2023 Annual Conference Presenters

NASW-WI would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of our presenters for taking part in our 2023 Annual Conference.

We are fortunate to have a wide range of speakers from all areas of Social Work. This conference has been in existence for 49 years and it is because of dedicated professionals who are willing to give their time and expertise in order to educate us and enrich our practice.

Rafael Acevedo Jr., B.S. (he/him) City of Milwaukee Grant Compliance Manager

Acevedo, Rafael

 Rafael was born and raised in Milwaukee. For the past eight years, Rafael has served as the Grant Compliance Manager for the City of Milwaukee’s Community Development Grants Administration. Rafael is responsible for coordinating the City of Milwaukee’s efforts to end homelessness. Prior to working at the City of Milwaukee, Rafael worked for the Greater Milwaukee Foundation as a Philanthropic Advisor. Prior to his work at the Foundation, he served as the Executive Director of two different nonprofit agencies. Rafael acquired his BA in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee. Rafael currently serves as a board member for Froedtert Hospital and Visit Milwaukee. Rafael has over twenty-five years of experience in the nonprofit, philanthropic and government sectors.

Julie Ahnen, (she/her) DCDHS CPS Manager 

Julie Ahnen is a native of Madison, WI, and a graduate of the University of WI-Madison, receiving a graduate degree in Social Work in 1984. She has practiced professionally as a Social Worker since October of 1984, holding a variety of positions in the non-profit and private sector in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX area during her first 10 years of practice. Ms. Ahnen began employment with the Dane County Department of Human Services in June of 1995 and has held a variety of positions within Child Protective Services as a line Social Worker and as a CPS Supervisor. Ms. Ahnen has been the Manager of Child Protective Services in Dane County since March of 2010. 

Adrianna Andritsch, BSW

Adrianna Andritsch, BSW, works for St. Charles Youth and Family Services FISS Program as a Manager and Wraparound Milwaukee Youth Connect Program Manager. Adrianna is a first-generation college student with a passion for supporting families in need. She earned her BSW from Carthage College in 2019 and entered right into the workforce. She has held several positions within Milwaukee County Children's Community Mental Health Services & Wraparound, starting with entry-level case management. She now supervises two entitlement mental health programs focusing on family preservation and adolescent mental health crisis response.

John Battaglia, M.D.

Battaglia, John
John Battaglia, MD, is Clinical Adjunct Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, and is Medical Director of the Program of Assertive Community Treatment in Madison, Wisconsin.  He has lectured both nationally and abroad on a variety of topics including crisis intervention, treatment of agitation, and supportive psychotherapy.   For the past 30 years he has taught supportive psychotherapy and crisis intervention techniques for various agencies including Southwestern Medical School Department of Psychiatry (Dallas, TX), Alaska State Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities (Community Mental Health Centers-statewide, AK), Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI), Milwaukee Public Schools Psychology Division (Milwaukee, WI), the University of Wisconsin Department of Psychiatry (Madison, WI) and Metabletica (Netherlands). 

Charles Bauernfeind (he/him/his) MSW, APSW - SCPMH Coordinator

Bauernfeind, Charles MSW, APSW - SCPMH Coordinator
Charlie Bauernfeind is a School Coordinator for the School Community Partnership for Mental Health (SCPMH).  The SCPMH program is a collaborative mental health program with Milwaukee Public Schools and six Milwaukee area community provider agencies.  The partnership exists to provide 
access to mental health services, right at school, for students whom would not be able to utilize them in the community.  There are currently 39 schools in the SCPMH partnership where students and families can access mental health services from clinical therapists positioned in those schools.

Laura Becher (she/her) MSW,  DCDHS CPS Access Supervisor

Laura Becher (She/Her), MSW, is a Wisconsin Native. She received her Bachelors of Social Work from UW – Eau Claire and Masters of Social Work from UW – Madison.  Prior to obtaining her graduate degree, Laura worked with adults with developmental disabilities and served in the Peace Corps.  Laura has worked in child welfare since 2010; 7 years in Initial Assessment and 6 years as a Supervisor.  Laura co-supervises the Access Unit and also supervises Independent Living and Permanency Planning.

Brian Benford (he/him/his) MSW

Benford, Brian
For the last thirty years, Brian Benford has fought for the City of Madison’s most underserved and vulnerable communities as a family advocate, educator, activist, City Alder, and past president of the City of Madison’s Equal Opportunities Commission. He’s spent his career working directly with - and advocating for - at-risk youth, low-income families, and neighborhood organizations to reach their full potentials. Brian received his MSW from the UW-Madison Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work in 2020. Brian currently serves as the Social Worker/Success Coach for the award-winning UW-Madison Odyssey Project which takes a whole family approach to breaking the cycle of generational poverty through access to education.

Andrea Bernstein (she/her), MSW 

Bernstein, Andrea, MSW
Andrea Bernstein is the Associate Director of the Milwaukee Jewish Community Relations Council, where her work is focused on building strong relationships between the Jewish Community and other diverse communities to help counter antisemitism and all other forms of hatred and bias. Andrea also serves as Vice President of the Fox Point-Bayside School District. Andrea earned her BA from Brandeis University in 1999, and her MSW from UW-Madison in 2003. Andrea’s favorite things about living in Milwaukee with her husband and two teenaged kids include taking walks along our beautiful Lake Michigan, listening to 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, and getting to know the many passionate changemakers working together to build a vibrant community where everyone can thrive.

Abbe Bivian (she/her/hers) BSW

Abbe Bivian
Abbe is a first-generation Mexican-American and graduated with her BSW from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. It was there that she was awarded the 2023 Lois Miranda Advocacy Award for her history and commitment to advocacy and macro practice. She is currently pursuing her MSW at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a concentration in child, youth, and family welfare and a sub-focus in policy and administration.

Maddie Boratto (SHE/HER)

Maddie Boratto (she/her) is currently a senior at Carthage College, working towards her bachelor's degree in social work. She is interning at Carthage’s Health and Counseling Center, where she works to ensure the success and wellbeing of fellow students. Following graduation, she intends to pursue her master’s degree in social work.

Shannon Braden (she/her/hers) 

Shannon, Braden
Shannon has 11 years of health and human services administration experiences as a former Deputy Director for a medium sized Wisconsin County. In her current role Shannon is responsible for the administration of Kinship care, foster care, subsidized guardianships and the Interstate Compact for Placement of Children (ICPC) at the state level.  A primary focus of Shannon’s leadership journey has been supporting and implementing a trauma-effective organization and workforce. Prior to working with human services Shannon was a child life specialist, directly supporting hospitalized children and their families. Shannon has a Bachelors and Masters degree, both from Michigan State University. Additionally, Shannon is a Master Ace Interface trainer and holds a trauma effective leadership certificate from the University of Minnesota.

Jerrell J. Braxton (he/him) MSSW, CICSW

Braxton, Jerrell
Jerrell Braxton is a retired School Social Worker and Clinical Psychotherapist. He has won multiple awards for his exceptional work such as Wisconsin School Social Worker of the Year (first and only Black male); MPS's "Red Apple" Exceptional Education Award; Kwanza Leadership Award and Milwaukee Times, 27th Black Excellence Award, to name a few. UWM-MILWAUKEE, Distinguished Alumnus of the Year - 2012 and MPS School Social of the year/1994, first African-American male to receive.

Roberta Bronecki, LCSW

Bronecki, Roberta
Roberta Bronecki, LCSW is the Co-Founder/Clinical Director for Pine Valley Integrated Services an integrated outpatient behavioral health and AODA program in Mauston WI. She is also the Clinical Program Director for Pine Valley Residential Services, a program of eight long-term care facilities based in Juneau and Sauk Counties. Roberta is active in her community chairing the Roche A Cri Consortia for Medication Assisted Treatment in Adams, Juneau, and Marquette counties. Roberta has been working in the field of mental health since 1998 and has been working as a social worker since 2002.


