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Meet the Trainers

Please note this information is from last year's session.  Updated information coming early 2016.

(From left to right: Darrin Hicks, Danielle Varda, Sara Sprong, Janice Popp, and Brint Milward at the 2014 NLTA

Core Trainers and Workshop Trainers

HicksDarrin Hicks, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communications Studies at the University of Denver. Dr. Hicks teaches courses and conducts research in argumentation, rhetoric, community collaboration, and the philosophy of communication. His research has appeared in journals such as Rhetoric and Public Affairs, Cultural Studies, Quarterly Journal of Speech, Argumentation, Argumentation and Advocacy, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, and Evaluation Review.

MilwardBrint Milward, PhD., is Director of the School of Government and Public Policy at the University of Arizona. He holds the Providence Service Corporation Chair in Public Management. Until July 1, he was the Director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse, co-chaired by President George Herbert Walker Bush and President Bill Clinton.  He has been president of two national associations: the Public Management Research Association and the National Association of Schools of Public Administration and Affairs. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and in 2010 won the Distinguished Research Award given by the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration and the American Society for Public Administration for a "coherent body of work over a career." Dr. Milward's research interests revolve around networks and collaboration. The focus of his work has been on understanding how to efficiently and effectively manage networks of organizations that jointly produce public services like health and human services. He has conducted studies of what happens when governments privatize public services, which he terms "governing the hollow state. Milward received his B.A. from University of Kentucky and his Ph.D. from Ohio State University. Since 9/11 Brint Milward has studied illegal and covert networks that pursue grievances or greed. His articles on "Dark Networks," have been widely cited for their application of network analysis and management theory to terrorist networks, human trafficking, drug smuggling, and other illegal activities.

Janice Popp, MSW, RSW is an Adjunct Assistant Professor, Faculty of Social Work at the University of Calgary.  Janice has a keen interest in the use of inter-organizational networks to create mechanisms and mobilize knowledge to improve service systems.  From 2001 to 2009 she was Director of the Southern Alberta Child & Youth Health Network, a highly successful inter-regional, cross-sector network established to optimize the health and well-being of children, youth and families.  She is the past Chair of Child and Youth Health Networks of Canada, a ‘network of networks’ that came together to promote the awareness, understanding and evaluation of child and youth health networks and evolved into a network with an expanded focus on all networks in the public interest. She is also currently managing the ongoing development of an inter-organizational network designed to provide supports and services to children and youth, primarily within the school setting. Janice has been a lead organizer of a series of Network Leadership Summits held in Canada over the past six years bringing together international network researchers and practitioners.  Janice also has extensive clinical, management, and policy experience in the area of children’s mental health. She holds a Masters of Social Work Degree from the University of Calgary and is an approved clinical supervisor under the Alberta College of Social Workers.

VardaDanielle M. Varda, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor at the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver with a secondary appointment in the Colorado School of Public Health, Department of Health Systems, Management, and Policy. She is Co-Director of the Nonprofit Concentration, Advisor to the Dual MPA-MPH Degree, and Director of the Research Program on Collaborative Governance. She also sits on the AmeriCorps NCCC Federal Advisory Board, and is an alumn of the AmeriCorps NCCC (Class 5 and 6). Dr. Varda joins SPA from the RAND Corporation, where she worked as an Associate Policy Scientist from 2005-2008. She specializes in collaborative governance and network leadership, focusing specifically in Public Health Systems and Services Research. Her research focus is on evaluating the network structure of interorganizational collaborations between the public, private, and nonprofit sectors and the subsequent network effects of these recorded interactions. She has developed models and methods of network measurement, for example she has developed a research model for measuring social capital by evaluating the network structure of local community networks, including developing questionnaires and analysis of diverse network data. In addition, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, is the developer of a software tool (PARTNER, that uses Social Network Analysis to administer a survey and link to an analysis tool, to measure and monitor collaborative activity over time. Dr. Varda’s PARTNER tool was featured in her first place award for the 2008 Maxwell School Collaborative Governance Initiative competition, Teaching Simulation and is used by over 600 communities in 30 countries and all over the US. PARTNER, and it's suite of tools, technical assistance, and training has become a well-known resource for communities working to build their community networks and systems building.  In 2010, she was awarded the “Public Health Systems and Services Article of the Year” award by Academy Health PHSSR Interest Group for her co-authored paper “Core Dimensions of Connectivity in Public Health Collaboratives" and in 2013 was awarded First Runner Up for the same award for her co-authored paper " Implications of Network Structure on Public Health Collaborative" published in Health Education and Behavior.  Her research portfolio includes projects in the areas of maternal/child health, public health preparedness, nonprofit community networks, and systems evaluation. She is an experienced interviewer, facilitator, and has extensive experience developing and administering surveys. Her research has been funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the CO Department of Public Health and Environment, the CO Trust, the RAND Corporation, the Department of Health and Human Services (Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response), Veterans Administration, University of Kentucky School of Public Health, and the Department of Defense.

lisa.jpgLisa Carlson is the Director of Facilitation at Engaged Public. She specializes in collaborative problem solving and consensus building, and has more than 25 years of experience in this field. She has provided technical meeting facilitation services for diverse governmental and non-profit organizations seeking resolution of complex and politically sensitive issues ranging from water quality, health policy, suicide prevention, and strategic planning. She is an expert trainer in the fields of conflict management, team building, leadership development and the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). Prior to joining the Engaged Public, Lisa was the Director for the Center for Public-Private Sector Cooperation with the School of Public Affairs, University of Colorado Denver. She is vice-president of the International Association of Public Participation, Colorado Chapter and is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College.

