EVOLVE Family Services Staff
EVOLVE Family Services employs a diverse staff, in identity, educational and professional experiences. EVOLVE has an extensive hiring process, with a focus on child-focused, trauma-informed, and anti-oppressive practice and understanding. EVOLVE values transparency and understands the importance of hiring and creating a sustainable work environment for professionals of color. Overall, EVOLVE’s staff have a wealth of experiences and skillsets, as it relates to the services provided under this RFP. EVOLVE’s staff will carry out the service areas with trauma-informed, child-focused, collaborative and anti-oppressive lens and practice.
Our Current Team
EVOLVE currently employs 20 staff in a variety of direct service, management, leadership, and administrative roles across the organization.
RACIAL IDENTITY + OUR WORKPLACE
For full transparency of racial identities within our workplace at EVOLVE, racial identities within our workplace are listed below. Our current EVOLVE team is comprised of 20 team members.
Susannah has served as EVOLVE’s Executive Director since July 2019. She obtained her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin – River Falls and is a licensed social worker in the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin. Susannah has extensive experience in the provision of child and family services.
Prior to her employment at EVOLVE, she gained experience in elementary school social work in St. Paul Public Schools and worked as a Juvenile Victim/Witness Specialist for the Anoka County Attorney’s Office. Since her employment at EVOLVE in 2006, Susannah has held many positions in the organization. From 2006 to 2013, she worked as adoption social worker and pregnancy counselor, developing direct practice skills and expertise in the adoption of children under state guardianship, domestic infant adoption, international adoption, pregnancy services, and foster care.
In 2013, she began taking on leadership roles in the agency, serving over time as the Adoption Programs Supervisor, Foster Care Programs Manager, Pregnancy Services Program Manager, Domestic Adoption Programs Manager, and Senior Programs Manager. In 2017, she joined the agency’s leadership team, serving as Programs Director, and then Senior Programs Director, overseeing all agency social services in adoption, kinship and traditional foster care, pregnancy services, education, and therapeutic mental health services, before rising to the executive leadership position in 2019.
Susannah has completed the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI) curriculum at the supervisory level and is certified to perform Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) home studies as a practitioner and supervisor. Susannah additionally served on the Washington County Citizen Review Panel for Children’s Services from 2019 to 2021 and has been an active member of the Collaborative of Allied Directors for Race Equity (CADRE) since 2019.
Susannah is a dedicated leader who is passionate about addressing racial disparities, reducing childhood trauma, upholding, and leading antiracist, anti-oppressive, and ethical practices in child-welfare services, family reunification, kinship care, and permanency for children.
Matt joined Evolve in June of 2023, and is a graduate of the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.
Prior to joining Evolve, Matt worked as a coach for profit and not for profit leaders to help their organizations’ marketing and operations become more integrated, effective, efficient, and profitable starting in 2017. Matt founded a 501c3 nonprofit in 2018 and is a volunteer and board member.
Matt worked for 10 years in healthcare nonprofits in Minnesota, where he was responsible for digital marketing, customer relationship management, consumer product development through delivery and telemedicine services. He also has experience in telecommunications sales, marketing and operations for organizations that supported access, infrastructure, network management, websites and ecommerce.
Matt joined Evolve for the opportunity to support making the lives of children better. He comes from a family that fostered more than 115 children and has adopted siblings. Matt also has a passion for the positive impacts youth sports can have on children’s lives, and has coached and refered youth sports for several years and continues to referee football and umpire baseball.
Holly joined EVOLVE in August 2016. Holly obtained her bachelor’s degree at Iowa State University in Child, Adult, and Family Services. She obtained her master’s degree in Social Work in May 2016 from the University of St Thomas and St. Catherine’s University. Holly started at EVOLVE working within our foster care and clinical departments.
During her initial work at EVOLVE, she licensed, and home study approved families for child foster care licensure. In addition, she provided post placement support, resource referral, and advocacy for children in out of home placement. Holly has specialized and provided oversight in working with and developing programming for relative/kin caregivers over the last 5.5 years and is passionate about supporting familial connections long term. Since 2017, Holly has been in a leadership role within EVOLVE’s foster care and kinship programs.
