Dr. Colette (Coco) Auerswald is Director of the JMP Master’s Program and research curriculum, an inter-disciplinary effort dedicated to individual and public health. She also holds academic positions at the Berkeley and San Francisco campuses of the University of California. Throughout her career, Dr. Auerswald has researched the relationship between poverty and health among youth. She is regarded as a leading expert on topics of social epidemiology, medical anthropology and adolescent health.
Darla Bardine is a public interest attorney serving as Executive Director of the National Network for Youth. She has dedicated her career to young people and families who experience homelessness, poverty, violence and exploitation.
Before joining NN4Y, Darla created and launched the Fight Child Exploitation in Tourism Initiative in South Africa and worked to reform foster care in Washington, DC. As a federal policy advocate, she fought to secure assistance for families navigating the complex criminal justice and child welfare systems. During this time, Darla established her reputation as an exceptional leader, policy advocate and grassroots organizer.
In 2013, Dara helped re-launch and re-structure NN4Y. As Policy Director, she established an unprecedented coalition of homeless youth providers, advocates, experts and young leaders from across the country. She also launched NN4Y’s 2013-2015 RHYA Reauthorization Working Group, the National Youth Advisory Council and the National Summit on Youth Homelessness. Since becoming Executive Director in 2014, Darla has continued to expand the width and depth of NN4Y’s advocacy agenda. Moreover, she has strengthened the capacity of individuals and organizations to advocate on behalf of young people experiencing homelessness.
Ms. Bardine holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. in Nonprofit Management from the University of Roehampton and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center.
James “Bo” Bolas is Executive Director of the Coalition for Homeless Youth and Co-Principal Investigator for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program Impact Study. As an advocate, trainer and service provider, he has supported the youth homelessness movement for 27 years. After co-founding New York’s first homeless youth peer outreach program, Bo helped secured permanent housing for families in California. He has also consulted for a number of foreign programs, including Doctors of the World and London’s Streetwork Project.
First elected in 1996, Maine’s Senator Susan Collins is serving her fourth term in the United States Senate. Recognized as a skillful legislator and as a facilitator of bipartisan compromise, Senator Collins is a key leader in the U.S. Congress. In 2015, Senator Collins was ranked the most bipartisan member of the U.S. Senate by the Lugar Center and Georgetown University.
Addressing youth homelessness is among Senator Collins’ top priorities as the Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development. Last year, Senator Collins chaired a hearing to examine the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s efforts to prevent and end youth homelessness. Senator Collins is the lead cosponsor of the Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act, which would reauthorize programs that help homeless youth obtain emergency shelter, crisis intervention services, long-term housing, education, and job training. She is also one of the lead sponsors of the Family Unification Modernization and Improvement Act, which would help ensure that families and foster youth who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness have access to the housing and supportive services they need.
Known for her Maine work ethic, Senator Collins has never missed a vote in her nineteen years in office—more than 6,000 consecutive votes.
Jennifer Cannistra is the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary in ASPE. She previously served as the Department’s Executive Secretary, where she helped manage the Department’s regulatory and policy decision-making processes. Earlier in the Administration, Jen served as Senior Advisor for Legal Affairs in the HHS Office of Health Reform, where she helped implement the Affordable Care Act, and as Policy Analyst and Director of Special Projects in the White House Office of Health Reform, where she worked closely with officials from across the Administration to develop and pass health reform. Before joining the Administration, Jen held several positions on the 2008 Obama for America campaign, served as a law clerk to a federal judge, and worked as an associate at a DC law firm. Jen received a B.A. from Princeton University, a Masters degree from Oxford University, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
Stacey Violante Cote is Director of the Teen Legal Advocacy Project at the Center for Children’s Advocacy. Before joining the Center, she received a Skadden Fellowship to pilot school-based legal services in Connecticut. These efforts earned statewide recognition, and successfully elevated the needs of abused, neglected, homeless and special education students. Today, Stacey and her team ensure that educational opportunities, government benefits and legal support are available to all youth in Connecticut.
Barbara Duffield is Director of Policy and Programs for the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth. Before joining NAEHCY, she served as a tutor for homeless children and as Director of Education with the National Coalition for the Homeless. For two-and-a-half decades, Ms. Duffield has worked closely with schools, service providers, federal agencies and Congressional offices to strengthen policy and practice on children’s issues. Additionally, she has conducted hundreds of trainings across the country to promote the unique needs of RHY.
Krysta Esquivel is creator of the Connections Project and a 15-year veteran of the youth service industry. She is dedicated to improving the lives of young people and sharing knowledge within her field. Ms. Esquivel holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in social work.
Kelly Fitzpatrick serves as Policy Advisor with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Planning, Evaluation and Policy Development. Kelly began her career in the classroom, where she developed effective, innovative and inspiring standards of instruction. Today, departmental leaders rely on her passion and expertise to support an extensive policy agenda. Working alongside the White House and other federal agencies, Kelly targets special K-12 populations, immigrant students, English learners and migrant children.
