We are back! Illuminate Colorado is excited to announce that consultation services for caseworkers, known as Child Abuse and Neglect Expert Staffing (CANES), has once again been funded by the Colorado Department of Human Services.
The CANES program utilizes a multidisciplinary team of experts to engage in critical thinking surrounding the dynamics and concerns at play in complex and challenging child abuse and/or neglect cases. CANES may be utilized at no cost to county child protection departments to determine next steps in a complex, challenging, and/or difficult referral, assessment, or case. The CANES program will facilitate the consultations online via Zoom using the Consultation and Information Sharing Framework to organize and analyze available information. By utilizing a diverse team of experts, CANES can ensure that questions are being asked that inspire solution-focused critical thinking and enhance creativity in managing child welfare cases.
The CANES program utilizes a multidisciplinary team of experts to engage in critical thinking surrounding the dynamics and concerns at play in complex and challenging child abuse and/or neglect cases.
In each consultation, the child welfare team and invited guests can expect Illuminate to create a space that is timely and responsive to the needs of the requesting agency, featuring a diverse pool of expertise specific to each case. This setting is appropriate for professionals and family participation, and is HIPPA compliant.
Requesting a Consultation
Requesting a consultation is easy, and requires a few moments to complete a short online application, and the approval of a Supervisor. Once the request is approved, Illuminate staff will contact the requesting party and discuss further needs and scheduling parameters. Most consultations can be scheduled in 2-3 weeks, depending on expert availability and the needs of the county.
Purpose, timelines, and outcomes of consultation will be determined based on the desire of the requesting agency and the specific needs of each case. Consultations are designed to facilitate solution-focused critical thinking to encourage creative and strength-based discussions, considerations and recommendations. The CANES Consultation Team provides consultation services only. Neither Illuminate Colorado, its agents, or employees nor any member of the CANES Consultation Team, is responsible for any recommendations or actions taken/not taken as a result of the consultation or final report.
Strengthening families requires a holistic approach. That’s why Bloom Yoga offers supportive, trauma-informed yoga for anyone who plays a part in family strengthening. That means kids, caregivers, and professionals alike!
As fall steadily moves its way into Colorado, we once again reflect on the opportunity last month to come together in person to celebrate, learn and grow at the 2022 Colorado Strengthening Families and Communities Conference (SCFCC). A huge thank you to the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) and the Colorado Department of Human Services (CDHS) for prioritizing professional and community development by presenting the conference. With their leadership and dedication to Colorado families, this conference exists in collaboration across the family support continuum, from prevention and public health through restoration and child welfare.
The Road to Pueblo
As was originally planned for 2020, this year we met in Pueblo to broaden attendees’ experiences in a new region of Colorado. With the support of both CDEC and CDHS for 2022, the conference committee began convening in 2021 to strategize and plan for the first in-person SCFCC since 2018. Representatives from multiple disciplines, including both state departments, worked monthly to bring attendees together in person in a joint collaboration to provide a learning and networking experience to benefit both professionals and those serving in Family Voice roles.
Over the last few years, there has been a shift in how many have approached and engaged in their work and society in general, and it left many professionals, parents and caregivers tired for so many different reasons. The hope that this conference would bring new ideas and new energy sparked the theme of Flourishing in Times of Change, which was an active and deliberate strategy to meet the needs of professionals and communities to help make our state the best place possible for our children and families.
Getting to Equitable and Anti-Racist Practice,
Elevating Family and Youth Voice, Supporting Workforce Care,
Collecting and Leveraging Data,
Highlighting the Importance of Male Involvement,
Working Together to Maximize Resources,
Illuminate Colorado Executive Director, Jade Woodard, introduces the first keynote speaker of the conference.
At the start of each day, attendees were greeted with a small surprise– notebooks, succulents, and crafts!
Dr. Wendy Ellis, the first keynote speaker of the conference, speaks on the importance of establishing the presence of and access to supports that communities need to thrive as the major factor in building resilience.
Workshops, Keynote Speakers, and A Little Bit of Glitter
Nearly 600 people attended the conference, which included a diverse and multi-disciplinary group of professionals and Family Voice representatives from all over the state. The committee and Illuminate were dedicated to providing a space where each conference participant would grow in their knowledge of effective child abuse prevention strategies, family support and protective factors that strengthen families through active participation in workshop sessions, networking, dedicated time for well-being, and robust discussions. With attendee evaluations reporting nearly a 96% satisfaction rate, the conference was an overall success in bringing outstanding keynotes speakers, diverse breakout sessions, and time to network and unwind in the Pavilion to professionals and Family Voice representatives.
