ms. Masselli is currently a member of Youth MOVE National and a member of YADA (Youth Advisors Driving Action), The National Evaluation of the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and Their Families Program. Brianne has received her Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology and is pursuing a degree in Public Health and Policy with a focus in Children’s Mental Health.

Vanessa A. Fuentes

Vanessa Fuentes has been working on behalf of children, youth and families for over 6 years, designing, managing and coordinating an array of innovative public and private initiatives. Since her arrival from Morelos, Mexico in 2002, Ms. Fuentes has designed, managed and coordinated an array of innovative public and private initiativesIn the areas of child welfare, public policy and nonprofit management.

Today she serves as the Legal Assistant to the Deputy Director at Advocates for Children of New York, an advocacy organization working to create better educational opportunities for those who are at greatest risk for school-based discrimination and/or academic failure. Additionally, she is currently working as a public policy intern at the Center for the Study of Social Policy (CSSP). CSSP is a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., and New York City and its work centers on improving the outcomes for vulnerable children.

Before joining Advocates for Children and CSSP, Ms. Fuentes worked as a Case Manager for Safe Space, Inc., where she designed a leadership and self-advocacy training curriculum for the organization’s after school program. Prior to that, Ms. Fuentes was the Student Club Assistant of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network’s (GLSEN) National Student Leadership Team (NSLT). Ms. Fuentes currently serves as a member on Casey Family Programs’ 20/20 National Youth and Alumni Advisory Board, and the Outcomes Roundtable for Children and Families (ORCF), a group working with the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch of the Center for Mental Health Services of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Ms. Fuentes has been featured on CBS News, People En Español, The Advocate, the Cristina Show (Univision), Al Rojo Vivo (Telemundo), NY1, and mtvU (MTV Networks). She has also authored pieces for print publications such as The Advocate and Represent!

A Grand Prize winner in 2006 of the Child Welfare Fund’s Awards for Youth in Foster Care, Ms. Fuentes has also been honored by the Collin Higgins Foundation, Casey Family Programs and PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) for her contributions to improving the lives of children and youth in this country and for her work in child welfare and public policy.

Ms. Fuentes is a graduate of the Centro Bachillerato Tecnologico Agropecuario (CBTa71) in Morelos, Mexico and has been a Junior Fellow at the School of Public Affairs of Baruch College, the City University of New York (CUNY).