University of Wisconsin–Madison

Our Staff

Gay Thomas

Director of Stakeholder Engagement

grthomas@wisc.edu

Gay Thomas, MA is Director of Stakeholder Engagement with the Wisconsin Network for Research Support (WINRS), an innovative patient and community engagement resource based at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Nursing. Gay is passionate about helping research teams create and sustain effective partnerships with patient/public stakeholders, especially those from under-represented populations. Over the past 8 years, it’s been her privilege to listen to community members and patients give researchers powerful advice on how to improve research materials and increase the diversity of study participants. Her background includes work on Capitol Hill, for Planned Parenthood and with several health insurance organizations. Gay believes that the most effective outcomes result from deep and respectful personal engagement. “One thing I love about my work is the chance to bring real, but under-represented, voices into the development of research and educational programs. So-called ‘lay people’ are the true experts on their own lives. Getting this perspective integrated into the research process feels like a huge step towards reducing health disparities”.

Betty Kaiser

Director of Stakeholder Training

blkaiser@wisc.edu

Betty Kaiser, PhD, RN develops tailored training programs that prepare stakeholders for their work on specific projects, as well as train-the-trainer programs that help research teams build skills for delivering stakeholder training programs. Betty’s background includes experience in teaching, program planning and evaluation, and community-based research. She joined the WINRS team in 2010. “I know what it’s like to want stakeholder involvement in projects, but not know where to start. Stakeholder engagement can seem out-of-reach when your time and resources are limited. But meaningful engagement is not limited to community-based participatory research. I’m excited to do work at WINRS that makes meaningful stakeholder engagement feasible and rewarding for any researcher or program developer.”

Kaitlin Svabek

Communications and Engagement Specialist

svabek@wisc.edu

Kaitlin Svabek has a background in community engagement, research support, and instruction. She attended Northwestern University to obtain degrees in Psychology and Nonfiction Writing, sparking her interest in research and communication. After graduation, she served as a community engagement specialist at a high school through an AmeriCorps VISTA grant, working with students, parents, and community groups to facilitate increased involvement in the school’s decision-making processes. Kaitlin attended graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she earned an MA in Information Innovation and Organizational Change at the iSchool. She joined the team in the summer of 2016.

Barb Bowers

Faculty Advisor

Barbara Bowers is a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Nursing. She is the faculty director of the Center for Aging Research and Education, Director of the qualitative and mixed methods research resources and Director of the Clinical and Community Outcomes Research Certificate program for the Community Academic Partnerships/Institute Clinical and Translational Research. Professor Bowers’ research has focused on workforce development and models of care in settings serving older adults and people with lifetime disabilities. She has served on many state and federal work groups related to quality improvement and workforce development in long term care. Professor Bowers earned her undergraduate degree in Nursing at the University of Michigan, a Master’s degree in nursing from Wayne State University in Detroit, and a PhD from the University of California-San Francisco. Prior to entering graduate school, she worked as a nurse practitioner in geriatrics. She initiated the WINRS project with a grant from the federal government in the hope of creating a strong connection between faculty researchers and community members while making research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison more beneficial to the larger community. “The opportunity to work so closely with and learn from people in our community has been wonderful. I am convinced that the quality and usefulness of our research has benefited tremendously from the skilled and thoughtful input of so many.”