Meet the TIPS Team
The TIPS team is dedicated to improving children’s success in school and in life. This talented, highly knowledgeable team is comprised of professionals with experience in early childhood education, child development, social work, mental health, substance abuse, violence prevention, writing and editing.
Nikki Edge, Ph.D.
Nikki Edge, PhD is an Associate Professor in the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine with a background in Educational Psychology and Research. She conducts research on factors that place children at risk for poor social and emotional outcomes, and designs and evaluates interventions for these high risk children and families. Her specific areas of focus include children and families impacted by maternal substance use, depression and traumatic events such as abuse or neglect and she has published widely in these areas. She also focuses on designing and evaluating interventions in early care and education settings to support teachers and parents and build social and emotional skills in young children. In addition to her role on the TIPS team, she directs an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation program in Arkansas, called Project PLAY as well as a teacher training and coaching program, called REACH.
Sharon Clark, LMSW
Sharon Clark serves as the program manager of the TIPS team. She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Sharon has over 20 years of experience in the mental health field, including therapeutic work with at-risk children and their families. She is also an advocate for specialized women’s services and provides guidance and support to implement TIPS in high-voucher use, private daycare centers, state and federally funded early education programs, home visitation programs, women’s substance abuse treatment centers, and domestic violence shelters in Arkansas.
Michelle Trulsrud provides technical assistance and support to programs that are implementing TIPS. She promotes and disseminates TIPS in community-based early childhood settings and conducts TIPS trainings for preschool teachers. Michelle has over 17 years’ experience working with children. Prior to joining the TIPS team, Michelle was the Executive Director of Pulaski County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates), training community volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children in the Juvenile Court system.
Kim Drake is a trainer for TIPS as well as provides technical assistance and support in implementing TIPS. She travels the state providing TIPS training and support to early childhood centers throughout Arkansas. She has a Bachelor of Science from the University of Central Arkansas with a focus on Family and Consumer Science. She has spent the past 20 years working for various non-profits and government agencies advocating for children in Arkansas. Kim’s areas of interest is strengthening families and early childhood literacy.
Andrew Forsman serves as the internal evaluator for TIPS, where he focuses on helping the team collect and use data to improve program quality, drive learning, and refine their strategies for impacting Arkansas’s children. Before joining the TIPS team, he published a nationally circulated case study on building evaluation capacity in AmeriCorps state commissions, conducted evaluations for the Belize Ministry of Education’s financial literacy efforts, and developed an evaluation plan for a nutrition education outreach program at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. Andrew is a proud alumni of the Clinton School of Public Service.
Kelsey Thomas serves as a program coordinator with the TIPS Team. She provides assistance in the development of TIPS trainings and workshops, as well as content creation for TIPS social media. Kelsey is pursuing a master’s in social work through the University of Arkansas with a focus in research, intervention, and program development specific to adolescents exposed to adverse life experiences. She currently has two years of experience in adolescent mental and behavioral health. In addition to her role on the TIPS team, Kelsey conducts research for REACH programming and Project PLAY.
Patti Bokony, Ph.D.
Dr. Patti Bokony launched TIPS as a pilot program in 2006, in partnership with the North Little Rock School District. The success of the pilot program led to the launch of TIPS statewide. TIPS has been implemented in seven states nationwide and that number will continue to grow.
Dr. Bokony has retired as an assistant research professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. She earned a Master of Education in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology from the University of Memphis. Dr. Bokony’s areas of interest include developing preventive interventions that promote social-emotional development in early childhood and promoting those interventions through parenting education and professional development for childcare and early education professionals.