Our Former Students


Samantha Bates

(B.S. Louisiana State University; MSW, Louisiana State University; PhD, The Ohio State University) is an assistant professor at Texas Christian University. During her doctoral studies in the College of Social Work she was a Graduate Research Assistant under LiFEsports. Her primary research interests include: prevention, emerging adult mental health, and student support programming in higher education. Prior to joining OSU, Samantha worked closely with college students as both an academic counselor and mental health clinician. Notably, Samantha was awarded the Phyllis Lefeaux and Drayton Vincent Fellowship in Mental Health in 2013 for her work as a psychotherapist with young adults. Her published work includes research studies examining the experiences of low-income and first-generation students in higher education, and studies of resilience among disadvantaged youth.

Annahita Ball

(BA, MSW, PhD, The Ohio State University) is an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at University at Buffalo. Her primary areas of research are family engagement in schools, school mental health, and educational policy. Dr. Ball has published research in journals such as Research in Social Work Practice, Journal of Interprofessional Care, and Children & Schools. She teaches courses on human behavior theory, diversity and oppression, and social work services in the public schools. Dr. Ball also is a member of the Mental Health Education Integration Consortium (MHEDIC), a national consortium of interdisciplinary leaders in the field of school mental health.

Lauren Paluta

(B.S. Michigan State University; MSW, Ohio State University) was a doctoral student in the College of Social Work and also worked towards a Master’s in Public Health.  Lauren was part of CAYCI/LiFEsports for three years, during which time she has lead several projects including work with After-School All-Stars, Healthy Weight 0-5, and Canyons School District.  Within LiFEsports, Lauren plays a key role in data management and analysis, and in the past, she has led projects advancing the health-related goals of the Initiative.  Her primary research interests include youth development, program evaluation, and access to health-related services among marginalized populations.  Prior to coming to OSU, Lauren served as an AmeriCorps VISTA member at a county Youth Bureau in Western NY, where she helped build capacity for volunteer management, program evaluation, and grant writing/management.

Allison Gibson

(BSW, MSW, PhD, The Ohio State University) is currently an Assistant Professor at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  While earning her PhD, she worked with CAYCI as a research assistant for LiFE Sports from 2011 to 2014.  As an Assistant Professor at Winthrop University, she teaches in both the BSW and MSW programs.  She is also the membership coordinator for the Gerontological Society of America’s Special Interest Groups for Disasters and Older Adults and serves with the American Red Cross, Upper Palmetto Chapter.


Jill Hoffman

(B.S. Penn State University; MSW, Temple University; PhD, The Ohio State University) is a an Assistant Professor in the School of Social Work at Portland State University. Jill served as the graduate student chair for the Mental Health Education Integration Consortium. In this role she assisted with the planning and implementation of bi-annual MHEDIC meetings. Through MHEDIC Jill also is involved with a project related to state standards for teachers’ mental health competencies. In the past, Jill was involved in a community project with the Center for Systems Change that examined autism related funding and the autism service delivery system. Jill’s research interests include the promotion of social-emotional development in early childhood by child care professionals, particularly those serving low-income children. Prior to joining OSU, Jill worked with child care and early intervention professionals in Philadelphia, PA.


Aidyn Iachini

(MA, MSW, PhD, The Ohio State University) is now an Associate Professor in the College of Social Work at the University of South Carolina and collaborates with both South Carolina state agencies and several local schools to help improve behavioral health science delivery. Prior to beginning her time at USC, which began in the Fall of 2011, she worked with CACYI from 2004 to 2008 and 2009 to 2011.  In addition to being an Associate Professor and working to receive grants for various projects and programs, she also has worked with Girls on the Run of Columbia in an effort to support their evaluation efforts.