Phyllis Mensh Brostoff (she/her) MSW, CISW, ACSW  

Brostoff, Phyllis Mensh, MSW, CISW, ACSW
Phyllis Mensh Brostoff, MSW, CISW, ACSW r
eceived her Master’s Degree in social work in 1970 from the University of Maryland School of Social Work, Baltimore, Md.  With the exception of four years when she was the director of a shelter for homeless families (1979-1983), she has worked with the elderly and their families.  She co-founded and directed Stowell Associates (1983-2017), the first geriatric care management company in Wisconsin.  She was a co-founder of the Aging Life Care Association (formerly known as NAPGCM), and served in the Board in many positions, including Board President in 2009.  She has presented numerous seminars, written chapters in several books, and was the Chair of NASW-Wi Committee on Inquiry for a decade.  She is mostly retired, actively grandparenting four children under 5.

Nadir Carlson (he/him) MSW

Carlson, Nadi, MSW
Nadir Carlson is the Membership and Communications Coordinator for NASW-WI! Nadir received his MSW from UW-Milwaukee in December of 2022. Before attending graduate school, Nadir was a Residence Hall Director at Lawrence University for three years. Nadir received a B.A. in Political Sciences and Sociology from Beloit College in 2016. After college Nadir spent a year in Seattle, Washington participating in an AmeriCorps program called City Year. Nadir proudly grew up in Beloit, Wisconsin!

Rachel Castillo, (she/her/hers) MSW, MPH

Castillo, Rachel, MSW, MPH
Rachel Castillo, MSW, MPH is an advanced practice social worker and public health professional who currently works at the Aurora Midtown Clinic in Milwaukee. She has been a social worker for over 20 years, practicing in a variety of settings including child welfare and the medical field. Rachel has helped to facilitate several multidisciplinary team projects during her career, most recently steering the planning committee to launch a satellite clinic within a nonprofit in Milwaukee’s Amani neighborhood.  

Courtney Diedrick, CAPSW

Diedrick, Courtney, CAPSW
 My name is Courtney Diedrick.  I am currently the Program Social Worker for the SRTU Unit at Oshkosh Correctional Institute.  I have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work.  I have been at OSCI since October of 2022.  Prior to this position, I worked in Treatment Foster Care that specializes working with children with extreme mental health needs. My name is Courtney Diedrick.  I am currently the Program Social Worker for the SRTU Unit at Oshkosh Correctional Institute.  I have both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work.  I have been at OSCI since October of 2022.  Prior to this position, I worked in Treatment Foster Care that specializes working with children with extreme mental health needs.

Katherine Drechsler, (she/her/hers) DSW, LCSW-SA, SSW

Drechsler, Katherine
Dr. Katherine Drechsler is an Assistant Professor and the Field Coordinator for the Bachelor and Master of Social Work Program at the University of Wisconsin Whitewater and the coordinator of the School Social Work Certificate Program. She teaches in both the Bachelors and the Master’s program primarily social work practice courses and substance use disorder courses. Dr. Drechsler is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a specialty authorization in Substance Abuse in the state of Wisconsin and has her school social work license in Wisconsin. Dr. Drechsler has 30 years of social work experience including experiences in child welfare, juvenile justice, and 7 years working with individuals with co-occurring disorders in an integrative community-based program.

Lisa Dunham, (she/her/hers) LCSW

Dunham, Lisa, LCSW
Heather Simonson, MSE, and Lisa Dunham, LCSW are therapists with the Pauquette Center. They have a combined 35 years of experience in the field and have been trained in DBT and DBT-C. Heather has found that DBT-C provides a strength-based approach that can effectively address multiple facets of childrens' challenges thus increasing treatment success for the child, the parent, and the family. Lisa has felt that DBT-C filled a missing piece regarding how to implement change with young children and their families in that the practice involves engaging parents more so than children, and thus changes the family system.


Cindy Dunst (she/her) MSW, CAPSW

Cindy Dunst
Cindy Dunst is an Advanced Practice Social Worker (CAPSW) who has been working directly with Pediatric Patients and their Families for over 20 years. She has worked in several areas in the Pediatric Setting including: the Emergency Room Trauma Department, the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit and the Pediatric Home Tracheostomy/Ventilator Program. She received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from Concordia University of Mequon and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from University of WI-Milwaukee. She also completed the Trauma Certification Program at University of WI-Milwaukee.

Emily Eckheart

Emily Eckheart (she/her) is a Senior Social Work major who is expected to graduate with their BSW from Carthage College in May of 2024. She is doing her field study at the Center for Student Success, working with first-year students, athletes, and first-generation students at Carthage College. 

Jyl Ellmaker (she/her/hers) MSW - SCPMH Coordinator

Ellmaker, Jyl, MSW - SCPMH Coordinator
Jyl Ellmaker has extensive experience working with children and families.
  Her experiences took off while volunteering with the AMERICORPS program for 2 years.   Jyl started her school social work career in a Milwaukee charter school and after 3 years moved to Milwaukee Public Schools where she has worked for the last 17 years. For the first 15 years, Jyl was the school social worker in an elementary school. Beginning in 2021, Jyl took a new role as a coordinator of SCPMH in MPS.   Jyl is a compassionate social worker committed to assisting students and families in the areas of mental health and overall wellness.

Cheryl Eplett, Warden, OSCI 

Eplett, Cheryl OSCI
I have been with the WI Department of Corrections for thirty-two years. I received my Bachelors of Social Work from the University Milwaukee-Wisconsin in1990. In 1991, I started my career as a Social Worker at Kettle Moraine and eventually transferred to Oshkosh Correctional Institution. Eventually, I became an Institution Unit Supervisor at The Wisconsin Resource Center and after eight years, went to Fox Lake Correctional as Social Services Director. I've held the position of Director, Office of Program Services in WI DOC Central Office. I then joined the team at Dodge Correctional as Deputy Warden and promoted to Warden at Oak Hill Correctional Institution, finally coming back to Oshkosh Correctional as Warden in 2021. I currently hold a CSW credential. I serve on the Committee on Inmate and Youth Deaths, DOC Release Oversight Committee, DOC Mental Health Committee and Mentor Program Work Group. I am recipient of the DHFS Secretary's Excellence Award and a 2009 Enterprise Leadership Academy Graduate.

Tony Gardner, MA

Gardner, Tony, MA
Tony Gardner has a bachelor’s degree in Human Services and a master’s degree in Pastoral Care. His approach to helping others is grounded in a strengths-based and spiritual approach that aims to build independence, compassion and resilience in others. Tony uses the transformational power of lived experience, creativity and connection to support others in their recovery journeys. Tony has several self-published works including journals and a book of poetry. He manages an active blog and creative showcase on his website thepoetic1.com. Tony currently serves as a substance use (AODA) counselor at Wisconsin Community Services (WCS) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Dr. Ashlee Gethner(she/her/hers) DSW, MSW, LCSW

Gethner, Ashlee, DSW, MSW, LCSW 
Ashlee has been in the mental health and counseling field for over eight years, having worked in various settings such as schools, out-patient, in-patient and residential. Currently, Ashlee owns her own private practice in Kenosha, WI. Ashlee has worked with a variety of ages and populations but utilized her educational time when obtaining her Doctor of Social Work degree from George Williams College of Aurora University to focus and specialize in mental wellness for first responders. Ashlee hopes to continue paving the way for programs and education in first responders mental health and well-being.

Eric Giordano, Ph.D.

Giordano, Eric, PhD
As the founding director of WIPPS, Eric Giordano works with university and community partners to identify and address key policy issues using community-based solutions. He conducts survey and focus group research and analysis; strategic and action planning, coalition building, and deliberation training and facilitation. Eric co-leads a national project on the future of rural communities in America with the Kettering Foundation and other national partners. He is a frequent public speaker on issues of public policy, citizen dialogue, democratic place-making and community problem-solving.

Dr. Jeffrey B. Gorelick

Gorlick, Jeffrey B., PdH
Dr. Jeffrey Gorelick is a board-certified physiatrist who has practiced at Pain Rehabilitation Associates since 1992. He continues to use the latest medical advances in combination with basic rehabilitation principles in non-surgical pain care and is driven by the desire to assist in people’s improvements in pain. Dr. Gorelick has always been drawn to science and as a young adult developed a heartfelt devotion to community, making his path to medicine a natural progression. He received an undergraduate degree in chemistry in 1977, earned a medical degree in 1981, and trained in physical medicine and rehabilitation at the Medical College of Wisconsin from 1981-1985. Additionally, he was involved in a part time bioethics fellowship from 1988-1991. Initially, his clinical background focused on helping people with traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, strokes, multiple fractures, and pain. During his 30+ years of treating individuals with pain, he has recognized the powerful impact of pain. This has altered the focus of his clinical practice by applying a combination of basic medical principles with state-of-the-art therapies to help people who are experiencing acute and chronic pain. In his free time, Dr. Gorelick enjoys playing the bass clarinet, biking, swimming, and spending time with his family and friends.

