Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System

Trainer Bios

Alison Sergio is the Executive Director of Health Care Network, Inc. in Racine, a nonprofit that provides health & dental care and social services to low income, uninsured residents of Racine County. Before starting at HCN, Alison worked for 19 years in several capacities at nonprofit organizations in Milwaukee. For the past 18 years, she has taught courses through the Child Welfare Training Partnership at the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare, University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Alison completed an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University and a BS in Social Work from UW-Milwaukee.  She is the mother of a son and resides in Burlington.

Ashley Barlow, worked in home visiting for 8 years. Throughout that time, she took on the roles of trainer, supervisor, and consultant. She joined the WCWPDS Team in March of 2021. Ashley has her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Social Work as well as a certificate in Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health. Since the beginning of her career Ashley has been a champion for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Challenging the systems in which she works with the goals of creating healthy and safe work environments for people of marginalized groups as well as the communities served.

Connie Dunlap is the Family Engagement Specialist at Supporting Families Together Association. In her role, she has been the Project Manager for the statewide Parent Café initiative, statewide evidence based Parent Education Initiative (Triple P), as well as provides Family Engagement support to agencies in the Early Childhood field (Family Resource Centers and Child Care Resource & Referral agencies). She is the Wisconsin Strengthening Families Committee Co-Chair and facilitates trainings in Strengthening Families Protective Factors, Brazelton Touchpoints, and The Standards of Quality for Family Strengthening and Support. Connie has over 20 years of experience in the Family Support field, with a focus on prevention services and home visiting programs.

Cynthia Muhar has worked as an educator/trainer of diverse groups, for over 20 years.   She has taught a variety of topics, including human sexuality, parenting, communication skills, developmental screening, poverty education, and cultural humility. She is a certified trainer for Ages and Stages Questionnaires, Brazelton Touchpoints Training, and Cultural Humility. Cynthia has presented at local, state and national conferences and she provides coaching and technical assistance around developmental screening. Her role is Professional Development Specialist for the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership through UW Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. She has a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a master’s Degree in Education: Curriculum and Instruction.

Donna C. McClain, MS. LPC is the Foster Care Medical Home Program Manager at Children’s Milwaukee, for Children’s Community Health Plan, Care4Kids Program.  I work collaboratively with the Director, Foster Care Medical Home program to establish and implement operational processes and systems to ensure program outcomes. I provide direct supervision of program supervisors and applicable support staff.  Additionally, I have extensive experience in Maternal, Infant, and early childhood Home Visiting and Child Welfare. Currently, I am one of the “Lemonade for Life,” statewide trainers. I am a wife of 17years to a very wonderful guy. I am a mother of two wonderful children and grandmother of six amazing grandchildren, and a leader that strives to encourage others and develop the next generations of leaders!   I love reading, cooking and walking especially along the lake front.  I find water very calming, tranquil and healing for my soul.

Emily Tianen, BSN, RN, CLC, CVT, is a public health nurse currently serving the City of Wauwatosa. She has a passion for maternal and child health which began while working as a home visitor with the Empowering Families of Milwaukee program. Emily also supports moms in the community with her training as a Certified Lactation Counselor. She has been an animal lover her whole life and actually began her nursing career with animals as a Certified Veterinary Technician. Though her patients are mostly of the human variety nowadays, she remains active with her local animal shelter.

Franchesca Carley Vasquez obtained a Master of Social Work degree in 2021 and works to support families in Brown County around early attachment. She spent many years as a home visitor and program manager supporting children and families in their early years of life. Franchesca completed the Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health through the University of Wisconsin Madison and continues to use what was learned in her daily work. She wholeheartedly believes relationships are key for successful change and the Brazelton Touchpoints Principles are principles she embraces not only in her work, but in her personal life.

Kari Villalpando is Public Health Nurse and Home Visiting Supervisor with the Central Racine County Health Department. She is a life-long resident of Sturtevant, WI. She earned her Bachelor of Sciences from the College of Nursing through UWM. Within a year of obtaining her RN licensure, she began work with the Central Racine County Health Department working with prenatal and postpartum families as a home visitor through the Racine Healthy Babies grant. After a few years, she was able to increase her skills by moving into the Home Visiting Supervisor position.

