2024 WCHSA Spring Conference | Meet the Speakers


Emilie Amundson

Appointed by Governor Tony Evers in January 2019 and confirmed by the Senate in February 2020, Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Emilie Amundson is responsible for statewide and county administered programs that assist children and families, including child welfare, early care and education, and child support. Since joining DCF, Secretary Amundson has successfully led the department in transforming the state’s child welfare system; stabilizing and growing the early care and education field; and building stronger, innovative partnerships at the local, state, and federal levels. Prior to her appointment to DCF, Secretary Amundson served as the chief of staff at the Department of Public Instruction where she advanced multiple statewide and cross-agency efforts related to K-12 public education. Secretary Amundson received her undergraduate degree from UW-Madison, her Master of Education Policy from Harvard Graduate School of Education and has completed coursework toward a Ph.D. in Literacy Studies at UW-Madison. She is the proud spouse of a teacher and the proud mom of two elementary school-aged children.

Blaire Bryant

Blaire serves as the legislative director for health policy. In this role, Blaire staffs NACo's Health Policy Steering Committee and works with county officials from across the nation to set organizational priorities and policies for public health, health care, behavioral health and long term care issues that affect local governments. Blaire holds a Master's of Public Health in community health education from the University of Maryland School of Public Health, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Blaire joins NACo from the National Association of County and City Health Officials, where she worked on community health programming on behalf of local health departments.

Brittany Borchardt

Brittany, the Supervisor of the ADRC of Dodge County, joined the organization in 2020 during the pandemic. Prior to this role, she worked in law enforcement as a police officer for over 10 years after obtaining her bachelor's degree from UW-Platteville. Outside of work, Brittany enjoys staying busy as a mother of two by watching her children participate in various sports and walking her dogs.

Emily Coddington

Emily Coddington has dedicated her 20+ year career to serving children, families, and members of the human services workforce in Wisconsin, holding leadership positions in the non-profit sector and state government for the last 15 years. Emily thrives on collaboration and regularly partners with counties, state agencies, and legislators to improve systems of care. Emily co-chaired this workgroup, in partnership with Dee Jaye Miles.

Rene Eastman

Rene Eastman is the Vice President of Policy & Finance for LeadingAge Wisconsin, the statewide association for nonprofit and mission driven senior living organizations. Previously, Rene worked for the state Medicaid program for a decade in the areas of provider rate-setting, nursing home, and long term care policy. Rene holds accounting and law degrees from UW-Madison.

John Elliot 

John Elliott is currently the Deputy Administrator for the Division of Safety and Permanence for the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. In this role, he is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Division. The Division of Safety and Permanence is responsible for oversight of the child welfare and youth justice systems delivered through Wisconsin counties and Tribes. His responsibilities include: Oversight of the Child Welfare Professional Development System, eWiSACWIS case management system, leading major division strategic initiatives and overseeing the operation functions of the division. John is an experienced leader in strategy development and execution, policy development and implementation, research and leading large-scale projects in large complex public/private organizations. John, was also adopted as an infant in the state of Michigan. He is married to attorney who represents parents in CHIPS cases in Dane county and is the proud father of two daughters.

Steve Fredlund

Steve Fredlund is a multi-passionate visionary who has had profound impact as an award-winning actuary, humanitarian, coach, consultant, author, speaker, podcaster, entrepreneur and leader of African safaris. For ten years, Steve’s journey included two parallel paths: a good life that was becoming increasingly unfulfilling and humanitarian trips to east Africa that ended on safari. Like chocolate and peanut butter, Steve’s research into happiness and his experiences leading African adventures blended into something remarkable. He discovered the “Big 5” factors that impact both, becoming the foundation of his approach to life, work and leadership. “The Safari Way” has become a movement increasing the happiness and success of people around the world. As a two-time TEDx speaker, Steve communicates in a compelling way, using remarkable stories and memorable phrases that keep his ideas front-of-mind years into the future. His captivating, authentic and humorous approach keeps audiences engaged and longing for more. Steve has been called “genuine”, “hilarious” and “the only actuary, in the history of actuaries, you actually WANT to sit next to during dinner.” Steve earned fellowship in the Society of Actuaries and holds a Masters in Business Administration. When not working, he can be found on the disc golf course, playing a poker tournament or suffering through another season as a Minnesota sports fan.

