Our NFPATI Instructors
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Chan Hellman, PhD
Chan Hellman, PhD is internationally renowned for his work on building a hope centered response to trauma. With over 150 scholarly publications and countless workshop in the areas of child maltreatment, domestic violence, homelessness, etc., Chan has focused his work on sharing the science and power of hope in our ability to overcome trauma and thrive.
Chan has trademarked Hope Centered and Trauma Informed as the evidence based framework to guide individual practice, and coordinated community responses to trauma.
Amanda Cruce is a foster and adoptive parent and has welcomed more than 50 children from Florida’s foster care system into her home. Most have been teenagers. She learned early on that loving foster children as your own kids and then seeing them return to their biological family is a complicated experience, but that’s the goal of fostering. Amanda discovered that being able to share such an experience with a community of supportive foster parents was invaluable. Today, she serves as the president of the Florida FAPA, a special community that lifts up all parents who experience the joy, and sadness, of serving as a foster family.
Christina Bethell, PhD, MBA, MPH
Dr. Bethell is a Professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University, where she serves as the founding director of the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (CAHMI) within the Department of Population, Family, and Reproductive Health.
Her efforts led to the development, validation and national, state, and local implementation and reporting of measures with a focus on early childhood development, children with special health care needs, adolescent preventive services, medical home, and a variety of family centered care topics. She leads the National Data Resource Center for Child and Adolescent Health (www.childhealthdata.org), supported through HRSA’s Maternal and Child Health Bureau as well as efforts to develop, test, and disseminate family-driven quality measurement and improvement tools such as the Well-Visit Planner. She is passionate about enabling data-driven partnerships and leveraging the new brain sciences, mindfulness and other mind-body methods to transform health and related services, with a focus on addressing childhood trauma, promoting positive health and advancing High Reliability Organizations.
Professor of Psychiatry, M.D., Author
Bessel van der Kolk
Clinical Director, Family Centered Treatment Foundation
Howard Neil Glasser is the Founder of the Children’s Success Foundation and creator of the Nurtured Heart Approach®. He is a voice for children’s greatness so they can ultimately find their own voice of greatness.
Sarah H. Springer, MD, FAAP
Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Foster Care, Adoption, & Kinship Care
Dr. Sarah Springer is a general pediatrician in Pittsburgh, PA, and the Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Council on Foster Care, Adoption, & Kinship Care. An adoptive parent herself, Dr. Springer has thirty years of experience providing pediatric care to children who joined their families by every possible means. She also has almost twenty-five years of experience working with the American Academy of Pediatrics to advocate for the needs of children who have joined their families through adoption, foster care, and kinship care. In her spare time, Dr. Springer enjoys biking, gardening, and knitting.
Gary Pate is a licensed clinical social worker employed by Centene Advanced Behavioral Health as a child welfare trainer. In this capacity, he provides training relevant to youth, caregivers, providers, and other stakeholders in the child welfare system. He has taught courses in high school, undergraduate, and graduate settings and has practiced social work for 30 years.
Gary Pate, LCSW
YouthCare Trainer, Centene
Foster Parent, Social Worker, and Attorney
Debbie Ausburn is an attorney who defends youth-serving organizations. Before attending law school, she served as a social worker with a juvenile court in metro Atlanta. While attending law school, she served as a house parent at a local group home. In the years since, she has served as a criminal prosecutor of crimes against children, a Board member with youth-serving organizations, and a foster parent. She is the author of the forthcoming book, Raising Other People’s Children: What Foster Parenting Taught Me About Bringing Together a Blended Family. She blogs about parenting issues at www.OtherPeoplesChildren.org, and about legal issues at www.YouthServicesLaw.com.
Dr Hokehe Effiong, Board-Certified Pediatrician, Certified Brain Health/ADHD Consultant helps parents of children diagnosed with ADHD, who are frustrated and worried about their child’s behavior and are ready to partner with their child to get to the root cause of the behaviors, to heal and flourish in mind and body using brain health strategies and functional medicine. She is the CEO of ADHD Practical Solutions, with a mission to help 1 million children with ADHD accomplish their big dreams, She is also the CEO of Kits of Hope, a 501 (3) organization dedicated to inspiring communities to share love, hope, and dignity with children in the foster care system.
