The Office of Behavioral Health Wellness (OBHW) within the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS) is the “A” team of prevention expertise, diversity of representation and inclusion, all undergirded by servant leadership! OBHW has been nationally and internationally recognized for a comprehensive outcome based state prevention system and community coalition development, Synar and tobacco innovations, Mental Health First Aid statewide infusion and record breaking numbers of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) number of trainings. OBHW is also known for its cutting edge approaches in addressing Behavioral Health Disparities, Refugee Mental Health and Suicide Prevention to include “Lock and Talk’ and our State Opioid Response prevention strategies. Our newest endeavors will focus on problem gambling prevention and marijuana misuse prevention which will also be driven by our focus on data driven decision making, evidenced based practice and ongoing workforce development! All of our initiatives are captured in the leading performance based prevention data reporting system so that OBHW can tell the story of changing the Commonwealth, community by community.
The OMNI Institute is a 501c(3) non-profit social science consultancy that accelerates positive social change by supporting the public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors with integrated research and evaluation, capacity building, and data utilization services. OMNI has partnered with Virginia across a variety of projects in the behavioral health wellness space. OMNI’s work to support Virginia DBHDS OBHW includes long-term evaluation plans at the state-level, conducting needs assessments and youth surveys, providing technical assistance to communities around planning and evaluation, and data system technical consulting.
Staff Profiles – OBHW
Gail Taylor (she/her/hers)
Behavioral Health Wellness Director
Gail Maddox Taylor, Director of the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health provides leadership in the development and implementation of comprehensive prevention systems. She leads Virginia’s prevention efforts for the SAMHSA’s SABG Prevention Set aside, State Opioid Response Grants; Problem Gambling Prevention, Suicide Prevention, Mental Health First Aid, Behavioral Health Equity and Disparities and Refugee Mental Health statewide initiatives. Ms. Taylor graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University and holds a Master’s Degree in Counselor Education from James Madison University. Ms. Taylor is the 2020 recipient of the National Association of Substance Abuse Director’s National Prevention Network’s Ketty Award presented annually to a current NPN who has made outstanding contributions to the NPN and the field of prevention and received the CADCA Outstanding State Award for 2021. She has served as the NPN liasion on the Board of the Society of Prevention Research and is on Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) Coalition Advisory Council (CAC). In her free time she enjoys gardening, reading and great food!
Marfel Barnett (he/his)
Block Grant Data Manager
Marfel Barnett has been with the DBHDS Office of behavioral health wellness since 2014. Marfel started out as a contracted employee in 2004 and moved into a full time position as the Block Grant Data manager. Marfel has been working alongside CPG, contracted vendor for the online database, to ensure all the Block Grant data requirements for the state are met. When Marfel is not working, he enjoys traveling out of the country and going on cruises, and family time.
Robert Cartwright (he/him)
Behavioral Health Wellness Consultant
Reason to contact?
Robert has worked in the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness since 2015. He leads a statewide effort to educate communities about the impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACES). Prior to his current role, Robert spent 13 year working in residential treatment programming for at-risk youth, and led a community coalition grant project to reduce the impacts of alcohol related crashes among young people. Robert graduated from Ohio State University.
Behavioral Health Wellness Consultant and State Opioid Response Prevention Coordinator
Jennifer oversees prevention initiatives associated with the State Opioid Response (SOR) grant with a special emphasis on community coalitions and capacity building. In partnership with OMNI, she provides technical assistance to all 40 CSBs and participates in SOR-funded special projects including collaboration with Community Coalitions of Virginia and working with CADCA to provide customized Virginia Mini-Academies. Prior to joining OBHW in 2018, she was on the Education and Prevention team at the Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority with responsibility for the Virginia Office for Substance Abuse Prevention and the Education and Prevention Grant Program. Her interests include: volunteerism, art in all forms, and finding connection through storytelling—especially podcasts and documentaries. A proponent of physical activity, she’s been an aerobics instructor (hello ’90s!) and certified personal trainer, and will always take you up on a long walk—either immersed in nature or city trekking.
