Our leadership team has extensive experience in building effective services to improve the well-being and ensure vibrant futures for children, youth, and their families.

The Institute for Innovation and Implementation

Marlene Matarese, Ph.D., M.S.W
Principal Investigator
Pronouns: she/her

Marlene Matarese has over 20 years of experience working at the individual, county, state, and national levels. Dr. Matarese specializes in content focused on evidence-based and evidence-informed intervention design; and best practices in implementation science within the context of the public child-, youth-, and family-serving systems as well as workforce development; systems of care; and sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. Dr. Matarese is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work and the Deputy Director for the Institute for Innovation and Implementation. In addition to being the Principal Investigator (PI) for the QIC-R, Dr. Matarese is also the PI for The National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ-2S Children and Youth in Foster Care, where she oversees the design, implementation, and evaluation of 15 interventions. Dr. Matarese also serves as the PI on other national, large-scale initiatives including the design, implementation, and evaluation of numerous best practices. 

Darquita Fletcher, LCSW-C, LICSW
Project Director
Pronouns: she/her

Darquita Fletcher is the Project Director for the QIC-R. Before her work with the QIC-R, Darquita was the Deputy Assistant Director for Child, Adult, and Family Services with the Prince George’s County Department of Social Services in Maryland and the Unaccompanied Refugee Minor (URM) Program Director with Lutheran Social Services of the National Capital Area. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work Administration from Fordham University. Darquita is a licensed Clinical Social Worker with over fifteen years of senior management and clinical experience and has dedicated her career to helping children and families. She also provides mental health services for residents in the Prince George’s County community through her private practice. Darquita has served on several local community boards in New York City and was on the Board of Directors for the first LGBTQ Community Center in the Bronx. Darquita has a niche for improving services and strongly believes in providing the best quality of care, equal opportunity, and service delivery to children, youth, and families.

Elizabeth Greeno, Ph.D., LCSW-C
Lead Evaluator
Pronouns: she/her

Elizabeth Greeno has direct experience and expertise with evaluation design and methodology and is currently involved in several research efforts that involve state and federally-funded evaluation research. Dr. Greeno is the lead researcher on a Quality Improvement Center designed to assess services for LGBTQ youth with child welfare involvement and is the lead researcher on the UM SSW Title IV-E Education for Public Child Welfare Program. In addition, Dr. Greeno has experience in training motivational interviewing to child welfare students, training child welfare workers on instrumentation, and has clinical practice experience in the areas of therapeutic and case management services to children and families in the child welfare system and children diagnosed with comorbid mental health disabilities and substance usage. Dr. Greeno is also a private outpatient mental health practitioner in Maryland where she specializes in adolescents, older youth, LGBTQ populations, family therapy, and family therapy reunification services for former foster youth.

Morgan Bosset
Program Specialist
Pronouns: she/her

Morgan Bosset is the Program Specialist at The Institute. Morgan has experience with coordinating and participating in a Quality Learning Collaborative (QLC). She has provided support to a national QLC for Residential Treatment Facilities. As the program specialist for the QIC-R, Morgan will support, coordinate, and provide technical assistance to local implementation sites.

Paige Hammond, M.H.S.
Lead Research Analyst
Pronouns: she/her

Paige Hammond is a Lead Research Analyst at The Institute. She has worked on the research and evaluation team for a project working to improve permanency, placement stability, and well-being for LGBTQ+ youth in foster care as well as several other projects related to youth and family well-being. Prior to joining The Institute, Paige worked on research related to tobacco cessation in Baltimore and HIV prevention/treatment domestically and internationally. Paige received a M.H.S. in Social Factors in Health from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Rochester.

Angela Weeks, M.P.A.
Pronouns: she/her

Angela Weeks brings extensive national experience creating, implementing, and evaluating programs and initiatives that improve the lives of marginalized communities. In addition to her work on the QIC-R, she is the Project Director for The Center of Excellence for LGBTQ+ behavioral Health Equity and the Project director for The National Quality Improvement Center on Tailored Services, Placement Stability, and Permanency for LGBTQ2S Children and Youth in Foster Care (QIC-LGBTQ2S). As the Project Director for the QIC-LGBTQ2S, she has helped develop, implement, and evaluate 15 different LGBTQ+ programs and initiatives for LGBTQ+ foster youth, their families, and the workforce that serves them. She also has an extensive background in implementation science, evaluation design, and building collaborative networks. She is a Doctoral Candidate (D.B.A.) and holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the University of Southern California.

