Our Leadership & Advisors
Kids Insight draws on the experience of national leaders, advocates and operational experts who have devoted their careers to improving child welfare and children’s well-being.
Dara Menashi, PhD
President, Kids Insight
Dara Menashi is the President of Kids Insight, a nonprofit organization sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation (AECF). She has a long history with the Foundation, helping transform promising ideas into high-impact programs and practice. Dara was one of the original members of the Casey Strategic Consulting Group and helped develop the AECF consulting practice model, creating tools and training teams in effective consulting techniques designed for embedding new ideas into public systems.
Before launching Kids Insight, she has served as lead policy advisor and integration specialist to the director during the consolidation of three child welfare divisions into a single integrated unit, the AECF Child Welfare Strategy Group. Dara has contributed to Casey’s thought leadership through innovative work on how to help government organizations adopt new ideas as lead author on Casey’s monograph Congregate Care Rightsizing (2009) and the article Helping Government Agencies become More Effective and Efficient: Discovering “Catalytic Combinations” in Public Child Welfare Reform, published in the Foundation Review (2012).
In addition, Dara has years of experience leading public sector system reform efforts for the Foundation. She led the congregate care rightsizing work in Maine, reducing the institutional child welfare population by over 15% in one year (2004-2005). Ten years later, the rate of institutional placements stands at 5%, a sharp decline from the 30% rate at the start of the project. Dara also led Casey’s case management reform team in New York City, where she collaborated with multiple stakeholders, including private, nonprofit, public sector and community partners to streamline case management and oversight functions — using a data analysis model to shift resources away from lower performing contract agencies to higher performing ones.
When Dara joined AECF she brought a fresh perspective acquired from working in many different sectors of the economy. She worked for McKinsey & Company as an organization specialist for private sector clients, introducing and refining the use of Relationship Network Analysis (RNA) as a consulting tool for mapping and leveraging the informal structure of organizations. She has also worked extensively in economic development at the local, national and international level. Dara holds a PhD and MPP from Harvard University, where she was awarded best masters thesis and mentor of the year, and a BA from Boston University in Economics, where she was selected as a Truman Scholar for her leadership and commitment to the public sector. She lives in Brookline, MA and enjoys family, friends, adventurous travel and all water sports.
David R. Kraus, PhD
Chief Scientific Officer, Kids Insight
CEO, Outcome Referrals, Inc.
Co-Founder, Institute for Child Outcomes
Dr. David Kraus is a licensed psychologists, clinician, hospital administrator and author of more than 50 scientific papers and publications in the area of behavioral health outcomes management. He is a researcher, software developer and inventor of the Treatment Outcome Package (TOP), the market’s leading behavioral health outcome management tool.
In collaboration with Annie E. Casey Foundation, Dr. Kraus co-founded the nonprofit Institute for Child Outcomes, which applies behavioral and well-being measurement for the benefit of abused and neglected children.
During his career, Dr. Kraus has served on task forces for a wide variety of national organizations, including the National Institute on Mental Health, the Council on Accreditation and the National Business Group on Health.
In 1990, he founded what is now Outcome Referrals, Inc. (ORI) which has a singular mission to help improve the quality of care through outcomes management. Through ORI, Dr. Kraus has compiled the world’s largest dataset of psychiatric outcome data and the firm is the nation’s largest independent provider of outcome management services, having measured 1.2 million patients for state Medicaid systems, commercial insurance carriers, hospitals, community mental health centers and clinicians in private practice.
Chief Operating Officer, Kids Insight
Frank Steinfield is an experienced management consultant and community leader who translates strategic planning into action. Through his work with the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group, Frank developed best-practice guides to decision-making in child welfare, resource family development, and performance management in public systems.
Earlier in his career, Frank worked with AltshulerGray LLC developing strategic plans for academic medical research institutions, with Mendelsohn, Gittelman & Associates evaluating youth development programs and as a marketing consultant for PJA advertising + marketing.
Franks holds a BA from Wesleyan University and an MBA from Yale University. He is the author of Building Successful Resource Families, 2012, with Denise Goodman, and his review of best practice in knowledge management, “The Right Data at the Right Fingertips,” was published in the Harvard Management Update in 2004. Frank has also provided strategic communication support to Casey system reform projects in multiple jurisdictions, including Maine, Virginia, Indiana and New York City.
Frank is currently President of the Brookline Community Foundation’s Board of Trustees and has served as a Brookline Town Meeting Member since 2009.
Senior Advisor, Kids Insight
Director and Manager, Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group
Tracey Feild is a national leader who works closely with state, county and city agencies to implement major system reforms that improve outcomes for children. A special advisor to Kids Insight, Tracey serves as Director and Manager of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group.