After being injured in two car accidents, labeled as average, and told it was impossible for her to fulfil her dream of becoming a pediatrician, she uses her experience with developing resilience and thriving in the face of obstacles to help children diagnosed with ADHD and Children in Foster Care see themselves as who they truly are: fiercely courageous and capable of fulfilling their dreams.
She has spoken to the United Nations Youth Program, Ghana on the Effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences, and has been on multiple podcasts and summits such as the Healthy Fit and Uplifted webinar as keynote speaker, Doctors unbound, the On-air Advocate, Motherhood, Melanin and motherhood. She has also hosted a summit for foster parents. She is on the Board of Directors for the American Academy of Pediatrics Oklahoma Chapter.
Dr Hokehe Effiong
Board-Certified Pediatrician, Certified Brain Health/ADHD Consultant
Founder, Malachi Global
Brian D. Molitor is the founder of the Malachi Global, a ministry that exists to inspire and equip fathers and other mentors with the tools needed to successfully lead the next generation.
Barb Clark attended the University of Minnesota and graduated with a B.A. in Youth Studies, Sociology, and English. She has spent over 25 years working with at-risk youth in public schools and the non-profit sector. She worked in the Bloomington Public Schools for eight years as the Youth Development Manager and was integral in the development and implementation of three youth centers. Barb also was the Youth Initiatives Director at the National Youth Leadership Council based in St. Paul, Minnesota. At the NYLC, Barb directed a national training for high school youths from across the country which focused on service-learning, diversity, and leadership.
Barb and her husband are the parents of four adopted children, the oldest of which is diagnosed with a Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD). Barb works at the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) coordinating a program to train parent leaders to provide post-adoption support in their communities and providing post-adoption support to MN families. She also provides training and consulting with schools, agencies, and families to improve the education and lives of young people who were prenatally exposed to drugs and alcohol.
Parent Support and Training Specialist, North American Council on Adoptable Childrendren (NACAC)
Cindy Downey, MPA
Senior Trainer, Centene Corporation
Cindy is a national trainer with Centene’s Child Welfare Education and Training team. She began working for Centene in 2011, serving as the first Foster Care Liaison, collaborating and building relationships with providers, caregivers, and state and community agencies. She has over 25 years of experience working with children, families and child welfare systems. She began her career working in partnership with child protective services as a Family Preservation and Reunification worker. Over the years, she has served children and families in a variety of settings including, in-home, residential and in-patient settings. Her experience also includes being a sign language interpreter and working with deaf and hard of hearing students.
Cindy obtained her Bachelor’s degrees from Cumberland College and Eastern Kentucky University. She also holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Eastern Kentucky University. Her greatest passion is advocating for those who may not have a voice.
Ginger Healy received her master’s degree in social work from UNLV in 1999 and began practicing as a licensed clinical social worker in 2001. She has worked as a social worker in the field of child and family services and hospital trauma for several years until she adopted her son from Romania. At that point she started working for Children’s House International Adoption Agency for the next 15 years serving as the social service supervisor. This job taught her so much about attachment and trauma. In 2016 she was awarded The Angels in Adoption Award and met Julie Beem a fellow awardee. She was so impressed that when an opportunity to work for The Attachment and Trauma Network came up she jumped in head first. She is married with four children and her greatest teachers about developmental trauma and special needs have been her children. She hopes to give back to parents in her professional life and through community support. She has been able to lead the Iron County Utah Autism Support Group and serve on the board of Gateway Preparatory Academy. She is honored to be a part the ATN team.
Ginger Healy, MSW, LCSW
Program Director, Attachment & Trauma Network
Julie Beem, MBA
Julie Beem, MBA Executive Director, Attachment & Trauma Network
Julie Beem has been the Executive Director of the Attachment & Trauma Network since 2009 and an active member and volunteer since 2005. Julie lives in the Atlanta area and is the mom to four and grandmother to 2. Her youngest daughter, adopted internationally more than 20 years ago was the reason she found support and education from the other parents at ATN. Under Julie’s leadership, ATN has grown to reach families, schools and communities around the world. In 2016 ATN was given an Angel in Adoption award to honor the organization’s contributions to adoptive families across the US. Julie is a frequent speaker at adoption/foster parenting conferences as well as events focused on early childhood trauma. Julie’s formal background is in marketing, communications and business. Her true passion is making life easier for children impacted by trauma and the families who love them. Paying it forward has become the cornerstone of Julie’s work through ATN.
