WHO WE ARE

Children and Family Futures is a nonprofit organization celebrating 25 years with a national impact providing consultation, training and technical assistance, strategic planning, and evaluation services focused on improving practice and policy at the intersections of child welfare, substance use and mental disorder treatment, and court systems. Children and Family Futures operates a wholly owned small business entity, the Center for Children and Family Futures. Our decades of experience are focused on practice, policy, and evaluation that supports tribes, states, regions, and communities to improve outcomes for children, their parents, extended families, and communities.  

Children and Family Futures is guided by a set of Core Beliefs that focus our work on our nations’ vulnerable children.  

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. Responding to over 11,000 training and technical assistance requests in over 450 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.

STAFF

Children and Family Futures employs over 65 diverse staff members who are located across 17 states. 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 and mental disorder treatment, health care, 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 members’ experiences as foster and adoptive parents and persons in recovery also contribute to our understanding of critical issues grounded in lived experience. We believe the diverse personal and professional experience, perspectives and strengths of our staff are essential to our success in providing outstanding technical assistance, training, and evaluation 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

Mr. Howard began his career in 1970 as a live-in care worker for a small residential facility for twenty emotionally disturbed teenage boys in Arizona.  During his eight-year tenure with this agency he served as Program Director, Education Director and ultimately as Assistant Director.

From the private sector Mr. Howard moved in 1978 to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Administration for Children, Youth, and Families.  Mr. Howard worked in a variety of capacities with increasing responsibility within the Department over the next ten years.

He was the Program Administrator for the State’s Comprehensive Medical and Dental Program for foster youth, wherein he managed a 9 million dollar program of medical, dental and psychological services.

During his tenure with the Department he was the promoted to the position of Program Manager for Children’s Programs in Maricopa County. In this capacity he was responsible for both the programmatic and fiscal operations on a county level of child protective services, foster care, adoptions and day care.

His final position in Arizona was Program Administrator, wherein he was responsible for operating child protective service programs on a statewide basis.  The Administration was composed of 654 staff with an overall budget of approximately 75 million dollars.

In all of these positions, Mr. Howard worked extensively with local, state, and other governmental and private entities in the fulfillment of the mission of the agency.

From 1985 to July of 1995 Mr. Howard served as Director of Children’s Services for Orange County, California.  In this position, he was responsible for the administration of a variety of services to children, including Child Protective Services, the Orangewood Children’s Home, Foster Care and Adoptions.  He was responsible for the direction of a staff of 900.  His organization received and investigated over 30,000 child abuse reports each year, provided in-home services to approximately 2,000 families each month, and out-of-home services to approximately 2,500 children each month.

From 1995 to 2008 Mr. Howard served as the CEO of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation; a private nonprofit organization serving abused and neglected children in Orange County.  The Foundation represents a unique public-private partnership, which has raised over $30 million dollars since 1980 for the construction and expansion of Orangewood Children’s Home (Orange County’s emergency shelter for abused, neglected and abandoned children) as well as for a variety of programs to improve the lives of children who have been victims of abuse.  Mr. Howard used the strong base established by building of the Orangewood Children’s Home to expand its scope to encompass 14 programs delivered by a staff of 64 serving thousands of foster youth each year and an annual budget in excess of $8 million dollars.

From 2008 to 2010 Mr. Howard served as the CEO of the Orangewood Academy an effort of the Orangewood Children’s Foundation to create a long term boarding school type program for foster teens.

From 2010 to 2014 Mr. Howard served as the CEO for the Court Appointed Special Advocates Program of Orange County where he directed 33 staff who manage the activities of 750 volunteer advocates serving over 1,000 abused and neglected children each year.

Mr. Howard was the Founding Executive Director of the Orange County Alliance for Children.  The Alliance is a consortium of 14 private non-profit agencies providing a comprehensive array of services to children and families in the foster care system.

Mr. Howard is retired and currently lives in Western North Carolina.

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

President

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

Mr. Mithers has over 20 years of experience in Information Technology, Enterprise Software Implementation and Software Development in both for and non-profit sectors. He currently serves as the Director of Technology for the Center for Children and Family Futures working closely with the CFO. He is primarily responsible for leadership in directing and planning the implementation, integration, and ongoing evolution of information systems hardware, software, and voice data networks for a variety of management reporting functions and user groups at our exciting, dynamic, growing and nationally well-known non-profit organization. Mr. Mithers is continuously leading information system technology advances companywide. He performs essential professional analytical planning to drive the success of the company and organizational activities and goals. Mr. Mithers works closely with the Program Staff on technology-based contract deliverables and the Operations Staff on developing internal business applications and enriching internal collaboration.  

Prior to his role at CCFF, Mr. Mithers managed large scale healthcare information system implementations for the top rated RIS/HIS vendor in North America. 

Ken DeCerchio, MSW, CAP

Mr. DeCerchio currently serves as the In-Depth Technical Assistance Program Director for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare; and the Deputy Project Director of the National Quality Improvement Center for Collaborative Community Court Teams (QIC-CCCT), funded by the Children’s Bureau in the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Mr. DeCerchio, in his role managing the QIC-CCCT, was responsible for selecting and overseeing four subcontractors and six expert consultants.

