Executive Leadership

Kim Blessing
Vice President for Communications

Kim Blessing and her team create award-winning communication products related to education, public health, safety, and support for vulnerable populations.

Kim has more than 10 years of experience in the communications field and oversees the development of all KAI communications campaigns and products, ensuring that high-quality deliverables are completed on time and within budget. She holds a master’s degree in rhetoric, composition, and technical communication from Eastern Washington University.

Susan Silberman
Vice President, Research & Evaluation

Dr. Susan Silberman serves as the project director on research and evaluation contracts, including assessing workforce issues, providing outreach, developing long-term services and support resources, evaluating grantees in cultural preservation, and providing technical assistance.

Susan is an experienced research and evaluation professional with more than 20 years of experience in program evaluation, data analysis, and strategic management. She holds a doctorate in political science from Michigan State University.

Iris PrettyPaint
Vice President of Project Management

Dr. Iris PrettyPaint (Blackfeet Nation) is an internationally recognized expert in Native cultural resiliency and indigenous evaluation methods. She has more than 35 years of experience as a researcher, evaluator, and educator.

Iris incorporates evidence-, practice-, and culture-based interventions in her team's training and technical assistance work and monitors data-driven progress toward achieving results.

Iris earned her doctorate in administration and evaluation and her master’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota, and her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Kansas.

Jennifer Gillissen
Vice President for Meeting and Event Planning

Jennifer Gillissen has more than 20 years of experience in planning meetings and events, with numbers ranging from 10 to 14,000 participants throughout the United States.

Jennifer works with a wide variety of federal and tribal organizations. She is a board member of the Society of Government Meeting Professionals and holds a bachelor’s degree in sports management from Towson State University that includes a minor in business administration.

Josephine Keefe
Creative Director

Josephine Keefe serves as KAI’s creative director and has 6 years of experience in the creative field. She ensures that the best ideas are executed for all of KAI’s clients and their communications products by directing and overseeing the creative process and facilitating brainstorming sessions. She is experienced in creating culturally competent, targeted communications products to support outreach to vulnerable populations, including minorities and at-risk youth, on public health topics. Ms. Keefe earned her master of fine arts degree at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theater, Film and Television.

Shelley Merrill
Vice President for Finance

Shelley Merrill oversees KAI's corporate financial, contracting, and bids and proposal processes.

Shelley has more than 25 years of experience in accounting. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business with an accounting emphasis from Eastern Washington University, and she has held her CPA license with the Washington State Board of Accountancy since 1992. She served as a board member and president of the Washington Society of CPAs’ local Spokane Chapter.

Steven Hickey
Operations Manager

Steven Hickey serves as task lead as we design, develop, and implement secure, cloud-based database solutions for our clients. He ensures that our projects and deliverables comply with the Federal Information Security Management Act and the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program.

For KAI operations, Steven implements initiatives to streamline and enhance processes. Steven has worked in the fields of operations, finance, and internet technology since 2004. He received his bachelor’s degree in economics and management from the Dublin Institute of Technology.