About The Presenters

Learn more about the presenters and what they will be discussing during the Pre-Conference Policy Session.

Fabricio Balcazar

Title/Strategy: Practical Tools for organizing and advocacy groups

Overview: This presentation introduces several advocacy training manuals and tools that can help community members engage in community organizing and advocacy action. These manuals provide an overview of multiple actions that community organizers and advocacy groups can take in the process of implementing an advocacy campaign. I also would like to talk about the community toolbox from the University of Kansas that also has many very useful materials and training guides for community organizing and action. So my focus is on sharing tools and materials people in attendance could use to pursue advocacy action.

Bio: Fabricio E. Balcazar, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His primary interest is in developing methods for enhancing and facilitating consumer empowerment and personal effectiveness among individuals with disabilities. Dr. Balcazar has conducted research over the past 25 years on the development of systematic approaches for effective involvement of people with disabilities in consumer advocacy organizations. Dr. Balcazar is the director of the Center on Capacity Building for Minorities with Disabilities Research and in this capacity he has led an effort to promote culturally competent service provision for minorities with disabilities. Dr. Balcazar has published over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and recently published a co-edited book entitled "Race, culture and disability: Issues in Rehabilitation Research and Practice." Dr. Balcazar is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA) and former president of Division 27 of the APA, Society for Community Research and Action.

Taylor Bishop Scott

Title/Strategy: Policy 101: Overview of Public Policy Advocacy

Overview:  This presentation provides an overview of many of the different approaches that community psychologists engage in to influence public policy. It will discuss why our work matters and why it is necessary to actively shape policy decisions at national, state, local, and organizational levels. This introduction will cover “insider” approaches to policy change, including building relationships, establishing trust, identifying legislative allies. Strategies discussed will include but not be limited to congressional briefings and hearings (i.e. expert testimony), communication techniques such as identifying a target audience in need of convincing, value and vision, and storytelling. Concrete approaches that all members can engage in will be presented, including policy briefs and white papers, op-eds, blogs, letters to the editor, and blog posts. This presentation will lead participants into the world of policy advocacy that will be further expanded upon with in-depth case studies. 

Bio:  Taylor Bishop Scott is a community psychology doctoral candidate in the Health Psychology Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Her research interests include broad-based promotion of well-being and success among at-risk children via community-based programs and public policy. During her graduate training, she devoted five years to serving as a Research Assistant for the Community Research and Evaluation Team at UNCC, supporting evaluations in the context of local child-serving systems including mental health, child welfare, public housing, and education. Since late 2015, Taylor has worked as the Research-to-Policy Collaboration Coordinator for the National Prevention Science Coalition (NPSC). In this capacity, she has worked to support translating research in the policy arena on topics that range from criminal justice to child welfare. Her primary duties in this role include a) understanding current legislative priorities, b) developing networks of research experts to respond to the needs of policy makers, c) increasing the capacity of researchers to engage in the policy process, and d) coordinating responses to legislative requests for research expertise. Through her involvement with the NPSC, Taylor has supported a number of Congressional briefings and policy papers and briefs that further respond to legislators’ needs and interest in applying empirical evidence in policymaking.

Dan Cooper

Title/Strategy: Public education campaigns and messaging: aligning stakeholders through consistent framing and messaging

Overview:  This case study involves a coalition to reform the criminal justice system in Illinois. A group of organizers and community-based youth service providers used infographic websites and research briefs to shift narratives around public safety to be less about suppression and more about public investment in disadvantaged areas. By gaining media attention the coalition was able to testify before legislative committees and spread consistent language across advocates, organizers, and government stakeholders about the efficacy of spending less on criminal justice and more on human and community development.