Jamie Gennrich

Jamie Gennrich, MSSW, is an established professional who has worked across many facets of Wisconsin’s child welfare system for twenty years. Ms. Gennrich is currently the Deputy Director of the Bureau of Permanence and Out of Home Care at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families and in this role, demonstrates equal commitment to improvements on a micro, individually child-focused level, as well as on a macro, systems-focus level. She is the executive sponsor of the SYNC (Supporting Youth ‘N Children) web portal implementation in Wisconsin’s child welfare system.

Mitchell George

Mitchell George works as the Child Welfare Applications Product Manager within the Division of Safety and Permanence at the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families. Prior to joining DCF, Mitchell worked in healthcare helping organizations improve their population's health through value-based care and as the product lead for the Social Determinants of Health application at a leading software vendor. During this time he also worked to design and implement provider portals for care coordination. Mitchell is a Wisconsin native and holds a Master's Degree in Social and Civic Entrepreneurship.

Laura Haffield 

A former social worker in public child welfare in Wisconsin, Laura Hughes Haffield has seen first-hand how social workers quietly do what needs to be done to help and heal those in need, often while receiving little recognition or community support. Social work is an underserved profession in many ways, but Laura will never stop trying to change that. Laura excels amplifying voices of those long gone unheard, getting curious and asking questions to understand problems, and communicating in ways that make sense to each person based on what motivates them. This combination serves her well as director of advocacy, where she’s the bridge between Northwoods’ internal and external audiences. Laura’s job is ensuring that the needs, challenges, and voice of human and social services agencies are known and listened to by everyone at Northwoods. She also engages industry groups and associations to share how Northwoods’ solutions and approach to business can help solve important problems. Laura thrives knowing that working for Northwoods means working for a company that makes the social worker the most important person in every decision, from what we build, to how we implement, to how we support our partners along the way.

Donelle Hauser

Donelle Hauser is the President and Chief Executive Officer for Lad Lake, Inc. located in Wisconsin serving over 1,000 youth and families each year through residential treatment, alternative education and community-based services. Donelle joined Lad Lake, Inc. in 2015 as Chief Program Officer, implementing best practices and building a team focused on continuous improvement, impact, and authentic connections. Donelle serves on several state and national committees, and has been part of Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Youth Advocacy to improve the Juvenile Justice System, and Wisconsin’s cross systems workgroup to find innovative solutions for serving youth with complex needs.

Laurie Hintz

Laurie Hintz is a policy analyst and project manager with DHS. She is part of the Bureau of Benefits Policy team within the Division of Medicaid Services where her work primarily focuses on the Crisis Intervention Medicaid policy. Before joining the DHS team, Laurie served as a project manager for an external quality review organization. In that role she oversaw and managed multiple quality improvement projects, providing results that assured Medicaid compliance and identified opportunities for improvement. Laurie also spent over 20 years supporting adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Starting as a direct caregiver, her roles expanded to include program management, regional director, and area director roles. Laurie earned a Master of Science in Organizational Management from the University of Phoenix and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Carroll University. When not working, she enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and traveling.

LaMikka James

LaMikka works to engage the community to support parents who have been impacted by the system to help co-design new solutions, connect with stakeholders to implement community-led solutions, and contributes lived experience so all efforts center on insight from how the child welfare system impacts people. She has over 12 years of successful parent leadership and communication, with prior roles including Family Service Coordinator, Parent Leader/Community Engagement Specialist, and a Certified Trainer of the Protective Factors with the Child Abuse and Prevention Board.

Alex Kelly

Alex Kelly believes strongly in equality of opportunity and is thrilled to be a part of the solution at Binti. Alex taught middle school for many years and understands well the impact of family in the life of every child. Prior to Binti, Alex spent a decade in child welfare, where she worked to reconnect youth with relatives and fictive kin for both support and permanency, engaged families interested in fostering or adopting, and led an intake team to match families with children coming into care.

