John Stephen, Managing Partner

John Stephen is the founder and managing partner of The Stephen Group. Prior to founding The Stephen Group, John served as Commissioner of the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services from 2003 to 2007. In that capacity, John oversaw the state’s largest department, which included Medicaid, the divisions of children youth and families, behavioral health, developmental disabilities, public health, juvenile justice, and financial assistance. John led the DHHS through a period of major innovation and reorganization, including improving Medicaid and child welfare operations and engaging families on assistance in work activities. John also developed and implemented a nationally recognized Health Care Reform programs that focused Medicaid on prevention, wellness and rebalancing long term care. John initiated disease management and care coordination programs that transitioned New Hampshire Medicaid away from treating the sick to keeping people healthy. Through all of John’s efforts, Medicaid long term care home and community placements increased 23%, replacing more expensive nursing home placements, which dropped 11%. Moreover, during each of the four years John was Commissioner, New Hampshire ranked first nationally in the Kids Count survey. During that same period, the enrollment of low income, uninsured children into the State’s Medicaid and SCHIP program increased by 7500. John also oversaw the state’s welfare program, Special Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF) program. In this role, John was also able to transform welfare in New Hampshire, reducing the rolls by 20 percent and dramatically increasing work participation rates by bringing accountability to the program. John also assisted the State of New Hampshire in drafting legislation transitioning the Medicaid Fee-For- Service program to capitated, full risk, managed care for all Medicaid populations and services.

During his management consulting career, John has led efforts in numerous states to transform various aspects of Health and Human Services to provide better quality and access for beneficiaries. John recently led the TSG team in reviewing and analyzing the entire operations of the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS), Medicaid, Long Term Care, Behavioral Health, and Developmental Disabilities programs. After delivering its Assessment Report and Recommendations to a Legislative Task Force, John and the TSG team developed an implementation plan for the legislature to effectively monitor several Medicaid transformation projects in that state.

John also led the TSG team that conducted an end-to- end assessment of the Child Protective Services organization, process, and technology in the State of Texas. This assessment concentrated of all aspects of child welfare, including protective services, family based services, children’s Medicaid and foster care services. The TSG team developed a comprehensive analysis including and assessment of contracts management, including IV E contracts, organizational design and continuous quality improvement. John has assisted the Commissioner of the Department of Family and Protective Services in implementing aspects of the TSG plan that has become part of the Texas Child Protective Services Transformation. Overall goals of transformation are to reduce turnover, decrease time to permanency, and decrease time to close investigations, and enhance child safety and well-being.

John led a similar child welfare consulting project Florida for the Florida Department of Children and Families, where he assisted the Secretary in developing the state’s future strategic vision, business case and implementation plan for its child welfare transformation project. John worked directly with the Secretary in identifying issues in the Florida Abuse Hotline and the Child Protective Investigators that needed reform. John worked with the Secretary’s staff to prepare a business case and support for RFP for $100 million of technology work to support the Child Welfare Transformation as well as the maintenance and operations to support the state’s child welfare information system.

Additionally, John led the TSG team in assessing and recommending improvements to the South Carolina Medicaid program for Governor Nikki Haley in her first term. These recommendations led to recent Medicaid reform initiatives in South Carolina that involved an integrated health care strategy targeted to costly dual eligible population.

In the past, John has also worked extensively on other state health and human services projects in the states of South Carolina, Mississippi, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Florida, Illinois, and Maine. John served as technical advisor to the State of Illinois in interviewing candidates for the head of Medicaid, Health and Finance and Child Welfare agencies. John served as a consultant to Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn’s Taxpayer Action Board and in the capacity drafted the Board’s report on Medicaid and Human Services system recommendations. John was also asked by the State of Illinois Senate Special Committee on Medicaid Reform to provide key testimony in December of 2010 that led to Illinois passing legislation that has resulted in the state rebalancing long term care away from high cost nursing home care. John, acting as the TSG lead, completed a Medicaid cost efficiency study for the Illinois Policy Institute, which led to a series of recommendations incorporated by the Illinois legislature.

John was an Assistant Attorney General, former Assistant Commissioner of the NH Department of Safety, and a prosecutor at the county level for over 10 years. He is a respected author, and attorney. John received his BA in 1984 from the Whittemore School of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire, and his JD in 1987 from the Detroit College of Law.



Richard Kellogg, Senior Consultant

Richard has served in the health and human services positions of Commissioner, Deputy, or Director in the states of Virginia, Tennessee, New Hampshire and Washington beginning in 1994 through 2011. Richard's scope of responsibility has included medical and pharmacy services, mental health and substance abuse service systems, psychiatric hospitals and developmental residential programs, developmental/intellectual disabilities community based services and support systems, and long-term care services systems. Prior to beginning his career in state government Richard was a successful CEO of local government and private sector organizations charged with managing and delivering comprehensive mental health, substance abuse, developmental/intellectual disabilities and long term care services inclusive of community based and inpatient modalities.

