Community Based Dissemination & Implementation Science Core Personnel

Marc S. Atkins, PhD

Dr. Atkins is the Director of the CCTS's Community Based Dissemination & Implementation Science program. He is a Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology, and Director of the Institute for Juvenile Research where he also directs a research group focused on community-based mental health services for urban children. He has worked on policy-related projects both locally in Chicago and nationally, and has been funded by NIH grants consistently since 1990 including as PI of a center grant focused on developing innovative community-based mental health programs for children in poverty. 

Tara G. Mehta, PhD

Dr. Mehta is an Assistant Professor at the Institute for Juvenile Research in the Department of Psychiatry, College of Medicine at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Director of Psychology Training. Dr. Mehta has a longstanding interest in the implementation and dissemination of alternative models of community mental health practice to support positive youth development. Her research focuses on the development and implementation of organizational structures that promote the sustainability of effective services in community settings (e.g., professional learning communities and leveraging workplace-based support) and social network mechanisms related to implementation and sustainability of effective practices in community settings. She has worked closely with the Chicago Public Schools and Chicago Park District and collaborated with key policy stakeholders in Illinois, including the Illinois Department of Mental Health Evidence Informed Training Initiative and the Illinois Department of Mental Health Evidence Informed Practice Board to advise on the scaling-up of evidence based practices in community mental health settings. Currently, Dr. Mehta is collaborating with Urban Initiatives, a non-profit foundation that utilizes active play as a context to promote physical and mental health for children, to design and test an organizational infrastructure to enhance staff capacity to promote mental health in recreational settings.

Dana Rusch, PhD

Dr. Rusch is a Visiting Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Juvenile Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Rusch has an overarching interest in addressing mental health disparities among ethnic minority youth and families living in urban poverty. Her program of research focuses on implementing relevant and sustainable models of mental health promotion for Latino immigrant families, guided by a Community-Based Participatory Research framework. This work aims to build upon community resources and workforce strengths through collaborative partnerships with non-specialty settings (e.g., schools, community-based organizations, after-school programs) and the non-traditional providers that play a critical role in family engagement and advocacy. Dr. Rusch has collaborated with the Chicago Public Schools, the Chicago Park District, and various community-based organizations serving Latino/immigrant families throughout the city. 

Erika Gustafson, M.A.

Erika Gustafson is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Broadly, her research focuses on community-based interventions to promote healthy psychological development for underserved children and families. Her specific research interests include broadening the boundaries of mental health treatment through a focus on upstream ecological factors impacting mental health (i.e. the social determinants of health), non-traditional service providers such as community health workers, non-traditional settings such as schools and neighborhoods, and Latino mental health. She has conducted qualitative and quantitate research with community health workers examining their processes of parental engagement, as well as with homeless youth examining their executive functioning. Erika is also an active advocate for promoting diversity within the field, having served as co-chair of the Diversity Advancement Committee within her clinical program.

Affiliated Personnel

Angela L. Walden, PhD

Angela Walden is a Research Assistant Professor in Center for Dissemination and Implementation Science in the Department of Medicine and a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her work focuses on culturally responsive services for high-needs communities (e.g., high-risk children/adolescents, urban American Indians), delivered in community settings (e.g., community-based organizations, juvenile corrections). Her research examines risk and protective factors related to health and behavioral outcomes in high-needs populations and the development, implementation, and dissemination of community-based treatments and practices into novel settings and community-based collaboration processes and outcomes. Dr. Walden has collaborated with community organizations serving youth and children, both within the state of Illinois (e.g., short-term juvenile detention) and the city of Chicago (e.g., juvenile probation, American Indian-serving organizations).