Karen Francis is a principal researcher and interim chief diversity officer at AIR. Her primary areas of focus and research are in cultural and linguistic competence, mental health programming, rural behavioral health, reducing disparities and addressing disproportionate minority contact. She works nationally to provide training and technical assistance to address disproportionate minority contact within the juvenile justice system. Dr. Francis also serves as an on-site consultant on Cultural and Linguistic Competency to the Child Adolescent and Family Branch, Center for Mental Health Services, SAMHSA, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In this capacity, she coordinates the development and dissemination of information, resources, best practices, and other tools to ensure the development of effective strategies for addressing cultural and linguistic competency and the reduction of racial/ethnic disparities. She leads activities focused on rural behavioral health and addressing mental health disparities in rural areas.
Dr. Francis is involved in the coordination of a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, and Two-Spirit (LGBTQI2-S) learning community under the Technical Assistance Partnership for Children’s and Family Mental Health, and has contributed to the development of a practice brief and book chapter on LGBTQI2-S issues within systems of care. She also serves as a member of the LGBTQI2-S national workgroup sponsored through the Child, Adolescent and Family Branch.
Dr. Francis also works as a lead consultant for school districts to conduct needs assessments, develop strategic plans, and identify evidence-based programs to address positive school climate. This includes working collaboratively with school administrators, school climate personnel and staff to coordinate training and provide technical assistance on conflict resolution, character education, and the development of positive school climates. She has also been involved with and guided processes for the development of curricula, technical assistance protocols, peer-review protocols, research and evaluation procedures as well as other resource materials for federally funded grants. Dr. Francis currently serves as a Commissioner on the Maryland Governors’ Commission on Caribbean Affairs.