Toni Donnelly
National Trainer and Coach
Pronouns: she/her

Toni Donnelly has over 20 years of experience working at the individual, county state and national levels. Toni joined The Institute as a National Trainer and Coach in Wraparound, and a National Trainer and Coach for the Peer Parent Support Workforce. In her current role, Toni specializes in workforce development in navigating systems, building effective wraparound teams, training and certification of the peer parent support workforce, family engagement, involvement and leadership, and the building of effective parent – professional partnerships. Toni’s approach to training, coaching and technical assistance is informed by her most important role of raising three sons with emotional and behavioral health needs. She and her children have had experience in both the public and private sectors of behavioral health that include the child welfare, the juvenile justice system and special education services. Toni’s non-adversarial advocacy as a parent on behalf of her children, coupled with her ability to navigate complex child-serving systems and special education services compelled Toni to become a leader involved in the family movement.

Sam Macer, M.S.W.
Kinship Care Training Specialist
Pronouns: he/him

Sam Macer and his wife were foster parents from 2000–2015 specializing in providing care for youth 14 to 20 years old. Sam promoted authentic engagement with the parents of origin to support the child’s well-being and reunification when appropriate. In 2012 he was Baltimore City Foster Parent of the year and was the first Resource Parent invited to serve as a member on the Baltimore City DSS Commission. In 2005 Sam founded the Maryland Resource Parent; Parent, Teachers Association (PTA) and currently serves on the Board. President Obama recognized Sam in the Champion of Change Program for creating the Country’s first Resource Parent, PTA to support educational parent engagement to help raise and sustain academic achievement of foster youth. In 2017 Sam received a M.S.W. and worked as a case worker in Baltimore City. In 2019 Sam began working at the University of Maryland, Child Welfare Academy as the first Kinship Care Training Specialist.

Terry Shaw, Ph.D., M.S.W., M.P.H.
Director of Research
Pronouns: he/him


Terry Shaw’s background and interests focuses on leveraging existing administrative data systems to improve state policy and practice related to child and family health. Dr. Shaw is particularly interested in examining the pathways into and through child serving systems focusing on how states can facilitate long lasting permanency for families – including pathways to reunification and issues surrounding reentry. Dr. Shaw is involved in projects that encourage state systems to collaborate, understand service overlaps, improve overall service delivery and address the multiple needs of the children and families involved with these systems (including child, youth and family physical and mental health; surveillance of psychotropic medication use; pathways to permanency; educational access; interactions between the court and child welfare services, and child maltreatment prevention).

Center for the Study of Social Policy

Kristen Weber, J.D.
Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice
Pronouns: she/her

Kristen Weber leads CSSP’s internal strategic vision for addressing equity internally at CSSP and externally provides technical assistance to jurisdictions working to address racial inequities. She leads CSSP’s Institutional Analysis project (IA), a qualitative review process to analyze laws, policies, and practices that contribute to poor outcomes for particular populations involved with child welfare systems. She has conducted IAs and written accompanying papers about child welfare system contributors to racial disproportionality and disparities in achieving permanency experienced by Black and Latinx children, youth, and families; systems’ responses to survivors of intimate partner violence and their children; and system contributors to the lack of safety and affirmation experienced by LGBTQ+ youth and families. Kristen serves as a faculty member for Foster America—a fellowship program whose mission is to improve the lives of America’s more vulnerable children by building a pipeline of leaders and innovators who will help transform child welfare.

