National Directory of Trained Adoption Competency Professionals
C.A.S.E. created the accredited Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) program to train more than 1800 mental health therapists nationwide from 18 different states. Adoptive, kinship and foster families across the country can now search by state to find mental health professionals who have the specialized skills to address your unique needs.
Heather Quinn is a seasoned event management and marketing professional with over 20 years of experience in a broad range of functional areas including project management, operations and logistics, venue negotiations, marketing and promotional campaigns, sponsorship sales and fulfillment, and staff and volunteer management.
She has a proven ability to facilitate successful projects and events of any scale from thought leadership summits to the 1999 Women’s World Cup, professional tennis (Davis Cup and senior men’s tour) and golf tournaments (LPGA), concerts featuring national talent and other fundraising events.
Heather graduated from Brown University with a degree in Political Science. Heather is an adoptive mother of 2 children. She is active in her children’s school community at Georgetown Day School, where she serves on several committees.
Padmini Mahurkar is the former President of the World Bank Family Network, a unit of the World Bank Group.
She is a seasoned leader having spent the last 6 years in collaborating and network building at the World Bank to ensure the smooth transition of families from other nations to settle in the United States. She developed and sustained partnerships with senior management to ensure the representation of the 5000+ members of the organization. She is skilled in leading and motivating teams of people from diverse backgrounds that have relocated across the globe.
Her role entailed supporting survivors of domestic abuse as well advocating for them. She was involved in promoting the professional interests of dependent partners within the World Bank. Leaving her career in academics behind, Padmini relocated 7 times across the globe making her adept at adapting and assimilating with different cultures.
Prior to this role, Padmini has worked in academics in Manila, New York and Mumbai. She has a Masters in Economics from Mumbai University and a Masters in Finance from London University and currently enrolled in the University of Maryland for her Masters in Social Work.
Richard K. Devaney has over 35 years of institutional experience in the investment, development and operations of multifamily housing and commercial real estate. In 2015, Mr. Devaney, along with two other seasoned multifamily rental lending professionals, launched EagleBank’s FHA Multifamily Lending Division. This business a significant contributor to the bank’s profitability along with socially responsible investment strategies. Devaney has also overseen several new investment initiatives on behalf of EagleBank which are accretive to the bank’s overall strategic plan.
From 2006 up through 2015, Mr. Devaney co-founded Crossbeam Capital an institutional real estate investment advisor and launched its first private equity real estate fund in 2007. As Chairman and CEO, Mr. Devaney had comprehensive company responsibilities for investment strategy, capital markets, portfolio and asset management, and investor relations while having over $1 billion in assets under management.
Prior to forming Crossbeam Capital, Mr. Devaney served as National Vice President for Equity and Mezzanine Debt Investments with the American Communities Fund at Fannie Mae (“ACF”), and authored ACF’s five-year strategic plan.
From 2001 to 2006, Mr. Devaney managed a team that was primarily responsible for all of ACF’s equity investments, generating $971 million in investments over 188 transactions, spanning 40,504 units, with a total market capitalization in excess of $5 billion.
Prior to joining Fannie Mae, Mr. Devaney was Senior Vice President of the Community Development Lending Division at the Bank of America. Mr. Devaney holds a B.A. from Belmont Abbey College, with majors in Economics and Business Administration.
He is presently the Vice Chair of C.A.S.E., a 501 (c) 3 – Center for Adoption Support and Education.
As an adopted person herself, Sara Traigle van Geertruyden serves on the Board Directors at C.A.S.E., and provides pro bono counsel to the organization on issues related to child welfare policy.
Sara joined as a Partner at Thorn Run Partners in 2011. She serves as the Executive Director of the Partnership to Improve Patient Care (PIPC), which is also chaired by former Congressman Tony Coelho, primary author of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Her work is focused on policies to advance a patient-centered health system, from patient engagement in research to driving outcomes that matter to patients in healthcare payment and delivery.
Sara is a healthcare and welfare policy expert with over 20 years of experience. She began her career on Capitol Hill, working for former Senator John Breaux (D-LA) from 1996-2003, first as a projects assistant handling Congressional appropriations and advising constituents on the federal grant process, and ultimately serving as a legislative assistant, overseeing Senate Finance Committee issues on health and welfare.
In 2003, she joined the law firm, Patton Boggs where she practiced in the public policy group handling regulatory and legislative issues related to health care, child welfare, and appropriations for clients. Sara has represented clients including hospital systems, pharmaceutical companies, healthcare provider associations and coalitions.
Sara was introduced to C.A.S.E. at Patton Boggs, where she began providing pro bono counsel to the organization. Her scope of work in health policy combines expertise in working with major health care and social services agencies, including the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the Administration for Children and Families, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.
Sara has a strong reputation on both sides of the political spectrum, having staffed Senator Breaux in his efforts to pass legislation that he championed with former Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) to modernize the Medicare program in his efforts to raise bipartisan ideas for health reform and re-authorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
Sara received her Bachelor’s Degree from Wake Forest University and earned her juris doctor at the Catholic University Columbus School of Law.
Susan LaVigna, LCSW-C serves clients via telehealth throughout the state of Maryland. She has been providing individual, group, and family therapy to children, teens, and adults for over 10 years. She received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland. Susan holds a certification in Adoption Competent Therapy from the University of Maryland as well. Her expertise includes adoptee identity issues, grief and loss, anxiety, and ADHD. She has a special interest in working with teens. In addition to extensive training in adoption issues, she brings to her work the personal perspective of being an adult adopted person.
Uma S. Ahluwalia is a respected healthcare and human services professional with extensive experience leading key growth initiatives in demanding political and legislative environments.
She is an expert in delivering innovative, reliable, cost-effective solutions and public policy strategies that improve operations and productivity.
Prior to joining HMA, she served as director of the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services in Maryland. During her 12-year tenure she led implementation of the Affordable Care Act, oversaw the move to a more integrated and interoperable health and human services enterprise, and managed public-private partnerships and programs.
