Eckerd Connects Community Alternatives, Hillsborough

Genet Stewart
Executive Director

Tewabech Genet Stewart, an Ethiopian-American born and raised in Liberia West Africa, has dedicated the past twenty years to serving Florida’s most vulnerable. She is the Associate Executive Director for Eckerd Connects, the lead community based care agency in Hillsborough County, Florida. Genet is leading efforts to address racial disparity in the local child welfare system and partnered with Casey Family Programs to create a Racial Equity in Child Welfare workgroup.

Genet’s cultural background and childhood experiences laid the foundation for her child welfare career. Her parents served thirty-eight years as missionaries and taught her that helping one person can change the trajectory of an entire generation. Genet’s upbringing motivates her to challenge the foster care system in acknowledging the system-induced trauma that occurs when children are forcibly separated from their families. Being raised in West Africa by an Ethiopian mother and African-American father exposed Genet to different cultures and parenting styles. In her child welfare work, she draws on her personal experiences to advocate for an antiracist, culturally-competent approach to assessing child safety.

Genet graduated from West Africa Christian High School in 1990 and attended Gulf Coast Community College. In 1996, she graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. She subsequently attended Troy State University where she graduated with a Masters of Science in Counseling Psychology.

Genet began her child welfare career in 1999 with the Florida Department of Children and Families as a Child Protective Investigator and was promoted to supervisor in 2001. Genet transitioned to community based care when the State of Florida moved to this model of child welfare service delivery in 2004. Genet’s community based care lead agency experience includes Out of Home Care Director, Permanency Director and Chief of Operations with Kids Central, Inc. Genet also served as Client Services Director with Big Bend Community Based Care.

Prior to joining the Eckerd Connects team, Genet was Chief Operating Officer at Heartland for Children, the lead community based care agency for Polk, Highlands and Hardee Counties. She served on the Board of Directors for the Lakeland Area Chamber of Commerce, Homeless Coalition of Polk County and Polk Vision Operating Board. Genet joined the Junior League of Lakeland and graduated from the Leadership Lakeland program.

Genet moved to Hillsborough County in 2017 to join Eckerd Connects as Associate Executive Director. In the three years that she has been in the Tampa Bay area, Genet has been actively forming relationships and community collaborations.

College of Public Health, University of South Florida

University of South Florida Team of Researchers:

Public Health

Abraham Salinas, MD, PhD
Is an Assistant Professor at the College of Public Health, University of South Florida. He is the Director of the Harrell Center for the Study of Family Violence at USF. He is an MD (UNAN, Nicaragua) with Master of Public Health (Maternal and Child Health concentration), Graduate Certificate in Epidemiology, a PhD in Public Health with Community and Family Health specialization (USF). He is a Certified Domestic Violence Specialist, past chair of the Family Violence Prevention Caucus at the American Public Health Association, and a member of the National Partnership to End Interpersonal Violence Across the Lifespan (NPEIV). His research focuses on the effect of adverse childhood experiences on maternal and child health.

Karen Liller, PhD, CPH, FAAAS
Is a professor at the University of South Florida College of Public Health (COPH) and Director of the Activist Lab. Her research for the last nearly 30 years has focused on the prevention of injuries in children and adolescents.  Liller is presently strategic lead for policy, practice, and leadership in the COPH and previously held several administrative positions within the College and University system, including Dean and Associate Dean positions.  Her expertise for this project lies in her research experience and background related to children’s injuries (and violence), development, implementation, and evaluation of prevention programs for children, families, and the community, development and passage of injury prevention laws and policies, and advocacy that leads to policy change. Dr. Liller will work directly with Dr. Salinas on the development and implementation of the evaluation plan for the study.  Dr. Liller directs the Activist Lab at the College which has recently won awards and funding to educate students and the community on how to be exemplary leaders and advocates in public health.

Social Work:

Guitele Rahill, PhD, LCSW
Is an Associate Professor at the USF College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. Her research focuses on the intersection of racial, ethnic and socioeconomic minority status with gender-based violence against women and children in underserved communities. She is an expert in qualitative data analysis whose experience as a co-ethnic researcher in Black communities will contribute to the analysis and interpretation of data from the proposed study.