Bio: Daniel Cooper, Ph.D. the Director of the Center for Equitable Cities at the Adler University in Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. in Community Research and Action from Vanderbilt University. He also holds as Master of Urban Planning and Policy from the University of Illinois at Chicago. His current work involves working coalitions on issues ranging from justice system reform, health equity and planning, violence prevention, and responsible governance. He has also worked as the Director of Evaluation at Bethel New Life, one of Chicago’s largest community development corporations (CDCs). He was responsible for evaluating all of the organization’s programs, which included measuring the impact of volunteer efforts. During this time he also conducted research on civic engagement and homeownership in neighborhoods hardest hit by the foreclosure crisis in Chicago. His main interests involve building the capacity of organizations to mobilize neighborhood residents around efforts such as youth violence prevention and community development. He is currently working with community-based organizations to evaluate citywide prisoner re-entry efforts, neighborhood violence prevention efforts, and youth restorative justice efforts.

Chris Corbett

Title: Policy Advocacy and Intervention through Grassroots Organization

Strategy: Creating a grassroots organization as an alternative to formal 501(c)(3) or (4).

Overview: Following is a case example of the formation of an unincorporated grassroots organization (UGO) over the past 24 months to advocate for disability interests and its evolution to taking public policy positions, including how it has harnessed social and print media. The organization is called Eastern New York Developmental Disability Advocates (ENYDDA), an independent all-volunteer organization of hundreds of parents, families and friends of disabled individuals in the Capital Region, Albany NY. The case will describe the process, structure of formation and membership intentionally designed as an alternative structure to avoid the costs, regulatory and bureaucratic complications of formal IRS 501(c)(3) or (c)(4) status.  This avoids consequences of Internal Revenue Service registration and IRS Form 990 filings as well as state level lobbying regulations and could be replicated in other communities, for any advocacy issue.

Bio: Christopher Corbett has a Masters Degree in Community Psychology and was an Employee Assistance Program Coordinator for over 20 years.  He has research interests in the nonprofit sector, self-regulation, ethics and public policy.  His policy experience includes over ten years experience as Chair of a Legislative Committee and Board member of a nonprofit representing families of individuals with disabilities.  In that role, he met in person with federal and state legislators and their staff extensively on legislative and budget matters in private and public forums.  In that capacity he testified twice before the state legislature as a disability advocate and about thirty times in adversarial proceedings in a paid capacity before a state agency, acting as a consumer advocate regarding public policy and regulation of New York’s public utilities.  He is author of a book that helps implement the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 to improve ethics and good governance of nonprofit organizations and is entitled: Advancing Nonprofit Stewardship Through Self-Regulation: Translating Principles into Practice (2011; Kumarian Press).

Jean Hill

Title: The Public Policy work of SCRA

Overview: For over twenty years SCRA has included some form of a Policy Committee, reflecting our understanding of the importance of translating the work of our members, and the field of community psychology, into effective public policy. Initially the committee focused on providing training and support for our members who wished to become engaged in policy work. In the past several years that focus has expanded to include activities meant to directly influence policy and legislation at the national, state, and local levels. This presentation will outline the mechanisms through which SCRA has worked to influence public policy, and give some examples of our initiatives. Attendees will leave with an understanding of the avenues through which SCRA, as a non-profit organization, conducts policy work and how our members can engage with SCRA in that work. 

Bio: Jean Hill, Ph.D. is currently the Executive Director, a Past President, and Past Chair of the Public Policy Committee of SCRA. She works closely with the Executive Committee to oversee the operations and strategic priorities of the division. In 2016 she received the award for Special Contribution to Community Psychology for her work in creating a digital presence for SCRA. Her work has furthered the reach and impact of the division nationally, and particularly around public policy initiatives. She was previously the Director of Institutional Research and Effectiveness at New Mexico Highlands University. Hill is a nationally known expert in community psychology and coauthored Community Psychology: Linking Individuals and Communities, a college textbook.

Robin Jenkins

Title/Strategy: Justice System Reform: Multiple strategies, from research and policy briefs to engaging officials and testifying on legislation.

