KAREN POTEET Contact | Term 6.30.20
NFPA Board of Directors | President
Karen received her Master of Public Administration degree from Baylor University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Southern Nazarene University. She has over 33 years of experience in human services in two state systems, Illinois and Oklahoma. She has held positions of ever-increasing responsibility within the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. From 2006-2010, she served as the Oklahoma Administrator of the Interstate Compact on Adoption and Medical Assistance. IShe also serves as the Project Director for the MIPPA-ADRC and MIPPA-AAA grants funded through ACL as well as the lead for Aging Services on the CMS Money Follows the Person grant in partnership with Oklahoma’s Medicaid agency, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. Ms. Poteet and her husband were also licensed foster parents in Illinois and adopted their two youngest children from the Illinois child welfare system.
THOMAS RECTOR Contact | Term 6.30.20
NFPA Board of Directors | Vice President
Thomas and his wife, Michelle, own and operate a multi-million dollar retailing, manufacturing and construction company. The philanthropic focus in their lives is children and youth centered organizations.
Throughout his career he has applied his professional skills to many volunteer organizations whether it is fundraising or governance, organized youth sports, hosting exchange students or leading non-profit organizations.
His role as foster and adoptive parent have led to mentoring and instruction of the application of BioSocial Cognition to Foster and adoptive parents both locally and nationally; College of the Redwoods Foster Kinship Care, California State Adoptions, AAC, NFPA.
Currently, Thomas facilitates trainings of CASA Advocates, parent and teen trainings for St. Joseph Hospital, Paso a Paso program, and is a National Speaker on BioSocial Cognition. Thomas and Michelle have been married for 47 years, have five children, (three biological, 2 adopted) and 8 grandchildren. He enjoys dancing, playing soccer and baseball.
EILEEN MAYERS PASZTOR Contact | Term 6.30.19
NFPA Board of Directors | Secretary
Eileen became a member of the NFPA when she worked at Nova University in Ft. Lauderdale to develop what would become the "Nova model of foster parent recruitment, preservice training and assessment to prepare foster parents as mental health workers." She was mentored by CWLA's Helen Stone who was a co-founder of the NFPA. Eileen was a principal developer of the original Model Approach to Partnerships in Parenting (MAPP). She became CWLA's first national program director for family foster care, kinship care, and adoption. Eileen is one of the principal developers of CWLA's PRIDE Model of Practice to Develop and Support Resource Parents as Team Members in Child Protection and Trauma Informed Care of Children and the Kinship Traditions of Caring and Collaborating Model of Practice. Eileen is a professor at the California State University, Long Beach School of Social Work. She is a foster and adoptive parent who continues to support her now adult children because of their special needs.
PEGGY KIRBY Contact | Term 6.30.20
NFPA Board of Directors | Treasurer
Peggy Kirby resides in West Monroe, Louisiana, has been a certified foster parent for teen girls for thirty years, has fostered more than 100 young ladies and is very active in advocating for policy changes to ensure teens transitioning out of care have the support they need. She has served as the Director of FAIR Visions for fifteen years and has been active with the State Association since 2000.
JIM HATCH, MBA, LSW Contact | Term 6.30.19
NFPA Board of Directors | Chair, Council of State Affiliates
Jim Hatch has worked professionally with children and families in Maine since 1994. He and his wife were also foster parents for twelve years and adopted two children. Jim enjoys hiking with his family and spends much of his time finding new ways to support adoptive, foster, and kinship families state and nationwide.
TAMMY WELLS Contact | Term 6.30.20
NFPA Board of Directors | Member At-Large
Tammy and her husband have two grown biological children, a daughter and a son, a son-in-law, two granddaughters and one grandson. In August of 1998 she became employed at a public-school system as a Resource Para-Educator; supporting students with educational, social, and behavioral struggles; through educating, and practice of life and social skills. In 2000 her family became a licensed traditional foster family for sibling groups of three or more children. During 2010 she became active in Nebraska Foster and Adoptive Parent Association, mentoring and supporting families and in December 2011 her family adopted three brothers.
Board of Directors
Emily Christensen Contact | Term 6.30.19
Emily Christensen, Ph.D., has a Bachelor's Degree in Human Development, a Master's Degree in Professional Counseling, and her doctorate is in Marriage and Family Therapy. A clinician for more than 20 years, Dr. Christensen has primarily served foster, adopted, and blended families struggling with patterns of acting out behaviors and negative interactions in effort to bring clarity and mutual understanding to increase bonding, improve attachment, and create a more peaceful environment in the home. She runs the Parenting Class Solutions website.
Dr. Christensen decided to serve with her husband as a foster parent when she witnessed the desperate situation of so many little ones who were ready to be discharged from inpatient services but had no placement available. Their dramatic and award-winning story, Keeping Kyrie, tells their story of fostering more than eighty children in four years. Ultimately, they adopted six special needs children that continue to keep them on their toes. These experiences transformed Dr. Christensen's clinical skills with personal experiences that have shaped her gift for supporting, educating, and healing families.
She has collaborated with her children on other books as well. Baby Kyrie's PRS ABC is an ABC picture book for medically fragile children, written with her two year old daughter. CP and Me is a children's picture book about Cerebral Palsy, written with her eight year old son. Marvelous Mary is a children's picture book about being Deaf with Cochlear Implants, written with her nine year old daughter. Kyrie’s second book, Gee-Whiz, G-Tube! is a children's book about the experience of feeding tubes, and transitioning from ng tube to g-tube. Upcoming releases include children's books on autism, foster care, and adoption.