Megan Gour (they/ them) MSW, APSW

Gour, Megan (They, Them)
Megan is currently the social worker for the pediatric adolescent transgender health clinic (PATH clinic) at UW Health. Megan has been working in the field of social work for 10+ years and has always specialized in working with transgender, gender diverse and queer young individuals. Throughout their career Megan has worked to advocate, educate, and create safe places for LGBTQ+ individuals. Megan helped to open the first LGBTQ+ resource space on campus while obtaining their undergraduate degree in Utah, has worked with multiple agencies to create safe and inclusive policies for LGBTQ+ people and has presented at conferences across the country.

Emily Green (she/her) MSW, CAPSW, SAC-IT

Green, Emily
Emily graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree in 2020 and a Master's in Social Work degree in 2021 from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Emily currently is employed at Jefferson County Human Services Department working with children and adolescents in the Comprehensive Community Services Program. Emily is completing the training and supervision hours toward her licensed clinical social worker and substance abuse counselor. In addition, Emily is completing the Training for Adoption Competency program.

Mylira Green ( she/her/hers) LCSW, CCTP-II

Green, LCSW, CCTP-II, Mylira
Mylira Green is a Certified Complex Trauma Professional functioning as a Licensed Clinical Social Work who serves as a psychotherapist, Confidence Coach, Master Healer, and Transformative Speaker. She strives to provide the world with preventative services to lower the rate of suicidality worldwide.   She is the founder of M. Green Enterprises, LLC, where she heals leaders to build a better workplace. Her goal is to provide training and consultation to businesses looking to revive the lives of their employees by taking an interest in their holistic health.   Mylira has also recently birthed The Metamorphosis Healing Experience, LLC. She works with individuals to become unstuck and motivated to reach their goals while owning their gifts confidently. She does this by providing person-centered services assisting people with thriving beyond the triggers that proceed post their life's traumas.  As a social work alum of Norfolk State University and the University of Southern California and a present student at Regent University's Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program and Virginia Bible College’s ICF coaching program, Mylira brings nine years of experience assisting individuals addressing their mental and emotional health.  Mylira strives to serve as the safe place where you can blossom into the butterfly you were created to be!! 

Katy Hagmeyer (she/hers) MSW, LCSW

Hagmeyer, Katy, MSW, LCSW
Katy Hagmeyer: Katy holds a MSW and TIC certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Katy is a psychotherapist and mental health consultant serving the Deaf community. Katy is passionate about social activism, being involved with Wisconsin Association of the Deaf (WAD). Under her leadership, WAD’s community involvement through collaboration and legislative activities have increased i.e. establishing annual Deaf and Hard of hearing Legislative day that had a main focus on increasing knowledge about disparities within the Mental Health for the Deaf and Hard of hearing community.  Katy is also an appointee on the Governor’s Deaf and Hard of Hearing Council.

Jennifer L. T. Halter, (she/her/hers) LICSW, DCSW

Halter, Jennifer L. T., LICSW, DCSW
Jennifer Halter is the Department of Veterans Affairs National Fisher House & Family Hospitality Program Manager who participated on the PACT Act Section 603 implementation team. She previously served as the Milwaukee VA Medical Center Social Work Executive overseeing the practice of over 160 master prepared social workers.  She is a retired U. S. Air Force social worker with 14 years Department of Veterans Affairs experience in mental health and addiction recovery services, domestic abuse prevention, assessment, and treatment, case management, and community resilience.  Jennifer is passionate about teaching Veterans to navigate and use the complex system of Veteran benefits and health care to maintain their independence and quality of life. 

Katie Heinzen: Director of Behavioral Health The Production Farm

Heinzen, Katie, Director of Behavioral Health The Production Farm
Katie has always had a passion for working with children. She attended St. Norbert College, obtaining a degree in psychology with a minor in art while working in the child development center on campus. In graduate school at Springfield College, she received her master’s degree in art therapy and worked at the child development center there as well as ServiceNet which provided therapy and transitional living skills to young adults. Katie has also worked as a clinical assessment specialist in an inpatient psychiatric hospital for children, has been a director of patient services at a critical access hospital, and the lead therapist at an intensive outpatient program for seniors. After being out of state for 13 years, Katie returned to Wisconsin to be closer to family and has been with The Production Farm since 2018. In her spare time, Katie enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys, running marathons, gardening, and cooking.

Kristen Hernandez, (she, her, hers) LCSW, LPHA 

Hernandez, Kristen, LCSW, LPHA
Kristen is a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) that has worked in a variety of settings with individuals from various socio-economic, cultural, ethnic, and educational backgrounds; providing her with numerous and valuable experiences. Kristen is a trauma-focused clinician with several years of experience.  She has been an adjunct professor teaching courses on trauma, psychopathology, and research methods. Kristen developed a non-profit that focused on providing free behavioral health trainings to local communities.  She has developed and provided numerous clinical training courses in professional, community, and academic environments, including her past role as the National Director of Education for a child welfare organization.  Currently, Kristen is working full time as a private practice psychotherapist and public speaker.  

Kristen Herried, (she/her/hers) MSW, APSW

Herried, Kristen, MSW, APSW
Kristen Herried earned her MSW in Social Work from UW-Milwaukee. She is the Mental Wellness Coordinator for the Kenosha Fire and Police Departments and is an AEMT with the Twin Lakes Volunteer Fire Department. She is the Clinical Director of Traumatic Incident Resource, Inc., a non-profit that provides crisis intervention support to first-responding agencies in Southeastern Wisconsin. Prior to her work in Kenosha, Ms. Herried served as the Health and Safety Officer for the Milwaukee Fire Department. She is an approved instructor with the International Critical Stress Foundation and the National Council for Behavioral Health, and has provided mental health support for 20 years. 

Marc Herstand (he/him) MSW, CISW

Herstand, Marc

Marc Herstand has served as the Executive Director of the National Association of Social Workers, Wisconsin Chapter since 1992.In this position Marc has facilitated the passage of bills on tele-mental health, licensure, mental health services in schools and Vendorship through the Wisconsin State Legislature and the passage of several rules benefiting clinical social workers through the Department of Health Services. During the Covid-19 pandemic he successfully petitioned the Evers Administration to allow telephone therapy and implement the tele-mental health bill in record time. Marc has also successfully organized campaigns to stop several bills and rules that would have harmed the social work profession. Marc has organized statewide coalitions on the Extreme Risk Protection Order (Red Flag legislation), the Child Victim’s Act and Conversion Therapy and has organized over twelve NASW WI lobby days.Marc greatly expanded the Wisconsin Chapter’s annual conference, began the Chapter’s Winter Webinar series and home study program and oversaw the development of NASW WI’s Fact Sheets on Child Welfare, Corrections and Hospital Social Work.

Previous to this position Marc served as Executive Director of Health Care for the Homeless of Milwaukee, the San Diego AIDS Project, Planned Parenthood of Southeast Iowa and as Social Services Coordinator at the Council for the Spanish Speaking, Inc. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the mid-70’s Marc served as a VISTA Volunteer in the Central Valley of California where he recruited farmworker and other low income families to participate in a self-help housing program.

Marc has served as an adjunct instructor of social work at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, the University of Wisconsin, Whitewater, the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, George Williams College at Aurora University and Marian University in Fond du Lac.

Mr. Herstand earned his masters degree in social work from the University of California, Berkeley.

Kayla Hohman LPC: Chief Operations Officer The Production Farm

Hohman, Kayla, LPC, Chief Operations Officer The Production Farm
“Art, science, and kindness” is Kayla’s motto. Kayla was instrumental in rebuilding, rebranding and reimagining The Production Farm’s mission by helping to focus and improve programs in order to make it a sustainable company. Kayla has training and experience as a paraeducator, substitute teacher, caregiver in Foster, Respite, and Daycare settings; and community care services provider; specifically working with children with special needs. Ongoing education and degree credits in Human Biology, Anthropology, Psychology, and Business Administration. Fine Artist, with internship experience and background with Fine Art, Fine Art Gallery Administration and Management; and Community Works. Notable experiences include: 2nd Floor Art Gallery and 2nd Floor Contemporary Arts Center. Extensive volunteer experience and leadership roles with a variety of community projects, including the AYUSA Global Youth Exchange Program in Green Bay WI, Family Readiness Group Leader for the Army, The El Paso Art Walk, and other community projects. Currently chief operations officer, development director, and trauma informed service provider for The Production Farm Inc.

