CAARE Center announces new leadership team


A new leadership team at the UC Davis CAARE Diagnostic and Treatment Center was announced this month.

Side-by-side headshots of Michele Ornelas Knight, Dawn Blacker and Susan Timmer
Michele Ornelas Knight, Dawn Blacker and Susan Timmer

Michele Ornelas Knight has been appointed the center’s director. Ornelas Knight was co-director and oversees the center’s Medi-Cal program. Her areas of specialty include trauma, child abuse, adolescent eating disorders and suicidality. She has been committed to providing quality and effective mental health services to underserved populations and is focused on improving their access to effective mental health care.

“My passion for this population will drive my daily work to enhance the vision of the CAARE Center and strengthen its mission for staff and the families that we serve,” Ornelas Knight said.

Dawn Blacker has been appointed director of clinical operations and training. Blacker oversees the training program and provides supervision in Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) and  conducts services for sexually exploited youth. She has co-developed web courses on sexual exploitation and is co-chair of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Child Trafficking Workgroup.  

Susan Timmer has been named research director. Timmer serves as the director of mental health research and is a faculty member of the Human Development Graduate Group. She co-developed Parent-Child Care (PC-CARE) and is the principal investigator of several NCTSN grants related to PC-CARE training and service provision.  

Ornelas Knight, Blacker and Timmer have all worked at the CAARE Diagnostic and Treatment Center for more than 20 years.

The CAARE (Child and Adolescent Abuse Resource and Evaluation) Diagnostic and Treatment Center is recognized nationally as a model program for the evaluation and treatment of child maltreatment as well as training of mental health providers in empirically based treatments. Its mission is to provide patient care, teaching, research and prevention initiatives on behalf of abused and neglected children and children and youth identified as high risk.