When not immersed in the daily tasks of a growing non-profit, Julie enjoys traveling with her husband, watching her daughter in swimming competitions and playing with the grandbabies.
A special educator by profession, Kelly is a former public school teacher of students with emotional and behavioral disorders, and has worked in national and federal special education policy and research settings. Kelly’s family is formed in part through public foster care and adoption. Her children have a range of learning, behavioral and cognitive disabilities for which they have received early intervention, special education and related services. Kelly has trained adoptive, foster and kinship families and agency personnel on special education-related needs of children and has provided information and supports to many individual families. Kelly also serves as part-time instructional faculty at George Mason University, training graduate students and special education teachers. Kelly believes that formed families must have information and advocacy tools to improve the delivery of appropriate services, and to increase the academic, social and behavioral outcomes for children and youth with special needs.
Kelly Henderson, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Formed Families Forward
Director, West Virginia Foster Adoptive Kinship Parents Network
Marissa Sanders, consultant to NACAC and director of the West Virginia Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Parents Network, leads this webinar in sharing advocacy strategies.
Life is tough…but SO ARE YOU!
Amber Jewell is a licensed master social worker that has over 15 years of experience working with youth and families in child protective services, the education field and mental health services. As a child that endured child abuse, neglect and long-term trauma as a youth involved with the child welfare system, Amber Jewell refuses to let her story end there! Instead, she shares knowledge and experience to be an ray of hope for others.
Jewell has worked in clinical, administrative and direct-service roles as well as collaborated with many organizations and religious affiliations. With her cross knowledge of fields, she works to educate and inspire people in many fields of work and life. She is currently a K-12 school social worker, foster parent, soon-to-be-author, and national trainer and speaker.
Despite the hardships that come in life, Jewell has confidence in the power of any person to plant many seeds in the lives of those they serve. She hopes to motivate others to find strength in what skills they already have that can be used to make a difference. With her personal journey and professional experience as the primary instruments, Jewell uses research, compassion and laughter to provide the audience with new hope through motivational tools and perspectives.
Amber Jewell, LMSW
Karen Poteet, MPA
President, National Foster Parent Association
Karen Poteet received her Master of Public Administration degree from Baylor University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Nazarene University. She has over 30 years of experience in human services in two state systems, Illinois and Oklahoma. She has held positions of increasing responsibility within the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. From 2006-2010, she served as the Oklahoma Administrator of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance.
Ms. Poteet and her husband were licensed foster parents in Illinois and adopted their two youngest children from the Illinois child welfare system. Ms. Poteet is respect in the human services field for her management and training skills, and the significance of program valuation to inform improved policies and practices.
Leading international foster care expert and consultant and TED Talk speaker Dr. John DeGarmo has worn many hats throughout his life. He is the author of several foster care books, including the new book The Little Book of Foster Care Wisdom: 365 Days of Inspiration and Encouragement for Foster Care Families, the best selling book Faith and Foster Care, as well as the foster care children’s book A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story. He is the director of The Foster Care Institute, and acts as a consultant to foster care agencies and legal agencies across the USA. Dr. John is a High Content Speaker and informative trainer on the foster care system, and travels extensively across the globe, meeting with foster parents, child welfare workers, churches, schools, and organizations.
Dr. John DeGarmo
Expert in Parenting and Foster Care
Comedian, Speaker, Consultant, Candy Snob
For nearly a decade, Damon has had the privilege to speak to thousands of people around the world. He delivers talks for parents that engage, entertain and encourage them to be THE parent their family needs. With humor and relatable stories, Damon speaks on various topics that parents deal with every single day. Damon takes pride in the fact that he wears many hats—comedian, speaker, consultant, educator, writer— and truly enjoys when he can bring value to people’s lives even if it is but for a moment. Nonetheless, his most important roles are as a husband and father.
Arnie – to his friends.
