Meet the Team

Our multi-disciplinary team combines our expertise in medicine, social work, law, psychology, sociology and education to deliver comprehensive, high quality services and partner with communities to meet their needs. Meet Kempe’s faculty and staff who are dedicated to honoring and recognizing the Kempe vision: A world without child maltreatment. Our team looks forward to partnering with you.

CenterLeadership Team

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Kathryn Wells, MD

Executive Director, Professor
Kathryn Wells, MD
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Kathryn Wells, MD

Dr. Kathryn Wells is the Executive Director of the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect and the Section Head for Child Abuse and Neglect and a Professor in Pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Wells is also an attending physician with the Kempe Child Protection Team at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She is a Board-Certified Pediatrician and is Sub Boarded in Child Abuse Pediatrics. Dr. Wells’ major areas of academic interest are the intersection between substance use disorder and child maltreatment and systems of healthcare for children and families at risk for or impacted by child abuse and neglect.

Dr. Wells is originally from Montana and completed her undergraduate studies at Carroll College in Helena, MT, where she received a BA in Biology and Psychology. She received her MD at Creighton University in Omaha, NE, and completed a Pediatric Residency at Creighton University-University of Nebraska Affiliated Residency Program. After practicing general pediatrics in Idaho, Dr. Wells completed a Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and then served as the Medical Director of the Denver Health medical clinic at the Denver Family Crisis Center for 15 years.

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Ron Mitchell, MSW

Director of Operations
Ron Mitchell, MSW
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Ron Mitchell, MSW

I am honored to work at The Kempe Center with amazing colleagues who have dedicated their careers to improving the lives of children and their families who have experienced abuse and neglect.  I have some lived experience with these issues that gives me great empathy for those directly impacted.     

My professional background includes overseeing all aspects of public child welfare, being the director of two residential treatment centers, experience in human services finance and budgeting, providing mental health services, and work in the juvenile justice field.  Throughout my career I have emphasized using a data-driven approach to understand and problem solve complex issues and have applied research to improve practice.  Educationally, I hold a Master of Social Work degree from Colorado State University and a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Colorado Mesa University. 

I value collaboration, social justice (JEDI), excellence in practice, data-driven decision making and, most of all, the clients who we serve and the people who serve them.    

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Antonia Chiesa, MD

Director of Integrated Healthcare Services
Antonia Chiesa, MD
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Antonia Chiesa, MD

Impact Areas, Programs and Projects: Clinical Services, Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship, CARE Network

https://som.cuanschutz.edu/Profiles/Faculty/Profile/8272

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Michelle Davis, MS, LPC

Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion
Michelle Davis, MS, LPC
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Michelle Davis, MS, LPC

Michelle is an assistant professor and the Director of Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Justice (JEDI) at the Kempe Center. Michelle has been working to advance social equity and justice for children and families in child-and-family-serving systems for 20+ years. She aspires to reach the essence of our humanity as an organization and relationship systems coach, as a leadership coach, and in her current role as Director of JEDI, utilizing a comprehensive human-centered approach.

One highlight of Michelle’s long-standing career is her design of a coaching program that elevates our ability to have conversations that bridge our divisions and generate personal and organizational belonging; Race Intelligence (RQ™) seeks to facilitate discovery, healing, transformation, and action for individuals, teams, and organizations in creating more equitable systems of care and practice. As a Dare to Lead facilitator, she works with teams to unleash daring leadership over armored leadership, support leaders in harnessing the Four Skill Sets of Courage™ in themselves and others, and to cultivate high-performing, cohesive teams.

Michelle is a licensed professional counselor, certified systems coach, professionally certified coach, and certified Dare to Lead facilitator. She received her master’s in counseling at the University of Nebraska Omaha.  

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Warren Binford, JD, EdM

Advocacy Director and W.H. Lea for Justice Endowed Chair for Pediatric Law, Policy & Ethics
Warren Binford, JD, EdM
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Warren Binford, JD, EdM

Warren is an international children’s rights scholar and advocate whose research and writing largely focuses on 21st century forms of childhood harms. Professor Binford is the inaugural W.H. Lea Endowed Chair for Justice in Pediatric Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Colorado where she is a Professor of Pediatrics, Professor of Law (by courtesy), and a Core Faculty Member in the Center for Bioethics and the Humanities. She joined the Kempe Center as its Advocacy Director in 2020. 

Professor Binford has published a wide variety of 80+ works and given hundreds of presentations worldwide. Media appearances on children’s issues include CNN, BBC, NBC, NPR, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Newsweek, Washington Post, the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and many others. She has been both a Fulbright Scholar in South Africa and the inaugural Fulbright Canada-Palix Foundation Distinguished Visiting Chair in Brain Science and Child and Family Health and Wellness. She holds a BA, summa cum laude with distinction, in Literature and Psychology and an EdM from Boston University and a JD from Harvard Law School.   

Professor Binford enjoys spending time in the mountains with her husband and children snowboarding, skiing, horseback riding, hiking, and backpacking.    

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Suzanne Kerns, PhD

Director of Transformative Research, Professor, Network Partner Director, MST
Suzanne Kerns, PhD
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Suzanne Kerns, PhD

Impact Area, Programs and Projects: Director of Transformative Research; Rocky Mountain MST Network, Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse, MST-Telehealth pilot

Sue is a Professor of Pediatrics and Director of Transformative Research at the Kempe Center. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Her research activities focus on ways to improve the quality and effectiveness of child and family mental health services to maximize public health impact. Thus, much of her focus is on using implementation science to enhance access to proven-effective treatment approaches, including examining the acquisition, implementation, adaptation, and sustainability of evidence-based practices.

Sue is the President of the Society for Implementation Research and Collaboration (2023-2025). She currently serves as the Principal Investigator for the Title IV-E Prevention Services Clearinghouse and directs a study of telehealth-enhanced Multisystemic Therapy. Previous work includes being the principal investigator for a Children’s Bureau funded grant in Washington State developing trauma screening and connections with mental health services for children and youth in foster care and being a primary project partner on the University of Maryland’s ACF-funded National Center for Evidence Based Practices in Child Welfare. She is the Network Partner Director for the Rocky Mountain Multisystemic Therapy (MST) Network.  

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Gwyn E. Barley, PhD

Director of Educational Innovation & Advancement
Gwyn E. Barley, PhD
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Gwyn E. Barley, PhD

Gwyn served on the faculty of the University of Colorado School of Medicine as the founding director of the Center of Advancing Professional Excellence and the Foundations of Doctoring Curriculum. She conducted NIH funded community based participatory research projects in partnership with residents living in neighborhoods around the former Stapleton airport. 

Gwyn served as Vice President for Community Partnerships and Grants for the Colorado Trust, a health conversion foundation striving to achieve health equity and social justice for all Coloradans. Her team served communities across Colorado. We aligned communities with advocacy organizations focused on building power and capacity based on residents’ expertise and wisdom of their challenges and assets. She nurtured the Community Leaders in Health Equity strategy focused on residents’ understanding of how systemic racism, classism, sexism, and nationalism are reinforced and maintained. These funding strategies centered Black and Brown people in decision making and in directing funds. 

Gwyn has a Ph.D. in Social Welfare from Brandeis University and was a Pew Fellow in Health Policy. She earned a Masters of Planning from the University of Southern California and a Sociology degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

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Rob Murchison, MEPM

Business Service Manager
Rob Murchison, MEPM
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Rob Murchison, MEPM

I’ve been at the University for more than 20 years and have worked with the Center over the last 17-plus years. My passion for a cause led me to the Center, and its mission is the north star that I fall back to.  

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Maya Landau Bajayo

Center Coordinator Liaison
Maya Landau Bajayo
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Maya Landau Bajayo

Maya joined Kempe as a Center Coordinator Liaison in December of 2022. She is part of the CARE network Team as well as working closely with Dr. Kathi Wells.  

Maya received her BA in Emergency Medicine from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel. Maya’s paramedic career began as part of a mobile intensive care unit team in Tel-Aviv, Israel. After working in this field for a few years and earning an “Employee of the month” award, she immigrated to the U.S. with her family. Few months after the move, Maya decided to take on a new direction and started her own business, where she used to create and sell handmade goods on Etsy. Through her experience running her successful business Maya co-founded a consultant & account management company, in a mission to help other shop owners, mostly from outside of the U.S, to improve, grow their businesses and overcome the cultural gap.

KempeFaculty & Staff

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Heather Allan, MSW

Assistant Professor
Heather Allan, MSW
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Heather Allan, MSW

Impact Areas, Programs and Projects: FGDM (and all associated evaluation projects), CCR (maltreatment prevention; child maltreatment epidemiology), CWTS

Heather received her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Politics (BA) from New York University and a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) from the University of Denver. She is an Assistant Professor at the Kempe Center for Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect located in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado, School of Medicine. She specializes in child welfare, racial disparities and disproportionality, and program evaluation.

At the Kempe Center, Ms. Allan serves in a project management role on several federal demonstration projects and state evaluations in a variety of diverse jurisdictions across the country. She has provided direct services in group home and community agency settings, designed and coordinated program evaluations related to issues of inclusiveness, organizational cultural competence, and service provision in child welfare and community agency settings. Ms. Allan is a skilled at translating complex evaluation findings into meaningful conclusions and practice recommendations for non-academic audiences. She is experienced in quasi- and experimental research design and qualitative and quantitative data analysis techniques. She has authored or co-authored numerous research reports, peer-reviewed journal articles, and issue briefs for public dissemination and regularly presents at national conferences. 