Holly completed her Permanency and Adoption Competency Certification through the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in 2018. Prior to Holly’s experience at EVOLVE, she has experience working with parents navigating the child welfare system. Holly is passionate about advancing change within the child welfare and adoption system to ensure that family and youth voice is at the center of our work.
Jordan learned the foundational skills of organization, forecasting, and stress management from playing Tetris. Through various experiences at nonprofit organizations in the US and abroad, Jordan gained an appreciation for the vital functions of serving communities and supporting youth.
At EVOLVE, Jordan is honored to support the amazing work of frontline service providers by providing back-end support of the organization’s finances, operations, and employee support systems.
Tenelle joined EVOLVE in January 2022. She has been working in social services as an advocate for youth in a variety of positions since 2000. Tenelle enjoys being able to work with children and families to help in building solid foundations that strengthen families. Tenelle has a passion for working in communities that are overlooked and underserved. When she thinks of her work, it is not just a job, but a passion and a purpose.
Tenelle has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology, Crime and Community. She also has a degree in youth and family ministry from Augsburg College. Tenelle has her master’s degree in Business Leadership from William Penn and is currently pursuing her master’s in marriage, family, and couples counseling. She is pursuing this degree at Capella University. Tenelle was adopted and also has experience as a foster care provider and adoptive parent. She adopted her three daughters. Tenelle has experience as a guardian ad litem, residential day treatment, within juvenile corrections and intensive in-home parenting services. Tenelle understands trauma and has studied the ACES research. She works to educate families and communities about trauma and the lifelong impacts of trauma.
As EVOLVE’s UMOJA Education Program Director, Tenelle coordinates, facilitates, and plans programming and camp for youth and families, involved in the child welfare system. This programming, UMOJA, focuses on parenting, supporting, and advocating for Black youth, involved in the child welfare system. Youth and their providers have the opportunity to attend weekend long camps to increase their understanding, develop their skillsets and promote positive identity development. In addition, Tenelle oversees and facilitates EVOLVE’s agency-specific education.
Alaina joined EVOLVE in December 2022. She has been working in social services since 2014. She graduated from Winona State University, with an undergraduate degree in Social Work. She started her career in child welfare focusing on reunification and permanency. She transitioned to working at various adult residential treatment facilities, for individuals diagnosed with SPMI and SUD, across Minnesota. During this time, she developed direct practice skills and expertise in crisis management. In addition, she found fulfillment in collaboration, assessing policies and procedures, and learning how to evaluate programs.
She returned to school to complete her graduate degree in Social Work, with an emphasis on community, organization, and business innovation, through the University of Southern California. She continued her work at residential treatment facilities homing in on leadership and program development. Through the height of the pandemic, she worked at a long-term care facility in the behavioral health unit as the Director of Social Services. During this time, she focused on changing the workplace landscape to promote culturally appropriate workplace values in relation to work/life balance, self-care, staff resilience, and support for grief and loss.
She joined EVOLVE Family Services in late 2022 as the Permanency and Pregnancy Programs Director. She was drawn to EVOLVE’s anti-racist, anti-oppressive, and child-centered approaches and values in child welfare. She continues to nurture her passion for promoting equitable programming, innovation, and championing change. Alaina has completed the National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI) curriculum at the supervisory level and is certified to perform Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) home studies as a practitioner and supervisor.
Development & Communications
Kip joined EVOLVE in March of 2023. Kip received a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Advertising and PR from Minnesota State University-Moorhead. In addition, Kip received a Master of Science degree in Strategic Communications from St. Cloud State University. Kip completed a Korean Culture program from Inje University located in South Korea.
Kip has various marketing experiences, highlighting his work for an animal humane society nonprofit and for a housing development organization. Kip has worked in the nonprofit and for-profit sector. In addition, Kip has been and continues to be involved in the adoptee community in various ways, as a member, board member, and group leader.
At EVOLVE, Kip is the Marketing Specialist, where he creates designs for various programs, manages the website, creates and updates social media, and develops newsletters. Kip collaborated with the marketing team and organized his first Gala with EVOLVE in April 2023
Kelly has over 15 years of experience in finance, administrative, and management. She grew up working in a family-owned business. She is from the land that belongs to the Dakota Oyate Nation of Upper Sioux Community, where you dig to find the Yellow Medicine. She has been an activist since she was a little girl, many tried to soften her voice and make her stop, however it only made her fight harder.