Montgomery County, Maryland was one of the few jurisdictions, where there was a nationally recognized model for integrating public health with human services and behavioral health to address population health and wellbeing. This integration across both public and private agencies involved strong community based organization partnerships and innovative contracting models.
Uma’s work experience also includes leadership in Child Welfare as the interim director in the Child and Family Services Agency in Washington, DC and assistant secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services in the State of Washington for the Children’s Administration.
She has a master’s degree in social work from the University of Delhi in India and a specialist, post-master’s in health services administration from George Washington University. Over her 28-year career in human services, she has progressively moved from case-carrying social work to executive leadership at the state and local levels.
Aaron Schuham is the Associate General Counsel for the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Aaron has over 20 years’ experience in civil rights legal work. He joined HHS in 2015. Prior to serving in HHS, Aaron held numerous positions in the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice, including Chief of the Division’s Policy Section, Deputy Chief of the Employment Litigation Section and, earlier in his career, Senior Trial Attorney, also in the Employment Litigation Section.
He also served for several years in external civil rights community, as Legislative Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Aaron is a graduate of Stanford Law School, as well as Brown University, where he majored in Applied Mathematics. As Stanford, Aaron was an Associate Editor of the Stanford Law Review, and participated in a range of public interest legal activities. He clerked for the Honorable Judith W. Rogers, on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Aaron and his husband, Chris, have two children, both of whom they adopted at birth through open adoption processes. Aaron believes deeply in open adoption, and is proud to serve C.A.S.E. on its Board.
Abigail graduated from McDaniel College where she earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work. While at McDaniel, she worked as a direct support professional for more than two years with adults who had intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Additionally, she held an internship position for one year at the Child’s Advocacy Center in Frederick County, Maryland working closely with a multi-disciplinary team to address reports of child maltreatment.
She is currently pursuing her graduate degree at the University of Maryland – Baltimore School of Social Work. Abigail chose to intern at C.A.S.E. because she enjoys working with children and families and hopefully making a difference in their lives.
Agnes Leshner, Board Chair, 4 Montgomery’s Kids Former Director, Child Welfare Services, Montgomery County, Maryland is a Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) 2014 Star of Adoption.
Alex Hendricks is a Vice President & Sr. Manager for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at T. Rowe Price. He brings a broad and deep Human Resources & Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) background, driving human capital initiatives and DE&I programs in several roles over the past 10 years.
In his current capacity with T. Rowe he supports business leaders with the development and execution of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion priorities’ and supporting the goal of driving meaningful change and progress for the firm, while cultivating a culture of inclusivity of belonging.
Alex is experienced in inspiring change related to Human Capital and DE&I within an organization, leading corporate activities and strategies in these areas while showing the ability to build instant credibility and gain trust with stakeholders
He is an advocate for advancing diversity, equity and inclusion and strives to positively impact the lives of others. Alex graduated from Towson University in 2009 with Bachelor’s degrees in Sport Management and again in 2011 with a Master’s degree in Human Resource Development. He lives in Nottingham, MD with his wife Courtney and daughter Parker.
Amnoni Myers is a 2019 Star of Adoption!
Amnoni is a dynamic public speaker and child welfare advocate. A native of Boston, MA, Amnoni now resides in Sacramento, California where she is working with Forward Change Consulting as a Senior Research Associate.
In 2017, Amnoni received her Master of Public Administration degree from the National Urban Fellows Program. In this prestigious program, Amnoni was placed at the California Endowment located in Oakland, CA where she worked on The My Brother’s Keeper Initiative for young boys and men of color and other initiatives. Amnoni previously worked with the U.S. Children’s Bureau as a child welfare policy consultant as well as interning on both Capitol Hill, and The White House Domestic Policy Council helping influence policy. She received her undergraduate degree from Gordon College with a double major in Social Work and Sociology, and completed a Social Work and Peace and Conflict Studies Practicum in San Francisco, CA. Amnoni is passionate about traveling, playing Badminton, and taking time to Netflix and Chill.
What inspired Amnoni to contribute to Beneath the Mask was to help other young people understand and celebrate their unique identities instead of hiding behind their mask. Amnoni became a ward of the state at birth, and through her experiences in foster care she became committed to helping others break the cycle of poverty. She continues to advocate for the advancement of just polices for young people experiencing foster care and adoption.
Anapaula Ojeda, LPC, serves clients via teletherapy throughout the state of Virginia. Anapaula earned her Master of Education degree in Counseling and Development at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia with a specialization in Community Agency Counseling. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Anapaula has provided individual, family, and group therapy to children, adolescents, and adults. Most recently, she specialized in working with children and adolescents with a variety of mental health and substance abuse issues at a community services board. Anapaula has received training in Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT). She uses a strength-based approach and evidenced based treatment when working with clients. Anapaula was born in Peru and is fluent in Spanish.
Angela Tucker is a transracial adoptee based in Seattle, Washington.
Angela hosts The Adoptee Next Door podcast, has produced five short films and is the founder of the Adoptee Mentoring Society.
Anna Bower is a Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) 2015 Star of Adoption.
Anna was adopted from Russia in 2005 at age 8, along with her older brother. She is a senior at St. Vincent Pallotti High School in Laurel, a member of the National Honor Society, and a member of the Catholic Apostolate Union Leadership Team. Key areas of Anna’s leadership and accomplishment have been in athletics, community service, and music. Two of her four varsity years in soccer were as a team captain. She was twice selected to the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland’s All-Conference Soccer Team, and chosen by her coach as Most Valuable Player for 2013.
Anna has largely focused her 300 plus hours of community service to hunger and other special needs outreach, and to serving as toddler class Sunday School teacher at her church. As co-leader for her school’s hunger campaign to serve Washington D.C., she recently accepted, on the school’s behalf, the J.S. Mulholland Family Foundation’s award for the school’s top contribution. As clarinetist for her high school band, Anna’s many accomplishments included top honors in the county’s Secondary Solo and Ensemble Festival, and invited performance in the Catholic University of America’s High School Honor Band.
Anna’s future plans are to attend Anne Arundel Community College where she has signed a Letter of Intent for the women’s soccer team and to later transfer to the University of Maryland for a business degree.