Email address: [email protected]

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Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, MSN

Associate Professor, Pediatrics-Child Abuse and Neglect, CPT
Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, MSN
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Denise Abdoo, PhD, CPNP, MSN

Denise is a faculty member at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. Dr. Abdoo’s research focuses on recognition of child maltreatment and human trafficking. Clinically she works with the Child Protection Team at Children’s Hospital Colorado and has been a member of the team since 2003. Dr. Abdoo routinely teaches on pediatric health care topics, including child maltreatment and human trafficking.

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Michelle Beebe, MSW, MA

County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Michelle Beebe, MSW, MA
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Michelle Beebe, MSW, MA

Michelle joined the CWTS team in February 2023 as a large-county learning coordinator. She is passionate about serving children and families with strengths-based, culturally inclusive, and solution-focused interventions.  

Earning her MSW from the Univ. of WA in 1998, Michelle has worked in child welfare since, spending 21 years in Seattle and 3.5 years at Boulder County DHHS-FCS. Throughout her career, Michelle’s job duties have ranged from crisis intervention, parent coaching, and individual counseling to group development, curriculum development, service referrals, coordination of care, and regulatory work, including court work, emergency removal of children, policy creation, and risk management details. She has trained new workers through group training, mentoring, and individual coaching.  In addition to her MSW, Michelle has an MA in human learning, development, and family sciences from CU–Denver which enhanced Michelle’s teaching and training approaches.  

Raised in Boulder, Michelle returned in 2018. She has coparented five amazing individuals, now all in their thirties. An active and musical family, all five children chose careers in music and theater. Theater performances, reading, playing with her pets, and enjoying time with family and friends are favorite ways Michelle spends free time.  

Kate Berger, MAT

LMS Specialized Instructional Designer, CWTS
Kate Berger, MAT

Kate Berger, MAT

Do I make myself a blessing to everyone I meet?—Brandi Carlile   

Kate Berger, MAT, is the LMS specialized instructional designer for CWTS. She is passionate about creating systems and structures that help all children thrive. In this role, she is responsible for the design, maintenance, and quality control of the learning management system, ensuring ease of use for learners. 

As a lifelong educator, Kate works hard to help people understand complex problems in ways that make sense to them. She started her career as a high school science teacher in Leland, Mississippi. She relocated to Los Angeles and then Washington, DC, where she taught biology and physics to students in grades 7–12 while earning her master’s degree. After realizing she could impact more students as an administrator, Kate became the dean of academics at Maya Angelou Academy at New Beginnings, a charter school located inside a youth detention facility. There she joined an amazing group of students and staff working tirelessly to change outcomes for youth who had been adjudicated delinquent, many of whom had experience with the child welfare and foster care systems. In 2012, she relocated to Denver, where she was founding principal of STRIVE Prep—Excel High School. After transferring to an assistant principal role at North High School in 2016, it was not long before she felt the call back to the classroom, and she taught AP Physics for two more years at North through the pandemic. Kate joined the Kempe Center in May 2023.   

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Ruth Berhanu, MPH

MSA Professional Research Assistant, Rocky Mountain MST Network, MST-Telehealth pilot
Ruth Berhanu, MPH
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Ruth Berhanu, MPH

Ruth (she/her), is a Clinical Science Professional/Professional Research Assistant at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. Ruth currently holds a split role conducting research for non-funded projects within the Kempe Center’s Research Core as well as the Rocky Mountain MST Network. Ruth received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of Colorado Denver and received her MPH from the Boston University School of Public Health in 2022. She completed her graduate certificates in Epidemiology and Biostatistics as well as Maternal and Child Health. Through her educational experiences, Ruth has had opportunities performing both quantitative and qualitative data analysis to integrate actionable research with health equity. Ruth’s research and career interests include: perinatal epidemiology, pediatric epidemiology as well as mental health and trauma outcomes. Now at the Kempe Center, she hopes to expand and refine her epidemiology and clinical research skills by investigating the root causes and systems that impact child and adolescent maltreatment and implementing evidence-based interventions. 

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Michele Bugos, MBA

Business Operations Coordinator
Michele Bugos, MBA
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Michele Bugos, MBA

Michele is the Business Operations Coordinator for the Kempe Center on Anschutz Medical Campus of the University of Colorado.  Michele joined the Kempe Center in January of 2020 and supports the center primarily with human resource and finance matters.  Prior to joining the Kempe Center, she worked for the Cherry Creek School District as a Home Hospital Instructor and Substitute Teacher. Michele worked for seven years as the Business Administrator for the Office of University Counsel at Temple University in Philadelphia before moving to Colorado in 2007. 

Michele received a bachelors degree in psychology with a pre-medical concentration from University of Delaware and received an MBA in Human Resource Management from Temple University.  Working at the Kempe Center has provided Michele with the opportunity to continue to work for an organization whose mission is to support children and families.

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Katherine L. Casillas, PhD

Director, SafeCare® Colorado
Katherine L. Casillas, PhD
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Katherine L. Casillas, PhD

Katherine is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, and Director of SafeCare® Colorado. Dr. Casillas has been involved in clinical practice and programmatic research on the assessment, etiology, and treatment of family relations for over 20 years, including implementing and evaluating evidence-informed parenting models. As PI for SafeCare® Colorado, Casillas helps oversee the state-wide implementation of SafeCare®, an evidence-based, home visitation program which focuses on parent-child relationships, child health, and home safety. Prior to Kempe, her work at The Child Protection Research Center included child welfare organizational assessments, multi-state Differential Response and Family Group Decision Making initiatives, as well as a UNICEF study on harsh disciplinary practices in low- and middle-income countries. While at Stony Brook University for graduate and post-doctoral studies, Casillas lectured, consulted on a DOD Maltreatment Severity Measure, and evaluated US Air Force interventions to reduce family maltreatment and other community-level problems. Dr. Casillas also has a decade of experience providing court-ordered assessment and treatment to parents and couples. Overall, Dr. Casillas’s work centers on the implementation of evidence-informed parenting practices, including factors that affect scale and sustainability.

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Wendy Carter, BS

Learning Experience Coordinator, CWTS
Wendy Carter, BS
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Wendy Carter, BS

Wendy is a learner experience coordinator, striving to ensure successful learning delivery by providing support and coordination to learners, facilitators, providers, and stakeholders before, during, and after training. 

Wendy earned her Bachelor of Science in marketing management from Virginia Tech and began her career, and family, in the Washington D.C. metro area, before moving to Colorado, in 2007. A few of her favorite roles prior to joining the CWTS team include sales management for a national wholesaler, resource management for a large international consulting firm, and marketing and product management for a small manufacturer and distributor. In each of these positions and in others, she has honed her skills in program management and client relations.  She thrives on challenges and finding resolutions that come with great customer care.    

When she’s not working, Wendy is outdoors as much as possible. She loves to hike in the spring and fall months and ski in the winter—Telluride is her favorite place for both. She enjoys traveling and tries to keep a destination on the calendar as often as possible. 

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Daniel Comer, MA

Workforce Development Manager, CWTS
Daniel Comer, MA
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Daniel Comer, MA

In February 2016, Mr. Comer joined the Colorado Child Welfare Training System (CWTS) at the Kempe Center. He is currently an instructor in the Pediatrics Department for the University of Colorado School of Medicine. 

Dan has over 30 years’ experience in the human services field and was one of the creators of the Principles of Partnership, used by several states as the guiding principles for all work with their families, colleagues, and community partners. Over the last two decades, Dan has traveled the country delivering training and coaching to all levels of child welfare staff related to workforce well-being, retention, resiliency, implementation of Differential Response, change management, leadership, and best practices in family engagement.   

Prior to joining the Kempe Center, Mr. Comer served as a clinical instructor within the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina. He has worked previously with Appalachian State University, Barium Springs Training Group, and American Humane Association. Dan’s early career included time as a foster care worker, supervisor, and residential services administrator. 

Mr. Comer received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Ohio University and his master’s degree in special education from Appalachian State University. Mr. Comer has also received formal training in solution-focused practice, coaching, leadership, and facilitation skills. 

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Ida Drury, PhD, MSW

Associate Director of System Support, CWTS
Ida Drury, PhD, MSW
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Ida Drury, PhD, MSW

Ida has over twenty years of experience in the human services field, primarily in public child welfare. As an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the Kempe Center, she has served multiple consulting and research projects including the Capacity Building Center for States and the Quality Improvement Center for Workforce Development. She is currently the Principal Investigator for the Colorado Child Welfare Training System, Kempe’s Assistant Director of Workforce Development, and Principal Investigator for the Kentucky Alternative Response project. She is a social work educator at Metro State Denver and the University of North Dakota. Prior to joining the Kempe Center, Ida was a research and data analyst for the Colorado Department of Human Services. Before that, she guided Colorado child welfare funding as the CAPTA administrator. In 2009, she served as project director for the Colorado Consortium on Differential Response. Her early career was on the front line in Minnesota as a child welfare caseworker. 

Ida received her Bachelor of Arts and Social Work at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. She earned her Master of Social Work at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. She completed her Doctor of Philosophy at the School of Public Affairs at University of Colorado Denver in 2019. 

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Kaitlyn Ender, MSW

Professional Research Assistant
Kaitlyn Ender, MSW
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Kaitlyn Ender, MSW

Kaitlyn, MSW, graduated from the University of Michigan School of Social Work in December 2022 and is joining the Kempe Center as a Professional Research Assistant. Kaitlyn will be working primarily on the Kentucky Alternative Response and Chafee SOTA projects at Kempe. She is excited to use her social work experience to support these projects and continue to expand her research skills in this role. Kaitlyn’s pathway in graduate school was the Welfare of Children and Families and she was also a Child Welfare Scholar. She is passionate about the prevention of child maltreatment and asking big questions about how the field of social work can better address the needs of children and families. 