Julie Incitti, (she/her) MSW, APSW

Incitti, MSW, APSW, Julie 2
Julie Incitti is the school social work consultant at the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. Julie’s primary work responsibilities involve provision of training, resource development, and technical assistance. In addition, she serves on the Wisconsin Child Abuse & Neglect Prevention Board and networks with a variety of state level organizations with the goal of better provision of services to children, youth and families.

Ted Izydor (he/him) LPC, CSAC, ICS, MBA 

Izydor, Ted, LPC, CSAC, ICS, MBA  
Ted Izydor is a National Board-Certified Counselor, thought leader, and organizational trainer, and is the Founder of Full Potential Coaching, a company that enables professionals to become the best version of themselves. Over the past 25 years, Ted has guided over 20,000 clients to define their vision, collapse limiting beliefs, and achieve break throughs by harnessing multi-modal learning and implementation science, he delivers high-impact trainings to healthcare, retail, and non-profit organizations. Ted holds an MBA in Organizational Development and an MS in Counseling Psychology. He is a Motivational Interview Networking Trainer, Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, Founder of Full Potential Now Addiction Blog and Podcast, and triathlete.

Reggie Jackson, (he/him) Co-Founder, Nurturing Diversity Partners

Reggie Jackson has been a much sought-after speaker, researcher, and writer for over a decade. He specializes in sharing seldom-told stories and facts about the experiences of African-Americans and other peoples of color past and present, helping institutions and individuals understand how our country’s racial hierarchy developed historically and its impact on our lives today. Reggie is a Co-Founder and Lead Trainer/Consultant for Nurturing Diversity Partners, a consulting firm that fosters diversity, inclusion, and equity within institutions and communities. He writes and provides background on current racial issues to regional, national, and international media.

Melissa Jenks, LPC (she/her/hers) - Supervisor SBMH Milwaukee 

Jenks Melissa, LPC
Melissa Jenks is a Supervisor for Children’s Wisconsin in their School Based Mental Health Program in Milwaukee. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and has over 15 years of experience working in the mental health field in a variety of settings including residential, outpatient, and school-based. In August 2019, Melissa took on a Clinical Supervisor role for the SBMH program in Milwaukee. Children’s Wisconsin has been in partnership with the SCPMH with Milwaukee Public Schools since 2015. Since this partnership with SCPMH, Melissa has worked as a clinician in two schools and as a supervisor of Children’s WI SBMH therapists.

Dana Johnson, (he/him/his) MSW

Johhson, Dana, MSW
Dana Johnson, MSW, has over 14 years of direct practice and senior level management experience in county human services, also holding positions as an educator at the baccalaureate and graduate levels, and in the policy realm. His passion includes coaching staff and promoting resiliency in the helping professions. His areas of expertise include leadership development, innovation, child welfare services and reform, ethics and boundaries, trauma-informed care, equity, diversity, and inclusion, including LGBTQIA+, gender and race equity.

Troy Johnson (he/him/they/them)

Johnson, Troy, LCSW
Troy Johnson is a queer-identified practitioner working primarily with LGBTQ clients, specializing in gender identity and transitioning. His work with LGBTQ older adults in Central Kentucky earned him the 2012 Jennifer Crossing: Out for Fairness Award. Troy is also the Continuing Education Director for Queer Literacy, an ACE approved CE program. His work as Program Director in Central Kentucky’s long-term care ombudsman program, Lexington Fairness’ Senior Pride Initiative, Senior Services Manager at Chicago’s Center on Halsted as well as his work as an adjunct instructor, informs his philosophy as a therapist and LGBTQ advocate.

Jesse Jonesberg (he/him) MSW, LCSW

Jonesburg, Jesse, MSW, LCSW
 Jesse Jonesberg is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with a focus on compassion, holistic mental health, and equity. He has over a decade of experience serving folks in community mental health settings through a variety of roles from case manager to executive director. Jesse is an active member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT), a candidate for Self-Compassion in Psychotherapy (SCIP) certification, and a candidate for Brainspotting (BSP) certification. He is a trainer, therapist, and consultant at Intrinsic Change, and he serves as a therapist at Wisconsin Community Services (WCS) in the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Frances Kaczor (she/her) MSW, APSW

Kaczor, Frances

Frances Kaczor, Social Work Supervisor at Children’s Wisconsin has over 17 years of experience as a social worker and over 10 years as a social work supervisor at Children’s.  She is an Advanced Practice Social Worker with progressive leadership experience and is skilled at building and leading teams, developing and implementing policy and managing relationships. Beyond Children’s Frances has experience an Inpatient Behavioral Health & Intake Counselor for seven years through the Ascension Health System.  She has also taught at Concordia University of Wisconsin as an adjunct profession for several years. Frances is dedicated to the work within and leading initiatives within Children’s with a recent goal to help improve communication and collaboration with law enforcement.  She is committed to developing new program, education, trainings, relationships and structures in order to provide the best and safest care. Frances received her Bachelors of Science in Communications from the Concordia University of Wisconsin and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.  

Emily Kenney, LCSW (she/her)

Kenney, Emily, LCSW
Emily Kenney, LCSW, currently chairs the WI Housing First Coalition and is the Director of Systems Change at IMPACT. Ms. Kenney has worked in housing and homeless services since 2009 and is a strategic leader in ending homelessness statewide. Ms. Kenney has worked as a street outreach worker, a benefits specialist, and in crisis behavioral health services, before beginning macro social work working with the homeless service delivery system in 2016.

Torrie Kopp-Mueller, MSW, she/her 

Kopp-Mueller, Torrie, MSW
Torrie Kopp Mueller is the CoC Coordinator for Madison/Dane County. She works to end homelessness by developing relationships to coordinate, evaluate and improve the homeless services system. Previously, she provided direct services in housing at YWCA Madison. Torrie has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from UW-Madison.

Jennifer Kronenberg (she/her) MSW, LCSW, LSSW

Kronenberg, Jennifer , MSW, LCSW, LSSW
Jennifer Kronenberg is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and a Licensed School Social Worker. She is presently working on her Director’s certification through UW-Eau Claire. Jen has a Masters degree in School Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Clinical Social Work from St. Thomas University in St. Paul. Jen presently works in a high school, but has held roles in multiple practice settings including County leadership, non-profits, in-home, college counseling, inpatient hospital and clinic settings. Jen loves working with young people and adults alike. She also teaches in the graduate Counseling program at Lakeland University. 

Ryan Kuepper, Corrections Program Supervisor

Kuepper, Ryan, Corrections Program Supervisor
My name is Ryan Kuepper and I have 12 years in corrections.  I have worked in six institutions, both medium and maximum custody facilities, in two different states (WI and AZ).  I have worked in both security as an Officer, Sergeant and Lieutenant and on the program side as a Corrections Program Supervisor, which is my current role. I also have my Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice and completed my Thesis on the Effects of Segregation on Mental Health on inmates. 


Wyatt Kuether: Chief Executive Officer The Production Farm

Kuether. Wyatt, Chief Executive Officer The Production Farm
After over a decade in New York City working as an Actor, Technical Director, Fight and Stunt Choreographer Wyatt moved back to his home state of Wisconsin to set up The Production Farm. Wyatt based the organization on a simple premise “Leaving the world a little better than the way it was handed to us.” After working with some very inspiring organizations in NYC Wyatt came back home to bring some of what he experienced and hopes to use it to serve the lives of others. Since being back Wyatt has run the Urban Production Farm after school programming in Green Bay focused on youth in foster care, operated a foster youth created haunted house, been a foster care, respite and mental health care provider, carpenter, filmmaker and farmer. Wyatt, originally from Sheboygan, trained at UWSP, still acts, creates music, art and guitars.

