Season 2 Guests

Julie Ahnen

Manager of Child Protective Services
Dane County Department of Human Services

Julie Ahnen is a native of Madison, WI, and a graduate of the University of WI-Madison, receiving a graduate degree in Social Work in 1984. She has practiced professionally as a Social Worker since October of 1984, holding a variety of positions in the non-profit and private sector in the Dallas/Ft. Worth, TX area during her first 10 years of practice. Ms. Ahnen began employment with the Dane County Department of Human Services in June of 1995 where she has held a variety of positions within Child Protective Services as a line Social Worker and as a CPS Supervisor. Ms. Ahnen has been the Manager of Child Protective Services in Dane County since March of 2010.

Clare Anderson

Senior Policy Fellow
Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago

Clare Anderson is a Senior Policy Fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. She uses research, policy, and fiscal levers to improve outcomes for children, youth, and families. Anderson engages child welfare agencies, stakeholders, and constituents in large-scale system change. This includes guiding states to implement the Family First Prevention Services Act. Additionally, Anderson is a national thought leader on economic and concrete supports as core to prevention of child welfare involvement, and the development of a family and child well-being system that prioritizes family support and cross-sector partnerships.

Prior to joining Chapin Hall, Anderson was Deputy Commissioner at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration on Children, Youth, and Families (ACYF). There, she provided leadership for federal programs including child welfare, runaway and homeless youth, domestic and intimate partner violence, and teen pregnancy prevention. During her tenure at ACYF, Anderson co-led the development and implementation of a national well-being policy agenda. She was among the chief architects of the effort to address trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and toxic stress in children known to child welfare. Anderson spent a decade at the Center for the Study of Social Policy helping states and urban jurisdictions change policies and practices to improve outcomes. This included initiatives such as Family to Family and Community Partnerships for Protecting Children, as well as federal court-ordered monitoring of child welfare agencies. Anderson started her career as a frontline social worker.

Anderson holds a Master of Social Work from the University of Alabama.

Amy Baldus

Family Support Worker
Children’s Wisconsin’s Stevens Point office

As a Family Support Worker, Amy’s role is to build connections between the family and community. Before starting with Children’s Wisconsin in 2016, Amy had over 20 years of experience working directly with children in various childcare settings. Amy feels her work is important because she believe it’s essential for every parent to feel valued and proud. Being a parent is hard, and knowing they are not alone in this and having someone rooting for them and supporting them can make all the difference in the world.

Mark Cabaj

Here to There Consulting Inc.

Mark is President of the consulting company From Here to There and an Associate of Tamarack – An Institute for Community Engagement. While studying the Solidarity movement in Krakow, Poland, in mid-1989, Mark experienced a variety of tumultuous events that signaled the end of communism in Eastern Europe – including walking on the Berlin Wall with a million people the week it came down in November 1989. He worked as an Investment Advisor in Poland’s Foreign Investment Agency, the Foreign Assistance Coordinator for Grants in the new Ministry of Privatization, and the Mission Coordinator for the creation of the United Nations Development Program’s first regional economic development initiative in Eastern Europe.

Back in Canada, Mark was the Coordinator of the Waterloo Region’s Opportunities 2000 project (1997-2000), an initiative that won provincial, national and international awards for its multi-sector approach to poverty reduction. He served as Executive Director of the Canadian Community Economic Development Network (CCEDNet) (2001) before joining the Tamarack Institute and becoming Executive Director of Vibrant Communities Canada (2002-2011).

Mark’s current focus is on developing practical ways to understand, plan and evaluate efforts to address complex issues. This includes addressing the systemic roots underlying issues related to poverty and homelessness, community safety, educational achievement, health and climate change. He is particularly involved in developing and promoting developmental evaluation, a new approach to assessment which emphasizes real time feedback and learning in emerging, messy and often fast-moving environments.

Mark lives in Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) with his wife Leann and their children Isaiah and Zoë.

