Children's Mental Health Network Team 

Board of Directors

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Scott Bryant-Comstock, President/CEO
Scott has worked in the mental health field for over 30 years in a variety of roles, including therapist, trainer, mental health board chair, state level mental health official and national consultant, trainer and facilitator. Over the course of his career, Scott has incorporated learnings from policy-makers, families, providers and community leaders throughout the United States into a focused approach to improving services and supports for youth with emotional challenges and their families. Scott is the founder, President & CEO of the Children’s Mental Health Network.

patPat Baker
Pat Baker has more than twenty years working with children's mental health programs at the local, state and national level. Former Executive Director of Utah Families as Allies, a 501 c-3 not for profit corporation in good standing. Reviewer of federal systems of care grant programs for the past six years.

cyndiCyndi Nation
Cyndi Nation has more than twenty-five years working with children's mental health programs at the local, state and national level. Extensive grant writing, administrative, and staff supervision experience.

Children's Mental Health Network Advisory Council Members - 2014

alfredoAlfredo Aguirre is the Director of Behavior Heath Services for the San Diego County County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA). He also serves on the Board of Directors of the National Network of Social Work Managers, is a member of the California Mental Health Director Association and the organization’s Co-Chair of the Ethnic Services Committee, and is a member of SAMHSA’s Child, Adolescent and Family Branch Council on Collaboration and Coordination.

Mr. Aguirre has worked in the mental health field for over 30 years, and is the recipient of many prestigious awards, including Mental Health Person of the Year in 2008 and the 2011 Hope Award for his leadership in the County of San Diego’s Mental Health Stigma Reduction Media Campaign – It’s Up to Us.

Alfredo received his Masters Degree in Social Welfare in 1978 from the University of California at Berkeley and he has a special interest in cultural competence development in systems and communities. Previously, as the Children’s Mental Health Assistant Director for the County of San Diego, Mr. Aguirre led the development of a community-based, comprehensive system of care for children and youth and their families. He collaborated closely with partner agencies, including probation, child welfare, special education, family members and private providers to build a system to help youth achieve good outcomes in the home, community and school.

While serving as the Children’s Mental Health Assistant Director, Mr. Aguirre also was the Acting Adult/Older Adult Mental Health Assistant Director. Mr. Aguirre led the effort to transform San Diego County’s Older Adult/Adult Mental Health Services, advancing a bio-psychosocial rehabilitation model based on recovery principles. Included in his efforts was to increase capacity to serve individuals with co-occurring disorders, reduce disparities for ethnic communities in seeking care, and to establish primary care based mental health services.

kimberley blaineKimberley Clayton Blaine is a licensed marriage and family therapist (LMFT) and is named one of the most powerful moms in social media by Working Mother Magazine. She is an inspirational speaker, author and a nationally recognized mindfulness and positive-psychology thought-leader. Kimberley’s writings have appeared in Wall Street Journal and USA Today Best-sellers as a contributor to the soul healing site of SimpleReminders.com which has over 50 millions readers weekly. She was one of Google+‘s first family partners, launching their Online community where parents share and communicate about family life. Her spokesperson and brand ambassador work includes: Pet360.com, 3M Post it notes, Lego Duplo, Disney Consumer Products, Woolite, Schick Intuition, Sony Electronics Cameras, DreamWorks Animation and DripDrop, Inc. Kimberley believes we can all live more positively. Today you’ll find Kimberley hosting empowerment retreats all over the country. Her retreats focus on balance and wellness not only for moms but for all women striving to find that perfect mix of mindfulness and empowerment.  Kimberley states, “We all need to be reminded to live the journey and stop blocking it.  Many who are starting to awaken find that sharing their miraculous story is part of the journey. I am here to give others hope that there are unique paths to healing and authentic bliss.  And when you feel full of life and radiant energy, you know it’s got to help the community and the world at some level. If I can do it, you can do it.”

For the last 10 years Kimberley has launched a national campaign to help American parents be all that they can be in order to give their children a healthy and fair start. Her original webshow TheGoToMom.TV, which was launched in 2008, has captured one of the largest growing niche audiences — parents who want to parent more consciously and mindfully, through professionally produced yet authentic and real educational videos.

