Region 2
Youlanda has more than 20 years of experience in Social Services and with Children’s Administration both in the states of Washington and Texas. Youlanda has a BS and MSW in Clinical Social Work and Administration.
Youlanda worked as a CPS Social Worker in Texas, and in Washington she held many positions in King and Pierce County that included: Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS), Child Protective Services (CPS), and Family Assessment Response (FAR). Youlanda has also worked for the Office of Indian Child Welfare (OICW), (CFWS), (CPS), and as a Mentor and Trainer.
Youlanda also brings a variety of social service experience in her background that includes: Grant administration for Volunteers of America’s Family Coalition Program; Mobile Crisis Center, addressing the mentally ill and facilitating psychiatric treatment for children and adults. She worked in two psychiatric facilities for adolescence and adult populations, She worked for the Developmental Disabilities Administration (DDA) as a case manager for both children and adults for the State of Washington, and she was the Program Outreach Manager for a Domestic Violence Shelter where she provided community development and leadership for the education and prevention of domestic violence, conducted presentations on DV topics, participated on task forces/committees, and served as a liaison between staff, community and the program director. Youlanda completed her practicum at the Federal Bureau of Prisons where she worked at the men's and women's prisons, providing Case Management and Drug Treatment classes.
Youlanda joined the Alliance as a Coach in 2015, training the workforce staff to focus on policies and procedures, and best practices. She believes in working with staff to support them with developing necessary skills to keep children safe, and help families. Youlanda is passionate about the work that is done at Children’s Administration and the vulnerable population we serve and is here to support the staff that show up daily to perform this amazing work.
Administrative Assistant

Rooney is dedicated to assisting foster parents, especially since it relates to her own experiences as a kinship-care provider. She joined DSHS in 1999, and brings years of customer service skills to her administrative assistant position at the Alliance.  She is known for serving internal and external customers with a friendly attitude, and she generously gives her time and financial resources to support projects benefiting clients at work, her church, friends and community.

Interim Associate Director of Learning and Development

Erik earned his Doctorate in Clinical Psychology (PsyD) in 2009 and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology in 2006 from the Washington School of Professional Psychology (Argosy University). Erik also completed a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from the University of Washington in 1998. Erik’s graduate education specialized in Trauma and Attachment and his dissertation focused on how survivors of chronic childhood abuse and neglect who are not perpetrators of any form of violence as adults made meaning of their early childhood experiences.

Erik began working as a public servant at the Department of Social and Health Services - Children’s Administration in 2003. Erik started as a Child Protection Services (CPS) investigator in the Office of African American Children’s Services (OAACS). After 2 ½ years Erik moved over into Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS) and was promoted to unit Supervisor in 2006. Thereafter, Erik supervised social workers serving in CFWS, Alternative Response Services, Family Reconciliation Services, Early Family Support Services, Relative Support Specialists, Court Specialists, and Financial Specialists. In 2009, Erik began supervising the regional King County Family Treatment Court unit of Social Workers and was promoted to Area Manager in western King County in July 2012. As Area Manager, Erik served the King West and White Center DSHS offices as well the King County Family Treatment Court unit. Throughout his 12 years serving at Children’s Administration, Erik has been a passionate advocate for work to eliminate racial disproportionality and disparities, supporting Family Treatment Courts, and improved engagement of fathers in the child welfare system.

Erik has also worked in the community mental health field as a therapist, chemical dependency practitioner trainee, and intern psychologist at Sound Mental Health (SMH) for almost 6 years. In these roles, Erik focused on trauma, addiction, and recovery and helped design and implement the curriculum for support groups within the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender (DMIO/MIO) and Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery programs (STAR) at SMH. Erik provided individual psychotherapy and lead therapy groups focusing on trauma, co-occurring disorders, men’s support groups, and smoking cessation groups. In addition, Erik completed psychological evaluations, and psychometric testing.

Tom Baer
E-Learning Developer and Strategist

Tom has over 20 years of experience in developing and strategizing online learning programs for a wide variety of learners in academia, government, corporations, and startups. Research shows that blending online, face-to-face, and field experiences provides the most benefit for students. Tom focuses on making the online component beneficial for students and instructors by combining his knowledge of human learning with his technical knowledge of online learning media and systems.

In 1998 he helped to found Apex Learning, a company that offers alternative online programs for struggling as well as highly achieving high school students. At the University of Washington School of Nursing he led educational technology design and implementation initiatives for graduate nursing students and faculty. He has developed in-person and online job training curricula for adults, and has led the development of online academic courses in sociology, psychology, multicultural studies, statistics, history, and calculus. His instructional media and design skills include instructional design for synchronous and asynchronous courses, formative and summative assessment design, digital video and audio production, learning interaction design, user experience testing, and learning management system administration. He is also skilled in data analysis, program evaluation, project management, and team leadership.

In 2013 he completed his Ph.D. in Learning Sciences at the University of Washington College of Education. His dissertation focused on defining characteristics of transfer and adaptability in medical students in family medicine clerkships and in problem-based learning. He sees significant overlaps between family medicine physician and social workers. At the Alliance he is especially interested in developing and validating competency-based formative assessments that benefit learners and instructors. 

Lisa Ball
Workforce Curriculum Developer

Lisa has worked for the past decade in various capacities throughout Washington’s child welfare system.As a public child welfare social worker, she was inspired by the parents, children and caregivers who allowed her to enter their lives. She is currently working to create and deliver statewide child welfare pre-service training, where she finds fulfillment in supporting and empowering professionals who are taking on this difficult work. She is passionate about the importance of both clinical skills and critical thinking across social work contexts.

Lisa worked in various capacities in education, including ESL and Spanish, and youth development before becoming a social worker. Her current areas of interest include child development, parenting education, evident-based practices, and social justice issues related to ESL and undocumented persons.