Speaking of the Pavilion – this year we really focused on the well-being of attendees considering the hardships of the last few years. In the Pavilion, a quiet, serene, and welcoming environment was created to give a dedicated space to creativity, peace, and relaxation. There were crafts and activities available daily, and a feeling of child-like wonder and excitement exuded from the room. I know I have glanced at my conference succulent or glitter jar on more than one occasion and remembered to take a moment to breathe.
Mayra Avina, Senior Manager of Family Support Services at Focus Points Family Resource Center, presents on community care in the workplace with their colleague, David.
Attendees had the opportunity to create their very own glitter jar, as a reminder to let the mind settle during times of stress.
Thank you again to all who attended, supported, volunteered or in any way participated in this year’s conference. Without your individual and collective contributions, this year would not have been such a success. If you are interested in joining the planning committee for 2024, please contact Justine Von Arb at email@example.com. For more information on the 2022 conference, and the upcoming conference in 2024, visit https://scfcconference.org/. The conference app will be available through August 5th, 2023.
As a final farewell to the 2022 conference, perhaps you can put your succulent and glitter jar in eye sight of your desk or work area. Remember, taking care of this plant is a reminder to take care of yourself. The little plant doesn’t need too much care, maybe watering once a month. As it grows, and possibly blossoms one day, know that you are just as important to feed and grow. You are valuable. You are deserving. You are special. Love on your plant, and use it as a reminder to love on yourself as well. And when you are feeling overwhelmed or anxious, shake your jar and give yourself a moment to let your glitter settle. Breathe.
Strengthening families requires a holistic approach. That’s why Bloom Yoga offers supportive, trauma-informed yoga for anyone who plays a part in family strengthening. That means kids, caregivers, and professionals alike!
Since 2007, Colorado has maintained a commitment to best practices related to the protective factors in communities and families. The Colorado Strengthening Families Network hosts a quarterly online learning community for professionals across sectors in an effort to embed the Protective Factors in the work of child and family serving agencies of all types.
The network is halfway through the year, and we have already had two exciting and impactful meetings, with two to go, as well as the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in September. The conference will be the first time in over two years the Network will have the chance to collaborate and socialize together, face to face!
So far this year, the Network has had presentations, and opportunities to collaborate with other family-serving professionals, on grounding in the Protective Factors.
Flourishing in Times of Change September 19-21, 2022 Pueblo, CO
In the 2021 Strengthening Families Network Survey we learned there are many new members of the Network with an interest in better understanding the foundational history of the Protective Factors and how they are being utilized in Colorado. So, we began the year by Gail Mendes and Kathy Kennedy sharing their vast experiences using and embedding the Protective Factors into their work. The large group had time to network and share in small groups how the Protective Factors are present in their local communities.
If you are looking for a refresher on the history of the Network and/or an introduction to the Protective Factors, the recording includes a presentation on both. The recording of February’s network meeting can be found here.
Youth Thrive believes that all young people should be valued, loved, and supported to reach their goals. To achieve this, Youth Thrive works with youth-serving systems, community-based organizations, advocates, and other partners across the country. Our shared goal is to improve policies, programs, and practices so that they build on what we know about adolescent development, value young people’s perspectives, and give youth opportunities to succeed. Kaysie Getty and Francie Zimmerman, two staff members from Youth Thrive, shared a brief overview of the Youth Thrive protective factors and a variety of strategies, tools, and resources for partnering with young people to support their healthy development and promote well-being.
The August network meeting is canceled in lieu of the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference in September. In November, we will reconvene online and discuss takeaways from the conference, and share how we are individually and collectively taking care of ourselves, our coworkers and the families we serve. Self-care is more than a slogan. It is actively taking time to regroup, destress and ensure we are able to show up as the best versions of ourselves in both personal and professional settings. Don’t worry if you didn’t have a chance to attend the conference! There will be tips and techniques you can start incorporating right away.
We are always happy to welcome new faces, new professions and professionals. And, regardless of what work you do in or out of the home, if this sounds interesting to you, we would love to see you! For more information on attending the remaining meetings, visit our website. For more information on the Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference, visit the conference website.
About the Author
Anne Auld is the director of education for Illuminate Colorado. Auld has worked with children and families for more than 20 years, training parents, professionals and community members on subjects including strengthening families, safe storage, child sexual abuse prevention and much more.
As fall steadily moves its way into Colorado, we once again reflect on the opportunity last month to come together in person to celebrate, learn and grow at the 2022 Colorado Strengthening Families and Communities Conference (SCFCC). A huge thank you to the Colorado...
The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is just over one month away, and we are so excited to hear Dr. Dwinita Mosby Tyler's inspiring keynote presentation about navigating the complexities of equity, inclusion and diversity in uncertain times....
The Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference is less than two months away, and we are excited to welcome Dr. Wendy Ellis as one of our engaging keynote presenters. It is immediately apparent how Dr. Ellis' work relates to the theme of this year's...
