Children and Family Futures is a national nonprofit organization based in Lake Forest, California that focuses on the intersections among child welfare, mental health, substance use disorder treatment, and court systems.  Children and Family Futures also operates a wholly owned For-Profit small business called Center for Children and Family Futures.  We have over two decades of experience in practice, policy, and evaluation arenas to support tribes, states, regions, and communities in their efforts to improve outcomes for children and families. We believe parents with mental health and substance use disorders should maintain hope of achieving recovery and family stability so they can care for their children. While no single system or agency working by itself can help parents achieve that goal, we recognize that recovery happens within the context of the family and professionals from a variety of agencies and systems must work together to meet the needs of families.

Children and Family Futures delivers award-winning services for its funders and customers on behalf of the children and families whose lives we seek to improve. The body of experience gained by responding to nearly 8,000 training and technical assistance requests in over 200 sites and conducting program evaluations and performance management with more than 100 sites has enabled us to develop planning and implementation methods that ensure the effectiveness of our services.

Children and Family Futures provides a full range of consulting, technical assistance, strategic planning, and evaluation services for substance use disorder treatment, child welfare, courts, and the communities they serve.


Children and Family Futures employs diverse staff members who are located across the country. Our organizational expertise draws on the talents, skills, knowledge and experience of our team members who come from a variety of disciplines including child welfare, substance use disorder treatment, mental health and court systems. Our staff have experience at the federal, tribal, state, and local level in leadership and direct service positions, as well as experience in military service, international services, and academia. Staff’s experience as foster and adoptive parents and with persons in recovery also contribute to our outstanding technical assistance services.

Bob Gardner

Vice President for Administration and Finance, California State University San Bernardino

Mr. Gardner currently serves as VP for Admin/Finance at CSU San Bernardino.  He is responsible for managing the university’s over $250 million budget and maintaining the university’s infrastructure.

Mr. Gardner recently retired from Federal government service after serving for 31 years in a number of positions across several agencies.  His experience includes serving as CFO at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, CFO of the Transportation Security Administration, Assistant Commissioner for Budget at the Immigration and Naturalization Service, CFO of the Veterans Benefits Administration, Assistant Controller of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and Deputy Inspector General in the Small Business Administration.  He is a graduate of the University of Redlands and has an MPA from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University.

Gisela Gómez

Program Manager, CalOptima – Healthy Families Program

Ms. Gómez has been with the Healthy Families Program at CalOptima for 5 years. She is involved in multiple aspects of administration/operations and quality monitoring for the Program, as well as direct contact with beneficiaries of the Program. Ms. Gómez graduated from UC Berkeley and has a Master’s of Public Health from UCLA. She previously served as Sid Gardner’s, the president of Children and Family Futures, program assistant at the Center for Collaboration for Children, California State University at Fullerton, where she assisted in the annual Orange County Conditions of Children reports as well as in the production of Sid’s book, Beyond Collaboration to Results.

Elizabeth Stanley-Salazar

Vice President and Director of Public Policy, Phoenix House

Ms. Stanley-Salazar is the Vice President and Director of Public Policy for Phoenix House of California. Phoenix House is the largest non-profit provider of substance abuse services in the country, and California is currently its largest region. Prior to her current position, Ms. Stanley-Salazar was the Regional Vice President for Phoenix House California Region leading its growth from a worth of $5 million to approximately $50 million. She served as Chief Deputy Director of the State Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs under the Directorate of Dr. Andy Mecca. She has extensive experience and expertise in increasing access through collaboration and integrated services to substance abuse treatment services to youth, adults and families. She has successfully championed (1) increasing the availability of substance abuse treatment for adolescents who have not yet come to the attention of the juvenile justice or child protective systems, and (2) establishing new treatment programs for women with children, allowing women on parole to regain custody of their children as they improve their parenting skills along with maintaining their abstinence.

Ms. Stanley-Salazar expertise includes: strategic planning; values clarification; developing operational procedures; program development and implementation; contract structure, negotiations and budget management; communication protocols; cross-system training; client confidentially rules; data and information systems management; screening tools; substance abuse assessment; children of substance abuser interventions and prevention programming; co-location of substance abuse and child welfare staff; child welfare, substance abuse or court programs; women’s comprehensive treatment; culturally relevant services; IV-E Waivers; funding of comprehensive services; and judicial systems of family/dependency and family drug courts. She has experience in operational, systems and policy levels.