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Eliot Brenner is a nonprofit executive with 15+ years experience in child welfare, mental health, and philanthropy.  He is also a licensed clinical psychologist with a private practice.  

Dr. Brenner is currently the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Child Guidance Center of Southern Connecticut, which provides mental health treatment, education, and support to more than 3,300 children annually. 

Prior to joining the Child Guidance Center, Dr. Brenner was Type 1 Diabetes Program Director at the Helmsley Charitable Trust, which is the largest private foundation funder of type 1 diabetes research, treatments, and support programs.  At the Trust, he led staff and strategy for a portfolio of 200+ grants totaling more than $200 million.

Dr. Brenner was also Deputy Executive Director at Casey Family Services, the direct service agency of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.  At Casey Family Services, he directed all program operations and training, and led a staff of 290 that served more than 4,000 children annually.  Dr. Brenner also worked in the public sector, where he was Chief Consulting Psychologist for the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.  He has published peer-reviewed articles in children’s services and mental health.  

Dr. Brenner currently serves on the Praesidium National Advisory Council for the development and implementation of national child safety and abuse prevention policies and practices for 2,600 YMCAs that have 20,000 staff and serve 9 million children annually.

Dr. Brenner holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Yale University.

dawesDaniel E. Dawes is a healthcare attorney and the Executive Director of government relations, health policy, and external affairs at Morehouse School of Medicine. In addition to his executive role, Daniel is a director of health policy and a lecturer of health law and policy at the Satcher Health Leadership Institute and holds a faculty appointment in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine. During the negotiations around health reform, he founded and chaired the National Working Group on Health Disparities and Health Reform, a working group of more than 300 national organizations and coalitions that worked to ensure that the health care reform law included health equity provisions to reduce disparities in health status and health care among vulnerable populations. In recognition of his efforts, he was one of 13 experts who were invited to serve on the Health Equity Leadership Commission, which provides guidance on implementing health reform to members of Congress, the Obama Administration, and officials at the Department of Health and Human Services. He is a frequent speaker and author of several publications on health reform and health equity.

Before joining Morehouse School of Medicine, Daniel was an Attorney & Manager of Federal Affairs and Grassroots Network for the Premier Healthcare Alliance, as well as Senior Legislative and Federal Affairs Officer at the American Psychological Association (APA). Prior to working for the APA, Daniel worked on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee under the leadership of Senator Edward M. Kennedy where he advised the Senator and members of the committee on an array of issues related to health care, public health, employment, education, and disability law and policy. During his tenure on the Senate HELP Committee Daniel was also a key figure in drafting provisions in several healthcare-related bills, which were enacted into law during the Bush Administration, including the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, Americans with Disabilities Act Amendments Act, and the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Prior to his work with the Senate HELP Committee, Daniel received the prestigious Louis Stokes Health Policy Fellowship and worked for the CBC Health Braintrust under the leadership of Congresswoman Donna M. Christensen on legislative efforts related to health disparities, disability, and emergency preparedness/bioterrorism.

Daniel is highly respected for his capacity to achieve sound policy changes in a nonpartisan manner. He serves on several boards, commissions, and councils focused on health equity, including the Association of American Medical Colleges Advisory Board on Health Equity – the only attorney invited to serve on this panel. He is the recipient of several national awards and recognition, including the 2012 Distinguished Bellos Lecturer at Yale University, Congressional Black Caucus Leadership in Advocacy Award, the Congressional Staff Leadership Award, the Nebraska Alumni Association Early Achiever Award, the American Psychological Association Exceptional Leadership in Advocacy Award, and the SHIRE Health Reform Champion Award. Daniel holds a Juris Doctorate from the University of Nebraska - College of Law and a Bachelor of Science in business administration and psychology.