CWTAP Program Manager

Larisa Baturevych has over 12 years of professional experience working at the University of Washington. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Central Washington University in 2000 with majors in Accounting and Business Administration. 

In 2001 Larisa began her UW career, and is currently working as a CWTAP Program Manager. Her work consists of managing the CWTAP Program and providing statewide assistance to over 150 CWTAP students and staff.
Program Operations Analyst

Arnel began working for the University of Washington School of Social Work’s Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence in January 2014.  His prior work experience includes finance positions with Washington’s community and technical college system’s State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and the Department of Social and Health Services Financial Services Administration’s Central Budget Office.  In the Finance and Operations division of the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence, Arnel is responsible for finance, operations and policies for services provided by the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence.

Curriculum Developer

Jean has worked to improve outcomes for children and families within or at risk of entering the dependency system for about 15 years from a variety of angles.  She began her career recruiting, training, licensing and supporting caregivers for a private agency.  Jean has spent time as a case carrying worker, a supervisor, on the management team for San Francisco’s child welfare agency, as a strategic consultant nationally with the Annie E Casey Foundation focusing on system level reform work.  Jean has done work with child welfare in various California counties, New York City, New Jersey, Baltimore, Virginia, Louisiana, Michigan, Indiana and Washington State.
Along the way, Jean has focused on building cross-system child welfare programs for national replication including work with Police to minimize trauma for children at the time of a parent’s arrest, with Corrections to improve visitation for children with incarcerated parents, with Education to focus recruitment and permanency efforts in specific schools, with Courts to improve processes for permanency and more.  

Jean worked for the Alliance in 2013 on a Project Appointment as the Caregiver Curriculum Developer, leading a statewide workgroup of stakeholders to evaluate, and eventually redesign the curriculum for caregiver training.  

Jean returned to the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence in October 2015 on a Project Appointment as the Caregiver Curriculum Developer.

Region 2

Theresa is a graduate of the Child Welfare and Training Program (CWTAP) through the University of Washington School of Social Work. She began working at Amara Parenting and Adoptions Services for five years as she completed her BA and MSW in Social Work. Theresa then went on to work for Children's Administration as a Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS) social worker, and in 2008 promoted to a supervisor in Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS), Child Protective Services (CPS), and Family Assessment Response (FAR). Theresa joined the Alliance Team in August of 2015, as a coach that serves the Region 2 area.

Indian Child Welfare Curriculum Developer

Francis has been a Program Manager and Case Worker with the Child and Family Services Program for Muckleshoot Indian Tribe.  His experience includes direct practice as well as supervision of child welfare work with Tribal families.  He has experience with both state and tribal courts, and has provided an array of case management from assessment to developing service plans for Tribal families involved in child welfare.  Permanency within the Tribal culture has been his goal for many Tribal families.  He brings unique and skillful ability to assess needs of Tribal families while knowing and respecting their culture and tribal beliefs.

He also worked over eight years with the Children’s Administration as a social worker.  Primarily with the ICW Unit in King County, Francis worked directly with Tribal families who were members of or eligible for membership in multiple different Tribes throughout Washington State and the Nation.  He has helped many Tribal families work through the treatment options and legal system in Washington’s largest urban area.  He has seen the unique challenges they face and has countless examples of connecting Tribal families to culturally appropriate services, and to their Tribes.

Mara began her career while completing her Associate of Arts degree in Psychology and working on campus at Umpqua Community College for the departments of Financial Aid, Registration, Job Search and the Counseling Center. Each of these further exposed her to social issues students faced in their daily lives. Mara went on to complete her BA and later Master in Arts in Professional Counseling. Initially taking a temporary position assisting vulnerable families obtaining basic needs and rides for medical appointments and later taking a permanent position with Adult and Family Services. Mara transitioned to the Division of Child Support working in many capacities including support staff, case manager, outreach, policy/procedure specialist, trainer and manager. While working for child support she took a short term rotation into a position as a mediator for a housing department and eventually took a position with the Child Welfare Program in Oregon.
Mara has been a volunteer for a domestic violence  program and the sexual assault response team. She served as a member of the Board of Directors for a fire department in a small community. Mara provided mental health counseling while obtaining her degree in Professional Counseling and volunteering time while working at MDC.
After transitioning to Washington State Mara worked as a Housing Case Manager at Metropolitan Development Council (MDC) with families who were regaining custody of their children and the Department of Early Learning licensing family home child care. Mara transitioned back to Child Welfare working initially as a Social Worker with CPS and was a liaison working two days a week at the Tacoma Police Department specializing in CPS investigations assigned to law enforcement. Mara served as a Supervisor for Investigations, FAR and briefly CFWS prior to taking the position with The Alliance.
Mara joined the Alliance in 2015 as a Coach, training workforce on best practice, policies and procedures to assist workers in developing the skills to support families and keep children safe. Mara believes in maintaining a skilled and passionate workforce for those charged with keeping our most vulnerable safe from harm and working to build a stronger community.
Region 1

Charina has 9 years of experience with Children's Administration and began with the agency as an Afterhours staff.   She most recently worked as Supervisor for Children's Administration supervising Child and Family Welfare Services (CFWS), Child Protective Services (CPS), Family Assessment Response (FAR), Family Reconciliation Services (FRS), Indian Child Welfare (ICW) and other specialty programs. Prior, she was Social & Health Program Consultant in the Family to Family Program, and a CPS and CFWS social worker in ICW.