Gene Howard

Nancy K. Young, PhD, MSW

Executive Director

Dr. Nancy K. Young is the Executive Director of Children and Family Futures (CFF), a California-based research and policy institute whose mission is to improve safety, permanency, well-being and recovery outcomes for children, parents and families affected by trauma, substance use and mental disorders. CFF operates a number of evaluation and technical assistance programs. Since 2002, she has served as the Director of the federally-funded National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare and the Director of the Administration on Children and Families technical assistance program for the Regional Partnership Grants since 2007. In 2010, she began serving as the Director of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention’s technical assistance program for Family Drug Courts and the Statewide System Reform Program in 2014. She led the effort to create the foundation-funded Prevention and Family Recovery Program to implement evidence-based parenting and children’s intervention in family drug courts in 2013.

Dr. Young has been involved in numerous projects related to public policy analysis, strategic planning and program evaluation through her work with these programs and serving as a consultant to various states, counties, tribes, communities and foundations on behalf of the children, parents and families affected by substance use and mental disorders involved in the child welfare and judicial systems. Prior to founding Children and Family Futures in 1996, Dr. Young served as the research consultant to the Directorate of the State of California Department of Alcohol and Drug Programs.

Dr. Young received her Ph.D. and Master of Social Work from the University of Southern California, School of Social Work and is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton. During her doctoral studies, she was the recipient of a pre-doctoral fellowship with the National Institute on Drug Abuse focusing on the public policy and research issues pertaining to children affected by parental substance use disorders. Dr. Young’s work and that of CFF has been recognized by the Federal Administration on Children and Families through the Outstanding Contractor of the Year Award in 2006 and by a resolution issued by the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2008. Dr. Young has also been recognized by the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors as a recipient of the Robert E. Anderson Service Award in 2008 and the Women’s Service Champion Award in 2014.  Dr. Young and her husband, Mr. Sidney Gardner, fostered and subsequently adopted two children who embody the policy and practice issues about which the work of Children and Family Futures is grounded.

Sidney L. Gardner, MPA, MA


Mr. Gardner serves as President of Children and Family Futures, Inc. He served as Director of the Center for Collaboration for Children at California State University, Fullerton from 1991-2001. He is the author of Beyond Collaboration to Results, published by Arizona State University, which assesses the recent history of community collaboratives in the context of the growing move toward results-based accountability. His four-stage model of the developmental life cycle of collaboratives has been used extensively throughout the nation, along with a self-assessment instrument for collaboratives and a Collaborative Values Inventory designed to assess the degree of consensus on underlying values within a collaborative. Mr. Gardner´s book, Cities, Counties, Kids, and Families: the Essential Role of Local Government (2005), describes a model for developing strategic policy for children and family policy in local governments.

Mr. Gardner has served as a staff member of the White House Domestic Council, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Director of the California Tomorrow Youth at Risk Project, Director of the Hartford Private Industry Council, and an elected member of the City Council in Hartford, Connecticut from 1977 to 1981. He has taught courses at seven universities.

He graduated from Occidental College and was awarded a Master´s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University in 1965 and a Master´s degree in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary in 1986. Mr. Gardner is a Vietnam veteran, and lives in Mission Viejo with his wife, Nancy Young, and two of their four children. He is also the author of eight novels.

A description of Sid Gardner’s novels can be found here

Charles D. Williams, MBA

Chief Financial Officer

Serving as the Chief Financial Officer of Children and Family Futures, Inc. (CFF) since 2002, Mr. Williams manages the full scope of the organizations financial operations, including financial planning, analysis, and reporting as well as the Accounting and Information Technology departments. During the first year of his tenure, Mr. Williams’s efforts dramatically improved CFF’s financial performance. With over 15 years of experience, Mr. Williams has successfully supported corporations with infrastructure development for the purpose of streamlining processes and increasing overall organizational efficiency and productivity. He brings a strong commitment to maintaining a customer service culture that fosters communication and promotes service quality in financial and accounting environments. His superior organization and communication skills, coupled with his ability to present complex financial concepts, supports exceptionally effective relationships with Federal partners, contractors, consultants, staff, and others involved in the organizations financial processes.