Richard provided leadership to the successful resolution of several Department of Justice lawsuits involving CRIPA/ADA/Olmstead within state psychiatric hospitals and developmental residential centers as well as EPSDT litigation while serving as a state government Commissioner/Director. He is an expert witness in matters directly related to the protection and treatment of state psychiatric hospital patients and residents of state developmental centers and community based systems.

Richard helped lead the development of a comprehensive plan addressing CMS waiver concerns and on-going Department of Justice litigation for Tennessee's system of care for people with developmental/intellectual disabilities. While working in New Hampshire Richard helped guide the state through a transformative Medicaid Waiver process that rebalanced long term care, transformed the state's long term care system to a community based first option, and improved the state's Medicaid medical services program and mental health systems.

Most recently Richard served the $8 billion dollar Washington State Department of Social and Health Services as Director of Integrated Health Services, reporting directly to the Secretary. In this capacity Richard was responsible for advising on all aspects of national health reform and was a member of the Governor’s Sub-Cabinet on Health Care Reform. Richard earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Vermont and engaged in advanced study at Dartmouth and Harvard. He has taught at the university level and been integrally involved with related subject matters at the University of Virginia and the University of Washington.

Richard Kellogg is a subject matter expert at The Stephen Group. Since joining The Stephen Group Richard has served as co-lead for the comprehensive “South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Strategic Vision/Plan for Rebalancing Long Term Care” Project, including Medicaid and Medicare models of integration, and participated in several projects on behalf of medical and behavioral health plans and private equity groups.



Jeffrey Schilz, Senior Consultant

Jeff Schilz is a business and government consultant with The Stephen Group where he consults with state agencies, as well as assists corporate clients, conducting due diligence in the area of health care-related mergers or acquisitions, and strategies for value-based growth. Jeff was previously a Senior Consultant at The Lucas Group where he performed similar work.

Prior to joining The Lucas Group, Jeff served on the Senior Staff of South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford from 2008-2011 in a variety of capacities including Policy Director, Budget Director and Cabinet Director.

In his role as Policy Director, Jeff led policy analysis/development for all state and federal policy areas – including the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). As Budget Director, Jeff oversaw the drafting of three Executive Budgets that annually prioritized spending for each agency in state government. Jeff also served as link to/from the Governor’s Office and the Cabinet agencies (which included the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Social Services, Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, and Department of Juvenile Justice).

In his roles in the Governor’s Office, Jeff gained significant experience with the Medicaid program and the various streams of funding for the humans services agencies (Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Social Services, Department of Mental Health, Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services, Department of Disabilities and Special Needs), as well as the Department of Juvenile Justice. Jeff was also the Governor’s lead person on following the development, passage and implementation of both the ACA and ARRA – both of which contained multiple funding streams for human services programs.

After leaving the Governor’s Office and joining The Lucas Group, Jeff was part of a team that was retained by the South Carolina Department of Human Services to review, analyze and make recommendations on how the state can rebalance its long term care system. This project required analysis of multiple programs in a number of different agencies, as well as private sector programs, with various streams including state general funds, matching federal funds, federal grants and private/non profit funds. Ultimately, the State was presented with a report that, if fully implemented will, bring balance to its long term care system within 10 years, resulting in over $1 billion.



Will Oliver, Senior Consultant

Will Oliver is a Senior Consultant at The Stephen Group and has more than 25 years of achievements in consulting and management. He is deeply experienced in managing resources and helping organizations reduce their costs and improve performance. He helps lead the firm's Government Solutions practice - managing major assignments for state government agencies. Will led a project to assist the State of Indiana Family and Social Services Department to re-invent Medicaid eligibility processing. After considering current costs and options, Will led the project to help write the RFP and manage vendor selection for the U.S.' largest benefits eligibility privatization. Will led a team supporting Pennsylvania Office of Income Maintenance. He worked with Agency leadership to organize many separate improvement initiatives into a comprehensive process improvement program. In the process, he led teams to document current processes and create better ones. Working with Missouris Family Support Division, he led a change program that launched a major multi-year program to improve Medicaid eligibility determination. Also, in Missouri, Will worked with the Governors office to evaluate current state operations in order to develop cost savings initiatives the state is implementing to save $150 million annually.

During his career, Will has worked with various hospitals, payors, and other players in the medical community.

Prior to joining The Stephen Group, Will served as COO of BridgeHRO (HR outsourcing services), Vice President of 3i Venture Capital, Client Partner of Granitar Systems (web development), Director of Gemini Consulting (process improvement consulting for hospitals), senior manager of KMPG (consulting to BCBS of MA), and with Bain & Company, where he was a founding member of Bains well known healthcare cost reduction practice.

Will holds a Masters in Management from MITs Sloan School of Management, and a BBA in Accounting from the University of Alaska.