Charina served as a co-chair for the Eastern Washington Racial Disproportionality Advisory Team for several years. This committee was in response to a 2007 legislative mandate and has made several strides in addressing racial disproportionality within public child welfare. Charina has also served as a Practice Model Site Consultant for the Spokane Office providing support to supervisors to strengthen competency in ensuring solution-based casework was implemented. She was a trainer for the prejudice reduction workshop, Building Bridges and presently a qualified administrator for the Intercultural Development Inventory. Charina was appointed as a member of the Children’s Justice Task Force in January 2015. In her various roles, Charina has learned the importance of mentoring and coaching, and the impact it has on moving systems and agencies forward.

Charina received her B.A. from Washington State University and earned her MSW from Eastern Washington University 2010.

Alissa Copeland
Workforce Curriculum Developer

Alissa began her career in child welfare in 2000 working as a case manager and then program manager for a private child placing agency working primarily with Behavior Rehabilitation Services foster care and Family Preservation Services. In 2007 Alissa began working for Children’s Administration as a Child/Family Welfare Services (CFWS) Social Worker. Alissa gained additional experience in Child Protective Services Investigations and Family Voluntary Services and then began supervising a CFWS unit in 2012. In 2014, Alissa transitioned to Family Assessment Response (FAR) Implementation Lead, and lead the Sky Valley office through implementation of the FAR pathway. Alissa joined the Alliance Learning and Development team in 2015 and is excited to contribute to the development of curriculum for the child welfare workforce and the foster parents & caregivers caring for children served by public child welfare.

Alissa graduated with a Bachelors degree in Psychology from the University of Washington in 2000 and with a Masters degree in Psychology from Antioch University Seattle in 2007. Alissa is passionate about early childhood development, adverse childhood experiences, and the effects of toxic stress and trauma on development.

Michael Craig
Statewide FamLink Coach / Curriculum Developer

Michael Craig is the FamLink Lead on the Learning and Development Team for the University of Washington’s Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence.  His responsibilities include curriculum development, staff coordination and training. In addition, he works closely with CA Technical Services coordinating the training environments and generally on all things FamLink.  

Michael has been a computer trainer since 2001 in FamLink, the current State Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS), as well as CAMIS, the legacy system. During that time, he trained CA workers in technical skills and various other computer applications.  Prior to becoming a trainer he spent ten years as a CA Social Worker and before coming to CA, he worked as a Clinical Therapist for Good Samaritan Hospital.

Michael has a BA in Psychology and Anthropology and a Master’s in Public Administration.

Michelle Cutlip
Region 1

Michelle began her career in Child Welfare in the early 90’s initially working in juvenile court as a juvenile probation officer working with Truant, At-Risk Youth and CHINS (Child in Need of Services) cases and as a CASA program coordinator.  Michelle began working with Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) in 2001.  During her time with DCFS, Michelle worked in a number of roles, including managing the Visitation Office and volunteers, CFWS social worker in Family Treatment Court, and  supporting caregivers as Foster Parent Trainer (with RFTI – Resource Family Training Institute).

Michelle began working on Regional Core Training curriculum, and then as a Region 1 coach training new employees, and supporting existing staff in 2012.  Michelle is passionate about supporting, encouraging and retaining child welfare staff in their work serving children and families. 

Michelle received a BS in Psychology from WSU in 1993, and an MSW from Eastern Washington University in 2010. 

Regional Education and Training Administrator
Region 1

Patty Erdman began her social work career in 2003, working for Children’s Administration as an Intake worker in the rural community of Colville, WA. In 2004, Patty was promoted to a SSW3 position and was appointed as the lead child sexual abuse investigator for Stevens and Ferry counties. Patty is a certified Child Abuse Interviewing and Assessment facilitator. Prior to working for Children’s Administration, Patty worked as a Paralegal for the Stevens County Prosecutors Office in both family law and the criminal division.  In 2007, Patty was hired by Children’s Administration Headquarters as one of 12 Practice Model Coaches throughout the state to train, implement and support the integration of WA State’s Practice Model - Solution Based Casework.

Patty held the position of Practice Model Coach until 2012, when her position transferred to the UW SSW, Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence. In 2014, Patty was promoted to the Regional Education and Training Administrator for Region 1. Patty currently supervises the regional coaches and child welfare training manager. Patty currently oversees the entire Alliance workforce and caregiver training and coaching provided in the region. Patty has a strong passion for training and coaching at all levels and enjoys supporting newly hired employees and supervisors within Children’s Administration.

Patty earned her BSS from Washington State University and her MSW from Eastern Washington University as a CWTAP student. In addition to her work at the Alliance, Patty is a contracted Field Coordinator with ForeFront Innovations in Suicide Prevention and provides local community awareness and training. 

Daniel earned his Bachelor’s from the University of the State of New York (Regent’s Program), and went on to earn a Master’s in Public Administration from City University.  At the same time he has worked for the State for over 33 years, the last 26 were with Children’s Administration (CA).  While with CA he has been a CPS Social Worker, CFWS Social Worker; Intake Social Worker; Social and Health Program Manager; Social and Health Program Consultant; and most recently, an Intake Social Service Specialist Supervisor.
Daniel spends much of his free time on the stage or back stage in local community theater productions in both Pierce and Kitsap County.  His passion is directing and writing, and currently he has written three plays, one which has been produced in Washington, Oregon, South Dakota, Michigan, and Arizona (and there is currently interest in having it produced in Dublin, Ireland).   
Arthur Fernandez-Scarberry
Child Welfare Training Manager

Arthur has worked in the human services field for more than 20 years. He is certified as a chemical dependency counselor and has also received specialized training in alternative dispute resolution, mediation and consultation/consensus building.

