About Families First
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Ashlan joined Families First as the Outcomes Analyst 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 impact children’s lives. Ashlan is passionate about providing opportunities for children and families to thrive despite the challenges they may face. As the Outcomes Analyst, she leads evaluation efforts in order to demonstrate the impact of both our current and future work. Ashlan received a Bachelor of Social Work with a Second Major in Business Administration from Olivet Nazarene University. In May 2015, she completed her Master of Social Work from Boston College.
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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.
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Elizabeth Cohen joined Families First in January 2012 as its third Executive Director. She has fourteen years of experience in non-profits focused on a variety of public health issues, including violence prevention, comprehensive sexual education, and supporting families dealing with health complications. Prior to coming to Families First, Elizabeth was the Manager of Training at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts, where she oversaw all external training to teachers and health professionals, as well as internal training for over 200 staff members, including managers, health care staff, and educators. Her past work experience also includes a position with WGBH Boston as Director of Health Initiatives. While at WGBH, she worked on local and national outreach education campaigns focused on childhood asthma, cancer, caring for older parents, and heart disease. The first part of her career was dedicated to advocating for survivors of sexual violence and their significant others through positions at the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, and Rape Crisis Services of Greater Lowell, where she served as Executive Director. Elizabeth has a BA from Tufts University and a Masters of Public Health from Boston University, where she developed and taught a course for four years on sexual violence. Her greatest achievement and joy is being the single mother of an amazing toddler.
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Sue is the parent of two teenage daughters and participated as a parent in Families First workshops when her children were toddlers. She joined Families First in July 2006 as the Director of Strategic Partnerships and is now responsible for overseeing work with all of our program sites as well as managing key partnerships. Sue formerly 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 at Families First. She received a BA in philosophy from Haverford and an MSW from Boston College.
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Stacey joined Families First in July 2008 as the Office Administrator/Executive Assistant after several years of office administration in the corporate sector. Her major responsibilities include managing the office, acting as liaison to the Board of Directors, and providing administrative support to the Development and Outreach & Education departments. She is the ridiculously doting aunt of two young nephews.
Sherra C. Lawrence
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Sherra joined Families First in August 2014 as FUSE (Families United with Schools for Education) Coordinator. She has several years of experience in non-profits and academic settings focused on a variety of social justice and equity issues, including implicit and explicit bias related to skin tone; stigma-related strain in caregivers of adolescents with serious emotional disturbances; homelessness and housing for vulnerable populations; home visiting services for teen parents; school-based barriers to family and community engagement for diverse families; and other issues related to social and public policy. Sherra received a BA in Psychology from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and in August 2014 finished her Joint MA in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning and Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University.
Director of Development & Communications
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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 nine-year-old son.
Curriculum & Training Manager
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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 the parenting series Watch Me Grow: I’m One-Two-Three (Harper Collins, 2002). She has also written widely on parenting topics, is a regular source for national parenting publications, and has several years’ 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 Boston Leadership Advisory Board of Room to Grow and volunteers for cancer support programs at South Shore Hospital. Maureen lives with her husband and twin sons in Canton, MA.
Madeleine Otani Oldman
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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. When the department changed its name to Outreach & Education in 2012, Madeleine stepped into the Education Coordinator role and is 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. She now serves as a trustee on the CMS Board.
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. As FUSE Manager, Magda is spearheading the launch of our FUSE (Families United with Schools for Education) family engagement capacity-building project for schools and also facilitates Families First workshops as a Parenting Educator.
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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.