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About Project ICI

Project ICI is a longitudinal study examining changes in collaboration among New York City health and social service agencies. Research suggests that collaboration across service agencies can help improve services and health outcomes for our clients. Therefore, the purpose of Project ICI is to study practitioner’s implementation/ delivery of Evidence-Based HIV Prevention Practices (EBPs) in order to identify how collaboration can help overcome barriers to service implementation and delivery.

As one of hundreds practitioners from more than 30 New York City agencies participating in Project ICI, you have an exciting opportunity to network and collaborate with colleagues, receive free training on best practices for collaboration, and have your agency featured on our website.

The Project ICI Team:

Project ICI was developed by Dr. Rogério Meireles Pinto in collaboration with the Implementation Community Collaborative Board (I-CCB). Dr. Pinto is Project ICI’s Principal Investigator, and he is an Associate Professor at the University of Michigan School of Social Work. The I-CCB has  a diverse membership of community and acadamic representatives, comprising many different skills and demographics (Pinto, Spector, Rahman & Gastolomendo, 2013).  As I-CCB leader, Dr. Pinto facilitated the development of the grant proposal that funded Project ICI. The I-CCB provided input in all aspects of the project, including proposal writing, design and pilot testing the training. Service providers, managers and consumers have been involved in all aspects of the Project ICI design and implementation, to help ensure that it is useful and relevant to you and the work that you do.

Please see below for more information on Dr. Pinto and the key members of his team:


Dr. Pinto is a Brazilian-born psychiatric social work researcher with more than a decade of clinical and community practice. He is an expert in Community Based Participatory Research and mixed-method research. He is the Principal Investigator on a NIMH K01 Career Development Award (2007-12) and NIMH R01 (2012-17). In the United States, Brazil and Spain, Dr. Pinto examines how transdisciplinary collaboration and practitioners’ involvement in research improves delivery of evidence-based services. He also studies factors that influence ethnic and sexual minority women’s involvement in research and health care. His current R01 studies interagency collaboration among some 300 providers from 30 service agencies in New York City. Dr. Pinto is a scientific reviewer for NIH and Brazil’s Ministry of Health and Associate Editor for the Journal of Mixed Method Research. He received the Society for Social Work and Research 2004 Outstanding Dissertation Award and the 2010 Deborah Padgett Early Career Achievement Award. In 2013, he received the Graduate Student Faculty Mentoring Award from Columbia University.
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Dr. Susan Witte is the Associate Director of the Columbia University School of Social Work Social Intervention Group (SIG). Dr. Witte’s research interests include: the design, testing and dissemination of HIV/STI prevention interventions for women and their male partners; infusion of multimedia technologies in research, teaching and practice; design, testing and dissemination of services targeting needs of sex workers and drug- dependent fathers; female-initiated STD/HIV barrier methods; and intervention research. Dr. Witte’s current grants and projects include: Using Multimedia Technologies to Disseminate HIV/STI Prevention for Heterosexual Couples; evaluating a microfinance program for high risk women in Mongolia; HIV prevention with drug-involved couples; and female condom use among urban populations. Dr. Pinto’s commitment to service provider collaboration ties in with Dr. Witte’s approach to participatory research – a paradigm that emphasizes collaboration throughout the research process with one’s constituents – as it will illustrate how such processes create opportunities for dissemination of scientific knowledge to local agencies.


Dr. Melanie Wall is a biostatistician with a record of innovative data analysis methods research in latent variable modeling and spatial and longitudinal data analysis. She has made contributions in latent variable modeling, including methods allowing for nonlinear relationships to be examined among latent variables, and an innovative line of research incorporating latent variables into spatial data analyses. Dr. Wall developed a methodology for examining associations between continuous and categorical latent variables, used for linking body image with eating disorder risk, and proposed a solution to a problem of testing the efficacy of alcohol treatment programs, using hidden Markov models. She developed new ways of clustering parenting behaviors around child obesity, describing obstacles to good care among nurses, and measuring pain in the context of TMJ and back problems. She has developed many collaborative relationships with health research teams such as Dr. Pinto’s, and has developed a particular interest in interagency collaboration and implementation of evidence-based HIV-prevention practices.