Following her tenure as engagement director for the Casey Strategic Consulting Group, which began in January 2005, Tracey was tasked with conceptualizing, planning and implementing systems reform agendas with state and county agencies. A member of Casey’s management committee, Feild has expanded Casey’s partnerships with private agencies and explored new approaches to assessing and tracking the well-being of children in child welfare systems — seeking to narrow the use of residential placements, increase placements with relatives, strengthen permanency practice and modernize agencies’ approaches to finance, policy and contracting.
Prior to joining Casey, Tracey was Vice President of East Coast Operations for the Institute for Human Services Management. She had lead roles in consulting efforts that focused on reforming child welfare, financing and managed care systems in more than a dozen states and localities. Tracey served as executive director of the Maryland Department of Human Resources Social Services Administration, deputy director of the Ohio Department of Human Services, and research associate at the Urban Institute. She spent two years in a remote area of Nicaragua with the Peace Corps, doing community organizing and working with families to improve nutrition, basic hygiene and child rearing.
Tracey earned her BS and MA in housing and public policy from Michigan State University, and has studied public administration at the University of Southern California’s Washington Public Affairs Center.
Senior Advisor, Kids Insight
Dennis Blazey is a well regarded and recognized knowledge source on child welfare finance programs and strategies. He is a technical assistance resource and advisor on child welfare policy and finance issues and has worked with the Pew Charitable Trusts, National CASA Association, Action Research Partners, Child Trends, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Child Welfare Strategy Group.
Dennis provides critical assistance in developing project business plans, seeking federal reimbursements for project costs, and leveraging the TOP process as an input into the evaluation of states’ IV-E demonstrations/waivers
From 1977–2007, Dennis worked with the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services where he served as Ohio’s child welfare and social services budget and fiscal officer. Dennis’ responsibilities included development and operation of child welfare financing policies and strategies for both State and County level child welfare programs; creation, development, and operation of Ohio’s IV-E waiver/demonstration; and synthesizing finance operations with program policy objectives.
In recognition of his work and its benefits to Ohio’s children and county child welfare agencies, Dennis was named Child Welfare Advocate of the Year in 2006 by the Public Children Services Association of Ohio — the first time that honor had ever been given to a finance officer.
Dennis holds a BA from Adrian College and a JD from the University of Toledo College of Law
Senior Advisor, Kids Insight
Judith Wildfire is a leading specialist in data-driven, outcomes-oriented child welfare reform. She has more than 20 years of experience working with public human service agencies to examine social service agency practice and policy changes, to assess client outcomes and to evaluate multiple child welfare reform efforts.
Judy’s extensive experience with statistical analysis includes studying outcomes for children using vital statistics records such as birth certificate data, program data files from WIC, Medicaid, administrative data from public child welfare programs and survey data from the National Study of Child and Adolescent Well-being.
Judy is the founder of Wildfire Associates and, has frequently partnered with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and its Child Welfare Strategy Group to help child welfare agencies use data to link practice change to safety and permanency outcomes.
Judy holds a Masters degree in Public Administration from Rider College and a MPH in Biostatistics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to her work with Wildfire Associates, she was a Research Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, a Senior Research Analyst at the Jordan Institute for Families, and she spent 10 years at Research Triangle Institute where her work focused on the evaluation of child welfare reform initiatives and programs for the aged.
Senior Project Director, Kids Insight
Alma Shelton has more than three decades of experience as a child welfare practitioner, administrator and consultant. Alma served as Senior Project Director and site liaison for Kids Insight’s TOP implementation during its pilot and roll-out at Cuyahoga County DCFS in Cleveland, Ohio.
Alma has a long history of service in child welfare, including an eleven-year tenure at the Tennessee Department of Human Services where she began as an adoption social worker and became the Foster Care Program Director for the state of Tennessee. She also worked for 25 years with Wake County (NC) Human Services in a variety of roles, including child welfare supervisor, project manager for the Casey Foundation Family to Family Initiative, and program manager for Foster Family Licensing, Adoptions and regional child welfare blended team services.
Alma served as an independent consultant to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, providing frontline support as a trainer and advisor in community and parent partnership program development for public child welfare agencies nationally. She also served as an adjunct professor at North Carolina State University School of Social Work.
Senior Project Director, Kids Insight
Lisa Paine-Wells bring more than 20 years of experiences in child welfare to help systems address safety and permanency issues through family engagement strategies. Lisa provides direct project support to child welfare systems implementing TOP, a research-based, case manager-directed assessment tool that supports improved direction of child mental health treatment and placement services.
Through her work at the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Maryland Department of Human Resources, Lisa has been involved in the assessment, planning and management of numerous child welfare initiatives. Her experience includes budget development and management, technical assistance, community outreach and advocacy, and proving direct services to children and families.
Project Associate, Kids Insight
Matt Cipollone is a Project Associate with the Kids Insight team and specializes in frontline support and training for child welfare systems utilizing the TOP tool. Prior to joining Kids Insight, Matt worked in international higher education helping universities build more robust distance education programs and improve resources for international students.