Kaitlyn graduated from the University of Michigan in 2021 with her BA in psychology and a minor in writing. She enjoys traveling to Northern Michigan or anywhere with a nice beach, exploring new coffee shops and restaurants, spending time with friends and family, nature and portrait photography, and painting. 

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Stacy Falsone, MSW

Learning Development Specialist, CWTS
Stacy Falsone, MSW
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Stacy Falsone, MSW

Stacy works as a faculty instructor and learning development specialist for the Child Welfare Training System based in Western Colorado. She originally joined the CWTS project in February of 2018 as a learning coordinator. In August of 2022, she began her current role in development. Stacy completed her undergraduate degree in psychology with a minor in English at Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University), and a Master of Social Work through the University of Denver. Before she began her career in child welfare, she worked as a school-based behavior coach.  

Prior to joining the Kempe team, Stacy worked as a program advisor for a federal, grant-funded program providing mentoring, coaching, and academic advising for first-generation college students. This work inspired Stacy to return for her own master’s degree, and she completed internship work in integrated behavior health clinics across rural Western Colorado. Stacy was born and raised in Western Colorado and she’s an avid outdoor enthusiast. She formed an outdoor adventure group and regularly leads hiking trips and other outings. She has volunteered with several non-profits, including Girls, Inc., Spark the Change in Metro Denver (behavioral health support), and Foster Alumni Mentors. 

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Angele Fauchier, PhD

Associate Director, TRIP, Associate Professor
Angele Fauchier, PhD
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Angele Fauchier, PhD

Angèle began her career researching investigative child abuse interviewing at National Institute for Child Health and Human Development. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from University of Southern California. Dr. Fauchier completed a postdoctoral fellowship at University of New Hampshire then taught at universities in Maine and New Hampshire. In 2012 she joined the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where she is Director of Implementation and Evaluation for the Trauma-Responsive Implementation and Practice Program. She has served as an officer for the Colorado Implementation Collaborative since 2013. Her research focuses on parenting, family violence, and the intersection between the two; she is also the director of the International Parenting Study, examining parenting across 23 countries. Her work at Kempe currently focuses on incorporating trauma-responsive practices into Colorado’s behavioral health, social services, justice, and educational systems and on building the resilience of those who work with traumatized populations.  

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Kelly Finnegan, MD

CPT Fellow
Kelly Finnegan, MD
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Kelly Finnegan, MD

Kelly is a fellow with the Child Protection Team. She attended medical school at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and then completed her Pediatrics residency at University of Vermont Children’s Hospital. Her interests within Child Abuse Pediatrics include medical child abuse, community engagement, and caring for children in out of home placements. Kelly considers the best days to be ones where she can enjoy moments of play with her patients.  

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Abby Fitts, JD

Family Policy Institute Project Coordinator 
Abby Fitts, JD
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Abby Fitts, JD

Abby grew up overseas, graduated from high school in S. Korea and joined the U.S. Navy. She served for 10 years as a Chinese Mandarin and Korean linguist before she and her husband moved to their family farm in Oregon to raise their three kids. Abby is now an attorney and runs an employment law practice, focusing her pro bono efforts on advocating for children’s and families’ rights in her local county. Abby joined the Kempe Advocacy Core in 2021 to help elevate and amplify the voices of our Kempe experts in impacting the real lives of children through advocacy.   

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John D. Fluke, PhD

Associate Director for Systems Research and Evaluation
John D. Fluke, PhD
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John D. Fluke, PhD

John is Associate Director for Systems Research and Evaluation at the Kempe Center with joint appointments as a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Department of Epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health. Dr. Fluke’s research is focused on child protection decision-making and child maltreatment epidemiology. He is known internationally for his innovative and informative research and evaluation work in the areas of child welfare administrative data analysis, workload and costing, and performance and outcome measurement for children and family services. For the US government he has been PI or key staff for research and evaluation projects focused on improving the evidence base for various interventions with the US Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA), the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), and with the US Agency for International Development (USAID). He has also worked on projects sponsored by the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the Casey Family Services Foundation, the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, and program evaluation projects for governmental child welfare agencies including Colorado, New York City, Texas, Utah, and Washington.

In the course of his career, he has headed research departments in NGO and for-profit organizations. He has participated in numerous internationally based efforts to improve the global capacity to understand the epidemiology of child maltreatment including work with Canadian, Balkan, EU, German, Norwegian, Netherlands, Saudi Arabian, and Unicef data sources.  He is a board member of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect and board member of the European Scientific Association on Residential and Family Care and has been a recipient of a Fulbright specialist grant. He is an inducted Fellow of the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

He has authored or co-authored more than 70 peer reviewed publications, as well as numerous book chapters and reports. He has co-edited two books National Systems of Child Protection through Springer Press and Decision Making and Judgement in Child Welfare and Protection: Theory, Research, and Practice through Oxford University Press.  

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C. Rashaan Ford, MD

Assistant Professor, Associate Program Director of Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship Program

Dana Garofalini, MSc, LPC

Co-Director, Rocky Mountain MST, MST-Telehealth Pilot
Dana Garofalini, MSc, LPC

Dana Garofalini, MSc, LPC

Dana is a Co-Director for Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) with the Rocky Mountain MST Network at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect.  Dana works with provider agencies, funders, community stakeholders and referral sources to support the growth and the development of Multi-Systemic Therapy teams throughout Colorado, Texas, and Washington. Dana also serves as an MST expert, overseeing the clinical implementation of the MST model with those teams she supports in Colorado and New Mexico. Dana earned her Master’s in Counseling Psychology at Trinity College in Dublin Ireland and has worked within the MST model for 20 years as an MST therapist, supervisor, and program manager. Dana has lived in New Jersey, New Orleans, Ireland and New York before moving to Colorado where she now resides with her husband and two sons.

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Colleen Gibley-Reed, MSW, LCSW

Lead County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Colleen Gibley-Reed, MSW, LCSW
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Colleen Gibley-Reed, MSW, LCSW

Colleen is a faculty instructor and lead county learning coordinator for the Colorado Child Welfare Training System through the Kempe Center. Colleen is responsible for cultivating and managing effective working relationships with the eleven largest Colorado counties to respond to their professional development needs. 

Prior to working for the Kempe Center, Colleen spent nineteen years with the Larimer County Department of Human Services. Her child welfare experience includes work in family preservation, ongoing child protection, foster and kinship care, staff training, and practice coaching. Colleen earned her BS in human development and family studies from Colorado State University in 1994 and an MSW with a clinical concentration in child welfare from the University of Denver in 2010. Colleen is designated as a licensed clinical social worker in the State of Colorado. In addition to working for the Kempe Center, she is an adjunct faculty member for the University of Denver, teaching courses on power, privilege and oppression at the Graduate School of Social Work. She is passionate about social justice and commits to a daily focus on disrupting her privilege and promoting equity for all individuals and groups of people. 

“We must learn to become comfortable with the uncomfortable and uncomfortable with the too comfortable.”
―David Tulin

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Bird Gilmartin, MD

Assistant Clinical Medical Director, KICS
Bird Gilmartin, MD
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Bird Gilmartin, MD

Bird is an Assistant Professor at the University of Colorado with a dual appointment in general pediatrics and the Kempe Center where she serves as the Assistant Clinical Medical Director of the Child Health Clinic at Children’s Hospital Colorado and as the Medical Director for the new Children’s Hospital Colorado foster care clinic — Kids In Care Settings (KICS) clinic that will go live Spring 2023. Prior to coming to Colorado, she worked at Evanston Regional Hospital in Evanston, Wyoming. There, she served as the Medical Director of Pediatrics and Chief of Medical Staff.  She currently serves as a Co-Investigator for the Pediatric Integrated Post-trauma Services SAMHSA grant working to disseminate the pediatric traumatic stress care process model and to develop enhanced implementation strategies in rural settings and adaptation for the unique needs of children in foster care.  She serves on the executive committee for the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Child Abuse and Neglect. In 2019, she was the recipient of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Child Abuse and Neglect’s award for Outstanding Service to Maltreated Children.  She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two children and enjoys time with her family, reading books, and being in the mountains. 

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Evelin Gómez, PhD

Program Director, TRIP
Evelin Gómez, PhD
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Evelin Gómez, PhD

Evelin is the Director of the Trauma-Responsive Implementation and Practice (TRIP) Program at the Kempe Center and Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is a bilingual, Spanish-speaking, bicultural licensed clinician. Her work experience and expertise include child abuse and neglect, trauma; evidence-based treatments and approaches; substance abuse issues; community mental health; educational, child welfare, and juvenile justice issues; infant mental health and early childhood interventions; and integrated primary care behavioral health services. She provides supervision and reflective consultation. She has broad experience in equity and justice issues and with various populations including adults, families, adolescents, young children, and infants. She has been implementing and disseminating trauma informed practices and evidence-based treatments for over 15 years in various systems. Dr. Gómez oversees the management of the Behavioral Health Administration (BHA) COACT, Cross-Systems Training Institute (CSTI) and is a co-developer and trainer of several curricula. She is a recipient of the UC Denver-Anschutz Medical Campus, Chancellor’s Diversity Recognition Award for Faculty Leadership. She has served as an affiliate of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) since 2008 and serves on several national committees.