Having studied Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for many years, Dr. Angela Narayan, an assistant professor in the clinical child psychology doctoral program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver, felt like the field of child abuse prevention research was missing half the story by not also considering the impact of positive childhood experiences.
Today, Dr. Narayan and the Promoting Resilience in Offspring and Targeting Early Childhood Trajectories (PROTECT) Labat the University of Denver are leading a research effort focused on Protective Factors. The PROTECT Lab and their efficient yet effective methodologies for research and clinical purposes are working to assess the richness of behaviors, relationships and representations in parents and children – with a particular interest in instruments that can assess resilience processes in ethnically-diverse families.
One line of their work focuses on developing and validating the Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) scale, a 10-item checklist of favorable childhood experiences, relationships and resources that was first created and published by Dr. Narayan and colleagues in an article titled “Positive Childhood Experiences Predict Less Psychopathology and Stress in Pregnant Women with Childhood Adversity: A Pilot Study of the Benevolent Childhood Experiences Scale” (Narayan et al., 2017, Child Abuse and Neglect).
Benevolent Childhood Experiences (BCEs) are a counterpoint to ACEs, particularly useful to those in community mental health, pediatric and primary care screening and home visiting programs. After accounting for demographics and ACEs, this research has shown higher levels of BCEs significantly predict lower levels of depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms. This research also found that when someone experienced ACEs and not BCEs, there was evidence of aggressive behavior, alcohol abuse and substance use.
This BCEs research has highlighted “the pregnancy period as an opportune window to help buffer the transmission of trauma in families who are at risk for various types of adversity,” said Narayan during her keynote at the 2020 Strengthening Colorado Communities and Families Conference. The BCEs Screening Tool to build resilience in children and families’ lives featuresten simple questionsfound to be culturally sensitive and applicable across a variety of demographic and socio-economic audiences.
If people working with children and families begin to incorporate the FREE BCEs screening tool, there is great potential to prevent child maltreatment and future chronic health problems, mental illness and substance misuse in adulthood, found to be present in the lives of adults who experienced a high number of adverse childhood experiences.
Dr. Angela Narayan
Assistant Professor, University of Denver
Dr. Angela Narayan is an assistant professor in the clinical child psychology doctoral program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver.
Illuminate Colorado coordinates the Colorado Strengthening Families Network, hosting a quarterly online learning community for professionals across sectors to stay on top of new research and best practices related to the protective factors.
Join the networkto get invites to meetings and connect with others to share your work and learn from communities all across Colorado.
Dr. Narayan will join the November 1, 2021 Strengthening Families Network meeting to deliver a refresher on the BCEs tools, share new findings and provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss with peers how this research can be incorporated into the work they are doing with families to increase Protective Factors. During the November meeting, Dr. Narayan is also planning to discuss a conceptual framework for understanding intergenerational prevention strategies for deterring ACEs in families. Those who attend the meeting will have an opportunity to visit with Dr. Narayan in a smaller online setting, which will allow for questions and scenario work to improve application of how incorporating BCEs can strengthen families.
Strengthening families requires a holistic approach. That’s why Bloom Yoga offers supportive, trauma-informed yoga for anyone who plays a part in family strengthening. That means kids, caregivers, and professionals alike!
Few things are more exhausting than a new baby. Increased infant crying, perhaps a few older children to care for, and trying to get back to work after a few short weeks all result in very, very tired caregivers.
October is Safe Sleep Awareness month. There has been a great deal of information shared this month around what a safe sleep crib looks like. And although it can sound a bit boring, ensuring cribs are free of objects which could lead to suffocation is worth the mental shift from “cute” to “safe”. Talking with all the family and friends who come in contact with baby about safe sleep practices is important to ensure even good-willed intentions do not lead to tragedy.
Adding Substance Use to the Mix
Imagine the last time you were beyond tired. Maybe you found yourself dozing off driving to or from work. Maybe you fell asleep watching a movie you actually wanted to see. Or maybe that last zoom call was just too long to handle. Sometimes our bodies take over even when we have every intention to stay awake.
Now take a moment and imagine adding substances that can lead to additional depression of the body’s ability to function, like alcohol, marijuana, some over the counter and prescription medications, and illicit substances. When contemplating the use of substances with a newborn in the home (separate from breastfeeding risks and substance use) it is important to be extra vigilant in ensuring your baby has a safe place to sleep.
