Robert Illback, PsyD

President, Chief Executive Officer, Senior Evaluation Researcher


Robert Illback is President, Chief Executive Officer, and Senior Evaluation Researcher at REACH of Louisville. From 1982 through 1998, he was Professor of Psychology in the clinical psychology training program at Spalding University.

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A Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), and the Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology (AAAPP), Dr. Illback has published extensively in areas of child psychology and education. He has co-edited three books, including Integrated Services for Children and Families: Opportunities for Psychological Practice (APA Books, 1997). Emerging School-Based Approaches for Children with Emotional and Behavioral Problems: Research and Practice in Service Integration, (Haworth Press, 1996), and Organizational Psychology in the Schools: A Handbook for Professionals (Charles C. Thomas, 1984).

Dr. Illback served as principal investigator  for a number of large-scale systems of care initiatives, including Kentucky’s Family Resource and Youth Services Centers, Kentucky IMPACT, Health Access: Nurturing Development Services (HANDS), and Kentucky’s substance abuse prevention programs. He also formulated and directed evaluation research efforts for the Jigsaw youth mental health service in the Republic of Ireland, which he helped design and implement.

Dr. Illback has been active in professional association work at the local and national level, and completed nine years of service as a member of the State Board of Examiners in Psychology, including two terms as Chair. In 1990, he was named the inaugural recipient of the Donald R. Peterson Prize in recognition of career contributions in professional psychology.

Margaret Pennington, MSSW

Director of Planning, Evaluation, & Consultation


Margaret Pennington serves as the Director of Policy, Evaluation, and Consultation Services at REACH. In that role, and under the leadership of Dr. Illback, she is responsible for: organizing and directing the work of REACH’s interdisciplinary evaluation team; serving as evaluation researcher; developing and identifying planning and evaluation opportunities; and marketing REACH’s extraordinary evaluation research capacity.

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Prior to coming to REACH, between July 1999 and December 2003, Margaret served as the Commissioner of the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities. In that capacity, she oversaw the delivery of publicly funded mental health, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse, and acquired brain injury services, and led the shift toward evidence based practices. Accomplishments during her tenure included the completion of the statewide network of regional centers for adults and children experiencing a mental health crisis, the almost doubling of the state’s capacity to provide comprehensive community services to individuals with intellectual disabilities, the creation of a statewide infrastructure for serving adults with brain injuries, and the expansion of services to women who abuse substances and the accompanying improvements in health outcomes for their children.

For 14 years, Margaret worked in the Department for Behavioral Health, Developmental and Intellectual Disabilities, first as the Branch Manager of the Children’s Branch and then as Director of the Department. She played a key role in the decriminalization of the involuntary commitment process; the design and implementation of a system of care for children with severe emotional disabilities; and the enhanced involvement of consumers and families in the design and delivery of services.

From 1972 to 1985, she worked for the former Departments of Child Welfare and Social Services, where she began her career in child protection and foster care. Recognizing the right of every child to a family, Margaret advocated for and initiated the Special Needs Adoption Program.

In her capacity as Commissioner, Margaret served on a number of statewide boards and commissions, including the Center for School Safety’s Board of Directors, the State Interagency Council for Children with Emotional Disabilities, the State Housing Policy Advisory Committee, and the two new commissions that are charged with the development of ten-year plans for delivery of mental health, substance abuse and mental retardation services.

She represented the southern states on the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors and was the Vice President of that Board prior to her retirement.

Margaret attended Hanover College and graduated with honors from the Kent School of Social Work at the University of Louisville.

She is married to Dr. Gary E. Pennington, a marriage and family therapist and Presbyterian minister. They live in Louisville.

Daniel Sanders Jr, PhD

Senior Evaluation Researcher & Statistician


Daniel Sanders, Jr. (father of Daniel Sanders III, REACH’s Information Manager) serves REACH as Senior Evaluation Researcher. He currently spends most of his time working on the KIP and Synar evaluation projects. These are state wide substance prevention initiatives funded by a grant from the Division of Substance Abuse. Dr. Sanders has been involved in the planning and implementation, and analyzing the resulting data using a variety of statistical tools (including factor analysis and multivariate regression). From these analyses it is possible to extract useful information for future prevention efforts.