Emily Kunde LPC: Manager of Behavioral Health Sheboygan County The Production Farm

Kunde, Emily, LPC, Manager of Behavioral Health Sheboygan County The Production Farm
Emily Kunde is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 20 years of non-profit experience and has been working with children, youth, and families throughout her entire career. She practices from a non-judgmental, person centered, and trauma informed perspective when working with clients and staff. It is her belief that relationships can and do change lives and that everyone's voice has value. Her years of experience have taught her that collaboration is one of the biggest keys to success in most endeavors. She loves to laugh and infuses humor and humility in her interactions with others. Her favorite hobbies include: reading, writing, live music, listening to the stories of others’ lives, and spending time with her family.

Liv Lacayo (she/her/hers) MSW

Lacayo, MSW, Liv
Liv Lacayo, MSW, is a recent graduate from the Sandra Rosenbaum School of Social Work at the University of Wisconsin Madison with a focus area in Child, Youth, and Family Welfare. She received her BSW in 2021 from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh. Liv's passion lies in community outreach and advocacy. her proudest achievement is growing organic produce for people with food insecurity in the state of Wisconsin at Riverview Gardens in Appleton.

Michael Lappen, (he/him) MS, LPC

Lappen, Michael, MS, LPC
As the Administrator of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Services, Mike Lappen leads a dedicated and diverse team of BHS employees in reform efforts that began more than a decade ago - the redesign of Milwaukee County’s mental health system to become a community-based system of care that is less reliant on psychiatric inpatient admissions and emergency room visits. Lappen’s responsibilities include managing the transition to the new acute psychiatric care hospital operated by Universal Health Services and the new Mental Health Emergency Center which is a historic public/private joint venture between Milwaukee County and four local health systems designed to bring emergency mental health care closer to the Milwaukee Community and to reduce the amount of time people spend in police custody on a mental health hold. Mike   oversees a vast community-based system of care that includes crisis services, care coordination/case management, outpatient care, prevention, treatment and recovery efforts across the lifespan.  Managing an annual budget of nearly $250 million, he provides regular division updates to the Milwaukee County Mental Health Board.

Patrick Lennon (he/him/his) MSW, PhD 

Lennon, Patrick , MSW, PhD 
Patrick Lennon, MSW, PhD retired from his independent psychotherapy practice in 2017 after more than forty years providing mental health services in both Iowa and Illinois. A significant part of his practice involved facilitating non-ordinary states of consciousness for clients to achieve accelerated healing. He was Board Certified in Clinical Hypnotherapy. After reviewing studies from the 1950’s along with the current research on using psychedelic medicines effectively, when tied to therapeutic preparation and integration, inspired him to learn more and he began educating the public and clinicians about their potential benefits, safety and efficacy.

Alyssa Maloney, CSW 

Maloney, Alyssa, CSW
My name is Alyssa Maloney.  I am currently the Program Social Worker for the Transition Treatment Center (TTC) at Oshkosh Correctional Institution.  I have a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and have over 20 years of experience in the social work field.  I have been at OSCI since July of 2019.  Prior to this position, I worked as the Mental Health Coordinator at Adams-Friendship Area School District through the Project AWARE grant from SAMHSA developing policies and procedures to bring therapists into the schools to provide services to students and staff, Trauma Informed Care trainings for staff, training and oversight of new district social workers and facilitating Youth Mental Health First Aid to parents and staff.

Robert W. Marrs (he/him) MS, LMFT

Marrs, Robert W. , MS, LMFT 
Robert W. Marrs, MS, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist and currently works as the Director of Operations for Aurora Family Service in Milwaukee. He is the Past President of the Wisconsin Division of American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy and a Former Clinical Instructor at Marquette University. Robert has extensive experience developing and implementing behavioral health and social service programs in both community and health care settings. 

Cathy Melesky Dante, (she/her/hers) MDiv, LCSW

Melesky Dante, Cathy, MDiv, LCSW638191705722305799
Cathy is a former social worker researching sexual abuse in the Catholic church through the lens of theological ethics as a PhD candidate at Marquette University.  Her clinical practice was with people with a severe or chronic mental illness.  Social work values taught her a systems approach of viewing problems and to recognize the inherent dignity of all people.  She draws from social work for her theological research.  She is also a spiritual director accompanying those who experienced psychological, spiritual, and religious trauma.  She is the chaplain for Awake, an organization that accompanies those sexually abused by Catholic leaders (www.awakemilwaukee.org).

Lucia Micheli, (she/her/hers) LCSW, CSAC

Micheli, Lucia
Lucia Micheli, LCSW, CSAC earned her MSW from UW-Milwaukee in 1998. Following her graduation she worked at Meta House, a nonprofit drug and alcohol treatment program for women, where she helped to develop an intensive alcohol and other drug abuse (AODA) day treatment program. She also instituted an innovative trauma recovery program; providing therapy to women with PTSD and chemical dependency. In private practice since 2001, Lucia continues to specialize in treating traumatized individuals with an emphasis on education and support. She has specialized in treating first responders for 20 years. She has provided training and outreach services to the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments, and has served as a resource for Shielded Hearts, an organization founded to support spouses of law enforcement personnel. 

Karolina Mikos (she/her) MD 

Mikos, Karolina , MD
Karolina Mikos, MD is a Board Certified Internist and Holistic Health Practitioner with focus on Mind-Body Medicine and Psychedelic Medicine. Karolina is certified in Psychedelic Assisted Therapy by ATMA Academy, in Holistic Medicine by the Whole Health Medical Institute, as well as in IFS therapy foundation by the IFS Institute. Having studied the mind body connection, the placebo effect, energy medicine, epigenetics, and trauma, Karolina is passionate about serving her community and teaching about the safe and sacred uses of Psychedelic Medicines while promoting Mind-Body practices to complement healing from within.

Steven J. Miller, MS

Miller, Steven J., MS
Steven J. Miller obtained his Bachelor's and Master's degree in Psychology at Northern Michigan University.  He is currently a student in the part-time MSW program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Steven is an advocate for discussion among social workers about the impact of infertility on one's mental health.  Steven and his wife had struggled with infertility before being successful using In Vitro Fertilization, resulting in now four-year-old twin boys.  Steven started his own podcast called MILES highlighting the male experience in infertility and family building.  After his MSW, Steven plans to become a LCSW and specialize in Reproductive Mental Health.

Debra Minsky-Kelly, (she/her/hers) MSW, LCSW

Minsky Kelly, MSW, LCSW, Debra
Debra Minsky-Kelly, LCSW, is a professor of social work at Carthage College. She earned her B.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. Her experience as a clinical social worker includes serving as a director with Rogers Behavioral Health in Kenosha as well as working in areas of domestic violence, child welfare and homeless healthcare.
Debra was selected as Distinguished Teacher of the Year at Carthage in 2021. Debra has a strong interest in the social work profession’s role in promoting best practices related to both adverse and resiliency factors presented by our current cultural norms and conflicts. This interest is based on teaching of a semester course on the subject of psychological trauma to undergraduate students since 2019 and seeing how young people respond to this material.

Nancy Mullen (they/them) MSW

Mullen, Nancy, MSW
Nancy Mullen is the executive director of Youth Outlook, the first and longest running NFP in IL dedicated to LGBTQ youth.  Nancy celebrates 25 years with Youth Outlook in October. Nancy holds an MSW from Syracuse University, where she focused on family mental health. Breathing and Blinking was developed for colleagues in the DV field and has grown to touch other areas of social work since its initial presentation. Away from social work, Nancy is 10 credits from her pastry chef degree and published her first book, Urban Tidepool, in 2020. Her second book is in progress.

Laura Burney Nissen, (she/her), PhD

Nissen, PhD, Laura
Former Dean and Professor Laura Burney Nissen is with the Portland State University School of Social Work.   With a  commitment to innovative and equity-centered systems change, Laura has worked with futures practice and lenses throughout her career in a variety of transdisciplinary settings.  She is in the a foresight practitioner and a Research Fellow with the Institute for the Future and has served as a Presidential Futures Fellow at PSU 2019-2022.  She has been PI on a two-year grant to convene first of its kind national Social Work Health Futures Lab from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  This lab provides infrastructure and inspiration to further develop applications of a futures lens for the social work profession with an emphasis on practice in health and health justice, and her lab has just received a second grant for a national conference on this topic, and she has a book coming out in late 2024 with Oxford University Press entitled “Anticipatory Social Work.”    Her commitment is to challenge social work and social workers to think beyond the traps of “short-termism” and participate in co-creating the world we want.    She lives in the Columbia River Gorge with her husband Don and puppy, Birdie. For additional information about her work, please visit:  www.socialworkfutures.com, follow on Twitter @lauranissen.