Lindsay Littlefield, Senior Consultant

Lindsay Littlefield is a senior consultant at The Stephen Group, where she focuses on budget and financial analysis, project management and Health and Human Services subject matter expertise. Lindsay formerly worked as a budget analyst with the Texas Legislative Budget Board (LBB), assigned to the Health and Human Services Budget Team. At the LBB, Lindsay Developed policy recommendations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of state government operations; Monitored trends and innovations at the federal level and in other states and analyzed applicability to Texas; and frequently briefed internal management, state legislative members, and state executive leadership and staff on areas of research, including providing frequent testimony before policy and budget committees. Lindsay also developed budget recommendations for the Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) based on analysis of agency requests and original research; Monitored the implementation of budget and policy recommendations adopted by the legislature; Testified before budget committees and briefed legislative offices on recommendations and responded to questions related to DADS. In her capacity as an LBB analyst, Lindsay also estimated fiscal implications of legislation and policy options considered by the legislature related to long-term care, and managed a cross-agency project team on the state supported living center system and authored freestanding report “Decrease the Number of State Supported Living Centers to Reduce Costs and Improve Care.”

Prior to her work at the LBB, Lindsay was a senior consultant with MAXIMUS, where she worked on the Texas Eligibility Support Services Project and performed a variety of communication, reporting, and change management functions in the Project Management Office, including establishing internal policies and procedures, and conducted data and policy analysis as a business analyst in the Children’s Health Insurance Program Operations area. Lindsay also identified and analyzed state-level activities in the firm’s priority areas and synthesized information for strategy sessions and external meetings.

She also analyzed and documented the process flow of a MAXIMUS child support enforcement project and identified recommendations for business process re-engineering.

Lindsay also worked as an analyst in Washington DC at the National Conference of State Legislators where she tracked state and federal legislation on immigration policy and created a database of state legislation; conducted analysis and prepared reports on federal immigration reform, state legislative trends in immigration policy, the Violence Against Women Act, and federal appropriations for select Health and Human Services programs.

Lindsay has a Master's in Public Affairs at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas, and a B.A, in Political Science and Communications from Wake Forest University, where she graduated Summa cum laude and was a 2002 Harry S. Truman Scholar.



Frank Spinelli, Senior Consultant

Frank Spinelli is a Senior Consultant at The Stephen Group, LLC. Frank is a former Medicaid director with a proven record of innovative and successful leadership of long term services and support programs in the public and private sector. Prior to joining The Stephen Group, Frank worked for Xerox, Government Healthcare Solutions as the Vice President of Long-Term Care and Care and Quality solutions. In that role he was responsible for the development and implementation of Xerox’s long-term services and supports strategy and care management programs. Frank has almost four decades of experience working with long-term care and chronic care populations and in providing long-term services and supports across the life cycle; including the Rhode Island’s PASRR program, Pharmacy programs, LTSS and IDDD programs. Under his leadership, Rhode Island designed and implemented its first PACE program, three new home and community based waivers, a Traumatic Brain Injury Resource Center, an Aged and Disability Resource Center, a nursing home transition/diversion program as well as the Connect Care Program – Rhode Island’s first person-centered medical home program.

While Medicaid Director, Frank led the efforts to create the RI Global Waiver which rolled all of Medicaid including its HCBS programs and a number of state operated programs into a single waiver which focused on rebalancing the long-term care system, care management, providing a medical home and value purchasing. Under the Global Wavier, Rhode Island added a preventative level of care that enable providing LTSS services to non-nursing level of care participants and introduced a new shared living service that enable individuals to live in their own or caregiver homes. A 2011 Lewin Report on the Global Waiver identified: ‘The actions taken to re-balance the LTC system appear to have generated significant savings according to our estimates.’ 

Frank also has experience in developing long-term services value based purchasing programs. While at Xerox he worked with the Payment Methodology Group to implement nursing home reimbursement changes in DC, New Hampshire and California. While with Rhode Island Medicaid in 2006, he developed one of the few home care value purchasing programs that reimburse home care agencies enhance rates for certain items such as shift differential, staff education and continuity of care. A report from the AARP Public Policy Institute entitled: Paying for Quality Care: State and Local Strategies for Improving Wages and Benefits for Personal Care Assistants highlighted the rate enhancements as an example for other states.

Over the years Frank has been involved with the implementation and design of Medicaid Management Information Systems that not only focused on payments but data analytics as well. In Wyoming, he helped designed a program that used Medicare MDS data to identify Medicare beneficiaries that still clinically qualified for Medicare nursing home care. He also led an effort to determine the unmet needs of nursing home residents and lead a dental initiative to evaluate dental care of nursing home residents. While at Xerox he evaluated case management systems, caregiver Aps, predictive analytics, visit verification and home monitoring systems and companies in support of developing partnerships and acquisitions.

Frank is an alumnus member of the National Association of Medicaid Directors (NAMD); a former member of the Governor’s Council on Behavioral Health, the Governor’s Brain InjuryCommission, CMS’s System Technical Assistance Group (STAG, the New England States Consortium System Organization (NESCSO) and a current member of National Association of PASRR Professionals and CMS’s PASRR Technical Assistance Center.



