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FPG Profile: Tamara Robertson

tamara robertson; african-american woman with short brown hair and cat-eye shaped glasses stands in light-filled hallway

FPG Profile: Tamara Robertson

June 26, 2024

Tamara Robertson, MPH, CHES® is a child welfare support specialist with the Implementation Capacity for Triple P (ICTP) projects within the Impact Center at UNC Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute (FPG). She also fills the role of Division of Social Services (DSS) Triple P coordinator within the NC Triple P System and works closely with Triple P leaders in the DSS within the NC Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). Robertson has more than six years of technical assistance, capacity-building and systems change experience, and has strong roots in community-based adolescent sexual reproductive health education.

As part of our FPG profile series, we recently spoke with Robertson to learn more about her work at FPG. Here’s what she had to say.

Tell us a bit about your professional journey―how did you become an implementation specialist and what brought you to FPG?

My journey to becoming an implementation specialist was by happenstance. I started my career as an HIV/STD community educator at Wake County Health and Human Services. I thought community outreach and education would be the job that I'd do until I retire. Then I was approached with an opportunity to become a capacity building specialist at SHIFT NC, working with the foster care and juvenile justice systems. In this role, I provided technical assistance, training, coaching, and capacity building to LINKS programs and juvenile detention centers across North Carolina to implement evidence-based sexuality education to systems involved youth. I became a technical assistance specialist for CAI, Inc. and worked on an HRSA-funded project called Ending the HIV Epidemic. In this role I provided technical assistance to health departments and hospital systems on the west coast to provide Rapid ART (antiretroviral therapy medication) to newly diagnosed patients to help lower the transmission rates of HIV by utilizing treatment as prevention. This led me to my current role at FPG, working with the Implementation Capacity for Triple P in NC (ICTP) project in the Impact Center.

Describe a typical workday and tell us about the projects you're currently working on.

My typical workday consists of meetings with team members to prep for support calls with regional community implementation teams, leadership and management of the project, and brainstorming and co-creating new tools and resources to be used internally and externally. I also spend some days on working calls with multiple players of the NC Triple P System to provide implementation and peer-to-peer support.

What do you like most about your job?

I enjoy learning. There’s so much research that has been done and I enjoy being a lifelong student. Knowing the systems and communities we work with are enthusiastic about making changes to support families and children is what keeps me engaged. Understanding the intended outcomes of programs and how they can drastically transform parenting is what drives me to keep motivating those we work with.

What do you find most challenging?

In general, knowing that the people we work with want to make changes and would like to implement new strategies for better outcomes, but the barriers of competing priorities, being overworked, and burnout impedes on moving the needle forward. Wanting to change systems for communities also means changing systems to better serve employees who are getting the work done.

How does your work further the mission of FPG?

Through the support provided to the NC Triple P System, we are able to translate research into practice by sharing implementation science best practices and we also make it digestible for players on many levels of this system to understand and to also use within their programs and agencies. The players range from government employees and policy makers to community advocates and members.

What do you hope to have accomplished five years from now?

I hope to have accomplished the successful implementation of Triple P within all 100 NC DSS agencies in the next five years. The Family's First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA) has allotted money to DSS agencies to implement Triple P Level 4 and it is my role within the system to plan and strategize how agencies will embed implementation practices within their agencies to support the implementation of the program.