Sarah Morrison, M.A.
Director of Learning & Evidence
Pronouns: she/her


Sarah Morrison has over 40 years of experience working with county, state, and national agencies and organizations. Sarah is Director of Learning & Evidence at the Center for the Study of Social Policy. In this role, Sarah leads CSSP’s efforts to stay current, focused on results, and continuously learn what works to improve outcomes for children, families, and communities, especially in populations of color. She also looks for ways CSSP and its partners can share this knowledge with communities, policymakers, and practitioners. Along with Kristen Weber at CSSP and under the mentorship of Ellen Pence, Sarah refined the Institutional Analysis methodology for application in child welfare systems. Over the course of her long career, Sarah has been a management consultant working with public and private human service agencies, a university-based public opinion pollster, a Senior Evaluator at the Government Accountability Office, and a federally appointed monitor of a child welfare class-action settlement.

Children and Family Futures

Nancy K. Young, Ph.D., M.S.W.
Executive Director
Pronouns: she/her

Nancy Young is the Executive Director of Children and Family Futures, 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 health disorders. Dr. Young is an expert in providing training and technical assistance to states and communities in support of their efforts to enhance cross-systems collaboration for the benefit of this population of families, as well as developing and disseminating information to the field on the advances in policy and practice. Dr. Young serves as a consultant to various states, counties, tribes, communities and foundations through her work with numerous projects related to public policy analysis, strategic planning and program evaluation on behalf of the families affected by substance use and mental health disorders who are involved in child welfare and judicial systems.

Sid Gardner, M.P.A., M.A.
Pronouns: he/him

Sid Gardner is the President of Children and Family Futures. He was director of the Center for Collaboration for Children at California State University, Fullerton from 1991-2001 and is the author of Beyond Collaboration to Results and Cities, Counties, Kids, and Families: The Essential Role of Local Government, as well as eight novels. Sid has been a staff member of the White House Domestic Council, Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Director of State and Local Affairs of the Children’s Defense Fund, and served as an elected member of the Hartford City Council from 1977 to 1981. He graduated from Occidental College and received a Master’s degree in Public Affairs from Princeton University and a Master’s degree in Religious Studies from Hartford Seminary.  

Teri Kook, M.S.W.

Senior Program Associate
Pronouns: she/her

Teri Kook serves as a Senior Program Associate for Children and Family Futures. She provides technical assistance & support to three jurisdictions in Oklahoma and to several tribal/county partnerships in Northern California as part of the Quality Improvement Center-Collaborative Community Court Teams Initiative (QIC). She is also a technical assistance provider through the Substance Exposed Infant, In Depth Technical Assistance Team where she works on systems change in Michigan, Oklahoma, and South Carolina. Prior to joining CFF, Teri was the Director of Child Welfare at the Stuart Foundation where she oversaw all aspects of child welfare grant making and program development in California and Washington states. Previously, Teri served in public child welfare for 17 years in various frontline, supervisory and management positions, including five years as the Child Welfare Director, in Stanislaus County, CA. Teri holds a B.A. in Sociology from CSU, Stanislaus and received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Jose State University.

Hanh Dao, M.S.W.
Senior Operations Associate
Pronouns: she/her

Hanh Dao serves as a Senior Operations Associate for the Children and Family Futures’ Operations Team and as a Senior Program Associate for the National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW). Prior, Hanh served as the NCSACW TTA Program Manager in which she oversaw NCSACW’s Collaborative Technical Assistance program. She has extensive experience in developing and delivering TTA using various multi-media platforms, including webinars and written materials. Hanh’s expertise includes program start-up and development of training materials. Her experience includes work with Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Los Angeles and working with families and individuals in numerous capacities, including as an Emergency Response Children’s Social Worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Futures. Hanh holds an M.S.W. from the University of California, Los Angeles, where she was selected for the California Title IV-E Child Welfare Stipend Program.