Caregiving of an infant is exhausting. Falling asleep when feeding a baby on a couch or in bed is not uncommon for a tired caregiver. The impacts and side effects of many common substances increases the risk of positional overlay, which is when a caregiver accidentally rolls over on a baby in bed or on a couch or large chair, suffocating the infant. If you are thinking right now you would totally wake up if you rolled over on a baby, remember the times noted above. You didn’t mean to fall asleep, but you did. And if a caregiver is exhausted, and impacted by substance use, whether they were feeding the baby, or in bed with a baby and an additional caregiver, the risk of positional overlay or entrapment increases. And sleeping on a couch with a baby increases the risk even more, especially when substances are involved.
Increasing Safety in Sleeping Environments
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are several ways to increase safety in sleeping environments, including:
Until their first birthday, babies should sleep on their backs for all sleep times—for naps and at night.
Use a firm sleep surface.
Room share—keep baby’s sleep area in the same room where you sleep for the first 6 months or, ideally, for the first year.
Only bring your baby into your bed to feed or comfort.
Never place your baby to sleep on a couch, sofa, or armchair.
Bed-sharing is not recommended for any babies. However, certain situations make bed-sharing even more dangerous. Therefore, you should not bed share with your baby if:
Your baby is younger than 4 months old.
Your baby was born prematurely or with low birth weight.
You or any other person in the bed is a smoker (even if you do not smoke in bed).
Being a caregiver for a newborn is exhausting. If you are a parent or caregiver reading this, know you are not alone and that feeling exhausted is normal. It will pass. You will find a new pattern and chances to catch up on sleep over the next few years. Following safe sleep practices now, including limiting substance use, and creating and using safe sleep environments, can reduce the risk of SUIDS and the risks of positional overlay. Reach out to parent groups, family or your community for support. Raising children is beyond hard!
For more information on resources to help provide safe sleep environments, call 1-800-CHILDREN, 2-1-1, or your local health department. For more information on finding support from other parents, visit CircleOfParentsCO.org.
Ryan (he/him/his) joined the Illuminate team in March of 2020 and is currently the Director of Communications. In his role, Ryan leads the development and execution of strategic communication plans while promoting the organization's programs and educational opportunities. Passionate about communications work that leads to social change, Ryan knows that Illuminate’s work– and how it is communicated– is impacting lives and building better childhoods across our state. Ryan has a masters degree in Media & Public Communication from the University of Denver and comes to Illuminate with experience working with non-profit organizations, graphic design, videography, and photography.
Outside of work, Ryan enjoys snowboarding, watching NBA basketball (go OKC Thunder!), and spending evenings at home playing strategy board games with his husband. His favorite thing about living in Colorado is the great weather and snowboarding on the Western Slope!
Sarah (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in August of 2022 as the Communications Associate. In her role, Sarah provides administrative support to the Communications Team, working with the entire organization and community members from all over the state to manage first impressions for Illuminate Colorado and connect people interested in the prevention of child maltreatment.
Before coming to Illuminate, Sarah worked on the development, launch, and management of ParentsThrive.org, an online tool for new and expecting parents in Colorado. Having earned her B.A. in Biochemistry from Colorado College, she is interested in early childhood wellbeing and development, and the communications involved in connecting families to the support they need to thrive.
Outside of work, Sarah loves to run, nordic ski, practice yoga, and find new podcasts. Her favorite part of living in Colorado is being close to friends and enjoying the awesome winters!
Anna joined the Illuminate team in June of 2019 and serves as the Director of Evaluation and Strategic Learning. In her role, Anna leads the data collection, evaluation, and strategic learning efforts at Illuminate with the goal of advancing organizational functioning, reach, and impact. She also oversees the design and implementation of Illuminate's data systems and infrastructure in pursuit of this same goal.
Central to Anna's role is helping to foster an organizational culture of learning at Illuminate and promote the use of data as a tool for continuous growth and improvement. In her positions prior to Illuminate, Anna was able to pursue her passion for developing learning and evaluation strategies to advance programs and services that promote the health and wellbeing of individuals, families, and communities.
Anna’s favorite things about living in Colorado are her family, the mountains, and endless sunshine!
Joan (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in September of 2019 as the Director of Family Support. In her role, Joan oversees the development and implementation of the Illuminating Child Care and Circle of Parents programs. Joan came to Illuminate with over 20 years of experience in Early Childhood Education, always working to support children and families in their communities.
A big fan of the outdoors, her favorite thing to do during Colorado summers is take the trailer out for camping trips in the mountains!
Contact me about: Illuminating Child Care, Circle of Parents
Linda (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in November of 2021 as the Director of Finance and Human Resources, where she provides day-to-day oversight of her team’s functioning. Coming to Illuminate with over 20 years of experience in Nonprofit Finance and Human Resources Management, Linda has been instrumental in the startup of two nonprofits where she designed and implemented financial structures and human resource functions.
Linda loves living in Colorado because she gets to be close to family. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her grandbabies, reading, and singing!
