Human beings crave connection and community. Studies have found that people who regularly connect with family, friends and their community struggle less with their mental health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many children and families have become increasingly isolated from others. Family & Children’s Services has done a great amount of work to support families during this time, especially through their Maternal Mental Health program. Their work has shown that collaboration can also be a powerful tool in supporting mental health.
In any discussion about racism in medicine, the racial inequities in maternal health are sure to come up. Maternal mortality rates for black mothers are over three times higher than that of white women. This statistic is disappointing and daunting, especially for Black and Indigenous people who are expectant and/or trying to conceive. LaBrisa Williams leads the Tulsa Birth Equity Initiative (TBEI), a multi-program initiative that equips families in Tulsa to have healthy births with dignity and reduce maternal health disparities. TBEI approaches the work with the acknowledgment that a singular solution will not fix the racial disparities in maternal mortality, infant mortality and the lived experience of underserved families during pregnancy. Because of this, TBEI is committed to not only providing direct services and meeting immediate, individual needs but also addressing and shaping systems-level change.
Sophia Pappas joined GKFF in 2017. She's responsible for the implementation of the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST). Before joining GKFF, Ms. Pappas authored Good Morning, Children (Gryphon House, '09), spearheaded Teach For America’s national Early Childhood Education Initiative and served as Chief of Staff for the NYC Dept. of Education for the Division of Talent, Labor and Innovation. She ran the NYC Dept. of Education’s Early Childhood Education Division where she oversaw teams responsible for ensuring Pre-K for all programs across the city, serving approximately 70,000 children annually offering high-quality classroom instruction and family engagement. She managed public and private partnerships supporting these efforts. She attended Georgetown University and Harvard Kennedy School earning a Master of Public Policy.
Catrice Brantley is the Director of ConnectFirst, with the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. Prior to joining GKFF, she held various nurse leadership roles with the most recent at St. John Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Ms. Brantley holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Oral Roberts University and a Master of Science in Nurse Midwifery from the University of Kansas.
Dan Sterba is the Director of Data Systems and Technology for the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa for GKFF. He joins the team from the healthcare consulting industry, where he worked on process optimization and software design for large non-profit hospital systems. Mr. Sterba graduated from Brown University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in both Economics and Russian.
Amy joined GKFF in 2018 as the Director of Research Partnerships for the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST). She comes to GKFF from Oklahoma State University, where as a Clinical Associate Professor she held leadership roles in early childhood workforce development, including serving as the Early Childhood Education Program Coordinator and Oklahoma Co-Coordinator for the National Family Development Credential. She is a graduate of Tulsa Edison High School and holds a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Human Development & Family Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia, a Master of Education degree in Sport & Exercise Psychology from the University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Human & Organizational Development from Vanderbilt University.
Allison joined GKFF in 2019 as Director of Operations for the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. With over 15 years experience in education, first as a teacher and instructional coach and then moving on to systems-level roles in K-12 education, Allison most recently worked as a district administrator in Denver Public Schools and then nationally as a consultant. Her professional work has been focused on strategic planning, program implementation and scale-up efforts through an equity lens, including leadership, instructional and HR policies and practices, as well as management of large public grants. Allison earned Bachelor’s degrees in creative writing and American Studies from the University of Illinois, an MA in American Studies from the University of East Anglia in England, and a Masters of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Sabrina Ton is the Community Engagement Fellow at the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa (BEST). A proud daughter of Vietnamese refugees, she holds a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare and a Bachelor of Arts in Letters with Honors from the University of Oklahoma. Sabrina is passionate about the importance of literature and storytelling in understanding the human condition, building essential skills of empathy, and honoring the stories of communities that have been historically marginalized.
Stefanie Menting serves as the Program Coordinator for ConnectFirst with the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. Prior to joining GKFF, Ms. Menting worked at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa as the residency program coordinator in the Department of Family and Community Medicine. She graduated from Northern Kentucky University with a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal Studies and from the University of Oklahoma with a master’s degree in Human Relations.
Tegan Cortes serves as the Administrative Coordinator for Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. Prior to joining GKFF, she spent several years working in administration at local private K-12 schools with most recent at Metro Christian Academy. She has spent the past decade traveling overseas doing missions work in Latin American communities. Mrs. Cortes holds a Bachelor of Arts in Church Administration and minor in Non-Profit Business Administration from Oral Roberts University. Previous to attending Oral Roberts University, she graduated from Victory College with studies focused in ministry and leadership.
Angela Wells serves as an Operations Associate for Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. Prior to joining GKFF, she spent 30 years as a high school Latin teacher in both public and private schools. Ms. Wells holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Classical Languages and History from Trinity University as well as a Master of Arts in Teaching degree in Classics from Vanderbilt University.
Anna joined GKFF in 2020 and serves as the Associate Director of Partner and External Operations for the Birth Through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. With over 10 years of experience in education, first as a teacher and then as a nonprofit leader, Anna most recently worked as the founding director of the Meridian Freedom Project in Meridian, Mississippi. From 2013 to 2019, Anna worked alongside community leaders, parents and students to create an out-of-school space that was rooted in preparing middle and high school students to be socially conscious and academically successful leaders. During this time, Anna also worked to establish state-wide partnerships to ensure long-term sustainability for the organization before stepping down to spend nearly a year at home with her young son. Anna is a Tulsa native and holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Baylor University.
Beth Delancy is a Project Manager on the Data Systems and Technology Team for the Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. She worked in corporate IT for many years before moving to MyHealth Access Network where she worked on BEST projects for two years before joining the team in 2021. Her corporate experience included working with executive and IT management, business partners, IT infrastructure, and application development teams to implement new technology and consolidate diverse processes to achieve goals in the mortgage, pre-employment screening, and oil & gas industries. Beth graduated from Oklahoma State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management and a minor in Management Information Systems.
Ashley Knox serves as an Operations Associate for Birth through Eight Strategy for Tulsa. Prior to joining GKFF, she supported her family’s restaurant, Sweet Lisa’s, in north Tulsa and is the past chair of the TYPROS Foundation.