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.
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.
Tim Stahlke, Vice President, was born and raised in Central America. Tim has language and cultural skills well-suited for the changing communities across the country. He graduated magna cum laude from Baylor University, and holds a master’s degree with highest honors in the field of counseling and human services. He has worked in South Texas with “Colonia,” immigrant and refugee programs, and was instrumental in developing several multiple-county human service initiatives. Tim has also worked with urban renewal and family/youth intervention programs in Kansas City, MO and El Paso, TX. Community involvement remains a top priority for Tim: Tim serves as a volunteer construction coordinator for the Austin Habitat for Humanity affiliate; and serves as Vice-President/President-Elect of the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY), a position he has held before. Tim is a former Treasurer and member of the Texas Homeless Network (THN) board; cofounder/former member of the board of the Austin Advocate street newspaper, and past-President of the Concordia High School (Austin) board. Currently, his responsibilities as a Senior Program Coordinator for the Texas Homeless Education Office (THEO) include resolving school enrollment and attendance complaints regarding homeless and unaccompanied children and youth, conducting training for educators, school administrators, head start practitioners, parents, and community advocates about the laws and rules regarding the education of children who are homeless, addressing legislative issues that impact on children and youth experiencing homelessness, navigating the intersection between foster care and McKinney-Vento provisions, and providing assistance to the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act discretionary grant recipients in Texas. Professional interests involve Tim in the National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) and the Texas Homeless Network (THN), conflict resolution and management training, administration of small groups, planning processes/strategic planning, and adult education and distance learning. He is the recipient of the Sandra Neese Lifetime Achievement Award from NAEHCY, the President’s Award from the Texas Homeless Network, and the Staff Excellence Award from the Dean of the College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. Tim is a graduate of Leadership Austin, and holds a Certificate in Non-Profit Management from the University of Texas at Austin.
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.
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.
Denise Ross, Recruitment Committee Chair, is the Founder of Hope for This Journey, LLC. She is a certified Professional Life Coach, advocate for Rising Scholars, mentor, motivator, and speaker. Denise has conducted individual sessions and group workshops on Life Logistics, Stress Management, Finding Balance, Time Management, Health and Wellness, Goal Setting, Effective Communication Skills, and Career Transitions. She also provides academic coaching for high school students.
Denise Ross recently retired from the Prince George’s County Public School System in Maryland where she was employed for 32 years. She served as the Supervisor of the Homeless Education Office for eleven years. Under her leadership, over 20,000 homeless students received supplemental support services. Denise implemented programs in which parents and students were provided with gift certificates and 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 were enrolled. Tutorial programs were also established at local homeless shelters and residences where families were doubled-up. Although, she is retired she continues to advocate for all students regardless of their economic status. Denise currently serves as a Facilitator for the Homeless Youth Advisory Board for Prince George’s County, Maryland.
Denise is married and has one daughter. She enjoys motivating and inspiring individuals, exercising, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.
Dave Schrandt, Conference Committee Co-Chair, serves as the Local Homeless Education Liaison for the Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District in Houston, TX.
Jimiyu Evans, At-Large Member, is committed to social services, which evolved while working on his B.S. degree in Criminology at Florida State University. His first positions were working with juvenile delinquents as a therapeutic assistant, team leader and then unit coordinator at DISC Village "JUST Program” in Florida and Lima Juvenile Detention Center in Pennsylvania.
He then rose to Social Services Supervisor at the Douglas County and then Carroll County Departments of Family and Children Services. In those roles, he partnered with community agencies to develop and implement best case practices in homeless service delivery and gained extensive experience in social services. In 2008, Jimiyu teamed up with PCCI, where he directs the operations of PCCI’s programs, oversees culture, manages the facility, evaluates program performance and participates in executive level decisions and meetings.
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.
Michelle Patton Swisher, LCSW, At-Large Member, is a School Social Worker and the McKinney Vento Liaison for Spotsylvania County Schools in Virginia. She has been a working with homeless students in the school setting for over 7 years. Michelle holds a Master's degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a strong advocate for students and their families who experience homelessness. Michelle is proud of her work in establishing and developing Treasure House and the community wide events that bring homelessness awareness to her community. She was recognized as NASW of Virginia Social Worker of the Year in 2015.