Alison Caliendo, M.A., Founder and Executive Director
Foster Kinship is a nonprofit organization founded in December 2011 by Alison Caliendo. Ms. Caliendo has long been passionate about at-risk populations and family systems issues and opportunities.
In 2009 Alison moved to Las Vegas, Nevada and began working in mental health care for children in foster care. While working with the foster families, she discovered the high number of kinship caregivers and their need for increased support. Upon further research, she realized that an astonishing number of children in Clark County were being raised by relatives, both formally and informally. She founded Foster Kinship to provide much-needed resources and peer-to-peer support for the dedicated individuals working tirelessly to raise their relative’s children, keeping these children both connected to family and safe from harm.
Alison is completing a Ph.D. in Public Affairs at UNLV. Alison holds a Master’s Degree in Organizational Systems Renewal (OSR) from Seattle University, specializing in family systems and systemic trauma and healing, organizational consulting and group facilitation. She holds an HR Masters Certificate from Villanova University. She graduated with honors with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Chicago in 2004.
Madison Sandoval-Lunn, Child Welfare Program and Development Director
Madison graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration. Madison has helped numerous families care for abused/neglected children by addressing permanency, safety, and well-being needs. She has been invited to speak to child welfare professionals, state legislators, and Congress members on matters relating to child welfare. Madison is a member of the National Foster Youth Policy Council and co-founder of Foster Care Alumni of America-Nevada chapter. With over 5 years of child welfare experience, Madison offers extensive expertise, skills, and experience in policy analysis, advocacy, and direct case management. Madison can be reached at Madison@FosterKinship.org.
Nani Garrett, Kinship Navigator Program Manager
Nani Garrett holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Human Services- with a concentration is management. She completed her internship with the Department of Family Services and the Parenting Project. She is passionate about helping children and families in the community to connect with the necessary resources that will better their situation. Nani can be reached at Nani@fosterkinship.org.
Sandy Vargas, Office Manager and Family Advocate
Sandy brings years of experience in banking and business in addition to customer service. Sandy is also a notary public and fluent in Spanish. For two years, Sandy was a fictive kin caregiver, and she understands the legal and financial obstacles informal families can face. Sandy can be reached at Sandy@FosterKinship.org.
Leah Dods, Family Advocate and Lead Facilitator
Leah Dods has a Bachelor’s degree in Human Services. She is originally from Seattle, Washington and spent many of her formative years in Las Vegas, Nevada. Leah’s mother was a relative caregiver. As a result, Leah saw many of the stressful times and also the happy times her mother and family went through that come with raising a relative. At the time, her mother was unaware of the services available to relative caregivers and their families. Leah is excited she can provide various resources available at Foster Kinship and within the community to other relative caregivers going through similar situations. Leah is continuing her education by pursuing her Master’s degree in Social Work at UNR. She can be reached at Leah@fosterkinship.org.
Anntesha Chesterton, Family Advocate and Co-Facilitator
Anntesha Chesterton was born in Covina, California. At the age of 8 she moved to Las Vegas where she was raised by her grandparents in a loving kinship placement. When she was a teenager she was again placed in foster care and matured out on her 18th birthday. As an adult, Anntesha has tirelessly worked towards improved quality of care for fostered youth. She assisted in the creation of the DREAMR Grant, implemented to assist in the prevention of teen pregnancy within the foster youth community, as well as assist pregnant and parenting youth. She also participates as a research assistant at UNLV. Living what she believes, Anntesha became kinship placement for her sister’s four children on top of having three children of her own. She had been raising 7 children for a year and a half until reunification took place. Anntesha is extremely passionate about the work she does. She is currently working towards a degree in psychology and can be reached at Anntesha@FosterKinship.org.
Aminah Muhammad, Co-Facilitator
Aminah is a native of Las Vegas Nevada and will be completing her Bachelors of Science degree in Human Services in November. She is no stranger to the human service field, as she has worked for the State of Nevada Welfare Division and the WIC program. Further experience includes working at the Clark County School District as a long term and substitute teacher. She gained her passion for foster kinship when gaining custody of her 3 nieces. As a Las Vegas native, Aminah is invested in this community and is working hard to ensure change for our families. Aminah can be reached at Aminah@fosterkinship.org.
Katherine Vera, Childcare Specialist and Co-Facilitator
Katherine Vera received her bachelors degree in Fine Arts from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas with a specialization in stage and screen acting. She is a native of Colombia and was raised in New York and Las Vegas. She is motivated by the people in her life who have been a part of the foster care system and others whom she’s met that could have used or could use the help of organizations like Foster Kinship to improve their circumstances. She can be reached at Kat@fosterkinship.org.
