Summit Speakers

DCF Secretary

Mike Carroll
Department of Children and Families
Secretary Mike Carroll has devoted his entire state career of more than 25 years serving the Florida Department of Children and Families. During his tenure, he has driven numerous improvements to the way Florida serves and protects vulnerable children and families, and is recognized as a skilled organizational and systems assessor.

Most recently, he led the department’s development of a first-of-its kind website to allow public review of abuse-related child deaths, giving communities the ability to identify and bridge gaps in local services. He also hired the state’s first Assistant Secretary for Child Welfare and first Child Fatality Specialist, and oversaw an in-depth review of the state’s mental health treatment facilities and behavioral health system.

Prior to being named Secretary, he served four years as the Regional Managing Director and six years as Director of Programs for the 11-county SunCoast Region spanning from Pasco to Collier County. As Regional Managing Director, Mr. Carroll developed innovative and significant system models that were ultimately implemented statewide. He was integral in the regional implementation of the Managing Entity concept in substance abuse and mental health, the transition to a community-based system of care in child welfare, and a redesign of the economic self-sufficiency program. Mr. Carroll has served in or managed almost every program the department oversees. His previous management experience includes foster care and child care licensing, strategic planning, quality assurance, economic self-sufficiency eligibility programs, and special programs including one focused on reintegrating ex-felons into the community.

Mr. Carroll has served on the Florida Sterling Board of Examiners for nearly 20 years, and is a judge for the Governor’s Sterling Award process. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Boston College and is a Certified Public Manager.

Mr. Carroll has two children, Samantha and Jason. He is active in his local community and has been a dynamic youth football coach and mentor for more than 25 years.

Keynote Speaker

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Rafael López
Managing Director
Accenture Health & Public Service, North America
Rafael López is a Managing Director for Accenture’s Health & Public Service practice in North America. His responsibilities include partnering with decision makers in government, education and nonprofit organization clients to solve some of the toughest challenges facing children, families and communities. His diverse portfolio includes leveraging technology and innovation to shape national strategies for health and human service clients throughout North America. Mr. López joined Accenture in 2017. Previously, he served as the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Immediately prior to his confirmation, Mr. López served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President, and with the Domestic Policy Council. Mr. López has dedicated his career to improving the lives of children, youth and families and previously served in a variety of leadership roles at the city, county and state level in California and Baltimore. Prior to his service at the White House, Mr. López was an Associate Director at the Annie E. Casey Foundation. He has worked closely with community-based organizations as a volunteer, manager, executive, board member and founder and was sponsored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to serve as a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation at the Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders. Mr. López earned his Bachelor of Arts, with honors, from the University of California Santa Cruz and a Master in Public Administration from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where he was named a Lucius N. Littauer Fellow. He resides in San Francisco, Calif., with his wife and two children.
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Allison Sampson-Jackson, PhD, LCSW, LICSW, CSOTP
Integration Solutions, Inc.
Allison Sampson-Jackson, PhD, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Certified Sex Offender Practitioner in the State of Virginia and a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker in the District of Columbia. Her clinical practice and research have focused on advancing effective trauma-informed treatment practices for persons who experience significant conduct-related behavior problems. Her areas of specialty include attachment based models of treatment; sexual abusiveness in children and adolescents; neuropsychology; and the use of neuroscience to inform work with children and adults with complex trauma disorders. Dr. Sampson-Jackson is a person of lived experience as well as ba professional who has provided services to “at-promise” youth and their families via the Department of Social Services, Public Mental Health Clinics, as well as within Juvenile Detention and Correctional facilities. For 13 years, Dr. Sampson-Jackson worked for Providence Service Corporation. During her time with Providence, she moved from working with children and families as a mentor and therapist to serving as a Vice President of Clinical Operations and National Trauma Informed Service Line Leader. In her final year with Providence, she co-led 17 National Trauma Informed Teams with Providence through the National Council of Behavioral HealthCare's Trauma Informed Learning Collaborative. Today, Dr. Sampson-Jackson works independently as the CEO of Integration Solutions, providing trauma-informed care consultation, education and technical assistance to human service organizations interested in furthering their integration of trauma-informed child and family service systems. For more information about Dr. Sampson-Jackson’s work, you can visit


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Sue Aboul-Hosn
Regional Human Trafficking Coordinator
Department of Children and Families
Sue began identifying human trafficking victims among Florida Department of Children and Families' missing children in 2003. Since 2009, she has assisted in over 300 human trafficking investigations resulting from reports received by the Department of Children and Families' Abuse Hotline. In her current role she provides expert guidance to Child Protective Investigators and Case Management, as well as developing and implementing policies, procedures and training that assist in identifying, documenting and determining the appropriate services for victims of human trafficking.
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Pamela Aeppel
Program Director Child Welfare Training Consortium
University of South Florida
Pamela Aeppel, MA is the Program Director for the Child Welfare Training Consortium at the University of South Florida. She was previously a Quality Specialist for the Training Consortium providing training across the state of Florida for Child Welfare professionals. Ms. Aeppel has over 25 years experience in the field of child welfare and mental health services. She has worked in both Protective Services and Investigations in child welfare and is most familiar with the legal concepts and issues pertaining to child abuse and neglect. Ms. Aeppel has conducted hundreds of abuse investigations over the years and been directly involved with hundreds more throughout her career in regard to case coordination, service provision and legal intervention, as the Clinical Supervisor with the Child Protection Team in Pinellas County, where she worked for 15 years.
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Stefania Agliano
I AM Training and Consultation Group LLC
Stefania M. Agliano, LMSW received her graduate degree at Fordham University and has worked in child welfare services and child protection for over twenty years. Ms. Agliano is co-founder and managing partner of I AM Training and Consultation Group LLC and currently works in the field of child welfare in a supervisory capacity. Ms. Agliano has been a contributing member of efforts to eradicate trafficking inclusive of the development of various training curriculums, training hundreds of child welfare staff, law enforcement officers, probations officers and community providers on the local and national level. Ms. Agliano has co-authored and facilitated national prevention programming aimed at educating participants on various topics inclusive of sexual exploitation designed for adolescents, young adults and families under the umbrella of I AM: The Empowerment Project. Ms. Agliano is an adjunct faculty member and teaches at the college level.
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Linda Alexionok
Voices for Florida
Linda Alexionok's broad experience in banking and finance, nonprofit leadership and child development informs her forward-thinking views on social innovation, evidence-based social impact and the value of human capital. Her unique ability to view community development and system reform opportunities through a social entrepreneurial-focused lens has made her a sought-after speaker, lecturer, media commentator, and nonprofit board executive for dozens of organizations.Her distinct perspective also brought her to her current dual role as the Executive Director of The Children's Campaign, Florida's leading nonprofit for grassroots citizen mobilization, and as President of Voices for Florida, an affiliate organization focused on restoring the American Dream for Florida's children.
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Lynn E. Allen
Family Court Manager
17th Judicial Circuit
Lynn Allen has been the Family Court Manager in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit since 2005, overseeing case management in family, dependency, delinquency and domestic violence court divisions. She has been employed with the 17th Circuit since 1994, first as a domestic violence case manager, then domestic violence division supervisor. Ms. Allen has been a member of the Broward Victim Rights Coalition, and the Broward Domestic Violence Council as well and the Broward Domestic Fatality Review Team. In 2000 she was honored with The Victim Advocate Professional award by the Broward Domestic Violence Council.

As Family Court Manager, she has participated in numerous committees and initiatives addressing case flow issues, including chairing the case flow management sub-committee of the local Dependency Court Improvement Program. She was responsible for instituting the Dependency Therapy Dog Program and opening the Judge Susan Aramony Clothing Closet which is utilized by children and families involved in the court system.

Prior to coming to Florida, Ms. Allen worked first as a child protection investigator with the Department of Social Services in Massachusetts and then as probation officer assigned to the Suffolk Family and Probate court in Boston, where she conducted child custody and visitation investigations as well as facilitated alternative dispute resolutions. She was a member of the Probate and Family Standards Revision Committee which defined and outlined the roles and responsibilities for all probation offices of the Probate and Family Courts of Massachusetts.

Ms. Allen is a graduate of Northeastern University where she studied Human Services. In addition she received a certificate from Brown University, New England Institute of Addiction Studies.
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Marina Anderson
Regional Human Trafficking Coordinator
Department of Children and Families
Marina Anderson, Florida Department of Children and Families Regional Human Trafficking Coordinator for Northeast and Northwest Regions Marina joined the Department of Children and Families Office of Child Welfare Human Trafficking Team in May 2015. She began her career with DCF in 2002. For thirteen years she worked as a Child Protective Investigator (CPI) in Duval County. In 2014, she became a Field Support Consultant for DCF. Marina is a recognized expert in safety methodology, providing training and mentoring to CPI and CPIS, and was personally recognized by Governor Rick Scott as a STAR Child Protective Investigator. Marina is a certified expert in human trafficking, and a subject matter expert in critical injury, domestic violence, physical/sexual abuse and human trafficking. Marina is an executive board member of the Northeast Region Human Trafficking Coalition, Freedom 7 Human Trafficking Coalition and Panama City Human Trafficking Task Force. She is also a member of the Alachua County Coalition against Human Trafficking and Big Bend Human Trafficking Coalition. Marina Anderson holds a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice from the University of North Florida. Go Ospreys!
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Juanita Armbrister
Team Leader/Care Coordinator
Young Parents Project Florida State University
Juanita Armbrister holds Bachelors' degrees from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University and the University of Maryland. She has worked with children and families for over 40 years and served as the Director for worldwide Child Development Programs with the United States Navy. She has served in senior management positions with the Department of Children and Families in Broward County and the Early Learning Coalition of Miami-Dade/Monroe. As a consultant with the Florida State University Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy for 9 years, Ms. Armbrister addressed the needs of teen mothers and their children and currently serves as a Team Leader for the Young Parents Project of the 11th Judicial Circuit.
Pam Baston
Technical Expert Lead (TEL)
JBS International
Pamela Petersen-Baston has 38 years of experience working in a variety of capacities in the behavioral health field. Her experience includes working in every treatment modailty of a community-based SUD program (inlcuding a methadone program) and later serving two appointments under two Florida Governors to manage Florida's publicly-funded drug prevention and treatment system. In 1995 after leaving the State she moved to Key West Florida and ran Safe Port, the largest family-centered treatment program in the country at that time for pregnant and parenting women with concurrent substance abuse and mental health disorders and and their children (serving 100 people at any given time including fathers, other partners, and all children 0-17 inlcuding large multi-age sibling groups). To better understand this population of focus and to better ensure their needs were met, Pam and her young son at that time moved into public housing for 6 months, an experience which totally transformed her thinking about effective treatment for families. She considers this experience as the most valuable of her professional life and it fueled her passion for promoting accessible, comprehensive, high-quality, trauma-informed programs for all family members. After leaving Key West, Pam served as a consultant for 7 years for the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) and for 8 years as a former reviewer for SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP) where she has reviewed and rated the quality and availability of training and implementation materials for over 85-evidence-based programs. Pam's degrees include a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) and Master of Public Administration (MPA) from the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa. She is dually certified as a Master Certified Addiction Professional (MCAP) and a Certified Prevention Professional (CPP). She has served as an Adolescent Technical Expert Lead (TEL) for JBS International since 2013 managing a TA contract portfolio of nearly $30 million in grants to States, Territories, and Tribes with community providers serving adolescents, young adults, and families affected by substance use disorders (SUDs) and co-occurring mental health disorders.
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Anna Baznik
President and CEO
Ms. Baznik has over 25 years of experience leading, managing and working within a wide range of social service and behavioral health programs for large, multi-program, non-profit and public sector entities delivering bottom-line results, efficient systems and strong community relations. During her time with IMPOWER, she has developed and launched one of Florida's leading telehealth programs and ensured the financial stability of the agency during tumultuous economic times; enhanced visibility and involvement in the Central Florida community and the state; improved quality assurance programs; and greatly expanded our funding sources and relationships.Ms. Baznik has her BA in psychology, Sociology and Religious Studies from Eckerd College. She obtained a Masters in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix.
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Jean Becker-Powell
Director of Policy & Programming
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Ms. Jeannie Becker-Powell holds a Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Science in Criminology from Florida State University. She has over 30 years experience in Criminal Justice, Juvenile Justice and Victim Services. She has conducted trainings at local, state and national levels on a variety of subjects including Trauma Informed Care, Restorative Justice, juvenile justice, and victim related topics and has been an adjunct instructor at Florida State University in the Schools of Criminology and Criminal Justice and Social Work. She co-authored the initial release of the Victim Impact of Crime Curriculum used in residential juvenile justice programs and has developed other curricula for use with delinquent youth. She is currently employed by the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice, Office of Probation and Community Intervention as the Director of Policy and Programming, working on a variety of issues including juvenile justice reform, interventions for at-risk youth, transition, aftercare and Trauma Informed Care.
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Kenneth Bender
Vice President of Youth Care Operations
Boys Town
Kenneth Bender Is the Vice president of Youth Care Operations with Boys Town. Prior to his current position he spent 12 years as President/Executive Director of Boys Town North Florida, Inc. He has a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Nova Southeastern University and has a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University. He has over 23 years' experience in child welfare and mental health. Ken has served on the Foster Families Treatment Association (FFTA) National Board for six years. He was formerly an FFTA Executive Committee Member and currently serves on the FFTA Public Policy Committee. Ken also served as the Residential Provider Committee Chair for the Florida Coalition for Children (FCC), as well as Co-Chair of the FCC/DCF Group Care Quality Standards Workgroup
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Geori Berman
Florida Youth SHINE Coordinator
Florida's Children First
Geori Berman joined Florida's Children First as the Florida Youth SHINE Coordinator in June 2013. As Coordinator, her goal is to provide a space for young adults to share their voice and advocate for positive change in the child welfare system. Geori's main goal is to assist our chapters by providing support and tools to create long-term sustainability and opportunities for youth to advocate in their communities. Geori's core purpose in life is to empower future leaders to become positive change-agents in the world and she realizes that learning is the biggest equalizer in life. Geori's background focuses on social change, leadership development, social justice, and student programming. Prior to joining FYS, Geori received her Master's degree in Educational Leadership and Administration from University of The Pacific while also working as a Residence Director for the Housing and Greek Life Office. Geori has additional work experience as: an Americorps member in South Florida, the Graduate Assistant for the Enough is Enough Anti-Violence Campaign, the Delegation Coordinator for The Global Center For Social Entrepreneurship, a Campus Representative for The Clinton Global Initiative University, and the Chair of Assessment for the LGBTQIA Western Regional committee. Geori received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Communications from Florida Atlantic University.
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Pauline Black
Statewide Trainer
Children's Legal Services, Department of Children and Families
Pauline has worn many dependency hats including GAL Director, OAG paralegal, OAG junior attorney, CLS senior attorney, CLS supervising attorney, and now she serves the dependency process as a CLS Statewide Trainer. Her 15 year journey took her through many judicial circuits including the 7th, 12th and 13th. She has tried and won innumerable cases but her proudest moments are sharing in the accomplishment of others' growth and development. Pauline also worked for FDLE and her undergrad degree is in criminology. Pauline has a passion and commitment to Florida's children and a forever optimistic yet realistic approach to improving protection, services and advocacy for our most vulnerable citizens.
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Amy-Erin Blakely
Vice President, Behavioral Health Operations
Amy-Erin Blakely is the Vice President of Behavioral Health Operations at IMPOWER, overseeing all mental health, psychiatric, health advocacy, and central referral& scheduling. Ms. Blakely is also the President/Owner of Blakely & Associates, LLC, an emerging business investment and consulting firm based in Orlando, FL. Ms. Blakely has over 25 years of experience in mental health and developmental disabilities services. Ms. Blakely has vast experience in operations and business start up and has managed budgets in excess of $75 million with 900 employees, including the oversight of a 130-bed psychiatric hospital and 42 other programs statewide. Ms. Blakely is an expert in telehealth systems and has researched and participated in telehealth program design at a national level. Ms. Blakely has a BA in Psychology from Stetson University and a Masters in Business Administration specializing in Healthcare Management from The University of Phoenix.
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Shamra Boel-Studt
Assistant Professor
Florida State University College of Social Work
Shamra Boel-Studt, PhD, MSW is an Assistant Professor at the Florida State University College of Social Work and a faculty affiliate of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. Dr. Boel-Studt has over fourteen years of experience in child welfare practice, training/technical assistance, research, and program evaluation. Her research in the area of child welfare practice focuses on examining the effectiveness/efficacy of child welfare interventions, especially those that seek to enhance engagement, family-centered practice, and trauma-informed approaches and expanding the evidence-base and quality of research and practice in residential group care. Dr. Boel-Studt's expertise includes statistical analysis, intervention research, and measurement validation.
Sallie Bond
Operations and Management Consultant Manager
Department of Children and Families, Office of Child Welfare
Sallie Bond is an Operations Management Consultant Manager, Office of Child Welfare, Florida Department of Children and Families. Sallie studied math at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia.

Sallie Bond brings over three decades of knowledge and experience in public and child welfare. She has been with the Department of Children and Families for 32 years. Ms. Bond serves as the Federal liaison for the Office of Child Welfare and is the Department’s lead for Florida’s Title IV-E Waiver Demonstration. The Child and Family Services Review is also one of her major responsibilities. A panelist or presenter at many state and national conferences.

