ABOUT THE CENTER

The CAFO Center on Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families facilitates the application of the best available knowledge within faith-based programs serving vulnerable children and families around the globe.

At this intersection of tremendous opportunity and immense challenge stands the Center on Applied Research For Vulnerable Children and Families. At its heart, it is a vision of integration: improving outcomes for vulnerable children and families worldwide by uniting the often-disparate worlds of research, practice, and systems change.

LEADERSHIP

The leadership of the Research Center help to shape the mission and help to fulfil the vision.

NICOLE WILKE

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DR. MANDY HOWARD

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PAIGE BILLING

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LEADERSHIP

The leadership of the Research Center help to shape the mission and fulfill the vision.

NICOLE WILKE

NICOLE WILKE

Nicole Wilke serves as Director of CAFO’s Center on Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families.

Prior to this role, she worked as a child and family therapist, missionary, in juvenile detention, and with children with special needs. Through her professional and personal life, she has gained extensive experience with foster care, adoption, residential care, trauma recovery, transitioning to family care, OVC research, and cross-cultural ministry. Nicole has degrees in Psychology, Family Studies, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Permanency and Adoption Competency.

She lives with her family in Peru, where they work to see vulnerable children raised in families.

DR. MANDY HOWARD

DR. MANDY HOWARD

Mandy Hiles Howard is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Samford University. She came to Samford after serving as the Assistant Director of the TCU Institute of Child Development. She worked closely with Drs. Karyn Purvis and David Cross in the development of Trust-Based Relational Interventions, which is a trauma-informed evidence-based approach to working with children who have a history of trauma.

Mandy’s professional interest broadly falls under the category of applied developmental psychology. Her work integrates theory, research and practice in a concentrated effort to increase understanding of the interpersonal processes underlying mental health and quality of life for children and youth in non-traditional care. Her research has generated a great deal of political and public policy interest both nationally and internationally. Some of her major engagements include addressing Australian Parliament and meeting with the Prime Minister, speaking at the internationally simulcasted Empower to Connect Conference, and training professionals within the Department of Family and Protective Services in multiple states.

LAURA KOST

LAURA KOST

Laura has served in the nonprofit community for over seven years, managing communications, sponsorship, best practice, and more. She is now the Digital Marketing Specialist for CAFO’s Center of Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families. She is passionate about collaborating with others to continually learn more and do better on behalf of children everywhere.

Laura lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys rainy days, long books, and good chocolate – preferably all at once!

PAIGE BILLING

PAIGE BILLING

Paige Billing serves as the Project Manager of CAFO’s Center on Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families.

Paige felt the call to serve orphans and vulnerable children early in life, and that call became especially evident in her teens through a series of mission trips to the Guatemala City garbage dump. With the initial goal of working in international adoption, she received her BS in Social Work from Taylor University, where her passion for child welfare and family preservation grew. Prior to this role, Paige has worked as a child protection caseworker, foster home manager, and as a project manager in the healthcare industry.

Paige is the mother to a 6-year-old girl (whom she lovingly calls her “tiny teenager”) and they are always looking for their next great adventure: hiking, camping, traveling, or spending time on the water with family. Paige has always dreamed of growing her family through foster care and/or adoption, so stay tuned!

TRISHA WEBER

TRISHA WEBER

Trisha Weber serves as the operations coordinator for CAFO’s Center on Applied Research for Vulnerable Children and Families.

She earned her BSW and began full-time ministry serving urban churches and vulnerable families in Denver, CO. Partially as a result of this experience, Trisha and her husband, Jason, were foster parents for ten years and have had the privilege of adopting their five children from foster care. Trisha loves coaching foster and adoptive families through their journeys and supporting local church leaders and social workers. She is a co-author of the HomeBuilders Bible Study, Considering Adoption and of the resource Preparing for Transracial Adoption.

In her free time, she loves to work on creative projects with her husband, go on adventures with her family, and sit with friends for long meals talking deeply and laughing hard. Trisha and family, along with Trisha’s loyal sidekick, Max (a poodle/whatever mix), live in Plano, Texas.

PARTNERSHIPS

Organizations who have partnered with the Center have had a tremendous opportunity to creatively bridge the gap between research and frontline services, helping bring critical knowledge to the people and places where it can make the biggest difference.