Miriam Oliensis-Torres (she/her) MSW, LCSW, C-ASWCM

Miriam Oliensis-Torres, MSW, LCSW, C-ASWCM, is a licensed clinical social worker and certified care manager, with 40 years of experiencing assisting older adults, people with dementia their families, and service providers. Miriam has been in leadership roles in two Milwaukee area care management agencies (Geriatric Support Associates, and Stowell Associates), She served on local, regional, and national boards, and is a regular presenter at community and professional educational events. Miriam currently has a part-time consultation/care management practice, volunteers with the Shorewood Dementia Awareness Work Group, and is on the Board of NASW-Wisconsin.

Patricia Parker, (she/her) C.S.W., MCCMH 

Parker, Patricia, CSW, MCCMH
Patricia Parker, (C.S.W., MCCMH), received her degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and has a degree in Community Mental Health from Trinity College of Vermont. Ms. Parker is an ordained minister and serves as pastor of the Craig Memorial CME Church- Milwaukee Wisconsin. Ms. Parker is a co-chair of the Diversity Equity and Inclusion Committee for NASW-Wisconsin; a member of the National Association of Black Social Workers; a board member of Wisconsin Community Services; a board member of Koinonia Family Services; a member of the National Black Child Development Institute; and the Black Women’s Network. Currently, Ms. Parker is the primary consultant/ trainer for PA Parker Consults and is a contracted trainer with the University of Iowa National Resource Center for Family Centered Practice.

PATCH Teen Educators

Patch Teen Educators
PATCH Teen Educators are a group of high school students (aged 14-18) from Wisconsin. They are trained as public speakers and advocates. The Teen Educators come from many diverse backgrounds and are experts on the needs and concerns of young people today. They use storytelling and guided discussion to share their own perspectives about adolescent health care and to advocate for changes within health care systems that would ensure access to high-quality, youth-friendly health care for all young people. Through their work they are breaking down stigma associated with many health issues and are prepared to discuss a wide variety of sensitive or challenging health topics. 

Sandy Peplinski (she/hers) BS, CI, CT, SC:L, QMHI

Peplinski, Sandy, BS, CI, CT, SC L, QMHI
Sandy Peplinski, BS, CI, CT, SC:L, QMHI.  Sandy has been an interpreter for 25 years.  As a Child of Deaf Adults, she has a deep understanding of deaf culture and the communication struggles deaf individuals experiences. She specializes in legal and mental health interpreting.  She also attended the Interpreter Training Program at UW-Milwaukee.  She is registered to provide interpreting services through the Wisconsin Emergency Assistance Volunteer Registry (WEAVR). She is the first recipient of the Outstanding Interpreter Award (2017) from the Wisconsin Association of the Deaf for her work in the deaf community. She is a guest lecturer at the Interpreter Training Program at UWM-Milwaukee.


Barbara Perkins (she/her), MSW, LCSW

Perkins, Barbara
Barbara Perkins, MSW, LCSW works as a mental health clinician for a large health care system in Madison, WI. She also maintains a small private practice. She previously owned a full time sole private practice in Madison. She has worked in a variety of healthcare settings during her career. She has been practicing telehealth since 2014 and is a Board-Certified Tele behavioral Health Professional, Level II through the Tele behavioral Health Institute.

Dan Pichette, Correctional Officer

Pichette, Dan, Correctional Officer
My name is Daniel Pichette and I have 7 years in corrections. I have worked at 1 institution. I have worked as an Officer and Sergeant. My current title is Mental Health Program Sergeant. I have been trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Crisis Intervention. 

Carrie Poser

Poser, Carrie
Carrie Poser is the Director of the WI Balance of State CoC, a 501c3 non-profit organization that covers 69 of 72 counties in Wisconsin. Since May of 2015, she has been responsible for the day-to-day operation of the organization including the CoC application, Point-in-Time, statewide collaboration efforts and advocacy, and CoC development. Carrie has dedicated her life to working in public service, holding many different positions along the way. She has worked as an intake & assessment specialist and then as the Assistant Director of a non-profit dedicated to serving those at-risk of and experiencing homelessness in a rural community, an HMIS System Administrator, an adolescent residential counselor, a staff attorney at a legal aid office focusing on family and landlord-tenant law, and a teacher. By using her experience, legal and educational background, Carrie has helped shift the narrative to ending (rather than managing) homelessness in Wisconsin.

Heidi Pritzl (she/her/hers) MSW, LCSW, Master Trainer and a Psychotherapist for Aspirus Koller Behavioral Health

Heidi Pritzl

Heidi Pritzl graduated with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from Hawaii Pacific University (HPU) in Honolulu, HI. Twelve years ago, Heidi moved back to St. Germain, Wisconsin with the goal to serve and support her “home” community.When she returned to Wisconsin she began to work in the field of mental health as a clinical social worker on the inpatient unit at St. Mary’s hospital for Ministry Koller Behavioral Health, which is now Aspirus Koller Behavioral Health. Heidi then transitioned to outpatient mental health in the clinic setting as a Psychotherapist. Heidi is trained in suicide prevention with the QPR Institute in Seattle, WA, as a Master and Gatekeeper Trainer. Her goal has been to train as many individuals as possible on the warning signs and risk factors of suicide, so they are able to identify when someone needs support to help in the nation’s goal to reduce suicides by 25% by 2025. Recently Heidi has been training college and high school staff to include coaches. Heidi is serving her second term on the NASW Wisconsin Chapter Board as the West Central/North Central/Northeast Branch Representative. She encourages new social workers to enroll in NASW and continues to work hard to have the same services, supports, and resources to rural Wisconsin.

Kristen Prock, PhD, LCSW (she/her)

Prock, Kristen, PhD, LCSW
risten A. Prock, PhD, LCSW is an Assistant Professor of Social Work, MSW Program Coordinator, and affiliated faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Dr. Prock received her PhD in Social Work from Michigan State University and MSW from Indiana University-South Bend, with an emphasis mental health and substance use disorders. Her research examines LGBTQ-related discrimination, policy, and practice in higher education, exploring the lived experiences of individuals facing multiple marginalization, and teaching evidence-based practice. Dr. Prock is also licensed clinical social worker with expertise in adolescent trauma and mental health, youth homelessness, and program evaluation.

Kelly Pulford, CCLS

Pulford, Kelly, CCLS  
Kelly Pulford, CCLS, joined Star Legacy Foundation in 2021 as a Family Support Coordinator. One part of her role is working with bereaved families to be sure they have the resources they need. Kelly is a Certified Child Life Specialist by training. Her career experience includes 14 + years of working with families navigating difficult and challenging healthcare experiences including bereavement and end of life. Kelly has been called to work with loss families through her work as a child life specialist and was pulled to working with families after a stillbirth through her role at a busy metro birthing hospital. Kelly feels honored to work with the families she meets through the Star Legacy Foundation and is constantly learning and evolving to better support all loss families. In her spare time, she is a chauffeur to her three children and their million interests.

Thor Ringler (he/him/his) MFA, MS

Ringler, Thor, MFA, MS
Thor Ringler is the national program manager for My Life, My Story and works as a writer-editor at the VA hospital in Madison, WI. He has an MFA in Poetry from the University of Pittsburgh and an MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Edgewood College.

Rebecca Rodriguez, MPA

Rodriguez, Rebecca, MPA
Rebecca Rodriguez, Principal of For the Philanthropist, has worked in, with and now consults health and human service organizations. As author of The Nonprofit Workbook: Tips & Best Practices for Start-ups Serving the Greater Common Good and a certified yoga instructor for the past seven years, her message is one of wellness and self-actualization as it relates to working in community organizations. Her formal education includes degrees in Theology, Communication, and Public Administration. Home is the Texas Hill Country. When she is not writing or working with clients, she teaches yoga and wellness.