Early in his career, Arthur served as a counselor for youth and families at the counseling center in McCall, Idaho. He later supervised case managers at the Seattle Indian Health Board and managed special projects at the Cross Cultural Health Care Program in Seattle.  He served nationally with a Native American-owned and operated company, Upper Mohawk Inc., where he trained Department of Interior personnel and tribal employees about the U.S. government’s trust relationship with Native American tribes. In 1998, he joined the Department of Children and Family Services as an investigator of child abuse and neglect.  Since 2004, he has served as a program manager and trainer in the Resource Family Training Institute of Children's Administration, now the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence.

Instructional Designer

Nathan Fowler has more than ten years of experience working in digital education and online learning. He's worked as a content author, instructional designer, production manager, and marketing writer for a variety of online educational companies that aim to appeal to learners of all styles.

Nathan has a passion for creating content that keeps the learner engaged through purposeful interactivity and strong visual design. He received his BA in English from the University of Washington. When he's not working, he enjoys writing fiction, especially books for young readers.

Marie Fujii
Regional Education and Training Administrator
Marie began her career in Child Welfare in 1996 initially as a Child Welfare Services Social Worker.  During her time with DCFS, Marie worked in a number of roles, including a supervisor for the Family Voluntary Unit, CAMIS Trainer and an Area Administrator for the Region 2 Smokey Point office and Centralized Services.
Marie began working for the Alliance in May 2015. Marie is passionate about providing quality training for the CA workforce and caregiver communities. Marie received an MSW from University of Washington in 1996.
Gracia Hahn
Child Welfare Trainer

Gracia began her journey in social work while completing her Bachelor of Social Welfare degree through University of Washington, Tacoma. Gracia completed her BSW degree at UWT in 2006. Gracia went on to complete her Master of Social Work degree through the University of Washington’s Advanced Standing program in 2010. Gracia was also a CWTAP student.

Gracia worked for a private child placing agency in Tacoma for several years before taking a position with Children’s Administration.  Gracia worked in various capacities within Children’s Administration, including both Division of Child and Family Services, including Child and Family Welfare Services, Aggravated Circumstances Social Worker, Rate Assessment, Adoptions and later Division of Licensed Resources where she completed Unified Home Studies and supervised a Foster Care Licensing unit.

Gracia joined the Alliance in 2014 as a Coach, training workforce on best practice, policies and procedures to ensure workers had the skill set needed to support the children and families served by Children’s Administration. In October 2015, Gracia transitioned to the position of Child Welfare Trainer. It has been a long-standing passion for Gracia to provide the support and the tools necessary for caregivers to meet the needs of children in out-of-home care. She is a strong believer that the more educated and supported the caregiver community is, the longer they will be able to provide the level of quality care these children need to move through a challenging season of their lives.

Web Computing Specialist

Michael has more than 15 years of experience being the link between communications teams and IT, helping them work together to reach targeted audiences using digital technology. He comes from a technology background, working with content management at Microsoft, Starbucks, AT&T, and Nike. Michael holds a Masters degree in Business Management. His Bachelor of Arts is in Communications from Eastern Washington University. An Accredited Business Communicator, Michael has also chaired the Advisory Board for Certified Office Professional/Computer Applications Programs at Renton Technical College. He loves trains and railroads, writes poetry, and lives with four cats and a dog, as well as his family.

Child Welfare Training Manager
Region 1

Jan first became intrigued with the foster care system when she began representing children as an attorney in California’s Dependency Court. Through this pro bono work, she realized that children needed caring and qualified foster parents as well as a stable of committed professionals. After a few years of representing children, Jan and her husband became foster parents and then adopted their first child through the foster-adopt program in California. During the next two years, they adopted two more children through the same program. After moving to Washington in 1998, Jan and her husband became licensed as foster parents and adopted a fourth child.  In addition to the four children, they now have placement of one relative child and a kinship child.

In 1999, Jan started working in the social service arena as a foster home licensor with a private agency.  After four years, she began working at the Resource Family Training Institute, later serving as a supervisor covering Regions 1, 2 and 6.  She is currently Child Welfare Training Manager for the University of Washington, serving Region 1. Jan’s background includes many years as a teacher and trainer in the legal field. She feels fortunate to have transferred these skills into a forum where she can meet with, and facilitate training for, those she respects and admires ― foster parents.  

Region 2

Danielle completed her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology and a Bachelors of Science in Psych-Biology at La Sierra University in Riverside California. After graduating and moving back to Washington State, Danielle worked in various capacities with the Group Health Research Institute. In 2008 Danielle received her Masters of Social Work degree with a focus on Clinical and Contextual practice from the University of Washington in Seattle. During this time she was an intern with Children’s Administration and worked as a Research Assistant in the School of Social Work computing lab. After graduating from the MSW program Danielle moved to England where she worked as a Learning and Development Advisor for foster care in Surrey County. During this time she developed curriculum for foster parent trainers that met the Children’s Workforce Development Council standards.

Since joining Children’s Administration in 2010 Danielle has worked in various capacities, such as Child Protective Service worker, placement services, Quality Assurance and Continuous Quality Improvement; she also is a trained Family Team Decision Meeting facilitator. She joined the Alliance in 2013 and provides FamLink training in Region 2.

Danielle is passionate about helping social service specialists in providing quality service to children and families. Danielle is also interested in helping workers to document their practice in a way that is measurable and transparent, strives to create a fun and inclusive environment in her learning sessions, and is committed to the professional development of social service specialists, which it is one of the keys to worker retention.

Child Welfare Trainer

Robert has been with the Human Services field since 1998.   He has been with the State for 15 years working with Child Protective Services, Foster Care Licensing, Home and Community Services, and DLR/CPS.  He was also a supervisor for four and a half years. 