Overview: This presentation walks participants through a range of criminal and juvenile justice system related policy change efforts involving national stakeholder groups, advocacy groups, agency and legislative bodies at multiple levels. Examples that will be discussed include amicus briefs for the US Supreme Court, reauthorization of the Juvenile Justice Delinquency and Prevention Act, improving behavioral health access and services for youth in child welfare and juvenile justice systems, eliminating shackling and life without parole for juveniles, reducing disproportionate minority contact with justice systems (DMC), justice reinvestment, police/community relations, and increasing the use of evidence in federal and state policy frameworks. Strategies used include planning, data gathering/synthesizing/reporting/messaging and communications, writing briefs and other informational pieces, on-site testimony and office (staff to staff) consultations, building collaborations across multiple agencies and stakeholders through various platforms (use of face to face, distance conferencing, social media, etc.), grassroots organizing strategies as well as top-down political approaches.

Additional strategies include stablishing feasible frameworks for policy work within the systems and organizations mobilizing to work on various issues; relationship building and sustaining, aligning stakeholders with research (translational and synthesizing activities), emphasizing partnerships and collaboration, listening to the policy agenda, political context, and stakeholder values to help align and co-create something that works for all involved – and engage those most affected by policies for their voice and influence.

Outcomes from collaborative efforts that will be discussed include Reauthorization of the JJDPA, end of capital punishment for adolescents, end of LWOP, building ecological and system integration principles into behavioral health/juvenile justice services across NC, realigning county services for at risk youth into a single umbrella agency, helping install and sustain CACs and build local and state support for ongoing sustainability funding, installing and sustaining Reclaiming Futures as statewide, integrated approach to juvenile justice/substance abuse services, partnered with NC Division of MH/DD/SAS to build shared MOUs that captured cross-agency goals, values and expected outcomes

Lessons to be shared:

    1. Everything is relationship based
    2. Politics/context is most important to consider when working in a legislative/governance environment
    3. Balancing administrative/agency with end-user and consumer policy impacts most important at the administrative level
    4. Community psych competencies are very useful in policy work --- (will name or illustrate a few)
    5. Time perspective is critical – most policy work takes several cycles to bring to fruition unless driven by crisis, major environmental/social/political events
    6. Important to remember distinctions between informing and consulting on policy-related matters, and advocacy work. There are legal and other constraints depending on organizations you’re working with
    7. Grassroots stories and narratives matter a lot – but they must balance with the administrative and/or political agenda involved
    8. Most policy work is value laden – be aware of the overt and covert values, principles and goals associated with any policy effort
    9. Equifinality – often, through relationships, compromise, and collaboration there can be progress even if it takes a while. Policy work typically occurs in complex systems – Learn the complexities involved, understand how to be adaptive and still make evidence-supported points, and be willing to compromise where possible to achieve the ultimate policy goals

Bio: Robin Jenkins, Ph.D. has extensive involvement with vulnerable populations and the systems designed to assist them. As an applied research scientist, educator and practitioner, he has a myriad of work, volunteer, leadership and advocacy experiences in behavioral health, applied implementation activities, criminal/juvenile justice, substance abuse interventions, child welfare, nonprofit development and management, state government work as well as full-time faculty and adjunct teaching at the collegiate level (behavioral sciences and juvenile/criminal justice). He has also held national leadership roles as the Coalition of Juvenile Justice's Chair, on the National Juvenile Justice Network's Executive Committee, the Federal Advisory Committee on Juvenile Justice (OJJDP), and gubernatorially appointed positions in North Carolina on the North Carolina Governors Crime Commission, State Advisory Group (Juv. Justice) Chair, and served on several other state boards and commissions. A former Chief Deputy Secretary in the NC Dept of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and Deputy Director in the NC Dept of Public Safety-Division of Juvenile Justice, he has managed multi-million dollar large-scale systems. Prior to that, he helped to establish and lead community-based nonprofit agencies with an array of prevention, intervention and treatment services. A co-founder of a local Children's Advocacy Center, he is a lifelong advocate for the protection and positive development of children and families.