Nicole Gore (she/her/hers)
Suicide Prevention Coordinator
Nicole Gore joined the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services in January 2016. Nicole’s current position, as Suicide Prevention Coordinator, is responsible for the development and implementation of a comprehensive approach to address suicide prevention across the Commonwealth, as well as researching best practices in suicide prevention, with the goal of reducing the number of suicides and attempted suicides. Nicole serves as a liaison to partners across Virginia to assist in the development and implementation of work plans for their locality, encourage sharing of ideas, and promote best practices for successful implementation of suicide prevention strategies. She is a member of the Richmond Mayor’s Challenge and Virginia’s Governor’s Challenge Team to Prevent Suicide among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families.
Nicole has a Bachelor of Social Work degree (’93) and a Master of Teaching degree (’95), both from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a certified Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Youth Mental Health First Aid Instructor, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training Facilitator, and an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Interface Master Trainer.
Her personal mantra is “I gain from what I give”.
Glencora Gudger (she/her)
Behavioral Health Equity Consultant
Glencora creates programming and informs policy to reduce behavioral health disparities across Virginia through educational opportunities, coalition building, data analysis and grant opportunities.
Glencora offers a series of rotating trainings to external and internal audiences on topics pertinent to health equity, especially those that examine the role of racism, homophobia, xenophobia, classism and other social forces in the behavioral healthcare system. Reach out for more details about upcoming opportunities.
Contact Glencora about equity-oriented trainings, programs and grants for Community Services Boards (CSB) and local organizations. Also for questions about Partnership for Equity Advisory Committee (PEAC), the Behavioral Health Equity Index (BHI), or opportunities to collaborate and educate external audiences about behavioral health equity.
Behavioral Health Wellness Consultant and Virginia’s SYNAR Lead
Colleen Hughes is a Certified Substance Abuse Prevention Consultant and Synar Coordinator employed by the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Service as a Behavioral Health Wellness Consultant in the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness.
She has been working in the field of prevention since 2007, coming from North Carolina where she worked for Partnership for a Drug Free NC as a Prevention Program Manager and Center for Prevention Resources Consultant. She has been involved with developing, implementing, and evaluating programs, practices, and strategies for youth, adults, and communities.
As part of her roll with the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness, Colleen has made the prevention of youth retail access to tobacco products a priority. She has renewed the state’s merchant education initiative and has launched a state-wide retailer verification project which includes individual store audits that will help shape the retail environments of the communities across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
In addition to this, she is also a trainer and presenter on topic areas for Prevention Professionals, including ACEs, Mental Health First Aid, Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training, Lead & Seed, Keys to Sustainability, and Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders.
Alisha Jarvis (she/her/hers)
MHFA Program Coordinator
Alisha is the Mental Health First Aid Coordinator in the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Alisha is responsible for coordinating Mental Health First Aid Instructor Training courses for Community Services Boards (CSBs) prevention teams and community partners to increase mental health awareness across the Commonwealth. Working in partnership with CSBs, Alisha’s primary focus is to ensure communities across Virginia have access to Mental Health First Aid Training so they can learn how to recognize the symptoms of mental health problems; how to offer and provide initial help; and how to guide the individual to professional help and resources. Prior to joining the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness, she was the Community Systems Coordinator in the Injury and Violence Prevention Program at the Virginia Department of Health.
Alisha received her Master’s Degree in Public Health from Eastern Virginia Medical School and Old Dominion University’s joint program and she received her Bachelors of Science Degree as a double major studying Psychology and Health Sciences at James Madison University.
Contact Alisha to learn more about ways to get connected to local Mental Health First Aid Services in your area.
Anne Rogers (she/her)
Responsible Gambling Coordinator
Anne currently leads the problem gambling and gaming prevention efforts in Virginia. In these roles she is responsible for overseeing all problem gambling and gaming assessment, capacity building, making data-driven plans, implementation, evaluation, and building connections in gambling program resources and activities with other prevention work across the commonwealth. Anne received her masters in health education from the University of Houston and is ABD status towards a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Massachusetts. She has worked in the public health and prevention fields for over 25 years. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, and getting together with family and friends.