Before Ms. Bond came to the Office of Child Welfare, she worked in the Economic Services Program Office in the Florida Department of Children and Families. Other positions she has held include: Public Assistance Bureau Chief; Program Administrator for Public Assistance Policy; Program Administrator for Family Safety Federal Funding, and Quality Management Bureau Chief for Family Safety. Ms. Bond was instrumental in Florida’s public welfare reform initiative, Family Transition Program, as well as early development of the Temporary Cash Assistance program.
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Neil Boris, M.D.
Director of the Irving Harris Infant Mental Training Institute
Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy
Neil Boris, M.D., is the Director of the Irving Harris Training Institute at the Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy and a certified trainer with Circle of Security International. Dr. Boris has held positions previously at Tulane University Medical Center, New Orleans, where he was professor of psychiatry, and at Nemours Children's Hospital, Orlando, where he was the Chief of Behavioral Health. An expert in conditions such as attachment disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and depression in children, Dr. Boris consistently has been named among the Best Doctors in America and regularly listed in the Guide to America's Top Psychiatrists. He has authored more than 60 articles, has more than 20 book chapters in print, and has presented his expertise and research at hundreds of annual meetings, workshops, and symposia around the world. Dr. Boris is certified in child and adolescent psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.
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Chelsea Bramblett
Florida Youth SHINE Member
Florida Youth SHINE
Chelsea Bramblett was placed into foster care at the age of 15 and remained in the Florida Child Welfare System until she aged out at the age of 18 in December of 2012. She is currently a Junior at University of West Florida and is majoring in Social Work. She was introduced to FYS by her case manager in the Independent Living Program in Pensacola. She became very involved locally in chapter meetings and was drawn to the goals of Florida Youth SHINE. She has been an active member in FYS for the past four years and served on the Statewide Board for the past two years as Chair.
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Judge Hope Bristol
Administrative Judge, Chair, Dependency Court Improvement Panel
17th Judicial Circuit
Judge Bristol was elected to the bench in the 17th Judicial Circuit in 2005 and was assigned to the Unified Family Division/Dependency Division. She was the Chairperson of the Dependency Division for over 8 years. She is currently the Administrative Judge for all of the Unified Family Court Divisions. She created and presides over an Early Childhood Court division in her Circuit which has been very successful as well as the Dependency Drug Court division.She began her career as an Assistant State Attorney in Broward County where she worked for ten years. She was assigned to the Sex Crimes/Child Abuse Unit for the majority of her time in that office. Prior to being elected to the bench, Judge Bristol had a private family law practice for five years. Judge Bristol has been involved in the CFLA Committee of Broward County as well as the Sun Serve Task Force for the LGBTQ Youth Committee. She has been instrumental in involving the 17th Judicial Circuit with the Model Court Initiative and has pushed for the Tracey McPharlin Pro Bono Project which assigns pro bono attorneys to youth in foster care. She was appointed by the Supreme Court of Florida to the Steering Committee on Children and Families. Judge Bristol is now the Chairperson of Florida's Statewide Dependency Court Improvement Panel. This panel is responsible for driving the agenda for all of the Dependency Courts in Florida for the next two years. She is also appointed by the Supreme Court of Florida as a Mentor Judge for new judges to the 17th Judicial Circuit. Judge Bristol is also a faculty member of the Florida Judicial College.
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Lisa Brooks
FSFN Practice and Training Specialist 
Office of Child Welfare, Department of Children and Families
Lisa Brooks, FSFN Practice and Training Specialist within the Office of Child Welfare, has over 11 years of child welfare experience, which includes 9.5 years as a Child Protective Investigator and 1.5 years as a System of Care Trainer with Community Based Care of Central Florida.  She is a certified Child Welfare Trainer and a Super Safety Practice Expert who was instrumental in teaching and advancing the new Child Welfare Practice Model.  Lisa made herself available for consultation both day and night. Lisa has been involved with Florida Safe Families Network (FSFN) since initial launch where she attended the original Train the Trainer session.  Lisa has recently served on the statewide FSFN Consultant Network since its inception in March 2014 and until her recent hire within the Office of Child Welfare,  continued to be known as the local FSFN "guru" at the CBC of Central Florida.  Lisa's work has always been highly respected by her colleagues, Supervisor, Case Managers and Trainees.  Lisa is enthusiastic and her positive attitude is infectious.  She always goes the extra mile to ensure Case Managers or any co-worker is able to do their jobs.  Lisa is an asset to any team on which she is involved.   Lisa earned her Bachelor of Social Work from Florida State University in 2004.
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David Brown
QPI Coordinator
Youth Law Center
David Brown, MSW, is the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) Program Coordinator. In this role, he travels to various sites and works with their foster care programs to build a cohesive, collaborative system. David works closely with foster families, leadership of child welfare organizations, and stakeholders across the United States. Prior to his position with QPI, David served as the Director of Programs for a community based care agency in Southwest Florida, where he was responsible for coordinating foster care licensing, training, and support, kinship care, and the non-relative caregiver program for five counties. David is also actively involved in leadership positions for multiple state agencies focusing on the empowerment of foster families. David has worked in the field of child welfare for over a decade, in foster care licensing, as Child Protective Investigator, as well as training specialist prior to assuming his current position.
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Kathryn Burns
Quality Management Specialist
Families First Network
Kathryn Burns has been employed by FamiliesFirst Network since 2005. During her time with the CBC, Kathryn has worked in various roles to include Case Manager, Case Manager Supervisor, and CQI Specialist. She has extensive experience in all areas of case management to include Adoptions. Kathryn has been in her current role as a CQI Specialist since 2015.
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Emily Calvin
Child Welfare Initiatives Manager
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Emily Calvin is the Child Welfare Initiatives Manager for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV). In her role, she conducts planning and supervision of FCADV's Child Welfare Initiative and Child Protection Investigations (CPI) Project, including direct supervision of FCADV's Domestic Violence and Child Welfare Specialists and Child Welfare Trainer. As an expert in the intersection of domestic violence and child welfare, Emily serves as a resource for FCADV regional committees and appropriate caucuses and oversees child advocacy related projects and events.Emily received her Juris Doctor Degree in International and Comparative Law from the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she served as a Certified Legal Intern at the law school's Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Clinic and provided pro bono legal advocacy to domestic violence survivors at Three Rivers Legal Services. She has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from Boston University and a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Emily is passionate about empowering women, children, and minority communities, educating people about the dynamics of domestic violence, and advocating for social change.
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Carol Campbell Edwards
Assistant Teaching Professor
Florida State University
Carol Campbell Edwards is a licensed clinical social worker in the State of Florida. Carol's professional experiences include Marriage and Family Therapy and 25 years of direct and administrative service in Child Welfare. Currently Carol serves as an Assistant Teaching Professor in the FSU College of Social Work where she coordinates the Title IV-E Stipend Program. She is also a social work adjunct faculty member at Florida A & M University, consultant for the Quality Parenting Initiative and the Office of Child Welfare Training Unit. Formerly Carol served for 10 years as the Training Director for Big Bend Community Based Care, Inc. and 17 years with the Professional Development Training Centers as the statewide Training Manager, Training Supervisor and Training Specialist. Carol was selected as the FSU Instructor of the Year in 2006 and the NASW Big Bend Unit Social Worker of the Year for 2010. Currently, she is the Unit Chair for NASW-FL, Big Bend Unit, Chair of the FSU Faculty Diversity Committee and FSU Faculty Advisor for Project Sunshine. Carol has devoted the last 28 years to mentoring youth, training and mentoring child welfare professionals, teaching social work students and advocating for children in foster care.
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Rachel Cannon
Universiy of South Florida Child Welfare Training Consortium
Primary Presenter: Rachel Cannon Ghulamani, M.S., LMHCRachel is the Northeast Region Training Manager with the University of South Florida Training Consortium. She has worked in child welfare for over 15 years as a Case Manager, Child Protective Investigator, and Child Protective Investigations supervisor. Her field experience in child welfare has provided her with many years of familiarity in utilizing successful trauma informed care strategies. Rachel develops and conducts training workshops and collaborates with her training team and DCF colleagues in reference to the implementation of Florida's Child Welfare Practice Model. As a licensed mental health counselor Rachel is keenly aware of the importance of trauma informed care practices and utilizes these techniques and strategies in her work, as a clinician in the community.
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Patty Carroll
Community and Government Relations Manager
Partnership for Strong Families
Patty Carroll joined Partnership for Strong Families in 2011 as an intern in the Community and Government Relations Department and was quickly hired as a part-time Community Relations Assistant as she completed her BA in English at the University of Florida, minoring in Communications. Upon graduating in 2012, she was happy to join PSF full-time as the agency's Community and Provider Relations Assistant, eventually receiving multiple promotions to the Community Relations Coordinator position and later to the Senior Community Relations Professional position. In these roles, she implemented communication strategies to increase PSF's reach in our 13 counties, developed engaging and interactive social media campaigns and drafted persuasive grant proposals to enhance the services available to the children and families in PSF's care. In her current role as Community and Government Relations Manager, Carroll is responsible for community and government relations including media relations, legislative affairs and special events.
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Malveria Carter
Program Director
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
Malveria Cox-Carter currently serves as the Program Director for Devereux Kids programming in Florida's Judicial Circuit 5. She is a graduate of the University of Florida (B.S. Psychology) and Florida Metropolitan University (MBA Human Resource Management). She was also a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor (State of Texas) and is certified as a green belt in Six Sigma.Malveria has worked as an Area Manager with Child Protective Services in Houston, Texas; as an Assistant Supervisor for the Dallas County Juvenile Probation Department's Substance Abuse Unit in Dallas, Texas and has served as a Child Protective Investigator in Alachua County (Florida). She has also worked as a chemical dependency counselor for several agencies. She has twelve years of experience in the area of Child Welfare and fourteen years in substance abuse counseling. She has received specialized training in Family Team Conferencing, Solution-Focused Family Engagement, The Joan Sherman Program for Resilient Children (3.0), David Mandel's Safe and Together Model and Suicide Prevention (QPR). She has a passion for strengthening families, engaging communities and protecting children.
Skye Cleek
FITT Program Manager
Henderson Behavioral Health-Broward County
Skye Cleek is a registered clinical social work intern and a Masters Level Certified Additions Professional, currently serving as the Program Manger of the Family Engagement Program (FEP), and the Family Intensive Treatment Team (FITT) for Henderson Behavioral Health (HBH). Skye has over ten years of experience working with at risk youth, and has been with HBH for nine years. While at HBH, Skye has worked with programs serving a variety of populations. She has worked with children diagnosed with mental health disorders, with adults identified as SPMI (Severe Persistent Mental Illness), co-occurring with substance abuse disorders while homeless. She has worked closely with The Broward Sheriff's Office of Child Protection Investigation and the local CBC, ChildNet, in order to promote child safety and overall family well being.
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Stacie Cleveland
Regional Program Supervisor
Agency for Persons with Disabilities
Ms. Cleveland has worked for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities for five years, and currently oversees the intake/eligibility and waitlist units for APD’s Central Region. Ms. Cleveland previously worked as a legislative research analyst and as a residential advisor at a school for children with disabilities. She has also worked in the elder care field as a geriatric care manager. Ms. Cleveland graduated from Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2004, and earned a Master of Arts degree from Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2006.
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Denise Conus
Mental Health Program Director
Kids House Wayne Densch Children's Advocacy Center
Denise Conus, Mental Health Program Director and a 32 year veteran of multiple facets of the child welfare system and Brenda Kocher, Certified Trauma Practitioner  share their knowledge and expertise of how traumatized children can be best served through trauma-specific  therapies and sensory interventions including, but not limited to the use of highly trained facility dogs.  This workshop will lay a solid but not overly technical foundation of the psychophysiology of trauma and neglect in the developing nervous system. Evidenced based techniques as well as techniques to help lower CNS arousal in the children we serve will be discussed and taught.  Examples of how these techniques and the use of the facility dogs have made tremendous differences in the children served at  the Kids House Wayne Densch Children's Advocacy Center in Seminole County and in the Dependency courts in Tampa. Participants will learn what to look for in seeking trauma-specific therapies for their clients.
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Larry Cooper
Kinship Director
The Children's Home, Inc.
As Director of Kinship Services at the Children's Home since 2001, Larry Cooper has supervised Kinship Services Network, a prevention and early intervention program in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco and Orange counties in West Central Florida serving relative caregivers and their children to strengthen these families and avoid placement into licensed foster care. In 2012-2016 He was Project Director for a federally funded Kinship Navigation grant, one of only seven awarded nationally from The Children's Bureau under the 2008 Foster Connections legislation. The project conducted a Randomized Control Trial to study enhancements for public benefits enrollment, Peer to Peer Navigation and Interdisciplinary Team Support to caregivers.He has presented nationally on his work with Kinship families, including the 2014 CWLA National Kinship Conference. He partnered with the University of South Florida, School of Social Work to educate legislators in Tallahassee, FL and Washington DC to enhance services and awareness of the needs of relative caregivers. Mr. Cooper was invited to co-chair Generations United, International Intergenerational Conferences in 2009 and 2011 in Washington DC. Mr. Cooper serves as a Contributing Editor for GrandFamilies: The Contemporary Journal of Research, Practice and Policy. This journal will play an important role in extending knowledge, building collaborative partnerships, and promoting research relating to relative caregiver families. Mr. Cooper is a founding member of (GrOW) Grandfamilies Outcome Workgroup, that is studying the impact and benefits of Kinship Support Groups to caregivers.
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Wendie Cooper
Appellate Counsel
Statewide Guardian ad Litem Progam
Wendie Cooper is the Appellate Counsel for the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Anthropology and from St. Thomas University School of Law. Prior to coming to the GAL, she worked as a trial court staff attorney with the Eleventh Judicial Circuit in Miami, and as an Assistant Attorney General in the Oklahoma Attorney General's Office in the Criminal Appeals Division In 2003, Wendie began her career with the Guardian ad Litem Program as a program attorney with the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit. In 2005, she was one of the initial attorneys chosen to begin the Appellate Team. She worked as appellate counsel until 2009 when she was selected by the Executive Director to be the Director of Appeals. Wendie has handled more than 600 appeals on behalf of the Guardian ad Litem Program in all five district courts and the Supreme Court of Florida.
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Pam Criss
Professor of Social Work
Southeastern University
Dr. Pam Criss has more than 35 years of experience as a social worker, predominantly in the field of child welfare. She has worked in adoption, foster care, residential group child care and developmental disabilities. She is a licensed clinical social worker and has been a psychotherapist since 1995, both in local mental health agencies and in private practice. Dr. Criss has been a professor at Southeastern University Social Work Program for the past 16 years. Dr. Criss is active in National Association of Social Workers and chaired the local unit of NASW from 2009 - 2011. She was named NASW Heartland Unit Social Worker of the Year in 2003.
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Alissa Cross
Safety Manager
Department of Children and Families
Alissa Cross is currently the Safety Manager of the Child Welfare Practice unit within the Office of Child Welfare in Tallahassee, Florida responsible for policy development over the full continuum of child welfare practice- from child abuse prevention to case management services. Alissa began her career in child protection in 2002 as a child protective investigator and over the next fourteen years also served as a CPI supervisor and Program Administrator in the Northwest Region and more recently as a Hotline Policy Specialist within the Headquarters Program Office. Alissa’s professional achievements and certifications include Greenbelt Analysis Certification, Florida Decision Making Methodology Certification, Certified Public Management Certification, Safe and Together Subject Matter Expert, and Certified Trainer for Compassion Fatigue and Vicarious Trauma.
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Valerie Dallas
Site Coordinator- Infant Mental Health Specialist
Florida State University Young Parents Project
Valerie Dallas holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from University of Central Florida and is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. She received additional training in child parent psychotherapy from the Harris Center for Infant Mental Health. Ms. Dallas has worked in the field of Social Work for the past 17 years. She currently supervises the Young Parents Project in Tallahassee and continues her work as an Infant Mental Health Specialist, providing dyadic therapy and intervention to teen mothers and their children involved in the juvenile justice system.
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William D'Auito
Regional Managing Director
Department of Children and Families
William "Bill" D'Aiuto, appointed in 2012, to Central RegionManaging Director, began his career on the front line as a publicassistance specialist for the agency. During his 20-year tenure, Billhas held various positions, bringing a wealth of experience to theCentral Region. He served as the region's ACCESS Director and wasalso the Circuit 5 Administrator. Bill is a graduate of the 2006Department of Children and Families Executive Leadership Programand played a crucial role in the modernization of public assistance.He was also a critical figure in the Haiti Repatriation Operations of2009, assisting with the emergency re-entry of more than 12,000Haitian-Americans to the United States. Bill overseas a regioncomprised of 12 counties and over 1800 professionals responsiblefor child welfare, adult protection, child care regulations and publicassistance. Bill earned his Master of Public Administration andBachelor of Arts Degrees from the University of Central Florida.
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Amanda Dawson
Director of Child Wellbeing
Amanda Dawson is the Director of Child Wellbeing with IMPOWER. Mrs. Dawson earned her BA from the University of Central Florida. Mrs. Dawson has worked in the child wellbeing arena for 15+ years. She started her career in child wellbeing as a case manager, which built her foundation and love for our system and the believe that people can change. Mrs. Dawson has managed various programs in our system; Adoptions, Case Management, Foster Care, Independent Living and Intake and Placement.
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Randall Dean
The E-mail Sanity Expert (R)
Randy Dean, the "E-mail Sanity Expert" ® is a professional speaker and expert on time & e-mail management, effective organization, and the related use of technology. For more than 20 years, Randy has been leading training and speaking programs for major corporate, university, association, and government audiences. Obsessed with time management and personal productivity, he left a successful career as a graduate program admissions director, professional marketer, and manager to become a leading speaker and trainer. The author of the recent Amazon bestseller, Taming the E-mail Beast, he has led programs for thousands of satisfied and inspired students, managers, and professionals on being more productive with their time and life. His highly informative and entertaining speaking and training programs leave audience members with immediately-usable tools, strategies, and skills on how to better manage their time, technology, and information overload following their program experience.
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Alisha Denham
Clinical Counselor
Cabot Heights/Lakeview Inc
Alisha Denham, LCSW, is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Florida who has provided mental health services to children and families for the past five years. Alisha received her Bachelor of Social Work degree from the University of West Florida in 2006. She went on to obtain her Master of Social Work from the same university in 2012. For the last three years Alisha has been a therapist and supervisor working with adolescent boys ages 13 to 17 in a group care setting. Her belief regarding working with this unique population is that it is up to each of us individually to help empower and offer hope for our children by providing a safe place to belong. She feels that we as a community play a significant role in the healing process of our future generation.
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Lea Deutscher
Program Coordinator
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
Lea is a graduate of University of Florida with a Bachelor's of Science. She was a moderator for a very successful Mom's group in St. Petersburg, FL with more than thirty active participants. During this time, she volunteered and worked as a substitute teacher. When her daughter began preschool, Lea began teaching preschool fulltime. She quickly realized several of the young children she encountered were not thriving and needed additional support and services.After seeking out opportunities to work directly with children and families, Lea began working for Coordinated Child Care in Pinellas County as a Child and Family Consultant in 2007. In this role, Lea was responsible for observing preschoolers in their childcare settings, administering developmental screenings, appropriately referring children for additional services, facilitating provider and community trainings, and providing behavioral strategies and consultation through modeling and parent/teacher conferencing. In 2011 Lea began working as a Community Facilitator for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health fostering positive community relationships and leading preventive Family Team Conferences with at risk families. In 2014 she was promoted to her current position as a Program Coordinator for the evidence based, Nurturing Parenting Program where she provides direct supervision and training to in-home parenting staff throughout Florida's Judicial Circuit 5. Lea has continued her education and received additional training inclusive of Family Team Conferencing, Protective Factors, Challenging Behaviors, Infant Mental Health, Bridges Out of Poverty, and Solution Focused Case Work. She prides herself on remaining calm in crisis, boosting team morale, and offering effective, strength based strategies to a diverse population of staff and families. Lea believes that all people are capable of change and deserving of opportunity.