Prior to joining CCFF, Mr. DeCerchio served as the Assistant Secretary for Substance Abuse and Mental Health with the Florida Department of Children and Families  from 2005 to 2007, and the state Substance Abuse Director from 1995-2005, managing large-scale systems with an approximate budget of $800 million.

Mr. DeCerchio has served on Florida’s Drug Policy Advisory Council and Supreme Court Task Force on Treatment-Based Drug Courts, and SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment National Advisory Council. In 2005 Mr. DeCerchio received the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors’ Service Award for his leadership and support in the substance abuse prevention and treatment field. He received the Florida Alcohol and Drug Abuse Association´s Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to prevention and treatment services in Florida in 2007.

Mr. DeCerchio has been a volunteer Guardian Ad Litem for children in foster care since October 2008. He holds an MSW from Florida State University, and is a Certified Addiction Professional.

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 has over 35 years of professional experience working at the intersection of substance use treatment and child welfare at both the practice and policy level. Currently serves as CCFF’s Operations Director and the NCSACW Project Manager ensuring high quality products, efficiency in workflow, and excellence in performance. Professional project management experience on large scale initiatives and projects, monitoring workflow and ensuring contract compliance and delivery schedules, ensures high quality services and applying a continuous quality improvement approach. Extensive experience providing technical assistance, coaching, and evidence-based practice implementation expertise to build capacity for states, communities, and grantees to improve policies and direct services that improve family outcomes. Consistently draws upon knowledge of substance use and mental health prevention and treatment methods and services; child welfare strategies and service models; and prior experience with program and resource development, selection, and implementation of evidence-based models. Extensive experience working on legislative and statewide change initiatives in the child welfare arena, and large-scale program development, implementation, and management of substance use disorder (SUD) treatment programs for families involved in the child welfare system. Experience certifying, evaluating, and monitoring community-based SUD and child welfare provider agencies. Highly organized and proficient in the use of a computer-based technologies for project management, communication, and resource development. Ms. Hansen holds both a Bachelor of Science degree and Master of Social Work from Arizona State University.

Tina Willauer, MPA

Ms. Willauer currently serves as the Program Director for the National Sobriety Treatment and Recovery Teams (START) Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) Program at Children and Family Futures (CFF). In this capacity, she leads and manages the growth and expansion of the National START Model.

With 30 years of experience in the child welfare field, Ms. Willauer is dedicated to identifying and spreading strategies that work for families affected by parental substance use, trauma, and child maltreatment.  As the purveyor of the START model, she has worked in numerous jurisdictions to implement START and other child welfare system improvements. Before joining CFF in 2017, she spent a decade serving as the Director of the Kentucky START Program at the Department for Community Based Services, overseeing the expansion and rigorous evaluation of the model. Ms. Willauer has achieved high standards of practice and a change catalyst perspective in her every role from a front-line social worker, supervisor, senior manager, program director and consultant within the public child welfare system. She has maintained her focus on transforming and strengthening the system of care within and between child welfare agencies, substance use and mental health treatment providers, the judicial system, and other family-serving entities.  She has multiple peer reviewed publications and a lengthy list of dynamic national presentations.

Ms. Willauer received her Masters in Public Administration from Cleveland State University and her Bachelors in Criminal Justice from Bowling Green State University.

Alexis Balkey, MPA, RAS
Deputy Program Director

Kim Bishop, MSW, LICSW
Deputy Program Director

Kim Coe, BSW
Deputy Program Director

Lori Jacobucci



Senior Office 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, LICSW
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

Janelle Stone, MA
Sr. Program Associate

Kate Rocke, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Katie Ryan, MPAff
Sr. Program Associate

Kelly Jones, MPA
Sr. Program Associate

Kirstin Frescoln, PhD, CPM
Sr. Program Associate

Kristina Killen, BA
Sr. Program Associate

Latonya Adjei-Tabi, MPA 
Sr. Program Associate 

Mary Hale, MS, CHC
Sr. Program Associate

Renee Luque, LCSW
Sr. Program Associate

Rob Rosenhaus, LCSW
Sr. Program Associate

Sean Couch, BSc 
Sr. Program Associate

Teri Kook, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Tessa Richter, LCSW, MSW
Sr. Program Associate

Annette Morrison, MA

Program Associate

Arielle Andrews, BA
Program Associate

Chelsey Herring, MLFP
Program Associate

Elizabeth Bullock, BA
Program Associate

Howard Leff, BS
Editor and Communications Associate

Lisa McElroy, MSW
Program Associate

Meredith Russo, MPA
Program Associate

Natasha Marvin, MS
Program Associate 

Sarah Fox, MA, APC
Program Associate

Someh Lewis, MSW
Program Associate

William Blakeley, MAT
Program Associate

Darron Petit, BA
Program Specialist

Marissa Colliflower, AA
Program Specialist

Naomi Nocum, MA
Assistant to the Executive Director

Cindy Stewart
Administrator

Delilah Deleon, BS
Staff Accountant

Elyse Thomas, BA
Administrative Coordinator

Graciela Mesa, 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