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Julie Goodman

Instructor, SafeCare
Julie Goodman
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Julie Goodman

Julie has worked in the field of social work for 30 years.  Julie’s experience ranges from serving as a hospice social worker to advocating and applying restorative justice practices in the criminal justice system.  For the past 15 years, Julie has focused her efforts on supporting young children and families.  For 13 years, Julie served as a Family Advocate and Family Services Coordinator for the Southern Ute Head Start/Early Head Start program. Four and a half years ago, Julie became involved with SafeCare Colorado.  She was a Site Supervisor and Parent Support Provider at San Juan Basin Public Health in southwest Colorado, and has just celebrated her one year anniversary as a SafeCare Colorado Site Manager/Trainer/Coach with Kempe.  Julie has greatly enjoyed partnering with families over the years and is grateful for the opportunity in supporting sites serving families throughout the state. T 

Julie is originally from New York and loves Broadway plays and musicals! In her early years, she had a dream of becoming an assistant to Jane Goodall, and was able to intern for a research project to teach ASL to an orangutan at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Julie’s lifelong dream of seeing the wildlife of Africa was a magical experience when she lived in Namibia for over three years. Julie likes to play boards games and cards, as well as pickleball, and enjoys hiking in the beautiful mountains of southwest Colorado. Julie and her husband live and raised two daughters in the Heartwood cohousing community.  

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Krystal Grint, MSW, LCSW, CPCC

Project Director, CWTS
Krystal Grint, MSW, LCSW, CPCC
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Krystal Grint, MSW, LCSW, CPCC

Krystal is the project director for CWTS and a faculty instructor for the University of Colorado’s School of Medicine, at the Kempe Center. As a social worker, she is committed to social justice and to helping give voice to individuals who may not have one. She knows the importance of a prosperous and robust learning system to support child welfare professionals to reach their full potential, heighten their own self-awareness, and best serve the families they work with. 

Krystal has worked in the community and child welfare for more than fifteen years. Her work in child welfare began in 2006, when she became an intake caseworker in El Paso County. After five years, she transitioned to training, serving one year as the child welfare training specialist and another two as the Child Welfare Training Academy supervisor.  

Krystal earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from the University of Colorado–Colorado Springs and her Master of Social Work from Colorado State University–Fort Collins. She is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Colorado. She also is a certified professional Co-Active coach and serves as a leadership coach for child welfare professionals.  

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Amy E. Hahn, MSW

Senior Instructor, Differential Response
Amy E. Hahn, MSW
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Amy E. Hahn, MSW

Amy (Rohm) Hahn is a Senior Instructor at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect in the Department of Pediatrics, University of Colorado School of Medicine. Amy currently serves as the Project Director for the Kentucky Alternative Response project and oversees curriculum development for Colorado’s Child Welfare Training System.  

She has spent more than fifteen years in child welfare helping cultivate improvements to the systems that serve children and families in crisis, working for American Humane Association before joining the Kempe Center as faculty in 2012. Amy has worked with many states to support their successful development, implementation, and evaluation of child welfare reform efforts like Family Group Decision Making and Differential Response. Amy has facilitated training, coaching, and technical assistance with child welfare staff at all levels across the country on subjects including Differential Response, change management, solution-focused supervision, coaching, leadership development, and family engagement. 

Hahn received her B.A. from Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Indiana and a M.S.W. from the University of Denver Graduate School of Social Work in Colorado. She is a certified Organization, Relationship and System coach and currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin. 

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Paula Haugerud

Learner Experience Coordinator, CWTS
Paula Haugerud
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Paula Haugerud

Paula Haugerud is honored to serve as a learner experience coordinator for the CWTS, where she is responsible for the coordination of development, training logistics, and special projects for CWTS and the Kempe Center and offers support to our community stakeholders to ultimately further the greater mission of the organization. 

Paula grew up in Colorado and studied psychology at the University of Colorado. She began her career with a national nonprofit organization in a variety of administrative and leadership roles serving youth-based program development and events. Later, Paula worked in multiple roles in the public school system, from teaching in the classroom to serving as program specialist providing direct vocational and transition services to young adults in the community in partnership with the State of Colorado. Every pathway of her work with stakeholders, volunteers, and youth drives her commitment to succeed. She feels great passion about working with programs that impact and enhance the community and state that she loves.

“When you believe in a thing, believe in it all the way, implicitly and unquestionable.”
―Walt Disney

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Michel Holien, LCSW

Director of Dissemination, FHF
Michel Holien, LCSW
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Michel Holien, LCSW

Michel is the Director of Dissemination for Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF), which is an evidence-based, preventive intervention for children with current or previous child welfare involvement due to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Michel is tasked with disseminating FHF locally, nationally, and internationally.  

In addition to working at FHF, Michel has worked at Clinica Family Health Services as a Behavioral Health Professional and Program Manager, with Boulder County Public Health on the management team of the Boulder County Prevention and Intervention Program, and most recently, for 7 years at Denver Public Schools as the founder and manager of the Prevention Services team, which includes Substance Use Prevention, and Alternatives to Suspension.   

Michel has a BA in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania, and an MSW from the University of Denver. She is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Her areas of focus and expertise include upstream prevention, shared risk and protective factors, and positive youth development. 

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Dana Hollinshead, PhD, MPA

Associate Research Professor
Dana Hollinshead, PhD, MPA
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Dana Hollinshead, PhD, MPA

Impact Area, Programs and Projects: Quality Improvement Center on Workforce Development, Child Maltreatment Epidemiology (RAPIDS Secondary Data Analysis), Chafee SOTA, MST-Telehealth project, Differential Response (QIC-DR and Kentucky AR), Family Group Decision Making (NPLH, Olmsted, and NY EFCI projects), Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ACEs project

Dana is an Associate Research Professor at the Kempe Center, but based in Massachusetts, who has devoted her career to improving outcomes for children and families involved in the child welfare system. She was instrumental in establishing and evaluating the earliest outcomes-oriented child welfare performance monitoring systems and conducted groundbreaking research illuminating how system structures and policies explain some variations in agencies’ un-substantiation and recurrence outcomes. More recently, Dana’s focus has expanded to exploring how caseworker characteristics and their perception of child welfare work are associated with their case decision-making and turnover intentions.

Her commitment to empowering and elevating the voices of caregivers and children served by the system is reflected in her work examining the impact of family group decision-making and differential response models, as well as enhancing the role of people with lived experience in the development, delivery, and research about system reforms. What inspires Dana about working at Kempe is the opportunity to conduct national, state, and local research that contributes to our knowledge about the efficacy of interventions and solutions to problems.

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Skyla Jeffryes, BS

County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Skyla Jeffryes, BS
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Skyla Jeffryes, BS

Skyla joined the CWTS team in 2023 as a small-county learning coordinator. She facilitates learning for new caseworkers and supervisors, aiming to create a safe and comfortable environment for learners so that they leave with more knowledge and confidence to work with the families they serve.  

Skyla graduated from University of Colorado at Colorado Springs with a bachelor’s in sociology and a minor in women’s and ethnic studies. She started her career in child welfare in 2013 as an ongoing caseworker in Fremont County. She then spent nearly nine years in Pueblo County, working her way up to becoming an ongoing supervisor. In that time working with children and families, she worked mostly with children six and under. Skyla finished her career in Pueblo County as a Supervisor in Ongoing. She brings experience working in treatment facilities, with domestic violence survivors and families within the child welfare system. 

When Skyla is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends and often volunteers at her church. She has a love for sports and coaching her children. During the summer months, Skyla can be found on a lake enjoying the beautiful outdoors of Colorado. 

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Chad Kaneakua, BS

Lead County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Chad Kaneakua, BS
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Chad Kaneakua, BS

Chad joined the CWTS in January 2014 and is the Lead Learning Coordinator for the southeast region. He is responsible for coordinating and managing training in the twenty counties in the southeast area of Colorado. He enjoys ensuring timely and effective training for his stakeholders.  

Chad received his bachelor of science in marriage and family human development at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. Prior to joining the CWTS, he worked for Mesa County and Family Tree Day Treatment. He has experience in behavioral management; intake; youth in conflict; Colorado Senate Bill 94 juvenile screening; and foster and kinship certification, recruitment, and support. He also served on Mesa County’s Community Assessment Team.  

When not working, Chad likes to play with his three children, volunteer with his church, and dream about surfing.  

Chad believes in the power of many people coming together for one purpose: Together, in strength.  

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Jenny Koch-Zapfel, MSW

Trainer & Coach at SafeCare, Perinatal Navigator at CHoSEN
Jenny Koch-Zapfel, MSW
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Jenny Koch-Zapfel, MSW

I have worked in the field of child welfare for over 25 years. My career began as a child protection caseworker in Wisconsin where I served some of the highest risk families in Milwaukee County. This led to a commitment to follow my passion of serving and empowering families impacted by child abuse and neglect and in advocating for preventative services that reach families before child welfare becomes involved in their lives. In 2000, I completed a Master’s program in Social Work and have continued my work in the field of child welfare through direct work with families and in the development of programs aimed at serving families at risk of child welfare involvement. I have been with the Kempe Center for 17 years gaining extensive experience in program development and training and coaching student research assistants, Child Welfare professionals, and home visitors on best practices when working with families. 

While with the Child Welfare Training System I developed curriculum on different topics such as caseworker safety, domestic violence and safe sleep and had the pleasure of delivering these trainings to child welfare caseworkers throughout the state of Colorado.  My focus over the past 4.5 years has been on providing preventative services to families at risk of child welfare involvement through my work as a trainer and coach for SafeCare®, Colorado guiding home visitors to learn and enhance engagement and teaching skills with the vulnerable families they serve. I am currently overseeing the development of the Colorado Hospitals Substance Exposed Newborns (CHoSEN) Perinatal Navigator Program, a prevention program which is intended to identify and serve individuals in the prenatal stage that have substance use disorder. The program is designed to serve clients for up to one year after their baby is born.