Charlie Larson

Charlie has been a social worker with Dane County Human Services for 27 years. She has worked in both rural and metro offices, has done CPS and YJ intake and ongoing, and currently is one of three Independent Living social workers.

Trey Lesatz

Trey Lesatz is a dedicated advocate for vulnerable families, currently serving as the Executive Director for Family Connect of Wisconsin, a nonprofit engaging communities across Wisconsin. With an understanding of the challenges faced by at-risk families, Trey's journey into this field began with the experience of being a foster parent and case manager with Brown County Child Protection and Shawano County Child Support. Drawing from firsthand experience, Trey has committed himself to empower communities to support those in need. In his role as Executive Director, he leads initiatives aimed at training and engaging local communities through the CarePortal program. Through these efforts, Trey seeks to foster a network of support that uplifts and strengthens families facing adversity acting in areas that agencies or existing resources may not suffice. Trey Lesatz's passion for creating positive change and his dedication to serving others make him a compelling voice in the realm of family advocacy.

Rachel Mackey

Rachel serves as legislative director for human services and education. In this role, she staffs NACo’s Human Services and Education Policy Steering Committee and works with county officials from across the nation to advance organizational priorities and policies related to children’s issues, foster care, public assistance and income support, services to senior citizens and individuals with disabilities, immigration policy, social services, and elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. Rachel also staffs NACo's Veterans and Military Services Committee, which engages NACo and its members to develop and highlight county best practices and policies to promote innovative programs, services and benefits for our nation’s military, veterans and their families. Along with these roles, Rachel coordinates NACo's Supreme Court advocacy and education efforts.

Justyce McGuire

Justyce McGuire is an Ongoing Child Protective Services Social Worker at Dane County Department of Human Services, working to engage families in a positive working relationship to achieve a safe, stable home and permanence for children. Justyce believes that it is essential to support parents/caregivers in order to strive for safety, permanency and wellbeing for children. In addition to providing ongoing case management to children and families, she co-runs the Crown Closet, a Dane County hair closet in multiple offices where she provides hair products and supplies for BIPOC Youth. Justyce is a Title IV-E Alum and holds a BS in Human Development and Family Studies and a Master’s Degree in Social Worker from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Dee Jaye Miles

Dee Jaye Miles is currently the Division Manager for the Children, Youth and Families Unit in Green Count, where she has served her community for 34 years. Dee Jaye is currently responsible for overseeing a variety of programs, including Child Protective Services, Youth Justice, foster care, Coordinated Services Teams, the Green County Child Advocacy Center, Children's Long-Term Support, and Birth to 3. She recently joined the Children, Youth, and Family Policy Advisory Committee with WCHSA, and co-chaired the Higher Levels of Care WAFCA/WCHSA workgroup.

Penny Nevicosi

Penny Nevicosi serves as the Child & Family Services Manager for Waukesha County Department of Health & Human Services. Penny has a diverse set of experiences, having worked for two other counties, the state and in the non-profit sector. She has also served as a human services adjunct instructor and facilitated numerous trainings and presentations on a variety of child welfare topics. She is recognized as a leader who utilizes collaboration to build teams that achieve positive outcomes for children and families.

Amanda Quesnell, MSN, RN

Amanda has served as the Director of Acute Mental and Behavioral Health since 2019 at Children’s Wisconsin. She is responsible for the execution of strategy and program development in the urgent and emergent mental health care delivery space at Children’s and in partnership with community agencies and providers. Amanda oversees the mental health walk in clinic at the Children’s Milwaukee campus as well as the new Kenosha location. She is a registered nurse by background, serving in a multitude of patient care and progressive leadership roles within Children’s over the last 25 years.

Natalie Radich

Natalie has a history of 15 years in corrections. She is a licensed professional counselor. It has always been her passion to bridge these two entities.