Prior to state work, Robert worked as a Child and Family Therapist for Good Samaritan Behavioral Health for two years.  He then took a break in state work to teach English in Korea for three years.  He developed a love for Korean food and culture and realized the important role that culture plays in our lives.   Robert has a passion for helping parents recognize their role in helping their children become happy and successful members of society.  Robert also loves the outdoors and takes a group of young men on a week-long high adventure trip every summer.   

Robert has a BS in Family Studies and a Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy.

Regional Education and Training Administrator

Chris has been with Children's Administration since 2004. Chris has worked as a case carrying social worker for 6.5 years in CPS and CFWS. Chris supervised the CFWS unit in Mason County for nearly two years years before working in the Office of Risk Management as a Constituent Relations Specialist for a year and then as the statewide Permanency Planning Program Manager for two years. Chris obtained her Bachelor of Social Work degree from Boise State University in 2001 and her Master of Social Work degree from Eastern Washington University in 2004.


Sandy Kinney
Interim Executive Director

Sandy has served her community in the Social Service field for over 25 years in both Arizona and Washington State.  Sandy began her career in Social Services working for a private agency in Arizona where she recruited, trained, and certified adoptive applicants while also providing trainings and supports to families in the community.  Sandy then joined Child Protective Services (CPS) as a Lead Investigator carrying high profile investigations and dependency cases for over seven years before moving to Washington State and transitioning into a Child Family and Welfare Services (CFWS) caseload helping children reunify with birth families or find permanency with relatives or other caring families.

For four years Sandy served as a Staff Development and Training Program Manager before stepping into roles as a unit Supervisor, Area Administrator and eventually a Deputy Regional Administrator in Western Washington.  Sandy began working at the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence in July 2014 as the Associate Director of Learning and Development. She is currently the Interim Executive Director at the Alliance.

Outside of work, Sandy has supported her community by participating on numerous advisory boards and community partnerships including previously serving on Dawson Place Child Advocacy Center, Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute, and the Children’s Justice Task Force. Currently she is a board member of the Citrine Women’s Wellness Organization of Snohomish County and a Host Parent for students living in Seattle from abroad.

Child Welfare Trainer
Region 1

In the late 1990s, Ryan served in the U.S. Coast Guard as a narcotics officer and law enforcement trainer.  He was also a drug and alcohol counselor at Othello High School, and worked for Benton County Emergency Management as an anti-terrorist/emergency planner and trainer. He worked for Benton/Franklin Juvenile Justice as a probation officer and then became a manager for a private agency and director of a youth ranch for foster kids. Ryan has been a trainer for DSHS and the University of Washington for four years.  He and his wife were foster parents for seven years.

Child Welfare Training Manager
Region 2

Yolonda has worked in the child welfare field for 23 years. She was a former Child Protective Service social worker and Indian Child Welfare social welfare worker specializing in working with children and families in the Native American community. She has 10 years’ experience as a mental health professional and works as a supervisor/hospital authorizer mental health professional at the King County Crisis Clinic.  She has also served as a mental health professional for Sound Mental Health (formerly Seattle Mental Health) and geriatric medical social worker at Life Care at Home. 

Yolonda is passionate about serving children and families in crises and has dedicated her life to working to give all children the right to a better life. She is committed to helping African-American elders and communities of color become empowered. She is currently a continuing education coordinator and foster parent/kinship caretaker trainer at the Alliance.

Child Welfare Trainer
Region 2
With a heart for her extended family, Cara’s social work journey began in 1996 with a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Washington. Cara’s goal back then was to learn the Child Welfare system and get her extended family out of foster care. Twenty plus years later Cara continues to find a reason to labor in the Child Welfare field.
Cara brings her experience as a State social worker, a sister of four adopted siblings from the Washington State Foster System, a daughter of former Washington State Foster parents and a mother of two teen boys to her current position. Training foster parents is both rewarding and full of laughter for Cara. She looks forward to meeting those that find purpose in being foster parents.
Amanda Meyer

Amanda’s work in social services began in 1993 with the Health Department and later with Planned Parenthood as a peer educator for teen pregnancy, STD and dating-violence prevention. She continued working in prevention services as a drug and alcohol education coordinator and a youth employment education coordinator at the county level before working for the state, where she helped families cope with child abuse and neglect.

Her social work practice has focused primarily on children and family prevention and intervention services. Her practice experience includes direct case management services, program and contract management, training and practice model implementation.

Penny Michel
Child Welfare Trainer

Penny Michel began her social work career in 1998 as a Child Care Licensor (Social Worker III) for the Office of Child Care Policy (OCCP). She worked two part-time licensor positions at the same time, one in Vancouver (Region 6) and one in Bremerton (Region 5). The following year, she was hired fulltime in Region 6 to license In-Home Childcare providers in the Mason and Gray’s Harbor areas. In 2001, Penny transferred to a social work position with the Office of Foster Care Licensing (OFCL) and worked as a Foster Care Licensor in Thurston Co. for 10 years. While in her position as a Licensor with OFCL, she was accepted into the University of Washington (UW) School of Social Work/Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program (CWTAP) and completed her Master of Social Work (MSW) in 2007.

In 2014, Penny accepted a position with the Alliance for Child Welfare Excellence as a Continuing Education Specialist. She is responsible for the development and monitoring of pre-licensing training for potential foster parents and for continuing education trainings for licensed foster parents, kinship care providers and community members.  

