Marcia Cohen, MCP

The President of Development Services Group, Inc (DSG), is a senior manager with more than 30 years of research and evaluation experience. Ms. Cohen has served as Officer in Charge for more than 20 large federal grants and contracts, and currently serves in that capacity for DSG’s U.S. Department of State project for the Bureau of Counterterrorism to develop a global terrorism database.

She has served as principal investigator (PI) or manager of more than 30 program evaluations for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) and the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) on violence, gangs, human trafficking, violence against women, and substance misuse prevention. Ms. Cohen has an extensive background in developing evidence-based repositories and has managed four different repositories— for NIJ, the Model Programs Guide for OJJDP, the National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Department of Education’s What Works Clearinghouse in Postsecondary Education.

She has an extensive background in conducting trafficking research and research on at-risk youth. She was the PI on the NIJ–funded evaluation of the San Francisco-based SAGE Project’s LIFESKILLS and GRACE commercial sexual exploitation prevention and intervention programs and was Office in Charge (OIC) for an evaluation of Safe Harbor laws study for OJJDP.

For SAMHSA, she was OIC for the Recovery to Practice project, which developed a subaward program for community-based nonprofits to provide behavioral health services to persons with serious mental illness. She was the co-investigator for the NIJ–funded evaluation of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) global positioning system (GPS) supervision program for high-risk sex offenders and was also the co-investigator of the evaluation of the CDCR GPS program for high-risk gang members. For the District of Columbia’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education, Ms. Cohen directed an evaluation of five evidence-based programs in Washington, D.C., public schools.

Currently, she is the Officer in Charge for the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Model Programs Guide; and the Project Manager for the National Institute of Justice’s, which aims to improve the management of research knowledge and better integrate research evidence into practice and policy decisions in the criminal justice field.

In 2006, she was awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges for her significant contributions to research and evaluation.

Alan M. Bekelman

Alan Bekelman is Executive Vice President and Founder of Development Services Group, Inc. He also is President of the Institute of Community Studies, DSG’s 501(c)3 nonprofit partner.

Mr. Bekelman has decades of executive experience in program and project management. He was the Project Director for the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Workplace Managed Care (WMC) research grant. For 3 years, he served as Chair of the WMC Cross-Site Steering Committee. For CSAP, Mr. Bekelman was Project Director for a study of the effects of the Sept. 11, 2001, tragedy on 45,000 flight attendants. And he was Officer in Charge (OIC) for CSAP’s Workplace Prevention and Early Intervention Workplace Kit and Interactive Programming and Drug-Free Workplace Website Content contracts. Previously for CSAP, he was the OIC of the Violence Initiative Leadership Support Program.

For DSG’s work with the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, he is the OIC for OJJDP’s Model Programs Guide, a web-based database system of evidence-based programs, which served as the foundation for the First Lady’s Helping America’s Youth Tool. He has extensive expertise in developing and managing research and evaluation, training and technical assistance, and technology transfer efforts in juvenile and criminal justice, drug misuse prevention, human services, and health services. He also was the OIC for the Office of Minority Health Uniform Data Set project and OJJDP’s Court Coordination Program: Mental Health, Substance Abuse, and Wraparound Coordination of Court Services. He directed a project in support of the School Violence Expert Working Group for the Office of the Attorney General.

Ambassador Adam Blackwell

Development Services Group, Inc.’s Vice President of International Development provides internal consultation to DSG projects on violence and substance misuse prevention, intervention, and treatment. He is project director for DSG’s contract with the the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Counterterrorism and Countering Violent Extremism, in which we prepare the Annex of Statistical Information and assist with preparation of the Country Reports on Terrorism.

Ambassador Blackwell worked at the Organization of American States, at its headquarters in Washington, until October 2015. Starting as Assistant Secretary of Finance and Administration (Treasurer) in 2006, Mr. Blackwell was then Secretary for External Relations in 2008 and Secretary for Multidimensional Security from July 2010 to October 2015. During his career, Mr. Blackwell has participated in and led several election observation missions and received numerous awards and honors. Most notable among these are The Order of Merit of Duarte, Sanchez and Mella Grand Cross with Silver Breast Star, of the Dominican Republic and the Ministers Award for Management (1995). He also was a contributor and coordinator of the 2013 OAS Drug Report.

He also served as a Diplomat in Residence at the William J. Perry Center for the Hemispheric Defense Studies. He is also the Chair of the Meta-Council on the Illicit Economy for the World Economic Forum (WEF), a member of the Board of the Trust of the Americas, a member of the Commission to Reform Public Security in Honduras, and a member of the Technical Coordinating Committee to manage the Peace Process in El Salvador. Ambassador Blackwell is also an active participant and presenter in international forums such as Chatham House, the Ditchley Foundation, the Brookings Institution, the Wilson Center, and in regional and annual meetings of the WEF.

Prentice Johnson

Prentice Johnson is Vice President of Administration and the Information Technology (IT) Director for Development Services Group, Inc., where where he serves as the Project Leader for all web-based application development projects, scheduling, and task coordination support to programming, database administration, and graphic design staff.

