Directory Profile

Nancy Whitesell photo

Nancy Rumbaugh Whitesell PhD

  • Centers for American Indian & Alaska Native Health
  • Department of Community & Behavioral Health


Primary Phone:303-724-1456

Mailing Address:
  • CU Anschutz

Nighthorse Campbell Native Health Building

13055 East 17th Avenue

Room 333

Aurora, CO 80045

Dr. Whitesell is a developmental psychologist who works in partnership with Indigenous (American Indian and Alaska Native) communities to engage in research that informs interventions to improve developmental outcomes for children birth through adolescence. This collaborative work includes developing and testing interventions to prevent early substance use, studying implementation of early childhood interventions, creating measures for use in research and practice with Indigenous children and families, and training the next generation of Indigenous prevention scientists. She utilizes Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) approaches that engage Indigenous community partners in all aspects of research, from identification of study goals through interpretation of data and dissemination of findings to help ensure research addresses questions of importance to communities, uses methods that are both culturally and scientifically rigorous, generates meaningful data, constructs accurate interpretations, and fosters leadership by Indigenous researchers. Her expertise in advanced statistical techniques supports the application of rigorous research methods to questions identified with community partners. She uses latent variable statistical methods (e.g., factor analysis, latent class models), structural equation modeling and longitudinal modeling (e.g., latent growth curve modeling) to support understanding of developmental processes that in turn inform intervention efforts.

Areas of Expertise

  • Child and adolescent development within American Indian and Alaska Native cultural contexts
  • Culturally appropriate measurement of child and adolescent outcomes
  • Cultural and contextual influences on child and adolescent development
  • Promotion of successful early development
  • Prevention of early substance use 
  • Implementation of evidence-based programs within American Indian and Alaska Native communities

Education, Licensure & Certifications

  • University of Denver, PhD, Developmental Psychology, 1989
  • University of Denver, MA, Developmental Psychology, 1987
  • Baylor University, BA, Psychology, 1981



  • Platinum Award, Hermes Creative Awards, 2015
  • Faculty Excellence in Student-Mentored Research, Colorado School of Public Health, 2018
  • MERIT Award, National Institute on Drug Abuse (R37DA047926), 2019
  • Excellence in Research, Community and Behavioral Health, Colorado School of Public Health, 2021

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