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Elaine F. Deck is an accomplished administrator with twenty years experience in program development and curriculum design.  She currently serves as  Senior Program Manager for the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Smaller and Tribal Police Department Technical Assistance Program providing training, resources and assistance to thousands of smaller and tribal police agencies nationwide serving populations of 50,000 and fewer. This portfolio includes projects funded by the U.S. Department of Justice covering topics of Internal Affairs, New Police Chief Mentoring, Police Facility Planning, Police Consolidation Planning, and Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness. Elaine was coordinator of the IACP’s 2009 national policy summit on Building Safer Communities: Improving Police Response to Persons with Mental Illness. This national discussion included advocates, consumers, families, youth, public health, mental health and law enforcement engaged in dialogue to improve coordination between the various representatives that produced the summit report available here.

Elaine’s work in this area continues as a partner with the US Department of Justice, University of Memphis, and the Crisis Intervention Teams International (CIT) who are developing a national law enforcement curriculum to improve responses to persons in emotional crisis.

Prior to coming to the IACP, Elaine administered alcohol and drug treatment programs for women offenders and their children. Law enforcement and community collaboration was a benchmark in the success of these projects.  Ms. Deck received her Bachelor of Science Degree in clinical psychology from California State University Fullerton and a certificate in alcohol and drug counseling from the University of California, Irvine.  Ms. Deck has consulted with the National Institute of Corrections and the National Association of Drug Court Professionals.

embryDennis Embry is a prominent prevention scientist in the United States and Canada, trained as clinician and developmental and child psychologist. He is president/senior scientist at PAXIS Institute in Tucson and co-investigator at Johns Hopkins University and the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy. His work and that of colleagues is cited in 2009 the Institute of Medicine Report on The Prevention of Mental, Emotional, and Behavioral Disorders Among Young People. Clinically his work has focused on children and adults with serious mental illnesses. He was responsible for drafting of the letter signed by  23 scientists, who collectively represent scores of randomized prevention trials of mental illnesses published in leading scientific journals. In March 2014, his work and the work of several signatories was featured in a Prime-TV special on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation on the prevention of mental illnesses among children—which have become epidemic in North America.

leeLee Gutkind is the author or editor of numerous books about the medical and mental health communities, including Many Sleepless Nights: The World of Organ Transplantation; Stuck in Time: The Tragedy of Childhood Mental Illness; One Children’s Place: Inside a Children’s Hospital, Writing Away the Stigma: Ten Courageous Writers Tell True Stories About Depression, Bipolar Disorder, ADHD, OCD.  His essays about mental illness and related issues have appeared in the New York Times and on National Public Radio. He is the founding editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine and the Distinguished Writer in Residence at the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes at Arizona State University.

Mario Hernandez is a psychologist, professor and serves as Chair of the Department of Child and Family Studies (CFS) within the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at the University of South Florida.  CFS, as a nationally recognized center of research, evaluation, technical assistance/training, and Academics, is committed to improving the well-being of individuals, children, and families within communities across the country through promoting respect, inclusion, development, achievement, mental health, and an optimum quality of life. CFS has an annual budget of approximately $23 million that supports the work of 250 faculty and staff.

Dr. Hernandez is nationally recognized for his 30 years of local, state and national experience in the field of children’s mental health and systems of care. While in California in the 1980s, he was one of the founders and later the leader of the “Ventura Project” which was the nation’s first county-based system of care. In this historically significant system of care Dr. Hernandez and the Ventura team cut the path to eliminating the placement of children into California’s state mental hospitals and substantially reduced the placement of children outside of their homes and communities. The impact of the “Ventura Project” was large by reforming how children’s mental health services were funded and organized through California.

Dr. Hernandez is nationally recognized for his work with communities interested in creating local systems of care. He and his colleagues at CFS have developed an approach known as “theory of change logic models” that facilitate a community’s ability to take their collective ideas about improving the lives of children and their families and turning these ideas into tangible implementable strategies. This approach to developing and articulating service delivery strategies has been adopted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration by requiring the development of logic models within its system of care oriented Children’s Mental Health Initiative. The logic model approach has also been applied to states, providers, funders, academic departments, and philanthropic organizations.

