Board of Directors
Kerry Wrenick, President, is the McKinney-Vento Liaison with Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools. Kerry strives to assist youth in accessing educational services to ensure they are college and career ready. She is a firm believer that education is the foundation for a strong future. Kerry is an advocate for homeless services within the Kansas City community and was a key facilitator in creating the first bi-state Continuum of Care in the nation. She currently serves as the Vice-Chairman for the Greater Kansas City Coalition to End Homelessness. Kerry is a Licensed Master Social Worker having completed her graduate studies at the University of Kansas. She has almost 20 years of combined experience within the fields of education, mental health, and homelessness.
Lorraine Husum Allen, Vice President, has been the Director of Homeless Education for the Florida Department of Education (FDOE) since January 2007. She also supervised the Title I, Part D Neglected and Delinquent Program from April 2007-January 2008. Prior to assuming these duties, she served as the Director of the Office of Safe and Healthy Schools. In that position, her responsibilities included overseeing the Safe and Drug-Free School Program, school-wide discipline and school safety data collection and reporting, school safety and security initiatives, and School Emergency Management Planning activities. From March 2004-June 2006, she also was the administrator over the Coordinated School Health Program and physical and health education programs. Ms. Allen has worked in a variety of positions and areas for the FDOE and the State University System of Florida for over 30 years. Lorraine has a master's degree in Public Administration from the Florida State University as well as a B.S. in Government and a B.A. in Spanish. She is originally from the Panama Canal Zone, and currently resides in Tallahassee, Florida.
Carie Bires, Secretary, is currently a Policy Specialist at the Ounce of Prevention Fund in Chicago. As a member of the Illinois Policy Team, she works to improve the quality of and access to early learning programs and services for at-risk children, with a special focus on issues related to child care, community systems development, and vulnerable populations. She is active in several statewide early care and education initiatives, including the Illinois Early Learning Council. Prior to her work at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, Carie held the position of Systems Integration Manager at Heartland Health Outreach, and also previously managed a program for children at a long-term transitional housing program. Carie holds a B.A. in music therapy from Western Illinois University (2004) and earned her graduate degree in social work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2009. Carie also serves as Vice President of the Board of Directors for the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign School of Social Work Alumni Association.
Jeff Blanford, Treasurer, is the Chief Financial Officer for the Colorado Department of Education. Jeff is a CPA with 20 years of experience in industry and governmental accounting. He currently works at the Colorado Department of Education as the Chief Financial Officer. Before arriving at CDE, he worked in private industry doing cost and financial accounting for publicly traded and privately held companies in manufacturing, real estate, and aviation.
Denise Ross, Nominations Committee Chair, has been employed with the Prince George’s County Public School System in Maryland since 1984. She has served as the Supervisor of the Homeless Education Office for Prince George's County Public Schools for the past seven years. Under her leadership, over 1,500 homeless students are receiving McKinney-Vento services during the current school year. While in her current position, Denise implemented programs in which parents/students were provided with gift cards/certificates/vouchers to purchase clothing, uniforms, shoes, and personal hygiene items from various vendors. She is responsible for initiating an afterschool tutorial program at an elementary school where a significant number of students residing in a transitional housing program are enrolled. Tutorial programs also were established at local homeless shelters and residences where families are doubled-up.
Denise participated in a meeting with staff from the White House Domestic Policy Council and Office of Public Liaison to discuss issues related to homeless children, youth, and families as well as HUD’s definition of homelessness. Denise had the honor of testifying on behalf of homeless children and youth before the Health, Education, Labor, and Pension Committee (HELP) at hearings related to the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Her testimony identified areas that needed to be strengthened or included in the reauthorization of the McKinney-Vento Act.
One of the homeless families that Denise previously worked with was featured on CNN programming which highlighted the plight of a single homeless mother with two school-aged children. Denise has a heart for those who find themselves in need of a helping hand and it is that type of dedication that makes her an advocate for Prince George’s County Public Schools’ homeless students.