Sadie Rose (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in January of 2021 as the Education Program Manager. In her role, Sadie Rose provides training and facilitator support for Illuminate’s Child Sexual Abuse Prevention training. Having spent a decade as a victim advocate, Sadie Rose knows that communication and education are essential to de-stigmatization and allows for open and honest conversations. “The more we talk about child maltreatment the better we can creatively problem solve and collaborate to prevent it from occurring.”
Born and raised in Southwest Colorado, Sadie Rose loves that she can drive two hours in any direction and be in a totally different climate. She enjoys spending time outside of work with her husband, dogs, and two retired equine therapy horses.
Contact me about: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention trainings
Sarah (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in December of 2019 as the Bloom Yoga Program Manager. In her role, Sarah brings healing centered, trauma informed yoga to children, families and professionals. Coming to Illuminate with over 15 years of experience in the field of child welfare, Sarah believes that everyone should have access to yoga and regulation practices. Sarah found yoga and mindfulness in her own healing and resilience and she can’t wait to share it with others. Sarah is a registered yoga teacher, children’s yoga teacher, and is trained in trauma informed yoga.
Sarah has 2 kids, a dog (Basil), and a cat (NASA). Outside of work, Sarah loves to enjoy the Colorado fall colors by getting outside for a hike. Sarah and her family love to cook– head over for some sushi or spaghetti (their specialities!)
Eric (he/him/his) joined the Illuminate team in September of 2020 and is currently the Child Care Operations Manager. In his role, Eric works on RV Honey (part of the Illuminating Child Care program) providing child care and navigation services to families. Eric came to Illuminate with over 15 years of experience teaching and working with children, and is passionate about providing children and families with every opportunity to thrive. Eric has a degree in Human Development and has a Level 4 Certification through Colorado Shines.
Eric’s favorite part of living in Colorado is the sunshine and the mountains!
Jessica (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in September of 2020 as the Senior Circle of Parents Associate. In her role, Jessica supports the management of data and dissemination of materials for the Circle of Parents program, as well as leads the Learning and Development Committee. Prior to coming to Illuminate, Jessica spent two years as an AmeriCorps member, gaining experience managing data. Jessica knows that numbers can tell overlooked stories and are essential in the effort to help families, no matter where they are in life.
Also having earned her B.A. in Criminal Justice, Jessica spent two years working as a Beauty Advisor at Sephora!
Contact me about: Circle of Parents, Learning and Development Committee
Patsy (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in March of 2020 as the Child Care Manager and is currently the Core Values Committee leader. In her role, Patsy supervises lead teachers, plans ongoing professional development training, collaborates with community members to implement Illuminating Child Care in their neighborhoods, organizes daily on-site childcare services for parents, and partners with families to provide navigation services for long-term childcare. Caring deeply about the wellbeing of families and development of children, Patsy has been instrumental in the implementation of different types of early learning programs including Center Base and Home Base.
Patsy’s favorite things about living in Colorado are the open outdoor spaces and wonderful weather. She makes an effort to visit the mountains each year to reconnect with nature and take walks in the park to relax. Patsy is also always a fan of a fresh cup of ice cream!
Toni (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in 2018 and is currently the Circle of Parents Program Manager. Illuminate Colorado is the state intermediary for Circle of Parents and, in her role, Toni oversees the program, providing tools and resources to help families heal. As a parent in recovery who has been facilitating Circle of Parents in Recovery groups since 2014, Toni knows that every parent is a leader and needs support to discover that about themselves. In recognition of her work, Toni has received the Casey Excellence for Children Award.
Toni has three daughters and is a kinship care provider for three grandchildren– she points to her family as her source of strength and biggest cheer section. Her favorite thing about living in Colorado are the mountains!
Cassie (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in March of 2020 and is currently the Strategic Initiatives Manager. In her role, Cassie supports Illuminate's systems change efforts that are focused on organizational practice change and policy by offering backbone support to the Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition and Infant Safe Sleep Partnership, supporting the CHoSEN Collaborative, and supporting Illuminate's efforts around state and federal legislative policy. Cassie came to Illuminate with experience providing services to children and families, and knows that creating a better world for children and families requires efforts at all levels of the Spectrum of Prevention and collaboration between individuals, families, and multisector professionals.
Having grown up in Louisiana and Texas, Cassie’s favorite thing about living in Colorado is being able to spend time outside in all four seasons, and how easy Colorado makes it to vote!
Contact me about: Child Sexual Abuse Prevention Coalition, Infant Safe Sleep Partnership, CHoSEN Collaborative, organizational legislative policy efforts
Dawn (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in March of 2022 as the Strategic Initiatives Manager. In her role, Dawn provides backbone support to ensure the successful implementation of CDEC's Colorado Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems: Health Integration Prenatal to Three (CO-ECCS) Project. Through Dawn’s experience directly supporting children and their families in navigating services and supports, she has seen how important it is for families to feel heard and valued. She comes to systems building work in hopes to innovate and cultivate the conditions that ensure children are able to thrive, that their families are empowered and supported, and their communities are nurturing environments.