Richard Krugman, MD

Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics
Richard Krugman, MD

Richard Krugman, MD

Richard D. Krugman, MD, is Distinguished Professor of Pediatrics and former Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs and Dean of the University of Colorado School of Medicine (CU). He was Director of the Kempe National Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect from 1981-1992, and has gained international prominence in the field of child abuse. Dr. Krugman graduated of Princeton University (AB) and New York University (MD). A board-certified pediatrician, he did his residency at CU. Following a two-years in the Public Health Service at the National Institutes of Health and the FDA, he joined the CU faculty in 1973. He returned to the Washington 1980 as a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow serving as a legislative assistant to Senator Dave Durenberger (R-MN). He has earned many honors in the field of child abuse and neglect, heading the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and neglect from 1988-1991. He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine and has authored over 145 original papers, chapters, editorials and thirteen books. He was Editor-in-Chief of Child Abuse and Neglect: the International Journal (1986-2001). He Co-Founded the National Foundation to End Child Abuse and Neglect in 2015.

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Josh Kumin

Events Coordinator
Josh Kumin
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Josh Kumin

Josh is the Events Coordinator for the Kempe Center. With a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Villanova University and as a current Master of Social Work student at Metropolitan State University of Denver, Josh brings a diverse background to his role. Throughout his career, he has supported the efforts of community-based nonprofits in Colorado, with a focus on event coordination, fundraising, partnership building, outreach, and staff development. He has previously held positions including Development Director, Marketing and Partnerships Manager, and University research consulting roles. 

Josh joined the Kempe Center in the Spring of 2022 and works to support the organization’s mission through his role by assisting and growing the Virtual Call to Action to Change Child Welfare Conference, Kempe Research Institute, Gary Melton Professorship, and Ignite Research Presentation event. He is passionate about the important work being done at the Kempe Center and is honored to be a part of it. Josh brings a collaborative and dedicated approach to his work and is dedicated to supporting the Kempe Center’s mission to improve the lives of children and families. 

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Adrian Lara, MS

Virtual Learning Specialist, CWTS
Adrian Lara, MS
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Adrian Lara, MS

Adrian comes to The Child Wefare Training System with multisystem experience and currently contributes as a Virtual Learning Specialist and Leadership Coach. 

A belief in the safety and well-being of children, change, and self-growth inspired Adrian to seek a life in the field of human services. His passion in his work is derived from an organic belief in people and a vision that systems can help to develop strong families and highly contributing generations of children. Adrian earned a BA in criminal justice through Colorado Mesa University. In the fall of 2016, he received his MS in criminal justice with specializations in the analysis of criminal behavior as well as the theory and practice of law enforcement and crime prevention.  

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can’t, you are right.
―Henry Ford

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Holly Laydon, BS, MA

Lead County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Holly Laydon, BS, MA
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Holly Laydon, BS, MA

Holly joined the team at the Kempe Center in October 2015 as the regional training specialist for the Southeastern Regional Training Center, located in Canon City, Colorado, where she facilitates the Fundamentals courses. Her focus is to provide the best possible training and education to new caseworkers to better serve the children and families of this great state.  

Holly has a bachelor’s in psychology as well as a master’s in clinical counseling. She brings many years of direct child welfare practice to the team. She worked across all child welfare teams during her nearly eight years in Fremont County and has experience and expertise in intake, ongoing, and in-home services for families. While in Fremont County, Holly served as supervisor of the intake team, the adult protection team, and the resource/therapeutic team.  She also coordinated, organized, and served as the agency representative for Fremont County’s Child Protection Team. In addition, Holly served on a variety of other joint committees with community partners, including the Combined Investigations Response Team and the ECHO Council for Early Childhood Programs in Fremont County.  

Every job is a self-portrait of the person doing it. Autograph your work with excellence.”
―Ted Key

Terri Lewis, PhD

Associate Professor, Associate Director for Institutional Education
Terri Lewis, PhD

Terri Lewis, PhD

Terri is an Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics. She received her PhD in developmental psychology from Bowling Green State University. She is currently the Associate Director for Institutional Education at the Kempe Center with faculty appointments in the department of Community and Behavioral Health and the Center for the Prevention of Injury and Violence. Her training and scholarly work have focused primarily on identifying methodologically rigorous study designs, data analysis, and program/project evaluation. Her content expertise has largely focused on outcomes of children and young adults with a history of maltreatment and other childhood adversities. Her 22 years of experience in this area have resulted in 45 publications, receipt of federal, state, and foundation grant funding, and successful collaborations with multidisciplinary team members. Publications can be found at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1B_Fldn6_bQQk/bibliography/public/

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Anita Horner, MS

Co-Director for FGDM, Senior Instructor, Practice Advancements Manager
Anita Horner, MS
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Anita Horner, MS

Anita Horner is Co-Director of the Kempe Center’s National Center on Family Group Decision Making, Senior Instructor, and Practice Advancements Manager at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect, at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in Denver. She has worked in child welfare for more than 26 years. Anita provides training, consultation, coaching and technical assistance in Family Group Decision Making (FGDM) program implementation and practice to service providers in child welfare, youth justice, tribal communities, and others serving children and families both nationally and internationally, in locations including Ontario, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Bermuda, New Zealand, and Taiwan. Additionally, she is a council representative with the Child Welfare Truth-Telling Collective. Previously Anita worked in child welfare in direct practice as a Social Caseworker, FGDM Coordinator and Social Casework Supervisor. Anita (she/her) identifies as a white-coded Native and is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and a daughter of the Muscogee Creek Nation.

Daniel Lindberg, MD

Professor, Emergency Physician
Daniel Lindberg, MD

Daniel Lindberg, MD

Dan is an emergency physician and child abuse consultant with the child protection team. He works with the Kempe Center to conduct multi-center network research to improve the recognition and care of child physical abuse.  Dan Lindberg has previously led two of the largest prospective networks to study testing and treatment for children with concern for child physical abuse. The Using Liver Transaminases to Recognize Abuse (ULTRA) and Examining Siblings To Recognize Abuse (ExSTRA) research networks determined best practices for several types of occult injury testing, and brought attention to the fact that violence often affects a family rather than a single child. He completed his residency in general emergency medicine, and fellowship in child abuse pediatrics at the University of Cincinnati. As chair of the CAPNET Steering Committee, Dr. Lindberg seeks to facilitate the use of CAPNET data across multiple projects, and to foster the development of junior, mid-career and senior investigators who focus on child maltreatment. For more information, please see capnetresearch.org.

Allison Malen, MSW

Director of Training and Fidelity, FHF
Allison Malen, MSW

Allison Malen, MSW

Allison Malen is the Director of Training and Fidelity for Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF), which is an evidence-based, preventive intervention for children with current or previous child welfare involvement due to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). In this role, Allison provides training and consultation to implementing sites, tracks and monitors program fidelity, and reviews and updates program curricula and manuals. 

Allison earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology and Organizational Studies from the University of Michigan and her Master’s in Social Service Administration (MSW) from the University of Chicago.  Her passion lies in working with youth and youth-serving programs to ensure that young people have the resources, relationships, supports, and opportunities to thrive and reach their goals. Following graduate school, Allison spent eight years with Colorado Youth for a Change (CYC). At CYC, Allison started out providing direct support to high school students and then moved into roles managing staff and leading planning, implementation, evaluation, and daily operations of programs. Allison’s experience working with youth spans many settings and diverse populations, including crisis line counseling and skill building at youth shelters, HIV/STI testing at a youth health center, and working with students at in-school and after-school programs.

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Michelle Mares, MS

Foster Kin & Adopt Family Learning Manager, CWTS
Michelle Mares, MS
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Michelle Mares, MS

Michelle Mares is a recognized faculty member of the University of Colorado School of Medicine as Instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Kempe Center. She is also recognized as an active faculty member for CRR Global, LLC, a systems coaching organization.   

Michelle oversees the foster, kin, and adoptive parent training department for Colorado’s Child Welfare Training System.  She has spent more than 28 years working with children and families in various capacities of familial and educational support; over five years specifically with Colorado’s child welfare.  

Michelle is responsible for writing and facilitating the state-wide curriculum for the educating and training of foster, kin, and adoptive parents. She is responsible for ensuring the skills and strategies for parents who foster and offer kinship care for children and youth in crisis. 

Michelle is a global coach who trains other professional coaches, from across the globe, on specific coaching curriculums and systems strategies. She is a certified Organization, Relationship and System coach and is a life-long Colorado resident. 

Michelle received her B.A. from Metropolitan State College of Denver with a double major in Speech Communications and Psychology. She attended Regis University and received her master’s degree in business management, Organizational Leadership, with endorsements of Strategic Business Management and Executive Leadership.    

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Kendall Marlowe, MA, JD

Legal Learning Manager
Kendall Marlowe, MA, JD
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Kendall Marlowe, MA, JD

Kendall is the legal learning manager for CWTS and faculty instructor for the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Kempe Center. He loves helping the child welfare workforce understand how to use the law to produce better outcomes for vulnerable children and their families. 

Kendall served as executive director of the National Association of Counsel for Children and as deputy director and bureau chief of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. He holds a master’s from the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, where he received the Wilma Walker Honor Award, and a JD and certificate in child and family law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law, where he was an Honorary Child Law Fellow. His direct service experience includes working with homeless and aging-out youth on Chicago’s south side. As a writer and editor, he was responsible for the weekly blog Children, Families and the Law and oversaw the publishing of the third edition of Child Welfare Law and Practice, the leading national treatise on child welfare law. 

Kendall grew up in a family that welcomed six foster youth, and as an adult he has been a foster and adoptive parent.  

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Chris Mason, LISW

Co-Director, Rocky Mountain MST Network
Chris Mason, LISW
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Chris Mason, LISW

Chris (he/him) is the Co-Director of the Rocky Mountain MST Network at the Kempe Center for Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. Chris works with provider agencies, funders, and referral sources to support the development and sustainability of Multi-Systemic Therapy programs within the states of New Mexico, Arizona, and Washington. In addition to his role as Co-Director of RMM, Chris directly supports the clinical implementation of the model as an MST Expert. Chris earned his Master’s in Social Work at New Mexico State University and has previously worked as an MST therapist, supervisor, and program manager.  