She attended Century College for Human Services, Psychology and Chemical Dependency. She is passionate about working alongside children and recognizes them as the future. She has volunteered at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone house on the West Side of Saint Paul for the after-school program and has taught The First Time Youth Offenders’ groups for North Star.
Kelly joined EVOLVE in March 2022 as the Accounting and Administrative Specialist. Kelly is proud to work at EVOLVE because the organization is passionate about dismantling systemic racism in child welfare. Kelly utilizes a child-centered and holistic approach. Kelly also strives to ensure children are surrounded by their culture, are having fun, and receiving appropriate services.
Permanency, Pregnancy, and Youth Services
Alexandra joined EVOLVE in July 2021. She obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Family Science in May of 2021 from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities. Before this role she had internships in education and immigration work but had interest in learning about how her skills and knowledge could be applied in adoption, foster care, and child welfare work, which brought her to EVOLVE. Alexandra joined EVOLVE as an Adoption and Pregnancy Services Process Coordinator, supporting families and EVOLVE as an agency by fulfilling administrative duties that range from office management to upkeeping documentation for clients in our Adoption and Pregnancy Services programs.
Although a large part of her role is to manage and maintain documentation alongside families and individuals she works with, she finds that an equally important aspect of her role is communicating with families in the adoption process in a way that emphasizes consideration of the rights and emotions of adoptees and birth parents. She works in tandem with Adoption Social Workers, management, and leadership to keep files up to date through inquiries, home study assessments, and in the waiting, matching, and post-adoption process for adoptive parents and adoptees. She also manages documentation for birth parents. She is proud to work for an organization that recognizes and aims to challenge the coercive and unethical practices of adoption against birth parents and adoptees that have ensued through our country’s history.
Alexandra believes it is essential to practice through a trauma-informed and anti-oppressive lens, in line with EVOLVE’s agency values, as she recognizes through her family systems education, trainings at EVOLVE, and through personal experience, the harm human services has committed against our most vulnerable populations that we are supposed to serve and advocate on behalf of. She has skills in data management, social perceptiveness, problem solving, systems analysis, and has a service orientation. Alexandra is passionate about creating more ethical and compassionate human services systems that support individual, familial, and communal wellness, education, and rehabilitation.
Laura joined EVOLVE in September 2021. She attended the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and a minor in Poverty Studies. Her interest in child welfare began at Notre Dame, in which she took a variety of courses and seminars relating to people experiencing homelessness, rural poverty, and education. She also completed many internships at this time, including with Success Academy Charter Schools, the South Bend Center for the Homeless, and the Notre Dame Center for Social Concerns.
Upon graduation, she spent a year simultaneously living in intentional community through Amate House and working at Perspectives Charter Schools (High School of Technology and Leadership Academy) in Chicago, Illinois. She then moved to Houston, Texas, and worked as a foster parent through Casa de Esperanza de los Niños. Within 14 months, she cared for 14 children in a mix of parenting alone and up to four other “house parents,” wholly responsible for their daily, medical, and foster care needs. Laura continued to work with foster and adoptive children on a private basis until she began her Master of Social Work program at the University of Social Work – Twin Cities as a Title IV-E scholarship recipient.
She provided individual and case-management services through her internships at Folwell Elementary School and Red Lake. At Folwell, Laura promoted social-emotional learning through individual consultation, a Native American culture group, a friendship skills group, and the coordination of food shelves, busing, and taxi services. Through Red Lake Nation Ombimidwaa Giidanawemaganinodog (Family and Children’s Services, “Uplifting Our Relatives”), Laura served as the tribal social worker for child welfare cases that fell under ICWA. She worked with the Red Lake Nation team members, other tribes, counties throughout Minnesota, Guardians ad Litem, and other pertinent collaterals to ensure that ICWA and MIFPA laws are followed, and active efforts are maintained in the provision of services.
In addition to this concentration internship, Laura was a graduate assistant at the Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare. She helped with the dissemination of current research, trainings, and continuing education materials. In particular, she spearheaded a weekly blog series called “Expanding Knowledge,” which focused on enhancing child welfare work through non-conventional means of education.
