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Photo by Toa Heftiba

About Us

Founded in 2008, The Bridging Group (TBG) is a community-based consulting firm specializing in the crossroads between the criminal legal system, poverty, housing instability, and behavioral health and their effects on the public’s health, families, and communities. Our principal consultants are subject matter experts in program development, implementation, evaluation and research studies focused on 1) prison & jail health programs; 2) practices to support children and families with incarcerated loved ones; and 3) community services supporting reentry efforts.
Together, principal consultants Katie Kramer and Barry Zack have over 50 years of experience serving and working with individuals, families and community agencies affected by incarceration. With the added expertise of team members Sharon McDonnell and Lynda Murillo, The Bridging Group brings reality-based experience to provide thoughtful solutions to difficult questions.
Explore our biographies, community involvement, and fields of expertise.
Katie Kramer, DSW, MSW, MPH

For the past 25 years, Katie has focused on the development, implementation, and evaluation of social service and health programs that serve individuals, families, and communities affected by incarceration.

Dr. Kramer is an experienced researcher and evaluator with extensive practice in conducting community-based research and evaluation in the fields of correctional health and social service research. She is a skilled technical assistance consultant with expertise in helping community-based organizations, local and state social service and health departments, local and state criminal justice agencies and federal governmental partners to increase their capacity in strategic planning, program and policy development, and evaluation and monitoring. Dr. Kramer is also an experienced senior agency manager with comprehensive knowledge in program oversight, agency policy development, grant writing and staff supervision. She has experience as a clinical social worker providing direct service for clients and clinical supervision for direct-line staff. Finally, Dr. Kramer is a professional trainer and curriculum developer with over 20 years of experience in the creation and facilitation of skills-based training and intensive program implementation courses.

Katie works throughout the United States and globally with projects in Haiti, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Tobago and Trinidad, Ukraine, and Uzbekistan.

Presently, Dr. Kramer serves as:

  • Co-Founder and CEO of Corrections, Communities & Families for The Bridging Group LLC in Oakland, CA 

  • Statewide Director for the California Reentry Council Network

  • Subcommittees on Research and Data & 2019 International Conference Planning Committee in Manchester, England, International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents

  • Executive Steering Committee member of the Alameda County Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership

  • Criminal Justice Expert on the Executive Editorial Board for the Journal of Clinical Research in HIV/AIDS and Prevention

Previously, Dr. Kramer served as:

  • Appointed member on the Subcommittee on Assessment and Connections of the San Francisco County Re-entry Council

  • Chair of the Data and Evaluation Committee of the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents PartnershipCriminal Justice Expert for the National Working Group

  • Criminal Justice Expert for the National Working Group

  • Planning Committee member for the U.S. Women and Girls Gender Forum on HIV Prevention for the Office of Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • Program Committee Chairperson for the Board of Trustees for Broadway Children's School in Oakland, CA

Barry Zack, MPH
Image by Garth Pratt

Barry is a national (U.S.) expert and international consultant in the field of correctional and community health — prison, jail and other detention settings, and subsequent community re-entry.

Mr. Zack has conducted research and directed behavioral interventions with a focus on infectious diseases (HIV/STDs/TB and hepatitis) and substance use in prison and jail settings for over 35 years, identifying critical gaps in the field of correctional health; most importantly, he has developed evidence-based and collaborative responses to meet these needs. Since 1986, Barry has engaged at every level of public health programming and research in the prison and jail setting, including his work as a Jail Outreach Worker, a Health Educator, and a Research and Executive Director of an incarceration focused NGO. He has also served as the Principal Investigator of multiple national research studies.

Mr. Zack is an innovative researcher with extensive experience in the development, implementation and evaluation of complex collaborative correctional, academic and community research projects. He is a demonstrated leader with strengths in the cross-cultural dynamics between corrections, public health, academia and non-governmental / community-based organizations. 

Barry has worked with many governmental ministries and departments, non-governmental organizations and research/academic institutions in over 30 U.S. States and globally with projects in Australia, England, Haiti, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, South Africa, Tajikistan, Taiwan, Thailand, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Currently, Mr. Zack serves as:

  • The Bridging Group,

    • Co-Founder and CEO, Corrections & Health​

  • University of California, San Francisco, Department of Social and Behavioral Science, 

    • Associate Clinical Professor (Affiliate)

  • University of California, Criminal Justice & Health Consortium,

    • Senior Fellow

  • Journal of Correctional Health Care,

    • Editorial Board Member

  • San Quentin State Prison,

    • Community Advisory Board Member

Previously, Mr. Zack served as:

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's "Prevention and Control of Infections with Hepatitis Viruses in Correctional Settings"

    • External Consultant

  • Surgeon General's "Call to Action on Corrections and Community Health"

    • External Consultant

  • National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, "Ethical Considerations for Revisions to the DHHS Regulations for Protection of Prisoners Involved in Research"

    • Committee Member​

Sharon McDonnell, MPH

Sharon has been working in the field of public health for fifteen years and has been a biostatistician at The Bridging Group for the past nine years. At The Bridging Group, she has been involved in developing evaluation protocols, online and hard copy data collection tools, data management and analysis, and preparing reports and presentations for numerous projects focused on the evaluation of programs that serve those affected by incarceration. 

Ms. McDonnell is skilled in conducting community-based research including study design and methodology, data validation, quality control, statistical analysis, and manuscript preparation. 

Sharon received a B.S. degree in Psychobiology from UCLA and an MPH from UC Berkeley. She previously worked for the California Department of Public Health and the UCLA Integrated Substance Abuse Programs.

Lynda Murillo

Lynda has more than 15 years of research and evaluation experience as an evaluation manager, research associate, project coordinator, and data manager, working with a diverse group of federally funded non-profit organizations in Los Angeles County.


Specifically, Ms. Murillo has conducted research and program evaluation with community re-entry programs for adults and youth, substance use disorder prevention programs for adult and youth organizations, adolescent SUD treatment center organizations, youth development and mentoring programs, a Los Angeles supportive housing project, First 5 LA Parent Help-line, and the CDC-INFO call center.

Ms. Murillo’s expertise includes 1) development of standardized instruments for assessments of program outcomes; 2) designing measures for program fidelity; 3) designing various data collection tools including online surveys, interviews, focus groups, and protocols for observational measures; 4) production of evaluation reports for program services, program fidelity, and outcomes; and 5) designing and managing data management tools and tracking systems using computerized databases. 


Lynda is fluent in spoken and written Spanish and has many years of translation experience.

Katie Kramer
Barry Zack
Sharon McDonnell
Lynda Murillo
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