Mary Schlautman

Mary is currently the ADRC Services Manager for the Brown County ADRC. Mary has 36 years of experience working in an ADRC/Aging & Disability service programs. She has worked in Manitowoc, Fond du Lac, Calumet, and Brown Counties in Long Term Care. In 2005 Mary led the Brown County ADRC through the transition to Family Care Implementation. Mary was born and raised in Nebraska on the family dairy farm and continued farming with her dad for 4 years after high school before moving to Manitowoc, Wisconsin to attend Silver Lake College. She started her career in 1988 working with adults with physical and developmental disabilities and seniors and their caregivers. In her spare time Mary enjoys camping, hiking with her 3 rescue dogs, spending time with friends and family and anything outdoors.

Fortuna Schrank

Fortuna Schrank is a social worker serving in the Initial Assessment Unit at Dane County Human Services. With a year of experience under her belt, she had the privilege of collaborating on the Crown Closet project alongside Justyce and Charlie since 2023. She is happy to be involved in this project that advocates for the significance of hair, particularly within the Black families, and its cultural representation. Providing products to the families they serve and fostering partnership has enabled her to witness the difference it makes for the families we work with. The progress of the Crown Closet project has been awesome and she remains hopeful for its continued growth and impact.

Daniel K. Shannon

Throughout his meteoric rise with top companies in the consumer packaged goods, financial services, and retail industries, Daniel has accumulated nearly two decades of executional and thought leadership experience. Combine that with his masterful management of the microphone, and the stage is set for a transformational event! That background translates seamlessly into his work as a speaker. Given his expertise in diversity and inclusion, marketing, and corporate sales, Daniel can customize presentations based on his clients' specific needs and goals. Most importantly, Daniel's approach reflects actual, relevant experience, and provides proven solutions, rather than theory- this sets Daniel apart from other speakers! Daniel is one of the country’s most prominent voices from the Millennial Generation! Whether delivering a keynote for thousands of business leaders at a national sales meeting or a workshop for a handful of front-line professionals in a local conference room, the results are consistent: Audiences emerge feeling motivated and empowered to add value and make contributions where they have influence!

Deb Standridge

Deb Standridge has spent her career working in, improving, and leading health care systems. She was appointed by Governor Evers as Deputy Secretary for the Wisconsin Department of Health Services in September 2021. Previously she served as Regional President of the North Region of Ascension Wisconsin and Chief Executive Officer of Wisconsin’s Alternate Care Facility. Her professional focus has been on the strategic direction and operational management of hospitals in a diversity of communities, including her work at Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare’s North Market. She is an award-winning advocate for health care systems and served on the Board of Directors for the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

Rachel Steuer

Rachel has a background in social work with a BSW and was previously employed at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire as an International Student Advisor. Prior to her work there, she was a hospice/Skilled Nursing Facility social worker. Through Rachel’s previous roles, she became interested in Information Systems that social workers use and ended up becoming a super-user for software used in previous roles. Rachel was able to make the jump to Information Technology in the role she is currently in as a Business Analyst with the Department of Children and Families. She believes in centering human led design to update processes and procedures using technology. Through the continual changes to our portals, we can continue to make a positive impact on the people we serve, while upholding the NASW Code of Ethics.

Heather Sweet

Heather believes that every child should have access to supportive adult relationships and nurturing environments. As a teacher for nearly a decade, Heather worked to create these opportunities in the classroom, where she prioritized providing a safe and stable environment for children to learn, grow, build relationships, make mistakes, and practice communication and interpersonal skills. She also served within her school and local community as a cross-county coach, outdoor adventure leader, and mentor to youth. In her current role at Binti, Heather is excited to continue to focus on building strong support systems for children and youth. With a shift in focus towards children and youth experiencing foster care, Heather now partners with states, counties, and private agencies to empower social workers with technology designed to drive efficiency, reduce burnout, and improve outcomes for children and families.

Heather Yaeger

Heather has worked with LSS for over 20 years, beginning her tenure at Homme Youth and Family Programs where she provided therapy and supervision across a variety of treatment units. Over the years she has had the opportunity to lead a variety of programs, including many community-based prevention services, treatment foster care, adoption, outpatient, and CCS services. Heather was a member of the State Legislative Council on Adoption Disruption and Dissolution, DCF's Rate Regulation Advisory Committee, the Governor’s Commission on Juvenile Justice and a variety of state and WAFCA related workgroups.

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