Outside of work, Dawn likes to cook and bake, as well as spend time with her two dogs, Rosie and Crosby. Her favorite thing about living in Colorado is that she doesn’t need to travel far to enjoy the solace of the outdoors, especially the backcountry!
Contact me about: CO-ECCS Project & the ECCS Working Group
Theo (they/them/theirs) joined the Illuminate team in August of 2022 as the Community Initiatives Associate. In their role, Theo provides administrative support to the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families. Coming to Illuminate with experience in child welfare, supervising Court Appointed Special Advocates for youth with open Dependency and Neglect cases, Theo is passionate about prevention work and systems change to strengthen families. In addition to having earned their Masters of Social Work, Theo has also been published in The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work!
Outside of work, you can find Theo crafting, playing board games with their partner (their high school sweetheart!), watching RuPaul's Drag Race, or walking their dog, Louise. Theo’s favorite thing about living in Colorado is the beautiful scenery and being able to spend time outdoors!
Contact me about: Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families
Justine (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in June of 2021 and is currently the Communications Manager. In her role, Justine supports Illuminate Colorado’s work to strengthen families, organizations, and communities by connecting community members and professionals to its vision and mission through strategic communications. Coming to Illuminate with experience communicating with stakeholders such as students, families, educators, donors, board members, and community members, Justine is passionate about meaningful, transformative storytelling. She knows the importance of encouraging others to use their voices to share their own stories and inspire curiosity, growth, and equity. Justine has a Master of Arts in English from the University of Colorado Denver and a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace from the University of South Florida.
Outside of work Justine enjoys spending time outdoors, specifically going for hikes!
Contact me about: Strengthening Colorado Families and Communities Conference, Child Abuse Prevention Month, Events
Hayley (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in January of 2022 as the Evaluation and Strategic Learning Manager. In addition to the development, maintenance, and refinement of Illuminate’s data collection and database infrastructures for its diverse programming, Hayley also supports the Director of Evaluation and Strategic Learning in monitoring and optimizing the implementation of program evaluation plans. Hayley enjoys collaborating with Illuminate’s staff and partners to continuously improve programs and is driven by the ever-growing need for family and child-focused, evidence-based supports in Colorado.
Outside of work, Hayley has fun trying to improve her downhill skiing skills, cheering for the Colorado Avalanche, and caring for a 100 lb. therapy dog named Sully.
Jade has served as the Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado since its inception in 2015, following 7 years as the Executive Director of founding partner agency, the Colorado Alliance for Drug Endangered Children. Prior to this work, she provided family support services in a variety of settings to families impacted by homelessness, domestic violence, and substance use disorders. Jade has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.
As the Executive Director of Illuminate Colorado, she has participated in and led many state level initiatives related to child maltreatment, substance use, child maltreatment prevention, public awareness, and collaborative community approaches.
Currently, Jade serves on the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families Steering Committee, SuPPoRT Colorado Steering Committee, Delivery of Child Welfare Services Task Force, Home Visitation Investment Task Force, Essentials for Childhood Steering Committee, Early Childhood Department Transition Advisory Group, Safe Child Care Task Force, Plans of Safe Care Rule Writing Group, and Colorado Consortium for Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention.
Angelica (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in April of 2022 as the Director of Family Connects and is currently the Director of Home Visitation. Under the guidance of the Executive Director, Angelica leads the intermediary functions of planning and implementation of the Family Connects program in Colorado. Additionally, she works in partnership with local communities to coordinate, facilitate, and lead the planning, installation, and sustainability of the program. Coming to Illuminate with over 15 years of experience in the Early Childhood sector, Angelica is passionate about providing families with support and connecting them with resources when they need them most. Angelica knows that all parents need support and believes in the importance of investing in resources and support– early and for everyone.
Angelica was born in Bogota, Colombia, has two teenage sons, and loves to hike, ride bikes, and paddle board. Her favorite thing about living in Colorado is the outdoors and the liberal mindset!
Kelli (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in March of 2022 as the Strategic Initiatives Manager. In her role, Kelli facilitates coalitions and work groups with an emphasis on behavioral health system efforts. Kelli is passionate about strengthening families and organizations in order to improve well-being for families. Coming to Illuminate with experience as a Problem Solving Court and Child Welfare professional specializing in working with families impacted by substance use, she believes in the collaborative process to enhance organizational practice in order to support families and prevent child maltreatment.
Kelli’s favorite part of living in Colorado are the seasons and the ability to travel to beautiful places across the state!