Kenneth Ryback (he/him)

Ken Ryback
Kenneth Ryback is a Community Building Senior Facilitator, mentor, and coach and has been facilitating Community Building since 2014. He graduated from UW-Milwaukee with a degree in Criminal Justice leading him to work as a Wisconsin Probation/Parole Agent. Upon retiring, he began working at Wisconsin Community Services as a Recovery Support Coordinator providing crisis case management to those struggling with substance use and/or mental health issues.  Ken is now working as Project Specialist for Community Building Milwaukee, a program based on the work of M. Scott Peck, MD.

Shawnta Sayner , MHRM (she/her)

Sayner, Shawnta, MHRM
Inclusive collaborator and innovative problem-solver who thrives on connecting people, resources, content, and ideas to help drive long-lasting relationships and strategic success.  Shawnta has a masters in Human Resource Management, is the Executive Director of the ZeidlerGroup, and is a speaker, creator, and independent publisher.

Megan Schultz (she/her) MD, MA

Schultz, Megan, MD, MA
Dr. Schultz is a pediatric emergency physician at Children’s Wisconsin. She completed medical school at the University of Wisconsin and obtained her Masters in Education at Johns Hopkins University. She completed her pediatric residency at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard University and her pediatric emergency fellowship at Children’s Wisconsin/Medical College of Wisconsin. Before medical school, Dr. Schultz worked as a high school teacher in Baltimore with Teach For America, as a Project Coordinator with Partners In Health, and as a Program Director for Health Horizons International. She is currently the Co-Director of the Global Health Pathway at MCW and the Co-Director of the Pediatric/Law Enforcement Alliance for Youth at CW.

Elizabeth Schultz DenDekker, (she/her/hers) MSW, LCSW 

Elizabeth Dendekker Profile (002)
Elizabeth DenDekker, MSW, LCSW, is a 2008 graduate of UWM’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Elizabeth has spent most of her career splitting her work between practicing as a psychotherapist in Sheboygan County and as an educator at various higher education institutions, including UW Green-Bay, Marquette University, and the former Silver Lake College. Her most recent role is with Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice, which started out in spiritual care. She is now leading their continuing education offerings and expanding bereavement care programming. In addition, she has gladly served as an NASW-WI NE Branch Representative since 2017.

Jessica Seawright, (she/her/hers) MSW, APSW

Seawright, Jessica, MSW, APSW
Jessica Seawright (she/her/hers), MSW, APSW, is a Senior Research Analyst at the Utah Criminal Justice Center, College of Social Work at the University of Utah. She has 10 years of experience conducting research, program evaluations and providing technical assistance for practitioners serving justice-involved individuals. Most recently, she managed the update of the WRNA User Guide Manual as part of a cooperative agreement with the National Institute of Corrections. And in 2019, she co-developed the WRNA virtual training course which has been delivered nationally to WRNA end-users serving in institutional, community supervision, and non-profit settings. 

Annie Shirley (she/her/hers) MSW, LSW

Annie Shirley (she/her/hers), MSW, LSW, is a school social worker at a behavioral therapeutic school in Illinois. In 2020, she graduated with her BSW from Carthage College with departmental honors. She graduated with her MSW from Aurora University in 2021. Her favorite part of her job is creating lasting relationships with students and watching them reach goals that they had never expected to achieve. 

Heather Simonson, (she/her/hers) MSE, LPC

Simonson, Heather, MSE
Heather Simonson, MSE, and Lisa Dunham, LCSW are therapists with the Pauquette Center. They have a combined 35 years of experience in the field and have been trained in DBT and DBT-C. Heather has found that DBT-C provides a strength-based approach that can effectively address multiple facets of childrens' challenges thus increasing treatment success for the child, the parent, and the family. Lisa has felt that DBT-C filled a missing piece regarding how to implement change with young children and their families in that the practice involves engaging parents more so than children, and thus changes the family system.

Jessica Smith, (she/her/hers) APSW, Director, UW-Whitewater CITE

Smith, Jessica, APSW, Director, UW-Whitewater CITE
Jessica Smith, APSW is the Co-Founder/Director of the Center for Transition, Education & Employment (CITEE) at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Ms. Smith with a specialty in macro practice social work, focusing on promoting equity and inclusion for people with disability and mental illnesses. Under her leadership, CITEE has developed and implemented numerous statewide grant projects, including several long-term state programs in partnership with Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services, one of which is the Qualified Treatment Trainee Grants Program. She is also the primary investigator and Project Director for a Mental Health Awareness Training grant awarded through SAMHSA. 

Luci Staudacher (she/her/hers) MSW, LCSW

Staudacher, MSW, LCSW, Luci
Luci Staudacher is an Associate Professor of Social Work and the BSW Practicum Director at Alverno College, a BSW program that she helped in develop. In her role, she teaches core social work courses. Additionally, she cultivates and maintains off-campus partnerships for social work practicums, completes site visits, and assists with accreditation monitoring and curriculum development. Within the Social Work Department, she is the faculty advisor to the Alverno College Association of Social Work student organization and mentors new social work course instructors. Luci is also the Chair of the Field Consortium for the Wisconsin Council on Social Work Education.

Taylor St. Onge, MSW, APSW/LSW

St. Onge, Taylor638236623527560364

Taylor St. Onge is a Veterinary Social Worker for Premier Veterinary Group by Ethos Veterinary Health. She holds a Masters's Degree in Social Work & a Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care, both obtained from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Taylor started at Lakeshore Veterinary Specialists as an MSW Intern in 2019 and was hired upon graduation at the end of 2020.  After two years of maintaining an already-built VSW program, she has recently moved on to building a VSW program from the ground up.  She has extensive experience dealing with grief & loss, quality-of-life discussions, challenging clients, & staff wellness. Taylor currently lives in Milwaukee with her two cats, Basilton & Butters, and her dog, Bertie.  In her free time, she enjoys crocheting, reading, and writing creatively.

Julie Tallard Johnson, (she/her/we), MSW, LCSW

Tallard Johnson, Julie, MSW, LCSW
Julie has been a licensed therapist for over 40 years. She has researched group dynamics and facilitated transformational groups, writer’s circles, therapeutic circles since 1989. Helped diverse groups establish supportive circles.  Trained group facilitators in Australia, Canada and US. Presently co-facilitating a year-long transformational circle live, online with an indigenous Metis woman from Canada. Has received training in Circles of Trust™.  Has written 11 books, all which encourage creating authentic community. Her first publication, 1989, Doubleday, Hidden Victims/Hidden Healers: An Eight Stage Program for Families of the Mentally Ill offers a support group model. Established 8 stage groups throughout Australia, Canada and US. 

Chantelle Thomas (she/her) PhD

Thomas, Chantelle , PhD
Dr. Chantelle Thomas is a Clinical Psychologist specializing in addiction treatment, trauma, and health psychology and is the Executive Clinical Director for Windrose Recovery and Integrata.  She is certified in both MDMA Assisted Psychotherapy, Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy, and has been trained to conduct clinical research with Psilocybin by key members of the Center for Psychedelic Research and Consciousness at Johns Hopkins University. She is currently a supervisor for the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) Phase 3 multi-site trials of MDMA-assisted psychotherapy for severe PTSD taking place in the U.S. and six European countries. She is a lead trainer, facilitator, and supervisor for several active clinical research trials involving Psilocybin at the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

Madeline Tolkan Conrad, (she/her) LCSW/School Social Worker

Tolkan Conrad, Madeline, LCSW, School Social Worker
Madeline Tolkan Conrad, LCSW has been the Associate Director of Student Services at CESA 9 since July 2019.   In her role, she provides support for districts through coaching, professional development, and direct services for students, staff, and families in the area of mental health/behavior/SEL.  Prior to CESA 9, Madeline was a school social worker in a Minneapolis suburb for 20+ years.  She has her BSW from UW-Madison with a certificate in Women's Studies and her MSSW from UW-Madison with a focus on Social Work in Educational Settings. 

Aaliyah Torres (she/her/hers) BSW, Tobacco Prevention Coordinator 

Torres, Aaliyah, BSW
Aaliyah Torres is a Tobacco Prevention Coordinator. In her role, she plans, implements and evaluates education and training activities for coalition and community members to increase skills in evidence-based strategies for tobacco prevention and control policies. As well as supports education of local and statewide policy makers to increase knowledge regarding tobacco prevention and control priorities. Aaliyah also runs a FACT youth program that works to spread the truth about commercial tobacco use amongst our youth. Aaliyah will be returning to Alverno in the Fall of 2023 to complete her master's in social work. 