Mr. Williams holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science in Finance from California State University, Long Beach. Prior to assuming his position at CFF, Mr. Williams served as the Director of Accounting and Special Sales Controller for Home Base, Inc., a $1.5 billion enterprise. In addition, he has served as a Senior Manager and Advisor on numerous finance, operations, accounting, and IT projects.

Jane Pfiefer, MPA

Ms. Pfeifer currently serves as Program Director of the Regional Partnership Grant Technical Assistance program through the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare. In this role she oversees the management of the RPG programmatic technical assistance program supporting 31 grantees. She also leads the Family Treatment Court Best Practice Standards development.  Past assignments include providing training and technical assistance to family drug courts, leading the Family Drug Court Peer Learning Court Project, the Family Drug Court Guidelines Project.

Prior to her employment at CCFF she worked in the justice system, focusing on systems improvement and collaborative justice.  As a consultant, Ms. Pfeifer has worked with public and private organizations providing training and technical assistance, grant writing and community resource development with an emphasis on case management, cultural proficiency and effective collaboration.  Ms. Pfeifer has served as faculty to several national organizations and her teaching and training experience includes in-person as well as remote/virtual events and distance learning settings.  She was also an adjunct professor at California State University—Chico in the Department of Political Science and Department of Sociology.  Ms. Pfeifer holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Jonathan Mithers

Ken DeCerchio, MSW, CAP

Mr. DeCerchio currently serves as the Program Director of the In-Depth Technical Assistance Program of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare, and the Project Director of the National Quality Improvement Center for Collaborative Community Court Teams, funded by the Children’s Bureau in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families.

Prior to joining the staff of Children and Family Futures, Mr. DeCerchio served as the Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health with the Florida Department of Children and Families Services from 2005 to 2007, and as the state Substance Abuse Director from 1995-2005. In November 2001, Governor Jeb Bush appointed Mr. DeCerchio as Deputy Director for Treatment to the Florida Office of Drug Control, and in 2004 he was appointed by Secretary Tommy Thompson to serve on CSAT´s National Advisory Council. Mr. DeCerchio has been a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for children in foster care since October 2008.

Larisa Owen, PhD, MBA

Dr. Owen serves as a Program Director who works on several programs including leading the veterans families and military projects within the organization. Dr. Owen’s experience includes evaluating the effectiveness of program implementation, program enhancement, and evaluation methods for state and national programs including training and evaluation of collaborative programs. Dr. Owen has been lead evaluator on multi-year projects involved with collaborative courts, veteran treatment courts, interagency services, and the effectiveness of various models of peer support and data-sharing for assessing children and family impact. Dr. Owen has extensive experience with issues facing military personnel and veteran families. Dr. Owen is a founding member of the Orange County Veterans and Military Families Collaborative. She has provided evaluation and technical assistance involving families with Veterans Treatment Courts (VTC) and Family Peer Veteran Mentors in the VTC and other collaborative courts. Dr. Owen also works on Knowledge Management and Development, with new project development in several areas and roles in CFF’s projects on early care, education, health care reform, home visiting, and legal remedies for children and families affected by substance use disorders. She serves on the Department of Veterans Affairs National Advisory Committee for Veterans Family, Caregiver, and Survivor and a variety of other charitable associations.

Prior to her work at CFF, Dr. Owen held several senior management roles with experience in corporate and nonprofit organizations. She was responsible for financial, administrative, human resources, legal, and training curricula and logistics for corporate-wide training events focused on legal, human resources, finance, safety, IT and risk management. She negotiated with government agencies on compliance issues, and on external funding development including identifying and preparing proposals for foundation and corporate funding prospects.
Dr. Owen currently serves as a member of The California State Guard (CSG) as a Major in the Strategy and Policy unit. The CSG is a state-supported agency with the primary mission of supporting the Soldiers and Airmen of the California National Guard (CNG) in its Homeland Defense, Homeland Security missions and service to California during times of state emergencies. Her roles in the CSG have included the Legal Support Command, Operations & Training, and Personnel.

Dr. Owen received her Bachelor of Science in Criminology and Legal Studies, holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration, and a PhD in Public Policy and Law.