Dr. Atkinson founded PolicyWorks, Ltd. in 1995 after having served as an administrator in school division and juvenile court settings and earlier in the field of child welfare. Experiences in assisting state officials led Dr. Atkinson to further expand the range of services of PolicyWorks, Ltd. from program evaluation and policy research to developing highly customized publications and training curricula designed to build the capacity of local policy makers and front-line professionals to implement effective, evidence-based practices.
Dr. Atkinson has been the lead evaluator of C.A.S.E. curricula, and hugely impactful in our ability to measure results and nationally disseminate.
Anthony Brown, Maryland Attorney General, Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) is a C.A.S.E. 2013 Star of Adoption.
Tony, a former foster youth and adoptee, was adopted by a same sex couple in the mid 1990’s. He writes about his experiences growing up as both an interracial adoptee and as a child growing up in a same sex headed household in his memoir “The Son With Two Moms.”
Today, Tony is an advocate for families like his, having served on the Board of Directors for organizations that serve to highlight adoptive families from diverse upbringings, and working with individual families in both pre and post adoptive placements. A thought leader in the field of adoption, Tony has been invited to be a speaker at conferences on adoption and foster care throughout the nation, especially those involving interracial placements.
Tony completed his Masters thesis in Sociology on the psychology of children within the same sex headed household in 2013, and in the fall of 2017 was awarded a full scholarship to begin his PhD studies in Language, Literacy, and Culture at the Univ. of Maryland Baltimore County, where he has begun work on his dissertation, which focuses on social connectedness among interracial adoptees.
In his time as Training Specialist at C.A.S.E, Tony has designed innovative training curriculums that help families and professionals respond to evaluation and assessment tools that encapsulate holistic pictures of adoptees and foster youth.
Note: This webpage contains affiliate links which means at no cost to you we will receive a small commission when you click and purchase a book through the link provided above. We only share resources we know and trust will give our viewers valuable information.
Ashley Garcia-Rivera is a Policy and Advocacy Fellow at the Center for Adoption Support and Education, where she advocates for the mental health needs of the foster care and adoptive community and adoption-competent therapy. Ashley is currently obtaining a Bachelor of Liberal Arts in Psychology and Philosophy at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte.
In 2013, she created a charity, Suitcases of Hope, dedicated to giving a large duffel bag to youth entering the foster care system. Ashley’s goal is to eliminate the use of trash bags.
Since 2016, Ashley has been part of the Speakers Bureau for AdoptUSKids and the Ad Council. Ashley shares her foster care and adoption journey to inspire others to adopt older youth through foster care. This past summer Ashley completed an internship with the National Adoption Association and AdoptUSKids. Ashley looks to bring a fresh perspective from her lived experiences to our ever-changing welfare system.
Avi joined C.A.S.E as Chief Operating Officer in 2022, to assist in the growth of the C.A.S.E. service portfolio. Avi brings nearly 20 years of experience in the Behavioral Healthcare Industry and has worked in both the public and private sectors, in direct care as well as in leadership.
He is passionate about reducing barriers to care, especially for specialized populations and areas, understanding that each population is unique; therefore, his work has focused on ensuring clinical approaches, staffing, administration, and education match the expectations and needs of each community served. This process creates a system where the communities receive best in class care while the programs gain the ability to grow its service offerings, again, benefiting the communities.
The dedicated focus to this value has led to successful implementations of open access systems of care, data informed growth, value-based care initiatives, program development, workflow enhancements, and electronic medical record deployments and optimizations.
Avi is originally from New York and graduated from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. His clinical work has focused on addiction treatment, out of control sexual behaviors, LGBTQ focused care, and crisis interventions. His administrative work has included both small- and large-scale operations in rural and high need areas as well as multi-state programs. He has managed and led both inpatient and outpatient programs. Avi is married, has three children, and a forever puppy golden retriever. He is currently living in Baltimore County and his hobbies include hiking with his family, fixing cars, woodworking with his kids, and aerospace.
Barb Franck, LCSW-C, serves clients through teletherapy throughout the states of Virginia and Maryland. She received her undergraduate degree in English and Art History from Florida State University. She earned her Master’s degree in American Studies from the University of Maryland, and her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. Barb has over 20 years’ experience working with youth and families, both as an adoption-competent therapist and as the former Clinical Director of an agency providing wraparound services to families raising children with emotional and behavioral challenges. She has extensive experience in the field of adoption and specializes in issues of grief and loss, identity, diversity, and transracial adoption. Barb is an adoptive mother of two.
Benjamin Owusu, PhD serves as the Learning Management System Administrator at the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E). Previously Benjamin served as a special education teacher and Instructional Designer. Benjamin has a great passion for online learning and designing instructions by incorporating artistic skills with instructional design models to create engaging and dynamic learning experiences for all learners.
Benjamin has over five (5) years of experience in providing learning solutions to federal and private institutions. He is well versed in ADDIE model implementation and has knowledge of the current literature, trends, and developments in instructional design and technology. Benjamin is proficient in using course authoring tools, Learning Management System (LMS), and has experience with SCORM and 508 Compliance.
Benjamin holds a master’s degree in education (Instructional Technology) from the University of Maryland Global Campus and is a current student at Liberty University studying Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Instructional Design and Technology.
Retired Associate Judge Beverly J. Woodard is an adoptive parent of one child. Now recently retired, she served as an Associate Judge in Prince George’s County, Maryland since 1998, first on the District Court bench for 10 years, and then moving up to Circuit Court in 2008. One of her initiatives has been to implement alternative programs to incarceration for offenders with alcohol, substance abuse, and mental health issues. She successfully launched a District Court Drug Court program and a Circuit Court Veterans Treatment program.
Before becoming a judge she worked in the Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Office as a prosecutor specializing in sexual assault and child abuse cases. Prior to that she was an Attorney Advisor for the U.S. Office of Consumer Affairs, Staff Attorney for the Neighborhood Legal Services Program in the District of Columbia and a Legislative Aide in the House of Representatives.