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Norín Dollard
Assistant Professor and Director
Florida KIDS COUNT, Department of Child & Family Studies, Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health In
Norín Dollard, PhD, is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Child and Family Studies in the Louis de la Parte Florida Mental Health Institute, in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida. Dr. Dollard has more than twenty years of behavioral health services research and evaluation experience, in both Florida and New York, in the area of behavioral health needs of children and families in the child welfare, juvenile justice and education systems. She has been responsible for or directed all aspects of the research process including design, implementation, analysis, interpretation and dissemination, typically using a mixed methods approach to data collection and analysis. She has directed both federally funded and state funded evaluation projects including Children' Mental Health Initiative grants in four of Florida's counties as well as a long time director of team member of evaluation of Medicaid funded out - of - home mental health treatment and implementation of the Managed Medical Assistance program. Currently, she is Director of Florida KIDS COUNT, sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and has experience with large administrative data sets.
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Rachael Dougherty
Learning and Development Facilitator
University of South Florida Child Welfare Training Consortium
Rachael Dougherty is a Learning and Development Facilitator with the University of South Florida Child Welfare Training Consortium. She has worked in the professional political and financial arenas before finding her niche in child welfare. Rachael started her career in child welfare as a Child Protective Investigator (CPI) and has worked in Hillsborough County and Alachua County, as a Senior Child Protective Investigator. Rachael previously specialized in Medical Neglect cases and is currently a Domestic Violence Subject Matter Expert. She delivers the Pre-Service curriculum to new Child Protective Investigators in the NE region. Rachael is especially knowledgeable about the magnitude and implication of outcomes that are specific to child safety considerations, when working with individuals struggling with substance misuse and addictions. In addition Rachael is a committed job coach and strives to provide practical application and skill development opportunities for new Child Protective Investigators.
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Wayne Duehn
Professor Emeritus of Social Work
The University of Texas at Arlington
Professor Emeritus, School of Social Work, the University of Texas at Arlington; maintains a private practice in individual, marital, and family therapy. He is currently engaged in clinical research on sexually abusive parents and juvenile sexual offenders. As a national lecturer and trainer, Dr. Duehn is also consultant to many institutions including National Association of Social Work, Big Brothers/Big Sisters Association, National Network of Children's Advocacy Centers, and has conducted training for law enforcement personnel, schools, CASA staff/ volunteers, and social service/mental health agencies throughout the United States. He earned his Master's degree in Social Work from Loyola University, Chicago, and holds a Ph.D. degree in Psychology and Social Work from Washington University, St. Louis. While in St. Louis, Dr. Duehn was a research associate at the Masters and Johnson Institute and has done post-doctoral work and taught at The University of Hawaii. He has written extensively in the area of clinical practice and has presented research findings at the International Conference of Child Abuse and Neglect, Paris, France; the World Congress of Medical Sexology in Mexico City and Jerusalem; and the United Nations Conference Facilities in Vienna. He has conducted training seminars for Air Force, Navy and Army medical personnel in Germany, Guam, Iceland, Japan, Korea, Panama, and the Philippines. Dr. Duehn is co-author of Beyond Sexual Abuse: The Healing Power of Adoptive Families, which is an outgrowth of an ongoing educational program of the Three Rivers Adoption Council, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This project is designed to develop educational materials to assist adoptive families in parenting the sexually abused child. Most recently, Dr. Duehn developed a child abuse prevention program for the Department of Defense Dependents School which has been implemented world wide. Dr. Duehn is a recognized authority and educator in the intervention and treatment of sexually abusive families.
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Jonathan Eastman
Conscious Discipline® Certified Instructor
Conscious Discipline
Jonathan Eastman has a BS in Early Childhood Education and an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy. He is Program Consultant for the Fatherhood Task Force of South Florida. He has over 40 years of experience as children's entertainer, storyteller, and games-master. Jonathan brings that playful dynamic to his work sharing Conscious Discipline® and cooperative play activities and techniques with school staff or parent groups where the experience of a father is much appreciated. Jonathan has been a Conscious Discipline Certified Instructor since 2007. He lives in Miami, Florida where he and his partner Katja von Elbe formed Brainheart Guidance Inc., to provide teacher and parent training; individual and family consulting; and game sessions with children and adults for team building fun.
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Pebbles Edelman
Senior Vice President of Clinical and Community Services
Partnership for Strong Families
Pebbles Edelman, appointed in 2009 as the Senior Vice President of Clinical and Community Services for Partnership for Strong Families, a 13 county child welfare community based care agency in Florida, is responsible for the oversight and development of all clinical and family preservation programs within PSF's system of care, as well as provider, community and government relations. This includes utilization management, oversight of all clinical related activities as well as their four prevention focused family resource centers, a model she presents on nationally. Edelman holds a master's degree and a specialist's degree in marriage and family therapy from the University of Florida and has been a Licensed Mental Health Counselor since 1997. Before moving into administration, Pebbles specialized in working with children who had experienced sexual and physical abuse. She has been married for 21 years and has two teenagers.
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Judge Katherine Essrig
Circuit Court Judge
Florida's 13th Judicial Circuit
Judge Katherine G. Essrig serves as a Circuit Court Judge in Florida's 13th Judicial Circuit in Tampa. She has presided as a judge since 1991, and she currently is the administrative judge for her circuit's unified family court, as well as the administrative judge for that court's juvenile dependency court. She previously served as a judge in her circuit's domestic relations and criminal divisions. A native of Tampa, Judge Essrig attended local public schools, and she graduated with honors from both Duke University, where she majored in Public Policy Studies, and the University of Florida College of Law. Judge Essrig has been involved in numerous community activities and bar responsibilities. She is the immediate past chair of Florida's Model Dependency Court Improvement Panel, she served for six years as a Florida Supreme Court appointee to that court's Steering Committee on Families and Children in the Courts, and she has served as a member of the Hillsborough County Children's Board (a statutorily-created children's services committee that uses ad valorem tax dollars to provide services and supports for local children and families) since 2000. Also, she chairs the dependency court section of the Florida Conference of Circuit Judges. She is the recipient of the 2012 William E. Gladstone Award, which is presented annually to a Florida judge who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to safeguarding the welfare and dignity of children, and the recipient of Casey Family Programs 2014 Excellence for Children Award for Judicial Excellence. She was the first recipient of the Eckerd Kids Champions for Children Partner award in 2017, and she is the recipient of a 2017 Luminaries award from the Junior League of Tampa. A frequent lecturer, Judge Essrig has taught at the Florida Circuit Judges Conference annual educational conference, the Florida Judges' Advanced Judicial Studies conferences, Florida's Dependency Summit, and the National Conference of Juvenile and Family Court Judges conferences.
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Thomas Fair
Product Manager
Five Points Technology Group
Thomas experienced life in the foster care system and faced significant hardships and obstacles throughout his life, including being homeless within the first 3 years of aging out of foster care. Rather than becoming a statistic, he chose to be a light of hope, belief, and inspiration.
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Mary Kay Falconer
Senior Evaluator
Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida
Mary Kay Falconer has been a senior evaluator with the Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida since July 1, 2003. In addition to developing proposals for new research initiatives, Dr. Falconer has conducted evaluation research for Healthy Families Florida, Florida's Circle of Parents, Florida's campaigns to prevent child abuse and neglect, family centered practice in Florida's child welfare system and community collaborations that promote coordination between early childhood learning and child welfare in order to better serve young children in foster care. She has studied the evolution of several evidence-based continuums, contributed to efforts to place programs on these continuums, and conducted research consistent with the requirements on evidence-based continuums. She has taught program evaluation courses at Florida State University and is often a guest lecturer on program evaluation. In her previous employment, she worked as an analyst at the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services, committee staff in the Florida Legislature, and a research associate and director at the Institute for Health and Human Services Research in the School of Social Work at Florida State University.
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Amy Farrington
Director of Certification
Florida Certification Board
Amy Farrington is the Director of Certification for the FCB. Since 2006, when she joined the FCB, she has been responsible for the development and administration of all facets of FCB's professional certification programs. Prior to joining the FCB, she served as the Director of Education and Training at the Florida Department of Children and Families. Ms. Farrington holds a Master's degree in Instructional Systems Design and brings over 20 years of statewide and national experience developing and administering professional adult education, training, and certification programs to the project.
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Kareem Fletcher
The Motivational Edge, Inc.
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Karin Flositz
Chief Operating Officer
Community Partnership for Children
Ms. Flositz serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Community Partnership for Children. She joined the organization in 2004 after 12 years with the Department of Children and Families serving as a child welfare case manager, case manager supervisor, program specialist and contract specialist. Additionally, she is certified by the Department of Children and Families as a Child Protection Professional, Child Protection Supervisor, Child Protection Specialist and Contract Manager.
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Adrienne Fuller
Speech-Language Pathologist
Speechbuilders, LLC
Adrienne Fuller M.S., CCC-SLP is the clinical director and Ownerof SpeechBuilders Speech and Language Therapy in Apopka,Florida. She earned her Master's Degree at the University ofNew Hampshire. She is passionate about make all children fromall from all backgrounds ready for kindergarten. She has recently released a book entitled "Putting Your Dreams to Work, Keys to Setting Up Your Therapy Practice," with two of her collegues.
Theresa Fracek
Program Administrator
Department of Children and Families
Theresa Fracek has been working in child welfare for over 15 years. She began with the Department in 2001 as an Intern while obtaining her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services. While employed with the Department she has had many roles from a Child Protective Investigator, Child Protective Investigator Supervisor, Operations Management Consultant II, and current role as a Program Administrator throughout the Counties in Circuit 20. She was among the first in her Region to be part of the implementation of the Safety Decision Making Methodology. She has served on committees for the implementation of the model between Child Investigations and Case Management. She is also deemed proficient as a Program Administrator in the practice model.
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Zackary Gibson
Chief Child Advocate and Director, Office of Adoption & Child Protection
Executive Office of the Governor
Zackary Gibson brings nearly 20 years of management and leadership experience to his positions as Chief Child Advocate and Director of the Office of Adoption and Child Protection for the State of Florida. He has an extensive background serving children and families and has held multiple positions within the various programs he has worked. Mr. Gibson began his career as a direct care staff at the Glen Mills Schools outside of Philadelphia, PA before transitioning to establish the Bay Point Schools, a residential juvenile justice program in Miami, FL. He served as the AM Senior Counselor and eventually became the Director of Training.Mr. Gibson was recruited to Dallas, TX where he served as the Director of Operations and Interim Executive Director for the Dallas County Juvenile Justice Charter Schools. He oversaw all personnel delivering educational services to youth incarcerated or placed within county juvenile facilities. Staying within Texas, Mr. Gibson transferred to Houston where he served as the Administrator for the Harris County - Excel Academy, an alternative school serving middle to high school male and female students who have been expelled from either their home school or alternative school, and those who have been released from juvenile placement.Upon being recruited back to Florida, Mr. Gibson served as the Area Director of the Boys and Girls Club of the Big Bend where he helped revamp and start clubs in Leon, Franklin, and Jefferson counties. He successfully secured 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding and provided professional development to all locations. He was recruited by the Florida Department of Education to provide technical assistance and training activities and eventually became the statewide director of the unit. Upon the end of the administrative grant, Mr. Gibson worked at Florida's Office of Early Learning to lead project management activities prior to being appointed to his current position.Mr. Gibson holds a bachelors of science degree in Communications Media from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Julie, and daughter, Natalie. He enjoys outdoor sports, fishing, and traveling.
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Magistrate Randi Glick Boven
General Magistrate
Florida's 17th Judicial Circuit
Randi Glick Boven has been a General Magistrate in the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit since 2009 presiding over cases in the family and dependency divisions. Ms. Boven has chaired, or co-chaired several initiatives within the dependency system to help families reach permanency. Ms. Boven has been a member of The Florida Bar since 1987. She opened her private practice, focusing in the area of marital and family law in 1989, maintaining that practice until taking her current position as a General Magistrate. Ms. Boven has been certified as a specialist by the Florida Supreme Court in the area of family and marital law since 1998 and has been a certified family mediator since 1992. Ms. Boven is a frequent lecturer for The Florida Bar and The Florida Bar Family Law Section and is a past adjunct professor of paralegal studies for Broward College. Ms. Boven is an instructor at Florida Judicial College for incoming General Magistrates and Hearing Officers. Ms. Boven is a graduate of Nova Law Sc
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Karen Goldberg, M.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychiatry
University of South Florida
Karen A. Goldberg, MD, is a board certified child and adolescent psychiatrist at the University of South Florida, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences. As a hard of hearing physician, she has committed her career to comprehensive mental health care of deaf youth. She has served as the Co-Chair for the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry for over ten years and was recently appointed by the Governor to serve on the Florida Coordinating Council for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She has presented nationally and internationally on providing evidenced based mental health care for deaf/hard of hearing youngsters. She is the author of several publications on this topic.
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Beverly Goodman
Tri-County Community Resource Center Manager
Partnership for Strong Families
Beverly Goodman is Manager of the Tri-County Community Resource Center, a connecting hub between residents and local resources and supports, many of which act as preventatives to formal child welfare involvement. She is currently responsible for development of center programming and service array, establishing community partnerships and assessing both immediate and long-term client needs. Beverly began her career in 1997 with the Department of Juvenile Justice's Teen Court program and has advanced in the field of child welfare in a variety of roles since that time, including Family Team Conference Facilitator and Case Management Supervisor. She has a Masters in Human Services in Child Protection from Nova Southeastern University.
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Kim Gorsuch
Director, Child Protective Investigations Section
Broward Sheriff's Office
During the course of her extensive career, Ms. Gorsuch has been a tireless advocate for children and families. She began her professional life in Ohio as a front-line child welfare caseworker, and over the years has held positions of increasing responsibility conducting research, developing public policy, and serving in numerous executive management roles in Florida. Ms. Gorsuch has worked in almost every aspect of social services, and has championed successful prevention and intervention policies and programs in the fields of juvenile justice, child welfare, and substance abuse and mental health.Ms. Gorsuch is presently the Director of Child Protective Investigations at the Broward Sheriff's Office. Prior to joining BSO, Ms. Gorsuch was Deputy Regional Managing Director at the Florida Department of Children and Families.Ms. Gorsuch is a graduate of the University of Toledo, Ohio, and the University of Michigan, where she obtained her Master's Degree in Social Work.
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Mimi Graham
FSU Center for Prevention & Early Intervention Policy
Dr. Mimi Graham is Director of the Florida State University Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy specializing in policy, training and special projects for vulnerable infants and toddlers including: Early Childhood Coordinating Systems project on Trauma & Toxic Stress; The Harris Infant Mental Health Training Institute. She is active in the statewide Trauma Informed Care Workgroup and statewide "baby" court teams to address the trauma of young children. She is past president and co-founder of the Florida Association for Infant Mental Health and fellow of Zero to Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families.
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Ginger Griffeth
Child Welfare Performance and Quality Management Director
Office of Child Welfare, Department of Children and Families
Ginger Griffeth is the Director of Child Welfare Performance and Quality Management Director at the Florida Department of Children and Families Office of Child Welfare. She is a former Family Safety Manager and Statewide Child Protection Supervisor with the Department. Ms. Griffeth was a Practice Model Specialist with Partnership for Strong Families, and served as Program Director and Quality Manager with Family Preservation Services, Inc. of Florida.
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Jody Grutza
Executive Director
Eckerd Kids - Hillsborough
Jody Grutza returned to Eckerd Kids in 2016 to serve as the Executive Director of Eckerd Community Alternatives | Hillsborough. In this role, Jody is responsible for the oversight of all child welfare activities in Hillsborough County, strategically partnering with key stakeholders to serve over 3,500 children and families each day. Jody brings over a decade of leadership experience in the human services field from direct service as a social worker to a strategic policy advisor with national agencies.
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Amy Guinan Liem
Florida Legal Services, Inc.
Amy Guinan Liem is an attorney with Florida Legal Services, Inc. (FLS), where she leads the FLS Children's Advocacy Project and specializes in children's access to health care issues. Prior to joining FLS in 2007, Amy was in private practice in the area of consumer protection class actions. She also previously served as the Legislative Counsel for the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, as the Director of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council, and as the Staff Attorney for the Florida House of Representatives' Committee on Health Care Services. She earned her law degree from the Florida State University College of Law and completed her undergraduate studies at Loyola University at New Orleans. Amy has served as a consumer representative member on the Agency for Health Care Administration's Medical Care Advisory Committee since 2008. She has also served on the Florida KidCare Coordinating Council and the Independent Living Services Advisory Council.
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Andrea Hagan
Prevention Speciaist
Heartland for Children
Andrea Hagan is a native of Pennsylvania and moved to Florida in 1986. She received bachelor's degrees in Psychology and Elementary Education from Southeastern University. Ms. Hagan has over twenty-seven years of combined experience in social services, serving children and families in both the areas of nonprofit faith based and community based care in Central Florida. She has led the faith based initiative for Heartland for Children over the last four years, where they have experienced a 100% increase in their faith-based partnerships. Throughout her professional career, Ms. Hagan has worked in the areas of emergency shelter care, maternity care, foster care, adoption, and prevention. Ms. Hagan joined Heartland for Children as a Prevention Resource Specialist in June of 2010. She currently serves on several committees in her community to include the StandUp Polk Coalition and Executive Board, Southeastern Social Work Advisory Council, Polk County Sheriff's Advisory Council, and Circuit 10 Human Trafficking Task Force and Speaker's Bureau. Ms. Hagan has a passion for serving others and building strong families and community.
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Bryan Hall
I AM Training and Consultation Group LLC
Bryan Hall II, MSW received his graduate degree from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work and has worked in child welfare, adult probation services and law enforcement in excess of seventeen years. Mr. Hall's clinical background consists of treating youth and adolescents with persistent legal issues and/or mental health disorders. Mr. Hall is the co-founder and managing partner of the I AM Training and Consultation Group LLC. Mr. Hall has been an active contributor of efforts to eradicate sex trafficking inclusive of training hundreds of probations officers, social workers and community providers on issues related to sexual exploitation and trafficking. Mr. Hall has been instrumental in the development and facilitation of prevention programming aimed at educating participants on various topics inclusive of sexual exploitation designed for adolescents, young adults and families under the umbrella of I AM: The Empowerment Project. Mr. Hall is an adjunct faculty member and teaches at the college level.
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Meredith Hall
Appellate Counsel
Children's Legal Services Department of Children and Families
Meredith Hall is the SunCoast Region Appellate Counsel for Children's Legal Services. Meredith joined CLS in 2010 as a trial attorney before becoming the office's appellate counsel. Previously, she spent several years working for a St. Petersburg firm, practicing in the areas of business litigation and family law. Meredith graduated from Stetson University College of Law where she received Book Awards in Evidence and Criminal Procedure. Meredith was a member of the Phi Delta Phi Legal Honors Fraternity and was also a research assistant to the Dean. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the University of Florida with minors in Business Administration and Criminology.
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John Harper
Manager, Policy and Practice Unit