Chris has lived in Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Oregon before moving to San Antonio, TX in 2021 with his wife and daughter. In his free time, Chris collects vinyl records, plays in bands, reads, and explores nature.  

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Lauren McCarthy, PhD, LCSW

Berger Fellow
Lauren McCarthy, PhD, LCSW
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Lauren McCarthy, PhD, LCSW

Lauren is the Berger Fellow at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. Lauren received her doctorate from the University of Maryland School of Social Work, where she completed her dissertation on pathways to residential treatment for child welfare involved youth using a developmental lens. Prior to her PhD, Lauren enjoyed a clinical career providing in-home family therapy to youth in Philadelphia. Lauren’s research interests lie in understanding how to promote equitable access to quality mental health care for all children and their families to reduce the need for residential treatment for youth. Outside of work, Lauren enjoys running and exploring the Rocky Mountains.  

One of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone.”
―Bell Hooks

Leah Mencin, BA

Senior Instructor, SafeCare Colorado
Leah Mencin, BA

Leah Mencin, BA

Leah is a faculty Senior Instructor for the University of Colorado School of Medicine, at the Kempe Center. Leah feels fortunate to have enjoyed a rich career at the Kempe Center, starting her work here as a college intern at the Kempe Therapeutic Preschool, and now to her current position as a state-wide trainer, coach and site manager for SafeCare Colorado.  Leah is passionate about the power of prevention services for children and families and believes all families can grow and thrive with the right support. 

Leah is a Denver, CO native, and attended Boston University, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology.  A lifelong learner and student, Leah completed her master’s level Certificate in Public Health Sciences at the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado. 

Outside of work, Leah proudly dedicates her time to coaching and watching her son and daughter compete in various sporting events across Colorado, enjoying adventures with friends and family, traveling internationally, cheering for the Colorado Avalanche, and has enjoyed returning to downhill skiing after a decade long hiatus.  

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Lisa Merkel-Holguin, MSW

Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Co-organizer, Together in Truth; and Co-Director, National Center on Family Group Decision Making
Lisa Merkel-Holguin, MSW
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Lisa Merkel-Holguin, MSW

Impact Areas, Programs and Projects: Family Group Decision Making, Together in Truth, Differential Response, Call to Action Conference, QIC-WD, Child Maltreatment Epidemiology

Lisa has 30 years of experience in identifying, developing, and implementing transformative changes to child welfare systems. Two of these most prominent reforms are family group decision making and differential response, both which humanize the child welfare system, give professionals the opportunity to build helping relationships with families and organize services to meet their needs, and position families as leaders. With her expertise in implementation and capacity building, she has supported the installation of numerous evidence-based and -informed innovations and traditional practices in child welfare agencies in over 40 states and a number of Canadian provinces. Most recently, she launched the Kempe Center’s Call to Action to Change Child Welfare, the first international conference of its kind encouraging courageous conversations and eliciting solutions that mobilize and recognize child, family and community leadership. As part, she is convening an international community of practice to challenge issues of racism, sexism, classism, oppression and othering that are deeply embedded in formal child welfare systems across the world. In partnership with communities, she and her colleagues at PaleBlue are launching an international child welfare truth telling initiative. 

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Amy Montoya, BS

County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Amy Montoya, BS
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Amy Montoya, BS

Amy started her CWTS journey in July 2017 as the regional learning coordinator at the Northeast Regional Training Center. Amy is passionate about helping caseworkers transfer their learning to their practice using a solution-focused, strength-based, culturally inclusive approach.  

Amy earned her bachelor’s in human development and family studies with a minor in anatomy and neurobiology at Colorado State University. She began her child welfare practice in 1997 through CASA as an assistant director of Harmony House visitation center. In 2002, Amy transitioned to the Larimer County Department of Human Services in the Children, Youth and Families Division. In her 15 years with Larimer County, she held many positions, from case aide to parent education facilitator, from ongoing to HRA intake to FAR intake. Most notably, in her last five years she was a practice coach for the agency,  supporting new caseworkers with transfer of learning from the classroom to their daily work as well as supporting veteran staff with deepening their practice. In addition, Amy was a part of the Colorado Differential Response rollout and statewide training. She is a two-time presenter at the Kempe Center National Conference on Differential Response in Child Welfare.  

In Amy’s downtime, you will likely find her near water—if not on her boat then in the ocean scuba diving. She can also be found tending her vegetable garden or in her kitchen creating culinary masterpieces that she will likely be the only one eating, as her sons and husband are not as adventurous eaters as she. Amy is a great listener and wants to support all around her to be their best.

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
―Thich Nhat Hanh

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Sheila Ornelas

Learning Experience Coordinator, CWTS
Sheila Ornelas
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Sheila Ornelas

Sheila Ornelas is proud to be a learner experience coordinator for the CWTS; her responsibilities include the coordination and training logistics for Kempe CWTS courses. Sheila’s goal is to provide a pleasant experience and helpful hand to learners in the learning management system. 

Early in her career, Sheila worked in the child welfare field in the Jefferson County Intake Unit. There she witnessed true superheroes in action and was inspired by their bravery and dedication to children. Later, Sheila served in an administrative role with Denver Adult Probation for nine years before joining the CWTS team, where she feels privileged to be a contributing team member. 

Sheila is a proud Colorado native who enjoys spending time with her family and is the mother of a beautiful daughter. In the cooler months, Sheila enjoys football, scary movies, and trying new recipes. In the summer months, life is an adventure of road trips, concerts, and time well spent in Steamboat Springs.

“We rise by lifting others.”
―Robert Ingersol

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Rebecca Orsi-Hunt, PhD

Associate Research Professor
Rebecca Orsi-Hunt, PhD
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Rebecca Orsi-Hunt, PhD

Impact Area, Programs and Projects: Quality Improvement Center on Workforce Development, Child Maltreatment Epidemiology

Becky is an Associate Research Professor of Pediatrics at CU School of Medicine, with a secondary appointment in the Colorado School of Public Health (Epidemiology). She conducts research and large-scale evaluation supporting the reform of child protective service (CPS) systems. Her research interests include:  improved outcomes for children involved with CPS systems — both permanency and well-being, reducing secondary traumatic stress and turnover in the CPS workforce and methods for child maltreatment epidemiological research. Dr. Orsi-Hunt has been a member of the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (ISPCAN) since 2016 and is involved with the ISPCAN Working Group for Child Maltreatment Data Collection. Becky enjoys active collaborations with researchers in Social Work, Public Health, and Medicine. She brings to her work a passion for the thoughtful and just use of data and lived experience as parent by birth and adoption. 

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Lasy Phanthalangsy-Johnson

Communications & Marketing Coordinator
Lasy Phanthalangsy-Johnson
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Lasy Phanthalangsy-Johnson

Lasy (Lossy) is the Communications and Marketing Coordinator for the Kempe Center at CU Anschutz Medical Campus. She is a first-generation college graduate and earned her B.S. in Strategic Communication with a minor in Broadcast Journalism at the University of Utah. Prior to graduating, Lasy was a Staff Writer for the Daily Utah Chronicle at the University of Utah and a Digital Media Editor Intern for Inergize Digital at the ABC4 news station in Salt Lake City, Utah. Previously, she was Multi-Unit Marketing Manager for Sodexo, USA at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Lasy played a vital role in collaborating with the university during the 2020 Presidential Debate. 

Lasy joined Kempe in the Spring of 2022 and supports with the marketing and communications strategic goals to amplify the visibility of the Center through multiple media platforms. She develops co-branded communication initiatives with community partners to enhance Kempe’s mission awareness and global outreach. Lasy enjoys exploring the outdoors, traveling overseas and dining at exotic restaurants from around the world with her husband. As a former mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS), she is passionate about helping others, particularly children, aiming to support them in leading a healthy and rewarding life.

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Kari Phillipps, MEd

Senior Support Manager, CWTS
Kari Phillipps, MEd
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Kari Phillipps, MEd

Kari joined the CWTS team in November 2017. Serving in an administrative and systems support role, Kari is a member of the learner experience team and oversees various projects and tasks that ultimately serve the greater mission of the organization. 

Kari graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education in 1997 from the University of Mary, followed by her master of education from Northern Arizona University in 2005.  She began her career as a middle-school English teacher and coach, later transitioning to roles in  collegiate student services, office management, and program coordination. A native of Montana, she currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona, with her family.  

In her free time, Kari can be found experimenting with new recipes, watching a good movie, or spending quality time with her husband and children.

“Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.”
―Walter Elliot

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Cory Robbins, MSW

MST Expert, Rocky Mountain MST Network
Cory Robbins, MSW
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Cory Robbins, MSW

Cory (he/him), is a Multisystemic Therapy (MST) Expert with the Rocky Mountain MST Network at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. Cory works directly with agencies, supervisors, and therapists that implement MST in Washington state, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. Cory oversees their fidelity and implementation of the MST model and provides oversight and support for their teams. He earned his Bachelor of Sociology with a minor in Business Administration from Hartwick College in upstate New York and his Master’s in Social Work from Columbia University in New York City. Cory was an MST therapist and supervisor in the Bronx working for the New York Foundling for 7 years before accepting his current position and moving to Aurora. Cory enjoys the challenge of MST and working with the most at risk and underserved youth and families in each of the communities he oversees. Cory has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Connecticut, upstate New York, and New York City before moving west. He is an avid Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan (since ’98, before Brady), loves Snowboarding, lacrosse, soccer, being active, and his goldendoodle River.  

