Clare, FamilyWorx and FST Program Director, graduated from the University of Notre Dame with dual degrees in marketing and sociology. She met her husband, Bill, in college and has been happily married for over 30 years. Clare has a professional background in business and spent many years as an international fashion buyer. Clare and Bill have eight amazing children-six biological and two adopted from Eastern Europe. Raising her adopted children, who had significant trauma narratives and both physical and behavioral health challenges, fueled Clare’s passion for helping others to navigate the child serving systems in a way that they could feel safe, seen, and heard. Clare has been involved in peer work for over 17 years. She is trained in a number of signature programs through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and has achieved the highest level of trauma-informed care certification through Lakeside Global Institute. Clare is involved in multiple state and county initiatives and work groups aimed at improving youth and family experiences in the behavioral health systems, with a special interest in improving safety for children in congregate care. Clare is committed to the mission and values of peer work and strongly believes in the value of sharing lived experience to empower others and provide hope. She is thrilled to work with a team of individuals who equally value this work, and can rely on each other for support, guidance, and continued growth. Clare is an avid sewer, crafter, and seamstress, and in her spare time enjoys spending time with her family and pets, appreciating nature, laughing, walking, and volunteering.
Lisa, FamilyWorx Program Supervisor, is the mother of nine amazing children who each have some level of mental/behavioral health diagnosis. Lisa’s background is in business, where she worked as a project manager for numerous clients in direct-mail marketing campaigns and accounts receivable management. In 2009, Lisa and her family became introduced to peer support and it was life changing. Having the support of a parent with lived experience was invaluable and it was at this time Lisa realized that peer work was her calling; she knew she wanted to be the support for other families that her own family had needed when they didn’t know where to turn or how to navigate systems. She was one of the original family members of the Montgomery County System of Care Leadership Team. In 2012, when a position became available in family peer support, Lisa happily left the business world behind her and never looked back. Prior to joining FamilyWorx as the program supervisor, she worked for nine years as a family peer support partner. Lisa is committed to empowering families and building strong connections with community partners. As a person with her own lived experience, she is grateful to be able to do so for an organization that values the importance of peer support. Lisa loves taking trips to Disney, Universal and camping, enjoys learning about history, and has an eclectic taste in music. In her free time, Lisa enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, her dogs, playing board games, watching movies, and planning vacations with her family.
Lori, Senior Family Peer Support Partner, comes from a career in Customer Service Management and is relationship focused in all areas of her life. She has been involved with family peer work for almost 10 years, most recently the Supervisor of Transition Age Youth and Young Adult Peer Support Program in Montgomery and Bucks Counties. She is the mother of a beautiful and talented young adult daughter who is a ceramics artist living in NYC and three wonderful bonus young adult children. Lori is also a Certified Peer Specialist with her own mental health journey since childhood. Lori was blessed with a support system within her church and friendships that has sustained her through her toughest challenges. She knows there are many people who are not so fortunate, and that is why she is so passionate about peer work. Lori loves meeting new people, learning about new cultures, and empowering others to trust their voice to advocate for their child and themselves in systems they may not be familiar with. Lori’s favorite quote and mantra is “What do we live for if not to make life less difficult for each other”- Mary Anne Evans. She believes every encounter we have gives us the opportunity to create a meaningful impact, whether it is for 10 seconds or 10 years. Lori is humbled and honored to have a career that allows her to personally connect with parents and families, to be a resource, guide, and a listening ear. Lori and her husband were married in June 2020 on their front lawn with their children and family and friends zooming in during the pandemic. They live in Montgomery County with 3 rescue pups, and various rescues critters. Lori loves flowers and houseplants, crafting, going on adventures in nature and being with friends and family. She is obsessed with kindness, chocolate, ice cream and rescuing animals.