Katie Rommes is a home visiting service provider, clinical supervisor and program manager in western Wisconsin for over 20 years.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse; and is a graduate fellow of the Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health Capstone Program. She has been a member of the state training team for 8 years.


Katie Schlipmann serves as a Health Project Supervisor in the Empowering Families of Milwaukee home visitation program for the City of Milwaukee Health Department. She is a Registered Nurse and earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Alverno College in Milwaukee and completed the Capstone Certificate Program in Infant, Early Childhood and Family Mental Health through the UW Madison Department of Psychiatry. Katie is passionate about social justice, racial justice and health equity and is an advocate for families in Milwaukee who experience disparity as a result of the inequities that exist in the community.

Karen Villarreal is currently the Program Manager of a home visiting program that uses both Healthy Families America and Parents as Teachers evidence-based models.  She started as a home visitor 20 years ago, after graduating from Marquette University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Karen enjoys involving her team in new research initiatives and projects that can improve outcomes for the families her program serves.  She and her team have contributed to many quality improvement and professional development projects over the years.

Lana Nenide, MS – Executive Director at the Wisconsin Alliance for Infant Mental Health (WI-AIMH); a state-wide nonprofit agency charged with supporting social and emotional wellness of infants and young children in the context of their family, community, and culture. Lana holds a master’s degree in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin and is a graduate of the Napa Infant-Parent Mental Health Post Graduate Certificate Program, where she received specialized training in infant-parent mental health. Lana joined WI-AIMH in 2006 to oversee professional development efforts of the agency. Lana is a member of the Fussy Baby Network and provides training and consultation on the FAN framework. Lana is a faculty at the Wisconsin Infant, Early Childhood, and Family Mental Health Capstone Certificate program and holds Infant Mental Health Endorsement.  Lana is appointed to serve on the Governor’s Early Childhood Advisory Council and the Early Care and Education Committee for the City of Madison. Lana is a ZERO TO THREE Academy fellow.

Laura A. Saunders, MSSW, is the Great Lakes Addictions, Mental Health and Prevention Technology Centers: State Project Manager for the State of Wisconsin.  Her position is housed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she’s worked since 1988.   Since 2001, Laura has designed, facilitated, and delivered training and coaching in person, online, and via distance learning in the fields of health care, human services, public health, public safety and criminal justice. She has provided personalized feedback and coaching to hundreds of social workers, correctional staff  and other human service providers who are interested in using MI to fidelity.   She joined the International group of Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers (MINT) in 2006 (Sophia, Bulgaria) and is an active member of the Wisconsin MINT group.

Sarah Halstead is a laughter lover, lifelong learner and abundance attracter who has been training home visitors in Wisconsin since 1999. With a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice from UW-Madison, certification as a Teacher of English as a Foreign Language and experience managing several nonprofits, she brings a wide perspective to the learning environment.  She has trained groups large and small in supporting families, generational poverty, literacy, health literacy, leadership development, humor in the workplace, designing effective presentations, domestic abuse/sexual assault, volunteer management, dementia care, mental health, crisis response, strategic planning, fundraising, personal development and personal coaching.


Tina Melzl has worked in the field of Early Care and Education for the last 30 years. She has held a variety of roles from local classroom teacher, state program coordinator, student teacher supervisor to trainer. Tina has worked in a variety of rural and urban locations focusing on inclusion, families, play-based learning, diversity in the classroom and many curricular supports for classroom teachers, directors and family child care providers. She has been training the Touchpoints Approach for the last 15 years and is focusing currently on supporting families, care givers and entry-level educators. Tina has a bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies and a master’s degree in Continuing and Vocational Education.

Wendy Schwalbe joined the WCWPDS-Mke in January of 2019 as the Parents As Teachers model specialist. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Education at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh. Wendy has been working with children and families for the past 30 years in a variety of roles with non-profit organizations providing parenting workshops, education, supervised visits, in home parenting, Families First and Alternative Response. In 2017, she managed the first Parents As Teachers program in Wisconsin to become a Blue Ribbon Affiliate, passing the PAT National Endorsement. Wendy has dedicated her career to empowering parents to be their child’s first teacher.