Charmeka Bosket Childs, Consultant

Charmeka Bosket Childs is a business and government consultant with The Stephen Group, where she consults with state agencies in the area of Education and Health and Human Services. Charmeka formerly served at the South Carolina Department of Education as the Deputy Superintendent for School Effectiveness where she managed the human resource and budgetary resources of the Division of School Effectiveness. During her role, Charmeka created a policy making environment that encouraged the use of cost benefit analysis in policy formation. She guided office leadership in the implementation of academic standards development, educator evaluation, school transformation, public school choice, blended and online learning, educator professional development, and educator licensure. She also improved project management practices and developed and implemented succession planning, as well as overseeing budgetary and human resource planning.

From 2011 to 2012, Charmeka served at the Department of Education as the Deputy Superintendent for Policy and Research. There she served on the Superintendent’s staff to support his role as the Executive Secretary to the State Board of Education. She helped oversee the development, revision, and quality of the South Carolina academic standards and provided oversight and technical assistance to districts and schools seeking and implementing grants.

From 2007 to 2011, Charmeka served as the Director of Legislative and Political Analysis for the South Carolina Business and Industry in Columbia. There she was responsible for analyzing the economic impact of legislation under consideration by the South Carolina General Assembly on the state's business climate.

From 2005 to 2007, Charmeka served in the Office of the Governor as Education Policy Advisory to South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. In this capacity, Charmeka analyzed economic, systemic, and pedagogical implications of policy alternatives under consideration by the Governor of South Carolina. She also helped implement policy initiatives directed through the executive branch and conducted cost-benefit analysis pursuant to implementing the budgeting for results model in education policy formation for the state of South Carolina. She managed national and state projects involving key education agency directors for the state of South Carolina and co-wrote executive budget education policy sections for two consecutive fiscal years.

Charmeka was also a research analyst with the The McKenzie Group in Washington D.C., where she analyzed Dallas Fort Worth School District performance on the Texas Academic and Achievement Skills examination and researched marketing strategy for Educational Testing Services contract. In the past, she has also served as a school advisory council committee chairperson for Richland South Carolina’s School District Two.

Charmeka graduated from Duke Universities’ Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, where she received a Masters of Public Policy including coursework in economics, management, statistics, history, and policy analysis. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from Duke University, Trinity College.



Clint Koenig, MD, MA MSPH, Consultant

Clint Koenig MD, MA, MSPH is a subject matter expert at The Stephen Group. He is currently the Medical Director of the Monroe Plan for Medical Care - a non-for profit Medicaid Managed Care Organization in Rochester NY. Monroe Plan has been nationally ranked on US News and World Report's best Medicaid Managed Care Plans. Dr. Koenig is the director of the Utilization Management Department where he oversees both nurses and physicians. At Monroe Plan Dr. Koenig has also developed quality initiatives on care transitions and academic detailing. Dr. Koenig has also co-chaired committees on care coordination and primary care based case management.

Dr. Koenig is also a physician Surveyor for the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and has surveyed national health plans as well as primary care medical homes. Prior to Monroe Plan, Dr. Koenig served as the New Hampshire State Medical Director from 2006 to 2007. As State Medical Director, Dr. Koenig was involved with the Granite Care, the state's care coordination project, and the State's process to re-authorize the sole SCHIP vendor. Dr. Koenig also served as the chair of the state pharmacy and therapeutics committee as well as a chair of a commissioner-appointed taskforce to address behavioral health issues in the rural region of the state.

Dr. Koenig holds a Master of Science, Public Health (MSPH) and Master of Arts (MA) Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. His Medical Doctor degree is from Albany Medical College.



David J. DeStefano, MA

Mr. DeStefano is a subject matter expert consultant for The Stephen Group and he brings extensive experience providing consultation on various issues impacting the implementation of child welfare and other health and human service programs. His range of experience includes development of public / private partnerships, performance based contracting, program evaluation; development and use of software and database applications; SACWIS review, assessment and requirements; maximization of federal revenues; federal compliance with program standards; external evaluation and reporting; random moment sampling; rate setting; cost reporting; project management; work process analysis; and the development and implementation of program policies and procedures. His primary areas of work have focused on program analysis and practice integration, external program evaluation, workflow development, rate setting, Title IV-E cost reimbursement, and assessment of community based services in child welfare. As a certified Six Sigma Green Belt, he is experienced with the use of multiple process improvement tools and strategies. Mr. DeStefano holds a B.A. in Psychology from Purdue University and a M.A. in Public Policy.

Prior to beginning his consulting career Mr. DeStefano served in various direct service and management capacities for community-based not-for-profit human service organizations.

Educational Background:

M.A., Public Policy: New England College, Thesis: Kinship Care Interventions as a Secondary Prevention Strategy: Financial, Programmatic and Policy Implications in a Privatized Child Welfare System of Care
B.A., Psychology: Purdue University

Relevant Publications:
Elder, J.K., DeStefano, D.J., Blazevski, J., Schuler C.A. (2012) Key Recommendations for Developing a Foundation and Framework for Successful Implementation of Performance-Based Contracting, A Case Study. Journal of Public Child Welfare; Special Edition, (Spring 2011 Publication).