Focus Areas: Problem Gambling and Gaming Prevention.
Sheree Slater (she/her/hers)
Behavioral Health Wellness Program Specialist
Reason to contact?
Sheree is the Workforce Development Coordinator in the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness at the Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. Sheree’s is responsible for coordinating training for Community Services Boards (CSBs) prevention staff and coalition members.
Sheree is a Substance Abuse Prevention Skills trainer and Mental Health First Aid trainer.
Sheree has 31 years of state service. In 2001, she joined DBHDS, as the administrative assistant for the Office of Prevention (now the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness).
Her current role as Workforce Development coordinator for the Office of Behavioral Health Wellness includes providing technical assistance to the CSBs, conducting and coordinating trainings such as Ethics, Substance Abuse Prevention Skills Training (SAPST), and Mental Health First Aid.
Prior to joining DBHDS, Sheree was a customer service representative with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Sheree has an Associate’s Degree in Business.
In her free time, she enjoys vacationing at the beach, amusement parks and spending time with family and friends.
Eva Stitt (she/her)
Refugee Behavioral Health Coordinator
Dr. Stitt has served in public, private, and non-profit sectors here and abroad. She has presented workshops and research papers in national and international conferences. She has also developed several psychological assessments and curriculum materials to support individual’s work ability, college assessment tests, literacy, community-based intervention, and language access for refugees and limited English proficient populations. She has been working with multi-sectoral groups to develop, implement, and evaluate programs to foster intercultural understanding and professional collaboration. She sat on several public and non-profit advisory boards to help build sustainable community-based intervention programs, strengthen health equity and access to care, and to promote social justice. Currently, she coordinates the Virginia Refugee Healing Partnership, a statewide initiative to establish sustainable public-private collaboration to insure refugee access to mental healthcare, to develop pathways to support behavioral health providers prepared to serve refugees, and to strengthen refugee mental wellness and capacity building measures. This initiative has produced the Virginia Behavioral Health Interpreting Curriculum (BHIC), a pioneering tool that was developed through collaborative action of providers, clinicians, interpreters, and educators. It is designed to train behavioral health interpreters to provide service in behavioral health settings. Dr. Stitt holds a Master’s in Education degree major in Guidance and Counseling and a PhD in Public Policy and Business Management.
Rebecca Textor (she/her)
Suicide Prevention Specialist
Rebecca Textor is a certified Prevention Specialist for DBHDS Office of Behavioral Health Wellness. Her current role as Suicide Prevention Specialist includes supporting the suicide prevention program Lock and Talk Virginia. She earned her Master of Prevention Science degree from The University of Oklahoma. Rebecca has worked as a substance abuse prevention professional within the Virginia Community Services Board system since 2010, and prior to that, she was a Community Health Coordinator with Carilion Health System. She began focusing on regionwide suicide prevention in 2015. While coordinating suicide prevention efforts for DBHDS Region 1, she became one of the original developers of Lock and Talk Virginia, now a statewide program. She is a member of Rockbridge Bath Regional Crisis Intervention Team and Rockbridge Area Prevention Coalition since 2008, and a member of Virginia’s Suicide Prevention Interagency Advisory Group.
Marrin Scalone (she/her)
Adverse Childhood Experiences Program Specialist
Originally from Hanover, Virginia, Marrin began working with DBHDS in Summer of 2021. Alongside her work with DBHDS, she is a psychology student, with concentrations in Adverse Childhood Experiences and evidence-based interventions.
Staff Profiles – OMNI
Bianca Gonzalez-De La Rosa (she/they)
Bianca joined OMNI as a Research Associate in June 2021. Bianca provides technical assistance to Virginia’s Substance Abuse Block Grant-Prevention and State Opioid Response projects. Prior to joining OMNI, Bianca worked as a behavioral health provider in integrated health.