Hilary Joyhdj0002ce

(BA, Miami University, MSW, University of Kentucky, PhD, The Ohio State University) is currently an Assistant Professor of Social Work in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work at Auburn University.  Joyce earned the Merriss Cornell Distinguished Researcher Award from OSU for her dissertation titled, A Multilevel Analysis of the Association between School Climate Dimensions and Adolescent Depressive Symptoms. During her time at The Ohio State University, Joyce worked with CACYI from 2008 to 2012 as a Graduate Research Assistant.  She assisted with several CACYI projects including the Ohio Department of Mental Health Training Grant, as well as performed fiscal mapping analyses on after school programs, P-16 support services, and autism.


Leeann Lower

(BA, Anderson University, MS, Baylor University, PhD, The Ohio State University) is currently an Assistant Professor in Sport Administration at Ball State University.  Before her time at Ball State, Lower was a graduate research assistant for LiFEsports from 2013 until the summer of 2015.  She helped coordinate and implement research and evaluation efforts surrounding summer camp, sport clinics, and the Youth Leadership Academy.  She was involved in the planning, preparation, training, collection, analysis, and dissemination of research.  In addition to assisting LiFEsports, she worked with CAYCI to evaluate the Cardinal Health Generation Rx program.


Amy Mendenhall

(BA, University of Virginia; MSW, PhD, The Ohio State University) is  currently an Assistant Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Social Welfare at the University of Kansas. She worked with CAYCI from 2004 to 2006 as a graduate research assistant. Her research focus on child adolescent well-being and mental health, specifically service utilization, mental health literacy, and the impact of trauma and mental illness on families.


John Provenzano

(BSW, MSW, The Ohio State University) is currently a community lecturer for the College of Social Work at the Ohio State University. John worked with Baltimore County Child Protective Services Alternative Response Unit using creative and evidence based practices to assist families in the child welfare system in Baltimore, MD.  He also worked with CAYCI as a student intern from 2014-2015.  He assisted with several CAYCI projects such as the Youth Leadership Academy and After School All Stars, as well as the LiFEsports summer camp and clinics.



(PhD, MSW, The Ohio State University, MS, Purdue University, BA, University of Virginia) is the Vice President of Quality and Evaluation at Girls on the Run International.  Prior to joining Girls on the Run Internation, she was a project coordinator for the LiFE Sports Initiative.  In that role she helped to develop, implement, and evaluate the LiFE Sports summer camp.  As the Vice President of Programming and Evaluation at GOTR, she has primary responsibility for leading program quality and evaluation initiatives that strengthen the position of Girls on the Run.


Casey Teeters

(MPH, MSW, The Ohio State University) is currently a school social worker and guidance counselor at Bishop Watterson High School within the Diocese of Columbus.  There Casey also coaches the boys basketball and track & field teams.  He was an assistant coach in 2013 when the school’s basketball team won the Division II State Championship.



Luke O’Quinn

(B.S.W. The Ohio State University) was formerly the Program Coordinator for LiFEsports in the College of Social Work. He provided oversight of daily operations of the LiFEsports service and outreach program components. He was also responsible for program implementation of the Youth Leadership Academy and served as the Counselor and Youth Leader Coordinator at the LiFEsports camp.



Michelle Burns

(B.S., B.A., The Ohio State University) was a member of the Women’s Gymnastics team. She spent the summer of 2015 as the Bucks Go Pro LiFEsports intern, and soon after, shifted her role to the LiFEsports communications intern—managing social media, designing flyers, and writing the newsletter—for two years.  Currently she is an MSW student at the University of Missouri, Columbia (Mizzou) and is a graduate research assistant for Missouri Partners in Prevention (PIP), a state-wide coalition that is dedicated to creating  healthy and safe college campuses.


Laura Sullivan  

(BSW, Northern Kentucky University; MSW, The Ohio State University) She was a student in the Advanced Standing Alternative Plan (ASAP) earning her MSW with a focus in Community and Social Justice here at The Ohio State University. With CACYI, she worked in program development and program implementation and outreach.  She is a licensed social worker, and her interests include physical activity and nutritional benefits specifically for at risk youth.