Mr. Harper has served as the program specialist for child protective investigations in the Office of Child Welfare for the past 12 years. His previous child welfare background includes work as a child protective investigator and dependency supervisor in the Northwest Region with oversight of protective services, foster care and adoption staff. Prior to coming to the field of child welfare John was a certified addiction professional in two states. He has worked as the Director of a Treatment Center, and residential drug counselor for both adults and adolescents and was the Northwest Region Substance Abuse Director prior to his work in child protection.
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Maxine Henry
Deputy Director of Training
Children's Legal Services
Born on the island of Antigua, raised in Canada, Maxine Henry has been employed with Children's Legal Services for over 12 years. She started her career in Lake County and transferred to Orange County in 2007. Between 2004 and 2014, she has tried hundreds of cases and from 2012 to 2014 she was assigned to the CAC unit where she handled the most heinous of child abuse cases. In 2014, Maxine Henry was appointed as the Deputy Director of Training, where she has assisted in the development of the training curriculum for all Children's Legal Services' attorneys statewide. In addition to training CLS attorneys, she has presented at luncheons for The Legal Aid Association of Orange County Bar Association as well as numerous trainings for their volunteer guardians. She has also guest lectured at the University of Central Florida on the Legal Rights of Parents and Children, Types of Court Intervention and the Impact of Court on Children.
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Kristi Hill
Special Projects Administrator
Seminole Tribal Court
Kristi Hill is currently the Special Projects Administrator for the Seminole Tribal Court where she provides assistance and training on Indian child welfare matters and assists with administrative functions of the Court. Before joining the Seminole Tribal Court, Kristi spent 10 years as the Family Preservation Administrator for the Seminole Tribe of Florida's child welfare program where she oversaw all child abuse and neglect cases involving Seminole children. Through her 11+ years working within the Indian child welfare field, Kristi has become an expert in the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and shares her expertise through ICWA trainings throughout Florida. Kristi also has her Master's Degree in Social Work and is a member of the National Indian Child Welfare Association and the National Association of Social Workers.
Christine Hilliard
Peer Advocate
Henderson Behavioral Health Broward
Christine has struggled for many years as an active alcoholic. She found recovery in her late twenty's, in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. She obtained a sponsor, attended a Home Group weekly, and started the process of working the 12 steps of the program. She achieved 3 years of sobriety, and then relapsed. She hit a final bottom at the age of 40, and came "running" back to AA in 2002. As a result, she immediately "jumped" into her recovery, as if her life depended on it, which it did. She continues to work the principles of the steps in her daily life, both professionally and personally. She is very active within her fellowship and sponsors several women, which is extremely important to an individuals continued recovery. She was blessed a few years ago to be given a job as a peer advocate with Henderson Behavioral Health, which allows her to share her passion for recovery with clients. Today, her life is full of gratitude, self-respect, and joy.
Myrna Hogue
Social Work Supervisor
Hillsborough County Schools
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Gary Holloway
Circuit One Lead Trainer
University of West Florida
Gary has been in the role of Child Welfare Training Coordinator with UWF since 2006. He leads a team that provides pre-service training to CBC hires and community providers on the Gulf Coast. Prior to his work with the University of West Florida, Gary held a training position with the University of South Florida and worked as both a Case Manager and Foster Care Supervisor in the Florida Panhandle. He has held positions with both FamiliesFirst Network and the Florida Department of Children and Families since beginning his career in the field of child welfare in 2001.
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Hui Huang
Assistant Professor
School of Social Work, Florida International University
Hui Huang, PhD, MSW is an Assistant Professor at the Florida International University School of Social Work and a faculty affiliate of the Florida Institute for Child Welfare. Her research focuses on developing and evaluating macro-level interventions for foster youth involved in multiple public sectors. Dr. Huang received extensive training in applied research methods and obtained a master degree in applied statistics at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also have six years of experience working at the Children and Family Research Center, which is a research organization responsible for evaluating and issuing public reports on the services of Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. She is familiar with conducting research using administrative data and assessment data.
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Harleen Hutchinson
Executive Director
The Journey Institute
Dr. Harleen Hutchinson is an Infant Mental Health Specialist and Executive Director of The Journey Institute. Dr. Hutchinson received her doctorate degree from Carlos Albizu University with a concentration in Child Psychology. She completed her Clinical Psychology Internship at the Miami Dade County Psychological Services Division with rotations in the Head Start program and a community trauma center with emphasis on family and community violence. With a background in social work and psychology, Dr. Hutchinson has devoted her career to the clinical practice and research on children and attachment. Much of her work has centered on children in the child welfare system exposed to trauma and children prenatally exposed to drugs. Dr. Hutchinson is particularly interested in early infant mental health initiatives, advocacy, and intervention programs using research to inform practice. She is a skilled and nurturing clinician with extensive experience working with diverse populations.
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Beverly Jean-Jacques
Clinical Coordinator
Citrus Health Network
Beverly Jean-Jacques was born in Brooklyn, NY and grew up in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. She served as an active duty member in the military for 4 years and was honorably discharged. She obtained her B.S. majoring in psychology at Nova southeastern university. She went on to pursue her graduate degree and obtained her Ph.D. In clinical psychology in 2009 at Nova southeastern university. Beverly has dedicated her career to working with the child welfare system since 2009 and has served as a mental health clinician providing therapeutic services in the foster care program for numerous years. She has been serving as the clinical supervisor for a preservation program since 2013 and is responsible for coordinating intensive in-home services for families at risk of removal by DCF. Beverly is an active member of the community and aspires to become a GAL. During her personal time enjoys traveling and spending time with her 17 year old son.
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Megan Jeffrey
Program Manager
Family Builders Program, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
Megan Jeffrey, MSBiographyMegan Jeffrey, MS is a Master's Level professional who has worked in the social services and mental health community in the states of California and Florida for the past seven years. Megan has served in a variety of roles, including Direct Care Counselor, Mental Health Counselor, Juvenile Justice and Case Management Supervisor as well as an Outpatient Coordinator. Megan is currently the Program Manager over the Family Builders Program with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, which is contracted through Community Partnership for Children. She has been with Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health for a total of five years. Megan is overseeing six staff members who directly serve families that have an open abuse case with the Department of Children and Families. Megan Jeffrey, Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health, Program
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Robin Jensen
SunCoast Regional Director, Statewide Training Director
Children's Legal Services, Department of Children and Families
Robin Jensen has dedicated her career to protecting children; having spent 20 of the almost 27 years as an attorney in Child Welfare in two states. She started her career in California, then worked for the Utah Attorney General's Office and also served on the Children's Justice Center Board until 2000. She worked for the Florida Attorney General's Office as a Senior Attorney then became the Managing Attorney for Circuit 12 in 2008. She was the Deputy Statewide Training Director while managing Circuit 12 and is currently the SunCoast Regional Director and Statewide Training Director. She has tried 100s of child welfare cases in many counties in Utah and Florida and is a National Institute for Trial Advocacy (NITA) train the trainer alumni and a Vicarious Trauma educator. She received the Excellence in Child Welfare Award for Circuit 12 in 2012 and was honored by the Utah Children's Justice Center and Utah Guardian ad Litem program. She particularly enjoys working with teenagers in and out of the system.
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Tanya Johnson-Gilchrist
Senior Adoption Support Counselor
The Sylvia Thomas Center for Adoptive and Foster Families
Tanya Johnson-Gilchrist is the Senior Adoption Support Counselor for the Sylvia Thomas Center. She provides therapeutic services to children and families, facilitates a parent and a teen support group, and serves as the clinical supervisor for graduate and undergraduate students. Ms. Johnson-Gilchrist provides mental health services at the University of South Florida's BRIDGE Clinic and she serves on the Eckerd Advisory Council for Hillsborough County. Ms. Johnson-Gilchrist serves on the Board of Directors for the Tampa Hillsborough Action Plan - a community empowerment organization, and serves as the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for Synergy Health Centers, Inc. She holds a Dual-Master degrees in Social Work and Public Health and is a Certified Public Health Professional. She is a veteran of United States Army.
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Felicia Jordan
Staff Attorney
Disability Rights Florida
Ms. Felicia Jordan currently serves as a staff attorney with Disability Rights Florida. Ms. Jordan earned her law degree from Nova Southeastern University in 2001. She is a member of the Florida Bar and is admitted to practice before the U.S. District Court for the Southern District, U.S. District Court for the Northern District and the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. She has served on the Florida Board of Governors, Young Lawyers Division for two consecutive terms as well as various boards and committees of the Florida Bar and local bar associations.Her public interest and disability law experience includes several years working for Coast to Coast Legal Aid of South Florida, Inc. and many years representing individuals with disabilities before the Social Security Administration. Ms. Jordan currently works on the Advocacy, Education, and Outreach team for Disability Rights Florida.
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Dr. Kristopher Kaliebe
Associate Professor of Psychiatry
University of South Florida
Kristopher Kaliebe MD is an Associate Professor of Psychiatry at University of South Florida. He is Board Certified in Psychiatry, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Forensic Psychiatry. He serves as co-chair of the Media Committee at the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. His primary clinical work has been in Federally Qualified Health Centers and Juvenile Corrections.
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Connie Keehner
Deputy Director
Manatee County Sheriff's Office
Connie has a long history (over 15 years) with child protection working herself through the ranks and ultimately becoming certified as a trainer to help other investigators reach their full potential. With a balanced background in assessing, crisis intervention, independent living skills development, recruiting, training, investigating and even being a "Granny Nanny" (at one point in time), Connie is intelligent, well rounded and a worthy companion for ensuring the safety of Florida's children. Connie has an AA in mental health technology adn a BA in social work.
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Janelle King
Restorative Practices Specialist, Office of Child Welfare
Department of Children and Families
Janelle King joined the Office of Child Welfare with DCF in 2016 as the Restorative Practices Specialist. In her position, she works to promote integration between the child welfare (DCF), education (DOE), and juvenile justice (DJJ) systems with regards to the use of restorative practices. Ms. King serves as the Office of Child Welfare's representative on the implementation, training, and ongoing coordination of restorative practices throughout the state. Before joining DCF, she worked at DJJ in the Office of Probation and also in the Office of Residential Services. She will be graduating with her Masters in Criminology from Florida State University this year. Ms. King works with a restorative justice program based in Tallahassee that teaches youth involved in the juvenile justice Nonviolent Communication. Additionally, she serves as DCF's point of contact for the Crossover Youth Workgroup and is one of the coordinators for DCF's Florida Youth Leadership Academy. Ms. King has received extensive training in restorative justice, restorative practices, and Nonviolent Communication.
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Dolores King
Florida Abuse Hotline Trainer and Community Training Liason
Florida Abuse Hotline
Dolores King is a 2008 graduate of Florida State University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Social Science and 2 minors, Early Childhood Development and Urban and Regional Planning. She has been an employee at the Florida Abuse Hotline since 2011. She began her career as a Florida Abuse Counselor and has spent the last 4 years at the Hotline as a trainer. Dolores has trained both counselors and criminal analyst for Pre-Service and In-Service trainings at the Hotline. Recently Dolores completed the HOPE leadership program at the Florida Abuse Hotline and began the Certified Public Management Program. Dolores is dedicated to promoting child abuse and neglect awareness and vulnerable adult abuse and neglect awareness.Throughout the year Dolores trains professionally mandated reporters in our local communities on the reporting requirements for child abuse, neglect, and abandonment and vulnerable adult abuse, neglect,and exploitation.
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Brenda Kocher
Certified Trauma Practitioner / Guardian ad Litem Volunteer
Guardian ad Litem / Voices for Children
Brenda Kocher has been a Guardian ad Litem Volunteer with the 13th Judicial Circuit, Tampa, since 2009. In 2014 Brenda brought Tibet - the state of Florida's first Courthouse Facility Dog to work in the courts in the state. As a result of the addition of Tibet and the valuable contributions made by this team to the Dependency Courts in Tampa - Ms. Kocher has received the Guardian ad Litem of the Year for Hillsborough County in 2014. She is the recipient of the Statewide Guardian ad Litem of the Year in 2015. She and Tibet were named 2015 Volunteer of the Year for Are You Safe? - a pro-bono legal advocacy organization for victims of domestic violence. Brenda received the "Doggedness Award" at the 2016 International Courthouse Dogs Conference as an appreciation for her program development as a volunteer. Ms. Kocher has been a speaker at the 2014 and 2016 Disabilities Conference, the 2015 and 2016 DCF Child Protection Summit, and at the 2014 and 2016 International Courthouse Dogs Foundation Conference in Seattle, WA. She has also presented to the U.S. Navy at their international conference on crime victims on how to start a facility dog program. In 2016, Ms. Kocher earned a certification as a Trauma Practitioner through Starr Global Learning Network. Ms. Kocher now serves as a resource to other Guardian ad Litem / CASA Programs around the country who wish to start their own Facility Dog program. Tibet and Brenda work primarily in Dependency court however also assist children in Family Law court and in Domestic Violence Court. The team also assists with forensic medical and sexual assault examinations conducted by our Child Protection Team. Brenda is a retired physical therapist, is married to her husband of 31 years and they have two sons - ages 24 and 19.
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Dave Krupski
Appellate Counsel
State of Florida, Guardian ad Litem Program
A practicing attorney since 2002, Dave Krupski is a member of the Statewide GAL's appellate team. He primarily handles appeals from circuits inside of the First, Second, and Fifth DCAs (mostly from North Florida, the Tampa/St. Pete region, and from the Daytona area). Since becoming a lawyer, Dave has specialized in appeals, especially those constitutional in nature. When he worked in the private sector prior to joining the GAL in the spring of 2015, Dave always carved time to represent families and children throughout his career. Whether through pro bono work (obtaining protection from abuse orders for battered women or helping victimized children obtain legal immigration status), or fighting to save laws designed to protect women and children (such as arguing and winning a key decision in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a constitutional challenge to Arizona's "Megan's Law"), Dave has always considered these issues vitally important.Dave graduated from Yale in 1999 (B.A., political science), and from Notre Dame Law School (magna cum laude, law review) in 2002. A lifelong athlete, Dave is an accomplished distance runner, having run over 100 combined marathons and ultramarathons, including the World's Toughest Footrace, the Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile race through Death Valley in the middle of July).
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Kristen Lang
Attorney ad Litem
L. David Shear Children's Law Center of Bay Area Legal Services, Inc.
Kristen Lang is a staff attorney with the L. David Shear Children's Law Center of Bay Area Legal Services, Inc., in her hometown of Tampa, Florida. She represents children in dependency court as an Attorney ad Litem and engages in systemic reform work to improve the dependency system. She is the founder and leader of the High Quality Early Education for Dependent Youth Collaborative (HQEEDY) whose vision is that all zero- to five-year-old dependent children in Hillsborough County will receive a high quality early education. She is a proud alumnus of the University of Florida, where she received her undergraduate degrees, and of Teach for America, through which she taught sixth grade English in the South Bronx. She has her Masters in Teaching from Pace University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. Kristen is committed to spending her career reducing or eliminating the barriers to success for at-risk children.
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Sharon Langer
Development Director/Attorney
Disability Independence Group, Inc.
Sharon Langer is the Development Director of Disability Independence Group Inc. (DIG) and is the Project Director of a Violence Against Women Act Grant that is studying the intersection of domestic violence, sexual assault and disability. The project is called Miami Inclusion Alliance and DIG is the lead agency. Prior to her position at DIG, Ms. Langer was the Executive Director of Dade Legal Aid for twenty eight years.She practiced primarily in the area of family law and serves on many committees, boards and task forces dealing with issues important to women and children. She served on The Florida Bar Board of Governors for nine years and held many leadership positions including: Legislative Committee Chair, and The Executive Committee. Ms. Langer served as vice-chair of The Florida Bar Children's Commission, Chair of The Florida Supreme Court Unbundled Legal Services Committee and Chair of the 11th Circuit Judicial Nominating Screening Committee. She has been an adjunct professor at the University Of Miami School Of Law. Ms. Langer develops training programs and lectures for attorneys and has lectured on many topics ranging from public interest law to domestic violence. She is one of the founders and current Board Chair of Casa Valentina, Inc., a transitional housing program for foster youth who age out of the system.
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Katie Langer
Training Specialist
FamiliesFirst Network
Katie Langer, MSW, is currently a Training Specialist for FamiliesFirst Network, where she teaches and assists staff in increasing knowledge and competency in the Child Welfare field. Katie received her Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of West Florida in 2013. She has worked in the Child Welfare field serving children and families as a Child Welfare Case Manager for six years and Adoptions Unit Manager for four years before advancing into a position with the training department. Katie has a passion for helping both staff and families.
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Meredith Lasch
Registered Behavior Technician
Family Initiative, Incorporated
Meredith Lasch is a Registered Behavior Technician that works for Family Initiative Inc, a non-profit organization in Southwest Florida providing clinical and support services for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She specializes in helping children with autism and their families in their homes and community. She received her Master's in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism Intervention and a Graduate Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. She worked for the McKinney Independent School District in McKinney, TX. where she taught children with Autism and supported them in the home. She co wrote a grant and received funds for technology for her classroom from the McKinney Education Fund.
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Robert Latham
Associate Director
University of Miami School of Law - Children & Youth Law Clinic
Robert is Associate Director of the Children & Youth Law Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, where he lectures on the effective representation of children. At the Clinic, he represents children and young adults who have experienced the foster care system. His policy work focuses on improving outcomes for vulnerable populations in the system, with a focus on LGBTQ, undocumented, and homeless youth, and youth with severe emotional behavioral disabilities. Robert received the Statewide Excellence in Advocacy Award for 2016 from the Guardian ad Litem Program.
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Mylisa (Missy) Lee
Northwest Region Program Director for Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Florida Department of Children and Services
Missy started her career working for the Guardian ad Litem program and then made a transition over to child welfare with the department as a Child Abuse Investigator. After several supervisor and community liaison positions with provider agencies came back to the department as the System of Care Coordinator for Early Childhood Mental Health. Most recently Missy became the Director of Substance Abuse and Mental Health for the departments NW Region. She has a Bachelor's degree from Florida State University and is a veteran of the US Air Force. Missy is a certified Youth and Adult Mental Health First Aid Instructor as well as a trainer in cultural competency and Evidence Based Wraparound.
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Courtney Lee
ICPC Compact Administrator
Department of Children and Families
Courtney Lee is the Compact Administrator of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children at the Florida Department of Children and Families. Ms. Lee came to the Department from the First District Court of Appeal of Florida, where she served first as a post-conviction staff attorney and later as a law clerk to the Honorable Bradford L. Thomas and the Honorable T.K. Wetherell, III. While at the court, Ms. Lee had the opportunity to work on many cases involving Chapters 39 and 63, Florida Statutes, and developed a keen interest in child welfare.Ms. Lee graduated from Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia with a dual Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry and Biology. She later earned her J.D. from the Florida State University College of Law.
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Jack Levine
4Generations Institute
Jack Levine, Founder of 4Generations Institute and President of Advocacy Resources, a Tallahassee-based consultancy, previously served as President of Voices for Florida's Children for 25-years. Jack specializes in developing and delivering non-partisan advocacy messages in the public policy arena, to the media, and a diverse network professionals and volunteers affiliated with family organizations and service agencies. Jack holds a Master's Degree in Child Development and Family Studies from Purdue University, and a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Hunter College, City University of New York. A graduate of Leadership Florida, he was the first recipient of that organization's Distinguished Alumnus Award.
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Kerry Littlewood
Principal Investigator
AAJ Research & Evaluation