Judge Woodard’s passion has always centered around adoption issues. Since 2010 she has coordinated the National Adoption Day program for the Prince George’s County Circuit Court. She has always been appreciative of the role C.A.S.E. has played in the program in raising public awareness of the ever-growing need for adoptive homes for our most precious asset, children.
Judge Beverly Woodard graduated from Brown University with a major in Political Science and received her Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Michigan.
Dr. Bonni Goodwin is Assistant Professor at the University of Oklahoma (OU) Center for Child Welfare and Statewide Coordinator of Adoption Preservation Services of the Oklahoma Dept of Health and Human Services and Research Association for the Center for Child Welfare and Training Simulation.
In this role, Bonni conducts research and trains child welfare and mental health professionals on the unique and complex needs of children in foster care and those who have been adopted from state custody.
Bonni has proactively created awareness of the need for adoption competency within the state of Oklahoma and across the country and has been a leading force in bringing the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI) Training and Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) to her home state. Bonni’s research focus is on permanency through adoption and post-adoption support and services.
C.A.S.E. is currently working on a proposal with Bonni to pilot an intern project at OU as a template for the Demonstration and Teaching Clinic.
Bonnie Westfall is a Post Adoption Support Coach, Northern Post Adoption Consortium at Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.)
Brook Brownstein is a 2020 Star of Adoption!
Brook is 16 years old and attends Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. She moved from her foster home in Texas to her current home in Maryland at age 10. Adjusting to a new school, home, family, and even a new state was not always easy, but Brook did it with the kindness, humor, silliness, and huge heart that are her trademarks.
Brook is talented and creative; she enjoys performing in plays and dancing at her summer camps, writing stories and song lyrics, and drawing. She works with younger children at her synagogue and volunteers with kids at an art camp. Last year, she received special recognition for completing all of the community service hours required for high school graduation by the end of 8th grade. After much hard work and determination, she recently had her Bat Mitzvah, and everyone at this special event was deeply moved by the original prayer she wrote for children who have found their forever families through adoption.
Brooke Petersen, LCSW-C serves clients via teletherapy throughout the state of Maryland. Brooke earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, and her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. She received a post-graduate Adoption Certification from Rutgers University School of Social Work and also completed the TAC ™ training in 2021.
Brooke has over 10 years of clinical experience providing individual, family, and group psychotherapy to youth and their pre and post adoptive/kinship families. She has worked with children, teens, and adults within the school, community, and outpatient settings. Brooke’s experience also includes providing clinical and administrative supervision to a team of Adoption Support Therapists and facilitating case conferences as a Provider Partner for the New Jersey Department of Children and Families.
Brooke specializes in complicated grief and loss, complex trauma, and attachment. Her therapeutic approach is integrative, collaborative, and holistic with a strong emphasis on client empowerment. She has extensive training in several evidenced-based practices and modalities such as Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy (DDP), Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), Play Therapy, and Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). She often uses creative and expressive therapeutic interventions such as music, art, sand tray, and play therapy.
Carol Trawick, President, Jim and Carol Trawick Foundation is a Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) 2013 Star of Adoption.
Caroline Clarke is a 2017 Star of Adoption! Caroline is an award-winning journalist whose experience spans television, digital and print. At Black Enterprise, she has served in a succession of key roles including general manager, Interactive Media; senior editor and editor-at-large, Black Enterprise Magazine and host, Black Enterprise Business Report, a nationally syndicated television show. She was the visionary behind Black Enterprise Books, a publishing division in joint partnership with John Wiley & Sons. Currently, she serves as the managing director of the Women of Power Summit and host of the Women of Power TV Show.
Clarke has been the keynote speaker, mistress of ceremonies, or moderator for numerous organizations including Nationwide Bank, Morgan Stanley, American Express, National Urban League, Nashville Rotary Club, Women in Sports and Events, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Spence-Chapin Family Services, the YMCA, Council of Urban Professionals, Jumpstart, Jack and Jill of America, Columbia University Business School, George Washington University, The Links Inc., Smith College, and more.
An acclaimed author, Clarke’s memoir, Postcards from Cookie, highlights her own very personal story of adoption and reunion with her biological mother who, she was surprised to learn, was the daughter of musical legend Nat King Cole. Reviewed as “soulful,” “elegant,” and “splendid and soul-baring,” Postcards from Cookie was named Best Memoir of 2014 by Essence magazine.
An avid adoption and public schools advocate, she has served on non-profit boards including Spence-Chapin Family Services. She is currently a member of the Black Enterprise BRIDGE Foundation board and the Smith College Business Network, an advisory board to the president of her alma mater. She also continues her involvement with Spence-Chapin Family Services where she is a board member emeritus.
Clarke holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Smith and a master’s degree with honors from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She is the proud mother of a daughter and son.
This article contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to buy something when you click one, we may receive a small commission. We only offer honest, useful, and well-researched content and recommend products we believe in for our readers.
Casey earned her Master’s degree in Social Work from Rutgers University, and her Bachelor’s degree in Applied Sociology from Rowan University. She received a post-graduate Adoption Certification from Rutgers University School of Social Work. Casey has clinical experience providing individual, parent, and family counseling to youth and their foster or adoptive/kinship families as well as experience working in alternative and special schools. Her specialty is grief and loss and her therapeutic approach encompasses attachment focused, trauma informed care. The foundation of Casey’s work is built upon the family systems perspective with an emphasis on improving attunement and strengthening the family bond with the goal to create positive change within the family unit. Casey incorporates the youth’s hobbies and interests into sessions whenever possible and may include play and art activities as well as bibliotherapy.
Cheyenne is a 2019 Star of Adoption!
After a challenging early childhood, Cheyenne and her twin brother joined the Richmond family at the age of 7 as a foster care placement that turned into adoption just before their 10th birthday. Now 19 years old, Cheyenne is a full time college student pursuing a degree in Elementary Education while working part time at Orangetheory Fitness.
Active in school, church and community, Cheyenne is also very involved at home with the family where her three younger adopted brothers (ages 4, 5 and 6 years) look up to her and adore their time with her. In the past four months Cheyenne has managed to maintain her focus, school work, job and relationships while supporting her twin brother’s fight against a rare and aggressive cancer.