Manisha Joshi, PhD, MPH, MSW
Is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work. She has a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from the University of Pennsylvania, School of Social Policy & Practice and also holds a Masters degree in Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health and an MSW from the University of Delhi, India. She holds a joint appointment in the College of Public Health at the University of South Florida (USF), and she is the coordinator/faculty advisor for the MSW/MPH concurrent degree program at USF.

Women and Gender Studies:

Michelle Hughes Miller, PhD
Is a Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of South Florida. Her expertise is in motherhood studies, gender-based violence, and diversity and inclusion in academic disciplines. For this project, Dr. Hughes Miller will contribute her expertise on how motherhood, kinship and carework is racialized, gendered, and classed, leading to systemic surveillance, stigmatization and even criminalization for parents, particularly mothers, of Color, by well-intentioned workers within healthcare, child welfare, and the criminal legal system. She will contribute to the project’s Commission on Racial Equity’s policy analysis and review by analyzing any race-neutral policies for evidence of racialization of study participants. Her familiarity with ideological processes of community and group-level surveillance and shaming of parents will enhance the trainings of Parent Advocates and parent coaches so as to avoid the replication of racialized parenting stereotypes. Finally, her research studying both system participants and system personnel using mixed methodologies (including surveys, interviews, and focus groups) will directly support the project’s multi-dimensional evaluation efforts.

Jill McCracken, PhD
Is a Professor in Women’s and Gender Studies and English at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She is the Founder of the Adolescent Sexual Health Education and Research (ASHER) Project, a sexual health delivery and program evaluation designed for youth in high-risk circumstances and the Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Sex Workers Outreach Program (SWOP) Behind Bars, an organization that provides direct support for incarcerated sex workers and victims of trafficking in US prisons and jails. Her primary areas of research focus on women and incarceration, sex work and trafficking in the sex industry, and the impact of sexuality education on youth in high-risk circumstances. As an ethnographer and qualitative researcher, Dr. McCracken integrates mixed methodologies (including interviews, focus groups, and surveys) to develop and facilitate community-based, participatory research with vulnerable and marginalized communities, train participants to help conduct community-led research, and facilitate peer-led research design, data collection, and project facilitation. For this project, she brings her expertise and extensive experience with marginalized communities and participatory research to help develop a comprehensive participatory community needs assessment, provide qualitative data analysis, and help to interpret and utilize project findings.


Estrellita “Lo” Berry, MA
President and CEO

Lo is an Affiliate Faculty, University of South Florida, College of Public Health, Department of Community and Family Health and the Immediate Past President of the National Healthy Start Association Board of Directors. She is Project Director and Principal Investigator for Central Hillsborough (Federal) Healthy Start and Co-Investigator of the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health grant program, Toward Eliminating Disparities in Maternal and Child Health Population. Lo received her undergraduate degree in Clinical Psychology and Masters in Education and Community Counseling at the University of Evansville, Evansville, Indiana. She is a wife, mother and proud grandmother.

Champions for Children, Inc.

Amy Haile, DrPH,
Executive Director

Tampa Bay region’s leading agency focused exclusively on the prevention of child abuse and neglect, which is accomplish through evidence-based and research-informed family education programs that promote positive parenting and child development.

Children’s Board of Hillsborough County

Kelley Parris
Executive Director

She has been working in the field of prevention for 25 years. Parris served as Director of Safe House of Shelby County, a shelter for abused women and their children; founded Harriet’s House, a domestic violence shelter serving five counties in west Alabama; served as Executive Director of West Alabama Mental Health, a regional mental health center for chronically mentally ill adults and children, substance abuse and intellectual disabilities; Director of Children First Foundation; and Director of the Alabama Department of Child Abuse Prevention. Parris served as Chair of the child welfare Citizens Review Panel and sat on numerous boards dedicated to the well-being of children and families. While serving as Executive Director for West Alabama Mental Health she received the 2008 Community Partners Award from the University of Alabama for her role in the development of the Coalition for a Healthier Black Belt and is a past recipient of the Sister Thea Bowman Award for African American outreach, a member of the Leadership Alabama Class XXI and most recently received recognition from the Auburn University’s Center for Government for Innovative Programs in Government.