Speakers, Presenters, and Facilitators
Jerry Milner is the Associate Commissioner at the Children’s Bureau, and the Acting Commissioner for the Administration on Children, Youth and Families. Jerry began his career as a case carrying social worker, served as the state child welfare agency director in Alabama, and previously worked for the Children’s Bureau designing and implementing the CFSR. Immediately prior to his appointment, he served as the Vice President for Child Welfare Practice at the Center for the Support of Families.
Corey B. Best is, first, a dedicated father. He is originally from Washington, DC and now resides in Florida. This is where Corey began his transformation into leadership training, systems building, family engagement, race equity, promoting protective factors, social equity, and highlighting “good enough parenting” for those impacted by the child welfare system.
Mr. Best is commonly known as a leader and skilled facilitator that brings a combination of lived and professional experiences as he organizes for child welfare and human service systems improvements. His innovative style and approach has led him to receive the 2016 Casey Family Programs Excellence for Children’s Award. Most recently, he has been appointed to a board position with Alia Innovations and is an integral part of the growth and innovations committee. This work has allowed Corey to take leadership to the next level. His perspective is that a leader must have a set of values and behaviors that embrace diversity, shared power, and social contribution to see lasting change in our child welfare system.
Mike Kenney was born and raised in Cleveland Heights, where he resides with his wife and fourteen-year-old daughter. Mike and his co-Founder Shannon Deinhart started the Waiting Child Fund (now known as Kinnect), born out of the belief that all children have a family and it is our job to find them. Over the last 13 years, Kinnect has helped to provide training, coaching, and permanency consultation to 16 Ohio counties, developed a state-wide leadership-level Family Finding conference, and committed to help build a strong and permanency-driven workforce throughout Ohio.
Bob Friend has spent more than 30 years in the child welfare field, serving in progressively responsible roles ranging from direct-line child welfare worker to social worker supervisor to director of state and national training and technical assistance projects. Currently, he is Director of the National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness at the Seneca Family of Agencies. In that role, he leads an effort to provide practice and administrative training and coaching to assist child welfare agencies and community partners in installing and implementing family finding and other key permanency practices. He also collaborates with child welfare leaders nationwide to evaluate programs and design implementation systems, co-facilitated practice model development for a California permanency initiative, and oversees an effort to integrate family finding and family team meeting models into a public child welfare agency. Previously, he led the California Permanency for Youth Project, where he was responsible for overseeing and providing training and technical assistance to 20 public child welfare sites across California to improve the quality of youth permanency practice, procedure, and policy. He also participated on statewide bodies promoting a focus on permanency for foster youth. He serves as co-chair of the California Child Welfare Council’s Permanency Committee, is an appointed Commissioner on the California Blue Ribbon Commission on Children in Foster Care, and has served as co-chair for the California Permanency Task Force.
Shannon Deinhart, LISW-S, is the Co-Founder, and Associate Director of Kinnect. Shannon is a leader in reshaping the way Ohio’s child welfare system works with families and youth. With 20+ years’ experience advancing foster care, adoption, and children’s advocacy, she is a trusted resource in the local, state, and national child welfare communities with regards to Family Search and Engagement and Child-Focused Permanency Planning. She specializes in program development, research, and evaluation, with an emphasis on the use of reliable data to guide planning and improved outcomes.
At the national level, Shannon serves as a member of the Family Builders national think tank (1998-present). As Project Director of a Quality Improvement Center Grant to support LGBTQ2S youth in foster care to achieve legal and emotional permanency, she partners with the National Institute for Permanent Family Connectedness (NIPFC) to bring best practices to Ohio. Shannon led Kinnect’s partnership with the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Children and Family Services to secure funding to launch the LGBTQ2S program in Ohio—one of only four 4-year grants awarded in the U.S.
In addition, Shannon created an implementation science model to guide Kinnect’s partnerships with Ohio’s Stark, Clark, and Fairfield Counties, where she is overseeing the implementation of best practices in Family Search and Engagement. Shannon is conducting ongoing evaluation of that work to guide future replication in additional Ohio counties. Prior to co-founding Kinnect, Shannon served as Director of Permanency Planning, Northeast Ohio Adoption Services (2001-2008). She earned a Master’s of Science in Social Service Administration: Children, Youth and Families at Case Western Reserve University (OH), and is a State of Ohio Licensed Independent Social Worker.
Presenter & Facilitator
Alexandra Citrin, Senior Policy Analyst, works to advance CSSP’s child welfare system change efforts including through providing direct technical assistance to child welfare systems through National Quality Improvement Centers funded through the Administration for Children and Families and child welfare systems operating under federal consent decree. She has extensive experience conducting qualitative research across the country through Qualitative Service Reviews, focus groups and interviews including with LGBTQ youth of color involved with child welfare; youth and families currently involved with child welfare; and child welfare staff and legal advocates. Citrin has also worked closely with youth-serving organizations including the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative to support youth engagement and youth-driven policy and practice reform.
Citrin also lends her child welfare expertise to CSSP’s public policy work, which helps federal and state elected officials develop policies and funding priorities to advance equity in ways that promote better results for children, youth and families. Her policy expertise includes child welfare system and finance reform, health care and immigration – with a focus on using frontline practice-knowledge to inform equity-focused policymaking.
Prior to joining CSSP, she was a family advocate at the Center for Family Representation, Inc. in New York, where she engaged in direct practice with parents and families involved in the child welfare system; Citrin was a Child Welfare Scholar at the University of Michigan where she earned a master’s degree from the Graduate School of Social Work and a master’s degree in public policy from the Ford School. She holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science degree from Middlebury College in Vermont.
Presenter & Facilitator
Anne Comstock has more than 30 years of local and national child welfare experience working extensively with state, tribes, and local organizations to implement practice and system changes to improve the quality and capacity of systems and services. Her experience includes direct practice, supervision, administration, community collaboration, strategic planning and implementation, program evaluation, and workforce development, all directed towards system improvement.
Anne is currently the owner/principal of Comstock Consulting, LLC, designed to provide capacity building leadership and organizational development services to human service organizations. In March 2018, Anne was contracted by CO Department of Human services to manage CO’s planning and response to the Family First Prevention Services Act.
Anne was most recently the Executive Director of the Butler Institute for Families at the University of Denver. In this role, she was responsible for leadership, guidance, and oversight to the 35 staff and multitude of projects. She was responsible for leading strategic external relationships, coordination with senior University leadership, idea development, project development and implementation and overall management of the Institute. Anne was principal investigator on several large, federal and state projects with a focus on capacity building and organizational development for child and family serving organizations.
Anne has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Metropolitan State University of Denver and a Master’s degree in Management from Regis University.