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Summer Institute on Implementation Science



Social workers and public health professionals interested in facilitating and understanding change processes note that implementation strategies have unparalleled importance in improving population outcomes, as they constitute the ‘how to’ component (Proctor, Powell, & McMillen, 2013) of changing practices and optimizing the use of evidence to benefit people and communities (Kainz & Metz, 2017). As the field of implementation science has grown significantly over the last decade with the proliferation of frameworks, models, and theories, there is mounting interest in building the capacity of professionals in social services and public health to make use of this emerging science to support sustainable practice and systems improvements.

This interest has led to an intensifying conversation regarding the need to train researchers and practitioners in implementation science (Padek, et al., 2015).  Specifically, the shortage of individuals trained in the practice of implementation has been cited as a reason for our failure to optimize the use of evidence to improve population outcomes (Straus, et al., 2011.)  In response to this gap, more is being studied and written about the specific competencies needed to facilitate change in complex systems (Bornbaum, Kornas, Peirson, & Rosella, 2015; Berta, et al., 2015). Moreover, the Grand Challenges Initiative developed by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (Sherradon et al., 2015) explicates a set of pressing social issues, around which social work researchers and practitioners can unite. The highlighted challenges are complex, and will require the cultivation of implementation competencies among the researchers and practitioners who are positioned to address them.


This new two-day Summer Institute seeks to provide foundational knowledge of implementation science and to build professional and graduate students’ knowledge, skills, and strategies for supporting change using implementation best practices. Through interdisciplinary professional development and seminar series, this Summer Institute will orient participants to the skills and competencies of implementation practice and will foster the development of foundational skills needed to support the use of evidence in practice.


The Summer Institute aims to seed the growth of implementation science practitioners who will be able to:

  • Identify and characterize problems that can be addressed through more effective implementation.
  • Support authentic engagement of communities and stakeholders in all stages of the implementation process resulting in programs and practices that are contextualized and tailored to settings to improve outcomes.
  • Integrate use of quantitative and qualitative feedback at each stage of implementation to optimize performance of programs and practices in local contexts and at scale.
  • Support the sustainability of interventions and approaches by developing a shared vision, building capacity, and supporting collaboration.

Presenters/Facilitators include the following (with more bios to be added soon):

Byron J. Powell, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the Gillings School of Global Public Health and a Fellow at the Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research and the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute.

Byron’s research focuses on efforts to improve the quality of health, behavioral health, and social services. Specifically, his scholarship has focused on 1) identifying contextual barriers and facilitators to implementing evidence-based practices in routine care, 2) identifying and assessing the effectiveness of implementation strategies, 3) developing methods for tailoring implementation strategies to address determinants of effective implementation, and 4) advancing research methodology in implementation science. His work is currently supported by a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award from the National Institute of Mental Health (K01MH113806).

Byron has received National Institutes of Health-funded fellowships from the Training Institute for Dissemination and Implementation Research in Health (2015); Child, Intervention, Prevention, and Services Research Mentoring Network (2015-2016); Implementation Research Institute (2016-2018); and Mixed Methods Research Training Program for the Health Sciences (2018-2019). He serves on the editorial board of Implementation Science, and is Co-Chair of the Implementation Special Interest Group of the Society for Social Work and Research and the New Investigator Network of Expertise of the Society for Implementation Research Collaboration.

In addition to his independent and collaborative research, Byron teaches courses on implementation research and practice, and provides methodological consultation related to implementation research through the Community Engagement Core (CARES) of the North Carolina Translational & Clinical Sciences Institute (NC TraCS) and the Social and Behavioral Research Core of UNC’s Center for AIDS Research. He is also a Core Faculty Member of the UNC-RTI Consortium for Implementation Science.


Laura Louison, MSW, MSPH is the Associate Director of Resource & Capacity Development and an Advanced Implementation Specialist with the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC Chapel Hill. In her current role, she works with state and local agencies to support the use of implementation science in their health and human services programs. Laura’s work focuses on building implementation capacity in complex and multi-sector systems, with a particular interest in rural and frontier communities.

Laura previously served as director of the North Carolina Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program at the North Carolina Division of Public Health. There, she was responsible for the implementation of the federal MIECHV program and statewide implementation of Nurse Family Partnership in collaboration with public and private stakeholders. Laura is a public health social worker with over fifteen years of experience in implementation of maternal and child health programs and quality improvement with public and non-profit agencies.

Oscar Fleming, DrPH, MSPH
is an Implementation Scientist based at the National Implementation Research Network at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. With the National Center for Early Childhood Development Teaching and Learning, Oscar works closely with Head Start professionals to enhance implementation capacity in service to improved programs that lead to positive outcomes for children, families and communities. Mr. Fleming is also the Lead for the Evidence-based Decision-Making Core for the National MCH Workforce Development Center. Over the last 25 years, he has worked on public health, early childhood and community development programs in North Carolina, across the US and in lower and middle-income countries around the world. His areas of interest include program design, implementation science, coaching, and team development in support of evidence based and other innovative programs. Mr. Fleming is an Adjunct Assistant Professor in Public Health Leadership Program at the Gillings School of Global Public Health. Currently working to complete a Doctorate in Health Leadership, Mr. Fleming has a Master of Science of Public Health and Bachelor of Arts in International Studies degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Audrey Loper, MPH, MS has worked in public health for the past fifteen years, with a focus on maternal and child health, implementation of evidence-based programs, data use, and evaluation. She is currently an Implementation Specialist with the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she provides technical assistance on implementation science best practices. Audrey previously served as the Evaluation Consultant for the North Carolina Division of Public Health’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiatives and has worked as a childbirth educator and volunteer doula. She received her Master of Public Health from UNC Chapel Hill, and her Master of Science from the University of California, Davis.