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Kayla Rockwell, MPH

Professional Research Assistant
Kayla Rockwell, MPH
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Kayla Rockwell, MPH

Kayla is a Professional Research Assistant at the Kempe Center within the Colorado University School of Medicine. She supports program evaluation and research on systems of child welfare. She has six years of experience working directly with youth, many of whom were involved in the child welfare system. She enjoys working with qualitative and quantitative data and learning more about the process of research and program evaluation. She is currently working towards a Masters of Public Health degree. 

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Laura Rosenhahn, FNP

Instructor, Family Nurse Practitioner, CPT
Laura Rosenhahn, FNP
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Laura Rosenhahn, FNP

Laura is an instructor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. She is board-certified as a family nurse practitioner and works with the child protection team at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Colorado Springs. As a consultant, she sees various forms of child maltreatment and has developed a passion to improve the recognition and care for children in the area of child maltreatment while delivering family centered and trauma informed care. Her interests outside of work include traveling, skiing, camping, and a love for big dogs.   

Alyssa Showers, MA

MST Expert, Rocky Mountain MST Network
Alyssa Showers, MA

Alyssa Showers, MA

Alyssa is a Multisystemic Therapy (MST) Expert with the Rocky Mountain MST Network at the Kempe Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Child Abuse and Neglect. Alyssa works directly with agencies, supervisors, and therapists that implement MST in Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico.  

Alyssa oversees their fidelity and implementation of the MST model and provides oversight and support for their teams. Alyssa was born and raised in Denver, Colorado and attended college at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, MO where she played college volleyball. She completed her Master’s in Professional Counseling in 2014, and re-located to Flagstaff, AZ to do trauma therapy with youth and their families on the reservations. In 2015, she moved to Phoenix, AZ where she worked directly with youth who were removed from home and dis-placed. In 2018, she had to opportunity to build an MST program from the ground up and supervise a team. In 2021 she transitioned into the MST Expert Role.  

Her passion and mission are to keep youth in their homes and out of the system.  In her free time she loves traveling, and spending time with family and friends.  

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Andrew Sirotnak, MD

Professor, Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs, Associate Program Director of Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship
Andrew Sirotnak, MD
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Andrew Sirotnak, MD

Andrew is a Professor, Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs and Associate Program Director of Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. He is board certified in Pediatrics and Child Abuse Pediatrics and is the Director of the Child Abuse Pediatrics Fellowship Program. At Kempe and Children’s Hospital Colorado, his 30 -year career as clinician and educator has been dedicated to the field of child maltreatment and a personal mission of delivering family centered and trauma informed care. He lectures extensively about child abuse and neglect to a wide range of university and community audiences and participates in Child Fatality Prevention and Review at the state level in Colorado.

In his leadership role as Vice Chair for Faculty Affairs, he provides a venue for confidential support, career satisfaction counseling, faculty coaching and oversees the departmental initiatives in mentoring, faculty development, and annual performance reviews. National service has included work with the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Board of Pediatrics. Local community service and support commitments have included organizations helping domestic violence victims and to those providing children access to the visual and performing arts.   

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Brandon Smith

IT Specialist, CWTS
Brandon Smith
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Brandon Smith

Brandon is the IT specialist for CWTS. He enjoys this position because it allows him to use a wide array of his tech skills, like assisting in the creation of web content and maintaining CWTS’s ever-growing library of equipment.  

Brandon is originally from the Finger Lakes region of New York, where most of his family still resides. He is a trained chef, having worked in the restaurant industry since leaving high school. In 2006, he moved to Colorado with his wife so that she could attend the University of Denver. Brandon has also always had a passion for technology, and after moving to Colorado he decided to focus his skills in the tech field and returned to school. He studied software engineering at DeVry University, focusing on game design. Brandon leveraged his technology affinity into a contracting business that included clients like the American Humane Association and many smaller local businesses around Colorado and New York. From network administration to Web design, media production to coding and robotics, he has a vast interest in anything electronic.  

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Mary Smith, RN, BSN, SANE-A

Nurse & Care Coordinator for CPT & KIDS
Mary Smith, RN, BSN, SANE-A
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Mary Smith, RN, BSN, SANE-A

Mary is a registered nurse and care coordinator for the Child Protection Team and the Kids In Care Settings Clinic, at Children’s Hospital Colorado. In her seven years at Children’s Hospital Colorado, Mary has worked in both Urgent Care and the Emergency Department, is a member of the SANE team, and has now found her dream position fighting for those children who need her expertise the most. Both the Child Protection Team and KICS Clinic are partnerships between the Kempe Center and Children’s Hospital Colorado, allowing Mary the opportunity to bring the global perspective of work Kempe does to the local team at Children’s, as well as share the pulse of local childhood trauma to the broader work that Kempe leads. As a care coordinator, she works closely with patients, families (birth, foster, and kinship-placed), multi-disciplinary care teams, outside welfare agencies, schools, community resources, and many others to ensure we deliver patient-centered, family-focused, trauma-informed care for every patient, every time.  

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Carolyn Sobczak, MA

Writing & Communications Specialist, CWTS
Carolyn Sobczak, MA
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Carolyn Sobczak, MA

Carolyn serves as the writing and communications specialist on the CWTS team at the Kempe Center. She earned a BA in English and psychology from Carroll College and an MA in English at Indiana University (IU). She taught composition at IU and Red Rocks Community College, working in five years of bookselling at Barnes & Noble along the way. After attending the Denver Publishing Institute (DPI) in 2005, she joined the staff at Fulcrum Publishing, a nonfiction publishing company, and worked her way up the editorial ladder, from associate editor to managing editor. In 2012, she transitioned to project editor at Perseus Books Group, where she worked with Running Press, Da Capo Press, and Westview Press. She joined the CWTS staff in 2016.  

Emily Stern, MA, LPC

Program Coordinator, TRIP
Emily Stern, MA, LPC

Emily Stern, MA, LPC

Emily Stern is the Program Coordinator for Kempe’s Trauma-Responsive Implementation and Practice program. She had previously worked for Denver Public Schools as a Professional School Counselor for elementary aged students. Emily is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Certified Addictions Specialist, and a National Board-Certified Counselor through which she has expanded her knowledge of counseling, trauma-responsive services and resources for youth and adults.  Emily’s childhood was spent in Alexandria, Virginia which is about 10 minutes from Washington D.C. She graduated with a B.A in History of Art from the University of Michigan and an M.A. in School Counseling from Argosy University in Sarasota, Florida. After living in Miami, Florida for 8 years she had the opportunity to move to Denver, CO and live close to her entire family, who had all moved here! In her free time, she enjoys reading historically based fiction, spinning on her Peloton, cooking, making cake-pops and spending time with her two sons, husband (Jeremy Stern) and their energetic Wheaten Terrier.  

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Heather Taussig, PhD

Program Director, FHF
Heather Taussig, PhD
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Heather Taussig, PhD

Heather is a professor who holds joint appointments at the Kempe Center and the University of Denver’s Graduate School of Social Work. Trained as a clinical psychologist, Dr. Taussig’s research focuses on developing and testing prevention programming for young people who have experienced adversity and child welfare involvement. She developed and directs the Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF) program, an evidence-based mentoring and skills training program, which is now being disseminated through community-based organizations. Dr. Taussig conducted a 10-year longitudinal study of youth in foster care and is currently examining outcomes for youth and young adults across a host of domains. She is committed to using positive youth development strategies, especially mentoring, to empower youth to foster their own healthy futures. Dr. Taussig serves on several national review panels as well as on the Research Board of the National Mentoring Resource Center. She served on Colorado Governor Ritter’s Task Force on Foster Care, is an awardee for her research from the International Society for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect, and conducted a 2021 Fulbright Scholar Award at Cardiff University in Wales, UK. 

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Maritza Villagomez, BA

Learner Experience Coordinator, CWTS
Maritza Villagomez, BA
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Maritza Villagomez, BA

Maritza is grateful to be employed in her role as a learner experience coordinator for the CWTS. As a learner experience coordinator, Maritza manages the coordination of all training logistics. 

Maritza grew up in Colorado, where she earned her bachelor’s in digital media studies at the University of Denver. Upon graduation, she began her career with a nonprofit organization, where she acquired much of her professional expertise. Maritza has a strong inner drive and sense of commitment. She values kindness and enjoys bringing out the best in others. 

Maritza loves to read; two of her favorite authors are Eckhart Tolle and Karen Armstrong.

“The great task of our time is to build a global society, where people can live together in peace.”
―Karen Armstrong

 

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Julia Wagenaar, MBA

Business Coordinator, Rocky Mountain MST Network, MST-Telehealth pilot
Julia Wagenaar, MBA
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Julia Wagenaar, MBA

Julia (she/her) is the MST Coordinator at the Kempe Center, primarily providing program and project management for the business operations of the Rocky Mountain MST Network. Julia joined Kempe in 2021 and enjoys creating structure and problem solving for the team to enhance efficiency, streamline processes and stay organized. What inspires Julia about working at Kempe is having the ability to use her professional experience to support teams that are actively transforming systems to support youth and families in the community.   

Julia earned a BSBA in Marketing and MBA with a nonprofit management specialization from the University of Denver Daniels College of Business. Prior to joining the Kempe Center, Julia served as an academic advisor working with undergraduate students at the University of Denver and CSU-Global.  

A typical weekend for the Wagenaar family includes skiing, relaxed walks, and board games. You may even find Julia behind the lens of her camera, capturing memories for families through her business, Sweet Julia Photography. When Julia is not taking photos, you will find her trying out new recipes and restaurants or working on her next crafty project.  

