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OPM Research Summit

Connecting Research and Policy March 8–9, 2016

Focus Areas


Work/Life is the practice of creating a flexible, supportive environment to engage employees and maximize organizational performance. Work/Life programs may include worksite health and wellness, Employee Assistance Programs, occupational health, organizational interventions for to prevent work-life stress and conflict, workplace flexibilities, work scheduling, and telework, and boundary management of electronic communication and personal computing devices.

Ellen Ernst Kossek

Basil S. Turner Professor

Krannert School of Management, Purdue University

Research Director of the Susan Bulkeley Butler Center for Leadership Excellence

Ellen’s research has won awards including the 2015 Rosabeth Moss Kanter award for research excellence, the 2014 Work-Life Legacy award for helping to build the work-life movement, and the Academy of Management’s Gender and Diversity Division’s Sage Scholarly achievement award for advancing understanding of gender and diversity in organizations. She is the first elected President of the Work Family Researchers Network, a SIOP Fellow, and a founding member of the NIH-funded Work Family Health Network.

Alisa Green

Human Resources Specialist

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS)

Alisa Green is a Human Resources Specialist in the Office of the Chief Human Capital, Policy and Programs Division, Workforce Engagement Group, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In this capacity, Ms. Green develops agency-wide policy and provides guidance on work/life and employee assistance policy and programs to DHS components. She also focuses on employee resilience and employee morale and engagement, and has been involved in agency-wide initiatives related to both of these program areas. Prior to joining DHS, Ms. Green was a Work/Life Program Specialist in the Strategic Human Resources Policy Division of the Office of Personnel Management, working on a broad range of policies and programs including EAP, telework, workplace flexibility, and dependent care. Before that, she spent several years managing the Work/Life Center at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services.


This area will cover how employees choose among benefit options for healthcare and retirement.

Colleen Manchester

Assistant Professor

Department of Work and Organizations

Carlson School of Management, University of Minnesota

Colleen’s research investigates the provision of benefits and workplace practices by employers, including flexible work practices, training, and retirement saving programs, and the effect of these practices on the careers of workers. She seeks to advance a multidisciplinary, multi-method research agenda for studying the effects of workplace practices on the career advancement of workers.

Her research has been published in leading journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Human Resources, Industrial and Labor Relations Review and Industrial Relations.

Thomas DeLeire


McCourt School of Public Policy, Georgetown University

Thomas’s research focuses on labor and health economics. In recent work, he has assessed the impacts of expansions of Medicaid programs to childless adults and examined consumer demand for insurance through the newly created Affordable Care Act Marketplaces. In addition to being at Georgetown University, he is senior advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. From 2005 to 2007, he was a senior analyst at the Congressional Budget Office, and from 2002 to 2003, he was senior economist for labor, health, and education for the President's Council of Economic Advisers.

Christine S. Hunter MD

Chief Medical Officer

U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Dr. Christine Hunter joined the U.S. Office of Personnel Management as Chief Medical Officer in 2011, bringing over 30 years of experience in federal health care. In this role, Dr. Hunter serves as Medical Director for the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program and Multi-State Plans available through the Health Insurance Exchanges. She oversees health care quality for 8.2 million employees, retirees, and families; and co-chairs the National Committee for Quality Assurance Committee on Performance Measurement, working to improve health outcomes for all Americans.

Performance Management

Performance management involves much more than just assigning ratings. It is a continuous cycle that involves planning expectations, monitoring progress, developing employees, rating, and rewarding. This area will cover both employee and organizational performance.

David Lewis

William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor and Chair

Department of Political Science, Vanderbilt University

David’s research interests include the presidency, executive branch politics, and public administration. He is the author of two books and published numerous articles on American politics, public administration and management.

Rebecca S. Ayers, PhD


U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM)

Rebecca S. Ayers, PhD serves as the manager for Performance Management Solutions and for USA Performance in the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM). Rebecca has facilitated and worked with both public and nonprofit organizations to identify organizational goals, develop strategic plans, and implement performance management systems. Rebecca holds a bachelor’s degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and a Masters of Transatlantic Studies from the University of Bath, England. She completed her Ph.D. in Public Administration at North Carolina State University where her research included public management, performance management, and strategic planning. Rebecca is a fulltime teleworker with OPM and resides just outside of Raleigh, NC.


Effective leaders are essential to the success of the overall organization, and contribute to the growth and wellbeing of employees. The area will examine multiple aspects of both supervisory and executive development, as well as the effects leadership can have on the organization and employees.

Patrick Malone

Executive in Residence

Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University

Patrick teaches courses in public sector leadership, executive problem solving, organizational analysis, action learning, leadership ethics, and public administration and policy. He also serves as the Director of American University’s Key Executive Leadership Programs.

Employee Focus

This area will cover employee empowerment and job involvement practices/approaches aimed at promoting employee engagement and their impact on work-related attitudes, motivation, and performance.

Sergio Fernandez

Associate Professor

Director, Ph.D. Programs in Public Affairs and Public Policy, Indiana University

Sergio is an expert in the fields of public management and organization theory, with a focus on employee empowerment, representative bureaucracy in the U.S. and South Africa, organizational change and innovation, public sector leadership, and government outsourcing.

Towanda A. Brooks

Chief Human Capital Officer

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Towanda A. Brooks serves as the Chief Human Capital Officer (CHCO) and top human resources manager and adviser for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and has been a member of the Senior Executive Service since May 2009. Ms. Brooks’ current responsibilities include creating the human capital vision and direction needed to align the Department’s human capital management strategies, policies and initiatives in support of HUD’s mission. She is responsible for the delivery of human capital programs to include talent management, learning and development; recruitment and staffing; employee labor relations; and performance management and outcomes. Prior to her current position, Ms. Brooks served as the Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer (DCHCO)/Associate General Deputy Assistant Secretary, for the Office of the Chief Human Capital Officer (OCHCO).


Cultivating a culture that connects each employee to the organization; encourages collaboration, flexibility, and fairness; and leverages diversity throughout the organization so that all individuals are able to participate and contribute to their full potential. This area will cover strategies to recruit and retain a diverse workforce.

Vicky Wilkins

Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor

Department of Public Administration and Policy, American University

Vicky M. Wilkins is the Senior Associate Dean in the School of Public Affairs and Professor of Public Administration and Policy at American University. Her primary research interests include representative bureaucracy; bureaucratic discretion; gender and race issues; deservingness; political institutions and human resource management. Her research appears in the American Political Science Review, Public Administration Review, Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Governance, Review of Public Personnel Administration, Administration & Society, Policy Studies Journal, and Legislative Studies Quarterly. Vicky earned her BS in Political Science and History from Northern Michigan University, her MS in Human Resource Management from Chapman University, and her PhD in political science from the University of Missouri.

Georgia Coffey

Deputy Assistant Secretary

Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)

Georgia Coffey is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). As Deputy Assistant Secretary, Ms. Coffey serves as the Chief Diversity Officer for the 2nd largest Department in Federal Government, and principal advisor to the Secretary and Assistant Secretary on equal employment opportunity (EEO), workforce diversity and workplace inclusion issues. She has over 25 years of EEO, diversity and inclusion (D&I), and dispute resolution experience in the public and private sectors. Prior to joining VA, Ms. Coffey served as the Director of EEO and Diversity Management and Acting Assistant Commissioner for Management for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration where she implemented first-time EEO and diversity initiatives. She is a contributing author to “Inside the Minds: Implementing a Successful Human Resources Strategy,” and prolific public speaker on diversity and inclusion issues facing the nation.

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