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After earning a Ph.D. at U. of L., Dr. Sanders taught courses there at the undergraduate level in statistics, research methods, economics, and urban sociology. He also taught courses in the Master of Public Administration program. Earlier, he majored in philosophy at Princeton, earned a Master of Divinity degree, did social work here in Louisville, and then served as a diplomat in Ouagadougou and Zagreb. He was named Cherokee Park volunteer of the year for 2001.

Ben Birkby, PsyD

Senior Evaluation Researcher & Licensed Psychologist


Licensed Psychologist & Evaluation Researcher Ben serves as a licensed psychologist and evaluation researcher with REACH. He holds a Psy.D. from Spalding University in Clinical Psychology (December, 2000), and a license to practice psychology from the Kentucky Board of Examiners in Psychology (he also holds the Health Service Provider endorsement). A long-time REACH employee, Ben has held several positions and worked in various capacities during the past 13 years.

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For a number of years Ben worked as a Clinical Coordinator in REACH’s Therapeutic Foster Care program, coordinating the care of a number of children with complex needs. He also helped to coordinate the initial training sequence and certification process of therapeutic foster parents.

More recently, Ben has been primarily involved in planning, managing and conducting a range of program evaluation projects. Ben has served as principal investigator for several evaluation projects and is currently leading the evaluation efforts for a large substance abuse prevention initiative in partnership with Kentucky’s Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse. Also a child and family clinician, Ben worked in summer therapeutic recreation programs in New York and Kentucky and completed his predoctoral internship at Girls and Boys Town in Nebraska. He maintains a small outpatient psychology practice. Ben volunteers on the Ethics Committee of the Kentucky Psychological Association and has served as both Chair and Vice-Chair of this committee. His professional interests include planning and evaluation of human services programs, therapeutic foster care, family support, community partnerships, child and family behavior therapy, prevention of child maltreatment and related areas.

Ben has three children (Nathan, Grace and Will) and is married to Laurie Birkby who also works at REACH.

Lisa Crabtree, MA

Evaluation Researcher


Lisa Crabtree, M.A. is an Evaluation Researcher at REACH. She manages the biennial Kentucky Incentives for Prevention (KIP) survey, the state’s largest source of data related to student use of alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs (ATOD) as well as a number of other risk and protective factors related to potential substance abuse:

More about Lisa

She  designs and implements all aspects of various program evaluations, including: creating data collection instruments, constructing logic models, managing survey research, conducting key informant interviews, facilitating focus groups and analyzing and reporting data. Her current primary projects include initiatives in Jefferson County, Shelby County and multiple counties in Northern Kentucky, with efforts variously focused on: improving pedagogical expertise and mathematics achievement; the development of community-based substance abuse prevention resources and programming; the expansion of smoking cessation resources; and, addressing relationship violence among teens.

Lisa earned Bachelor’s degrees in psychology and English at Bellarmine University, and studied Intercultural Communications and completed her minor thesis at Växjö University in Växjö, Sweden. During Master’s coursework in sociology at the University of Louisville she concentrated on social determinants of inequity, distress and bereavement. Outside of work, Lisa serves on the board of the Upper Highlands Neighborhood Association. She loves living in that neighborhood with her husband Kyle, their son Will, daughter Nina, and dog Atticus.

Teresa McGeeney, MS



Teresa McGeeney serves as Epidemiologist for REACH Evaluation. Her primary focus is providing program direction for the State Epidemiological Outcomes Workgroup (SEOW), funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The SEOW focuses on substance abuse prevention and mental health promotion among youth and young adults in Kentucky.  She also provides REACH with epidemiological analysis on other projects to evaluate and inform policy and organizational or community-based public health efforts.

More about Teresa

Teresa has both epidemiological and program implementation experience on previous federally-funded grant projects. Her master’s research focused on teenage workplace injury, disparities, and evaluation of potential protective factors for safer work environments. Most recently, Teresa was Project Manager at the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency (KIPDA) for a grant from the National Program to Eliminate Diabetes-Related Disparities in Vulnerable Populations. In this role, Teresa facilitated and coordinated the activities of the KIPDA Rural Diabetes Coalition (KRDC). KRDC uses a grassroots organizing model to engage community members and leaders from multiple sectors to address the epidemic of diabetes in Bullitt, Shelby, and Henry Counties, Kentucky.