Morris graduated with his Bachelor's degree in Inter-disciplinary arts and sciences from the University of Washington Tacoma in 1999. Morris has worked with Children's Administration for 12 years. Morris has experience in several different program areas including Child and Family Welfare Services, Family Recovery Court, Family Voluntary Services. Morris was the Region 3 trainer for Building Bridges Prejudice Reduction training for Children's Administration and more recently the facilitator for Family Team Decision Making meetings. Morris was also a supervisor for 3 years and worked as a program manager for a year on special assignment at headquarters. 
Prior to Children's Administration, Morris worked for Juvenile Justice and Rehabilitation Administration as an Institution Counselor and Juvenile Parole Counselor. Morris is the father of three children and enjoys being active in his community. Morris has been volunteering as a coach through the YMCA for the last 13 years. 
Program Operations Specialist
Shelly entered the field of social work in 1979, when she started her college internship at the Department of Social and Health Services, Child Protective Services, in Tacoma. Over the years she has worked as a social worker in several capacities, including CPS intake and investigations, family reconciliation services, and carrying a caseload of more than 40 dependent children, primarily adolescents.
After moving to Moscow, Idaho, in 1985, she spent five years working in rural Whitman County, Washington, as one of two social workers for that community. It was at this point she added adoptions and licensing to her resume. When she returned to Western Washington, she spent several years as a child care licensor, where she was responsible for both the licensing and monitoring of child care providers. In addition, she was the regional trainer for new day care applicants. In 1996, she transitioned to training the foster parent and relative caregiver population, something she continues to do today, as the state-wide coordinator of contracted trainings.

Contracts Manager

Aaron has been working in public administration for over twenty years in both Washington and his home state of New Mexico. He began his career in academic advising as a Graduate Adviser in the Department of Economics at the University of New Mexico and later managed a low-income dental clinic for the School of Dental Hygiene and worked in Administration for the Department of Pediatrics. After moving to Seattle, Aaron began working at the University of Washington where he was the Program Coordinator for a TRIO Student Support Services Program and later a Student Services Counselor in the Enrollment and Data Services division of the Office of Minority Affairs and Diversity. He has also served as the Business Manager of First Place Scholars School in Seattle's Central District.

Aaron has a Bachelor's degree in Political Science and American Studies from the University of New Mexico, a Master's degree in Public Administration from the University of Washington, and was a recipient of the 2011 Bonderman Fellowship at the University of Washington.
Child Welfare Trainer
Region 1

Patty began her experience providing direct services to families through the Division of Developmental Disabilities and then licensing as a foster parent in the early 80’s. In the 20 years licensed as a foster parent, Patty sat on Executive Board for FPAWS (Foster Parent Association of Washington State) and the Advisory Board for the Ombudsman.

Patty began co-training in the early 90’s and became certified as a Grief Recovery Specialist in May of 2000. Prior to joining the Alliance, Patty worked in Special Education Services for the Yakima School District beginning in fall of 2000 and was the Right Response Trainer from March of 2003.

Melissa Phillips
Region 2

Melissa started her career in child welfare in 2000 working for Children’s Administration (CA) after receiving her Bachelor’s degree in Social Welfare through the University of Washington’s (UW) School of Social Work (SSW). Melissa received her Master’s in Social Work (MSW) with a child and family focus, also from UW-SSW, in 2003.  

Within CA, Melissa fulfilled a variety of roles including Child Protective Services (CPS) investigator, working with families under voluntary contracts, supporting families through the Superior Court Dependency process, supervising Child & Family Voluntary Services (CFWS) & CPS, facilitating Family Team Decision Making (FTDM) and Child Protection Team (CPT) meetings, and helping in the training of staff in a variety of areas.

Melissa is passionate about helping support the professional development of child welfare staff and the families that care for the children in out-of-home care and is excited to be a part of the Alliance partnership. Melissa strongly believes that providing quality professional development opportunities is critical to keeping children safe and promoting healthy families.

Maria Polyak

Maria completed her Bachelors of Science degree in Child and Family Studies from Portland State University and began her career in child welfare supervising a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) program in Clackamas County, OR. After advocating for children within the child welfare system, Maria wanted to make a greater impact with families and children and began working for Children’s Administration in 2010 as a CPS investigator. In 2012 Maria completed the CWTAP program through Eastern Washington University and obtained her Master’s Degree in Social Work. After graduation Maria transitioned to CFWS casework and then became a CFWS supervisor, establishing a high performing unit focused on child safety and family well-being. In addition to her career in child welfare, Maria also pursued clinical licensure and for two years provided sexual assault trauma therapy to children and adults in Cowlitz County.

Maria joined the Alliance in 2016 as a Coach, training and mentoring the child welfare workforce in an effort to enhance child welfare practice across the region. She believes that a career in child welfare is one of the hardest jobs to face, and has made a commitment to support staff in any way possible.
Fiscal Tech

Annabelle assists with Budget Reconciliation and does many other projects.

She worked for 28 years in different financial institutions including Bank of America, Seafirst Bank, US Bank, Peoples Bank and more. She began working for the University of Washington Human Resources Operations as office assistant, Health Science Admin Payroll/Fiscal Specialist, and other departments as a temp.

On her free time, Annabelle like to spend with her families.

Executive Assistant

Aidan began working as a public servant at the Department of Social and Health Services - Children’s Administration in 1998, as a temp after working for a Swedish Import Export Company for nine years. He worked in Children’s for 18 years in many positions, including Office Assistant Senior, Administrative Secretary, Human Resources Consultant 1, Office Manager, Regional Office Manager, Disclosure Coordinator and finally as a Admin 3 at Headquarters. Then he was hired at the Community Services Division, Call Center as the Admin 3 in Lakewood, before taking the Kent CSO Office Manager position. Before coming to the Alliance, Aidan was the Tacoma Call Center Hub Office Manager. Aidan enjoys fishing, crabbing, barbequing, camping and spending time with his Fraternal Order of Eagles along with family and friends when not working.