Caryn Ward, PhD, HSP-P, is the Associate Director for Education and Measurement of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at UNC-Chapel Hill.  At NIRN, she is the Director of the State Implementation and Scaling up of Evidence Based Practices (SISEP) Center funded by US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs. Dr. Ward has extensive experience in leading and developing infrastructure and capacity development with state and local education agencies as well as early childhood programs nationally. Within NIRN, Dr. Ward leads the development of implementation capacity measures and fidelity measures for use within education as well as other disciplines. Dr. Ward has served in a leadership role for the National Center for School Turnaround and currently serves on the advisory board of the National School Climate Center and research council for Communities in Schools – NC.


Allison Metz, PhD, is a developmental psychologist, Director of the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN), Senior Research Scientist at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and Research Professor at the School of Social Work at The University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Allison specializes in the implementation, mainstreaming, and scaling of evidence to achieve social impact for children and families in a range of human service and education areas, with an emphasis on child welfare and early childhood service contexts. Allison’s work focuses in several key areas including: the development of evidence-informed practice models; the co-production of effective implementation and scaling strategies to improve the application of evidence in service delivery systems; and the development of skills and competencies for implementation practitioners.

Allison serves on several national advisory boards and is an invited speaker and trainer internationally. She is a co-chair of the Summer Institute on Implementation Science at UNC-Chapel Hill. Allison is the author of many peer reviewed articles, briefs and white papers.  She is co-editor of the widely read volume Applying Implementation Science in Early Childhood Program and Systems.


Kirsten Kainz, PhD, is a research professor and assistant director of research development and translation in the School of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill.  Her research and teaching focus on methods for investigating change and impact, particularly in the area of education equity and improvement.  She actively facilitates school district improvement through her role as partnership consultant with the Strategic Education Research Partnership in Washington, DC and through her previous service as an elected school board member and engaged citizen.


Leah Bartley, PhD, MSW, is an Implementation Specialist with the National Implementation Research Network (NIRN) at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In her current role, she is supporting implementation science application in child welfare and early childhood initiatives. She also was a 2014-2016 Doris Duke Fellow for the Promotion of Child Wellbeing through the University of Chicago Chapin Hall. Previously, Dr. Bartley was a program manager for the Ruth Young Center for Children and Families where she provided technical assistance, data analysis, and implementation support to the replication of Family Connections, a child maltreatment prevention program. Furthermore, from 2008-2010, she was The Duke Endowment Fellow, following several years as a direct service social worker. Her most recent publications include a review of variables that have impacted fidelity of child maltreatment prevention related interventions and co-authorship on co-creative conditions for sustaining research evidence in public child welfare.


Dale  Lynn  Cusumano,  Ph.D. Dr.  Dale  Cusumano  brings  to  this  project  her  expertise  working  at  the  early  childhood,  school,  district,  university,  and  state  levels  as  a  researcher,  nationally  certified  school  psychologist,  program  coordinator,  and  evaluator.  Within  her  current  position  at  the  National  Implementation  Research  Network  (NIRN),  she  provides  technical  assistance  to  state  departments  of  education  focused  on  building  the  knowledge  and  skills  that  facilitate  development  of  evidence-based  infrastructures  in  service  of  delivering  full  and  effective  use  of  evidence-based  instruction  practices  to  students.  Dale  also  has  served  as  the  Project  Director  for  the  IES  funded  Team-Initiated  Problem  Solving  (TIPS)  grant.    She  also  has  served  as  a  Project  Evaluator  of  a  federally-funded  Early  Learning  Opportunities  grant,  which  examined  the  effect  of  coaching  to  facilitate  implementation  of  an  early  literacy.  At  the  district  level,  Dale  has  assisted  in  designing  and  delivering  professional  development  modules  that  refined  implementation  of  RtI  at  the  school  level.  Dale’s  research  and  evaluation  efforts  have  been  published  in  numerous  journals  one  of  which  was  selected  as  an  honorable  mention  for  outstanding  article  that  contributed  to  the  field  of  early  childhood  education.  Virtual  training  and  on-line  resource  development  has  been  a  critical  part  of  Dale’s  recent  work  including  on-line  course  development  at  the  university  and  the  development  and  design  of  materials  housed  on  the  website  dedicated  to  TIPS (www.TIPS2info.blogspot.com).


Information About Lodging

If you require lodging, there will be a room block reserved for the evenings of June 12th and 13th at The Carolina Inn (https://www.carolinainn.com) under the title “Summer Institute on Implementation Science.” To utilize the room block, either click this direct link or when booking on the website, refer to group code 678265. The discounted rate for the room block will be available only through May 4th.

In the event that the room block fills up, we will post information here about other hotel options nearby.

This event is co-hosted by the Jordan Institute for Families | UNC School of Social Work, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and National Implementation Research Network. Generous support for this event has been provided by The Annie E. Casey Foundation.


June 13 @ 8:00 am
June 14 @ 4:00 pm
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Event Tags:


The Jordan Institute for Families
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
National Implementation Research Network


UNC School of Social Work
Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building - 325 Pittsboro St #3550
Chapel Hill, NC 27516 United States
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