Teresa’s interests focus on using data to inform policy to build equitable and efficient systems of care and health promotion. She has a strong interest in mental health promotion, as well as health disparities. In her free time, Teresa enjoys spending time with her nephews, knitting, and running a small calligraphy and design business.

Shireen Deobhakta, PhD

Evaluation Researcher

Shireen Deobhakta serves as an Evaluation Researcher for REACH Evaluation. She provides research services to the Promise Neighborhood projects through a contract with Berea College. She also provides expertise in Behavioral Science approaches, which use a mixture of Psychology and Economics to nudge behaviors and solve problems in order to improve service delivery.

More about Shireen

Shireen received her doctorate in Urban and Public Affairs from the University of Louisville, her Masters of Business Administration from the Ohio State University, and her Bachelor of Arts from Ohio Wesleyan University. Her doctoral research focused on the social costs of gentrification in Over-the-Rhine, Cincinnati. During her doctoral program, she also taught courses at the University of Louisville. Shireen is a strong believer in applied research, which led her to the decision to choose practice over academia.

Most recently, Shireen worked at the Mayor’s Office as a Research and Evaluation Consultant. In that capacity, she was responsible for embedding evidence-based practices within government and applying Behavioral Science approaches to improve service delivery. Her main area of focus was on Louisville’s violence prevention efforts and embedding an evaluation component to the city’s adoption of the Cure Violence Model. Shireen also evaluated Louisville’s prisoner reentry programs and completed a number of projects that used Behavioral Science approaches to improve service delivery.

As an avid lover of animals, Shireen loves spending time with her dog, Rousseau. She also loves to paint and spend time with family and friends.

Edie Gebhard-Luther

Communications Associate


Edie serves REACH Evaluation as Communications Associate. Her primary role is to design, manage, and produce publications for the research and evaluation team. Edie participates in the overall planning, development, and evaluation of survey projects in addition to managing and maintaining the print plant for the organization.

More about Edie

Prior to REACH, Edie served as program manager for the Arts Council of Southern Indiana from August 2006 to May 2010 and as graphic designer and publications coordinator for Louisville Presbyterian Seminary from August 1999 to March 2006. She also worked for the national office of the Presbyterian Church (USA) from 1988 to 1999 as Associate for Conferences and Publications.

Edie is the mother of three children (Meghan, Madelyn, and Matthew), likes to dabble in watercolor, and is actively involved in the arts in southern Indiana. In her free time, she serves as project manager for a free after school arts education program (asAp!) for junior and senior high youth sponsored by Harrison County Arts! and funded by the Harrison County Community Foundation.

Software Development Team


Daniel Sanders III

Chief Information Officer


Daniel Sanders III is the Chief Information Officer for REACH. As CIO he manages the implementation of useful technology to support internal REACH processes and software development for REACH customers. Daniel participates in many REACH evaluations in various capacities, often with a focus on data analysis. As an integral part of REACH’s planning and evaluation work in Ireland, Daniel also makes regular journeys overseas to work in concert with Headstrong, Ireland’s National Centre for Youth Mental Health.

More about Daniel

Daniel is a 2002 graduate of the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in business with a concentration in Information Technology. In addition to his full-time duties at REACH, Daniel is the co-founder of the Magnolia Photo Booth Co., a Louisville- based digital photo booth rental company (

Tim Davis

Senior Applications Programmer/Analyst


Tim is an Applications Developer at REACH. In this role he maintains the SIG Data Warehouse and develops other websites. He also maintains an application used to generate the KIP reports.

Tim is a graduate of Biola University, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and mathematics. Currently Tim is also a part-time seminary student.

Laurie Birkby

IT Support


Laurie Birkby serves as part-time IT support at REACH. She began working at REACH in 2000 as a part time family support staff for the therapeutic foster care program. When she completed her degree in Information Technology she moved into her current position, where she oversees the daily performance of computer systems, answers user inquiries regarding computer software or hardware operation to resolve problems, sets up equipment for employee use, performs or ensures proper installation of cables, operating systems, and appropriate software, and installs and performs minor repairs to hardware, software, or peripheral equipment, among other duties.


Kyle Underwood

Applications Programmer/Analyst


Kyle Underwood is an Applications Developer at REACH. He graduated from the University of Louisville Speed School with a Master’s of Engineering in Computer Engineering and Computer Science in 2012. Before coming to REACH, Kyle worked for a travel company, developing websites that provide an online booking engine and other travel resources.