Christine Gendron is Executive Director of the Texas Network of Youth Services. She previously researched, evaluated and administered a variety of youth-centric initiatives at the University of Texas at Austin. Under Christine’s leadership, TNOYS has effectively protected and strengthened services for youth and their families in Texas. As Executive Director, she supervises training and consultation services at the community level. Christine also coordinates lobbying efforts to secure policy solutions for youth homelessness.
Dr. Marya Gwadz is a licensed clinical psychologist and Senior Research Scientist at the New York University College of Nursing. She also serves as Director of the Transdisciplinary Research Methods Core at the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research. For nearly three decades, Dr. Gwadz has worked closely with homeless and runaway youth, people of low socioeconomic status and other populations at high risk for HIV/AIDS. Her research targets the racial and ethnic disparities of infection using potent, innovative and culturally appropriate interventions.
Kristina Halmai supervises the clinical component of the Connections Project. In this capacity, she works closely with Connections Coaches and support staff to adapt DBT informed intervention and maintain fidelity across sites. Prior to working with the Connections project, Kristina spent several years with an emergency shelter for teens and families in crisis as well as a transitional living program for former foster females. She has extensive knowledge and experience using evidence-based models and creating curriculum for culturally competent, high quality service delivery.
Sparky Harlan is Chief Executive Officer of the Bill Wilson Center. Since assuming leadership in 1983, Ms. Harlan has secured housing, education and employment for countless youth and families in Santa Clara, California. She is also largely responsible for developing a national continuum of care for runaway and homeless youth, foster youth and youth involved with the juvenile justice system. As a result of these efforts, Ms. Harlan has received prestigious awards from the National Network for Youth, National Safe Place and the White House. She holds master’s degree in nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco.
Jasmine Hayes is the Policy Director of Youth and Families with the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. Jasmine has worked with local and state leaders to drive child welfare practice for over 15 years. At the state-level, she led the Planning, Policy, and Quality Improvement divisions along with the Resource Development Office for the District of Columbia’s child welfare agency. In addition to spearheading the development of transitional housing resources for child welfare-involved mothers, Jasmine helped shape and launch the District’s Title IV-E waiver demonstration project. Jasmine has a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Toronto.
Juli Hishida is Project Manager at the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. Before assuming her current position, she was part of the Council’s Engaging Homeless Youth workgroup, Clinician’s Network and Youth Engagement project. For the past six years, Juli has focused on supporting federal health center programs that receive HCH funding. Specifically, she helps grantees comply with federal program requirements and mitigate other technical issues. Outside the Council, Juli provides counseling services to low-income and unstably housed individuals.
Robert Listenbee is the Administrator of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention with the United States Department of Justice. He was appointed by President Barack Obama in February 2013 and was sworn in to the position on March 25, 2013. As Administrator, Mr. Listenbee is working to realize the agency’s vision of a nation where all children are healthy, educated and free from violence. To fulfill this vision, he leads efforts to fulfil the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act, reduce out-of-home placement and promote developmental, trauma-informed approaches to juvenile justice.
Rafael López, is the Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
López is a results driven leader with experience in helping lead complex organizations in the public and social sectors where he has served in numerous roles at the city, county and state level focused on improving the lives of children, families and communities. From 2013-2015, López served as a Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President and with the Domestic Policy Council.
Prior to his service at the White House, López was an Associate Director at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, a private, national philanthropy devoted to developing a brighter future for millions of children at risk of poor educational, economic, social and health outcomes. Previously, López served as the President and CEO of The Family League of Baltimore City, Inc. where he was a member of the Baltimore City Mayor’s Cabinet. From 2006-2009, López was appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to serve on his Cabinet as the Executive Director of the City of Los Angeles Commission for Children, Youth and Their Families. López previously served as the Deputy Director of the City and County of San Francisco Department of Children, Youth, and Their Families and as Senior Deputy for Health and Human Services for Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. From 1999-2004, López served as the Founding Executive Director of First 5 Santa Cruz County where he launched the countywide implementation of the California Children and Families First Act-Proposition 10 and led innovative efforts to expand and create programs and services in health, school readiness, and family support including the creation of one of California’s first comprehensive health coverage programs for all Santa Cruz County children.
In 1999, López became the youngest person in the City’s history to serve on the Watsonville City Council where he led neighborhood based efforts to civically engage youth and immigrant families in the development of city services. He has worked closely with community based organizations as a volunteer, manager, executive, board member and founder and was sponsored by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to serve as a fellow at Stanford University’s Center for Social Innovation at the Graduate School of Business Executive Program for Nonprofit Leaders. López was awarded a 2007-2008 Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family National Fellowship.
