Leadership, Faculty, Consultants & Staff

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The Breakthrough Series Collaborative leadership was a diverse group of experts with experience, knowledge and passion for their work. The collaborative was co-chaired by Zeinab Chahine, managing director, Strategic Consulting Services, Casey Family Programs, and Lewis “Harry” Spence, Harvard Graduate School of Education and Kennedy School of Government, and former commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Social Services.

The co-chairs worked closely with 11 faculty members:

  • Debra Conway, birth parent, Washington
  • Diane DePanfilis, director, Ruth H. Young Center for Families and Children, University of Maryland
  • Kathy Deserly, director, Indian Child and Family Resource Center, Montana
  • Maryam Fatemi, administrator, Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, California
  • Ernestine Gray, juvenile court judge, Orleans Parish Juvenile Court, Louisiana
  • Suzanne Lohrbach, supervisor, Olmsted County Child and Family Services, Minnesota
  • Shantay Mines, youth, New Jersey
  • Barry Salovitz, senior director, Strategic Consulting Services, Casey Family Programs, New York
  • Damon Saunders, supervisor, Fairfax County Department of Family Services, Virginia
  • Tess Thomas, foster parent, Washington
  • Tamika Youmans, youth, Massachusetts

The co-chairs and faculty members came to the collaborative with a history of success in implementing or changing practice in safety and risk assessments and decision making. The leadership team was composed of key stakeholders in the implementation of safety and risk assessments and decision making, representing consumers, parents, youths, caregivers, workers, supervisors, administrators and community partners. Download short bios of all the team members.

Because the Breakthrough Series Collaborative methodology is built on an evidence-based practice framework, teams often want to hear “how this worked” in other sites throughout the country. The co-chairs and faculty members served as practice experts on the selected topic. They shared their expertise and experience in applying the framework’s best practices (from the practitioner’s or family’s perspective). This sharing often included data, stories that highlight a specific systemic shift and “lessons learned” in their jurisdiction.

The Breakthrough Series Collaborative leadership also played a critical role in supporting and mentoring teams -- helping teams learn the practice framework, understand the methodology, and brainstorm changes they will test. Faculty members facilitated communication within and between teams, building a culture of cross-team learning.

Co-chairs and faculty members also served as consultants to the staff and planning team. They identified team-specific issues that needed to be addressed, provide insight into how teams approached the change process, pointed out common themes and learning across teams, and served as a “think tank” to resolve problems.

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