As a scholar, Dr. Hernandez has edited books, chapters, peer reviewed publications, monographs, and edited special journal issues. He remains an active consultant nationally and provides technical assistance in the application of logic models and in the implementation of cultural competence. He serves on various local and national boards that focus on improving the conditions of children challenged by mental health challenges and poverty.

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E. Wayne Holden became RTI International's fourth president and chief executive officer in 2012. RTI is an internationally recognized not for profit research institute based in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. With nearly 3,700 worldwide staff members and over 2,600 ongoing projects in approximately 75 countries, RTI’s mission is to “improve the human condition through turning knowledge into practice”.

Dr. Holden is a distinguished researcher and clinical psychologist with nearly 30 years of professional experience. He joined RTI as executive vice president of Social and Statistical Sciences in 2005, overseeing the organization's largest unit. Prior to joining RTI, he served as vice president, senior vice president and ultimately president of the research company ORC Macro. Before joining ORC Macro in 1998, he had a successful career in academia serving more than 10 years in a variety of roles in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Maryland's School of Medicine, including as director of pediatric psychology and as a tenured associate professor. He was also a faculty member for two years in the Department of Psychology at Auburn University.   

He currently holds appointments as an adjunct professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University School of Medicine and the Department of Health Policy and Management in the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Dr. Holden is a fellow of the American Psychological Association and has authored more than 130 articles, books, or book chapters on various topics in clinical child/pediatric psychology and health services research. During his career, he has served as principal investigator or officer-in-charge for over 100 million dollars worth of research contracts and grants. 

princess3Princess Katana is a multi-lingual professional with over 20 years of experience designing, managing and effectively implementing programs dedicated to prevention, early intervention and the transformation of health and human services. She is a leader and promoter of multi-agency local, state and national collaborations resulting in long-term positive outcomes for culturally and linguistically diverse service recipients. She is also an experienced national trainer and engaging public speaker on engaging culturally diverse communities and organizations in effective partnerships that improve service delivery for underserved communities.

Princess Katana is an innovative thinker with experience implementing multi-faceted funding approaches to achieve the sustainability of large demonstration projects and programs addressing early childhood intervention, as well as health and human services across the life span. She promotes dialogue and collaboration between leaders of faith and community based organizations around social and health issues, so that communities are better able respond to the needs of individuals affected by substance use and mental illness, or impacted by a chronic conditions; She led system change, program development and the implementation of financing strategies that resulted in the successful achievement of goals and long term sustainability of The Children’s Partnership, Texas’ first system of care for children and adolescents with mental health needs and their families.

lambertLisa Lambert is the executive director of Parent/Professional Advocacy League (PPAL), a statewide, family-run, grassroots nonprofit organization based in Boston.  PPAL is the state organization of the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health and has been a SAMHSA-funded statewide family network since 2000.  

Lisa Lambert became involved in children’s mental health as an advocate for her young son in 1989 through the CASSP family network in California.  After moving back to Massachusetts, she began supporting families whose children and youth had behavioral health needs.  She became involved with PPAL, first on a regional level and then on a statewide level. Her areas of expertise include mental health policy, systems advocacy and family-driven research.

Realizing that individual parent and youth stories need to be supported by data, Lisa authored several family-driven studies which highlighted the challenges families encountered when accessing services, their perspectives on psychotropic medications and the training needs of family partners. Lisa also authored a chronicle of PPAL’s Worcester-based youth group which highlighted how a strong youth-guided initiative had an impact on their community.  

