Michelle L. Riske-Morris, PhD, JD

Senior Research Associate
Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education
Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences

Dr. Riske-Morris currently evaluates several federal and state funded projects, including SAMHSA’s Safe Schools Healthy Students Initiatives, Project AWARE, and the PAX Good Behavior Game – all of which relate to the implementation of behavioral and mental health supports in schools. This research will determine the effectiveness of behavioral health support and services in schools to help reduce problem behaviors and improve academic performance of students. She is also involved with the evaluation of Cuyahoga County’s Assisted Outpatient Treatment Project through the ADAMHSCC.  The AOT program is designed to reduce psychiatric hospitalization, homelessness and involvement with the criminal justice system and improve health and social outcomes for individuals committed to the program through the Cuyahoga County Probate Court.

Dr. Riske-Morris earned her JD from CWRU School of Law, her PhD in Social Welfare from CWRU’s Mandel School, and her master’s degree in psychology from Cleveland State University. Michelle has been practicing law for 25 years and has served in various administrative positions with state and local governments, creating a uniqueness wherein she offers real world experience combined with her educational background. As a principal investigator and senior research associate, she has experience in both process and outcome evaluations. Prior to working at the Begun Center she also specialized in evaluations regarding compliance with civil right laws and the Americans With Disability Act. She provided technical assistance and guidance for the development of strategic plans and evaluation protocols to assist agencies in supervising and overseeing compliance with local, state, and federal laws and grant requirements.

Dr. Riske-Morris is also involved in research regarding reentry services for individuals returning to their community after period of incarceration.  Recently she served as Lorain County Reentry Coordinator and she currently serves on Ohio’s PAX Advisory Committee.

Q: Why is your work at the Begun Center important to you, to our community, and to the world? My work is important as it helps to inform others on the importance of providing mental health services to those in need, especially those within the community as well as the importance of school based behavioral and mental health services to address the needs of students.

Q: What is a cause about which you are particularly passionate? The importance of school based behavioral and mental health supports, civil liberties and anti-discrimination protections, and especially for those who have difficulty advocating for themselves.