Tribal Law and Policy Institute

Jerry Gardner, J.D.
Executive Director
Pronouns: he/him

Jerry Gardner serves as TLPI’s Executive Director and is an attorney with more than 35 years of experience working with American Indian/Alaska Native Nations, tribal court systems, and victims of crime in Indian country. Jerry has served as the Executive Director of the Tribal Law and Policy Institute since its founding in 1996 and oversees all TLPI projects and services. Jerry has also served as the Director of the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Tribes, Council Member of the American Bar Association (ABA) Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities (IRR), and an ABA Tribal Courts Council member. Jerry has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, UCLA School of Law, and Southwestern School of Law. He served as the Senior Staff Attorney with the National Indian Justice Center (NIJC) from NIJC’s establishment in 1983 until TLPI’s founding in 1996. He also served in legal training positions for the national office of the Legal Services Corporation and the American Indian Lawyer Training Program. Jerry received his J.D. from the Antioch School of Law.

Kathy Deserly
Co-Project Director
Pronouns: she/her


Kathy Deserly is the Co-Project Director for the Capacity Building Center for Tribes and previously served as director of the National Resource Center for Tribes, both technical assistance centers funded through the Children’s Bureau. Kathy has worked with the Tribal Law & Policy Institute for the past ten years and has more than 35 years of experience in the field of tribal child welfare services and ICWA, including providing extensive training and technical assistance with Native agencies. Kathy’s experience includes service within tribal, non-profit and state child welfare agencies. She has focused on foster care and adoption services, ICWA, Title IV-E and Title IV-B funding streams to support tribal child welfare systems. Kathy resides with her family in Wolf Point, MT on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation.

Connie Bear King
Pronouns: she/her

Connie Bear King is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. Connie’s experience includes being a consultant for Quality Improvement Center on Family-Centered Reunification (QIC-R), tribal lead for the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute (NCWWI), consultant for the Quality Improvement Center for Adoption and Guardianship (QIC-AG), the Capacity Building Center for Tribes (CBC4Tribes), and the National Resource Center for Tribes (NRC4Tribes). She was the Director of Community Development and a Government Affairs Associate for the National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA.) In Iowa she was Executive Director for the Office of Indian Education, served on the District 3B Judicial Nominating Commission, the Child Advocacy Board (CAB), co-founded the Community Initiative for Native Children and Families (CINCF), and advocated for the passage of Iowa’s Indian Children Welfare Act. Connie is on the board of the North American Council on Adoptable Children, served as co-chair of the National Association for Community Mediators. Connie served as a Commissioner of the San Francisco Human Right Commission while working at the University of California San Francisco.

Youth MOVE National

Johanna Bergan
Executive Director
Pronouns: she/her

Johanna Bergan is an advocate for youth with her own lived experience in the mental health system who leads Youth MOVE National as Executive Director. Johanna has thirteen years of experience in the field of youth engagement to promote and encourage the inclusion of youth voice in policy change throughout youth serving systems including behavioral health, child welfare, and juvenile justice. Johanna’s work covers a diverse array of experiences including leadership for federal grants and contracts to build capacity in local, county, state, and federal systems to partner with youth and young adults and experiences including facilitation, training, product development, and curriculum writing for youth leadership, youth engagement, and youth peer services. 

Lydia Proulx
Youth Program Coordinator
Pronouns: they/them

Lydia’s own lived experience with mental health, school, and youth leadership drives their dedication to authentic youth engagement, advocacy, and education. With over a decade of experience as a youth peer provider, supervisor, and program coordinator they are ready to support local communities with youth engagement and peer support program design, implementation, and evaluation. Prior to working at Youth MOVE National, Lydia was Youth Program Manager of YMN’s statewide chapter, Youth MOVE Massachusetts. Currently, Lydia is studying for their M.P.H. at UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. In their spare time, Lydia volunteers on a local farm for hunger relief and teaches comprehensive sexual health education to youth and young adults in their community.

Michelle Vance
Youth Program Specialist
Pronouns: she/her

Michelle Vance is a passionate advocate who works for Youth MOVE National as a Youth Program Specialist. Michelle has worked on youth engagement and youth voice in Systems of Care in Utah for over seven years. She has supported young adults in sharing their voice for systems training and policy change at a state and local level with the State of Utah under the Healthy Transitions Initiative. Michelle has lived experience in the foster care system and has completed her B.S. in Business from the University of Utah.

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C/O The Institute for Innovation and Implementation
University of Maryland School of Social Work
525 W. Redwood St.
Baltimore, MD 21201