Lisa Lambert serves on a number of committees in Massachusetts as well as the Building Bridges Initiative Youth and Family Partnership workgroup. She has been instrumental in working with local and national media to highlight the concerns of families and youth.  She is dedicated to ensuring that family voice is included in every state and national conversation about the policies, practices or services that impact them.

jodyJody Levison-Johnson has 20+ years of child, adolescent and family behavioral health experience. She is currently the Executive Director of the Maryland and DC operations of Choices, Inc., a children's care management organization. At Choices, Jody is responsible for leadership of the agency's wraparound and care coordination services which serve over 500 youth in the state of Maryland and District of Columbia. Prior to joining Choices, Jody served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Louisiana Office of Behavioral Health where she was responsible for clinical oversight and management of all publicly funded behavioral health services including the statewide public sector managed care efforts. Her work in Louisiana was both challenging and rewarding and during her time there tremendous progress was made to better serve public sector children, youth, adults and families. Prior to working in Louisiana, Jody led Monroe County, NY's system of care efforts while serving as the Vice President of Coordinated Care Services, Inc., a non-profit management and consulting services organization. Part of her work in Monroe County included oversight of all children's services. She also provided technical assistance (TA) to system of care communities across the country and served as a consultant for national TA partners for the Comprehensive Community Mental Health Services for Children and their Families program. Jody currently serves on the SAMHSA Child, Adolescent and Family Branch Advisory Council and on the Building Bridges Steering Committee (www.buildingbridges4youth.org). Her passion lies in supporting communities to develop effective community-based systems that appropriately prevent and respond to the range of behavioral health needs. She places a tremendous emphasis on both quality improvement and accountability of systems, focusing on the use of data and information to inform and enhance the services and supports available to young people and their families.

brigitteBrigitte Manteuffel brings to the Children's Mental Health Network's Advisory Board extensive expertise in children's mental health services research. As the former principal investigator for the national evaluation of the Children's Mental Health Initiative (CMHI) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), over the past 14 years she examined the implementation and outcomes of systems of care in over 150 communities at the State, county, city, and tribal levels. Before her work with the CMHI national evaluation, Dr. Manteuffel conducted studies at Emory University's Rollins School of Public Health and Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing on HIV prevention among youth and young adults, fatigue and cancer stressors in children, epilepsy self management, and the alleviation of nausea in pregnancy. She has contributed to studies of youth suicide and violence prevention, child traumatic stress treatment, motivational interviewing to reduce risk of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and HIV prevention and treatment costs and outcomes. Her projects in the US and Africa have been funded by NIMH, CDC, ASPE, the World Bank, and the UK Department for International Development. Dr. Manteuffel received her doctorate from Emory University's Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts where she focused her studies on depth psychology, anthropology and semiotics to examine the role of hypnotic states in healing. In addition to over 50 publications and over 100 presentations, she has contributed to over 150 briefs and reports, including annual reports to Congress and Children's Mental Health Awareness Day Brief Reports. In 2012, Dr. Manteuffel was one of two recipients of the Outstanding Community Partner Award given by the Department of Child and Family Studies at the University of South Florida. Dr. Manteuffel is committed to improving the access, quality, evidence base, and cost efficiency of health services, especially mental health and substance use services for children, youth and young adults.

george patrinGeorge Patrin spent over 23 years as an Army Pediatrician and Healthcare Administrator concentrating on Family Advocacy and Healthcare Process Improvement. A graduate of the U of MN Medical School and Army-Baylor Masters in Healthcare Administration, his assignments span from Medical Director of the European Regional Medical Command Exceptional Family Member Program and TRICARE-Europe to Branch Chief of Healthcare Business Operations for the Joint Task Force Capital Medical Region and Special Projects Officer for Patient-Family Centered Healthcare in Army Medical Home Clinics, assisting in writing DoD Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Guidelines and Training. COL Patrin developed an innovative pre-deployment risk analysis Soldier Readiness Program addressing both soldier and family member readiness while deploying to Bosnia. Directing community volunteers, he developed a DoD video program series for children undergoing deployment separation and reintegration stress called “Mr. Poe and Friends Discuss Family Reunion After Deployment” and “Military Youth Coping with Separation: When Family Members Deploy” along with LTC Keith Lemmon. He commanded the California Medical Detachment and Presidio of Monterey Army Health Clinic, aggressively revamping healthcare services in support of the Defense Language Institute and Naval Postgraduate School while garnering support for a new DoD-VA Clinic on Old Fort Ord. He is a sought after speaker on parenting education, child abuse prevention, school learning and behavior problems, and healthcare administration optimization. He can be contacted at patrin.george@gmail.com.

martinMartin Rafferty is the founder and executive director for a state-wide chapter of Youth M.O.V.E. National called Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon. Martin was diagnosed with bipolar II at 23 and later with PTSD but does not let diagnosis define who he is. Martin is the winner of multiple advocacy awards in the field of mental health and the author of curricula used by state leaders in Oregon to train peer support specialists. As an experienced public speaker, Martin has trained nationally since 2009. He is the primary author of the Youth Mental Health Bill of Rights and the director of an award winning documentary video called Project Invoke.