Deborah Ray
Region 1

Deborah Ray, LMSW, comes to us from Richland where she has worked for two years as a CPS Supervisor.  Prior to coming to CA, Deborah was the Community Programs Supervisor with Casey Family Programs, in Yakima.  She also spent 5 years as the Family Group Decision Making Liaison with Casey in Austin, Texas. Preceding her time with Casey, Deborah worked for the Texas Department of Protective Services/Child Protective Services from 1992 through 2005.  While working for Child Protective Services, Deborah held many positions including; investigator, supervisor, policy analyst, Director of CPS Training Institute, and child fatality reviewer.  Deborah received her MSSW from the University of Texas in Austin. 

Stephanie Rodrigues
Child Welfare Trainer

Stephanieʼs interest in child welfare began with the adoption of her two children. She left a career in genetic research to obtain her Masters of Social Work, graduating from the University of Washington in 2008. Stephanie participated in the CWTAP program and completed practicums at Northwest Adoption Exchange and Childrenʼs Administration. At Childrenʼs Administration, Stephanie worked for seven years as a Children and Family Services, Social Worker.  he began working for Childrenʼs Administration in King County and later in Grays Harbor County, where she has been for the last five years. Stephanie is a native of Grays Harbor County and is passionate about her community and helping families and children succeed.

Marivel Rojas
Region 2

Marivel Rojas comes to the Alliance with over 20 years of social work experience working with children and families; 17 years of which she acquired at Children’s Administration.  During her time at Children’s Administration (CA) she worked in various programs. Marivel worked as a social worker in CPS, CFWS, ICW, Group Care, Guardianship, Intake, Placement, Afterhours, Child Health and Education Tracking (CHET) and supervised the Placement Unit.  Marivel has also instructed staff and supervisors in CA policy roll-out trainings, completed CA case reviews and assisted in the accreditation process of CA Centralized Services.  She has developed training curricula and activities that challenge social workers to expand their professional skills and knowledge.  She has coached and mentored new social workers at Children’s Administration and CWTAP students from the University of Washington School of Social Work. 

Marivel has trained and recruited new foster and adoptive parents, and trained at foster parent support groups and parenting classes. Marivel is an active member of the Latino community and has provided various community trainings regarding child welfare to Spanish speaking families. Marivel has worked closely with children, families, foster parents and caregivers. Marivel is a strong advocate in best practice for positive outcomes in child welfare. Marivel has also worked for the Admission Office at the University of Washington School of Social Work as a student mentor and recruiter for the BASW and MSW programs.

Marivel was the recipient of the “Hand In Hand Generations United Award” in 1994 for the Step By Step Program for bridging the gap between children, adults, and the elderly. Marivel received her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Washington in 2006. She is a Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and she has a Residency Educational Staff Associate (ESA) as a School Social Worker in Washington State.

Throughout her social work career, Marivel has had the great opportunity to successfully work in many diverse communities. She continues to be passionate and innovative in her work practice in addressing social justice inequalities in order to better serve children and families in the child welfare system.

Curriculum Developer
Ivana received her BA in Society & Justice from the University of Washington in 1988. Ivana has a wide array of experience working in private agencies as well as government agencies. In 1983, on a whim, Ivana volunteered with the Division of Youth Services (DYS) detention center working with adolescent boys involved in the criminal just system. This experience influenced her to start a career in the social services. After DYS, she worked in group care facilities specifically with adolescent boys and girls. She worked with CSEC youth, developmentally delayed youth, male adolescent sex offenders, physically aggressive youth and youth involved in the criminal justice system.
In 1990, she started her career with the Children’s Administration, Division of Children and Family Services and worked in most offices in the King County area. Ivana started as a CFWS Social Worker working with adolescent youth. She was then hired in the Community Recourse Program Manager position where she conducted public education and training, staff education and training, and resources development. During this time, she implemented the Americans with Disabilities Initiative driving practice, policies, and training. Ivana moved to DLR and was a CPS Facility Investigator and then promoted to a DLR Foster Home Licensing Supervisor. After seven years in DLR, Ivana went back to DCFS to be a Placement Supervisor where she oversaw the Placement Social Workers as well as Foster Care Recruitment and Retention Program Managers. After Placement, she was a Fiduciary Supervisor, for a short time, and then returned back to the field as a DCFS CPS & FVS Supervisor.
Ivana was promoted to a DCFS Area Administrator position and served in this capacity in two different offices, King South (Kent) and Martin Luther King. As an Area Administrator, Ivana oversaw the CPS Investigative and Family Assessment Response program (FAR), Family Voluntary Services (FVS) program, Child & Family Welfare Services (CFWS) program, and Social & Health Program Consultant. Ivana developed vast experience working with community partners, developing and implementing programs, and always focusing on addressing racial disproportionality in the child welfare system. In between the Area Administrator positions, Ivana was a Quality Assurance and a Continuous Quality Improvement program manager. During this time, she was also certified in Lean and facilitated Supervising for Excellence curriculum training.
Ivana has been in social services for 33 years and a leader for over 17 years. Her focus is always on child safety and helping families. Her goal is to inspire others to do their best and be their best, but especially to protect those who can’t protect themselves.
Joan Sager
Child Welfare Trainer
Region 2

Children have been at the heart of Joan’s career since she began working in early childhood education and her interest quickly intersected with social work. For the past 30 years, she has worked with children and families in both rural and urban settings, including 23 years in Anchorage, Alaska.  Initially, Joan focused her career on domestic violence at a time when this issue was emerging at the forefront of social services. When Alaska opened its first shelter for battered women and their children, she collaborated with community stakeholders to create a children’s advocacy program. Later, Joan worked for Alaska’s Child Protective Services, where she became an integral part of the adoption preparation training for caregivers.

