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2018 Summer Institute on Implementation Science

June 13, 2018 @ 8:30 am - June 14, 2018 @ 4:45 pm EDT



This inaugural event was co-hosted by the Jordan Institute for Families | UNC School of Social Work, the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, and National Implementation Research Network (NIRN). Generous support for this event was provided by The Annie E. Casey Foundation. Additional support was generously offered by the UNC School of Education, the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy.


Social workers and public health professionals interested in facilitating and understanding change processes note that implementation strategies have unparalleled importance in improving population outcomes, as they constitute the ‘how to’ component (Proctor, Powell, & McMillen, 2013) of changing practices and optimizing the use of evidence to benefit people and communities (Kainz & Metz, 2017). As the field of implementation science has grown significantly over the last decade with the proliferation of frameworks, models, and theories, there is mounting interest in building the capacity of professionals in social services and public health to make use of this emerging science to support sustainable practice and systems improvements.

This interest has led to an intensifying conversation regarding the need to train researchers and practitioners in implementation science (Padek et al., 2015). Specifically, the shortage of individuals trained in the practice of implementation has been cited as a reason for our failure to optimize the use of evidence to improve population outcomes (Straus et al., 2011.) In response to this gap, more is being studied and written about the specific competencies needed to facilitate change in complex systems (Bornbaum, Kornas, Peirson, & Rosella, 2015; Berta, et al., 2015). Moreover, the Grand Challenges Initiative developed by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare (Sherradon et al., 2015) explicates a set of pressing social issues, around which social work researchers and practitioners can unite. The highlighted challenges are complex, and will require the cultivation of implementation competencies among the researchers and practitioners who are positioned to address them.

Purpose & Objectives


This two-day Summer Institute sought to provide foundational knowledge of implementation science and to build professional and graduate students’ knowledge, skills, and strategies for supporting change using implementation best practices. Through interdisciplinary professional development and seminar series, this Summer Institute oriented participants to the skills and competencies of implementation practice and fosters the development of foundational skills needed to support the use of evidence in practice and to promote equity.


The Summer Institute aimed to seed the growth of implementation science practitioners who will be able to:

  • Identify and characterize problems that can be addressed through more effective implementation.
  • Support authentic engagement of communities and stakeholders in all stages of the implementation process resulting in programs and practices that are contextualized, tailored to settings to improve outcomes, and promotive of equity.
  • Integrate use of quantitative and qualitative feedback at each stage of implementation to optimize performance of programs and practices in local contexts and at scale.
  • Support the sustainability of interventions and approaches by developing a shared vision, building capacity, and supporting collaboration.

A unifying element of the institute was the promotion and cultivation of Skills and Competencies for Implementation Practitioners, namely: Co-Creation, in the form of co-learning, brokering, addressing power differentials, co-design, and tailored support; Continuous Improvement, in the form of assessing need and context, applying and integrating implementation science approaches, and conducting improvement cycles; and Sustaining Change, in the form of growing and sustaining relationships, building capacity, cultivating leadership, and facilitation.

*For additional media related to implementation, tune in to the National Implementation Research Network podcast!

Agenda & Materials

Below is the 2018 Summer Institute agenda, with related materials available for download or viewing. View the full program.

2018 Summer Institute Agenda

  • Day 1: Foundational Knowledge (June, 13, 2018)
    • Welcome & Opening Remarks – Why Implementation is Important (Sarah Verbiest, Allison Metz, Bob Blouin, Gary Bowen, & Aysenil Belger)

    • Afternoon Plenary: Assessing Need and Context (Laura Louison, Oscar Fleming, & Paul Lanier)

    • Afternoon Breakouts:
      • A Deeper Dive on Assessing Contextual Fit (Laura Louison, Allison Metz, Paul Lanier, & Audrey Loper)
    • Closing Plenary – Implementation Science: Opportunities for Bridging Practice and Research to Improve Outcomes (Allison Metz)

  • Day 2: Practice Skills (June 14, 2018)
    • Reflections (Sarah Verbeist)
    • Opening Plenary
      • Case Example: Implementation Opportunities in Public System (Allison Blake)

      • Engaging Stakeholders in Framing and Solving Problems (Gina Chowa & Rain Masa)

    • Morning Breakouts:
      • Brokering Relationships (Brandy Bynum Dawson & Dorothy Cilenti)
      • Group Process and Team Development (Marilyn Ghezzi & Laura Louison)
    • Afternoon Plenary: Using Data for Continuous Improvement and Evaluation (Kirsten Kainz)

    • Closing Plenary – How Can Implementation Science Be Used to Promote Equity and Social Justice (Paul Elam); Closing Remarks (Sarah Verbiest & Allison Metz)


June 13, 2018 @ 8:30 am EDT
June 14, 2018 @ 4:45 pm EDT

Past Events


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Marita Brack is the Associate Director for Psychology within NHS Education for Scotland, and has worked as a Clinical Psychologist for 25 years. Her clinical work has principally been within specialist mental health services for children, young people and their families, both in Scotland and Australia. Marita has also worked within university settings in relation to the training of Applied Psychologists, and was the Clinical Practice Director on the MSc in Applied Psychology for Children and Young People, delivered in partnership between the NHS and the University of Edinburgh. Marita joined NES in 2010 as the Head of Programme for the Parenting and Infant Mental Health workstream, within the Psychology Directorate, and through this role has led on the development and implementation of several strands of work, including the Psychology of Parenting Project (PoPP), the NES Infant Mental Health training plan, the Early Intervention Framework, and most recently Marita has been co-leading on the implementation of the Enhanced Psychological Practice-Children and Young People certificate level course that has been created within NES. Marita has a long-standing interest in early intervention and prevention approaches to strengthening mental health and wellbeing, evidence-based parent-child relationship interventions and public health. 

Category A – The UNC School of Social Work is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. The UNC School of Social Work maintains responsibility for this program and its content.

NBCC ACEP #6642: UNC School of Social Work (SSW) has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP #6642.  Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified.  UNC SSW is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs. Continuing education activities vary in the number of NBCC hours awarded based on the length of the program. See individual programs for specific CE credit information.

UNC SSW, #1406, is approved by the Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) Approved Continuing Education (ACE) program. Organizations, not individual courses, are approved as ACE providers. State and provincial regulatory boards have the final authority to determine whether an individual course may be accepted for continuing education credit. UNC-SSW maintains responsibility for this course. ACE provider approval period: 8/10/2022 to 8/10/2025. Continuing education activities vary in the number of social work hours awarded based on the length of the program. See individual programs for specific CE credit information.