Collins-Camargo C., DeStefano, D.J., Ensign, K. Hall, Jennifer, Garstka, T.A., Kearney, K. (2010) A Five Year Study of the National Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare Services: Innovations in Performance-Based Contracting and Quality Assurance Systems. 2010 National Conference: Alliance for Children and Families.

DeStefano D.J., Elder, J.K., Schuler C.A., D’Aiuto W. (2009) Improving Practice and Outcomes through Collaboration and Performance-Based Contracting in Florida's Child Welfare System, Professional Development, The International Journal of Continuing Social Work Education, 10 (3), 58-66.

DeStefano, D.J. (2012) Analysis of Family Finding Cost Efficiencies: A Process Overview, 2012 Administration for Children and Families Joint Grantees Annual Meeting: Plenary Session Presentation, Washington, D.C.

Ellis, R., DeStefano, D.J. The Impact of Family Finding Activities on Child Welfare Outcomes: Processes and Findings, (2012) 18th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect. Washington, D.C.



Rory Rickert, Consultant

Rory Rickert is a Subject Matter Expert for The Stephen Group. Rory was CEO of Integrated Healthcare Service Incorporated (IHS). There he assisted healthcare clients in winning over $100 billion in awards since the inception of the firm's government business development practice. The company's pharmacy practice assisted commercial healthcare clients in a number of key areas that include: enhanced sales of existing products and services, expansion to new markets, strategic positioning and specialized contract negotiation. The pharmacy practice at IHS dovetailed with government business when the issues dealt with government healthcare matters related to pharmacy. IHS was acquired by QuarterLine in late 2011. Rory is also currently Principal and National Practice Leader for QuarterLine's Commercial Pharmacy Consulting Practice. He has more than 30 years progressive experience in the pharmaceutical industry.

He started as a clinical pharmacist at the Minneapolis Children's Medical Center and advanced to Corporate Vice President for AdvancePCS. There he was responsible for the oversight of corporate accounts and government marketplace for the nation's largest independent health and wellness company. Rory led strategic planning and market positioning of AdvancePCS while it was owned by RiteAid, a major retail pharmacy company. He was also Corporate Director for Home Nutritional Services, a national provider of home infusion therapy.

Rory is a nationally recognized speaker and industry expert in managed care, drug utilization and cost control, distribution channels and rebates, marketing, sales and delivery models in the pharmaceutical industry. He has been deposed as an expert witness in many cases including: Hall v. Medical Security Card, Co.,Superior Court of Arizona, Association Benefit Services, Inc., v. AdvancePCS, a Delaware corporation, Caremark Rx Inc. a Delaware corporation and CaremarkPCS, a Delaware corporation, United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois and State of Hawaii v. Abbott Laboratories, Inc. et al., (Merck) in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit State of Hawaii.

He has published papers for the Department of Defense Pharmacy and Senior Leadership, including: Proposed Pilot to Centralize the Administration of Specialty Drugs to DoD Beneficiaries (May 2007), Commercial Centralized Refill Capability Supporting Military Treatment Facilities (February 2007) and Enhancing TRICARE Referral Authorization and Notification Processes Through Interactive Automated Voice Services.

He has made presentations to PCMA, Department of Defense TRICARE Region 1, Axia Strategies Carrier Forum, Federal Healthcare Acquisition Conference, Illinois Society of Certified Employee Benefits Specialists and Advances in Building and Managing Home Care Provider Networks. Rory has also been interviewed by Managed Home Care Report, Home Care Magazine, Home HealthCare, Eli Yale Research Home Health Care and Medical Utilization Management.



Robert Chin, Consultant

Robert Chin is a subject matter expert at The Stephen Group and a seasoned executive and entrepreneur in healthcare, technology and operations, with significant experience in startup organizations and turnaround opportunities, and in strategy, innovation, differentiation, growth, leverage and profit margin.

As the Interim Chief Information Officer of Minuteman Health, Robert was responsible for the development of the strategy for technology, quality assurance and third party administration. Minuteman Health is one of 20 CO-OP health plans approved by CMS in 2012, designed to spur competition in the Massachusetts market.

Consumer Guidance on Healthcare Spending - Compass Healthcare Advisers helps consumers spend their healthcare dollars more wisely by informing them of the lowest priced healthcare providers in their geographic area for numerous medical procedures and services. Board Director and Senior Partner. Responsible for strategy, business development, sales support, business intelligence & data analytics.



Dr. Bernard L. Palowitch, Jr., Consultant

Dr. Bernard L. Palowitch, Jr. (Bernie) is a subject matter expert consultant for The Stephen Group and currently serves as an Engagement Director and a Knowledge Management Specialist at Iknow. Mr. Palowitch heads the company's sales and client service delivery functions. He has over 29 years of consulting and project management experience and has been involved with or led over 120 consulting assignments during his career.