Currently, within EVOLVE, Laura works with adoptive families to complete their home study and adoption processes; pregnancy clients to provide all-options counseling and post-termination, parenting, and adoption support; and counties to complete Social Medical Histories for foster children that they can access when they turn 19. Laura is passionate about advocating for those who often do not have a voice in the adoptive and foster care systems, particularly children and first families.
She seeks to instill education in every aspect of her work, including within herself. This desire inspired her to accept a part-time position with Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) working in the NICU, PICU, and Birth Centers so that she could have a richer understanding of pre- and post-pregnancy services. Laura hopes to continue the promotion of equity and empathy as she continues her career.
April started her journey in human services as a Certified Nurses Aid, and when she enjoyed talking with people and learning their “why”, it brought her to Metropolitan University’s social work program. During her first internship, April worked with the American Indian Family Center. She worked in the emergency housing program at AIFC, created a food program, and helped organize the Indigenous people day parade. She took an active role in the Student Social Work Association at Metropolitan University, and obtained a lead role as student advocate.
April was awarded the Title IV-E grant to work with youth in foster care. She then interned at Red Lake Nation in the Family & Children working with families who are working towards reunification. After graduation, she transitioned to Augsburg University to complete a master's in social work. During her time at Augsburg, she interned at the Women's Center at the University of MN researching the impact of COVID-19 and the impact it has had on genders. In addition, she specialized in child welfare and policy. This work led April to run for City Counsel and was voted in.
April connected with EVOLVE’s values of permanency, upholding client-voice, anti-racist practices, and all-options counseling, as this aligns with her personal values. April joined EVOLVE in November 2022 as the Permanency Specialist. April works alongside children and youth seeking permanency. She advocates for their needs, helps them identify what they envision for their future, and prepares them for permanency.
Jack joined EVOLVE in August 2019. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in Social Work in May of 2015 from Viterbo University. Jack is SAFE certified. Jack joined EVOLVE as an Adoption Social Worker, counseling and certifying families for the purposes of adoption. During this time, Jack provided family assessment, counseling related to several issues including racial diversity and mental health awareness, ongoing assessment for family preparedness, and support following placement within the family unit.
In 2020, Jack’s role was extended to include working as a Foster Care Family Worker, licensing foster providers and providing support throughout the home study process to both providers and the children in care. During this time, Jack provided services, support, and outreach to providers and the children in out-of-home placement. In 2021, his role was further expanded to being a Pregnancy Social Worker with EVOLVE. In this position, he has worked with birth families to obtain supports for parenting purposes, as well as counseling on parenting options, and creating adoption plans. Jack remains in this role. Jack has experience and skills in family assessment, support gathering and outreach, critical assessment, and home study writing.
In addition to his work with EVOLVE, Jack has experience as a Child Protection Social Worker in the state of Wisconsin. In these capacities he has worked with children under guardianship of the state, as well as with families for the purposes of reunification or placement. Jack has unique experiences working with children of all backgrounds in a variety of setting including residential treatment and management of afterschool programing. Jack is passionate about his work with LGBTQIA+ youth and affecting the lives of those within the welfare system.
Education and UMOJA MN
Queen joined EVOLVE Family Services in October 2022. Prior to that she has worked with children and families in the world of social services for 8 plus years. Queen’s passion for this work comes from her childhood experiences of being raised in foster care and experiencing other adversities as a youth. Queen loves working in spaces that provide her the opportunity to help youth, children, and other underserved populations be heard, especially in the black community.
Queen has flourished as an individual by learning and connecting with her culture on the deepest levels. Queen has extensive training in trauma informed care, risk behaviors, unconscious biases, and parenting education. Queen has a lot of passion behind the work she does at EVOLVE and is eager to continue to learn and grow within the company. Queen coordinates, facilitates, and plans programming for youth and families, involved in the child welfare system. Her work with UMOJA focuses on parenting, supporting, and advocating for Black youth, involved in the child welfare system.
Lisette joined EVOLVE Family Services in August of 2017. Lisette obtained her bachelor’s degree in Social Work with a minor in Psychology from the University of St. Thomas in May of 2016. Initially, Lisette joined EVOLVE as a Foster Care Family Worker where she focused on licensing both relative/kin and traditional foster care providers. Lisette facilitated initial paperwork meetings, in-person trainings, and supported families through and after the home study process.