Contact me about: Supporting Perinatal Substance Use Prevention, Recovery and Treatment (SuPPoRT) in Colorado. SuPPoRT Colorado Steering Committee, working/advisory groups and the SuPPoRT Colorado Family Advisory Board
Hattie (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in December of 2018 as the Senior Community Initiatives Manager. In her role, Hattie provides backbone support to the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families, leads Illuminate's family engagement efforts, and manages community capacity-building initiatives. Passionate about primary prevention, Hattie came to Illuminate with experience in reproductive health policy, advocacy, and community organizing as well as sexual assault prevention programming. Hattie knows that community and family voices are essential to making long-term impacts in the field of Public Health.
Outside of work, Hattie likes to take advantage of the Colorado sunshine and mountains by backpacking, cross-country skiing, and backcountry skiing!
Contact me about: Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families; family engagement; community capacity-building
Anne (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in November of 2015, and currently serves as Deputy Director. In her role, Anne leads development and implementation for organizational program growth, including but not limited to new curricula, programs, expansion, and leverageable opportunities. She also supervises Family Support Programs, Home Visitation Programs, and Education Programs.
Additionally, Anne is trained as a facilitator in a variety of areas including substance use and families, protective factors, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), abusive head trauma, and child sexual abuse prevention.
Anne's career choice, like many people who serve in the field of strengthening children, families, and communities, was influenced by personal reasons from past experiences or environments. “I personally do this work because I believe I have the opportunity through my experiences and knowledge to partner with others to make a positive change in the lives of families.”
Having lived in many states and overseas, Anne eventually decided to return home to Colorado– there is no place like home, she says!
Jillian (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in August of 2017 and is currently Deputy Director. In her role, Jillian leads development and implementation of systems changes strategies, responds to shifting conditions, and supports organizational and program sustainability. She also directly supervises Communications, Evaluation, Grants & Development, Policy, and Strategic Initiatives. With a background in organizing community members around opportunities to affect health policy, Jillian is passionate about her work because she wants to live a happier, healthier, and more just world where families have what they need to thrive.
Jillian lives in Denver with her husband and dog, Max. She enjoys hiking, reading, and gardening– especially growing food to share! Jillian’s favorite part about living in Colorado is the beautiful sunshine!
Jason (he/him/his) joined the Illuminate team in January of 2018 and is currently a Senior Education Program Manager. In his role, Jason develops evidence-based curricula and delivers trainings focused on strengths-based prevention and intervention concepts. With a background in serving individuals, families, and children in a variety of education and human services roles for 25 years, Jason is passionate about work that strengthens families and changes lives. Jason is Illuminate Colorado’s resident expert on substance use and families, leading the Child Welfare Training System and Smart Choices Safe Kids programs.
Jason, his wife, and their three daughters live in the foothills of the Rockies. They love many things about Colorado: blue skies, green forests, clean air, big mountains, deep snow, good concerts, rivers, hot springs, huts– the list goes on!
Contact me about: Child Welfare Training System and Smart Choices Safe Kids
Missy (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in March of 2020 and is currently a Senior Education Program Manager. In her role, Missy builds relationships with people and organizations that shift their perspective and practices in ways that benefit the long term outcomes for children and youth within communities. Her work includes developing curriculum, training and group facilitation, individual or group coaching, program planning and development, and supporting organizational implementation.
With nearly 20 years of experience in local and national child welfare, treatment, and prevention programs, Missy knows that every person needs connection to thrive. She is driven by her passion for ensuring everyone has a village around them, walking beside them through the good and the difficult parts of life.
Born and raised in Colorado, Missy says she must love everything about her home state because she refuses to leave! Missy has three incredible children that are growing up way too fast– “they keep me and my life partner on our toes, out of money, and exhausted, but I wouldn't have it any other way!”
Contact me about: Strengthening Families and Protective Factors Trainer Network, Healthy Outcomes thru Positive Experiences, Youth Thrive
Marissa (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in August of 2022 as the Finance & Human Resources Manager. In her role, Marissa supports the Director of Finance & Human Resources in various accounting and HR duties. Marissa is passionate about the Human Services field and loves to use her accounting and HR background to contribute to and support Illuminate’s amazing work. After earning her Associates degree in Criminal Justice, Marissa worked in accounting before leaving to pursue her interest in HR and non-profit work.
Marissa has two dogs, Daisy and Bandit, and she loves spending time with family– preferably while also enjoying outdoor activities like fishing and camping. Her favorite things about living in Colorado are all of the seasons and the colorful environment!