Prema Filippone, LMSW is Project Director of Project ICI. Ms. Filippone has over 10 years of training and experience in quantitative and qualitative research management. She has supervised several federal National Institutes of Mental Health grants including “Promoting Community Collaboration in Research (PCCR) “a community-based participatory research study examining collaborative research in HIV prevention using evidence-based CDC interventions. As a Licensed Master Social Worker, Prema served as Program Director for Girls Educational and Mentoring Services (GEMS), a leading service provider for victims of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and domestic sex trafficking. These experiences have afforded her opportunities in global policy analysis including HIV prevention, anti-torture legislation, and criminal justice. Prema holds Dual Degree Bachelor of Arts degrees in Psychology and Sociology from Rutgers University and a Master of Science in Social Work from Columbia University.
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Dr. Baird is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Purchase College, SUNY where she also teaches in the Gender Studies program. At Purchase College, she was awarded the Doris and Carl Kempner Distinguished Professorship, 2012-14. Her main area of research is the politics of women’s health, and over the last decade she has focused specifically on women and HIV/AIDS. Prof. Baird has served on the ICCB and as a consultant to Project ICI for approximately 2 ½ years. Karen L. Baird also co-chairs the Women and Society University Seminar at Columbia University. From 2007 to 2014, she served on the Executive Council of the New York City HIV Prevention Planning Group (HPG) and chaired the “Prevention with High-Risk Negatives” HPG workgroup. She previously served as a Behavioral Social Science Volunteer (BSSV), a program of the American Psychological Association, Office of AIDS; served on the New York City PrEP for NYC Task Force; and participated in the national U.S. Women & PrEP Working Group. She has published works on women and HIV prevention programs; women and health activism; the Global Gag Rule; international women’s health issues; and issues of gender, justice, and health.

Dr. Ghesquiere is a Program Manager at the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging of Hunter College, the City University of New York. Dr. Ghesquiere’s areas of scholarship are services and implementation science, hospice and palliative care, trauma, bereavement, and mental health practice. Her current research focuses on:  1) service use disparities in older adults with bereavement-related mental health disorders and 2) increasing access to and quality of mental health care in hospice and palliative care settings. Dr. Ghesquiere received her PhD in Social Work from Columbia University, her Master’s in Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis, and her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Smith College. She also completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in geriatric mental health services research at Weill Cornell Medical College.

Jeannette Ruffins is Vice President of Housing Resources and Development at Bailey House, one of the oldest AIDS housing organizations in the country.  Ms. Ruffins oversees direct services to clients, building operations and client advocacy. Ms. Ruffins has over 25 years of administrative, clinical and supervisory experience providing services and designing interventions for a variety of vulnerable and at risk populations.  She is passionate about social justice and ensuring that consumer voices are heard and integrated into program design. In addition, Ms. Ruffins has 15 years of experience in staff training and development. She has supervised Master’s level students in variety of disciplines including clinical and direct practice, administration and community organizing.  Prior to joining Bailey House, Ms. Ruffins worked for HELP USA as Executive Director  overseeing both permanent and transitional housing with support services for homeless families.

Charles Sanky joined the Project ICI team in 2015. He graduated in 2016 from Columbia University with degrees in psychology and business management. At Columbia, Charles led many student organizations and initiatives, notably tackling mental health policy, curricular reform, and sexual violence prevention and response. He worked as an emergency medical technician (EMT) for the past few years, providing medical care to patients across New York. Charles also has a variety of health policy experiences spanning the local, state, and federal levels, including the NYC Department of Health and the Office of Senator Charles Schumer. Charles is an award-winning researcher who has been investigating perceptions of expertise among medical specialties, vein stenting as a treatment for venous obstruction, public health interventions for building social support, and simulation models and team dynamics training in medical education.

In addition to helping oversee a nonprofit organization that provides music education to local elementary school students, Charles can sometimes be found creating music parodies (Youtube: Icahn School of Medicine – A Hamilton Parody). He enjoys running, swimming, and weight lifting almost as much as he enjoys eating pizza. Charles attends the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, where he is training to become a physician. Charles hopes to continue advocating for those in greatest need, and he is grateful for his family and mentors.

Wendy Whitman is a licensed acupuncturist and anthropologist. In her 27 years of experience, she has maintained a private practice focused on holistic care.  She has provided therapeutic services within numerous community-based organizations three of which are participating agencies in Project ICI. Having a longstanding commitment to public health, Ms. Whitman continues to focus her practice on underserved populations including refugees, immigrants, the formerly incarcerated and individuals living with HIV/AIDS. As an anthropologist, she specializes in the collection and analyses of ethnographic data. Ms. Whitman received a MA in cultural anthropology from Hunter College and studied acupuncture at Florida Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Rosa Bramble Weed is a bilingual (Spanish and English) mental health practitioner, maintains a private practice in clinical and forensic psychosocial services in New York City. In her private practice, Ms. Bramble Weed treats individuals, families and couples, specializing in the psychosocial impact of traumatic events in their lives. With over 20 years’ experience, she has successfully helped clients cope and heal from traumatic stress disorders, depression, anxiety and psychological effects of interpersonal violence.  Among her areas of expertise are trauma informed treatment utilizing EMDR, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Breathing Work, Stress Management and Relaxation Visualization. Rosa Bramble Weed has presented at numerous national and international conferences including  the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Spain and Austria. She has spoken on topics of trauma, WTC Ground Zero Latino clean-up workers, asylum and Latino LGBT community, impact of trauma on children and families, and the interrelatedness of quality of life and marginalized women living with HIV/AIDS.

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