Born and raised in Watsonville, California, López is an alumnus of Vassar College and the University of California Santa Cruz where he graduated with honors in American Studies. He is a graduate of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government where he earned a Master in Public Administration and was named a Lucius N. Littauer Fellow. López and his wife, Rosa Ramírez-López, live in Washington, D.C. with their sons Adán Miguel and Mateo Gabriel.
Amy Louttit joined StraightUp AmeriCorps in California, where she worked as an academic mentor and advocate for homeless and unaccompanied youth. After two terms, she became a residential counselor in a group home for adolescents. Upon discovering the complex legal barriers faced by the youth she served, Amy decided to attend Thomas Jefferson School of Law. As a student, she received numerous awards and scholarships – including a prestigious certificate in Law and Social Justice. Amy also became a Youth Director on the San Diego Unaccompanied Youth Task Force, a collaborative initiative between the National Association for the Education of Children and Youth (NAEHCY) and the San Diego Continuum of Care. While serving the Task Force, Amy partnered with state legislative staff to help guide and build new legislation. As a result, she was recognized for outstanding legislative testimony.
Since joining NN4Y, Amy has assumed responsibility for soliciting and submitting comments on policies related to youth homelessness. Her efforts have earned widespread support from national, state and local organizations within the National Network and beyond. Amy continues to inspire dialogue about the challenges and solutions that affect youth service providers in America. Her topics of expertise include access to healthcare, housing, employment and education; RHYMIS/HMIS integration; Continuums of Care and Notices of Funding Availability; Rapid Re-Housing—and many more.
Ann Marie Oliva is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Special Needs, which oversees the Office of HIV/AIDS Housing and the Office of Special Needs Assistance Programs. In this capacity, Ms. Oliva helps administer a variety of homelessness prevention efforts on behalf of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. As Director of SNAPS, she has managed a portfolio of over 8,000 competitive and formula grants with an annual budget of over $2 billion. Prior to joining HUD, Ms. Oliva served as an independent human services consultant and technical assistance provider.
Nat Paul is an advocate for homeless and trafficked members of the LGBTQ community. She is currently developing PRISM, a long-term aftercare program designed to reintroduce victims to society. At the local, state and national level, Nat initiates important dialogues about the LGBTQ experience.
Stephanie Kay Richard is the Policy and Legal Services Director at the Coalition to Abolish Slavery and Trafficking. Before joining CAST, she served as the domestic lead for the Alliance to End Slavery & Trafficking and the policy Co-Chair of the Freedom Network, USA. Since receiving her law degree, Ms. Richard has been part of anti-trafficking movement for over a decade. In addition to technical consultation, she provides direct legal services to survivors across the country.
Debby Shore is the Founder and Executive Director of Sasha Bruce Youthwork. For over 30 years, her work as a service provider, advocate and thought leader has transformed young lives in Washington, DC. Ms. Shore’s influential approach to youth empowerment utilizes a cost-effective and competency-based approach to counseling and supportive services. In the course of training excellent staff, Debby has helped SBY embrace understand and embrace the needs of troubled youth and families.
Brooke Spellman is Principal Associate with Abt Associates—a public policy and consulting firm dedicated to economic prosperity. For over two decades, she has researched complex issues of homelessness, poverty and community development. As a national thought leader, Ms. Spellman relies on data systems and analysis to understand the causes, patterns and outcomes of homelessness. In turn, her findings facilitate system- and program-level service delivery, technical assistance and training, grants management and other strategic interventions.
Dr. Jennifer Troke is a Division Chief at the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) Employment & Training Administration’s Office of Workforce Investment (OWI), Division of Youth Services where she focuses primarily on managing several youth development programs including the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) youth formula system, the YouthBuild program, and a series of grants that support court-involved youth and adults. She has also managed the Department’s H-1B Technical Skills Training grants and the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator grants that focus on providing skills training in high growth industries including manufacturing, healthcare, and energy. Jen and her team develop and implement technical assistance strategies, policy guidance, performance outcomes, and other strategic priorities for the Department that ultimately result in getting people into jobs through education and training. Prior to that, she worked with the Business Relations Group to help large national employers, like CVS, Home Depot, and Bank of America, navigate the workforce investment system. She is a native Texan with an undergraduate degree from Texas Tech, a Masters in Public Administration from Appalachian State University, and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from the University of North Carolina Greensboro in 1998. Jen lives in Silver Spring with her delightful husband, two entertaining kids, two lovable dogs, and one shy cat.
Rich Hooks Wayman serves as they CEO of LUK, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to crisis care, social services and behavior health. Before leading his own organization, Rich worked for the Legal Aid society of Minneapolis, the Street Workers Collaborative and the National Alliance to End Homelessness. He has served homeless youth numerous capacities, including free legal services, street outreach and policy analysis. As Executive Director of Heart Connection, he also pursued supportive housing for chronically homeless persons in Minnesota.