Cheyenne hopes to share her story and work with other kids who struggle with foster care and/or adoption and help them through similar struggles. A firm believer that your past shouldn’t stop you from accomplishing your dreams, Cheyenne is active in the foster and adoptive community and speaks at conferences and events to share her story and support others.
Chiara earned her Bachelor of Science in Women’s Studies from Towson University and her Master of Social Work from University of Maryland Baltimore. Her education and career have always focused on her passion for working with children and families and has been working in the field of foster care and adoption for over five years. Chiara has been working with C.A.S.E since November 2015. Before taking on the new role as Case Manager, Growing Together Campaign (GTC) Baltimore City, Chiara held the role of a Wendy’s Wonderful Recruiter and worked in our previous 3L program assisting foster youth who were aging out of the foster care system in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Chiara strongly believes that every child waiting to be adopted is adoptable. She values permanency, family and most importantly adoption. When Chiara worked with older youth aging out of foster care, she saw the negative impact and unfortunate outcomes of youth not having a permanent family and home of their own. She then vowed to advocate for every child and support their hopes and dreams.
In 2019, Chiara attended the adoption finalization celebration for one of her clients, 16-year-old Stephen. He was adopted by the family that had previously adopted his two biological brothers. Here is the heartwarming statement from Stephen on his adoption day: “This is an amazing day. I’m so happy. I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time. I’ve prayed for this day to come and its finally here. I just want to thank you Ms. Chi. Thank you for everything. You’re like family!”
Chris Van Hollen, U.S. Senate from Maryland is a Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) 2013 Star of Adoption.
Colleen Cordova’s goal is to use her work and life experience to make a difference for adoptive/foster children and their parents. Colleen is an experienced, innovative business leader having held various positions including General Management, Sales, Marketing, Finance and Acquisitions in Manufacturing working for Kennametal, GeneLogic, W.R.Grace, and Honeywell (AlliedSignal).
Colleen Cordova has over 30 years of senior leadership in manufacturing and held increasing P&L assignments within the last years with Kennametal, culminating in the job of Vice President and General Manager of Wear Components, a global business with nine plants around the world. In addition, she had several overseas assignments and was a dependent director for the Kennametal India Board (KIL). They in turn sponsored SPARSHA, an NGO dedicated to rescuing exploited children, working to give those children opportunities for comprehensive development and to discover their potential.
As a respected and successful leader in a global manufacturing organization, Colleen makes time to mentor female manufacturing employees. Additionally Colleen was a recipient of the 2013 Woman in Manufacturing STEP Award presented by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers and The Manufacturing Institute. Colleen has an MBA in International Marketing from the University of Richmond, a Masters of Chemical Engineering from Virginia Polytechnic University, and a Bachelors of Chemistry from Old Dominion University. She is the proud parent of a son and daughter and wants all children to be able to unlock their potential and find safe haven.
Courtney Carter is the Digital Marketing & Communications Manager for Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.). Courtney has led the digital growth of C.A.S.E.’s online brand since 2015 through development of the organization’s social media channels, website, online store and ongoing webinar series. She is an asset to all C.A.S.E. departments bringing technical knowledge and creativity to C.A.S.E.’s growing work in the field and digital space.
Courtney holds an Associate in Psychology from Howard Community College, Bachelor of Science in Family Studies from University of Maryland, College Park and Master of Science in Management, Marketing Specialization from University of Maryland Global Campus.
Daniel Leonard is a 2016 Star of Adoption!
After 18 months in foster care, Daniel and his sister joined the Leonard family when he was 2 1/2 years old. Now 18, Daniel is a senior at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Daniel was a columnist for Walter Johnson’s newspaper, an officer of several clubs and a member of the stage crew for WJ’s very active drama group. Last year, Daniel was selected to represent all of the high school students in Maryland at a national conference on civic engagement. As part of the conference, he met with Congressman Van Hollen to present a teacher evaluation and feedback program he developed and which he hopes will be implemented nationwide.
For three years, Daniel taught Sunday school for the Interfaith Families Project of Greater Washington. He also is a graduate of Outward Bound’s sailing program. Accepted by several colleges, Daniel is planning to attend Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA.
Watch an Interview with Daniel:Young Adult Contributor to Beneath the Mask: For Teen Adoptees
Daphne Boteler is a 2017 Star of Adoption!
Daphne first joined her family when she was two-years old from her birthplace in the Philippines. Her interests include music, theater, cooking, rock climbing, and basketball. As the lead singer, Daphne fronts an all-girl band, DKA, which she formed in eighth grade.
She was a member of her school choir and participates in the St. Bernadette Summer Theater Program. She had her breakout role in a high school production of Beauty and the Beast. Daphne loves working with young children and volunteers every summer as a youth counselor at Vacation Bible School. Her favorite subject is History and when she has time, she enjoys cooking gourmet meals for her friends and family.
Dara Busman is the Director of Product Strategy and Operations at Bluemercury Inc. She brings deep knowledge of product development, brand marketing management, supply chain and operations. She is an experienced leader with a proven track record of bringing exceptional products from concept to market. She is passionate about mentoring others, partaking in mentorship roles and programs in the organization and values fostering relationships for team growth. Prior to Bluemercury, she worked for Macy’s Inc., also in product management.
As an international adoptee herself, she understands first-hand the adoption journey, and the importance of the resources C.A.S.E. provides. She is passionate about C.A.S.E.’s mission and values.
Dara graduated from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Science degree in Fashion Merchandising and is currently receiving her MBA at the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business. She resides with her husband in Washington D.C.
Darian Cherry is an Administrative Program Assistant supporting both the Director of Clinical Program and the Director of Clinical Program Operations. Darian holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biological Sciences from Suny College at Old Westbury. Darian has over three years of experience as an administrative assistant and in Customer Service. She is excited to join and grow with the C.A.S.E. Family.
Dr. David Brodzinsky is Professor Emeritus of Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Rutgers University. He is currently a research and project Consultant for the National Center on Adoption and Permanency and serves as a clinical and forensic consultant in his private practice.
