A board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist, Dr. Lester’s work has been dedicated to the development, evaluation, and implementation of family centered prevention and treatment for families facing the impact of military deployments, traumatic events, and parental illness. She co-developed the family-centered preventive intervention FOCUS which was designed to promote resilience and mitigate stress in families facing adversities such as natural disasters, medical illness, and military wartime deployments.
Over the last 5 years, she has led the successful large scale implementation of FOCUS for the United States Navy and Marine Corps, as well as piloting at Army and Air Force sites. Dr. Lester oversees the on-line FOCUS learning center and evaluation programming, which utilizes web-based technologies to support program implementation at scale. She is well-versed in the scientific and programmatic issues facing military families, and serves as an advisor on the needs of military children and families across military, university and non-profit agencies. She co-directs the Welcome Back Veteran’s Family Resilience Center. Dr. Lester received a grant from the McCormick Foundation to develop the UCLA Welcome Back Veterans Family Resilience Center, which includes research trials on family centered preventive and treatment models for Veterans and National Guard and their families, as well as community level education and capacity building to enhance resilience in OEF/OIF Veterans. She is also the co-principal investigator on a Department of Defense study to evaluate the impact of wartime deployment reintegration on young military children and their families. Her work has been supported by the Department of Defense, the US Department of Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, the McCormick Foundation, National Institute for Mental Health, and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.