He is known as Mr. Arnold to the 130+ foster kids or as “The Monster” in a million+ games and counting of monster tag.
Arnie has been married to Donna for 29 years. They have been foster parent for 20 years. They are the parents to 3 daughters and 3 sons. 4 of which are adopted from the foster care system.
He is the current Executive Director of the NFPA, and consults with the Maryland Resource Parent Association. He serves on various public policy committees on the state and national levels.
His passion to serve foster, adoptive and kinship families and their children is undeniable.
Executive Director, National Foster Parent Association
Heather Ford, MHA, MSW
Child Welfare, Clinical Provider Trainer
Heather Ford joined Sunshine Health in August 2013 and transitioned to Centene Corporation in January 2019 joining the Child Welfare Education and Training team. Her career began with The Mentor Network in Child Welfare, providing direct oversight of care, credentialing packets and facilitating MAPP Certification Trainings for potential foster families. She has spent the majority of her career working directly within the community as a case manager and therapist in outpatient and school based programs to at-risk youth ranging from infant mental health, 0-3 to teens transitioning to independent living. Heather also managed the Family Preservation Program with Children’s Home Society for 5 years. This program collaborated with Department of Juvenile Justice, Broward Sheriff’s Office, and ChildNet. She was also responsible for the oversight of the crisis intervention team. Heather is currently a Clinical Provider Trainer serving the Sunshine Health Plan in Florida & Centene Corporation Her outreach spans from local to national audiences.
Heather is a liaison in the community collaborating with providers, community based care agencies, local advocate groups as well as caregivers and families involved in the Child Welfare system. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from Oberlin College in Psychology, and her Masters in Social Work from Barry University. Heather also holds a Master’s degree in Health Administration and her Six Sigma Green Belt. She is a certified Adoption Competency trainer. Heather has over 20 years of experience working with youth across the spectrum of mental health and behavioral challenges.
In her work life balance time you will find Heather engaged in multiple recreational activities from taking a brisk run, attending a jazz concert, going to a tea party to name a few. She has two daughters Skye and Shaye and claims all bragging rights for both! Running about each day are her two adorable puppies Teddy a Yorkie and Tracee an Aussiepoo. Their total weight together is 9 pounds wet.
Marcus Stallworth, LMSW, operates with a strength based, hands on approach. Spending close to 15 years providing Child Protective Services, he is recognized by the State of Connecticut as an expert witness for providing testimony. He has spearheaded several initiatives to promote the engagement of Fathers, the prevention of abuse and neglect, and the dangers of Social Media. He has direct experience educating and supporting Human Trafficking and Sexually Exploited victims, including those in Foster Care. He played a leadership role in Connecticut’s Disaster Behavioral Health Response Network, and oversaw recovery efforts in Newtown CT after the events on December 14, 2012.
Marcus is a national Training and Development Specialist for the Child Welfare League of America. He is also co-owner of Welcome 2 Reality, LLC which focuses on providing media literacy and education for students and parents regarding social media and technology.
Former Board of Directors, NFPA
Gloria Consuelo Villagomez. MSW
Master of Social Work
Hazelle B. Tanag, MSW is a graduate student from California State University Long Beach, School of Social Work with a Child and Family Wellbeing concentration. Hazelle plans to work with children and families in the child welfare system after graduation. She aspires to become an adoption social worker. Hazelle is passionate about and dedicated to advocating for children and all their families.
Hazelle Tanag, MSW
Former Executive Director, NFPA
Working with and/or advocating for children and families has been my main focus for over 45 years. Serving as the current Executive Director of the National Foster Parent Association and as it’s president for the past four and a half years, is the best advocacy effort of my entire career. While this requires the time and effort commitment of a full time job, my commitment to my home state of Texas continues strong as I serve as the Public Policy Chair for the Texas Foster Care Association (past president of TFCA as well) and as the Chair of the EveryChild, Inc. Board or Directors. I also serve as a member of the Texas Children’s Justice Taskforce. My previous work experience is fifteen years for the State of Texas in the field of intellectual disabilities and for fifteen years with a large foster care agency in Texas as their Vice President for Foster Care.
The knowledge and experience gained over the past 45 years enables my work as a national consultant on foster care and adoption. To utilize my consultant services, please contact me directly.