Nancy Hansen, MSW

Ms. Hansen currently serves as the Operations Director for Children and Family Futures. In this capacity, she is responsible for coordinating activities across the organization and federally-funded contracts to develop knowledge and provide technical assistance and expertise on collaborative practice for the purpose of improving policies and service delivery to children of parents with substance use disorders and their affected families involved in child welfare and family court systems. Ms. Hansen is responsible for managing five Functional Teams working across multiple program areas and contracts. Supporting the Executive Director, she facilitates communications across multiple program areas regarding CFF’s day-to-day operations and supervises the core tasks of staff in the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare. In addition, Ms. Hansen facilitates technical assistance with individual grantees for the Regional Partnership Grant program and contributes to broader strategies that support program improvement and strengthen collaborative practice.

Ms. Hansen has more than 30 years of experience in social services with particular focus on initiatives relating to substance use disorders in child welfare systems for nearly a decade.  She received both her Master of Social Work and Bachelor of Science in Family Studies from Arizona State University.

Tina Willauer, MPA

Tina Willauer currently serves as a Program Director at the Center for Children and Family Futures (CCFF), Inc.  In this role, Ms. Willauer serves as the Program Director for Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START).

Ms. Willauer joined the staff at the Center for Children and Family Futures in July 2017 after 27 years of experience in the child welfare system. She was the Director of Kentucky Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) at the Department for Community Based Services (DCBS) from 2007-2017, overseeing the development, implementation and expansion of the model in KY. As an independent consultant since 2007, Ms. Willauer has also worked in numerous jurisdictions to help implement START and other child welfare system improvement strategies. She remains the purveyor of the evidence-informed START model.

Ms. Willauer obtained her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Cleveland State University and Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University.  Ms. Willauer has devoted her career to serving children and families and brings a unique perspective based on 28 years of experience in the child welfare field.  She has served as a front line social worker, supervisor, senior manager, program director and consultant within the public child welfare system, with a focus on child maltreatment and substance use disorders.  Ms. Willauer is cross trained in substance use disorder treatment and presents and trains both locally and nationally on the START model, program development and implementation, collaboration, substance use disorders, recovery, peer support and other child welfare topics.

Alexis Balkey, MPA, RAS
Deputy Program Director

Kim Bishop, MSW, LICSW
Deputy Program Director

Kim Coe, BSW
Deputy Program Director

Tarah Garcia, MS

Senior Operations Manager

Björn Edwards, BS

Senior Accounting/Finance Manager

Marianna Corona, LCSW

Senior Manager

Jill Gresham

Senior Manager

Lynn Posze, MA, LPCC

Senior Manager

Ashay Shah, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Brian Southworth, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Claudia Alvarez, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Colleen Killian, PhD
Sr. Research and Evaluation Associate

Dawnia Flonnoy, MA
Sr. Program Associate

Emily Svoboda, MS
Sr. Operations Associate

Gail Barber, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Hanh Dao, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Jennifer Foley, BS
Sr. Program Associate

Jennifer Sanghera, BSW
Sr. Program Associate

Katie Ryan, MPAff
Sr. Program Associate

Kelly Jones, MPA
Sr. Program Associate

Kirstin Frescoln, PhD, CPM
Sr. Program Associate

Mary Hale, MS, CHC
Sr. Program Associate

Renee Luque, LCSW
Sr. Program Associate

Rob Rosenhaus, LCSW
Sr. Program Associate

Teri Kook, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Tessa Richter, LCSW, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Arielle Andrews, BA
Program Associate

Elizabeth Bullock, BA
Program Associate

Howard Leff, BS
Editor and Communications Associate

Janelle A. Sanders, MA
Program Associate

Kate Rocke, MSW
Program Associate

Kristina Killen, BA
Program Associate

Lisa McElroy, MSW
Program Associate

Meredith Russo, MPA
Program Associate

Sarah Fox, MA, APC
Program Associate

Someh Lewis, MSW
Program Associate

William Blakeley, MAT
Program Associate

Chelsey Herring, MS
Program Specialist

Marissa Colliflower, AA
Program Specialist

Naomi Bui, MA
Assistant to the Executive Director

Cindy Stewart

Delilah Deleon, BS
Staff Accountant

Lori Jacobucci
Office Manager

Darron Petit, BS
Administrative Coordinator

Elyse Thomas, BA
Administrative Coordinator

Kevin Kim, AA
Administrative Coordinator

Lexi Allison, BS
Lead Administrative Coordinator

Monica Conlon, BS
Administrative Coordinator

Curtis Carter
Information Technology and Telecommunications Manager

Michael Franzen, BS
Desktop Support Administrator