Mr. Palowitch founded Iknow in 2001 and currently serves as firm's President.

Prior to founding Iknow LLC, Mr. Palowitch was a Senior Partner in Ernst & Young’s management consulting practice. At E&Y, Mr. Palowitch sold and directed client assignments at many of the world's leading pharmaceutical, biotechnology, and medical device companies. He was the firm’s global service line leader for both Strategy and Knowledge Management services in these industries.

Mr. Palowitch was Corporate Director—Business Reengineering at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. In this role, he initiated, planned, and directed strategic and process reengineering projects across the company. Major projects at BMS included worldwide finance, human resources, legal, and supply chain projects.

Mr. Palowitch began his career at McKinsey & Company, where he was a Senior Project Manager. At McKinsey, he led numerous consulting engagements at clients across many process, assembly, and technology-based industries.

Selected clients include Amgen, Booz Allen Hamilton, British Petroleum, Daimler AG, Detroit Edison, Dow Jones, GlaxoSmithKline, Holnam, IBM, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Jacobs Suchard AG, Merck, Pfizer, PPG Industries, Raytheon, Roche, and Shell Oil Company.



Ralph W. Poole III, Consultant

Mr. Ralph W. Poole III is a subject matter expert consultant for The Stephen Group and currently serves as an Engagement Director and Knowledge Management Specialist at Iknow. He has extensive experience in leading knowledge management, content enrichment, software development and IT transformation projects in large commercial and government organizations. Mr. Poole also leads Iknow's Text Analysis Service Line.

Prior to joining Iknow, Mr. Poole was the Managing Partner of Coherence Group and a Partner at Bridge Consulting. In these roles, he was responsible for selling and delivering strategy implementation, business transformation, learning and knowledge management solutions to clients.

Mr. Poole was the Chief Knowledge Officer; Chair of the Global Knowledge & Learning Council; and Director—Knowledge, Learning, Methods (KLM) at Capgemini, a global consulting firm with 60,000 employees. He created the Firm's enterprise portal, content and knowledge processes, people management policies, collaboration technologies, technology infrastructure (including intranet and extranet applications), and content management practices. Implementation involved building global and regional communities of practice in industry sectors, service lines, and professions. Mr. Poole developed and managed global and regional knowledge management budgets plus a capital budget for enhancing the technical applications that supported knowledge sharing. His budget responsibility exceeded $100 million.

Mr. Poole was a Principal and the Director of the Global Center for Business Knowledge at Ernst & Young LLP. In this role, he created the Center for Business Knowledge (CBK), a global organization that managed business research libraries, fact-based business research analysis, practice experience and knowledge, organizational learning, and knowledge base development. The CBK leveraged internal and external information and knowledge sources to support E&Y's audit, tax and consulting businesses


Mr. Poole was the Director of Consulting Services at Bain & Company. He created and managed the firm's knowledge management and business research infrastructure, including the research libraries and knowledge centers globally. Mr. Poole developed and implemented state-of-the-art training capabilities and centers. He had staff responsibility for 125 people.

Mr. Poole was also a Principal and Chief of Staff at Symmetrix and an Information Manager at the Boston Consulting Group.



John K. Cooper, Consultant

John K Cooper is a subject matter expert with The Stephen Group. Mr. Cooper was appointed Assistant Secretary of the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families in 2011. In that role, he was charged with directing statewide operations through the oversight of six Regional Directors, the Florida Abuse Hotline, and the Department’s headquarters program offices.

Mr. Cooper was responsible for a budget totaling approximately $1.7 billion representing operational costs and contracted services. He oversaw over 7,000 staff that deliver client services in the following program areas; ACCESS (TANF, food stamps, Medicaid eligibility), Child Protective Investigations, Adult Protective Services, Refugee Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, and Child Care Licensing.

From July 2007 to Sept 2011, John provided executive direction and supervision for all Departmental programs, service delivery, administrative services, operations, and financial management for 16 counties in the Central Florida area. He was responsible for over 2,000 employees with an annual operating budget of $450,000,000. He also had oversight of 5 judicial circuits and primary operational interface for 6 Community-Based Care lead agencies. In addition, Mr. Cooper:

  • Managed more than $250,000,000 in contracted services for dependency case management, mental health, alcohol and drug prevention & treatment, and other social services
  • Developed Region and Circuit business plans using the Balanced Scorecard
  • Implemented an interactive web-based performance dashboard
  • Had oversight of the largest Emergency Repatriation Center in U.S. history
  • Helped the agency he served maintain a #1 ranking in Region performance for four consecutive years

From August 2006 to July 2007, Mr. Cooper provided overall direction for all department delivering human services in a five county District. He was responsible for over 400 employees with an annual operating budget of almost $90 million. Some of Mr. Cooper’s accomplishments included:

  • Statewide Project Officer for a national demonstration project administered by the Quality Improvement Center on the Privatization of Child Welfare
  • Team Leader for an innovative prevention project
  • In partnership with the Community-Based Care lead agency – assisted with the redesigning and re-starting of the system of care

From May 2004 to August 2006, Mr. Cooper was responsible for operations in all program areas; Family Safety, ACCESS, Adult Services, and Child Care Licensing. He engaged community stakeholders and providers to ensure quality service.