Martin has focused his work recently on reaching rural or system weary young people via social networking. Currently his organization has the largest social network of any young adult focused organization, with numbers growing every day. The focus of Youth M.O.V.E. Oregon’s social networking campaigns is always to compete with popular content that is being shared virally, while at the same time offering important messages to its target audience. In 2009, Martin successfully launched a campaign that promoted positive mental health messages in advertising space inside popular video games. This campaign helped to lead other youth serving organizations to take advantage of this unique podium.

Martin is currently the co-chair of the Oregon’s Children’s Mental Health Advisory Committee. He has been on the Youth Advisory Board of the website reachout since 2008 and also served for 3 years on the board for CAFETY. He is the winner of the Oregon 2010 Mental Health Award of Excellence, the 2010 “Ma” Curtis Award from the Oregon Coalition on Housing and Homelessness for his advocacy for homeless and runaway youth, and the 2013 Advocate of the Year award presented by the Oregon Council of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. During the 2013 FFCMH conference in Washington D.C. Martin also accepted on behalf of his organization the 2013 Rock Star award for Chapter of the Year.

With his first position being with MindFreedom International, Martin has a unique perspective on mental health advocacy. His sometimes direct tactics paired with the will to partner systems has lead for a reputation for integrity from mental health professionals and critics of traditional care.

elaineAlice “Elaine” Slaton has been deeply engaged in health care services, delivery and advocacy for the length of her career, ranging from bedside nursing to grief counseling, administration, advocacy and training. She previously served as a Senior Program Director at the National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health. In addition, she brings more than 2 decades of non-profit administration and organizational development to the Children’s Mental Health Network.  More about her organizational and facilitation skills can be found at www.slatonassociates.com.

Denise Sulzbach has been a member of the Policy and Finance Center at the Institute for Innovation and Implementation at the University of Maryland, School of Social Work (formerly the Innovations Institute at the School of Medicine) since 2008.  In this capacity, she serves as the State Project Director for Maryland’s two system of care grants, Maryland CARES and Rural CARES, is a member of the implementation team for the State’s 1915(c) Medicaid Demonstration Waiver, and provides system of care consultation to other states.  Ms. Sulzbach has been the sole or co-author of several successful federal grants proposals that have brought over $45 million dollars into the State of Maryland to improve outcomes for children with complex needs and their families.  Ms. Sulzbach has fifteen years of experience and success in program, policy, training, technical assistance, and legal and fiscal analysis, with a solid track record of leveraging support by building upon multidiscipline partnerships in the planning and implementation of data-driven projects with  outcome-based results.  She has considerable background and experience in the provision of cross-agency and cross-discipline technical assistance and training to public and private providers in the development and implementation of systems of care practices and principles to improve outcomes for youth with complex needs and their families.

Ms Sulzbach has served the State of Maryland in several high-level, Governor-appointed positions.  From 2003 to 2007, she worked for the State of Maryland, serving as Project Director for Maryland’s Mental Health Transformation State Incentive Grant, Director of Systems of Care and Interagency Policy at the Governor’s Office for Children, and the Deputy Secretary for Administration at the Department of Juvenile Services.  Ms. Sulzbach also worked for several years at the county level as a prosecutor, at which time she was assigned to the child advocacy center and specialized in child abuse and sexual assault, juvenile law, and drug courts.  Her background also includes work as a court advocate for victims of domestic violence, Medicaid eligibility technician for the State of Connecticut, and respite care provider for children with intensive needs.

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