Micaela Conlon-Bue

Prevention Supervisor
Children’s Wisconsin’s Black River Falls and Marshfield offices

Micaela has actively engaged in the culture of learning her entire adult life. She served five years in the United States Navy (USN) flying combat missions in HH-60 helicopters. After her service, Micaela attended The University of Minnesota where she completed her undergraduate and Master’s degrees. Micaela also worked at The University of Minnesota’s Youth Development Leadership Program and partnered with faculty to start a community based research program, Learning Dreams, which expanded across five elementary schools, three high schools, and two major metropolitan cities. Micaela’s programming efforts at Learning Dreams have gone on to impact state and local policies and contributed to educational theory on the importance of community in determining educational success and civic engagement. Micaela moved to Black River Falls after getting married in 2021. Micaela is the proud mother of four beautiful children and enjoys spending time with her family.

Laura Glaub

Lead Social Worker
Madison Metropolitan School District

Laura Glaub is lead social worker for Madison Metropolitan School District. She has had the honor of being in the school district for 12 years in various roles that have supported students and families in 4k-12 grade level as an AmeriCorps member, director of after school programming, elementary social worker and now in the lead role. In all these roles, Laura has had the opportunity to create connections with students, families and community members that continue to question and dismantle systems to create a true community of care, love, and support.

Tim Grove

Tim Grove

Senior Director of Trauma Informed Strategy and Practice
Wellpoint Care Network

Tim Grove serves as the Senior Director of Trauma Informed Strategy and Practice at Wellpoint Care Network. Tim has more than 25 years of experience in the social service field in a variety of programs and roles. Tim has been a Mentor with Dr. Bruce Perry’s Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT), is a master trainer of ACE Interface and is the creator of Wellpoint Care’s Trauma Informed Care (TIC) curriculum, 7 Essential Ingredients (7ei). In addition to leading the TIC efforts across all Wellpoint Care programs, Tim has been providing training and consulting on trauma, ACEs, secondary trauma/caregiver capacity and related topics for 15 years. Tim has worked with and trained a diverse group of professionals – including judges, police officers, juvenile justice and child welfare staff, hospitals and healthcare staff, child development staff, veteran groups, college/university staff and professors, Boys and Girls Clubs, Religious Groups, Correctional staff, employers/employment staff and many others.

Tim and the Wellpoint Care team’s work has been highlighted in various radio and television projects, including a 2018 60 Minutes segment with special correspondent Oprah Winfrey and a three-year research study on the effectiveness of 7ei in child welfare published by the Journal of Child Custody in 2019.

Linda Hall

Wisconsin’s Office of Children’s Mental Health

The well-being of children has been a primary focus of Linda’s career in health and mental health policy.  She has pursued this children’s well-being and increased support for families agenda at the National Governors’ Association, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, Kids Forward, as Executive Director of the Wisconsin Association of Family & Children’s Agencies – an association for family-serving organizations, and as Interim Director for Community Partnerships – the Dane County wraparound program.  Linda holds a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Masters in Theology with a specialization in Ethics from McCormick Theological Seminary.  Since being appointed by Governor Evers in 2019 to lead the Wisconsin Office of Children’s Mental Health, she has had the privilege of collaborating with state and mental health leaders, youth with lived experience, and parent partners to improve the children’s mental health system and highlight what we all can do to support the well-being of children.

Jessika Harlston

Jessika Harlston is a mother of 3 boys and a Financial Career Planner and Case Manager for individuals and families at Ross Innovative Employment Solutions. In Overloaded, she shares her experience of becoming socially isolated that led to child welfare involvement, and then her powerful story of reconnection with her family and support system. Jessika shares that “so many people look at me as this woman who has it all; when in reality, I am just like everyone else. I cry like everyone else, I struggle like everyone else, and of course, I smile like everyone else. Look at me and see a woman who has been through the trenches and now she creating her own golden brick road one brick at a time.”

