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Meet Our Staff and Consultants
Our diverse team of staff and consultants with the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids has decades of experience in child welfare. Having worked both on the front lines and in leadership positions, we can provide your agency with key insights and knowledge of recruitment and retention practices that work.
Jill May, Director
Jill May, L.M.S.W., has more than 10 years of experience in the child welfare system. Prior to her current role as the director of the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids, Jill served as the New Mexico Foster Care and Adoption Bureau chief for five years. She has extensive experience with foster care and adoption, using implementation science to create and sustain system change, and implementing a customer service approach to child welfare. She has served on the executive committee of the National Association of State Adoption Program Managers (NASAP), most recently serving as committee vice president.
Donna Hornsby, Associate Director
Donna Hornsby, L.G.S.W., M.S.W., has more than 19 years of experience in public child welfare. She has served in the following positions: State child welfare director, National Resource Center staff consultant, National Resource Center independent consultant, U.S. Children's Bureau federal project officer, State office specialist, and caseworker. Her areas of focus have been on workforce development, organizational change, comprehensive family assessment, family engagement, engaging and involving fathers, and building community and state resources.
Ben Hoppin, Project Manager
Ben Hoppin, M.P.A., has 10 years of experience working in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Seven of those years were spent as a customer service and sales representative at a large sign company. Beginning in 2005, he started a new career as an administrator for The Council on Substance Abuse and Mental Health Recovery and data analyst for the U.S. Department of Education, Office for Civil Rights. After earning his Masters of Public Affairs in 2009, Ben held a position as a part-time grant writer for a family resource center and later joined The Adoption Exchange as project assistant for the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment where he currently serves as a project manager.
Rebekah Main, Tribal Child Welfare Specialist
Rebekah graduated from Oregon State University in 1997 majoring in Human Development and Family Services and received a Masters Degree in Business Administration: Human Resources Management in 2007. In her professional career, Rebekah served as the CPS director for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs for 12 years and as a CPS family intake coordinator for 1.5 years. Rebekah’s experience in advocay and peer to peer technical assistance includes: Title IVE, family group conferencing, tribal foster care, targeted case management, ICWA, case management, case planning, collaboration with tribes, State of Oregon and Region X.
Alicia Groh, M.P.P., has more than 14 years of experience in the child welfare field and is the senior consultant for the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids. She has extensive knowledge of adoption and child welfare laws, policies, and funding streams as well as experience leading organizations and strategic change efforts. As an independent consultant and contractor, she has assisted organizations with capacity building, strategic planning, communication planning and implementation, and executive coaching. As executive director of Voice for Adoption, a national advocacy organization that speaks out on behalf of waiting children and adoptive families, she developed and led federal-level advocacy and adoption awareness-building efforts. She has worked as a child welfare policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Children’s Bureau, developing policy guidance for States on federal child welfare programs. She has also worked on post-adoption support programs and child welfare policy at the North American Council on Adoptable Children.
Rhonda Abban, M.S.W., has 30 years of experience in child welfare with a primary focus on permanency for children. She has held a range of positions, including adoption caseworker, supervisor, and most recently foster care and adoption administrator at the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services. Rhonda has extensive experience with permanency and diligent recruitment measures with the Child and Family Services Review (CSFR), policy development, data analysis, SACWIS implementation, and public-private collaboration. She’s also a licensed independent social worker in Ohio.
Kathleen Belanger, MSSW, Ph.D. began her career in child welfare as director of purchased services in public child welfare, designed a management information system for use by direct service staff and regional administration, and evaluated numerous programs for public child welfare and other human service organizations. She is Professor of Social Work at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches TX, teaching for more than 25 years. She assisted in the expansion of the BSW program and development of the MSW program at the university, and initiated and directed the Title IV-E program which is a collaborative partnership among public child welfare, the university and the regional foster/adoptive parent association. Her publications, presentations, research and evaluation include books, articles, book chapters, reports and columns related to racial disproportionality in child welfare, rural child welfare and human services, working with communities of faith, building sustainable programs in and with communities, demystifying data, analyzing foster and adoptive parent recruitment and retention challenges, and building evidence in practice. She is a member of the national Rural Human Services Panel of the Rural Policy Research Institute, has consulted with the Child Welfare Gateway, and numerous other organizations. She continues to work with communities and agencies to solve concrete problems with limited resources.
Beth Brindo, M.S.S.A., has more than 25 years experience in the field of child welfare with a focus on foster care and adoption. She has more than 12 years of experience as a developer and manager of projects funded by Adoption Opportunities grants from the U.S. Children’s Bureau, with an emphasis on collaboration between the private and public child welfare systems, including rural recruitment, openness in adoption with older children, kinship adoption, minority family recruitment, and non-adversarial interventions with birth parents. She’s written and collaborated on publications about rural adoption and kinship care and adoption. She’s also developed curriculum and conducted training and workshops on rural adoption, kinship care, and adoptive and foster parent recruitment and retention. She’s served as a peer reviewer for the Children's Bureau and is a licensed independent social worker supervisor in Ohio.
Mary Brooks, M.B.A., has more than 20 years of experience working with child welfare agencies to create, implement, and evaluate data-driven recruitment and retention plans. She brings a business and customer service focus to her work in child welfare by using her marketing background to introduce agencies to strategies for targeted marketing and diligent recruitment. Mary brings a personal passion to her work and believes that recruitment and retention of families go hand in hand. She’s presented at various national conferences and worked with agencies on a local, state, and national level. She is the owner of RESULTS, a marketing consulting firm in Ohio, and has been an AdoptUSKids consultant since its inception.