Denise is married and has one daughter. She enjoys exercising, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Dana Scott, Immediate Past President, is the State Coordinator for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth at the Colorado Department of Education. Dana works with school districts and community agencies statewide to remove educational barriers and to provide educational and support services to children, youth, and their families who experience homelessness. Dana has thirteen years of experience working with homeless issues in the public and nonprofit sectors and was principal writer for Denver's 10 Year Plan to End Homelessness. She has an additional seven years of experience as a grant program officer at the Daniels Fund, LMC Community Foundation, and El Pomar Foundation. Dana serves on Governor Hickenlooper’s Pathways Home Advisory Committee on Homelessness and the Colorado Advisory Committee on Homeless Youth. She also co-leads Colorado’s Taskforce on Higher Education for Unaccompanied Homeless Youth. Dana has served on the NAEHCY Board since 2007.
Grace Whitney, Early Childhood Education Committee Chair, serves as the Connecticut Head Start State Collaboration Director. Grace provides valuable information and leadership in NAEHCY's efforts to promote access to early education programs for young homeless children.
Barb Dexter, NAEHCY Scholarship Committee Chair, is the Secondary Specialist with the Anchorage School District's Child In Transition/Homeless Project. She has been with the program since 1993, working as a McKinney-Vento Liaison in a school district of nearly 50,000 students. She began her career as a social worker in Oregon and continues to work with youth experiencing homelessness, as well as youth in the child welfare system in the Anchorage, AK, community. She has provided trainings at the national, state, and local levels on unaccompanied youth, homeless children and youth in the child welfare system, migrant and homeless youth, as well as statewide trainings for local liaisons on McKinney-Vento legislation. Barb is co-founder of Partners In Homeless Education, a fund to support educational and recreational opportunities for homeless children and youth. Barb earned a BA in Classics at the University of California, Berkeley, and an MAT (Master of Arts in Teaching) at the University of Alaska, Anchorage.
Jennifer Martin, Higher Education Committee Chair, is Director of Content Management at the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA). Her job duties include researching regulatory questions and developing training materials for NASFAA members. Prior to her work with NASFAA, Jennifer worked in the financial aid offices at the University of Maryland and the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, a graduate division of the Johns Hopkins University.
Jennifer holds a B.A in Political Science from Colorado State University and a M.A. in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland. In addition to advocating for students experiencing homelessness, her special professional interests include early awareness and issues affecting individuals with disabilities.
Bettye Poole, Conference Committee Co-Chair, serves as Family Engagement/Student Support Coordinator, for homeless and at risk students- Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation in Evansville, Indiana. In her role, Bettye works closely with school personnel, the student’s family or guardian, and community partners to develop programs and activities designed to engage families and communities in the academic and social success of the student.
Bettye serves as Executive Board Vice President for the University of Evansville African-American Alumni Association, Executive Board President for Boom Squad Inc., a non-profit organization serving homeless and at-risk students. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Southwestern Behavioral Healthcare Organization. She holds an Associates- Mental Health Technician, a BA in Liberal Studies, an MS in Public Service Administration, and a Licensed Real Estate Agent.
Joseph P. Sanchez, Awards Chair, is the Program Operations Director at the University of New Mexico's College of Nursing. He holds a Master’s degree in Business Administration from New Mexico Highlands University and is currently a graduate student at the University of New Mexico pursuing a PhD in Family Studies. He has over 12 years of experience in working with the New Mexico Public Education Department. In specific, he was the New Mexico State Coordinator for Homeless Education for 8 years. His work has included program/operational management, finance, contracting, and analytical work (both programmatic and legislative). In addition, he has been an entrepreneur and also served six years as a Supply Officer in the United States Navy. He holds a certificate in Logistics from the Naval Supply Corps School in Athens, GA. His personal work philosophy comes from Abraham Lincoln: “Whatever you are, be a good one.”
Christina Savino, Local Conference Committee Chair – Orlando, is currently a Program Specialist for the Orange County Public Schools Homeless Education Program in Orlando, Florida. Christina has 16 years of experience within OCPS Title I schools and district offices. Ten of these 16 years are within her current position serving over 6,800 identified homeless children and youth. Christina has a B.S. and M.A. in Elementary Education, as well as ESOL certification. She has been both a state and national conference presenter and was awarded by the Orange County School Counseling Association as the "Advocate of the Year" in 2012.