Dr. Kerry Littlewood holds a master's degree (2003) and doctorate (2008) in Social Work (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Dr. Littlewood is an instructor at the University of South Florida and President of AAJ Research & Evaluation, Inc. In 2012-2015, she was the Assistant Director of the School of Social Work at East Carolina University. Dr. Littlewood specializes in program evaluation, community-based participatory research, and using mixed methods approaches to better understand at-risk children, families and older adults. Dr. Littlewood has worked on a broad scope of child welfare evaluations, including Title-IVE Waiver program evaluation and a national study on child maltreatment in child care settings. Since 2015, she has worked as a national expert consultant and evaluation capacity building coach for ICF International Center for States. As Research Director of the Florida Kinship Center at the University of South Florida (2004-2010), Dr. Littlewood designed and evaluated programs to support families headed by grandparents and other relatives raising children. As Executive Director for the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center (2010-2013, Winner of the National C. Peter Magrath Award for University-Community Engagement, 2012), Dr. Littlewood developed and evaluated intergenerational programs designed to improve community health outcomes. More recently, Dr. Littlewood investigates the following studies: 1) the KIN-Tech kinship navigator randomized control trial federal demonstration program evaluation for Children's Home, Inc. (Tampa, FL); 2) the National Grandfamilies Outcome Workgroup examination of support groups for grandparents raising grandchildren; 3) the COMRADE Trial: a stepped-up care study on diabetes and comorbid distress and depression in integrated primary care settings to promote behavioral changes to improve biological outcomes; 4) the EMPOWER Trial: a randomized control trial providing community health worker intervention to rural African American women with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus; and 5) the Triple P Positive Parenting Program Evaluation in twenty-one counties in North Carolina.
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Dr. Kerry Littlewood
AAJ Research and Evaluation, Inc.
Dr. Kerry Littlewood holds a master's degree (2003) and doctorate (2008) in Social Work (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). She is President of AAJ Research and Evaluation, Inc. She is a Professor at the School of Social Work at University of South Florida. Dr. Littlewood specializes in community-based participatory research, program evaluation, and using mixed methods approaches to better understand at-risk children, families and older adults. As Executive Director for the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center (2010-2013, Winner of the National C. Peter Magrath Award for University-Community Engagement, 2012), Dr. Littlewood has developed and evaluated intergenerational programs designed to improve community health outcomes. As Research Director of the Florida Kinship Center at the University of South Florida (2004-2010), Dr. Littlewood designed and evaluated programs to support families headed by grandparents and other relatives raising children. More recently, Dr. Littlewood spearheads work to develop and validate measurement tools for the National Grandfamilies Workgroup (GrOW), leads the KIN-Tech kinship navigator federal demonstration program evaluation, and investigates diabetes (T2DM) in African American women living in rural communities in the EMPOWER! Randomized Controlled Trial using a small changes approach to behavioral modification.
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Chris Lolley
Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Florida
Ounce of Prevention Fund of Florida/Prevent Child Abuse Florida
Chris Lolley has worked in the field of child welfare for more than 25 years now. Chris has worked in residential treatment settings, was a Child Protective Investigator, a licensing counselor, supervisor and trainer for all child welfare programs as well as for prevention practitioners from across the state of Florida. In his current position, Chris and his team coordinate Florida's Child Abuse Prevention Campaign and associated tasks including supporting over 50 parent support groups across the state. His most important role though is as a husband to his wife of over 25 years and his now college age son.
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April Lott
LCSW, President & CEO
Directions for Living
April Lott is the President & CEO at Directions for Living, a CARF-accredited child welfare and behavioral health organization providing a comprehensive network of services promoting safe and stable families in Pinellas County, and a leader in the philosophy and practice of trauma-informed care nationwide. April holds a Master of Social Work degree, is an LCSW, and has over 30 years of experience in the provision of child welfare services in Florida. April also works on many boards and committees, at a local, state, and national level with a focus on child welfare, behavioral health, early childhood trauma, and child abuse prevention, including serving as the current Chair of the Pinellas County Crisis Intervention Team training for local law enforcement agencies, Chair of the Homeless Leadership Board Providers Council, and an appointed member of both the State Child Abuse Death Review Committee, and the Statewide Crisis Intervention Rapid Response Team. Additionally, she is a regular featured guest speaker on local television talk shows discussing issues related to relationships, mental health, and wellness.
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Khalilah Louis Caines
Director of Field Education
Saint Leo University
Khalilah Louis Caines, LCSW currently serves as Director of Field Education and a Social Work Instructor for Saint Leo University's Master of Social Work Program. Khalilah was the previous Title IV-E Coordinator for the university that prepared undergraduate and graduate students for a career in child welfare. Khalilah has worked in adoptions for more than 12 years as a case manager, WWK Recruiter, clinician, and trainer. She continues to provide clinical support and training to adopted youth, families, and professionals across the nation.
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Katerina Maroney
School Readiness Policy Supervisor
Office of Early Learning
Katerina Koikos Maroney oversees the School Readiness Policy Unit within the Office of Early Learning. Katerina has more than 10 years of experience working with early learning programs, specifically with policy development and implementation of the School Readiness Program and the federal Child Care Development Block Grant. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and Social Welfare from the University of North Florida.
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Craig A. McCarthy
Law Office of Craig A. McCarthy
Orlando private attorney Craig McCarthy has worked in the field of juvenile dependency for the past sixteen years of his legal career. He is the inaugural Chair of the Parents Advocacy Committee of the Bar's Public Interest Law Section. Long before there was legislation meant to provide counsel to foster children with special needs, McCarthy has provided legal services to hundreds of foster children in Orange County. In his prior career, he was Captain McCarthy of the US Army, and was stationed in Berlin, Germany at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall. From that experience McCarthy maintains a mission-oriented approach to advocating for families in the dependency system.
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Steve McGarvey
NE Region CPI Trainer
University of South Florida, Child Welfare Training Consortium
Second Presenter: Steve McGarveySteve is a Learning and Development Facilitator with the University of South Florida Training Consortium as a trainer of Child Protective Investigators in the Northeast Region. He has worked in child welfare for over 25 years with the past 18 mostly dedicated to training and certification of child welfare professionals and other trainers. Steve has been immersed in Florida's Child Welfare Practice Model for the last 4 years having developed and delivered workshops on all related topics. In addition, Steve has a passion, insight and focused experience working with parents and children who struggle with attachment and the effects of trauma on their interactions.
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Kimberly McGrath, Psy.D.
Clinical Coordinator of Foster Care
Citrus Health Network
Dr. Kimberly McGrath is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist. She received her Masters and Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Florida Institute of Technology. She is the Clinical Coordinator of Foster Care services at Citrus Health Network, a position she has held since 2002. Dr. McGrath is also the founding psychologist for the Treating Adolescents Coping with Trauma (TACT) program, an outpatient program for sexual offenders, victims of sexual abuse, and their families. Most recently, Dr. McGrath founded the Citrus Helping Adolescents Negatively affected by Commercial Exploitation (CHANCE) Program, a Specialized Therapeutic Foster Care (STFC) and Community Response Team (CRT) for victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation. The CHANCE Program addresses the emotional, social and behavioral needs of victims of human trafficking. Dr. McGrath has presented about the CHANCE program at several local, state, and national conferences on topics including human trafficking, child welfare, mental health and substance abuse. She serves as a member of the Statewide Human Trafficking Services Workgroup, and the Workgroup's Residential Providers Subgroup, as well as of the Miami-Dade County State Attorney's Office Human Trafficking Task Force.
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Bruce McIntosh
Statewide Medical Director, Child Protection Team System
State of Florida Department of Health, Children's Medical Services
Dr. McIntosh was born in Tampa, Florida. He attended college at Emory University and medical school at the University of Florida in Gainesville. After completing two years of residency in Pediatrics at the Yale-New Haven Medical Center, he spent three years serving in the Navy at a base in Japan. Upon returning to the United States he completed his Pediatric training at the Navy Regional Medical Center in Portsmouth, Virginia, and then remained on the faculty there for four years. In 1980 he was transferred to Jacksonville as Chief of the Department of Pediatrics at the Naval Hospital. After leaving the Navy in 1984, he took a position teaching Pediatrics at the Family Medicine Residency Program at St. Vincent's Medical Center where he remained for 25 years. During that time he became affiliated with the First Coast Child Protection Team, initially as a medical consultant and later as Medical Director. He is sub-board certified in the specialty of Child Abuse Pediatrics. In October of 2016 Dr. McIntosh became Statewide Medical Director of the Florida Department of Health's Children's Medical Services' Child Protection Team system.
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Robyn Metcalf
Open Doors Statewide Director
Voices for Florida
As the Open Doors Statewide Director, Robyn is responsible for the planning, executing and compliance by all parties related to the successful implementation of the Open Doors network. Prior to working with Voices for Florida, Robyn worked in a variety of roles with The Children's Campaign. Most notably, she was the first apprentice to be hired by The Children's Campaign as a full-time employee where she served as the Associate Executive Director.Robyn received her Bachelor of Social Work degree, Masters of Social Work with a concentration in Social Policy and Administration and Masters of Public Administration from Florida State University. She also worked as a graduate assistant under Dean Emeritus Nick Mazza and Masters of Social Work Director Fran Gomory. In 2016, the College of Social Work recognized Robyn with the Distinguished Young Alumni Award, a prestigious award recognizing outstanding graduates within the past 10 years who have demonstrated significant leadership and exceptional contributions to social work.Robyn is a former Guardian ad Litem, Relay for Life of North Leon Leadership Committee Member, Volunteer Training Assistant with 211 Big Bend, and is a current member of the Junior League of Tallahassee.
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Marleen Milner
Chair, Social Work Program
Southeastern University
Dr. Marleen Milner has experience in a variety of fields of social work practice, including child welfare, child sexual abuse treatment, adoption, substance abuse treatment and community mental health. Dr. Milner has been Chair of the Social Work Program at Southeastern University since 2000. She has been recognized for excellence in teaching, having been nominated to Who's Who Among American Teachers in 2004, Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning and Technology Award for the International Conference on College Teaching and Learning in 2006. She received the Excellence in Academic Advising Award in 2011, and the NASW Heartland Unit Educator of the Year Award in 2014. Her research interests include child welfare, critical thinking, diversity, and spirituality and social work practice.
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Susana Montalvo
Clinical Supervisor
Citrus Health Network
Susana Montalvo, LMHC, NBCC, began in the field of Mental Health and Social Services 23 years ago working in Emergency Response Teams after Hurricane Andrew. She then worked in a small community nonprofit organization which focused in working with prevention of child abuse and domestic violence. During her 17 years of employment at Hands in Action- Manos en Accion, she became trained in the Nurturing Parenting Program and worked closely with the community courts, DJJ and DCFS in reunification of families when deemed appropriately. Susana has worked at Citrus Health Network, Inc. since 2009 working with the Outpatient department and those families who were Victims of Crimes, Clinician for the FACES Children's Community Team and since 2014 is the supervisor for the Citrus Community Action Team Program that works with children and families with a range of diagnosis and environmental as well as family dynamic obstacles. Susana is a Certified WRAP facilitator, Certified in Motivational
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Dennis Moore
General Counsel
Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office
Dennis has a wealth of experience dealing with children's issues and has represented children as both an attorney and as a guardian ad litem. He first served as an attorney for the Florida Department of Children and Families, and then as a senior attorney for the Guardian ad Litem Program of the Ninth Judicial Circuit where he participated in a three year legislative pilot project studying the impact of a fully funded guardian ad litem program representing children in Florida's dependency system. Ultimately, Dennis went on to serve as the first General Counsel for the Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office, the position he holds today.In 2005, he led a team established by the Florida Legislature to rewrite significant portions of Florida law that impacts abused, abandoned and neglected children. Dennis has served as a faculty member for the United Judicial Conference. He has been a member of the National Governor's Association task force studying youth transitioning into adulthood from 2006-2007; the Florida Supreme Court Steering Committee on Children and Families in Court's subcommittee on Privacy and the Court in 2007; and was a member of the Governor's Children and Youth Cabinet in 2008. Dennis has served as Chair of The Florida Bar's Standing Committee on the Legal Needs of Children from 2008-2009. In 2008, he was honored with the Florida Guardian ad Litem Foundation Daniel P. Dawson Award for Outstanding Leadership. Dennis has also enjoyed a successful private civil litigation practice, specializing in labor, employment, and consumer finance law. He has been Manager for a regional law firm's litigation department and has successfully represented the banking industry in numerous appeals.
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Tammie Nadeau
Assistant Director/Campus Coach for Foster Care Youth
University of Central Florida
Bio for Tammie NadeauTammie Nadeau received her B.S.B.A. in Management, Master of Public Administration in Administrative Leadership, Ed.Specialist degree in Curriculum and Instruction/Administrative Leadership. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Education (Ed.D.) at the University of West Florida.She is an Assistant Director, Multicultural and Academic Support Services at the University of Central Florida. In her role, she coordinates programs and services designed to increase the retention and persistence rates of multicultural, first generation, transfer and foster care and adopted youth. She is a State of Florida Coach for Foster Care Youth enrolled at UCF. Tammie has 18 years of higher education experience in the areas of coordinating support services for target populations of students. She is first generation student.
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Alexandra Noel
Clinical Supervisor
Community Counseling Resources
Alexandra Noel is a Resident in Counseling (Virginia) as well as National Certified Counselor (NCC) with credentials as a Certified Substance Abuse Counselor (CSAC), Master Addictions Counselor (MAC), and Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor (CADC) with over 8 years experience in the fields of Counseling and Psychology. She received her Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling degree from Regent University with dual majors in Community Counseling and School Counseling. Currently, Alexandra serves as senior clinical supervisor for Community Counseling Resources; an intensive in-home agency that offers low income families the opportunity to receive intensive counseling and/or skill building support services to children and adults suffering from a variety of mental health and substance abuse challenges. Alexandra's experience includes placements in the community and school settings with children, adults, and families experiencing co-occurring mental health challenges and substance abuse. Alexandra has collaborated with the local community services boards to facilitate intensive outpatient substance abuse groups and develop group curriculum for trauma recovery groups utilizing creative counseling techniques and interventions. Alexandra serves in a volunteer capacity as a Neurotherapy Specialist with expertise in providing Neurofeedback and counseling services to military service members and families experiencing mood disorders, trauma, as well as substance abuse and addictions. In the school setting, she has conducted individual and group therapy at the elementary, middle, and high school levels; her passion resides in making a difference in the lives of disadvantaged youth and families with mental health and substance abuse challenges.
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Gihan Omar, Psy.D.
Clinical Coordinator
Citrus Health Network
Dr. Gihan Omar is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who has been in practice for 17 years. She completed her doctoral training at the Florida Institute for Technology, internship at the University of Houston and a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Yale University School of Medicine where she remained as an Associate Research Scientist before joining Citrus Health Network (CHN) in 2003. During her time at CHN, Dr. Omar has supervised and coordinated various program that provide services to children and adolescents with mental health problems including Juvenile Evaluation Treatment Services (JETS), a program that works with adolescents under intensive juvenile probation and Center for Adolescent Treatment Services, a residential treatment facility for adolescents with severe emotional and behavioral disorders. She is currently the Clinical Supervisor of Children's Crisis Response Team (CCRT) and intensive in-home Community Services Team.
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Carol Oseroff, Ph.D., ABPP
Florida Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified Specialist in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psycholog
Child Protection Team of Brevard County
Dr. Oseroff is a licensed psychologist in the state of Florida with specialty board certification in clinical child and adolescent psychology. She was in independent practice in Tallahassee, FL for more than 13 years before recently moving to Indian Harbour Beach, FL. Dr. Oseroff's practice includes the forensic assessment of parents and children, psycho-educational evaluations, and individual and family-based treatment of childhood disorders. Dr. Oseroff is currently a psychologist with Child Protection Team, 18th Judicial Circuit, and served the 2nd Judicial Circuit in the same capacity for many years. She has conducted dependency evaluations for community-based care agencies in more than 20 counties, and she is secretary of the Florida Chapter of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children (FLAPSAC). Prior to becoming a psychologist, Dr. Oseroff was a Guardian ad Litem volunteer for seven years and served as president of Child Advocates II of Tallahassee.
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Abhishek Pandey
Physician Scientist
University of Arizona
Dr. Pandey is a physician scientist and junior faculty at SUNY Downstate Medical Center. He finished his medical school from St. George's University (2010) and completed his training, including a behavioral sleep fellowship with a focus in epidemiology and health disparities at SUNY Downstate Medical Center (2012). The overall goal of the research he is participating in is to define strategies to improve outcomes and overall general health in the management of common chronic diseases in health disparities populations. The core objective of his investigations is to develop, implement and apply evidence-based behavioral interventions targeted at sleep disorders and blood pressure control in minority patients, especially through community-engaged mediums. His current collaborative project between SUNY Downstate's College of Medicine and School of Public Health in conjunction with the National Stroke Association and the Arthur Ashe Institute for Urban Health is to investigate the interest in and preference for smartphone apps that facilitate improved identification and management of risk factors and healthcare needs. The project is funded by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) to develop mobile phone applications for stroke patients and their caregivers. His work has been recognized at regional and national scientific congresses, his results have been published in several leading academic journals, including New England Journal of Medicine; American Journal of Medicine; Sleep; and discussed in news sources, including Scientific American; New York Times; TIME Magazine; US News and World Report; and MedPage Today.
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Andria Peek
Community Coordinator for Early Childhood Court - East Pasco
BayCare Behavioral Health
Andria Peek has been working for BayCare Behavioral Health since September of 2007, working at The Academy as a Residential Substance Abuse Counselor for youth ages 13-17. Andria was asked to join the new outreach and prevention team in August of 2014 and is currently a member of BCBH's Community Health Activation Team (C.H.A.T.). Andria focuses her efforts on the Trauma-Informed Care and Early Childhood initiatives. Through C.H.A.T. Andria has served as a liaison for BCBH and provides navigation services to families appearing in Dependency Court in East Pasco. In September 2015, Andria was asked to take on the role of Community Coordinator for Early Childhood Court under the Honorable Judge Lynn Tepper. As the Community Coordinator, Andria is working to build ECC's group of community Stakeholders, provides links to resources for families, serves as a liaison to the Judge and is collecting and reporting outcome data to the Quality Improvement Center for Research Based Infant-Toddler Court Teams and ZERO TO THREE. In addition, Andria was trained in February of 2016 and is a Registered Circle of Security Parenting Facilitator. Currently Andria is pursuing a graduate certificate in Infant-Family Mental Health at the University of South Florida- St. Petersburg.
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Robin Perry
State Child Abuse Death Review Committee
Dr. Perry is an Associate Professor in Social Work at Florida A&M University and currently serves as the Chairperson of the Child Abuse Death Review (CADR) Committee. He additionally serves on the Statewide Critical Incident Rapid Response Team (CIRRT) Advisory Committee. Prior to obtaining his Ph.D. (at the University of California at Berkeley) Dr. Perry worked for eight years in child welfare and domestic violence settings (casework and clinical), including serving as a child protective investigator and service worker for four years. Dr. Perry's research has received national and international attention. Over the past 20 years he has published and presented extensively (over 100 conference papers, research reports, monographs, book chapters, and refereed journal articles) on topics including: program and outcome evaluation, child well-being, funding models for child welfare systems, domestic and sexual violence, task analyses and workforce issues, professional training and education of child welfare workers, child welfare performance measures, family group decision making, child maltreatment fatalities and child abuse prevention.
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Elizabeth Phillips
Statewide Reform Coordinator
Florida Department of Juvenile Justice
Elizabeth Phillips graduated from Florida State University in 1999 with a Bachelor's Degree in Criminology with a focus in Juvenile Justice. She began her career working with youth in 1998 as a Case Manager with the Associated Marine Institute in Tallahassee, Florida. She then went on to work for the Florida Sheriffs Youth Ranches for the next eight years and held a variety of positions during that time including Family Social Worker and Camp Director. In 2007, Ms. Phillips began working with the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice and held the positions of Senior Juvenile Probation Officer and Circuit Reform Specialist. She is now the Statewide Reform Coordinator. Her focus is working with the Reform Specialists around the state and finding new and innovative ideas to further the reform efforts being conducted by the Department. It is imperative to ensure each and every youth and family touched by the system be given individualized treatment and assistance.
