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NCHAV - Biographies of Key Personnel


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Biographies of Key Personnel

Thomas O'Toole, MD
Director, VA's National Center on Homelessness among Veterans

Tom O’Toole, MD is the Director of the VA’s National Center on Homelessness among Veterans (the Center).  In this role he supports a comprehensive set of initiatives designed to prevent and end homelessness among Veterans. These activities include collaborating on a research agenda that assesses the current continuum of services offered to Veterans experiencing homelessness; developing and validating various practice models and program implementation strategies; and introducing evidence-based practices to VA. Dr. O'Toole has also served as Director of the Homeless Veterans Patient Aligned Care Team (H-PACT) Program, a 32-site pilot program that provides integrated primary care to homeless Veterans. He is a VA health services researcher who studies homelessness, access to care, behavioral change, and health systems delivery modeling. Publications to date have focused on homeless health services use, disparities in care and utilization, health seeking preferences among homeless adults and behavioral modification and treatment engagement interventions for substance abusing homeless persons.

Dr. O’Toole is also Associate Professor of Medicine at the Alpert Medical School, Brown University. Previously he served as Chief of Primary Care for the Providence VA Medical Center.

Dr. O’Toole holds a BA in Economics from the University of California at Berkley and received his MD from the University of California, Davis.

Susan Vieira
Director of Operations

Susan Vieira joined the Center in August 2012.  As Director of Operations she works on various projects across the Center including deployment of the new national Homeless Screener, Homeless Registry, and Homeless Decision Support Tool, as well as communications and coordination of projects across the various Center core areas.

Ms. Vieira was previously the national lead for the VHA Health Care Efficiency transformation initiative. She holds a Master of Science in HealthCare Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Medical Technology. She is board certified in Health Care Management and is a Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. With over 35 years of health care experience, including over 32 years with VHA, she has held positions in the areas of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Rehabilitation Medicine, Contracting, Quality Management, Workforce Development and Strategic Planning. Ms. Vieira has also been involved in research and is published in the area of pharmacokinetics.

Roger Casey, PhD, LCSW
Director of Education & Dissemination

Roger Casey, PhD, LCSW is the Director of Education and Dissemination for the Center. Dr. Casey holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work, a Graduate Certificate in Public Administration, and a doctorate in Public Health.  Prior to helping establish the Center, he was the Director, VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem Program.  Dr. Casey has worked with the U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop and provide guidance and administrative oversight for the VA component of the Collaborative Initiative to end Chronic Homelessness (CICH), served as Principal Investigator for the VA Homeless After-Care Study, initiated actions to create the Council of Network Homeless Coordinators, and developed administrative procedures to enhance contract residential treatment under the Health Care for Homeless Veterans (HCHV) Program. Dr. Casey’s research interests include homelessness, residential treatment models, and development and implementation of community-based practices that address the needs of individuals diagnosed with mental illness.

David Smelson, PsyD
Site Director - Bedford

David Smelson is Director of the Bedford satellite of the Center.  In addition, he is Director of Translational Mental Health Research at the Bedford VA Medical Center and also serves on the Recovery Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder QUERI programs. He is also Professor and Vice Chair for Clinical Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.  Dr. Smelson has extensive clinical and research experience working with homeless Veterans suffering from co-occurring mental health and substance use problems.  In early 2011, he published a co-occurring disorders treatment approach designed for Veterans who are homeless, or at-risk for homelessness, which is currently being implemented more broadly throughout the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  Dr. Smelson’ s research has received funding from VA Health Services Research & Development (HSR&D), the National Institutes of Health, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  He received his doctorate from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology.

Kandace Smith
Administrative Officer

Kandace Smith is the Administrative Officer for the Center.  In this capacity she provides direct support to the Center Director in managing all administrative, fiscal operations and educational components of the Center. Following three years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence Corps, Ms. Smith began her VA career in 1991 in the Fiscal Service Department.  She served as Voucher Examiner, Accounting Technician, Budget Assistant and Program Analyst in Decision Support Services.  She is a graduate of Drexel University with a Bachelor of Science Degree.