As a manager and data analyst he has more than 20 years’ experience in the development, support, and maintenance of government database applications and websites. For the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), he designed the current Buprenorphine Waiver Management System (BWNS) in FileMaker and managed the migration of the project data from the legacy Oracle-based system in 2016. As the DATA Waiver IT Manager, Mr. Johnson is also the day-to-day manager for the BWNS and SAMHSA Discussion Forum (web board). In this capacity, he is responsible for maintaining the smooth operation of both DSG server-based software systems, ensuring that they are properly updated and secured in compliance with SAMHSA policy. Mr. Johnson’s deep knowledge of the current BWNS has also made him well suited to serve as the Lead Data Analyst on the DATA Waiver Project. He produces BWNS data reports in response to both FOIA and ad hoc requests from SAMHSA. He also supervises and provides the methodology behind any complex data reports prepared by other DSG Data Analysts. As DATA Analyst for DATA Waiver, Mr. Johnson’s responsibilities often brings him in contract with practitioners, researchers, and government officials engaged in addressing the opioid epidemic. Those interactions over the past 5 years have been deepened his educational in understanding opioid partial agonist treatment and medical issues, and the practitioner’s role in this form of pharmacotherapy. For the DATA Waiver Web Board, Mr. Johnson selected and configured the current phpBB-based version of the site in 2017. He managed the migration of user accounts and active discussions from the old platform to phpBB to assure ease of use for existing practitioners. Mr. Johnson also leads any new automatic data processing feature development, design, and testing for the DATA Waiver project.

Mr. Johnson has served as IT lead on more than a dozen major government projects in his career and provides input to both the DSG Project Director and Center for Substance Abuse Treatment leadership on strategies to optimize the BWNS systems and processes. This input has included exploring and implementing better methods for delivering essential services to practitioners, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and SAMHSA. Mr. Johnson is also the primary SAMHSA point of contact for DATA Waiver’s system security, 508-compliance, and cost/performance reporting.

Previously, for SAMHSA’s Recovery to Practice Web site and Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) Coordinating Center projects, Mr. Johnson designed and developed the websites and database infrastructure. His work has been instrumental to the user interface improvements on SAMHSA’s GetFit site, as well as the innovative MFPages concept for MFP’s SAMHSA website. Mr. Johnson has been the lead manager in the development of DSG’s technology-based capabilities in distance learning, online collaboration, social media integration, web analytics, user experience improvement, website development, web hosting, custom software design, video editing and production, and multimedia product development. His expertise has been integral in the multiple database and website migration projects undertaken by DSG, including the migration of the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention’s GetFit website to a new hosting and development platform, the Office of Minority Health’s Uniform Data Set, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s Disproportionate Minority Contact Relative Rate Index web-based data entry system, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Facility-Based Compliance Reporting System.

Throughout his career, Mr. Johnson has worked to bridge the gap between emerging technology and the practical needs of business. His expertise in computer hardware systems and business software applications is the product of a career studying ways to bring usable technologies to bear on the day-to-day tasks of an organization. Whether developing a pilot program for computer training in minority communities or custom-engineering database applications to support thousands of users, his continuing pursuit of effective solutions for existing problems remains at the core of his work approach.

Thomas R. Vischi, M.A., MCP

Thomas Vischi is DSG’s Vice President for Behavioral Health. Mr. Vischi has been with DSG since 2005. He is the Officer in Charge, and previously the Acting Project Director, for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration’s (SAMHSA’s) DATA Waiver contract, which approves, tracks, and supports practitioners authorized to provide buprenorphine treatment.

Throughout his federal and consulting career, he has focused on the development of policies, programs, and materials that are grounded in science and that address the health and behavioral health needs of diverse individuals and populations. He has worked in senior positions in the Alcohol Drug Abuse and Mental Health Administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Secretary, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (as a Morris K. Udall Fellow). He was also a Visiting Scholar on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

Mr. Vischi has been the author, coauthor, or editor of publications and websites on drug-free workplace programs, workplace health and wellness promotion, the impact of behavioral health programs on health care outcomes and costs, the financing and coordination of community mental health services, case management, the causes and prevention of substance abuse, drug abuse treatment, national data on substance abuse and mental disorders and programs, and guidance for community planning groups on how to use Healthy People 2010. He directed the production of a series of technical assistance monographs on various topics in drug abuse treatment.

In his work with DSG, he was the Project Director (PD) for multiple contracts for SAMHSA’s Minority Fellowship Program Coordinating Center project. He was the Director for SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP) Learning Center, which provided extensive information and guidance about how to use NREPP and how to implement programs that are evidence based and culturally appropriate. He was the DSG lead for a subcontract to PIRE on a SAMHSA prescription drug misuse project. He was the PD for several SAMHSA Workplace Website Content Development contracts, which produced numerous fact sheets about health and behavioral health, the book-length Making Your Workplace Drug-Free: A Kit for Employers (its print run of 25,000 was distributed in full), a Workplace Health and Wellness Kit, and a redesigned GetFit health promotion website. He was a senior policy analyst on SAMHSA’s initial Recovery to Practice contract, which developed training materials, supported a national resource center, and published weekly Highlights about recovery for persons with serious mental illness. He was a Senior Researcher for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families’ Protective Factors model-building project. He was the PD for a contract that developed a strategic framework and performance measures for the Office of Minority Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Secretary. And he was a Senior Researcher on a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention project on macroeconomic factors and violence.

Michael W. Hopps, M.Ed.

The director of editorial services has been at DSG since 2001. Earlier in his career, he taught high school English, was a freelance sportswriter, worked as a researcher for National Geographic magazine, and served as a reporter covering the Army Corps of Engineers and the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup mission at the former nuclear weapons sites. He has written three books (two as a coauthor) and filed datelines from 32 states.

Favorite quote: “Where you do not find love, put love, and there you will find it.” —St. John of the Cross