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Staff


Ashlan Allison Families First Outcomes AnalystAshlan Allison
Evaluation Coordinator
aallison@families-first.org, ext. 24
Ashlan joined the Families First staff in September 2015. Previously, she worked with Families First as a graduate-level intern and remained involved in other capacities before joining the staff. She has past experience working with various populations, including homeless youth and children and youth in residential settings. While working with these populations, she recognized how parenting and family engagement greatly impacts children’s lives. Ashlan is passionate about providing opportunities for children and families to thrive despite the challenges they may face. As the Evaluation Coordinator, she leads evaluation efforts in order to improve our programming and demonstrate the impact of both our current and future work. Ashlan received a BSW with a Second Major in Business Administration from Olivet Nazarene University and an MSW from Boston College.

Families First Grants Specialist Jill BrevikJill Brevik
Assistant Director of Development & Communications
jbrevik@families-first.org, ext. 26
Jill joined Families First in July 2014 after managing corporate and foundation fundraising for the American Red Cross of Massachusetts. She brings several years of experience in grant writing and institutional fundraising strategy, as well as non-profit administration and operations. After traveling to Southeast Asia and volunteering with several education-based non-profit organizations, she saw the impact of community and family support on children’s success in school. Upon her return, she joined Boston’s non-profit community to use her writing skills to help local populations in need. Jill received a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Vermont, and she is currently pursuing an MS in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University.

staff Sue CovitzSue Covitz
Executive Director
scovitz@families-first.org, ext. 14
Sue is the parent of two teenage daughters and participated as a parent in Families First workshops when her children were toddlers. As part of the staff at Families First since 2006, she has served as the Director of Strategic Partnerships, Director of Outreach & Education, and Deputy Director. Previously, Sue served as the Executive Director of Greater Options for Adolescent Lives and brings almost 20 years’ experience in non-profit management, coalition building, and community organizing to her work. After three months as Interim Executive Director, Sue was named Executive Director of Families First in April 2016. She received a BA in philosophy from Haverford and an MSW from Boston College.

Stacey EllsworthStacey Ellsworth
Office Manager
sellsworth@families-first.org, ext. 10
Stacey joined Families First in July 2008 as the Office Administrator/Executive Assistant after several years of office administration in the corporate sector. Since that time, she has also provided administrative support to the Development and Outreach & Education departments. Stacey became Officer Manager in May 2016. Her major responsibilities include overseeing office operations, acting as liaison to the Board of Directors, and providing administrative support to the Finance department. Outside the office, she can often be found cheering on her two young nephews at baseball and hockey.

Sherra Cates Families First FUSE CoordinatorSherra C. Lawrence
Program Coordinator
slawrence@families-first.org, ext. 13
Sherra joined Families First in August 2014 as FUSE (Families United with Schools for Education) Coordinator, where she led a needs assessment project with a partner school to better understand and improve family-school partnerships. Before joining Families First, her wide range of experiences comprised working in nonprofit and academic settings focused on addressing issues of equity and access, including education and the opportunity gap, early childhood and school readiness, and several projects related to social and public policy and programming. Now as a Program Coordinator at Families First, she acts as a liaison for partnership building between Families First and a number of community partners. Sherra received a BA in Psychology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, and received her Joint MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University.

Rebekah McKinney
Director of Development & Communications
rmckinney@families-first.org, ext. 23
Rebekah has been with Families First since 2011. She has nearly 15 years’ experience in fundraising and communications for Boston non-profit organizations, with an emphasis on institutional grants strategy, writing, and stewardship. She has advanced the development programs of Greater Boston Legal Services and the City of Somerville Youth Program, and prior to joining Families First, she managed fundraising and communications for Hyde Square Task Force. As an independent fundraising consultant, Rebekah has served clients including Critical Explorers and Encuentro Diaspora Latina. She also taught at the elementary school level for several years in the Boston Public Schools. She holds a BA in Urban Studies from Brown University and an MEd from Lesley University, and she is a single mom to an 11-year-old son.

Maureen O’Brien
Director of Curriculum & Evaluation
mobrien@families-first.org, ext. 21
Maureen is a developmental psychologist whose professional expertise includes child development, parent support and education, and promotion of healthy parent-child relationships. She co-directed the Brazelton Touchpoints Center at Children’s Hospital of Boston, taught at Bentley College, consulted with numerous juvenile product companies, and is the author of Watch Me Grow: I’m One-Two-Three and Advantage, Mom: 20 Lessons from a Parenting Pro. She has also written widely on parenting topics for parenting publications and has extensive media experience in radio and television. Maureen holds degrees in Psychology/Child Development from Brown University (BA, 1983), Temple University (MA, 1985), and the University of Minnesota (PhD, 1991). She serves on the Technical Advisory Board of BabySparks and volunteers for cancer support programs in MA. Maureen lives with her husband and twin sons in Canton, MA.

Madeleine Otani Oldman
Program Coordinator
motani@families-first.org, ext. 25
Working with children and strengthening families has been a passion throughout Madeleine’s career. She came to Families First in 2002 as a volunteer in the Program Department and was hired as Program Associate in 2006. In the Outreach & Education Department, Madeleine is the Program Coordinator responsible for coordinating and scheduling programs with our Transitional Housing and Early Childhood Education partner organizations. She continues to support and work closely with parenting educators while also involved in outreach and building relationships with new and existing partners. She received a BA in Elementary Education from Marylhurst University in Oregon, followed by Early Childhood and Infant & Toddler Certification in Montessori education. During her tenure at the Cambridge Montessori School, Madeleine worked as a Primary and Toddler Lead Teacher, as Director of Admissions, and in their Parenting Education Program, and served as a trustee on the CMS Board.

Magda RodriguezMagda Rodriguez
Director of Programming
mrodriguez@families-first.org, ext.15
Magda Rodriguez moved to United States after receiving her law degree in Colombia and worked in the immigration field for several years. After establishing her own family and experiencing the process of raising her two children, Magda became passionate about parenting issues and gained experience as a family engagement leader while working for a non-profit organization offering services in the Boston Public Schools. Magda also facilitates Families First workshops as a Parenting Educator, and in her former position as FUSE Manager, she spearheaded the launch of our FUSE (Families United with Schools for Education) family engagement capacity-building project for schools.

Dawn Shearer-Coren Families First Parenting EducatorDawn Shearer-Coren
Training Coordinator
dcoren@families-first.org, ext. 22
Dawn joins Families First as the Training Coordinator and a Parenting Educator with over 17 years of experience working in schools and in the community. Her wide range of training experience includes leading workshops with teachers and students, as well as providing technical assistance to school leaders. Her career has spanned working with children in foster care and their families, programming, advocacy for the educational needs of students, and addressing topics related to multiculturalism. Dawn is a lifelong Bostonian and the proud mother of two sons and two daughters.

Maham Zia
Administrative Assistant/Development Associate
mzia@families-first.org, ext. 27
Maham joined Families First as the Administrative Assistant in November 2015. Before joining Families First, Maham did outreach work for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD). During her experience at the MCAD, she visited many community centers and non-profit organizations around the Boston area, making her acutely aware of the ways her community members needed support. She brings that awareness and desire to serve to Families First. As the Administrative Assistant, Maham supports the Outreach and Education team with administrative tasks, including work with Salesforce. Maham graduated from Northeastern University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Minor in Psychology with a special interest in Identity Construction. She also serves as the Muslim Advisor at Simmons College and enjoys doing volunteer work with the youth in her community.


Families First Staff
Families First Parenting Program Staff