Our Team


Kate Murray is a Principal at Applied Self-Direction. She has deep expertise relating to regulatory compliance in Medicaid-funded self-direction programs, with a focus on labor and workforce issues. Kate is a nationally recognized expert on the Department of Labor’s Home Care Final Rule that revised Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requirements for home care workers, and she has consulted to numerous state Medicaid agencies and Medicaid managed care organizations on labor and workforce issues.

Kate previously served as a Senior Policy Analyst at the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (NRCPDS) at Boston College, with a focus on innovative, practical technical assistance for self-direction stakeholders.

Prior to working at NRCPDS, Kate worked as a senior medical economist in Medicaid managed care, focusing on LTSS utilization and expenditures among high-risk dual-eligible populations. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College with a double major in Government and Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.


Casey DeLucaCasey DeLuca is the Director of Communications at Applied Self-Direction. Casey oversees Applied Self-Direction's membership offerings for state Medicaid agencies administering self-direction programs, Financial Management Services (FMS) entities, and other self-direction stakeholders. Casey is the primary organizer of the biennial Self-Direction Conference, a national event designed for states, providers, and other stakeholders in self-direction.

Prior to her work at ASD, Casey was the Self-Direction Training Manager at the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (NRCPDS) at Boston College and the Cash & Counseling National Program Office, which directed the twelve-state expansion of Cash & Counseling. In this role, Casey developed and implemented self-direction training programs for social workers, practitioners, program participants, and more.

Casey also has clinical social work experience working with adults with disabilities and children and families in hospital settings. Casey graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Home and Community Services from the University of Delaware and a Master of Social Work from Boston College. 


Molly MorrisMolly Morris is the Director of Engagement at Applied Self-Direction. Molly previously spent five years at the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (NRCPDS) at Boston College. At NRCPDS, she managed the Center’s program and Financial Management Services (FMS) membership offerings, which are now available through Applied Self-Direction. Molly also oversaw the development of numerous issue briefs, webinars, and publications on self-direction.

Molly graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Mary Washington and a Master of Social Work, specializing in Older Adults & Families, from Boston College.



James Toews is an Executive Technical Assistance Consultant at Applied Self-Direction and the former Acting Principal Deputy Director of the Administration for Community Living (ACL). James started his career in direct services to people with disabilities in community settings. After moving to state government, he was the Director of Developmental Disability Services for the state of Oregon from 1985-2001 and was the Director of Oregon’s state agency for Aging and Disability Services from 2001-2011. From 2011 to 2016, James was a Senior Advisor at ACL and was named acting Deputy Director in 2017. At ACL, James worked concurrently at CMS on implementation of the HCBS settings regulation; at the US Department of Labor on implementation of new FLSA regulations for home care workers; and at the US Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on pending Olmstead litigation in multiple states.

James received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work and Sociology from Goshen College and later did graduate coursework in Guidance and Counseling at Indiana University at South Bend.


Merle Edwards-OrrMerle Edwards-Orr is an Executive Technical Assistance Consultant at Applied Self-Direction. Merle has developed, implemented and managed self-direction programs from within state government and help lead a national self-direction program. With the State of Vermont, Merle ran their Cash & Counseling Program and the quality management efforts for programs serving seniors and adults with disabilities, with a particular focus on case management and adult day services.  In 2012, he moved to the National Resource Center for Participant-Directed Services (NRCPDS) at Boston College to lead the development of a self-directed option for all Veterans needing long-term care, on behalf of the Veterans Health Administration.  He moved with NRCPDS to Applied Self-Direction in the fall of 2016. 

Merle received his MSW from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville and his Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.


Cara Benson is an Executive Technical Assistance Consultant at Applied Self-Direction. Cara started her career providing direct care and support planning to people who lived in their own homes. She then transitioned to working as a Director of a Financial Management Services (FMS) agency where she gained additional expertise on self-direction and the intricacies of the FMS industry. Cara then worked at the state of Minnesota as a Policy Lead for eight years, where she helped design a new self-directed program, develop existing programs, and create policies to support people choosing self-direction. In 2017, Cara was awarded "Outstanding Self-Direction Program Administrator" in a vote by the national self-direction community. Cara has significant experience with engaging with stakeholders and participants in self-direction to improve operational effectiveness, as well as in writing legislation that increases participant choice and control.  

Cara also has experience supporting children and families through the hospital experience. Cara received a Bachelor’s degree in Child Life from Edgewood College in Madison, WI.


Highsmith RichHighsmith Rich is a Technical Assistance Project Manager at Applied Self-Direction. She graduated from Boston College with a Master’s degree in mental health counseling, specializing in both quantitative and qualitative research relating to underserved populations. A Certified Options Counselor, her expertise lies in the intersection of mental health and advocacy. She has extensive training and experience working directly with individuals creating individualized treatment and care plans and person-centered therapy. At Applied Self-Direction, Highsmith is involved with research initiatives designed to advance understanding of the self-directed service delivery model and enhance service delivery to individuals receiving self-directed services.

Highsmith completed her undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, receiving the Kimball King Research Grant and President’s Scholarship to pursue research in race-related mental health stress and psychological development.


Laura MauldinLaura Astor Mauldin is a Financial Management Services (FMS) Analyst at Applied Self-Direction.  Laura's tax and labor law research and operational procedures have established best practices for FMS around the country.  Additionally, she has worked extensively with individuals who self-direct during program enrollment and coordinated quality assurance activities for self-direction programs.  She currently serves on her local Bike-Pedestrian Committee.

Laura received her Bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University with a double major in Economics and Politics, and a minor in Business and Managerial Economics.



Erica Andres

Erica Andres is a Training and Technical Assistance Consultant at Applied Self-Direction. Erica has over 20 years of experience working in the Health and Human Services field and has the added expertise of living a self-directed life and directing her own care for over 20 years. Erica has Spinal Muscular Atrophy and is a participant in the WI Self-Directed Program. Erica has spoken at many national and even international conferences about her experience living a self-directed life and what a positive impact it has had on her.

Besides working at Applied Self-Direction, Erica also owns a business called Empowering U, which is dedicated to helping People with Disabilities self-direct and make the most out of their lives. Erica assists people with disabilities generally navigate the sometimes confusing world of self-direction, with an emphasis on assisting with recruiting, hiring, and managing direct care workers.

Prior to owning her own business and working at Applied Self-Direction, Erica worked as an IRIS Consultant for TMG. Erica holds degrees in Human Resources and Communication with a Minor in Marketing.


A Note from our Founder

Mollie Murphy

Self-direction is built on the belief that people with disabilities understand their own needs better than anyone else. Through self-direction programs, individuals of all ages with a variety of long-term care needs exercise choice and control over the services they need to live independently in the community. Self-direction supports people to live the life they choose.

Applied Self-Direction was founded to provide practical expertise to states, payers, and providers to make self-direction more accessible, more robust, more efficient, and easier to manage so more people can live the life that’s best for them. Self-direction is growing faster than any Home and Community-Based Services model of care because it works for people, families, and states. Applied Self-Direction is honored to support over 1.25 million people self-directing across all 50 states and Washington, DC.

- Mollie Murphy, Founder of Applied Self-Direction



You can view our team's publications and presentations here