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Ann Pimentel-Kerr
Project Coordinator
Children's Advocacy Center, The Howard Phillips Center for Children and Families
Ann Pimentel-Kerr is currently the Project Coordinator at the Children's Advocacy Center and is developing web-based trainings on Reporting & Indicators of Child Abuse and Neglect and Human Trafficking. She also facilitates presentations to the community and providers in the field. Ann has over 20 years' experience working with children & families, and in the social services arena. Ann's experience includes working with children and adults in psychiatric facilities, DCF child abuse investigations, and many years as a child welfare certified trainer. Ann's trainings include child abuse and neglect, reporting requirements, human trafficking, cultural diversity, mentoring and more.
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Antoinette Pollard
Attorney/Equal Justice Works Fellow
Legal Aid of Palm Beach County, Inc.
Antoinette (Toni) Pollard, Attorney/Equal Justice Works Fellow After retiring from a business career with a major insurer, as an executive in healthcare and other employee benefits, Ms. Pollard decided to attend law school. Ms. Pollard was a Goodwin scholar all three years and graduated cum laude from Nova Southeastern University's Shepard Broad Law Center in 2015. Wanting to become a lawyer for children, and encouraged to contribute her healthcare expertise to the field of children's law, Ms. Pollard was awarded a two-year Equal Justice Works fellowship* to establish the Children's Healthcare Advocacy Project (CHAP). In managing CHAP, she represents, co-represents, and advocates for foster children with respect to their healthcare needs. In her project's first 17 months, she has assisted 88 children in obtaining Medicaid coverage or specific treatment which had been inappropriately denied. Her project is hosted by the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, and is expanding to benefit children in other Florida counties, as well. She was asked to deliver her recommendations to a major presidential candidate's team of domestic policy advisors and has presented training sessions at several major conferences. A Florida discussion group, including a Circuit Court Judge and Supreme Court Justice, sought her input during reviews of the current healthcare system. Ms. Pollard also addresses systemic change by coordinating with agency heads in Tallahassee and other children's attorneys around the state. Ms. Pollard serves as a board member, mentor, and volunteer at the Milagro Center, in Delray Beach. The Milagro Center is a non-profit after school and summer program to benefit underserved children, through promotion of values, cultural arts, and academics. *Funded by The Florida Bar, The Florida Bar Foundation, Greenberg Traurig, and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, Inc.
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Lisa Pompa
Assistant Clinical Director
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
Lisa Pompa, LMHC has worked in the child welfare and community mental health systems in the state of Florida for the past twenty years. Lisa is the Assistant Clinical Director for Devereux Florida providing oversight and consultative services to all of Devereux's Residential, Community Based and Child Welfare Programs. Her clinical expertise in TF-CBT and DBT has played a key role in establishing Devereux Florida's CSEC programs. She has initiated protocols on the treatment of children and adolescents who are victims of sexual abuse, sexual trauma and sexual exploitation. She has attended several statewide conferences on CSEC awareness and training including three day training based on CCIP curriculum to become a domestic trafficking responder as well as GEMS five day train the trainer model. She is currently the director of services to all DELTA youth in Devereux Florida's programing. Most recently, Compassion Fatigue has been a point of interest in that working with difficult populations has impact on helpers. Lisa has participated in the train the trainer on Francoise Matthau's Walking the Walk Curriculum for education and training on Compassion Fatigue.
Jennifer Prather
Senior Management Analyst Supervisior
Department of Children and Families
Jennifer Prather holds a Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Science in Criminology from Florida State University. She has over 25 years experience in the social service field, including mental health, developmental disabilities, and child welfare operations. She is currently employed by the Florida Department of Children and Families, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Operations, where her position focuses on a variety of issues including resolution of cases requiring state level interagency assistance, monitoring of dependent children served in Agency for Persons with Disabilities licensed care and children residing in skilled nursing facilities, and policy development and support to the regions in the various program areas administered by the Department of Children and Families. She is the Department of Children and Families statewide coordinator for the interagency state review team which includes representation from eight state agencies, and her experience includes coordinating and facilitating local and statewide groups, as well as policy development and review.
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Patricia Propheter
Continuing Education Coordinator
Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program
Patricia Propheter has practiced law in family and child welfare since 1993. She was the managing attorney for the Domestic Violence and Public Benefits unit at the Legal Aid Society of Northwest North Carolina from 1993 until 2001. After relocating back to her home state of Florida in 2001, she practiced exclusively in child dependency, with both the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program and the Department of Children and Family Services, Children's Legal Services, at both the trial and appellate levels.In addition to her legal practice, Patricia has over eighteen years of teaching experience, beginning with eight years of teaching exceptional students in the public school system, and eleven years teaching at Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University in the Critical Skills Program. She also taught Juvenile Law, Domestic Violence, Medicare and Medicaid and Business Organizations in Health Care Law. More recently, she was the Faculty Administrator of Bar Preparation and Academic Success and Assistant Professor of Legal Research and Writing as well as Interim Assistant Dean of Bar Preparation and Academic Success at Barry University School of Law in Orlando. Currently, she is the Continuing Education Coordinator for the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Program.
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Charles Puckett
Family Safety Program Administrator
Department of Children and Families
Charles Puckett, is the Family Safety Program Administrator for East Volusia and Flagler County. Mr. Puckett has a Master of Science Degree in Marriage and Family Counseling from Stetson University and a Certified Public Manager designation from Florida State University. Charles began his Child Welfare career in 2000 as a Family Services Counselor with the Department of Children and Families. Over the past 17 years Charles has moved up within the Department holding the positions of Child Protective Investigator, Child Protective Investigator Supervisor, Family Services Specialist, Program Administrator, and Family Safety Operations Manager. Charles has developed and nurtured relationships with several community partners statewide. Charles is a graduate of the Child Welfare Leadership Program Class III and was the project leader for the Florida Youth Leadership Academy project. Charles is a certified trainer and has provided trainings statewide on matters related to child abuse and neglect.
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Jessica Rae
Protection Sector Manager
Danish Refugee Council
Jessica Rae has represented hundreds of children in dependency proceedings. First at Maryland Legal Aid and more recently as the Florida Bar Trial Lawyers Children's Legal Services Fellow at the Community Law Program. Prior to moving to Florida in 2012, she managed the Ready by 21 initiative created to improve outcomes for teens at the Baltimore City Department of Social Services. In 2016, Jessica joined the Danish Refugee Council in Yemen. As the Protection Sector Manager, Jessica oversees the child protection, mixed migration and displaced persons programs and is responsible for mainstreaming protection across all sectors. In 2014, she was awarded the Florida Bar President's Pro Bono Service Award for the Sixth Judicial Circuit for her pro bono work with children and youth throughout Florida. She was recently named as an Honorary Guardian ad Litem by the Florida Guardian ad Litem Program and recognized as Florida's Children First's Tampa Bay area Child Advocate of the Year.
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Heidi Rankin
Associate Director
Safe & Together Institute (formerly David Mandel & Associates)
Heidi, an Associate Director with the Safe & Together Institute (formerly David Mandel & Associates) has over 20 years experience in the sexual and domestic violence field. She has worked in crisis counseling, program and policy development and advocacy in both the United States and Canada. As a member of the Prince Edward Island Premier's Action Committee on Family Violence Prevention, Heidi began her work on the intersection of domestic violence and child maltreatment, helping develop a child welfare domestic violence screening protocol. Heidi received a Masters in Public Administration with a concentration in domestic violence from University of Colorado at Denver, the only program of its kind in the country. Heidi's work has emphasized community collaboration, trauma informed practice, self-care strategies for secondary trauma in professionals and the intersection of child development, domestic violence and trauma. In her current role she delivers Safe and Together to diverse audiences across the US and abroad.
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Tarrin Reed
Senior Staff Associate
Action for Child Protection
Tarrin Reed, Senior Staff Associate with Action for Child Protection, has been with Action for six years providing training and technical assistance to various state and local child welfare agencies. Prior to joining Action for Child Protection, Mrs. Reed worked as the Regional Manager for Intake and Investigations and Permanency Planning in Anchorage, Alaska. Mrs. Reed has been the lead on the transformation project for Action for Child Protection for the past five years, assisting DCF in the development and implementation of the Florida's Child Welfare Practice Model.
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Larry Rein
Executive Director
ChildNet Palm Beach
Executive Director of ChildNet Palm Beach County since 2012, Larry Rein has been with ChildNet from its inception in 2002, when he was named Vice President of Network Development. Larry is a pioneer in Community-Based Care and his expertise and passion lies in effectively engaging and leading the right community partners in the design and execution of effective and comprehensive local service networks. His significant contributions include the crafting of the first Local Interagency Agreement between ChildNet and the Department of Juvenile Justice, which marked the beginning of system enhancements to better serve dually involved youth. Larry received his Bachelor's Degree from Columbia University and his Master of Science Degree in School Psychology from St. John's University.
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Kimberly Renk
Associate Professor/Psychologist
University of Central Florida
Kimberly Renk, Ph.D., is currently an Associate Professor in the Clinical Psychology Ph.D. Program at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, where she directs the Understanding Children and Families Laboratory and the Young Child and Family Research Clinic. Having completed predoctoral internship and infant mental health fellowship training at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans, the majority of Dr. Renk's work addresses the needs of families with young children who are experiencing emotional and behavioral difficulties, traumatic family stressors, and abuse and neglect. Dr. Renk has authored more than 70 articles, more than 15 book chapters, and numerous presentations in the areas of child psychology and infant mental health. Dr. Renk is licensed as a Psychologist in the state of Florida.
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Andi Rhodes
Retention & Development Specialist
Department of Children and Families
Andrea graduated from Rollins College, in Winter Park with a Bachelor's Degree in Organization Communications in 2007. While attending Rollins, she participated in a Cultural Study of the Costa Rican population and customs. She worked for Walt Disney World in various roles for 5 years and JetBlue Airways as Inflight Crew for 3 years, where she learned to embrace diversity and appreciate humanity. She joined the DCF team as a Child Protective Investigator in 2013 and was selected as a the Circuit 10 Retention & Development Specialist in November 2015. Andrea is also a part of the State Wide Customer Service FIRP Subgroup as it relates to development of a customer service model in child welfare.
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Lisa Rivera
Statewide Child Fatality Prevention Manager
Department of Children and Families
Lisa Rivera has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of South Florida and more than 28 years of experience working in the field of child welfare and domestic violence. Ms. Rivera has provided numerous presentations, trainings and workshops to child welfare personnel, community agencies and other service providers regarding child maltreatment, fatality prevention, domestic violence issues and the impact that domestic violence has on children. Ms. Rivera has worked for DCF for 20 years and currently serves as the department's State Child Fatality Prevention Manager in addition to managing the Critical Incident Rapid Response Team process.
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Wendy Robbins
Senior Supervising Attorney
Dade Legal Aid
Ms. Robbins is a Senior Supervising Attorney with Dade Legal Aid practicing in the areas of Guardianship, Dependency, Family Law, Domestic Violence and Administrative Law. In addition, she is the Lead Attorney for several projects, including the Transitioning Youth Administrative Appeals Project and the Foster Youth Guardianship Project, where she represents former foster youth with various legal issues. She lectures and trains at many Florida Legal Services, GAL and NITA trainings, and is a certified NITA instructor. Prior to joining Dade Legal Aid in 1998, Ms. Robbins practiced civil litigation in Lake Worth, Florida. She is a 1997 graduate of the University of Miami School of Law, where she is a member of the Iron Arrow Honor Society, the Highest Honor Attainable at the University of Miami.
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Theda Roberts
Statewide Civil Citations Coordinator
Department of Juvenile Justice
Theda Roberts serves as the Statewide Civil Citation Coordinator for the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (FDJJ) where she works to encourage and assist communities to implement or improve civil citation processes. Ms. Roberts works with local stakeholders to build support for civil citation; monitors assessment tools, eligibility standards, civil citation practices and utilization at the local level; provides programmatic technical assistance; and develops and provides training to civil citation stakeholders. In addition, she provides information and assistance to other states and jurisdictions interested in Florida's Juvenile Civil Citation Model. Ms. Roberts has presented civil citation nationally at the McArthur Foundation Models for Change Conference and National TASC Conference, provided technical assistance to the State of Kentucky, and participated in Juvenile Justice Coalition webinars. Ms. Roberts came to DJJ from the Florida Executive Office of the Governor where she analyzed juvenile justice policy and budget. Prior to that, she spent eight years working in state and local government for the Florida House of Representatives and the Brevard County Commission. Ms. Roberts studied at Brevard Community College and the University of Central Florida.
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Stephanie Rogers
Government Operations Consultant
Agency for Persons with Disabilities
Since 2006, Ms. Rogers has served as the Agency for Persons with Disabilities' liaison to Florida's Family Care Councils, 15 governor-appointed boards created by the Florida Legislature in 1993 to advise APD, develop a plan for the delivery of family support services within the local area, and monitor the implementation and effectiveness of services and supports provided under the plan. With more than 50,000 individuals with developmental disabilities residing in Florida, Ms. Rogers serves as the project lead for the agency's Community Resource Directory, a web-based tool with more than 8,000 local, state and national resources that provides assistance to individuals with disabilities. Ms. Rogers also serves as the agency's project lead for their new web-based tool, the Florida Navigator which is designed to help families navigate through available State of Florida programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Beatriz Romero-Escobar
Senior Investigator
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights
Beatriz Romero-Escobar is a Senior Investigator with the Office for Civil Rights of the Department of Health and Human Services. Ms. Romero-Escobar joined the Office for Civil Rights in 2005 and has been charged with providing technical assistance and conducting outreach to assist child welfare agencies and other recipients of Federal funding in meeting their obligations under federal civil rights laws enforced by OCR. Ms. Romero-Escobar performs reviews, investigates complaints, and provides training to covered entities. She is originally from Colombia, South America but resided most of her adult life in Anchorage, Alaska. She is a graduate from the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
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Robin Rosenberg
Deputy Director
Florida's Children First
Robin L. Rosenberg is a children's rights lawyer who has served Deputy Director of Florida's Children First since 2007. She trains and supports lawyers who represent children, works on systemic advocacy including work on legislation and executive branch advocacy. Prior to coming to FCF, Ms. Rosenberg was the Pro Bono Counsel for Florida on Holland & Knight's Community Service Team. She graduated with High Honors from the University of Florida College of Law and with a degree in Communication Studies from Northwestern University. She chairs the Juvenile Law Certification Committee, the Children's Rights Committee of the Public Interest Law Section, and sits on the Legal Needs of Children Committee of the Florida Bar.
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Lakshmi Ruiz
The Motivational Edge, Inc.
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Yinay Ruiz
Miami CARES Project Manager
Our Kids of Miami Dade/Monroe
Yinay Ruiz, Graduated with a Bachelors in Psychology on 2005 and has been involved in the child welfare system since 2006. She started her career as a case manager and later served as a dependency court specialist, acting as the liaison between the concerned agency and the Honorable Judge Cindy Lederman's division within the Miami-Dade County Circuit Court. Ms. Ruiz specialized in identifying and procuring vital services for children within the dependency court system to meet court mandates. In 2014, Ms. Ruiz shifted her focus to human trafficking cases. She became the project manager for the Miami Cares Project, an initiative aimed to aide human trafficking victims within the dependency system. Ms. Ruiz leads the implementation of a federal grant designed to bring together local partners to address human trafficking within the child welfare population through increased collaboration, strategic coordination of services, and cross-system infrastructure building.
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Walter Sachs
Northwest Region Regional Managing Director
Florida Departmentof Children and Families
With a 27 year career in State Government, 24 years being at the Department of Children and Families primarily working in the area of contractual services administration, Walter rejoined DCF as the Northwest Regional Managing Director in May 2016. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Business Management and a Master's degree in Public Administration, both from Florida State and is a veteran of the US Army.
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Shawn Salamida
Families First Network
Shawn Salamida, President of FamiliesFirst Network (FFN) of Lakeview Center, is responsible for overseeing the community-based care agency charged with managing child welfare services for the Florida panhandle. ||Mr. Salamida has worked in the field of children's services for 25 years, serving as administrator both in mental health and child welfare settings. Mr. Salamida holds a master's degree in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College, and a bachelor's degree in Mental Health and Human Services from Franciscan University.||In 2013, the Florida Department of Children and Families presented Salamida with the Secretary's Executive Leadership Award. He currently serves as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the Florida Coalition for Children, with member agencies from all across the state. He serves on several local and state-level committees pertaining to child welfare issues, and has presented workshops on foster care re-design at numerous national conferences.||Mr. Salamida comes from a unique family background, having 10 brothers and sisters, seven of whom are adopted. Shawn and his wife Kathy have been married for nearly 25 years. They have 6 children, two of whom are adopted from foster care|
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Judge Maria Sampedro-Iglesia
Associate Administrative Judge -Circuit Juvenile Division
Miami Dade County Courthouse
The Honorable Maria Sampedro-Iglesia, Associate Administrative Judge -Circuit Juvenile Division, Mari Sampedro- Iglesia was born in Cuba and came to the United States with her family at the age of 6. She lived in New Jersey until she was 12, when her family relocated to Miami, Florida. She attended all South Florida Schools and graduated from the University of Miami Law School in 1988. She practiced law for 21 years in general practice, encompassing juvenile, criminal, appeals, and insurance litigation. She was elected to the bench unopposed in 2009 and has been in the juvenile court since her election. She is the Associate Administrative Judge of Juvenile. In the last few years, she has been actively involved in the human trafficking cases in court as well as works with the State Attorney's office on a task force against human trafficking. She hears juvenile cases as well as is the Unified Family Court Judge in juvenile. She served as co-chair on the CBC Alliance from 2012 - 2015, when her term expired. She was recognized as Woman of the year in 2012-2013 by the National Association of Professional Women. She was elected a second term unopposed on May 2, 2014. Just recently in September 2014, Judge Sampedro-Iglesia was awarded with a few other participants an award for a kick off project called Bench Buddies. An award was given by the state of Florida for the creativity of this program which has judges and other court partners read to young elementary children. In addition, the judge was nominated for the William Gladstone Award, which is a state wide award to recognize judges that have dedicated their career to the welfare of children. In 2015, The International Women's Leadership Association recognized her as a woman of outstanding leadership. She was a panelist on "What Family Court Judges want you to know" and in the 19th Annual Conference of Human Trafficking Interrupting the Pathway to Victimization. Judge Sampedro-Iglesia is married and has two sons. A few years back she wrote a book about her family's journey through her husband's cancer named "The Heroes Among Us." All proceeds of that book are donated to cancer research.
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Nicole Sawyer
Hotline Manager
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Nicole Sawyer is the Hotline Manager for the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV). In her role, Nicole provides oversight of the operation of the statewide domestic violence hotline and supervision of statewide hotline advocates. Nicole provides crisis intervention and advocacy to survivors of domestic violence. She also provides training and technical assistance to domestic violence center/shelter staff or volunteers. This includes any skills building and/or problem solving assistance requested by the domestic violence center staff. Prior to coming to FCADV, Nicole worked for the Department of Children and Families with the Florida Abuse Hotline (2007-2015). Nicole earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Humanities from The Florida State University. She is passionate about educating others on the intersection of the Domestic Violence and Child Welfare, working together to bring about positive, sustainable outcomes for the communities and survivors throughout the state of Florida, and ending violence and oppression for all people.
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Phil Scarpelli
Director of Professional Development and Talent Management
Department of Children and Families