Mitra Eframian, MHA, VHA-CM
Program Specialist

Mitra Eframian works with leadership to manage all aspects of the Tampa site of the Center, including coordinating contracts and research activities with the University of South Florida, Tampa’s university affiliate, and the implementation of national training activities. She came to the Center in October, 2010, from the VISN 8 office, where she served as the Health Science Specialist for the Mental Health Product Line and helped coordinate the delivery of mental health programs across the largest network of VA healthcare facilities.  Ms. Eframian has worked for the Department of Veterans Affairs for over 11 years now, holding a number of positions in multiple locations at the medical center-, VISN-, and now VACO-level.  She has experience working in various settings in VHA, including as the Administrative Officer of Mental Health & Behavioral Sciences Service at the Carl T. Hayden VAMC in Phoenix, the Program Analyst to the Chief of Medicine, Administrative Officer for Medicine Service, and the Inpatient Flow Coordinator for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, and as an Administrative Fellow and Health System Management (HSM) Trainee, through the Graduate Health Administration Training Program (GHATP), for the Directors of the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System and Bay Pines VAHCS respectively.  Ms. Eframian holds a BA in Psychology from Indiana University and a Master of Health Administration from the University of Florida. 


Brenda Webb Johnson, LCSW, CCM, VHA-CM
Management and Program Analyts

Mrs. Brenda Johnson joined our program office on October 5, 2015, as a Management and Program Analyst in our National Center on Homelessness among Veterans with the Education and Dissemination Section located in Tampa, Florida.  Mrs. Johnson comes to us from the James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital where she served as a Training Specialist for the Education Office, primarily managing leadership and employee development programs.  Prior to this position, Mrs. Johnson served as a Social Work Section Chief, where she led a talented team of case managers working with spinal cord and traumatic brain-injured Veterans and service members. She also spent a large number of her 22 years in VHA as a clinical social worker at the Tampa and Atlanta VA medical centers and clinics.  Mrs. Johnson is completing her Ph.D. in Adult Education at the University of South Florida and holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Georgia, a Master of Science from Georgia State University, and her Bachelors of Social Work from Eastern Michigan University.

Vinh Tran
Financial Manager

Coming Soon

Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, PhD, MPA, MSW

Ann Elizabeth Montgomery, PhD has been conducting research with the Center and the University of Pennsylvania since 2009.  In her role with the Center, Dr. Montgomery collaborates with researchers to develop and implement a diverse research agenda, emphasizing homelessness prevention, interventions to end homelessness among high-need populations, and the demography and epidemiology of homelessness among Veterans. Dr. Montgomery has been particularly involved in developing and piloting a system-wide Homelessness Screening Clinical Reminder and evaluating several model development projects including the Housing First pilot and Safe Haven demonstration.  Dr. Montgomery holds Master’s Degrees in Social Work and Public Administration from Columbia University and a doctorate from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health.

Stephen Metraux, PhD

Stephen Metraux, PhD is an Investigator at the Center.  His research involves projects that assess the risk factors for homelessness among Veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, looking at the correlates of homelessness and other outcomes among Veterans after release from jail, and how aging and mortality-related issues impact homeless Veterans. Along with his work at the VA, Dr. Metraux is an Associate Professor of Health Policy and Public Health at University of the Sciences and has done extensive research on homelessness and housing, mental illness and community integration, prison reentry, and other aspects of urban health.   Dr. Metraux has a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Pennsylvania.


John Schinka, PhD
Investigator - Tampa

John Schinka is an Investigator for the Center’s Tampa site, where he conducts research the measurement of homeless risk and aging among homeless Veterans.  Prior to joining the Center, Dr. Schinka served as the Director of the VA Neuropsychology and Memory Disorder Clinics at the VAMC in Tampa.  He is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of South Florida and provides consulting services in research methodology and data analysis to federal and state research programs, as well as healthcare and non-profit organizations across the country.  A Fellow of the American Psychological Association and a Diplomat of the American Board of Assessment Psychology, he is a five-time recipient of Research Excellence Awards from the American Psychological Association.  He has also received the national VA Outstanding Professional Services Award.  Dr. Schinka has over 100 publications and his most recent research support has been from NIH-National Institute on Aging.  His research has focused primarily in the areas of cognition, aging, and scale.




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