Ken Maton

Title/Strategy: Community Psychology in the Policy and Advocacy Arena

Overview: This pre-conference workshop on community psychology in the policy and advocacy arena will cover a wide range of topics and will include tools, exercises, and materials that participants will be able to use in their own policy and advocacy work.  The presenters bring to the workshop a wealth of experience related to social policy and advocacy, including successful policy and advocacy efforts, and policy-relevant scholarship.  Key policy and advocacy skills to be presented include relationship building, strategic analysis, communication and research translation, grassroots advocacy, telling a policy story, negotiation, and mastery of an array of research methods.  The workshop will conclude with a review of policy and advocacy efforts of SCRA as an organization, and generating as a group future directions and priorities in the months ahead for SCRA’s policy and advocacy work. 

Bio: Kenneth I. Maton is a Professor of Psychology and Affiliate Professor of Public Policy at UMBC.  His primary areas of research are empowering community settings, minority student achievement, the community psychology or religion, and the involvement of psychologists in the policy arena.  At the state level, his research has contributed to Maryland state funding for the CHOICE delinquency prevention intervention program. At the national level, his research has helped establish UMBC’s Meyerhoff  Program as a national model to support minority student success, and in turn contributed to UMBC’s president serving multiple consultative roles in the national government, including Chair of President Obama’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans.  Policy related publications include the co-edited volume, Investing in children, youth, families, and communities: Strengths-basedresearch and policy, the co-authored policy chapter in the Handbook of Community Psychology, and the recent publication in the SCRA Book Series, Influencing Social Policy: Applied Psychology Serving the Public Interest.

Eric McNaughton

Title/Strategy: Translating research into advocacy and communication strategies with government officials

Overview: This case study walks participants through strategies for working with government officials on how to best translate research knowledge into policy change. It draws on the case study of Home/Chez Soi, where initiative leaders used translation and government relations strategies to secure transitional funding for this Housing First RCT demonstration project. It discusses how these efforts impacted Canadian federal homelessness policy through the lens of policy streams theory.

Bio: Eric McNaughton, Ph.D. was on the National Qualitative Research Team for the At Home/Chez Soi initiative, a project to implement Housing First in five Canadian cities. He is now a research associate with Wilfrid Laurier University and manages a project that’s working another group of Canadian communities on an action research project to study Housing First implementation.

Brad Olson & Ericka Mingo

Title/Strategies: Community Activism and Development: Balancing Policy Change Efforts between Deconstructing Injustice and the Building of New Potential

Overview: A common dilemma for community-based policy change efforts involves the need to balance being critical to self-serving or apathetic policy makers, and attempting to work collaboratively to build something new and exciting. Activism often involves critique and speaking truth to power and yet we are often in positions of needing to work collaboratively with those who have hitherto been unmoved without external pressure. This section of the workshop will involve a conversation with attendees around navigating these difficult barriers toward policy change.

Bios:  Bradley Olson, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Community Psychology Program at National Louis University. In 2016 Brad received an award from SCRA for Special Contribution to Community Psychology for his work with the Coalition for Ethical Psychology, which was a group of six dissident psychologists who worked to expose APA’s collusion with the Department of Defense and psychologists’ involvement in enhanced interrogations. Brad is Past President of Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) an independent, non-profit organization that applies psychological knowledge and expertise to promote peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability. Brad maintains an active research program and has an extensive publication history in a variety of academic journals and works closely with area lawmakers and coalitions on policy initiatives.

Ericka Mingo, Ph.D. is a faculty member for the Applied Behavioral Sciences program at National Louis University. Ericka is an educator and activist of many years. She taught in private and public high schools in Kansas City, New York, and Chicago for over a decade. Her research has focused primarily on issues of class and education. In addition to her academic pursuits, she works to help nonprofit organizations and schools, on Chicago’s South-Side, to build capacity through assistance with organizational alignment, grant writing, and consultation. She helps to manage Ecologic Outreach, a community garden in the Bronzeville neighborhood, whose mission is to promote a more local and empowered look at food.