Phil Scarpelli received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Psychology and has worked in both the behavioral healthcare andchild welfare arenas for the past thirty years. Phil has held executiveleadership positions in both the public and private sectors and hasbeen a community ambassador to many social causes aroundCentral Florida. He is currently a part of the Department of Childrenand Families Central Region's leadership team overseeingProfessional Development and Talent Management. Phil providesorganizational and systemic analyses, executive coaching, staffdevelopment and talent management, including oversight of theCentral Region Leadership Academy. He is a visionary andtransformational leader who aspires to servant leadership principlesin the motivation of human service's workforces.
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Allison Schlesinger, M.Ed.
Human Resources Consultant, Office of Civil Rights
Department of Children and Families
Ms. Schlesinger received her Bachelor's degree from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. as a Child Development Specialist and her MA from CA State University Northridge in Educational Psychology and Counseling. She has been working in the field of mental health, child abuse and advocacy since 1994. She is deaf herself and has been involved in numerous local, state and national level advocacy projects. She has served as the chair of the Children and Families Civil Rights Expert Group for the National Association of the Deaf since 2013. She currently works for the FL Department of Children and Families in the Office of Civil Rights.
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Deborah Schroth
Appellate Counsel Children's Legal Services
Department of Children and Families
Deborah A. Schroth is Appellate Counsel and Counsel for Education, Independent Living and Master Trust for the Department of Children and Families. One of the projects she's been involved with since 2015 is the issue of "cross-over" youth, i.e., children in the dependency system who then become known to law enforcement and DJJ. Prior to working for DCF, for twenty-five years, Ms. Schroth represented clients in direct and systemic advocacy reform for two non-profit law firms. This work included legislative and administrative advocacy. Ms. Schroth has authored multiple updates to the Florida Bar's publication Florida Juvenile Law and Practice. She has been a presenter at many conferences discussing issues involving children and their issues in state systems.Ms. Schroth obtained her B.A. in Philosophy from Catholic University of America; her J.D. from the University of Oregon School of Law; and an LL.M. in taxation from the University of Florida College of Law. She served two terms as a member of the Juvenile Court Rules Committee, chairing the Committee twice. She currently serves as one of the inaugural members of the Juvenile Law Certification Committee.
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Melinda Sczepanski
Clinical Specialist
Partnership for Strong Families
Melinda Sczepanski is a Clinical Specialist with Partnership for Strong Families (PSF) in Gainesville, Florida with a focus on youth in out-of-home care on psychotropic medications. Melinda has contributed to the development of several forms associated with psychotropic medications both internally and at the state level, and was also a member of the statewide psychotropic medication workgroup. The statewide workgroup focused on standardizing forms and procedures relating to psychotropic medications.
Carole Shauffer
Senior Director Strategic Initiatives
Youth Law Center
The Youth Law Center is public interest law reform group that engages in litigation and administrative advocacy, and provides technical assistance and training in the areas of juvenile justice and child welfare. During the past two decades, I have collaborated with child welfare officials in numerous jurisdictions on projects to incorporate research on infancy and early childhood development into child welfare practice. For the past several years I have been leading the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI), a project to improve the recruitment and retention of quality foster parents and the Baby Elmo Program, a parenting project for incarcerated teens. YLC was a principal developer of both projects.
Mark Shults
Manager, Continuous Quality Improvement
Department of Children and Families, Office of Child Welfare
Mr. Shults begin his professional career with the Department upon graduation from the University of Florida. Mr. Shults has been a case manager in a variety of programs including determining eligibility for public assistance, child support enforcement, foster care, and delinquency. Mr. Shults has also worked in the non-profit work in child welfare and substance abuse services and earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration along the way. Mr. Shults recently returned to the Department after over thirteen years with a Community-based Care Lead Agency in Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI). Mr. Shults is currently the CQI Manager for the Office of Child Welfare for the Department.
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Ann Siegel
Director of Advocacy, Educational and Outreach
Disability Rights Florida
Ms. Siegel joined the staff of Disability Rights Florida in January, 2009, and is responsible for overseeing the attorneys and advocates on Disability Rights Florida's Education team, providing protection and advocacy in education for persons with disabilities. Ms. Siegel holds a Bachelor's degree in legal studies from Nova Southeastern University and a Juris Doctorate from Shepard Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University. Her background includes work as an Attorney for Legal Aid Services of Broward, Inc., as an Attorney specializing in disability and education law for children, and as an Expert Witness in special education law. The power point presentation and handouts will provide the following information: discipline; development of legally appropriate Individual Education Plan, including accurate present levels of performance, specific goals and objectives, reasonable accommodations and modifications, related services and supplementary aides and services; how to navigate a manifestation determination review with case scenarios and the required procedure under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act; suspension and expulsion hearings, process and requirements of a functional behavior assessment and development of a positive behavior intervention plan, restraint and seclusion statute, reporting requirements and plan to reduce use; and strategies. A discussion of relevant case law.
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Nicoleta Skentzos Zenn
Statewide Progam Director
Nickie Zenn Ed.S., NCSP, SEDNET Administration Project, Statewide Director. Prior to joining the SEDNET Administration Project, Nickie Zenn presented numerous workshops at the School District, State and Local Community level and is currently a NASP PREPaRE: School Crisis Prevention and Intervention Training Curriculum and Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer of Trainers. Nickie Zenn has over 20 years of combined experience working in the education and public mental health arenas with students with and/or at risk of emotional and behavioral disabilities. SEDNET is a network of 19 regional projects that are comprised of the major child serving agencies, community-based service providers, students, and their families. Local school districts serve as fiscal agents for each local regional project. Within this framework, SEDNET focuses on developing interagency collaboration and sustaining partnerships among professionals and families in the education, mental health, substance abuse, child welfare, and juvenile justice systems serving children and youth with and at-risk of E/BD. SEDNET is a discretionary project of the Florida Department of Education with a primary focus of providing training, technical support and assistance to school districts to support students with emotional/behavioral disabilities or those deemed to be at-risk.
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Kavita Sookrajh
Guardian ad Litem Program Staff Attorney
Legal Aid Society
Kavita Sookrajh is an Attorney for the Orange County GAL Program and she has been in said capacity for the past 10 years. Prior to that, she worked as a Department of Children and Families Attorney for a number of years, handling the prosecution of child welfare cases under Florida Statutes Chapter 39. She has handled hundreds of Dependency Trials and has spoken at numerous trainings on child welfare matters over the years. She is also on the Head Start Advisory Council and the OCBA Appellate Committee.
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Noreen St. Jean
Program Coordinator
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
Noreen St Jean- St Jean currently serves as one of the Program Coordinators for Devereux Kids for the Nurturing Parenting Program. The program serves for Florida's Judicial Circuit 5. St Jean's assignment is specifically for Hernando, Lake and Sumter Counties.She is a graduate of the University of Phoenix (B.S in Human Service Management) and has worked as a Program Director and Advocate at the Dawn Center Domestic Violence Shelter in Hernando County. Currently, St Jean also serves an official Board of Director and is the Chief Volunteer Officer and President of the local Boys and Girls Club in Hernando County.St Jean is a dedicated Child Advocate, Trainer, & Crisis Manager with almost two decades of experience working with childcare workers, domestic violence advocates, community organizations and children. She is an effective manager and trainer that can address and support children and adults in crisis. Her specialized areas include goal setting, child development and coaching parents who have children with behavioral problems. She is widely recognized in the community as a leader in training, child advocacy, and has extensive knowledge in community resources and crisis management.
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Alexander Star
Lead Lyrical Expression Instructor
The Motivational Edge, Inc.
Songwriter, recording artist, performer, vocal producer, role model, teacher - just a few items on Alexander Star's resume. He describes his brand of artistry as 'Good Vibes,' filling the void of love and positivity that people crave but aren't being fed on a major level. Simply put, his business model meets a need that continues to grow.Alexander Star is a vocal production specialist serving as a writer, engineer and arranger for artists and labels. He has writing credits with majors, locals, businesses and city governments, and he takes time each week to teach songwriting and recording classes to inner-city youth through an organization called The Motivational Edge.His clothing brand - - educates children in Africa by donating 20% of its profits to covering the tuition fees for underprivileged kids so they can attend school. Together, A. Star and AFR Clothing created the #ThisIsMyEra Tour, in which they bring concerts and fashion shows to schools, festivals and events around the world. To date, the #ThisIsMyEra Tour has impacted over 30 schools in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.
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Carla Stover
Principal Investigator
Child Welfare Training Consortium, University of South Florida
Dr. Carla Smith Stover is a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor in the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy at the University of South Florida. She also holds a clinical faculty appointment at Yale University Child Study Center. She has extensive clinical experience with families impacted by trauma and domestic violence. Dr. Stover has been the principal investigator on multiple studies examining the efficacy of outreach and intervention efforts for families impacted by domestic violence and she was awarded a K23 grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to develop and evaluate an intervention for fathers with co-occurring substance abuse and intimate partner violence histories. She developed Fathers for Change and is now conducting further effectiveness studies of the intervention. She has provided training internationally on interventions for children and families impacted by violence and trauma.
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Katie Streeter
Clinical Supervisor
Community Counseling Resources
Katie Streeter is a Resident in Counseling, as well as a National Certified Counselor (NCC) with over 6 years in the fields of Counseling and Psychology. She received her Masters of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Regent University. Currently, Katie is a clinical supervisor for Community Counseling Resources; an intensive in-home agency that offers low income families the opportunity to receive intensive counseling and/or skill building to children and adults suffering from a variety of mental health issues including: ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Bi-polar, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, among others. Katie's experiences include working with the Tidewater Emergency Medical Services (TEMS) Critical Incident Stress Management Team in Virginia. This team offered emergency medical personnel both group and individual counseling who had experienced traumatic events. Katie also facilitates support groups for military families who have loved ones who suffer from PTSD and emergency medical personnel on how to identify and treat instances where a patient is suffering from some non-medical issues such as a traumatic outburst. Katie has extensive experience in the trauma studies and techniques to treating trauma in both children and adults. She also has experience in supervising and educating others in the causes, symptoms, and treatment of trauma. Many other areas in which Katie has gained extensive experience are children and adults with diagnosis of ADHD, Oppositional Defiant Disorder, Conduct Disorder, Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD.
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Alger Studstill, Jr
Central Region Family Safety Program Manager
Department of Children and Families
Alger Studstill, Jr. was a star from the start as a Child Protective Investigator in Circuit 9 and under the guidance of Operations Manager, David Stoops, was promoted to a CPI Supervisor in May of 2014! Alger has also been the CPI Program Administrator for the Lake Wales and Sebring service centers and enrolled in a very competitive PhD program for Business and Public Administration. In March of 2015, Alger assumed the role of Family Safety Program Manager overseeing the Family Safety Program Office of the Central Region. He was appointed by Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs to serve on the Citizens' Commission for Children Advisory Board and in 2015 was then appointed by Governor Rick Scott to serve on the Board of Directors for One Church, One Child of Florida
Jeanne T. Tate
Managing Partner
Law Office of Jeanne T. Tate, PA
Ms. Tate is currently the managing partner of the Law Office of Jeanne T. Tate, PA (with offices in Merritt Island, Naples, Orlando and Tampa). She is a board certified adoption attorney and AV rated by Martindale Hubbell. Ms. Tate has an extensive and exclusive practice in the area of adoptions, and has participated in the placement of over 2,500 children in loving homes. As a member of the prestigious Academy of Adoption and Reproductive Attorneys and The Florida Adoption Council, Jeanne has been active in interstate compact adoptions and has a comprehensive knowledge of adoption law. She works closely with adoption agencies to provide a full range of services to birth parents and adoptive families, and owns her own adoption agency, Heart of Adoptions, Inc. She also founded Heart of Adoptions Alliance, Inc., a non-profit 501(c)(3) COA accredited agency. Ms. Tate graduated with high honors in 1978 from the University of Florida with a B.S. degree in Journalism and, in 1981, she graduated with honors from the University of Florida College of Law. Ms. Tate consistently has been named as one of Super Lawyer’s Top 50 Women Lawyers in Florida, The Best Lawyers in America, Florida’s Legal Elite and Florida Super Lawyers and was recognized as an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption. Over the years, Ms. Tate has been the recipient of several prestigious honors and awards including The Tobias Simon Pro Bono Award bestowed by the Florida Supreme Court; U.S. News – Top Tier Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” (multiple years); Best Lawyers’ 2013 Tampa Family Law Lawyer of the Year, 2012 HCBA Jimmy Kynes Pro Bono Service award, , 2010 ABA Solo and Small Firm Lifetime Achievement Award; 2010 Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine Extraordinary Woman; Guardian Angel, Voices for Children (2009); Tampa Bay Business Journal Business Woman of the Year (2009); HAWL Achievement Award (2009), Small Business Leader of the Year by the Tampa Chamber of Commerce (2006), Hillsborough County’s Pro Bono Firm Award (2006) and the Florida Adoption Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award (2004). Ms. Tate’s professional affiliations include the following: United States Supreme Court, Florida Bar; Hillsborough County Bar Association; Florida Association of Women Lawyers, Bay Area Volunteer Lawyers Program; Athena Society, and the Hillsborough County Association for Women Lawyers.
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Joyce Taylor
DCF Consultant
Consulting for ChildNet and DCF
Twenty seven years ago, Joyce Taylor began her career at juvenile justice facility, Long Lane School, and she spent most of her career in child welfare and children's mental health at the Connecticut DCF. She's been an investigator, case manager, training manager, mental health program director. Her supervisory and managerial responsibilities ultimately led into her leadership role of DCF Deputy Commissioner. Dr. Taylor was appointed the Vice-president for a large nonprofit in Boston, and then assisted the Rosie D Court Monitor for five years evaluating systemic reform, as part of a federal class-action lawsuit on children's mental health throughout Massachusetts.Dr. Taylor is a faculty member at the Springfield College School of Social Work, and is a consultant for the Yale Program on Supervision (Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry). She served as the Interim CEO of Our Kids (Miami-Dade, Monroe) in 2014, and continues to provide consultation to the Florida Department of Children and Families and various Community Based Care agencies.
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Kirsten Teany
Supervisory Attorney
Children's Legal Services
As an attorney for the State of Florida, through the Department of Children and Families, I have had the opportunity to advocate for the best interest of children, in dependency proceedings under Chapter 39, Florida Statutes. I began working for the Department of Children and Families in September of 2001, where I was assigned to work in the Pine Hills Office for approximately 6 months before being transferred to the Unit at the Children's Advocacy Center. I was assigned to handle the most egregious cases in Orange county, as the criteria for the cases assigned to the Children's Advocacy Center are: sexual abuse on children under 12, failure to thrive, malnutrition, dehydration, Munchausen by proxy, burns, bone fractures, internal injuries, death, near drowning, and other severe hospital or high media cases that are deemed best handled by the Center. As an attorney in this unit, I have tried a number of egregious Termination of Parental Rights cases involving the death of a sibling, severe life threatening injuries, broken bones, internal injuries, and sexual abuse by the children's father. I have handled numerous Munchausen by proxy cases, three of which were extensive trials involving multiple medical professionals. In addition, I handled the drug court cases in Orange County for ten years. In 2012 I was promoted to Supervising Attorney for the Pine Hills office which covers the West side of the Orlando area. I also supervise the attorney assigned to the CAC unit, and the Orange County Shelter Attorney.
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Judge Caroline Tesche Arkin
Circuit Court Judge
Florida's 13th Judicial Circuit
Judge Caroline Tesche Arkin serves as a Circuit Court Judge in Florida's 13th Judicial Circuit in Tampa. She has presided as a judge since 2008 and currently serves in the court's dependency division. She has also had judicial assignments in Felony, Juvenile Delinquency & Domestic Relations/Family Divisions. Judge Tesche Arkin graduated with honors from the University of California Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Political Science and received her J.D. from the Lewis & Clark College at Northwestern School of Law. Judge Tesche Arkin has served as Visiting Law Scholar, Fordham University School of Law, New York, New York. Prior to Judge Tesche's election to the bench in 2008, she was a sole practitioner in Tampa, with an emphasis on state and federal criminal trial practice, estate planning, and contract law; She also served with the Office of the Public Defender in Hillsborough County, Florida, for the Hon. Julianne Holt as the Director of Recruitment and Attorney Training; She was hired upon graduation from law school by the Hon. Janet Reno and served as a Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney, assigned to the Dedicated DUI Prosecutions Unit, Felony Trial Division, was the Division Chief of County Court, and served as a special prosecutor with the Organized Crime/Narcotics Unit; She worked under a Federal Prosecution Grant as a Special Assistant to the United States Attorney's Office, Maine Attorney General and District Attorneys in Bangor, Maine; interned at the United States Attorney's Office, Organized Crime Strike Force for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan; and served as a United States Senate Intern, in Washington, D.C.
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Shari Thomas
Director of Youth and Family
Henderson Behavioral Health
Shari Thomas, LCSW has been with Henderson Behavioral Health for the past 22 years and is currently the Director of Youth and Family Services. In her role, she is responsible for the oversight, daily operations, leadership and growth for Henderson's Youth and Family Services program which includes Prevention, Case Management, Clinical, Crisis Response and Residential services. Ms. Thomas has been instrumental in implementing the Wraparound model as a coach and trainer for Broward, Palm Beach , Treasure Coast and Okeechobee Counties. In addition to local training, Ms. Thomas has given presentations and participated in forums and dialogues at state and national conferences on various topics related to the Wraparound model and children's behavioral health issues.
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Thomasina Moore
Counsel - Administrative Services
Florida Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office
Thomasina Moore is the Statewide Guardian ad Litem Office's Counsel for Administrative Services, and also assists the GAL Program with complex appeals. She is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the Shepard Broad College of Law - Nova Southeastern University. She has over twenty years of experience in complex litigation and appeals, and has served as a senior staff attorney for the Second District Court of Appeal. Thomasina was litigation manager for a regional law firm, and managing partner of Moore & Moore, P.A. She is admitted to every state and federal court in Florida, as well as the United States Supreme Court. Prior to joining the GAL Program, Thomasina volunteered her services to the Program as appellate counsel and CLE instructor. She has also served as a pro bono attorney ad litem through Florida State University's Children's Advocacy Clinic.
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Meredith Todd
Florida Abuse Hotline Trainer
Department of Children and Families
Meredith Todd graduated from Florida State University in 2013 with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Family and Child Sciences. Meredith began working at the Florida Abuse Hotline in 2013 as a counselor. Meredith has served as an Acting Supervisor and Point of Contact and has also been a trainer since 2016. Meredith assists in Professionally Mandated Reporter Trainings throughout the state of Florida and with Pre-service and In-service trainings at the Hotline. Meredith is a recent graduate of the Hope Leadership Program. Meredith looks forward to helping the vulnerable population of Florida and going back to get her Masters.
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Marta Torres
Assistant Clinical Coordinator
Citrus Health Network
Marta O. Torres, L.C.S.W. , B.A., Loyola University (1990); Master of Social Work, Tulane University (1994); internship at New Orleans Adolescent Hospital. Marta Torres has 20 years of experience as an advocate and clinician serving survivors of abuse or neglect within the Child Welfare System. She has extensive leadership experience in the implementation of services seeking to educate and empower the marginalized and emotionally wounded in our community to build adaptive coping skills and positive support systems with the ultimate goal of self-sufficiency. Mrs. Torres currently serves as the Network Development Coordinator and a Clinical Supervisor for Citrus Health Network, Inc. CHANCE program providing outreach to community stakeholders to raise awareness and training on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and clinical supervision to therapists serving the commercially sexually exploited youth.
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Jennifer Travieso
Family Services Supervisor
DISC Village
Jennifer Travieso is the Family Services Supervisor at DISC Village. Jennifer obtained her Masters in Social Work at the Florida State University in 2006. She has been employed at DISC Village since August of 2005. Her first two years of service began working at Sisters In Sobriety, a women's residential substance abuse facility in Tallahassee, Florida. She has since been the Family Services Supervisor which includes the supervision of the Selected Family Interventions, Motivational Support Specialist and Family Intensive Treatment Team programs. All of these programs are integrated behavioral health and child welfare services. Her background is in child welfare, substance abuse, mental health, and trauma-informed care. She is a co-facilitator of Peace4theBigBend: Building Trauma Informed Communities Workgroup and is an advocate for Trauma-Informed Care communities.