Jan 2002 to May 2004, Mr. Cooper was responsible for all Hotline Operations including the Call Center, Information, technology, telecommunications, headquarters Investigative Support Unit, and direct supervision of five managers, 17 unit supervisors, and over 200 staff. Duties included; maintaining a low abandonment rate, reviewing unit and call center performance, developing and implementing policy, establishing staffing levels to correlate with the call volume, and quality improvement.

Mr. Cooper was also a Military Police Officer with the United States Army Fort Ord, California from Jan 1983 – Jan 1985, and has experience in criminal and accident investigations, evidence gathering, report writing, law enforcement procedures, and community relations. He received a Bachelor of Science in Criminology, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida 1988. He serves on Boards of Community Child Welfare agencies in the Orange County Florida area and currently resides with his family in Orlando Florida.



Sheila Cooper, Consultant

Sheila Cooper is Stephen Group Senior Consultant who was most recently a client executive with CSG Government Solutions. Leveraging over 18 years of state government experience, her background includes wide-ranging work in Medicaid including experience with Medicaid Management Information Systems (MMIS), Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA), health insurance exchange, Medicaid managed care, and performance based contracting. As an independent consultant, her current client work includes consulting on Medicaid modularization and managed care IT readiness. Sheila has extensive background in functional requirements development, business and use case analysis, clinical business intelligence, advance planning document (APD) preparation and negotiation, integrated eligibility for health and human services programs, Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security, HIPAA electronic data interchange, and project management.

Sheila’s most recent work includes assisting several health plans with the implementation of a new line of Medicaid managed care business for SSI children, a complex program that includes both acute care services and long term services and supports. Sheila works with multiple health plans to ensure their organization and infrastructure is operationally ready to efficiently and effectively implement the new program. This includes review and improvement of the current organizational structure, current systems, workflows, and all aspects of the client’s implementation planning. Sheila facilitates executive level decision making and is an experienced facilitator, able to assist groups in achieving consensus.

While at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) Sheila served as Project Manager for Medicaid Information Technology Architecture (MITA) State-Self Assessment (SS-A) and to-be road map for the 52,000-employee health and human service agency. She worked with over 240 subject matter experts and obtained a far-reaching and in-depth knowledge of the all aspects of Medicaid. Sheila facilitated sessions with HHSC executive management to develop a strategic plan for MITA, producing a proposed project portfolio that was standards based, moved HHS toward inter-operability, and was centered in improving HIT and health information exchange (HIE) for the Medicaid Enterprise.

During her tenure at HHSC, Sheila served as the lead for all MMIS Advance Planning Documents (APD). She developed and delivered over 50 APDs resulting in federal approval for millions of dollars of enhanced funding for the State of Texas. She utilized extensive knowledge of state and federal regulations and the state and federal budgeting process and prepared detailed project documentation and budgets. She worked closely with Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) regional and central office staff, building close relationships and using negotiation skills to maximize federal funding. Educational background:  Sheila received her BA (Psychology) from Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire and her Masters in Business Administration from the Anderson School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles.



Dr. Kim Shackelford, Consultant

Dr. Kimberly Shackelford is a Senior Consultant at The Stephen Group. Kim obtained her PhD in Leadership and Higher Education from the University of Mississippi, her MSW from the University of Southern Mississippi and her BS in Sociology from Iowa State University from which she graduated Phi Kappa Phi. She is a licensed Clinical Social Worker.