Lisette values collaboration and has enjoyed working with foster families and child welfare workers to ensure child’s needs are met. Lisette understands the importance of advocating for children in out-of-home-placement and recognizes the importance of having their needs met, including their physical, mental, educational, and emotional needs. Lisette grew up speaking Spanish, which is a skill she has utilized in her current role. Lisette has facilitated one-on-one paperwork and training sessions with Spanish-speaking families to ensure they understand the process of becoming licensed foster care providers. Lisette has witnessed the impact of language barriers when licensing families and hopes to continue advocating for more accessible resources in other languages to better serve foster care providers.
On August 1st, 2019, Lisette was promoted to a lead position within the foster care program. On February 1st, 2022, Lisette was promoted to Foster Care Program Manager at EVOLVE Family Services, which is the role she remains in today. Within Lisette’s various roles at EVOLVE, she has worked with children and youth under the guardianship of the commissioner and has collaborated with the child welfare team to ensure permanency is achieved. While Lisette continues to do some of the tasks listed above, she is now supervising Foster Care Family Workers and working on expanding the traditional foster care program at EVOLVE.
Lisette approaches her work with clients in an inclusive and considerate manner, acknowledging the differences that come with each family structure and culture. Lisette understands the importance of having an anti-oppressive and trauma-informed lens within this role due to the disparities within our child welfare system. Lisette understands the unique needs of children and youth in foster care and is skilled at having difficult conversations with families to best prepare them to foster/adopt children and to reduce the possibility of disruption. Lisette hopes to continue promoting equity within the child welfare system while supporting families, children, and youth.
Margot joined EVOLVE in June of 2022. Margot obtained her bachelor’s degree in psychology in spring 2023 and will be pursuing a master’s in social work at Augsburg University in the fall of 2023. In spring of 2023, Margot completed an internship doing supervised parenting and engaged in developing healthy parenting strategies for families.
At EVOLVE, Margot’s responsibilities include facilitating informational meetings to prospective foster parents, conducting initial meetings with families to begin the licensing process, and ensuring families have completed the necessary requirements to be licensed for foster care in the state of Minnesota. In addition, Margot assists in writing social medical histories for foster and adopted youth and serves as administrative support to the foster care team.
As transracial and transnational adoptee, Margot understands the complexities and barriers that impact families and youth who have experienced separation and trauma. Margot is committed to healing and strengthening familial bonds, and advancing child welfare through an anti-racist, anti-oppressive, add trauma informed lens.
Elizabeth is currently a Foster Care Family Worker at EVOLVE. She joined EVOLVE in April of 2023. She received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from the University of North Dakota in 2020. In addition, she has a minor in special education, as well as a minor in literacy education. She has completed 18 credits towards a master’s degree in special education, and she is looking to expand her knowledge of social services.
She has worked with children and families, mostly in a daycare/education setting for over 10 years. At EVOLVE, Elizabeth provides support, advocacy, and education to foster parents. In addition, she completes home study assessments to help families become licensed for foster care. When Elizabeth was looking for a new career path, she wanted to find somewhere she could be herself and work with others who are just as passionate about equity for children and families. She was drawn to EVOLVE due to the culture of respect, growth, and passion shown throughout the company.
Jordan obtained a B.S in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida in 2022. During their time in college, he interned at the state attorney’s office as a victim advocate working in the homicide and general felony divisions. After graduating, he worked as a shelter advocate at a domestic violence shelter. After this, Jordan decided it was time to explore social work outside of victim advocacy. He knew that he wanted his next job to have an environment where he could work with people who were equally as passionate about anti-racism and anti-oppression as they are.
Jordan decided during this time to move out of Florida and came to join EVOLVE in June of 2022. At EVOLVE, Jordan’s responsibilities include providing advocacy, resources, education and support to both foster providers and children in foster care. Additionally, he is responsible for licensing families for foster care and helping them to maintain their license. Jordan’s main goal while working at EVOLVE is to be transparent and flexible with the families he works with in order to make the hard process of fostering just a little bit easier.