Since 2009, he has participated in two other advisory boards for C.A.S.E. adoption competency trainings and provided training and clinical consultation. Over the past four decades, his research and scholarly writing has focused primarily on issues related to the adjustment of adopted and foster children and their families. In addition to over 100 journal articles and book chapters, he has coauthored or co-written seven books on adoption.
David Bulitt is a partner in the Washington, D.C. Metro law firm of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA. For more than a decade, he has been chosen as one of the area’s top divorce lawyers by multiple publications and recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” and a Washington, D.C. Metro “Super Lawyer.” Praised as “the lawyer who epitomizes stability and old-fashioned common sense” by Bethesda Magazine, David has a particular interest in families with special needs, foster and adoptive children as a result of his personal experiences.
Dawn Wilson, MSW, Director, National Training Institute, has more than 30 years of experience in the child welfare, mental health and prevention fields, with expertise in program development and implementation. As Director of the federally funded National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative, Ms. Wilson oversees the development, pilot implementation, evaluation and national launch of two state-of-the-art web-based trainings for child welfare professionals and mental health clinicians to effectively address the mental health and complex challenges of children, adolescents and their families moving to permanency through adoption or guardianship.
Previously Ms. Wilson served as a Child Welfare Program Manager with Catawba County Social Services in North Carolina overseeing prevention, family reunification, independent living, and post-permanency services. She worked collaboratively with The Duke Endowment on the Child Well-Being Project to develop, implement and evaluate an evidence-informed post-permanency service, Success Coach, to provide case management and in-home therapeutic services to improve outcomes for adoptive, guardianship and reunified families following foster care. The Success Coach Service garnered national attention as a promising practice and was the recipient of the 2013 Youth Thrive Award from The Center for the Study of Social Policy; the Transforming Local Government 2014 Alliance for Innovation Award; and the Harvard Kennedy School Ashe Center 2015 Innovations in American Government Award. Prior to her work in child welfare, Ms. Wilson worked in the prevention and intervention fields focusing on domestic violence, sexual abuse, and teen pregnancy.
Ms. Wilson received her B.A. Degree in Psychology from Appalachian State University in North Carolina and her Master of Social Work degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Debbie B. Riley, LCMFT, is C.A.S.E.’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer. Debbie also serves clients via telehealth throughout the state of Maryland. She earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies from the University of Maryland. Since C.A.S.E.’s inception in 1998, Debbie has grown the organization into a national and international mental health resource for foster and adoptive families as well as for the professionals who support them.
Among her many professional accomplishments is her co-authoring of the book, Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens.
Debbie also founded the TAC (Training for Adoption Competency Curriculum) currently taught in 17 states across the country. Through a recent federal five-year grant awarded to C.A.S.E from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Debbie serves as the Principal Investigator to establish a National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI), created to build the adoption competency capacity of child welfare professionals and mental health practitioners that serve youth moving toward permanency as well as youth living in permanent adoptive or guardianship homes.
Debbie is proud recipient of the Children’s Bureau 2015 Adoption Excellence Award. Nominated by Rita Soronen, President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption, Debbie’s unwavering commitment to providing resources, support and advocacy for children, teens and family members touched by adoption and foster care is in itself extraordinary.
Dr. GinaMarie “Gina” Dattilo is a licensed psychologist in the state of Pennsylvania. She also has an EPassport that enables her to provide online therapy in any PSYPACT location including, Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. She completed her post-doctoral experience and internship in clinical/school multicultural crisis psychology for the Houston Independent School District. She earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and a Master’s degree in Human Services Psychology from La Salle University in Philadelphia. Her dissertation was on attachment and therapist’s self-efficacy. She also has a Master’s degree in Psychology from the New School for Social Research. She completed NTI online training and TAC training in 2022.
Gina has provided individual, family and group therapy to children, adolescents and families for over 20 years, in homes, crisis centers, outpatient settings, residential treatment centers, schools and online. Gina has received a variety of training including crisis psychology, grief & loss, CBT, TF-CBT, DBT, and Theraplay. Gina focuses on providing trauma and attachment informed care. She provides empirically supported therapy and considers the quality of the client therapist relationship to be integral to its success. In addition to being a psychologist, Gina is also an adoptee and an adoptive mother. These two experiences inspired her to see additional training to help serve the adoption kinship network and have led her to work for C.A.S.E.
Dwaneda Underwood joined C.A.S.E. as the Human Resource Specialist in 2022. After seven years of working in administrations, she moved into the non-profit sector because she wanted to work for an organization that makes a difference in the world, we live in. Dwaneda is following the footsteps of several family members who serve in-need communities. Currently, Dwaneda is studying Human Resources with a focus on Administrative Management at Baltimore County Community College. Dwaneda brings to C.A.S.E. her positive, innovative, and teamwork-based thinking.
Edna Davis-Brown, M.P.H., currently serves as a Training and Implementation Specialist with the federally funded National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI). Ms. Davis-Brown has more than 20 years of experience in program development, management and implementation, program monitoring and evaluation, group facilitation, and training/technical assistance development and delivery. She has supported and managed numerous federal and non-federal projects for healthcare management firms and national organizations in areas such as health equity and disparities, substance abuse prevention and treatment, HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention, and emergency mental health disaster response and coordination.
Prior to joining NTI, Ms. Davis-Brown served as a Management Training Consultant providing support to national organizations, community-based organizations (CBOs), healthcare organizations and health departments across the U.S. which involved training, capacity building and strategic planning support including the delivery of five evidence-based interventions and public health strategies funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She previously worked as Program Director with the American Psychological Association’s Behavioral and Social Science Volunteer (BSSV) Program funded by the CDC delivering capacity building support to health departments and CBOs across the U.S. that provide HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment services. She holds a graduate degree in Public Health Education from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill.