Jordan Davis (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate team in January of 2023 as an Early Childhood Teacher. In her role, Jordan works with Illuminating Child Care team members Patsy and Eric on the mobile child care units, providing child care for families while caregivers receive treatment and support. After earning a degree in Sociology and Psychology, Jordan gained experience working with at-risk youth in a residential facility setting. Kids are always bringing excitement to Jordan’s life, and she loves working with children because of how unique each child is and the joy they bring to her life every day.
Jordan is a big fan of spending time with friends, listening to and talking about music, and learning to cook! “When I grow up I want to be like Julia Child and be able to cook more than pizza rolls.”
Her favorite part of living in Colorado are the beautiful summers and enjoying time outside.
Lex Loutzenhiser (she/they) joined the Illuminate team in January of 2023 as the Policy Manager. In their role, Lex supports organizational policy activities, including conducting policy research and analysis, engaging stakeholders, and advocating for policies that support Illuminate's mission and the communities we serve. Lex came to Illuminate with a background in social work, providing direct services to individuals who use substances and people living with HIV in rural Colorado. She also has experience conducting public health outreach and education, with a focus on youth and adult behavioral health, access to low barrier health services, and harm reduction.
Lex is passionate about this work because, through personal and work experience, they have witnessed the ways in which community supports can strengthen families and empower people to thrive. She enjoys engaging in innovative, evidence-informed, community-driven policy work that creates happier, healthier communities. As Congresswoman Ayanna Presley put it, "Policy is my love language."
Lex lives in Northern Colorado with their two cats and loves to cook, hike, and explore nature photography in her free time. Their favorite part of living in Colorado is the access to nature and the outdoors!
Cristina Bejarano (she/her/ella) joined the Illuminate team in February of 2023 as the Director of Strategic Initiatives. In her role, Cristina oversees the strategic planning, facilitation, and ongoing coordination of multiple coalitions and community-based efforts working to positively impact children and families across Colorado. As a public health professional working to increase health equity, Cristina has worked with local communities, philanthropy, federal and state governments, and international organizations to build collaborative relationships for collective impact.
Cristina’s lifelong passion is working with systemic structures to increase the communities' capacity for wellbeing, and she is thrilled to be working in a role that allows her to contribute to brighter futures for kids and families.
Outside of work, you can find Cristina running around with her two kids and partner and supporting community efforts. Her favorite part about living in Colorado is the four seasons that allow for fun outside activities all year long!
Contact me about: Strategic Initiatives and the Colorado Infant Safe Sleep Partnership (ISSP)
Mike Robbins (he/him/his) joined the Illuminate team in March of 2023 as the Grants & Development Manager. In his role, Mike is responsible for shepherding Illuminate's fundraising efforts through individual giving, grants, events, and sponsorships. Before joining Illuminate, Mike studied at The Institute for Leaders in Development at Denver University, and worked in nonprofit communications, resource development, grant writing, donor stewardship, event planning, and volunteer management. Mike is passionate about the health and wellbeing of children, youth and families, and loves that he is able to use his experience in mission-driven storytelling and development to grow Illuminate’s community of donors and grant funders.
In his free time, Mike enjoys hiking, yardwork, cheering on the Nuggets and Kansas State Wildcats, plus checking out great restaurants with friends. His favorite part about living in Colorado is the generosity, grit and tenacity of Coloradans!
Karci Lockwood (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate Colorado team in April of 2023 as the Community Initiatives Associate. In her role, Karci provides administrative support to the Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families.
Before joining Illuminate, Karci worked as the Program Director for Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Mesa County, training and supporting volunteers to be the voice for children with open child abuse and neglect cases.
Karci has always gravitated towards prevention work. Through her experience working with children who have been victims of child abuse, she always wondered: “how do we get up stream and keep this from ever happening?” As a new parent herself, Karci knows how important it is to feel supported and connected.
In her free time, Karci enjoys rafting, mountain biking, and camping with her family. Her favorite part about living in Colorado is how outdoor adventures wait right outside her backdoor!
Contact me about: The Colorado Partnership for Thriving Families
Sreena (she/her/hers) joined the Illuminate Colorado team in April of 2023 as an Infant Child Care Teacher. Sreena is a member of the Illuminating Child Care team, working on mobile child care unit Honey to provide child care for families while caregivers receive treatment and support. In her role, Sreena reads to infants, assists them in recognizing images and sounds, and helps kids to form positive relationships with their peers.
After graduating as a first generation scholar from the University Colorado Boulder with a degree in Communications, Sreena continued her work with school-age children in child care, providing the support and resources that kids and families need to thrive. Ever since she was young, Sreena has dreamt of becoming a teacher. She finds joy in the opportunity to both teach and learn from tomorrow’s leaders every day.
In her free time, Sreena likes to play board games with friends, cook at home, hike with her dog, and listen to audiobooks. Her favorite part about living in Colorado is enjoying the beautiful mountains!