The CARS team has been providing technical assistance and training services to the California's Governor's Program Grantees for over 5 years. The team is dedicated to providing relevant and customized services to meet the diverse needs of the grantees.

Joël Phillips, Executive Director

Joël L. Phillips is founder and Executive Director of the Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS) Inc. He brings a thorough knowledge of the prevention system at community, state and national levels. His experience includes the full development of the prevention field, from the very earliest days of OSAP, and encompasses the entire spectrum of the phased prevention capacity process envisioned in the SAMHSA Strategic Prevention Framework. Mr. Phillips has directed many of CARS' pioneering projects in the needs assessment field, including their continuing production of the California County Handbook that produces detailed trends and comparative analyses for each of California's 58 counties. Currently, he is directing a focused needs assessment project in Napa County CA that is designed to develop feasible ways of improving the utility of social indicator needs assessments by developing finer grain estimates (e.g., by demographic and geographic micro-communities).
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He has also developed synthetic estimator applications for social cost estimates, and has applied those in county and community studies (e.g., San Diego County, CA). In CARS' capacity as prime contractor for the California Prevention Institute (CPI), Mr. Phillips has facilitated and directed staff support of a variety of capacity building interagency task forces and planning efforts. For example, over the past four years he has facilitated the California Governor's Prevention Advisory Council (GPAC) Committee in a systematic planning effort under California's SIG to reduce binge drinking in the state. This planning effort has involved data analysis to identify those components of the population (e.g., residential college students, high-school binge drinkers) that are most in need of services, and those services that show the greatest evidence for effectively meeting those needs (e.g., high school SAPs). He has directed and facilitated other statewide and community strategic planning efforts, and capacity development efforts including development of various components of California's Prevention Data System. He is currently collaborating to build the capacity of California ADP's data warehousing and analysis capacity. In addition to his work in California, Mr. Phillips has consulted on capacity development projects in other states and on national efforts such as the development of CSAP's MDS. With respect to implementation, Mr. Phillips guided the development of a management-focused evaluation approach that was an early recognition of data-based decision making. Mr. Phillips and CARS recognized that performance monitoring and input to data-based decision making and program improvement were crucial ways in which local evaluation resources could improve prevention practice and outcomes. This perspective has now become a key theme within the SPF. With respect to evaluation, Mr. Phillips and his staff have conducted more than 200 local, state and national evaluation studies. He has directed numerous studies within the PPWI, HRY, Community Partnerships, mentoring CSAP initiatives, as well as numerous studies with funding from other federal agencies (the Department of Education, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, the Department of Labor) and many studies for state and local jurisdictions.

Kerrilyn Scott-Nakai, Project Director

Ms. Scott-Nakai is currently the Project Director for the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities (SDFSC) and Community Prevention Initiative (CPI) Technical Assistance Projects. In this capacity, she oversees the provision of TA, training, product development, and resources dissemination to 18 SDFSC grantees, the 58 County AOD Offices, and prevention providers throughout the state. She is responsible for the delivery of over 2,500 TA days per year, overseeing a pool of expert consultants, and ensuring that services and products are research-based, relevant and culturally appropriate.
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Over the years, she has established a strong track record in managing the delivery of technical assistance to a broad array of prevention staff in the areas of program design, evidence-based practices and evaluation. Over the past 10 years, Ms. Scott-Nakai has had the opportunity to personally visit, work with, and establish professional connections with the majority of County AOD Offices throughout California. She has over 15 years of assisting federal, state, county, and school and community-based organizations with their prevention efforts.

Joanne Oshel, Technical Assistance and Data Coordinator

Joanne Oshel currently manages all technology, training, and data from all TA and incoming evaluation datasets. She oversees all contracting and invoicing for over 1500 TA days per year for the SDFSC, CPI, and CA-CLAS grants. As part of her technology management, she uses technology to improve employee's work efficiency and capacity through the development of new procedures, and the addition of software. She also designs and develops new forms and data tracking tools to improve program management. Ms. Oshel also manages CARS webinar trainings, to include setup, coordination with trainers, attendees, and clients, and reporting. In addition to the management of the webinar trainings, Ms. Oshel also provides trainings on technology and software through the webinar format. Having a strong educational and professional background in graphic design, website development, and management, she coordinates all current project websites and manages the development of new websites, such as the state of California's California Volunteers website and the Governor's Mentoring Partnership websites. While working with various mentoring partnerships, Ms. Oshel designed and developed a mentoring database to assist programs in their collection, tracking, and reporting of mentor and mentee data. In addition, she also manages the CARS projects database and all data, changes, improvements, and reporting features.

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Before joining CARS, Ms. Oshel has worked for various government programs and non-profits as an Operations and Program Assistant. She has developed program curriculum and procedures, data collection and client tracking, budget management, reporting, and accounting, and facilitated trainings in the areas of career development.