Ms. Davis-Brown is also co-founder of the Gregory B. Davis Foundation, a small non-profit formed to preserve the legacy of her youngest sibling, Gregory, who died of AIDS in March 2000. GBDF strives to enhance the lives of rural underserved youth and their families through health and educational program and initiatives. GBDF was co-recipient of the very first Susan G. Komen Triangle for the Cure (Research Triangle, NC) Innovations Award as well as two community service awards from healthcare organizations in northeastern NC.
Get to Know Elizabeth
How did you first come to know C.A.S.E.? I first met Debbie when I was a rebellious teenager. We met in their first office office building off of Colesville and New Hampshire Ave- a long time ago!
How has your work with C.A.S.E. impacted you and your family? C.A.S.E/Debbie helped me learn how to communicate and make sense of my emotions better. I was struggling with communication and power struggles with my parents. I think both my parents and I learned how to communicate better and in addition I felt heard. It was a safe place to just let it all out without judgement about how I felt. Why did you want to become an Emerging Leader at C.A.S.E., and what do you hope to achieve during your time as a Board Member? Being a Korean international adoptee is part of who I am. Having the opportunity to be an Emerging Leader at C.A.S.E. is a way I can give back the invaluable support I was given when I needed it. I’ve grown up and like to think become a little wiser and believe I can contribute to helping C.A.S.E. achieve its goals. There are so many people who have been adopted or been in foster care and have had to work through their struggles alone. I hope to be an advocate in order to increase C.A.S.E.’s reach. As a board member, I hope to be able to provide a different perspective as an adoptee and learn more about how I can help with C.A.S.E.’s needs. Tell us about your life outside C.A.S.E.: What do you do professionally and what are your interests outside work? I am the Senior Director for Adult and Senior Services at Easterseals DC MD VA. I’ve worked in disability services for 14 years, the majority being in nonprofit. I love to fish! My biggest catches locally being a 60lb blue catfish out of the Potomac River and a 52lb Trophy Rockfish out of the Chesapeake Bay. My husband who is a DCFD firefighter/EMT and I also are small in home breeders for French bulldogs focusing on health and temperament. Anything related to being outside or at the beach, I’m game for!
Elizabeth Barnes is an international adoptee from Seoul, South Korea. She came to the US when she was 3 months old. C.A.S.E. supported her during her adolescence. She volunteered as an airport greeter for other international adoptees and spoke on panels with C.A.S.E. about international adoption. Professionally, Elizabeth is currently the Senior Director of Adult and Senior Services at Easterseals DC, MD, VA. She currently sits on the National Adult Day Services Association board and is the president-elect for the Maryland Association for Adult Day Services. She holds a Bachelors in Clinical Psychology from UMBC and a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Administration from Utica College. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, going to the beach and playing with her dogs.
Elizabeth holds a Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania with a specialization in Child Welfare and Child Wellbeing and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Government from Colby College. She is licensed in both Maryland and Washington, D.C. Elizabeth has experience providing individual and group counseling to youth and families in a variety of settings. Elizabeth has worked extensively with survivors of sexual violence, childhood sexual abuse, and physical and emotional trauma. She has also worked directly in the foster care system and is passionate about supporting families navigating the complex issues surrounding adoption. Elizabeth’s practice is strongly rooted in empowering clients to identify and channel their strengths and she utilizes a variety of interventions and modalities to support clients in achieving their goals.
Ellen Franks has a master’s degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Maryland and 30 years of experience supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, behavioral and psychiatric challenges. She began her career working with children and young teens in foster care settings in Israel. When she returned to the US, she spent eight years working with adults with psychiatric diagnoses combined with intellectual disabilities. She then worked for 20+ years overseeing Quality Assurance at a large nonprofit agency in Montgomery County, Maryland.
Ellen Motley joined C.A.S.E. as the Executive Assistant to the CEO, in 2020. Before working at C.A.S.E., Ellen worked for two other non-profits, National 4-H Council where she served as the EA to the CFO and Washington Ireland Program where she was the Managing Director of the DC office. Prior to that, she worked in the competitive intelligence field for more than 18 years. Outside of work, she is president of the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) DMV Alumni Chapter and enjoys stewarding her neighborhood Little Free Library. She holds a B.S. in Mass Communications from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Emily Kwiatkowski is a domestic, same-race adoptee who grew up in Springfield, Virginia and now calls Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home. After being a C.A.S.E. client in her later teenage years, Emily started to share her story more openly and became passionate about amplifying the voices of others with lived experience.
Emily now works as an in-home therapist providing support to children in foster care. She hopes that her practice will shift the historical narrative and center these young people, and the adults they become, as the orators of their unique stories.
Emily holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from The University of Tennessee- Knoxville and a Master’s of Social Work from The University of Pittsburgh. Outside of work, Emily loves trying out new coffee shops, thrifting, spending time with friends and family, and exploring all that Pittsburgh has to offer.
Erika Owusu, MSP is the Research Coordinator at Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.)
Erin Bader, LCSW has 20 years of experience in child welfare in child welfare, including direct services to children, youth, and families and program development and management and has worked in both government and non-profit settings. As Director of Knowledge for the federally funded National Center for Adoption Competent Mental Health Services (The Center), Ms. Bader will collaborate with Center partners and consultants to launch the Repository.
Previously, Ms. Bader has provided national-level leadership at Child Welfare Information Gateway as a Child Welfare Strategic Consultant on Adoption and then Manager of Strategic Initiatives. In these roles she provided subject matter expertise for website content and product development, oversaw annual National Initiatives (National Adoption Month, National Foster Care Month, and National Child Abuse Prevention Month), provided leadership for creation of new materials and resources about adoption, represented Gateway at major conferences, kept staff apprised of trends in adoption, and cultivated partnerships with national adoption agencies and experts in writing, peer review, and dissemination of current and relevant adoption resources. Prior to these roles, Ms. Bader was the Statewide Administrator for Children’s Services with Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, where she had previously been Director of Permanency and Well Being Programs. She has also worked as a Children’s Social Worker for the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, among many other areas of professional experience in child welfare.
Ms. Bader received her B.S. in Family Sciences degree from the University of Nebraska Lincoln and her Master of Social Welfare degree from the University of California Los Angeles.