Alissa, Family Peer Support Partner, is the proud mother of three amazing children, 16, 11 and 8. Her family started in 2012, when she and her husband began their journey as foster parents, which then led them to becoming adoptive parents in 2014 and then again in 2016. They quickly went from a family of two to a family of five within a two-year span. The family was thrown into the world of mental and behavioral health for all their children. Alissa has tirelessly spent countless hours researching and navigating the systems to try to find the best resources for her children. She acknowledges that it has been a rough road, but she would not change it for the world. Alissa worked in the field of early childhood education for most of her life but was forced to make a career change when the pandemic hit. She brings her experience in childhood education to her current role. From the moment Alissa learned about FamilyWorx and their mission, she knew that she was meant to be a part of their organization. Alissa firmly believes that no one should ever feel alone on their journey, and now as a family peer support partner she can support families in their time of need. In her spare time, Alissa enjoys reading, shopping, gardening, and crafting.
Wendy, Family Peer Support Partner, is the mother of one amazing daughter who is 22 years old. Mental Health has always been a driving force in her family, beginning with her father who suffered from clinical depression. Wendy then had her own struggles with depression early in life and by the time it presented in her child, she knew it was up to her to be sure her child was receiving the best care. She began to navigate the juvenile mental health system and quickly realized that having someone to support her through this would be invaluable. She has been working with children for the past 20 plus years while accelerating her career through the Early Childhood Education field. Having also seen such a rise in the need for behavioral health support in the children she was caring for, prompted her to seek a better way to meet the needs of the families and to give them the support she never had. Becoming involved with HopeWorx has opened her eyes to the amazing support system available to parents and families who are going through this mental health journey with their kids. She is so happy to have found a place to be the change!
Vanessa has been married to her husband for five years. They are a blended family and have three children between the two of them and two dogs. Vanessa’s bonus daughter is 16, her son is nine and their daughter is six. Vanessa’s children are her world and her favorite thing to do is spend time with her family laughing and making memories. She has worked with children for a very large portion of her life. She was a preschool teacher for five years, which led her to become a nanny for about ten years and once her son was born, Vanessa needed flexibility which led her to having her own cleaning business for almost ten years. It feels as though her entire life’s journey has led her to this field of work. Vanessa come from a family with many struggles between addiction and mental health issues as well as having to navigate her own anxiety disorder. She worked with children with behavior difficulties, learning disabilities as well as children with many other diagnoses. Once she had her son, Vanessa says she had no choice but to learn to navigate and advocate through a difficult system to get answers for his disabilities. After eight years, they received the diagnosis of a rare genetic disorder called Kleefstra Syndrome that consists of learning disabilities, autism-like qualities, and mental health issues. On her journey with her son, she crossed paths with so many other families that just needed guidance and someone to help them through a difficult process. It had truly become Vanessa’s passion to help and in doing so, she was led to FamilyWorx. Social media influencer Meredith Masony always says, “our story is for someone else” and it is Vanessa’s hope that her story will be the guidance someone else needs.
Katrina, Family Support Partner, is a strong advocate for mental health and Autism awareness. She has been with the love of her life for over 20 years and they have been married for 13. After spending most of her life in Philadelphia, she and her husband moved to Montgomery County in 2007 and later welcomed their two beautiful daughters. In 2014 her life changed forever. Over 10 months, she lost her brother to suicide, experienced Post Partum Depression (on top of debilitating depression and anxiety), and her 2-year-old daughter was diagnosed with Autism. Having already experienced a lifetime of trauma, those ten LONG months became her “aha” moment. Rather than giving up, she knew she had to push through and heal for her daughters. Over the past 9 years she has worked extremely hard to heal from her experiences. She has worked both professionally and personally on educating herself so that she can be a strong advocate, not only for herself and her children, but others who are experiencing the same pain and hardships that she has had throughout her life. This journey has helped her to learn how to navigate the child serving systems, as well as the mental health field both as a woman and a mother. She has devoted countless hours towards learning and strengthening the skills needed to navigate and understand the serving systems so that she can assist her children in being successful and to be able to help others. By embracing the trials and tribulations she experienced, she has a unique perspective on the world that she considers a gift. Katrina has years of professional experience working in both Special Education and behavior therapy and has a dual perspective as a parent of a special needs child and a professional service provider. In addition, she has first-hand experience navigating the mental health field due to her own neurodivergence. Being part of the FamilyWorx team gives her the opportunity to model empathy on a daily basis. She strives to show compassion and selflessness while supporting and empowering others who are walking the same path as she is.