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 enjoys learning about history, loves all things Disney, and has an eclectic taste in music. In her free time, Lisa enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren, caring for her dogs, reading mystery novels, and planning vacations with her family.
Lori, Senior Family Peer Support Partner, is the mother of a recent college graduate and three bonus adult children. She has been involved with family peer work for over seven years. Lori is also a Certified Peer Specialist with her own mental health journey. Through her toughest times, Lori acknowledges that she was lucky to have supportive family and friends to help her see a way forward. 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 live in Montgomery County with four rescue pups, three hamsters and a rotation of adult children who come to stay as often as they can convince them! 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, 14, 9 and 7. 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.
Shea, Family Peer Support Partner, is the mother of three beautiful children ages 20, 10 and 1. Professionally, she comes from a background in early childhood education and social services. Personally, what led her to family peer support work was her son who has special needs. Shea’s son is deaf and has autism, but Shea is adamant that his diagnoses do not define him. He is an amazing young man whom Shea loves very much. Shea has many years of experience navigating systems and advocating for him. She is passionate about helping others and learning new things as she goes along. In her spare time, Shea enjoys shopping, reading, cooking, traveling, and crafting but most of all she enjoys spending time with her family.
Dana, Family Peer Support Partner, is the mother of three children ages, 18, 13 and 10. She started her journey into motherhood as a senior in high school by giving birth to a healthy little boy, who would later be diagnosed with a mental illness. Dana acknowledges and understands the challenges of being a teenage parent. As Dana navigated through the mental health world to advocate for what she felt was the best for her son, she remembers feeling scared and alone. She utilized every service she could find over the years. When she was finally connected to a family peer support partner, she felt like the gray gloomy skies opened and the sun shined bright. She remembers finally having someone who understood her and the challenges she faced not only in the home but with school and the community. This was the first time in years that she didn’t feel alone. Dana’s family peer support partner told her that one day she envisioned Dana doing this work. Years later Dana made it and is now a family peer support partner herself! Her goal is to support families and let them know that they are not alone. Dana believes that when people walk this journey together, together they will find that light at the end of the tunnel. Dana enjoys community outings and watching football in her spare time. She is a huge New York Giants fan.
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!