Making Strategic Planning a Dynamic and Evidence-Informed Process to Improve Community Supervision of Special Populations


Monday, February 26, 2024
3:30 PM - 5:00 PM
Session Type: Workshop

The term strategic planning often evokes a sense of dread and foreboding in even the most dedicated leaders motivated to create change. This 90-minute workshop reframes strategic planning beyond the notion that it is a months-long process that agencies engage in every three to five years culminating in a report that is later dusted off before the next process begins. Rather, we will discuss making strategic planning a dynamic, engaged, evidence-informed, and year-round process that enacts changes and program improvements. In this session, we will draw on case examples from the Georgia Department of Community Supervision that illustrate strategic planning in action. Additionally, we will discuss ways agencies might partner with external evaluators who can provide additional perspectives and produce data and reports and how these products should be used for strategic planning. We will also discuss three key ingredients in engaged strategic planning: collaboration, integrating evidence, and responsivity.


Dr. Nicholas Powell
Director of Strategic Planning & Analysis, GA Department of Community Supervision

From a Juvenile Probation Officer to his current role, Dr. Nicholas Powell has studied the social context of crime. By understanding these subtleties, he strives to formulate and oversee strategies that improve criminal justice outcomes and reduce the negative consequences of our legal system. Additionally, Dr. Powell is a Criminal Justice Professor at Georgia State University and a P.O.S.T. Certified Instructor. His research focuses on patterns surrounding the intersections of legal system involvement (i.e., probation, parole, incarceration) and contextual factors, such as addiction, homelessness, and mental health.

Phil Sellers
Chief Information Officer, GA Department of Community Supervision

As CIO, Phil oversees the management and successful implementation of agency information and technology systems. Phil has served the State of Georgia since 1989 and has worked at the Department of Community Supervision since its inception in 2015. Prior to his career with DCS, he worked at the Department of Corrections and the State Board of Pardons & Paroles. Phil holds a Master's in Public Administration and a Bachelor's in Business Administration from Columbus State University's Georgia Law Enforcement Command College.

Mrs. Maria Stephenson
Research & Data Services Director, GA Department of Community Supervision

Dr. Maria Stephenson is the Director of Research & Data Services at the Georgia Department of Community Supervision. She manages internal and external research projects, data extraction and collection, and grants for Georgia’s adult felony community supervision population. Previously, she has led several initiatives to enhance community supervision in Georgia, to include consolidating alternatives to incarceration for probationers and parolees and implementing evidence-based programs. Prior to joining the Research & Data Services division, Dr. Stephenson managed one of Georgia’s Day Reporting Centers - a nonresidential substance abuse treatment center for probationers and parolees - supervising certified alcohol and drug counselors, probation and parole officers, and GED instructors while being responsible for hundreds of individuals under community supervision and the daily operations. Dr. Stephenson holds a Ph.D. in Criminal Justice from Walden University where she studied probation and parole officers' experiences addressing criminogenic needs of adult felony offenders. She also holds a Masters of Science in Social Sciences in Human Services from Capella University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Mercer University.

Dr. Tonya Van Deinse, PhD
Research Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tonya Van Deinse, PhD, MSW, is a Research Associate Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Van Deinse is a mental health services researcher focused on developing, implementing, and evaluating interventions that span the mental health and criminal justice systems. Dr. Van Deinse’s current research projects focus on strategies for supervising adults with mental illnesses, using implementation science to enhance the uptake of specialty mental health probation, implementing and evaluating integrated re-entry programming for adults with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders exiting county detention, and evaluating the implementation and impact of expanded mental health court programming.