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Michele Unger
Quality Supervision Specialist
University of South Florida Child Welfare Training Consortium
Michele Unger is the Quality Supervision Specialist (QSS) for the University of South Florida Training Consortium. She has worked in child welfare for four years and holds a JD(Juris doctorate). Prior to her QSS position, Michele was a USF Learning and Development Facilitator, with previous field experience as a DCF Senior Child Protective Investigator. Michele coaches and supervises USF training managers and ensures child welfare content and Florida's Practice Model is delivered in an accurate and consistent manner, throughout all of USF's training teams. She has additional knowledge and training in the area of Domestic Violence and is an identified Subject Matter Expert. Michele also develops and co-delivers in-service workshops to all levels of child welfare professionals. She specializes in the professional development of new trainers, by modeling and conducting "train the trainer" techniques inclusive of adult learning theory. Michele is accomplished in the instruction of the purpose of the assessment process within Florida's Practice model and, as a trainer, emphasizes the necessity for strategic planning related to engagement and interview skill development.
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Paul M. Uyehara
Senior Attorney
U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (NWB)
Paul M. Uyehara is a senior attorney in the Federal Coordination and Compliance Section (FCS) of the U.S. Justice Department, Civil Rights Division in Washington, D.C., having served since 2008. His primary assignment is the FCS Courts Language Access Initiative, which utilizes Title VI enforcement, technical assistance, and outreach activities to promote increased language access to state court systems. Paul also chairs the Limited English Proficiency Committee of the Title VI Federal Interagency Working Group. Previously, Paul was a senior staff attorney in the Language Access Project of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia for eight years, where he focused on language rights advocacy, improving program accessibility for language minority clients, and representing limited English proficient clients with consumer problems. He was a founding member of the National Language Access Advocates Network and has extensive experience with language access issues in law enforcement, the courts, bankruptcy and legal services programs. Paul chaired the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Task Force on Language Access to the Courts in 2007 – 08 and served on the work group responsible for court interpreting for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s Committee on Racial and Gender Bias in the Court System. Paul has over twenty years prior experience as a lawyer and a paralegal in other CLS units, Philadelphia Legal Assistance, the Consumer Bankruptcy Assistance Project, and the Philadelphia Law Department. He also served as a commissioner on the Philadelphia Police Advisory Commission, which provides civilian oversight of the Philadelphia Police Department, from 1993 to 2003. He earned a J.D. magna cum laude from the Temple University Beasley School of Law and an A.B. from Oberlin College.
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Milagros Valle
Clinical Supervisor
Citrus Health Network
Milagros Valle, LMHC, NCC started her professional experience 29 years ago as a counselor in a residential treatment center, The Sonia Shankman Orthogenic School at The University Of Chicago. After residential treatment she was further trained by the Institute For Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois in Family Systems Therapy. In Chicago she worked in community social service agencies with severely emotionally disturbed children and their families, with gang involved youth, with pregnant substance abusing mothers and their infants and toddlers, with families effected by HIV/AIDS, with recent immigrants with children with developmental issues. Since moving to Florida in 2003 Milagros has worked at Citrus Health NetWork and currently is the supervisor for a program that works with children and families with an array of diagnosis and challenges. Milagros is also a Certified WRAP facilitator, Wraparound Facilitator and Coach, and is Certified in Motivational Interviewing and a coach of MI.
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Wendy Valley
Program Manager
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health
Wendy Valley currently serves as Program Manager for the Devereux Kids' Parenting Program in Florida's Judicial Circuit 5. She is a Columbia Southern University Summa Cum Laude graduate with her BS in Business Administration/Finance and MBA in Human Resource Management. Wendy began her career in the Social Service field in 2001 after working over a decade in the Airline industry. She began her relationship with this organization in 2001 by attending the Front Porch Project® training simply as a parent who was interested in making a difference in the lives of children. Since then, she has been committed to Devereux Kids for the past 16 years. She first began serving families as an Independent Contractor in a training capacity and shortly thereafter was offered a part time position in 2002. This eventually lead to her full time position as a Community Facilitator and later advancement in the company to Program Manager of Administration and Evaluation and most recently, 2014, Program Manager of Parenting. Wendy's compassion and years of experience in multiple capacities of this organization further demonstrate her dedication and commitment, using strength based practices, to serving and strengthening our Florida families.
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Anjali Van Drie
Vice President
Family Initiative, Inc
Anjali Van Drie, MA, MSW, BCBA is the Co-Founder/Vice President of Family Initiative, Inc a non-profit organization in Southwest Florida providing clinical and support services for children diagnosed on the autism spectrum. Prior to this role, she served as Program Director of Behavior Education and Therapy, providing behavioral services to both families at risk for entering the child welfare system, as well as foster parents and their children. Ms. Van Drie worked in the field of child welfare for almost a decade, collaboratively with the local community based care agency, with hundreds of foster families across Southwest Florida. She has been a Nationally Board Certified Behavior Analyst since 2008. She has presented at numerous state and national conferences, and regularly enjoys conducting interactive trainings for professionals and families.
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Tiffany Vandemark
Assistant Director of Operations
Youth and Family Alternatives, Inc.
Originally from Buffalo, N.Y, Tiffany started her career in Child Welfare working within a residential treatment facility straight out of college. Working in this field where child based trauma was at the forefront on a daily basis lead to a desire to teach students with special needs. Students with severe emotional and behavioral needs specifically. After teaching in Western New York for nearly ten years, she moved to Florida in 2005, where her passion for child welfare was triggered once again. Tiffany has worked in various capacities throughout her journey in child welfare over the last 11 years and feels a strong responsibility to work in partnership with all dedicated individuals involved in our system of care. She believes in the importance of building relationships., educating the community on child welfare issues, while staunchly supporting her case managers in keeping our children safe.
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Amanda VanLaningham, Esq.
Supervising Attorney
Children's Legal Services, 4th Judicial Circuit
Amanda VanLaningham earned Bachelors of Arts degrees, Cum Laude, in Anthropology and Classical Studies from the University of Florida. Ms. VanLaningham then earned her Juris Doctorate from the University of Florida in 2013. Immediately following graduation from law school, Ms. VanLaningham joined Children's Legal Services in the Second Judicial Circuit where she was promoted first to senior attorney and then to supervising attorney in 2015. In May of 2016, Ms. VanLaningham transferred to the Fourth Judicial Circuit where she currently supervises attorneys in Clay and Duval counties. During her career, Ms. VanLaningham has prepared and tried many complex dependency and termination of parental rights trials. Ms. VanLaningham is the recipient of many honors including the Lifesavers! Award, chosen by the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families, the Children's Legal Services Excellence in Partnership Award, and the QPI Family Champion Award in the Second Judicial Circuit.
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Katja von Elbe
Conscious Discipline® Master Instructor
Conscious Discipline
Katja von Elbe, MSEd, is a national speaker and workshop presenter in social-emotional development, positive discipline and brain-based behavioral intervention. A former teacher of pre-kindergarten children with disabilities and a classroom coach in Pre-K through elementary grades, she has shared her inspiration and insight in numerous conferences including NAEYC, NAEYC Professional Development Institute, Zero-3, National Head Start, Florida Association for Infant Mental Health.She has personally experienced the findings to be shared in the presentation in her own classroom and family, including an adopted daughter. For the past eleven years, she has successfully trained and supported parents, teachers, family coaches and crisis center personnel in the strategies to be presented.
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Eric Wagner
School of Social Work, Florida International University
Eric F. Wagner, Ph.D., is the Director of Florida International University's Banyan Research Institute on Dissemination, Grants, & Evaluation (FIU-BRIDGE) and a Professor in FIU's Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work. He earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies at Brown University. Dr. Wagner is an internationally-recognized expert on brief interventions for youth and young adults, with a particular emphasis on teenage, minority, and immigrant populations. His community-based clinical research has been sponsored by the National Institute on Alcoholism & Alcohol Abuse, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Ware Foundation, the Aetna Fondation, and Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología. He has served as an expert for the United Nations, the United States Department of Education (ED), the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), and SAMHSA. Dr. Wagner has partnered with public schools in Rhode Island, Broward and Miami-Dade Counties, Adair and Le Flore Counties in Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation, the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, in conducting his research.
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Norma Wagner
Director of Operations/System of Care
Broward Behavioral Health Coalition
Norma Wagner has been employed in the field of mental health and substance abuse for more than 30 years. She has worked in direct service, supervision, and management. Her career includes working with both adults and children, in community and residential settings. Currently Ms. Wagner is employed as the Director of Operations/ System of Care for the managing entity, Broward Behavioral Health Coalition that is charged with oversight of all of the state-funded behavioral health services in Broward County, Florida. Her responsibilities cover the interaction with all systems including the criminal and juvenile justice systems, child welfare, crisis system, health care, homeless system, state hospitals, school system, and prevention services. Ms. Wagner is an advocate for consumers and recognizes the value of collaborating with community agencies to ultimately serve those individuals most in need.
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Nellie Warriner
Training Specialist
Office of Child Welfare, Department of Children and Families
Nereida (Nellie) Warriner has over 25 years of experience in child welfare from working with children affected by violence to training Pennsylvania school districts in conflict resolution, cultural awareness and team building. Nellie has served as a camp director where children from the inner city were able to learn positive social skills. Nellie holds a degree from Cabrini College in organizational management and is currently pursuing her master degree at University of Central Florida. Nellie has held positions as a child protection investigator, QA specialist for case management, and QA manager for the Central Region responsible for managing Critical Child Safety Practice Experts. She currently is a Critical Child Safety Practice Expert and Training Specialist for the Office of Child Welfare. Nellie is a Council on Accreditation reviewer where she travels the country evaluating other child welfare systems. On a personal note, Nellie is fluent in Spanish, has been married for over 24 years, is a mother of four adult children and grandmother to seven.
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Samantha Wass de Czege
Director, Office of Child Care Regulation
Department of Children and Families
Samantha Wass de Czege is the Director for the Department of Children and Families, Office of Child Care Regulation.he program is accountable for the statewide licensure of Florida's child care facilities, specialized child care facilities for the care of mildly ill children, large family child care homes and licensure or registration of family day care homes. The purpose of the program is to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the children in child care settings and to improve the quality of their care through regulation and consultation. The department ensures that licensing requirements are met through on-going inspections of child care facilities and homes.
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Stephanie Weis
Region Family and Community Services Director
Department of Children and Families
Stephanie Weis has been a child advocate for more than 15 years.Ms. Weis began her career with the Department as a ChildProtective Investigator in 2000. Ms. Weis has a wide array ofexperience with the Department, and has held many positions toinclude Child Protective Investigator (CPI), CPI Supervisor, CaseManager Supervisor, CPI Program Administrator, Family SafetyProgram Manager, Regional Program Manager and currently is amember of the Region's executive leadership team serving as theCentral Region Family and Community Services Director. Ms. Weisgraduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Cum Laude witha degree in Criminology/ Pre Law. When not working, she spendstime with her four children - ages 12, 11, 8, and 4 - and participatingin an array of running events (5k's, Mud Runs, and Triathlons) whichis her hobby.
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Ian Welsch
Chief Executive Officer
The Motivational Edge, Inc.
For over 15 years, Ian Welsch has been actively involved in education and nonprofit leadership. Leading students in classroom instruction early on in his career, he proved to parents and peers alike that students flourish under his guidance. In recent years, Ian has trained many educators and nonprofit executives on topics ranging from program development and management to donor cultivation and data-reporting, in order to benefit the lives of many more under-resourced youth around the nation. Ian earned his BS, as well as his Masters Degree in Education from the University of Bridgeport. In June 2008, The Motivational Edge was formed. As Founder and CEO, Ian has assembled a vibrant team of experienced and caring educators and mentors. Since 2008, ME has evolved into a highly-regarded youth development agency that children and families have learned to depend on. In late 2013, Ian launched The Edge - Non Profit Coaching. This coaching company afforded Ian the opportunity to educate other non-profit professionals based on his years of experience. In mid-2015, The Edge - Non Profit Coaching joined forces with a local consulting firm to form NPO Elite, which is a consulting agency that streamlines processes for nonprofit organizations to reduce time and money spent on administration so that more services can be delivered per funding dollar.
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Barbara White
Director, Young Parents Project
FSU Center for Prevention and Early Intervention Policy
Barbara White has Master's Degrees in Social Work and Education Leadership. She is part of the faculty at Florida State University, Center for Prevention and Intervention Policy. Her specific area of expertise is teen parents and their children with extensive experience serving vulnerable young families. Ms. White has been instrumental in the development, implementation, and management of the Young Parent's Project, a home visiting program in Tallahassee and Miami that provides clinical intervention and support to pregnant and parenting teen mothers in the juvenile justice system. Ms. White utilizes up-to-date research and resources in defining Infant Mental Health practices to provide program leadership, consultation, and training to programs throughout Florida.
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Heather Wilkie
Executive Director
Zebra Coalition
Heather Wilkie is the Executive Director of the Zebra Coalition, a network of community organizations which provide services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and all youth. Following the tragic Pulse shooting, the Zebra Coalition evolved as a leading organization in the community's provision of services to victims and their families, and Wilkie continues to lead these efforts to ensure that LGBT+ youth in Central Florida have a safe space to turn. Wilkie serves on the Taskforce for the LGBTQ Alliance, a group of appointed LGBTQ organizations and community leaders formed to address our community's needs as a result of the Pulse shooting. Wilkie is an experienced executive leader in the non-profit sector with over thirteen years of personal commitment and dedication to community service. A dynamic and energetic advocate for global change and equality, Wilkie contributes a strong passion for social justice. Prior to joining the Zebra Coalition, Wilkie served as chief operating officer for the leading central Florida domestic violence organization, Harbor House. During that time, she was chair of the LGBT+ Caucus with the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence, where she led a statewide initiative to enhance services for LGBT+ survivors of abuse.Wilkie holds a Master's Degree in Mental Health Counseling from Rollins College.
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Reginal Williams
Program Integrity Manager
Office of Early Learning, Florida Department of Education
Reginal is life-long resident of the State of Florida who group in rural Jackson County Florida. After graduating from Florida A&M University, he served in the United States Navy as a helicopter pilot and officer recruiter for 20 years. Upon retiring from the Navy, Reginal began working for State of Florida and more specifically the Office of Early Learning. There, he rose through the ranks to his current position as Program Integrity Manager. Reginal is currently married with four daughters.
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Mike Williams
Product Manager
Five Points Technology Group
Mike Williams experienced life in the foster care system and faced significant hardships and obstacles throughout his life, including being homeless within the first 3 years of aging out of foster care. Rather than becoming a statistic, he chose to be a light of hope, belief, and inspiration. Mike is a graduate of Tallahassee Community College and continuing his studies online in Business Management at Daytona State College. He is a former marketing director in the Nightlife and Music Industries where he worked with several celebrity athletes & musician artists. Currently, Mike is pursuing his purpose and passion as CEO of Inspiring Self Success, an organization helping young people identify their strengths, overcome personal challenges, and empower them to make positive life changes. He also works at Five Points Technology Group as a product manager for My JumpVault, a program that's being implemented statewide across Florida and soon to be across the United States that he assisted in designing, which provides instant access to health and personal records to youth in foster care, foster parents, & social workers. Mike Williams is an inspiring young man who has faced several challenges thru his years but with having many experiences in his life at such a young age, he felt the need that he should give back and connect others with the right steps to success.
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Iris Williams
School Social Work Consultant/ SEA Foster Care Liaison
Florida Department of Education
Iris Williams, MSW worked as a school social worker in Pinellas County for 26 years. During her tenure in Pinellas County, she provided professional development for student services staff, worked with students teachers and parents at all grade levels. Prior to working at Pinellas county schools, Ms. Williams was an adoption Case manager for The Children home in St. Petersburg, FL. Ms Williams is currently the School Social Work Consultant and SEA Foster Care Liaison for the Department of Education. She received her Masters Degree in Social Work from Florida State University and is a Certified Youth Mental Health First Aid Trainer for the Florida Project AWARE
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Matthew Wilson
Appellate Counsel
State of Florida, Guardian ad Litem Program
Matt Wilson currently serves as Appellate Counsel for the State of Florida, Guardian ad Litem Program primarily handling dependency and termination appeals from the 12th and 13th Judicial Circuits to the Second District Court of Appeal. Previously, he worked for the Program at the trial level as a Senior Child's Best Interest Attorney in the North Okaloosa County office of the 1st Judicial Circuit. At the circuit level, he gained experience working within the Unified Family Court model, with an emphasis on delinquency/dependency "crossover" cases, and has participated in various local family law and dependency inter-agency working groups to develop local case procedures, protocols, and best practices. He is currently a member of the Juvenile Court Rules Committee and was appointed by the Florida Supreme Court to serve on the Select Committee on Claims of Ineffective Assistance of Counsel in Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings. He graduated from Emory University with a Bachelor of Arts with High Honors in Philosophy in 2008 and a Juris Doctor in 2011.
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Stephanie Zimmerman
Deputy Director & Statewide Director of Appeals
Children's Legal Services, Department of Children and Families
Stephanie Zimmerman is the Deputy Director, Statewide Director of Appeals, and Director of Legislative Affairs for Children's Legal Services. Stephanie graduated cum laude from Stetson University College of Law and obtained her Bachelors of Arts degrees from the University of Florida, graduating with honors. Stephanie clerked for Judge Douglas Wallace of the Second District Court of Appeal. After the Second DCA, Stephanie joined the Appellate Practice Group of Carlton Fields, P.A. in St. Petersburg. Immediately before joining CLS, Stephanie practiced complex trial and appellate litigation in Tampa. Stephanie was named a Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star for 2011, 2012, and 2013. She is a member of the Florida Bar Appellate Court Rules Committee and Rules of Judicial Administration Committee.
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Terry Harrak
Youth Law Center
Terry Harrak has more than a decade of experience in youth advocacy, curriculum development, training and community outreach. She works on the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) and the Just Beginning Program at the Youth Law Center. QPI is Youth Law Center’s approach to strengthening foster care, including kinship care. Our core premise is that the primary goal of the child welfare system is to ensure that children have effective, loving parenting.  Mrs. Harrak supports this goal by working with QPI sites to ensure young people have a voice in the QPI process.

The Just Beginning program is a structured visitation program which allows incarcerated teen parents to maintain contact with their children and improve their parenting. The program’s intent is to begin to give teen parents the ability and incentive to become competent, committed parents by giving them the tools to communicate and build a positive relationship with their child. Mrs. Harrak manages JB sites nationally.
Prior to her work at Youth Law Center, Mrs. Harrak served as Project Manager for the Child Welfare League of America and Director of Youth Engagement for Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative.  She has testified before Congress and elsewhere on issues pertaining to youth services. Mrs. Harrak is the author of Guidelines for Development of Foster Care Handbooks: What Foster Youth Have to Say and co-creator of Strategic Sharing: A Curriculum for Youth Public Speaking.

Mrs. Harrak brings her personal experience with the foster care and juvenile justice systems to her work. Mrs. Harrak's personal testimony was instrumental in the passing of the Foster Care Independence Act and John H. Chafee Independent Living Program.

Mrs. Harrak resides in Northern Virginia with her husband. Her advocacy efforts are fueled by her dream that no child will ever experience a system as a parent but that every child will have the quality loving parenting they deserve.