Meet the team

Our leadership team have extensive experience providing training and technical assistance focused on improving behavioral health care for LGBTQ+ people.

Marlene Matarese, PhD, MSW

Principal Investigator
Pronouns: she/her

Dr. Marlene Matarese has over 20 years of experience working at the individual, county, state, and national levels. Dr. Matarese specializes in content focused on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression; workforce development; systems of care; evidence-based and evidence-informed intervention design; and best practices in implementation science within the context of the public child-, youth-, and family-serving systems. Dr. Matarese is Research Faculty at University of Connecticut’s School of Social Work and the Deputy Director for the Innovations Institute. In addition to being the Principal Investigator (PI) for the National SOGIE Center, she is also the PI for the Center of Excellence on LGBTQ+ Behavioral Health Equity and the National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ2S Children and Youth in Foster Care, where she oversees the design, implementation, and evaluation of 15 interventions.

Angela Weeks, DBA

Project Director
Pronouns: she/her

Angela Weeks brings extensive national experience creating, implementing, and evaluating programs and initiatives that improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people and communities. She has led the development of LGBTQ+ trainings and tools, policy revisions,  webinars series, supported the design and implementation of interventions to support LGBTQ+ youth, and maintained resource databases and websites. In addition to directing this Center, Angela is the Project Director for The National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ2S Children and Youth in Foster Care (QIC-LGBTQ2S). As the Project Director for the QIC-LGBTQ2S, she has helped develop, implement, and evaluate 15 different LGBTQ+ programs and initiatives for LGBTQ+ foster youth, their families, and the workforce that serves them. She also has extensive experience supporting LGBTQ+ populations experiencing homelessness and the juvenile justice system.  She holds a Doctorate in Business Administration from the University of Maryland’s Global Campus and a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

Lyndsay Smith, MS

Senior Program Specialist
Pronouns: she/her

Lyndsay Smith has worked on initiatives that serve LGBTQ+ youth and adults for nearly a decade in the following focus areas: LGBTQ+ youth education and programing, LGBTQ+ older adult health and well-being, implementation of gender-affirming policies and practices, and culturally competent care for LGBTQ+ individuals across the lifespan. She has developed and provided trainings for thousands of professionals, including K-12 faculty, health care providers, and community-based organizations. Lyndsay has also collaborated with numerous state and local agencies on developing LGBTQ+-affirming policies and practices.

Elizabeth Greeno, PhD, LCSW-C

Lead Evaluator
Pronouns: she/her

Dr. Elizabeth Greeno has direct experience and expertise with evaluation design and methodology and is currently involved in several research efforts that involve state and federally-funded evaluation research. In addition, Dr. Greeno has clinical practice experience in the areas of therapeutic and case management services to children and families in the child welfare system and children diagnosed with comorbid mental health disabilities and substance usage. Dr. Greeno is a private outpatient mental health practitioner in Harford County, Maryland where she specializes in adolescents, older youth, LGBTQ+ populations, family therapy, and family therapy reunification services for former foster youth.

Paige Hammond, MHS

Lead Research Analyst
Pronouns: she/her

Prior to joining Innovations Institute, Paige Hammond worked on research related to tobacco cessation in Baltimore and HIV prevention/treatment domestically and internationally at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She has also worked at a medical practice management organization for reproductive health providers. Paige received a M.H.S. in Social Factors in Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Rochester.

Ashley Austin, PhD, LCSW

AFFIRM Purveyor
Pronouns: she/her

Ashley Austin is a professor of Social Work at Barry University. Dr. Austin’s research and expertise revolves primarily around developing practice-based knowledge to promote the health and well-being of transgender and gender diverse children, teens, and adults. Her clinical practice approaches are rooted in an affirmative framework that honors sexual and gender diversity across the lifespan. As co-developer and purveyor of the AFFIRM interventions, Dr. Austin is actively involved in research, training, and consulting associated with effective implementation of AFFIRM across a wide range of sites both nationally and internationally.

Shelley Craig, PhD, RSW, LCSW

AFFIRM Purveyor
Pronouns: she/her

Shelley Craig is a professor at the Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto and Canada Research Chair in Sexual and Gender Minority Youth. With over 100 publications, Dr. Craig has published extensively and generated millions in research funding to develop research and practice that cultivates resilience in the lives of LGBTQ+ youth, particularly by creating evidence-informed interventions, developing continuums of care, and leveraging information and communication technologies.  She is the Principal Investigator and Director of the International Partnership for Queer Youth Resilience and the International Student Training Network, comprised of over fifty academics and forty emerging scholars. As co-developer and purveyor of the AFFIRM interventions, Dr. Craig is actively involved in research, training, and consulting associated with effective implementation across a wide range of sites both nationally and internationally.

Christopher Bellonci, MD, FAACAP

Senior Clinical Consultant
Pronouns: he/him

Christopher Bellonci is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and a Senior Policy Advisor at The Baker Center for Children and Families. Dr. Bellonci brings over 25 years of experience as a Board Certified Child, Adolescent, and Adult Psychiatrist working directly with LGBTQ+ children and families in outpatient, inpatient, and residential settings. He has consulted with state and federal child welfare and mental health agencies helping those agencies develop best practices and service systems to identify, prevent, treat, and support children with behavioral health needs and their families including those who identify as LGBTQ+. He served on the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s (AACAP) Quality Issues Committee responsible for developing the field’s clinical practice guidelines defining best practices in treating behavioral health conditions including AACAP’s practice parameter on meeting the behavioral health needs of LGBTQ+ youth and their families.

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