Amy Wheeler, DPA Alliance Director

Amy Wheeler

After two decades in the field, Amy Wheeler joined the Child Protection Training Academy (CPTA) team at University of Illinois - Springfield in October 2017 as a curriculum designer and simulation facilitator.  

She became the director in January 2020 and is enthusiastic about building and leading the UIS Alliance for Experiential Problem-Based Learning team to continue innovative trainings that improve child wellbeing.  Wheeler obtained her Bachelor of Social Work from James Madison University. She began her service as a child protection investigator, spending nearly ten years working Appalachian counties in her home state of Kentucky. She completed her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Kentucky during that time, with an emphasis on community and family practice and a concentrated focus on family violence. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, is an adjunct instructor for the CAST program, and recently completed her Doctorate of Public Administration at UIS.

Amy is quite fond of her bulldogs and all things Wonder Woman. If she won the lottery she would compete with Jay Leno’s garage. She celebrates life with wife Dr. Celest Weuve, UIS faculty. She has two adult children and an extended family who roam cage-free in Appalachia.

Christine Lindsey, Associate Director of Experiential Learning

Christine Lindsey

Christine earned her master’s degree in human development counseling from the University of Illinois Springfield.  She has over 30 years’ experience in social services, in various roles but always as an advocate for children and families.  Christine joined the Training Academy as a simulation facilitator in August of 2019, becoming Associate Director in April of 2021.

Before joining the staff at UIS, Christine served as the Executive Director for Family Service Center in Springfield, a not-for-profit agency which provided case management services to youth-in-care and their families.  Her experience includes over 20 years with child victims and their non-offending family members at the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center.

In her free time, Christine enjoys yoga and spending time with her family.

Tawnya Hackler, Lead Experiential Learning Facilitator

Tawnya Hackler

Tawnya Hackler joined the Alliance in September of 2021 as the Family Wellbeing Specialist. Ms. Hackler is a 1983 graduate of Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology.  Ms. Hackler began her career as one of only a handful of caseworkers in the state of Illinois hired in the Family First Pilot program in June of 1989.  Ms. Hackler has worked in the front lines of child welfare for over 32 years.  Ms. Hackler’s experience has included working in Intact, Placement and Child Protection Services in both Southeastern and Central Illinois.  The belief that all parents share similar hopes, dreams and goals for their children at birth and that it truly does take a village to raise a child, is at the core of Ms. Hackler’s lengthy career in the frontlines. Ms. Hackler is excited to bring that same passion for working with at risk families in crisis to training and preparing incoming workers in the field of child and family wellness.

Ms. Hackler and her husband Mark, have two children and two grandchildren.  The Hackler’s enjoy exploring the country on their Harley, visiting antique stores and spending time with family.

Josh Friedman, Experiential Learning Facilitator

Joshua Friedman

Josh joined the Alliance in 2022 as the Law Enforcement Specialist after working on a variety of projects with the Alliance as a Doctoral Fellow. Prior to returning to UIS, Josh spent 10 years as a city police officer at three very different police departments across the country. From his experiences in law enforcement, Josh brings a passion for justice and advocacy for persons impacted by crime and vulnerable populations. Josh leverages his first-hand experience to provide insight and guidance on police culture, dynamics, procedures, and the shared realities of police work.

Josh earned his BA in psychology from UIS in 2008 and went on to earn a MA in criminology from the University of South Carolina in 2011. During his graduate work, Josh interned with the Child Fatality Unit of the SC State Law Enforcement Division which propelled him toward a career in law enforcement. Josh has been pursuing a doctorate in Public Administration at UIS since 2021. His research focuses on wellness and resilience among frontline professionals, understanding and responding to the impact of adversities experienced in police work, and improving recruitment and retention of police officers.

Josh maintains his Illinois Basic Law Enforcement Certification and serves as a part-time police officer. He is a member of the National Association of School Resource Officers, the IL School Resource Officer Association, and the American Society of Evidence-Based Policing.

Josh has two energetic, young children and enjoys spending time with his family, riding bikes, running, drawing, and watching movies.

Taylor McCarthy, Program Coordinator

Taylor McCarthy

After taking a Child Advocacy Studies course in 2016, Taylor started as the first student intern for the Child Protection Training Academy. Upon completion of her undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois Springfield in 2017, she became the Logistics Coordinator.  Her role evolved and she is now the Program Coordinator for the Alliance of Experiential Problem-Based Learning. Taylor also serves as the Alumni Coordinator for the Child Advocacy Studies program.

Taylor shares her life with her wonderful partner, Kyle. The two have four adorable, wild children: Marley, Ella, Everly and Will. Taylor enjoys spending time with her family, being by the pool, shopping, and attending her children's extra-curricular activities in her free time.