Our Staff

Lisa A. Razzano, PhD, CPRP
Director of Research

Dr. Lisa Razzano is a psychologist and Director of Research for Thresholds. Lisa oversees all externally-funded research programs underway within the agency, including studies funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), among others. She has primary responsibility and oversight for development and implementation of new intervention studies and funded research initiatives at Thresholds. Lisa is recognized internationally for her contributions in mental health service research, with particular expertise regarding physical health co-morbidities, mental health aspects of HIV/AIDS, evaluation of evidence-based practices, and translation of science into workforce development programs. In addition to Dr. Razzano’s work at Thresholds, she is a tenured faculty member at the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Psychiatry and Deputy Director of the Department’s Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy (CMHSRP). She has served as PI or co-PI for over $30 million in extramural research funding evaluating community mental health services interventions and psychiatric rehabilitation programs. These research contributions have been recognized internationally with research awards, including those from the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Greater Chicago. Dr. Razzano is currently an elected member of the American Psychological Association’s Task Force on Serious Mental Illness/Severe Emotional Disturbance and a past president of the national Board of Directors for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association.

Nicole J. Pashka, MS, CRC, CPRP, LCPC
Assistant Director of Research

Nicole has been in the field of behavioral health for close to a decade advocating for the rights of individuals living with disabilities. At Thresholds, Nicole currently serves as Assistant Director of Research. Throughout her career, Nicole has consistently sought to advance programs and services that affect change in all areas but especially employment and wellness. In addition to past experience in direct clinical and residential services, Nicole also has diverse and extensive experience presenting information related to mental health services, evidence-based practices, research, and training, including developing, implementing, and evaluating new service models and workforce development programs. Nicole has provided training and education presentations for the National Council for Behavioral Health; Institute for Healthcare Advancement; the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association; the National Sexual Health Conference, SAMHSA’s Alternatives Conference; the U.S. Conference on AIDS; the American Medical Student Association; and for the States of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Texas and Virginia Departments of Human Services. Ms. Pashka is an invited member of the PRA Academy Advisory Council and serves as an appointed Board Member for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Foundation. In addition to her clinical license and other certifications, Nicole holds a Master’s in Counseling from the University of Massachusetts, Boston, where she also has past experience at the Boston University Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation.

Anabel Ruiz, MS
Research Best Practices Manager

Anabel is the Manager of Research Best Practices at Thresholds. She oversees the implementation of Evidence-Based Practices and promising practices to teams and programs at the agency. Anabel has been in the field of behavioral health for over a decade. She leads, trains, and supports Thresholds staff and programs in learning, implementing and sustaining high fidelity to care models for Thresholds members. These care models include health and wellness, IPS, Cognitive Remediation and interventions for persons with dual disorders. Anabel lead implementation of a Cognitive Remediation intervention to program participants as part of the NIMH-funded randomized controlled trial (RCT), “A Dismantling Study of Cognitive Remediation” in collaboration with Boston University. She also has experience at the agency working with the Supported Employment Department, where she is a past team supervisor and trainer for new Employment Specialists. Anabel holds a Master’s of Science in Mental Health Counseling from Purdue University and is fluent in Spanish.

Karley Nelson, MA
Senior Research Specialist

Karley is Senior Research Specialist at Thresholds, where her work focuses on implementation and evaluation of studies of chronic health conditions, employment, cognition, and other evidence-based interventions for individuals with serious mental illness. Karley is the project manager for the Threshold’s Longitudinal Health Study, and leads recruitment and administration for a study that aims to enhance the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) model of Supported Employment. She also has experience administering high level clinical assessments, such as the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-5 (SCID-5), the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB), and others. Karley has worked in the mental health field for many years, including roles in direct clinical service, research, and project management. She also has experience in program development and evaluation; specifically, in the areas of child development, higher education, and special education. Karley received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Boston College, where she studied mental health topics such as psychometric evaluation; individual, family, and group counseling; the ethical foundations of counseling, and more.