Eve Alcalan is a 2020 Star of Adoption!
At 15 years old, Eve took a chance. She moved from sunny Orange County California, not just to the East Coast, but the fast paced Washington D.C. area. Eve started at Northwood High School in Silver Spring Maryland as a sophomore and soon everyone knew her name. She joined the Academy of Dance and Musical Theater and played trumpet in the symphonic and pep bands, in addition to playing in the pit orchestra for most Northwood stage performances. Eve was awarded for her role as a leader in the band and assistant to the conductor. By the end of junior year, Eve had conquered the public transportation system and started looking for her first job. Eve loves cooking and baking for others and her first job at a sushi counter made her more interested in working in food service.
After graduating from Northwood, she went on to work at Cookie Dough & Company at Montgomery Mall before landing her career at Starbucks. Eve truly embraces her role as a barista and working for such a supportive company. She is working towards pulling the perfect shot of espresso and aspires to work in one of the Reserve Starbucks stores. Eve hopes to travel to Japan in the future, and is working to learn the language. She enjoys Anime and video games as well as music of all types. Eve has always maintained a great relationship with her biological grandfather, aunt and younger brother and sister and visits them in California regularly.
Felecia Woodard, MA joined C.A.S.E. as the Marketing & Communications Coordinator in 2021. She is a Public Relations specialist and Graphic Designer, who specializes in event coordination. Felecia holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations, Marketing, and Media Sales from Morgan State University and a Master of Arts in Integrated Design from University of Baltimore.
She brings to C.A.S.E. her drive to learn, evolve, and design meaningful marketing campaigns. Felecia has over nine years of experience building, maintaining, and protecting individual and/or companies’ brands. Her vast experience working with diverse clients in the Public Relations, Marketing, Graphic Design, Customer Service, and Retail Management industries allows her to understand the bigger picture of how brands impact not only the organization, but also the world around them.
Frani Gutierrez, LCSW is currently a part-time adoption competent therapist working with C.A.S.E. clients in Virginia.
Frani has over 10 years of experience working with children, adolescents, adults and families. She believes in the connection with her clients and supporting them in identifying their inner strengths in order to foster resiliency. She utilizes a strengths-based approach.
Frani started her career working at Domestic Violence Shelter. She then transitioned to in an inpatient psychiatric hospital with a focus on trauma informed care and crisis stabilization. She has experience working in private practice, in particular with individuals who are working through anxiety, depression, identity issues, trauma, life transitions, and loss.
She graduated from University of Maryland, College Park with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Family Studies. She also graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University with a Master of Social Work Degree. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Virginia.
Hannah McFadden is a 2018 Star of Adoption!
One of the youngest members of the U.S.A. Paralympic Team, Hannah McFadden, is a 3x World Champion and 2x Paralympian in track having represented the U.S.A. in the London and Rio Games. She is ranked 2nd in the U.S.A. in the 100m and 200m and 4th in the world.
Hannah was adopted from Albania at age 3 and due to a congenital bone deformity, she had her leg amputated above the knee at age 5. Hannah takes pride in designing the colors and looks of her prosthetic leg which started from her first one sporting puppies and monkeys. She volunteers her time with young children with disabilities as well as wounded warriors. She recently traveled to South Africa and worked in an orphanage for children with disabilities.
In addition to track, Hannah has been active in many sports including ice hockey, downhill skiing, swimming, wheelchair basketball, and is certified in scuba diving. She has her eyes set on representing the U.S.A. in Tokyo 2020 at the Paralympics.
Hannah graduated with honors and her Gold Award from Atholton High School in Howard County, Maryland and is currently a junior at the University of Illinois with aspirations to work with refugees.
Heather Sowers, LCSW-C, Board Certified Telehealth Professional Level I serves clients throughout Maryland via telehealth. Heather Sowers, LCSW-C has spent the last 30+ years dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and families. She began her professional journey in a residential treatment center working with pre-teens who were wards of the state in the early 1990s. She witnessed firsthand how painful it is for children to be separated from their families and how inhumane policies of the facility itself further traumatized children and staff. This experience sparked in her a desire to better understand adverse childhood experiences and how to best help families impacted by them.
From the Florida swamps to the Montana wilderness, Heather has worked with diverse clients in non-traditional and experiential settings such as gardens, farms, camps and outdoor schools. Because of her extensive training in Adventure Based Counseling, she brings a high level of innovation and creativity into the therapy setting and conveys a sense of positive presence that is tangible – even over Zoom! She’s learned from extensive in-home work that families engage more easily with therapists who dare to be goofy and think outside-of-the-box. Heather especially loves facilitating dynamic, interactive group experiences for kids and teens who may feel less than thrilled about therapy.
Heather is thankful for the training she received in Ecosystemic Structural Family Therapy while working as a therapist for the state funded Family Based Mental Health Services program in Pennsylvania, providing intensive in-home family therapy aimed at preventing out of home placements. Most recently, Heather served as a school-based therapist in rural northern Harford County, MD where over 30% of her caseload was comprised of informal kinship care families – children living with grandparents or other relatives.
Heather holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Montana at Missoula and a Master’s degree in Social Work from West Chester University of Pennsylvania.
Dr. McGinnis is an Assistant Professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) School of Social Work. In addition to being adopted from South Korea, she has more than 25 years of community organizing, practice, policy, and research experience relating to the life course of orphaned and separated children.
Her research examines social and cultural determinants of mental health, with a focus on improving outcomes for youth and adults with histories of childhood adversity, specifically, understanding the lived experiences of individuals who have been adopted, including adoptive and racial/ethnic identity development, stressors specific to the experience of attachment trauma, cultural loss, and systemic oppression.
Dr. McGinnis was previously Policy Director at the Donaldson Adoption Institute, where she headed a national study on adoption and racial identity among adopted adults. Hollee also founded Also-Known-As, Inc., a non-profit adult intercountry adoptee organization providing post-adoption services to international adoptees and adoptive families. In 2008, she was recognized by the U.S. Government with a Congressional Angel in Adoption award for her work on adoption.