Esmeralda Martinez

Parent Advocate
Children’s Wisconsin

Esmeralda Martinez is a lived experience professional and the Parent Advocate for Children’s Wisconsin child welfare ongoing services. Esme is the mother of a toddler and a teenager, is working on a degree in Psychology with a minor in Counseling. She was a victim of childhood trauma, survivor of domestic violence and trafficking, and has had personal child welfare involvement. Today, she is living a healthy, sober life.

Esme serves as a Parent Leader in Child Welfare with the Department for Children and Families. She is also part of the design team for Breaking Barriers, Rightsizing Congregate Care and has been a valued contributor to our Strong Families, Thriving Children, Connected Communities initiative.

Diana Maya

Diana Maya es madre de dos hijos y una hija. Ella es Mexicana de Nuevo Leon, y vive hoy en Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Diana escribe “Mi infancia fue en su parte buena viviendo con mi abuela porque mi experiencia con mi mamá no fue muy buena, pero el dia de hoy he perdonado y sanado.”

Diana Maya is the mother of two sons and a daughter. She is Mexican from Nuevo Leon, and lives today in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Diana writes, “My childhood was at times good living with my grandmother because my experience with my mom wasn’t very good, but now I have forgiven and healed.”

Josh Mersky


Institute for Child and Family Well-Being

Joshua Mersky is a founding director of the Institute for Child and Family Well-Being and a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. Dr. Mersky’s research interests include child maltreatment and other adverse experiences that undermine health and well-being over the life course. He is dedicated to working with local and state partners to translate evidence into real-world solutions that improve outcomes for vulnerable children and families. Dr. Mersky applies his expertise to the design, application, evaluation, and dissemination of effective practices, programs, and policies. He is currently the lead evaluator of the Family Foundations Home Visiting program, a partnership between the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and Department of Health Services that supports evidence-based home visiting programs statewide. He also heads the Healthy Families Study, a randomized trial of multiple home visiting programs at the Milwaukee Health Department. In addition, Dr. Mersky is principal investigator of the Families and Children Thriving (FACT) Study, a longitudinal investigation into the health and well-being of at-risk children and families across Wisconsin.

Dr. Mersky and Dr. James Topitzes directed Project Connect, a randomized trial of a novel group-based model of parent-child interaction therapy (PCIT) for children in foster care. Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin integrated the model into its community services array based on results demonstrating that this intervention enhances the parenting skills of foster care providers and the mental health of children in foster care.

Through his collaborative work at ICFW, Dr. Mersky continues to promote the use of empirically validated interventions such as PCIT and TF-CBT as well as effective and innovative screening and assessment practices within the context of usual care.

Dr. Mersky holds a master’s degree in social work from Virginia Commonwealth University and a Ph.D. in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he also earned an advanced certificate in prevention science.

Rebecca Murray

Executive Director
Wisconsin’s Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board

Rebecca Murray joined the Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board in 2011 and is currently the Executive Director.  In her previous position at the Prevention Board, Ms. Murray administer the grants program and provided technical assistance to the Prevention Board grantees. Ms. Murray is a certified trainer for “Bringing the Protective Factors Framework to Life in Your Work” and a Triple P Seminars accredited practitioner. Ms. Murray is also the Executive Director for the Celebrate Children Foundation, the fundraising agency for the Prevention Board. She received her Bachelor’s in Communication Arts and a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire.

