The core of my interests is to promote adolescent competence and well-being through actionable translation of prevention science, and development of state and community-level infrastructure and capacity for prevention. At the EPISCenter we are actively engaged in working with state policymakers, program developers, and community implementers. Across these groups we identify barriers to successful dissemination, implementation, assessment, and sustainability of evidence-based programs across Pennsylvania. As we identify barriers, we develop solutions to dissolve them. This includes building connections and facilitating communication between stakeholders, establishing in-state mechanisms for supporting program implementation, and developing resources and trainings to support increased capacity for evidence-based programs and practice.
In 2008, the EPISCenter was founded by Brian Bumbarger, Assistant Director for Knowledge Translation and Dissemination at the Prevention Research Center at PSU. Funding was provided through a four-year grant by the PA Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the PA Department of Public Welfare (DPW; now the Dept. of Human Services). In 2012, EPISCenter received its second four-year grant from PCCD & DPW which added an initiative to support improvement of juvenile justice programs, in addition to existing initiatives that support community prevention coalitions and evidence-based programs. The EPISCenter has been recognized as an innovative model for the support and dissemination of proven effective programs and practices, and increasingly receives a high level of interest from state, national, and international policymakers as well as foundations.
In November 2013 I took on the role of Managing Director of the EPISCenter. In this role, I have focused on a few key areas to expand the development and visibility of EPIS as an intermediary organization in the Commonwealth. One, across EPIS initiative areas (coalitions, evidence-based programs, juvenile justice), we have increasingly been working in the same communities, therefore we have been consolidating and synergizing our approach to working in these communities. Two, we have strengthened our work in dissemination and sustainability through reaching new audiences with the "message" of proven effective programs and establishing more community-level partnerships engaged in complementary work. Three, we have been partnering with the Prevention Research Center to focus on workforce development through PSU undergraduate and graduate student opportunities, as well as identifying other applied experiential and educational opportunities for students and community members interested in expanding their expertise in prevention.
In 2016, PCCD and the Dept. of Human Services provided continued support for the EPISCenter. Brian Bumbarger earned his doctorate and headed out West to promote prevention and supportive infrastructures out there, and I became Director and Principal Investigator of the EPISCenter. In this next project period EPISCenter will be focusing on issues related to sustainability, both for the programs and practices we support in the field and for the EPISCenter itself. We are actively collaborating with PCCD, community practitioners, county- and state-level policymakers to determine sources of funding and other support for evidence-based programs and practices. For EPISCenter we are developing methods for expanding our reach without expanding our current staff complement. We will be transitioning to delivering more group-level technical assistance and developing a "training institute" to coach others more deeply in prevention and implementation knowledge-base and skills. The training institute will provide a much needed forum for ongoing professional development of community providers, prevention professionals, and policymakers on key practice and policy issues related to prevention.