Susan Townsley, LCSW

Townsley, Susan
Susan is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been practicing for twenty-nine years. She has been providing outpatient mental health services in rural Wisconsin for twenty-two years. Susan is the Clinic Director at Stonehouse Counseling, a rural outpatient mental health clinic that provides mental health services in clinic as well as in five local school districts. Susan serves as a Commissioner on the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission for Rural Prosperity. She is the current Chair of the NASW WI Committee on Rural Mental Health. She also serves on the NASW WI Board of Directors and Legislative Committee.

Ricky Ferrari Traner (he/him/his) PHSW, MPA, CTICP

Traner, Ricky Ferrari
In 2008, Ricky earned a bachelor’s degree in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He formally began my public service career in 2009as a Literacy Trainer in the Republic of Vanuatu with the United States Peace Corps. Upon my return to US in 2011, he was commissioned with our Wisconsin Army National Guard to serve as a Logistics Officer. In addition to this part-time service with our military, Ricky served full-time with the Curative Care Network, My Choice Wisconsin, Milwaukee County Department on Aging (ADRC) & City of Milwaukee Health Department. In 2020, he earned a master’s degree of public administration from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Ricky entered state service in 2021 with the Wisconsin Department of Children & Families (DCF)as Human Service Area Coordinator with the Division of Family & Economic Security. Currently Ricky has, and works as the Manager of the Prevention & Early Intervention Section with the Division of Safety & Permanence in DCF. Ricky also co-chairs the statewide Trauma-Informed Care Action Team with the Office of Children’s Mental Health.

Jeanne Wagner (she/her) MSW, LCSW, ACSW

Wagner, Jeanne, MSW, LCSW, ACSW638185672083066728
Jeanne Wagner joined the staff at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare in May 2005 as the Director of Social Work Field Education Programs. She received her MSW from Jane Addams College of Social Work, Chicago, IL and her BSW from Morehead State University, Morehead, KY. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Clinical Professor with extensive clinical, management, administrative, and educational experience. She has worked in a variety of social service settings prior to her appointment with UWM, which include child welfare, adoption (domestic and international), mental health, intellectual disabilities, geriatrics, and private practice. She currently teaches courses in social work, develops and presents continuing education programs covering social work ethics and boundaries, leadership and supervision, case management, documentation, confidentiality, adoption competency, safety in the field, etc. She is a Trainer for the Training for Adoption Competency (TAC) curriculum through the Center for Adoption Support and Education (CASE) and UWM’s Co-Director for TAC. She has served in the role of Ombuds for UWM since 2007 and has 10 years of experience in Quality Assurance.

Carolyn Wahlskog, (she/they) LCSW

Wahlskog, Carolyn, LCSW
Carolyn Wahlskog, LCSW (she/they) is the Director of Operations and Programming at Youth Outlook, a youth services agency that works to meet the ever-evolving needs of LGBTQ+ youth and their families in northern Illinois. Additionally, Carolyn is the co-coordinator of Transformative Justice Law Project's Name Change Mobilization, serving trans folks across IL. She serves as an adjunct professor at Jane Addams College of Social Work at University of Illinois at Chicago. Carolyn works with educators, mental health professionals, and other youth workers to create safe, supportive and affirming policies and practices for working with queer and trans young people and their families.

Bobby Deandra Walker, (she/her) LCSW

Deandra Walker, Bobby, LCSW
Bobby D. Walker LCSW (she/her), is a psychotherapist and sex therapist based in Madison, Wisconsin. Bobby specializes in working with people experiencing sexual and relational challenges such as painful sex, ‘sexless marriages,’ non-monogamy, and erectile/orgasm issues among others. Even when sexual concerns aren’t the focus of treatment, Bobby strives to create a non-judgmental environment where the sexual dimensions of her clients’ life are welcomed and incorporated into the therapeutic process, if desired. She’s committed to empowering fellow MH providers to increase their confidence and comfort in discussing sex and sexuality with clients. Bobby is a graduate of the MSW program at UW-Madison, and earned her Bachelor’s in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and African-American Studies from Ohio University.

Ashley Walther, CSW

Walther, Ashley, CSW
My name is Ashley Walther and I have 4 years of experience in corrections.  I have worked in two institutions, both medium and maximum custody facilities in the state of WI. I started my career as a social worker and began working as a correctional officer about a year ago. I am currently going to school for my Masters in Justice Administration. 

Taylor Watters (she/her) LCSW

Watters, Taylor, LCSW
Taylor Watters is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker currently working at BluePearl Pet Hospital as a Veterinary Social Worker in Milwaukee. Taylor attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology, and completed her graduate level internship at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, working to provide treatment and support to children and their families experiencing mental and behavioral health concerns. Following this, Taylor finished her Master’s degree in Social Work, along with a Certificate in Trauma-Informed Care, also from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Taylor has extensive experience working with mental and behavioral health concerns in both children and adults, grief and loss, emotionally-charged situations, and overall health and well-being. Taylor currently lives in Milwaukee with her boyfriend, Tyler, and her cat, Walter.

Tarsha Wiggins (she/her) LCSW, CADC

Wiggins, Tarsha, LCSW, CADC638225314631662846
Tarsha Wiggins is the founder of Speak Wellness Behavioral Health Consulting, LLC. She is a graduate from the University of Wisconsin Madison where she acquired a Master’s in Social Work in 2009 and completed additional training in 2012 at Aurora University, where she earned a certificate as an Alcohol and Drug Counselor. Tarsha began her journey in the field of Social Services as a Child Protective Worker in 2009 and moved on to work with adults and children in every level of care: Inpatient Hospitalization, Partial Hospitalization, Intensive Outpatient Treatment, and Individual Therapy. During her years of providing direct care Tarsha often witnessed the ravaging effects of untreated mental illness and realized the need to abolish the stigma of mental illness, particularly within communities of color.

Linda Wojtasiak, APSW

Wojtasiak, Linda, APSW

Kristi Wood, (she/her/hers) MSW, CAPSW

Wood, Kristi, MSW, CAPSW
I am a fierce advocate for the social work profession and the people we serve. I have thirty years of experience in human services, in residential treatment, group home, and foster care environments. My partner and I have fostered over forty teen boys, helping them transition to adulthood. My beautiful foster daughter is now a LCSW. I am a professor in the UW-Whitewater Social Work department, and also enjoy being a WCWPDS foster parent trainer. I have served for a total of ten years on the NASW-WI Chapter and NASW national boards.

Sheng Lee Yang, (she/her/hers) MSW, LCSW

Yang, Shen Lee
Sheng is a first generation immigrant who arrived in the U.S. as a refugee at a young age and has remained in Wisconsin since. Today, she is a practicing Licensed Clinical Social Worker, President and Executive Director for Us 2 Behavioral Health Care. Additionally, she teaches graduate-level courses in Clinical Mental Health and Diversity & Inclusion, and more importantly, is a proud mother of two young girls. Her professional experiences include direct care and leadership positions in public, private, government and nonprofit institutions. Her personal and professional experiences helped cultivate a vision to integrate social justice and cultural humility into mental health. On September 3rd, 2019, Sheng led the opening of Us 2 Behavioral Health Care to increase access to health care in the community with a vision that everyone can be healthier together.

Nicole V. Zellner (she/her) LCSW, SAC

Zellner, Nicole, LCSW, SAC
Nikki Zellner is a Licensed Clinical Social worker and Substance Abuse Counselor with over 15 years of experience providing trauma specific psychotherapy at institutional and community based organizations as well as in private practice. She has completed the California Institute for Integral Studies Certificate in Psychedelic Therapy and Research, is in process of becoming a certified MDMA assisted psychotherapy provider through the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Science (MAPS), is trained via the University of Wisconsin – Madison to conduct clinical research using Psilocybin, and is trained in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. 

Richelle Zimmerman (she/her/hers)

Zimmerman, Richelle
Richelle is a Worker Foundation Trainer for the Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System. She has been training adults in the child welfare system and as a technical college instructor for sixteen years.  In 2013, Richelle began delivering Trauma Informed Care courses to social workers as a part-time trainer for the Western Training Partnership.  Prior to joining the WCWPDS team, she spent eighteen years working in child welfare at La Crosse County Human Services, and has enjoyed training parents, staff, and foster parents since 2000