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Carmelle Wallace, MD, MPH

Instructor/Fellow, Pediatrics-Emergency Medicine, CPT
Carmelle Wallace, MD, MPH
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Carmelle Wallace, MD, MPH

Carmelle is a fellow with the Child Protection Team. She is also an attending physician in Pediatric Emergency Medicine (PEM). She trained in pediatrics at UT Southwestern/Children’s Medical Center Dallas, then completed a combined PEM-global health fellowship at University of Pennsylvania/Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. She was on faculty at University of Alabama at Birmingham prior to coming to Colorado. She has worked in Zambia, Tanzania, Swaziland, South Africa, Laos, and India. Her academic interests are in the emergency department (ED) identification and support of vulnerable children, health care and child human rights, and expansion of Child Abuse Pediatrics capacity in rural and global health settings. She is passionate about public health, community-based, and mixed-methods approaches to studying these topics. Her prior published works explore child trafficking in the ED and globally.

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Nichole Wallace, MD

Clinical Medical Director, KIDS
Nichole Wallace, MD
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Nichole Wallace, MD

Board Certified in General Pediatrics and Child Abuse Pediatrics, Dr. Wallace is an associate professor of clinical pediatrics in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. In 2000, she received her MD degree from Brown University School of Medicine in Providence, Rhode Island. She then completed pediatrics residency training in 2003 at The University of Alabama – Birmingham. In 2005, Nichole completed a fellowship in Child Abuse Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine and then continued her work with OU until 2014 when she moved to Colorado. She is currently the medical director of the Child Protection Team at Children’s Hospital Colorado in Colorado Springs. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a member of the AAP Section on Child Abuse and Neglect. In addition to clinical care and working with children and families, Nichole’s professional interest is in medical teaching.  

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Stacy Walsh, MSW, LCSW

Coaching Program Manager, CWTS
Stacy Walsh, MSW, LCSW
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Stacy Walsh, MSW, LCSW

Stacy is a faculty instructor at the University of Colorado-Anschutz, and the coaching program manager for the CWTS. Stacy is a trained Co-Active and Organization and Relationship Systems coach. She believes coaching is a powerful tool for effecting change. Stacy provides individual and systems coaching, coordinates the Colorado Coaches Collaborative, and facilitates learning opportunities focusing on coach-like leadership.  

Stacy is from Florida and attended the University of Miami, earning a bachelor’s in health sciences and minor in sociology. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali, Stacy moved to Colorado and completed her MSW at the University of Denver. She is a licensed clinical social worker with expertise as an individual therapist, focusing on anxiety, depression, and trauma. 

 Stacy began her career in child welfare in 2011, serving as an intake caseworker, practice coach, and most recently supervisor in the field. Stacy is committed to lifelong learning about the impacts of privilege and oppression and working to advance equity in child welfare. 

Outside of work, Stacy enjoys being outside with her spouse, daughter, and dog. While she still misses the Florida beaches, skiing has helped her make it through winter in Colorado.   

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Robyn Wertheimer Hodas, LCSW

Co-Director of Programming & Dissemination, FHF
Robyn Wertheimer Hodas, LCSW
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Robyn Wertheimer Hodas, LCSW

Robyn is the Senior Director of Training for Fostering Healthy Futures (FHF), which is an evidence-based, preventive intervention for children with current or previous child welfare involvement due to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Robyn has worked for the FHF since 2004. During her time at FHF she has been responsible for training staff/interns, program development and dissemination efforts.   

In addition, to her current position at FHF, Ms. Wertheimer works in schools as a social emotional health specialist, working directly with children and training/implementing school staff in trauma informed practices.   

Her previous work included managing prevention and treatment programs for children and families who experienced trauma. In addition, she provided individual, group and family therapy in both day treatment and residential settings and provided clinical supervision for clinicians and graduate students. Ms. Wertheimer received her Master’s degree in social work from the University of Texas. 

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Jessica Wheeldon, MS

County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Jessica Wheeldon, MS
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Jessica Wheeldon, MS

Jessica is a regional learning coordinator for the CWTS. In this role, she facilitates Fundamentals courses with new caseworkers and supports connections with counties to continuously learn how CWTS can best meet their needs. Jessica relishes the opportunity to create a culture with new caseworkers that parallels the types of relationships we seek to build with the families we serve. Such relationships recognize and elicit participants’ unique contributions, abilities, and perspectives; establish safe places from which to learn, teach, and challenge each other; and prioritize thoughtful, intentional decision making together. 

Jessica has been working with youth and families in residential, community, and school-based settings since 1998. She transitioned into child welfare in 2007, when she became a caseworker in La Plata County. Several years later, she was first exposed to Differential Response (DR) practices, and she has been hooked ever since. Jessica co-facilitated the initial training when La Plata County rolled out DR in 2013; deepening the practice by inviting families’ wisdom and supporting workers’ rigor, balance, and morale have been her mission ever since. Jessica is trained in mediation and has a master’s degree in management and leadership to round out her child welfare–specific knowledge and experience.  

Michele White-Samuels

CARE Network/KIDS Coordinator
Michele White-Samuels

Michele White-Samuels

Michele White-Samuels thrives when collaborating with teammates toward the common goal of improving the lives of the people we serve. She has spent the last 24.5 years at Children’s Hospital Colorado Pediatric Infectious Disease in various positions and most recently, Grant Financial Manager/Operations Manager. Prior to that, Michele served as a Hospital Corpsman and Surgical Technologists in the United States Navy. During that same time, Michele earned her Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Metropolitan State College of Denver. Currently, Michele is pursuing her Master of Science in Health Informatics at the University of Denver with a concentration in Health Data Info & Analytics. She has deep ties to the Anschutz Campus, as her family was stationed here in 1981, when it was Fitzsimmons Army Medical Center. In her spare time, Michele has a passion for growing organic produce in her backyard garden, cooking, and spending time with family.

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Rachel A Wilson, MEd

Data Engineer/Scientist
Rachel A Wilson, MEd
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Rachel A Wilson, MEd

Rachel is an Instructor of Pediatrics and the Data Scientist/Engineer for The Kempe Center. She received a BS in Psychology from Mercer University (Macon, GA) and a Master of Education (MEd) in Child Studies from Vanderbilt University (Nashville, TN). Her primary research interest is prevention of psychopathology among sexual and gender minorities; she has previously studied this topic in relation to peer victimization and now studies it in relation to child abuse and neglect. Trained in the Tidyverse in R, she spends most of her time transforming child welfare data so that they are useable for analysis.

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Sevie Winkeljohn, BA

Senior Administrative Professional & Learning Series Coordinator
Sevie Winkeljohn, BA
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Sevie Winkeljohn, BA

Sevie (she/her) received a BA in Psychology with an emphasis in Social Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University. She is the Senior Administrative Professional for the Child Protection Team, the clinical aspect of The Kempe Center through Children’s Hospital Colorado. She also serves as the coordinator for the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Pediatric Forensic Nurse Examiner learning series. These roles provide an intersection for her administrative support skills and her passion for advocacy for the prevention and treatment of child abuse and neglect.

Originally from Oklahoma, Sevie has also enjoyed the opportunity to live and work in New Mexico, California, Washington, and Colorado, which has been home since 2005. She enjoys trying new foods, exploring new places, and traveling with her family in her free time. Her other interests include volunteering, reading (especially mysteries, psychological thrillers, and historical fiction), online courses, golfing, and spending time with her family, friends, and pets. Favorite fictional character: Nancy Drew. Favorite inspirational quote: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” – Theodore Roosevelt 

Lisa Wubbena

Lisa Wubbena, BA, MA, MS

Instructional Designer, CWTS
Lisa Wubbena, BA, MA, MS
Lisa Wubbena

Lisa Wubbena, BA, MA, MS

Lisa is an instructional designer at CWTS, where she develops WBT and LMS courses, designs information graphics, and supports instructional development needs. She is excited to be part of the CWTS team!  

Lisa brings nearly thirty years of professional service in the creative, training, and education fields to CWTS. Lisa earned her bachelor’s in English from Florida State University and her first master’s in educational media from Indiana State University. She was a middle school media specialist and video production teacher for seven years before completing a second master’s degree in instructional systems from Florida State University. Upon graduation, she entered the field of instructional design with the Florida Department of Children and Families. Missing direct interactions with youth, Lisa returned to teaching for seven more years, where she branched out into yearbook production, graphic design, Web design, and gifted education. Lisa has worked as an independent consultant since 2006 and has provided senior instructional design and graphic design services for federal, state, and commercial organizations. She has worked with child welfare agencies across the nation and has developed more than thirty instructor-led and Web-based training courses for foster parents, caseworkers, supervisors, child protective investigators, and licensing specialists.  

Corine Zakaria, BS

County Learning Coordinator, CWTS
Corine Zakaria, BS

Corine Zakaria, BS

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” —Marcus Aurelius 

Corine Zakaria, BS, rejoined the CWTS team in 2023 as a medium-county learning coordinator. She originally began working with CWTS as a Fundamentals facilitator in 2013, leaving in 2016 to spend more time with her family. She is excited to be back facilitating learning for new caseworkers. She aims to create an engaging, safe, and comfortable environment for learners so that they leave with more strengths-based, solution-focused interventions to work with the families they serve.  

Corine earned her bachelor’s in human development and family studies from Colorado State University. She started her career in child welfare in 2006 as an intake specialist, taking hotline calls, in Larimer County. After a couple of years, she transitioned to intake worker in Larimer County’s after-hours unit, where she spent more than ten years working with families. During this time, she became very passionate about strengths-based and solution-focused interviewing techniques and was inspired by seeing the difference these techniques could make with families.  

Outside of work, Corine enjoys being active and spending time with her family and friends. As a certified Pure Barre teacher, she enjoys both teaching and taking Pure Barre classes in her spare time, and she is also in the process of becoming a certified yoga teacher. Corine’s two children are very busy with sports, and you will most likely find her on some sports field every weekend, cheering on her children.