Dave Schrandt, Conference Committee Co-Chair, serves as the Local Homeless Education Liaison for the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston, TX.
Deborah Boone, At-Large Member, has served as the McKinney-Vento Coordinator in Richland County School District One for nearly 19 years. The Parents and Students Succeed (PASS) Project is Richland One’s homeless initiative. PASS is a comprehensive program that utilizes district and community resources to help students succeed. Under her capable leadership, the needs of students and families experiencing homelessness are being met on a daily basis. Deborah has served on numerous state, community and district-wide committees/advisory boards. She is the past chair of the local HUD Continuum of Care and serves on the Board of Directors for two area homeless shelters.
Shirley Fan-Chan, At-Large Member, is the Director of U-Access at the University of Massachusetts Boston since 2012. She oversees the office that offers student services on campus that are in need of non-academic support. The office is one of its kinds among the higher education institution across the Commonwealth. Before Shirley joined the staff at the Division of Student Affairs, she was the Chief Training & Technical Assistance Officer at Horizons for Homeless Children (HHC), a non-profit organization working with homeless young children and their families. At HHC, she oversaw the Training and Technical Assistance Program and raised awareness on special needs of young homeless children across the country. Shirley brings to UMass Boston community a wealth of knowledge related to serving homeless families, including those impacted by domestic violence. Her leadership experience includes serving as Executive Director of Asian Task Force against Domestic Violence, a domestic violence service agency over 6 years in Boston. Her active participation on immigrant issues, women’s issues and children’s issues led her to her appointment as one of the commissioners to the former Governor’s Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, and member of the Immigrants and Refugees Committee; and the Advisory Council of Today’s Girls Tomorrow’s Leaders of United Way of Mass. Bay. Currently, she is serving on the advisory council of the Commonwealth Compact, an organization to promote diversity of leadership in the Commonwealth. She has recently joined as an at-large board member of the National Association of Education for Homeless Children and Youth, a national organization advocating for homeless children and youth succeeding in public education. In her role at UMass Boston, she has created a statewide network, MA Homeless Post-Secondary Students Network, to address the issues and barriers homelessness post-secondary students facing in the Commonwealth.
Shirley is an alumni of the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies at UMass Boston with a master degree in Public Affairs. She completed her undergraduate degree in Human Services at Lasell College. She is recently appointed as the Board of Overseers at her alma mater Lasell College.
Larissa Parrott-Dickinson, At-Large Member, is a social worker with the Mobile County Public School System's Homeless Education Program in Mobile, AL. Larissa also serves as Co-Homeless Liaison for the District. She began her social work career in her hometown of Athens, GA. While interning and later working for a local homeless shelter, she discovered her love and compassion for the homeless population. Larissa earned her BA and MA degrees in Social Work from the University of Georgia. She occasionally teaches master’s level social work courses for the University of Alabama's School of Social Work and serves as a Field Placement Supervisor for MSW Interns. Additionally, she serves as Board Secretary for the Family Promise/Interfaith Hospitality Network of Coastal Alabama.
Joe Willard, At-Large Member, is Vice President for Policy and has supervised all policy and research at PEC since 2007. In this current capacity, he employs a community organizing model as an active leader of the Philadelphia Children’s Work Group, Family Provider Service Network of Philadelphia, and statewide homeless advocacy group called “HAPPN.”
He is currently:
- Co-Chair, Homeless Advocacy and PA Provider Network (2011-present)
- Chair, Philadelphia Continuum of Care Advisory Committee (2014-present)
- Member, PA Joint Commission Homeless Task Force Advisory Committee (2014-present)
- Member, APA Taskforce on Promoting Positive Parenting in the Context of Homelessness (2012-2015)
- Co-Chair and Co-Founder, National Consortium on Homeless Youth and the YRBS (2013-present)
- Board Member, Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network (2014-present)
- Former co-Chair, PA Department of Education Homeless Education Advisory Committee (2009-2010)
Most recently, Willard was associate manager for public policy at the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania for four years and associate director at The Reinvestment Fund's, Regional Workforce Partnership, for four years. He earned his master’s degree from Hunter College and his bachelor’s degree from Penn State University.