Carla Elliott, BS
VEP Peer Leader

Carla Elliott is a peer leader and researcher in the department. She has been a lead group facilitators for interventions including Vocational Empowerment Photovoice (VEP), a form of hermeneutic photography. Carla facilitates classes, teaching skills that support vocational recovery by empowering participants to engage in vocational services and pursue employment through the enhancement of their vocational hope, sense of vocational identity, and work-related self-efficacy. She also serves as a trained facilitator for the group component for a randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the impact of a skills intervention on cognitive function among individuals with psychiatric disabilities. In conjunction with other senior research department staff, she delivers interventions focused on compensatory strategies designed to help participating members cope with various cognitive difficulties, including collaboration staff and clinical teams, presenting findings and suggesting intervention strategies that can increase participants’ abilities to obtain employment and to promote better functioning on the job. She has been part of the Thresholds workforce for nearly 10 years, with past experience as a Job Club Coach who developed and implemented a DRS-funded job club and as a Recovery Specialist for the Work Choice program, offered as the control group for a NIDRR-funded study on IPS-Supported Employment for consumers with justice backgrounds.

Tovah Lieberman, MPH
Research Specialist

Tovah is a research assistant at Thresholds where she supports research activities on multiple studies. Her projects include leading the project team for a randomized controlled trial (RCT) examining the impact of an electronic decision support system (EDSS) designed for adults with schizophrenia who are smokers. In addition, Tovah conducts complex neuropsychological assessments as part of the department’s collaboration with Boston University to evaluate the effectiveness of computerized interventions that address cognitive skills to support individuals with mental illness to acquire and retain employment. She also collaborates with other department staff to screen members who may be eligible to participate in ongoing pharmacological intervention studies conducted in partnership with other academic centers, including Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Tovah holds a master’s in public health from Indiana University Bloomington School of Public Health.

Paige Pickerl, MSW
Research Specialist

Paige Pickerl is a Research Specialist with Thresholds, where she works to support the research team on multiple current studies. Prior to her employment at Thresholds, Paige was an intern at UIC Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy. During her time at the UIC Center she conducted recruitment, interviews, and other evaluation activities for multiple studies, including Individual Placement and Support (IPS) SAMHSA expansion program and a federally-funded study the Nutrition and Exercise for Wellness and Recovery (NEW-R) model. Through her undergraduate studies, Paige has past experience working with various populations on community assessments, including in Appalachia rural Kentucky, and the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. The experiences with the Navajo Nation allowed the opportunity to co-present Insights and Connections: Integrating CSWE Core Competencies Into Cultural Immersion Service-Learning Experiences at the 2017 Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors Conference. Paige received her Master’s in Social Work from University of Illinois at Chicago, and her Bachelor’s in Social Work from Campbellsville University.

Destiny Powers, MSW
Research Specialist

Destiny Powers is a Research Specialist at Thresholds, where she actively supports the team on multiple studies. She supports evaluation using measures such as the MATRICS Consensus Cognitive Battery (MCCB) and the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), among many other clinical assessments. Prior to joining the team as a Research Specialist at Thresholds, Destiny worked within Transitional Living Programs for young people within the DCFS systems in Illinois. She also interned at the UIC Center on Mental Health Services Research and Policy, working on multiple studies, partnering with individuals with serious mental illness. Destiny also has prior experience working in emergency shelters and independent living and residential settings supporting skills development and community independence for young people with mental health concerns. Destiny also has clinical experience serving as a medical advocate and dispatching crisis interventions to survivors of rape. Destiny holds BS from Indiana University, and an MSW from UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work.

Hee Jin Park, MPH Candidate
Research Assistant

Hee Jin is a Research Assistant at Thresholds supporting the longitudinal study of co-occurring chronic physical health conditions and effectiveness of virtual job training program among individuals with a psychiatric disability. Prior to joining the team, Hee Jin was a graduate research intern at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine – Center for Community Health, where she assisted evaluation of perinatal depression prevention program: Mothers and Babies in a qualitative study. She has also participated in consultation project with Rush University Medical Center’s West Side Alive, Community Health Worker Blood Pressure Program and helped to develop culturally tailored Cardiovascular Awareness Recognizing Diet and Integration of Exercise Options (CARDIO) program with the University of Chicago and Asian Health Coalition. Hee Jin is a public health professional skilled in program evaluation, research design, qualitative, and quantitative data analysis. She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign with a focus in Clinical Psychology. Currently, she is completing her Master of Public Health at DePaul University in community health practice. In the long term, she wants to continue to involve in community participatory research that advocates and empowers individuals with mental illness and disability in the field of community psychology.