Jermaine Reed

Executive Director
Fresh Start Family Services

Jermaine Reed was born and reared in Milwaukee, WI. A 22 year child welfare career veteran, Reed is the first African-American person and foster parent in the history of Wisconsin to privately own a foster care agency. In 2011, he was one of two child welfare leaders in the state chosen to serve on the First Lady of Wisconsin’s “Fostering Futures” Steering Committee focused on advancing trauma informed care in child welfare and other child-and family serving systems; he served in that capacity for 3 years. In 2009, Reed was designated by Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration to lead a focus group on family support in the Governor’s 2009 Summit, Building Bridges to Family Economic Success.  Jermaine has committed his life to working on improving the quality of life for abused and neglected children and youth.  He focuses a lot of his work around partnering with and advising birth, foster and adoptive families, state and local officials, and other stakeholders.  Jermaine is committed to boldly addressing racial disproportionality and disparities in Wisconsin’s foster care system. Since 2010, Jermaine organizes and convenes the only child welfare conference in the nation that solely focuses on the needs of Black children, youth, and their families involved in foster care and juvenile justice systems. Each year there are between 450+ participants in attendance from across the child welfare spectrum.

Since beginning his speaking career in church at the age of 9, Reed has become a respected public speaker in a variety of circles. He infuses comedy, practicality, passion, and truth in all of his presentations. He is masterful in creating safe spaces to have hard conversations.  He is also a community advocate, playwright, and biological and adoptive parent.  Jermaine received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Upper Iowa University and completed master level courses at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Marc Seidl

Child Protection Initial Assessment Supervisor
Brown County Health and Human Services

Marc Seidl is currently a Child Protection Initial Assessment Supervisor with Brown County Health and Human Services. He has been a supervisor with Brown County for over seven years and was an Initial Assessment Social Worker in the field with families for 8 years for both Brown and Outagamie Counties.  Marc has been active in several local multidisciplinary teams involving drug endangered children, abusive injuries in young children and human trafficking.  Marc has presented on panels for NASW-WI’s annual conference in 2020 on how the pandemic was affecting child welfare practice as well as in 2022 on how the pandemic changed child welfare practice.  Marc was also a co-presenter at the 2022 Wisconsin Public Child Welfare Conference session on the changing mindset on Mandated Reporting.

Marc earned his MSW and BSW from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay both with an emphasis in Child Welfare. Marc is a member of the Child Welfare Advisory Committee for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay as well as a member of the National Association of Social Workers and a past member of the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Chapter.  Marc is also a member of the Wisconsin Human Services Association – Children, Youth and Families Advisory Committee.

Ayesha Teague

Family Support Specialist II
Children’s Wisconsin – Milwaukee office

Ayesha Teague began her career at Children’s Wisconsin in 2014 as a Family Support Specialist, working to support families whose children were placed in out of home care, succeeding a healthy career as an educator of over 12 years. While working to support those families’ needs, she also assisted with supervised visitations and family reunification. Because of her dedication, commitment, and passion to family support and care, Ayesha was promoted to Intensive In-Home Support Specialist, in 2018, where she currently works with families whose children remain in-home. Her endeavors to support families in maintaining a safe environment that enables the child(ren) to remain in their placement is coupled with teaching clients to model behavioral changes and increase their protective capacities.

In 2021 Children’s Wisconsin piloted the Early Intervention Services (EIS) program through DMCPS which has allowed her to intervene with families sooner, while DMCPS conducts their assessments. This early intervention allows Ayesha to provide supportive services and provide resources that prevent further Child Welfare involvement. Because of her involvement in the piloting phase, leadership saw fit for this talented advocate to be promoted to In-Home Training Specialist for the Family Support Program, where she diligently and enthusiastically trains new hires, while leading and supporting a team of specialist, to model appropriate conduct, behavior, and skills to support program participants while controlling safety in the homes.

Liz Weaver

Tamarack Institute

Liz Weaver is the Co-CEO of Tamarack Institute and leads the Tamarack Learning Centre. The Tamarack Learning Centre advances community change efforts by focusing on five strategic areas including collective impact, collaborative leadership, community engagement, community innovation and evaluating community impact. Liz is well-known for her thought leadership on collaborative leadership and collective impact and is the author of several popular and academic papers on the topic. She is a co-catalyst partner with the Collective Impact Forum.   Liz is passionate about the power and potential of communities getting to impact on complex issues.

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