In addition, she has worked in the field of education for eight years as a Program Manager, Teacher, and System Technology Coordinator. While working for a regional office of education in Illinois, she worked with at-risk high school students providing computer training to students in the Gear Up program, and assisted in the guidance of students in the WIA program. Joanne also worked in the areas of technology and teacher recertification where she provided technical assistance to teachers and administrators in seventeen school districts providing: guidance on incorporating technology into their classrooms, trained teachers in the use of technology and software, worked with data collection and analysis of school district statistics, and provided general technical assistance on various software and web based programs. She also designed and managed websites, computer labs and grant data collection and reporting through the 21st Century Learning Community grant, teacher recertification programs and training, and assisted in the management of all technology. While working for a private school system in Kentucky, Joanne worked as a technology teacher and System Technology Coordinator. She managed all technology for the school district, to include: website design and management, strategic planning and research for future technology, teacher training and alignment of technology standards in the classroom, federal technology grant management, writing technology plans, and teaching technology to students and teachers.

Ms. Oshel has also worked for private companies where she has provided assistance in the areas of marketing, technology, and general administrative assistance. She has worked in marketing for medical facilities and product distributors and sellers, to include: strategic planning, design of materials, writing and distribution of press releases, coordination of focus groups, e-commerce marketing, and coordination of various marketing programs. In addition, Joanne has worked with various companies in redesigning processes, forms, and reports to better enable businesses to run more efficiently.

Maria Traylor, Training Coordinator

Maria Traylor has 15 years of experience in business development in which she has served as owner for an exclusive Sonoma County Wedding and Planning Event Business. This experience translates to her expertise in using coordination, production and management skills for organizing trainings and workshops for Center for Applied Research Solutions. Ms Traylor oversees the logistics for training events for local, regional and statewide substance abuse prevention training events. Maria is responsible for building and maintaining cooperative working relationships with grantees and consultants to impact the appropriate response service that CARS provides. Additionally, Ms. Traylor assists in maintaining and managing administrative records and databases for the TA and Training Projects.
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Ms. Traylor brings the hands-on approach to the social service field. Her strong capacity to express and implement basic problem-solving techniques and interact productively with persons of all economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds is key to working with the prevention field. Maria has the experience of working with professionals from a variety of culturally diverse disciplines including, educational, community-based, and business representatives.

Kari DeCelle, Graphic Designer

Kari DeCelle currently serves, among other roles, as the in-house graphic designer for the Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS). In this capacity, she is responsible for designing all print materials and online graphic media including marketing materials, training curricula, logos, binder covers, flyers, and brochures. Ms. DeCelle formats publications including manuals, catalogs, curricula, and newsletters and designs large exhibit display boards, banners, signs, and other promotional materials for CARS, its projects and clients.

Miranda March, Research Associate, CLAS Project Manager

Miranda March is a Research Associate at the Center for Applied Research Solutions. She is also the Project Manager for the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) contract. Dr. March contributes to the research and project design functions of several contracts at CARS, as well as providing editing and content support for the publication staff. She maintains the Research Clearinghouse section of the CLAS website, manages the evaluation analysis for the CLAS project, and oversees the administration of 400 yearly technical assistance and training days under CLAS.

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Prior to joining the CARS team, Dr. March worked extensively with substance abusers. She was an interviewer and ethnographer on a multicity National Institute of Health project researching the effects of group dynamics on young people's alcohol and drug use in nightclubs. In addition, she provided program evaluation for several New York City facilities, researching the effectiveness of the rehabilitative policies and practices employed by court-mandated drug treatment facilities. Her dissertation explored how rehabilitation strategies differ for male and female substance abusers.

In her capacity as a research analyst for Broad Based Knowledge, Dr. March was in charge of developing assessment tools for grant recipients funded for program development at colleges and universities nationwide. She was further responsible for the analysis of the findings, the creation of executive summaries for the grantees, and the production of final reports for the funders.

In addition to her research experience, Dr. March also has substantial teaching experience, having taught numerous sociology courses at New York University and Napa Valley College. She has also been an active volunteer in the Patten College program which brings college accredited courses to prisoners at San Quentin Prison in California.

The California Governor’s Program Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Technical Assistance (SDFSC TA) project ended on September 30th, 2011. The project was funded by the California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs (ADP) and managed by the Center for Applied Research Solutions (CARS).

Publications and resources are still available to access through this archived website. If you are a California alcohol, drug or violence prevention program, you may be eligible for no-cost training and technical assistance services.

For further questions, please contact us at 1 (877) 568-4227 or

Request Technical Assistance Training
ph (877) 568-4227  fx 707-568-3810
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