Program Design Team
Abra is an Action Researcher and Evaluator in the Population Health Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In this role she provides training, technical assistance and consulting related to community change efforts regarding health equity and offers expertise in transformative education, relationship-building and applied research. A long-term practitioner of contemplative practices, she infuses her capacity building efforts with compassion building practices.
Prior to earning her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison she worked as a crisis counselor and youth development specialist at a local Runaway and Homeless Youth agency. In addition to providing weekly life skills development programming for LGBT youth, crisis counseling, case management and youth mentorship, Abra has extensive experience supporting youth service providers on the journey toward transforming their organizational infrastructure and personal practice to be more inclusive and explicitly anti-racist.
Known for her engaging leadership style and disarming approach to capacity building among individuals and within organizations, she has empowered over 1200 marginalized young people and over 900 professionals in self-reflective praxis regarding their role in social change and the importance of targeting power.
Both Abra’s masters and doctoral research focused on the relationship between different forms of empowerment and engagement in health risk behaviors such as intimate partner violence, substance abuse and suicidality. She is particularly interested in the role that intra-individual level resilience factors- such as self-compassion- play in supporting long-term change efforts.