Maureen Heffernan, M.S.S.A., is a consultant, trainer, and teacher for parents, social work students, professionals, and organizations. She’s worked for more than 25 years in public and private child welfare settings, having held direct service, supervisory, and management positions. Her work has focused on permanency planning and adoptions from foster care, with a particular emphasis on permanency for adolescents. She is the co-author of a curriculum and workbook that teach and support effective permanency planning for older youth in foster care. Her expertise includes program design, staff development, and authoring written materials ranging from articles and work plans to training curricula.
Linda McNall, MSW, LISW, has 30 years experience in public and private child welfare programs. She worked as a social worker with Headstart and several private nursing homes before beginning a career with the New Mexico Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD). She retired from state government in 2011 after a 28-year career. During that time, she held a variety of positions including front line caseworker, supervisor, policy and procedures bureau chief, adoption manager, county office manager and regional manager. Linda has participated as a reviewer with the Child and Family Service Reviews and the Title IV-E Reviews. In addition to her work with the NRCDR, Linda provides training for prospective foster and adoptive families through New Mexico State University. She is a licensed independent social worker in New Mexico.
Ruth McRoy, M.S.W., Ph.D., is a research professor and the Ruby Lee Piester Centennial Professor Emerita at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Social Work. Since 2005, she’s served as a visiting research professor at the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work. During her 25 years on The University of Texas social work faculty, Ruth served for 12 years as the director of the Center for Social Work Research and the Diversity Institute. Since 2002, Ruth has also served as associate dean for research. She was also a member of the university’s Academy of Distinguished Teaching Professors. A practitioner, researcher, trainer, and lecturer in the field for more than 30 years, her work has focused on such topics as adoptive family recruitment, minority recruitment, barriers to adoption, transracial adoptions, family preservation, kinship care, adoption disproportionality, open adoptions, older child adoptions, and post-adoption services. As part of the AdoptUSKids project and on behalf of the Children’s Bureau, Ruth and her university research team just completed two nationwide studies on barriers to adoption and factors associated with successful special needs adoptions. She is currently leading a research and evaluation team, which is conducting a five-year (2007-12) evaluation of AdoptUSKids services and programs.
Stephanie Pettaway, M.S.W., has more than 30 years experience in social work and child welfare. She is the former director of the Office of Child Welfare Policy and Practice and state adoption program manager for Maryland. She has extensive experience in diligent recruitment, faith-based recruitment, adoption and post-adoption service, and helped to start the One Church, One Family program in Maryland. She has first-hand knowledge and experience with Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance (ICAMA), Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), Title IV-B planning, and organizational assessment in Maryland. Prior to coming to AdoptUSKids, she participated in Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR) in States.
Jackie Pray, Ph.D., A.C.S.W., L.C.S.W., has extensive experience in social work spanning three decades, and includes work in public and private agencies and in higher education. After serving in a variety of social work and university-level faculty positions, she began her own business in 2000. Through Social Work Unlimited, LLC, located in Georgia, Jackie has been involved in several projects, including management of the A Tale of Two States project, an interjurisdictional adoption collaboration between South Carolina and Georgia’s social service agencies, funded by a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Adoption Opportunities grant. Her experience includes the provision of child-specific recruitment and family support services related to adoption, curriculum development and training for adoption personnel, preparation of federal and state reports, strategic planning, and overall project management. Jackie also has experience in private agency adoption, post-placement supervision, and resource family preparation training.
Sarah Webster, M.S.W., is most familiar with evaluating systems and looking for opportunities to enhance them. She has more than 35 years of social work experience with 27 years in child welfare. She believes all systems have positives to offer and seeks to build upon those positives. She understands both rural and urban issues and how political climates affect systems. She’s been a child protective services caseworker, supervisor, program director, and regional director before becoming the state director of child protective services for the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services. She’s a member of the Academy of Certified Social Workers and is a Licensed Master of Social Work—Advanced Practitioner in Texas. She has provided technical assistance on state policy and procedure, Program Improvement Planning (PIP) development, and interjurisdictional policy.
Ada White, M.S.W., L.C.S.W., bridges both the public and private worlds of child welfare with 30 years of experience in the field. She worked for Louisiana, from the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, through foster care, to adoption specialist. She served as state foster care manager for two years, and later as the state adoption program manager for 11 years. She was the founder and first president of the National Association of State Adoption Programs. She served from 2000-07 as the director of adoptions for the Child Welfare League of America, working as a consultant with States and private agencies regarding special needs, infant adoption, rural issues, and international adoption. She has a broad view of adoption both statewide and nationally with a focus on special needs adoption, rural adoption, and collaboration.
Marie Youngpeter, a long time child and family advocate, is the senior child welfare specialist for the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids. She has a graduate degree in the field of counseling and more than 30 years of experience in child welfare. Marie retired from state government after a 29-year career with the Alabama Department of Human Resources. During her career she served at the county and state levels as a frontline caseworker in foster care and adoption, a supervisor in child protective services and out of home care, a state policy developer, and a state consultant for systems reform. During the last six years of her career with Alabama, Marie served as the program manager for the Office of Permanency overseeing the state foster care, adoption, recruitment and retention, and independent living programs. She joined the National Resource Center for Diligent Recruitment at AdoptUSKids in February 2012.