Focus Areas: Technical assistance
Eden Griffin (she/her/hers)
Senior Research Manager
Eden currently leads the evaluation teams for the Substance Abuse Block Grant-Prevention set aside and State Opioid Response (SOR) prevention projects in Virginia. In these roles she is responsible for overseeing all evaluation planning and technical assistance activities across the commonwealth to ensure data quality and adherence to federal reporting requirements. Eden received her doctorate from the University of Texas at Austin. In her free time she enjoys hiking, yoga, and spending time with her family and friends over a meal!
Focus Areas: Project management and oversight of all evaluation planning and technical assistance activities.
Bern’Nadette Knight (she/her/hers)
Bern’Nadette joined OMNI in the Summer of 2021 as team lead for Virginia’s Substance Abuse Block Grant and State Opioid Response (SOR) prevention projects in Virginia. Bern’Nadette has coordinated and led efforts in technical assistance, community informed evaluation, research/grant implementation and program development within state government and academia. This wealth of experience and knowledge allows her to understand a program’s “big picture” to effectively provide OMNI team leadership and support. Bern’Nadette received her doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, container gardening, taking day trips, and hanging out with family.
Focus areas: Project oversight and management, report development, client consultation, data review and management.
Ivonne Parra (she/her/hers)
Ivonne supports Virginia’s Substance Abuse Block Grant Prevention and State Opioid Response (SOR) prevention projects by providing evaluation technical assistance in data entry, reporting, and evaluation planning with communities across the commonwealth. Ivonne also supports the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) evaluation, including developing the survey tool and ongoing monthly reporting.
Focus Areas: Individualized technical assistance, ACEs evaluation, evaluation related trainings
Kate Rifken (she/her)
Kate supports a variety of components of Virginia’s prevention work, including project lead and project management support, needs assessment planning, as well as technical consulting expertise. Kate enjoys data storytelling and empowering stakeholders to explore and connect with their data. In her free time, Kate enjoys hiking, biking, ultimate frisbee, and really anything outdoors.
Focus Areas: Data management, project management, analysis, data visualization
T Schweimler (they/them)
T enjoys working with Virginia’s Substance Abuse Block Grant Prevention and State Opioid Response (SOR) prevention projects and providing individualized technical assistance, evaluation related trainings, and additional evaluation and data-related support to help CSBs across the commonwealth thrive in their prevention work. T works across a variety of projects and content areas at OMNI, with a passion for raising up the voices of underrepresented and marginalized communities through research. T is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Madagascar ’16-’19) and is originally from Braunschweig, Germany.
Focus Areas: Individualized technical assistance, evaluation related trainings, data system support, survey tool development.
Amanda Seibel (they/she)
Amanda joined OMNI and Virginia’s Substance Abuse Block Grant-Prevention set aside and State Opioid Response (SOR) prevention projects in May 2021. They document, research, and provide general support to the team.
Focus Areas: Documentation, research, general support
Cindy Vigil (she/her/hers)
Cindy supports Virginia’s Substance Abuse Block Grant-Prevention set aside and State Opioid Response (SOR) prevention projects by leading a team of Technical Assistants in providing guidance, training and evaluation focused skill-building with communities across the commonwealth. This includes touching on topics such as data entry and reporting, accessing local needs data, and evaluation planning.
Focus Areas: Individualized technical assistance, evaluation related trainings
Jason Wheeler (he/him/his)
Jason supports Virginia’s Substance Abuse Block Grant-Prevention set aside and State Opioid Response (SOR) prevention projects by providing technical assistance, researching prevention topics, developing prevention campaign materials, assisting with reporting, and helping community service boards staff build skills and plan intervention implementation.
Focus Areas: Research, technical assistance, data collection and evaluation
Cheryl Winston (she/her)
Cheryl joined OMNI in 2013. She is involved with evaluation projects in the areas of substance use prevention and treatment, racial and ethnic disparities in health care, and more. Her role on the Virginia Prevention project includes providing evaluation technical assistance and training to grantees, survey development, reporting, and more. Cheryl is also a lifelong musician with roots in western New York State, but has spent most of her life spent in her beloved Boulder, Colorado.
Focus Areas: Individualized technical assistance, evaluation related trainings, survey tool development.