My husband and I served as foster parents for twenty-seven years and fostered 127 children during that time. We adopted four children and now have seventeen incredible grandchildren and one great grandson. We have been most truly blessed over the years.
Mary has led the Association for Training on Trauma and Attachment in Children (ATTACh) in Minneapolis, Minnesota since 2011. During her tenure, Ms. McGowan has implemented multiple comprehensive training for parents and professionals which have been shared to thousands in North America.
She continues to raise awareness on a national level of how early abuse and neglect impact our youth and families. Ms. McGowan served as a post-adoption specialist for North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC) doing successful grass roots recruitment for foster and adoptive families for 10 years. She has earned accolades as the National Education Manager for the Professional Association of Treatment Homes (PATH) and is an experienced trainer who teaches and consults locally and nationally. Mary holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology with minors in Community Violence Prevention and Child Development from Metropolitan State University, and a master’s candidate in Counseling and Psychological Services from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. Mary earned several certifications including Therapeutic Crisis Intervention for Family Based Placements (TCIF) from Cornell University, and is a Nationally Certified Family Group Decision Making Facilitator (FGDM).
Ms. McGowan has fostered many children over 26 years and is a single adoptive parent of 5 youth ranging from 13-22 years old. She was a Guardian ad Litem (CASA) for 5 years and has experience with advocacy and success in obtaining services necessary for children in crisis. Mary shares her vast experience in an engaging and practical manner. Her real-life stories of parenting and working with children have been presented to parents and professionals from over 50 countries and across the United States.
Executive Director, ATTACh
Author, Speaker, and Foster Alumni
Rhonda Sciortino, author of Succeed Because of What You’ve Been Through, was in the child welfare system until she emancipated at 16 years of age. She credits a brief stay with a wonderful foster family for teaching her that there was a better way to live. Rhonda Sciortino used the coping skills from her childhood survival to start her own business of protecting and defending the good people and organizations that care for abused children. Over the decades of that work, Rhonda and her team analyzed the ways that foster children and caregivers get injured or killed. The Preventing Tragedy in Foster Care training includes the insights that Rhonda learned over 30 years.
Through her speaking, writing, EMPOWERING RESILIENCE podcast, and videos, Rhonda shares how others can use the obstacles in their lives as stepping stones to a great future.
Cathleen Hawks, M.A., has enjoyed a career spanning 28 years serving persons with mental illness and developmental disabilities to children and families in and out of the child welfare system. Her career began in the private sector as the founding director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in Illinois and in the role was tapped by Governor Edgar of Illinois to be the first woman to serve as the Inspector General over the Illinois mental health and developmental services system. Within years, she was selected to develop and lead the University of Illinois’ Behavioral Health for At-Risk Youth Project focusing on addressing the needs of children in the state’s child welfare system receiving high end residential services. Her work included designing and implementing a hospital-based program, Comprehensive Assessment and Response Training System (CARTS), to provide no decline hospital based services to youth at risk of being placed out of state in residential care. Partly as a result of the comprehensive projects undertaken at the University of Illinois 700 youth in out of state placement were returned to Illinois from out of state placements. Following her career in Illinois, she was recruited by the Virginia Governor’s administration to become the Chief Deputy Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services. One responsibility of this role was to lead the negotiations and management of the Virginia response to federal Department of Justice’s litigation concerning the state facility system in Virginia.
She also served as the Deputy Secretary of Florida’s Child and Family Services administration and the Tennessee Department of Mental Retardation Western Regional Director. She was the founding Chief Executive Officer of the Virginia adoptive, foster, and kinship association, NewFound Families, for 13 years as well as the volunteer Executive Director of the National Kinship Alliance for Children. She has personal experience in kinship care and brings her commitment and passion to her daily work of navigating families to supports and services across the country.
Cate is currently providing consultation services to child welfare and family associations through her latest venture, Odyssey Consulting. Her specialty is agency program design/implementation as well as conference, event, and camp development/planning/implementation. Her passion is finding the way for foster, adoptive, kinship, and birth families to support one another to help children retain continuity in their relationships.
Cate Hawks, M.A.
Former Board of Directors, NFPA
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