Her later career included private practice adoption consultation and services, Head Start center management, and teaching early childhood education classes at the community college level. Currently, her professional focus has expanded to adult education.  As a foster parent trainer, her teaching style integrates her social work experiences with the philosophy of experiential learning, making learning active, critically reflective and personally meaningful. Her professional interests remain concentrated on child abuse and neglect and the subsequent impact of trauma on child development. In addition, she is interested in the role that home, school and community play in the resiliency of children growing up in violent families. Creating effective curriculum and useful teaching tools for caregivers and early childhood educators is an on-going professional goal.

Renee Siers
Child Welfare Trainer
Region1 North

Reneé’s journey in Child Welfare began many years ago when she and her husband Tom became foster parents. Over the years she and her husband have adopted four children, which have given them many opportunities to work with the Child Welfare system. Reneé gained a passion for working with families while being a co-trainer for the Resource Family Training Institute. She went back to school and obtained a Master's in Social Work at Eastern Washington University. While working on her Master’s degree she studied attachment and the affects of trauma on children and adults.

Reneé has a desire to help Care Providers gain the tools they need to effectively parent the children who come into their homes. She believes a sense of humor can go a long way when dealing with difficult behaviors.

El-Freda Stephenson
Child Welfare Trainer
Region 2

El-Freda has more than 14 years of experience in Children's Administration working as home support specialist, program resource manager, Kidscreen specialist, and worked directly with families and children as a child protective services and child welfare services social worker. She also worked with families and at risk youth as a Family Reconciliation Service specialists for two years and monitored contracts for community providers that serviced children and families involved in the child welfare system.

El-Freda obtained a Master's Degree in Business Administration in 2006 from the University of Phoenix. 

El-Freda joined the Alliance in January 2014. She enjoys providing training to individuals who want to provide care to vulnerable children and adults. She has received several professional and academic awards throughout her career. She became certified as a Parenting Facilitator in "Strenghtening Multi-Ethnic Parenting" developed by Dr. Marilynn Steel. She enjoys baking, cooking, and planning big events. 

Liza Sterbick
Region 1

Liza started her career in child welfare over 24 years ago at Pierce County Juvenile Court in probation; she received her Bachelor’s Degree in Legal Studies and Social Work from Pacific Lutheran University in 1990. Her career with Children’s Administration (CA) started in 1995 as a CFWS social worker. In 2000, Liza transferred to the Wenatchee, WA (CA) office and in 2004 was promoted to CFWS supervisor. In 2007 Liza earned her MSW through Eastern Washington University.  

Within CA, Liza fulfilled a variety of roles including Child Family Welfare (CFWS) social worker, Adolescent social worker, alternative response and supervision. Liza was the lead in Region 1 to bring Permanency Round Tables to the area, and also spent many years with Central Review Teams across the State. In 2013, she took a position with the University of Washington where she is a continuing education specialist currently training and mentoring child welfare staff and community partners through a competency-based training system at the Alliance. Liza is very passionate about the partnership between Children’s Administration and the Alliance and is committed with promoting a stronger supported workforce.  

Sandy Surface
Region 2

Sandy began her work with the State of Washington in 1995 with Juvenile Rehabilitation Administration and then went to Children’s Administration in 1999 as a Child Protective Services (CPS) social worker in the Everett office. She held many positions in Region 2 including; CPS and Children and Family Welfare Services (CFWS)social worker, Kidscreen (Child Health and Education Tracker (CHET)) specialist, Family Team Decision Making (FTDM) facilitator, Supervisor of Intake, CPS, FRS and CFWS, program supervision of FTDM facilitators and CHET screeners,  program administration over Behavioral Rehabilitation Services (BRS), CPS, FTDM, CHET, Disproportionality, Indian Child Welfare (ICW) Liaisons, Father Engagement and Education Liaisons.  Most recently Sandy has been involved in the implementation of Family Assessment Response (FAR) both as a Regional and Statewide FAR program manager. Throughout her Children’s Administration work experience Sandy has developed strong community partnerships, including veteran parents and sees these partnerships as an intricate part of the work in Children’s Administration. She is passionate about coaching and training new social workers to provide the best opportunities for new staff and the families they serve.

Region 1

Greg has over 25 years of experience working in Child Welfare. Greg has an MA from Western Washington University. In addition to having worked in the Child Protrective Services (CPS), Family Reconciliation Services (FRS), and Intake programs within Children's Administration, Greg was previously a CAMIS and FamLink Trainer for Children's Administation.

In addition, Greg was an instructor for Yakima Valley Community College for 15 years until 2006. He taught a course in Cultural Anthropology and was an evening administrator for YVCC Campus in Grandview, WA. Greg joined the Alliance in September of 2013.

Associate Director of Finance and Operations

Wanting to make a positive impact to her community, Angela began her career in social services with the State of Washington while perusing her Bachelor degree from Western Washington University.  Prior to joining the Alliance, Angela spent 14 years with the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) serving in various capacities. 

Her most recent positions included Senior Budget Analyst for the DSHS, Central Budget Office and Budget Manager for the DSHS, Children’s Administration.  Interested in expanding her knowledge of public policy, Angela returned to academia and earned a Master of Public Administration degree from the Evergreen State College.


While completing a Bachelor’s of Arts Degree in Human Development and a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychology at Washington State University in 2001, Amanda discovered the field of Child Welfare. There she was propelled into the MSW program at Eastern Washington University and participated in the CWTAP Program, graduating in 2004.

Amanda began with the Alliance in October 2015 after nearly 13 years with Children’s Administration. During her time with CA, Amanda held numerous positions which included social work and later supervision in Child Protection and Child & Family Welfare Services.  Those positions provided her the opportunity to support best practice in several offices, partner with local tribes and promote community involvement to improve the lives of children.

In 2013 Amanda also became a licensed foster parent, later adopting, to complete her family.

These experiences have all led to the excitement and passion behind coaching, training and supporting child welfare staff.