Brian Donahue Contact | Term 6.30.20
Brian Donahue has been employed as a social worker in child welfare for the past 24 years. He currently supervises recruiting, licensing, training, support of foster parents in Connecticut. Brian graduated in 2001 with a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Southern Connecticut State University. He received his Post Master’s Certificate in Clinical Issues in Adoption.
In his personal life, he is actively involved in adoptee rights across the nation, Foster Leaders Movement (he is the Hartford County representative), and the Middlesex Connecticut United Way (where he serves on the Income Team committee). He has served on the Public Policy and Governance committees at the NFPA. He received the 2016 Connecticut Council on Adoption award.
He and his wife are parents of three girls. They are adoptive parents of two of the girls. They are believers in open adoption. They are in an open relationship with the biological sisters, and maternal aunt, of their adoptive children.
Mary Beth Dondiego Contact | Term 6.30.20
I am a newly appointed member of the NFPA Board and the Chair of the Governance Committee.
I am the eldest of three biological children of parents that shared our home with many foster children. Since the age of 10, I have helped maintain the legacy provided by my parents in assisting FAFS of NJ and NFPA at many national conferences.
Growing up with all of my diverse siblings has given me a unique perspective on the challenges faced by children and families in the foster care system. As an adult, I have worked in victim advocacy for 23 years and have developed specific skills in the nuts-and-bolts of nonprofit operation.
I hung up my motorcycle helmet a few years ago, and now enjoy more quiet pursuits in my free time. I'm an avid reader and love to crochet and sew.
Sue Dondiego Contact | Term 6.30.19
After enduring many winters in New Jersey, I decided to move to Florida. Love the sun and heat!! I was married for 62 years and had three daughters. While living in New Jersey I was a foster parent for 29 years, caring for 38 children of all ages – challenging but rewarding. Once I relocated to Florida I taught the children of migrant workers. The area I live in, Plant City, is famous for strawberries. Each year our Strawberry Festival hosts over many visitors. My church has a “Make Your Own Strawberry Shortcake” booth at the festival. I help hull over 400 flats of strawberries a day, as we sell more than 100,000 shortcakes.
I’ve had the opportunity to travel around the world and spent several years touring the continental United States. Each country and state I visited was unique in its own way. The two adventures I crossed off my bucket list were hot air ballooning in Kenya and white water rafting down on the Colorado River.
Loves to quilt and read mystery novels.
Shawn Johnson Contact | Term 6.30.19
Shawn Johnson is a Dallas-based Foster Advocate and Father, Philanthropist, and Business Strategist whose compassion, dedication, and innovation have earned him the reputation as an inspirational leader in his community. Throughout the course of nearly a decade, he has garnered extensive experience in civil and human rights, economic empowerment, poverty alleviation, social services, and more.
Bonnie McNulty Contact | Term 6.30.20
I served as the Mayor of the City of Edgewater for four terms, a foster parent in Colorado for 30 years, owned and operated a Child Placement Agency 20 years, CASA volunteer for 8 years and am currently a Peer Coordinator for CASA (Jefferson/Gilpin Counties Colorado), and the pas president of the Colorado State Foster Parent Association.
My husband and I, in addition to raising our four, now grown, children gave foster care to hundreds of other children. As a CASA Peer Coordinator I continue to be dedicated to supporting children and families. Today I am focused on using my time and experience to support our community.
Bonnie’s public service developed her commitment to a philosophy based on respect and honor. Serving a diverse community demands that all opinions are received with true civility.
Pat Llewellyn Contact | Term 6.30.20
After life as an Army brat and later a Marine wife I now live in Missoula, MT. We first began our introduction to foster care in 1993. We have 14 children,10 adopted from foster care, 26 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren and currently raise 2 of our grandchildren. From foster care, to adoption to kinship care I have been fortunate to have been a part of my state association for many years, to have found the NFPA and to belong to a church with several foster family members, reaping the benefits of many times much needed support from so many great people. I love traveling and the chance to seek good BBQ in every state I visit. I adore being a grandmother and feel exceptionally blessed to be a great grandmother.
Bob Ruble Contact | Term 6.30.19
As a single man raising his sister's daughter, Bob Ruble knows that his life path has taken a unique and unexpected turn. Bob has been the primary caregiver for his niece since she was 8 years old when she was removed from her mother's care. Bob's sister was unable to care for her daughter and had many life issues that caused her to make poor and unsafe decisions. He made the decision to intervene and call 911 which resulted in Child Protective Services (CPS), removing his niece out of his sister's home and placed her in group care. The next day Bob received a call from CPS and was asked to have his niece come live with him. He was told there were no other family members who could take her and that if he said no, his niece would be placed with a stranger in foster care. With little guidance on how to proceed on his own, Bob's kinship journey began. Although he was fortunate enough to be able to handle the initial financial issues, it took a lot of stamina and hard work to track down the resources and supports his niece needed.
Today, Bob's niece is 23 and attending college, and he is proud of the young woman she has become. Bob has also become an important voice for kinship families in his local area through his work with Children and Family Services and organizing kinship recognition events. Bob has started his own non- profit and started offering support for other kinship caregivers. He is also the President of the National Kinship Alliance and the relative caregiver voice for the Step Up Coalition. Bob's desire is to help improve support systems and services for kinship caregivers, so that more children's lives, like his niece's, can be saved.
Cate Hawks Contact | Term 6.30.20
Cate Hawks, M.A., is the founding Director of NewFound Families-Virginia. She serves on the Board of the National Foster Parent Association and is the Vice President of the National Kinship Alliance for Children. She has served for over 20 years as a Governor-appointed administrator of mental health and child welfare services. In 2015, she was awarded the National Foster Parent Association’s President’s Award for her service in foster care.