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Phil Willburn

As a social network analysis expert, Phil has focused his career on understanding the science of relationships. His experience includes mapping, analyzing, and mobilizing networks in a variety of industries, including energy, finance, government, and pharmaceuticals. Through the lenses of leadership development and network science, Phil facilitated individual development with top executives to help them lead more effectively in the complex and constantly changing market. His work with C-level management includes supporting an executive team through a successful $5 billion acquisition. He also designed and led a workshop to help the CIO and team of a high-tech finance firm make the largest technical change in the company’s history.  Before joining CCL, Phil worked in Washington D.C. as a network analysis trainer and data scientist, as well as teaching social network analysis to intelligence community analysts. During this time, Phil developed groundbreaking analysis workshops to help intelligence professionals scientifically identify informal leaders and influencers in terrorists and other nefarious networks across the world.

Phil is a Global Markets faculty helping clients address their most complex challenges around strategic influence, organizational change, and resilience through customized leadership programs and solutions. He leads the Network-Based Leadership Development practice where he helps companies apply the science of relationships and networks to accelerating change adoption, increasing individual and collective innovation, and improving collaboration of teams, departments, and organizations for greater business impact. In addition to creating and delivering leadership solutions for executive teams, Phil teaches in two of CCL’s most popular programs the Leadership Development Program and Leading Teams for Impact. He specializes in designing programs for complex organization structures, such as flat, networked, or matrixed organizations, and has co-created a new program called Leading in the Matrix.

Phil did his graduate work in Organizational Communication at the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs where he specialized in leadership communication. He has certifications in a variety of personality and organizational assessments and holds certificates from Carnegie Mellon in Dynamic Network Analysis and in Computational Organizational Theory and from the University of Kentucky in Advanced Social Network Analysis.

Phil has authored a number of papers on leadership and networks including a recent book chapter in called Leadership and Organizational Networks. He has written a number white papers at CCL including: A Leader’s Network: How to Invest in the Right Relationships at the Right Time, and Networks: How Collective Leadership Really Works, and has contributed other publications and presentations including. You can follow him on Twitter @pwillburn or read his blog posts on networks and leadership at www.philwillburn.comEnergizing Leaders on the Development of Upper Management Trust Networks; Mapping Organization's Social Networks: How Leaders are Using Social Network Analysis to Drive Organizational Transformation.  Phil is an active member of the International Network for Social Network Analysis and the International Leadership Association where he presents his latest research. You can follow his research and updates on Twitter @pwillburn

lisa+vanraemdonck-medium.jpg Lisa VanRaemdonck is Executive Director of the Colorado Association of Local Public Health Officials and the Public Health Alliance of Colorado as well as Co-Director for the Colorado Public Health Practice-Based Research Network. Her work is dedicated to encouraging public health system-level improvements through strategic partnerships, workforce development, peer networking, capacity building, practice-based research and dissemination, and policy development. Prior to her public health career, Lisa worked in public relations and marketing, and has experience with non-profit and business-to-business communications. She earned a Master’s in Public Health and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Michigan. 

Sara-Tscheschke-MPA-PARTNER-Research-Associate.jpgSara Sprong graduated in May 2011 from the University of Colorado Denver with her Master’s in Public Administration. She was first introduced to PARTNER in her Collaborative Governance class taught by Dr. Varda where her class simulated a collaborative working to address homelessness in a community. She also has two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Sociology and History that she received from the University of Colorado Denver in 2008. She has worked on project with Dr. Varda around disaster preparedness, resilience, and recovery networks (with ASPR and mulitple projects with RAND), early childhood networks working around health integration and home visitation (with CDPHE and CO Trust), economic inclusion (with Annie E. Casey Foundation), and has assisted PARTNER users with their various projects.​​  She has been the logistics coordinator for the Network Leadership Training Academy for the past 2 sessions and is looking forward to another great session in 2015! | Physical Address: 1380 Lawrence St., Ste. 500  Denver, CO  80204 | Mailing Address: University of Colorado Denver, SPA, Campus Box 142, P.O. Box 173364, Denver, CO 80217-3364 | ph: 303.315.2228 | fax: 303.315.2229 | SPA Website Feedback

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