Formerly, Kim served as the Deputy Administrator of Mississippi Department of Human Services, Division of Family and Children’s Services from 2013 – 2015. As Deputy Administrator of MDHS-DFCS, Kim led the 1500 employee agency in the development of many new initiatives, including a stellar quality assurance program that was recognized by the Administration for Children and Families, Region IV as a model for other states. The Continuous Quality Improvement unit not only monitored for practice using quantitative measurements, but also assessed for quality work and outcomes. As a result of her leadership, the county and regional staff worked with stakeholders to develop and take action on their own improvement plans. Kim guided the agency in the creation of usable data reports. She also tackled the issue of maltreatment of children in state custody and child fatalities with a specialized team of professionals trained in the dynamics of these investigations and by improving communication among those investigating, licensing, auditing and monitoring placements. Independent living services were improved by empowering foster teens to be involved in innovative Teen Advisory Boards. Kim met with foster teens and encouraged the establishment of their own platforms for improvements in the system. Permanency improved for children in custody by continuing the permanency roundtables and creating an intense effort for finding all children permanent families and by developing a single tracking system for termination of rights court cases. Multiple placements and inadequate mental health services were met with a newly formed clinical team to support the staff in the field with achievement of appropriate and therapeutic placements and services for children with special needs. Sex trafficking of children became a priority for understanding, recognition and needed legislation under Kim’s leadership. A new professional development curriculum for new workers and supervisors as well as on-going professional development program for all staff was continuously recognized by federal partners and leaders from other states as an excellent, rigorous and thorough professional development program. The recognition of the need for trauma informed work and clinical supervision along with strong, accountable, competent leadership created a thriving workforce throughout the state and in geographical areas that had 50-95% vacancies upon her acceptance of the position. Kim also created a trusting relationship between the agency and placement providers which gained momentum throughout the initiation of performance based outcome contracting. Kim managed the $144,000,000 budget for this agency and was successful in passing the federal IV-E review. She also quickly led the agency to the successful completion of a federal performance improvement plan that was in place prior to her being hired and after the last Child and Service Family Review. Kim’s service as the Deputy Administrator of the Division of Family and Children’s Services was strengthened by her longevity and success in various previous positions held in the field of child welfare. Kim began her social work career in 1985 and served a total of 13 years during her early years in the field of child welfare and adult protection. She draws on her experience as a front-line child/adult protection worker in the areas of investigations, prevention, protection, foster care, adoption and licensure of foster homes as well as her invaluable skill acquisition as a DFCS supervisor, trainer and training director to advance knowledge and improve practice in child welfare systems. She has consistently been committed to research and empirically based practice, but also is known for trying unconventional methods to tackle difficult and complex problems. She also initiated Secondary Traumatic Stress training for all DFCS staff in 1994, which has continued throughout the years. Kim was instrumental in bringing the practice of family team meetings to Mississippi during her leadership as the Training Unit Director when this model was first recognized as a practice in Australia. Kim participated in the development of the first Child and Family Services Review by imparting the knowledge gained from the successful practices for case review in Mississippi and volunteering Mississippi as the first pilot for this federal review. In 1996, Kim received the U. S. DHHS Commissioner’s Award for her service and leadership in the Mississippi public child welfare agency.

Prior to joining the Department of Human Services as Deputy Director, Kim was a Professor of Social Work at the University of Mississippi in Oxford. She began her academic career as an Assistant Professor in 1999 and after being granted tenure and becoming an associate professor in 6 years, she went on to become a full professor in 2013.In 2005, Kim was awarded the Thomas Crowe Outstanding Faculty Award from the School of Applied Sciences at the University of Mississippi. She was the Baccalaureate Program Director for the Department of Social Work for 2 years, which included responsibility for the leadership and management of 250 students and the faculty of three campuses.

During the years in which she served as a professor, Kim also served as consultant, conference presenter and workshop leader for several organizations in many states and other countries. From 2009 – 2013 Kim led learning labs for Mississippi’s Children’s Home Society supervisors and leaders. From 2007-2013, Kimberly served as consultant and workshop leader for University of California at Davis Northern California Child Welfare Training Academy in the areas of child welfare leadership, supervision and secondary traumatic stress. From 2006-2012, Kimberly served as a consultant and curriculum writer for the Mississippi Department of Human Services and the University of Southern Mississippi for their Child Welfare Supervisory Learning Labs. From 2005 – 2007, Kimberly served as a Consultant with CYBER, Inc on Child Welfare Supervision in Rural Nevada, and Clarke County, Nevada. She also worked with workers and supervisors at different times and in several areas of Los Angeles regarding traumatic stress. She presented to and helped supervisors and child welfare leaders in Capetown, South Africa, Ontario, Canada and Belize City, Belize.

During her tenure as a faculty member at the University of MS, Kim was awarded a DHHS 5-year Quality Improvement Grant through the University of Kentucky. The project involved creating and researching a new model of child welfare supervision professional development. The participants in the child welfare supervisory learning labs showed significant improvement in the agency’s turnover rates and the perception of organizational culture and worker self-efficacy. Through another grant award, she developed the University of Mississippi Child Welfare Training Academy and created a team of professionals responsible for producing the current professional development curriculum for new workers, new supervisors, and on-going professional development modules for all field staff. Kim also volunteered to work with staff when they experienced a child fatality during her years as a professor of social work. From 2001 – 2005, Kimberly served as a consultant with Johnson, Bassin, and Shaw, Inc. In this role she worked with the US DHHS Administration for Children and Families Children’s Bureau through participation in the Child Welfare System Review in other states.In 1999, Kimberly contracted with the National Resource Center on Permanency Planning at Hunter College in New York City to develop a new child welfare practice curriculum for the Mississippi Department of Human Services – Division of Family and Children’s Services. As part of this project, she wrote the Best Practices curriculum, which was presented to all agency staff in Mississippi. During her academic career, Kim advocated for and participated in the development of a new MSW program (2008), achieved accreditation of the new MSW program (2011), and developed 4 new courses for the MSW program at the University of Mississippi. Kim was also appointed to the Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Commission on Children.

Kim has also established herself as a researcher and published author.