Suddenly holds a Bachelor of Science in Technical Management with a concentration in Small Business & Entrepreneurship. She was the kinship caregiver of her second cousin who was in foster care for 912 days and officially, adopted in August, 2014. Suddenly understand the intricacies relative licensure placement process after working for the Clark County Foster Parent Champion Team (FPC). She also understands how important, although sometimes difficult, it is to maintain positive relationships with both families for the benefit of the children. She can be reached at Suddenly@fosterkinship.org.
A native of Las Vegas, Michelle has nearly 12 years of childcare experience. She loves working with children and designing fun and engaging activities for all ages. Michelle can be reached at Michelle@fosterkinship.org.
Board of Directors
Members of the Board are volunteers and not compensated for their time and receive no financial benefit (personal or contractual) from their generous service. All board members are required to sign conflict-of-interest forms.
Michele is a member of the faculty council for the University of Phoenix; working with the local and the national offices in assessment of student learning outcomes; and serving as the lead faculty area chair for bachelors in human services program in Las Vegas, NV. She is a professor in human services for the University of Phoenix, College of Southern Nevada, and Kaplan University. Her volunteer work consists of serving as a member of the Grants Management Unit Advisory Committee for the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services. Michele’s research interests relate to kinship as she completed her dissertation on grandmothers raising grandchildren. She has also completed research on kinship services to the greater Las Vegas area in collaboration with Foster Kinship and the Department of Family Services. As a practitioner her experience is in developing and administering programs for at-risk children and providing family preservation services to the community.
Julie Wilson, M.A., L.M.H.C.A., Board Vice-Chair
Julie is a licensed mental health counselor in private practice. Masters of arts in psychotherapy from Seattle University. S.U.’s existential-phenomenological therapeutic psychology program combines academic rigor with practical experience. Undergraduate work (B.A.) at Washington State University in communications. Julie works Extensively with at-risk populations and is committed to ensuring vulnerable children receive the best chance at health, stability, and happiness.
Alicia Hart, Treasurer
Married with two children, Alicia Hart is a 24-year resident of the Las Vegas valley, and has a combined 13 years of local banking and real estate experience. Currently working on her accounting degree, Ms. Hart enjoys working with numbers and the story that they tell. Ms. Hart has first-hand experience as a kinship caregiver, and stands behind the mission of Foster Kinship, in hopes that adequate resources and information will reach those in need, who have so lovingly and graciously given of themselves to raise their relative’s children to the best of their ability.
Sandra Ocampo, M.S.W., Secretary
A native of Las Vegas, Sandra holds a Masters of Social Work from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Sandra wrote her Master’s thesis on kinship care and has also worked with kinship families as a client specialist for Foster Kinship. She is passionate about providing services to families and youth who have faced hardship and trauma. During her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Her hobbies include crafting and home renovation projects.
Dr. Michelle McGuire, Director
Dr. Michelle McGuire is a Nevada Licensed Psychologist. She has a diverse background working with a number of different populations, including developmental and intellectual disabilities, serious mental illness, and chemical dependency, and providing individual, group, couples and family therapy to children through the elderly. She is the Clinical Director of Creative Behavioral Connections providing neuropsychological testing and oversight of treatment services for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. She teaches for the University of Phoenix in the Master’s in Counseling Program and is the Lead Faculty Area Chair for the Psychology program.
Beth Howard, Director
Mark Hinueber, Director
Jan Wagner, Advisory Board: Jan is a kinship caregiver and national kinship advocate. She works extensively with organizations and agencies focused on kinship policy and is a recognized and respected voice of kinship caregivers.
Stephanie Borene, M.A., Advisory Board: Stephanie is a graduate of UNLV’s Master of Public Administration Program with an emphasis in Non-Profit Management. She has served as the Outreach and Education Coordinator for the Nevada Council on Problem Gambling since 2009, responsible for coordinating the agency’s Community Outreach and Workforce Development programs. She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services Counseling with Minors in Addiction Treatment and Gambling Counseling from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Tina Max, Advisory Board: Tina is the founder of A Touch of Love and community outreach coordinator at The Las Vegas Center for Spiritual Living.
Terry Caliendo graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering. He has been an internet entrepreneur for over 10 years, specializing in internet presence management as the owner and president of Dedicated Managers. Caring deeply about Southern Nevada’s issues, especially when it comes to the lack of support and resources for children and their guardians who are providing kinship care, Terry wanted to help give back to the community and subsequently helped his wife form the charity, Foster Kinship, which addresses those needs. Terry is also Foster Kinship’s volunteer IT specialist. Terry can be reached at Terry@fosterkinship.org.
Martha O’Donnell, M.A.
Martha O’Donnell holds a Bachelor of Music Education from Wheaton College Conservatory with a piano performance concentration and voice minor, and a Master’s degree from Illinois Northern University in choral conducting. She spent the first five months of her life in foster care, was raised in a loving adoptive home, and has strong passion and commitment to Foster Kinship’s mission of helping individuals raise their relative’s children, to help keep home in the family. Marcie also writes grants for Foster Kinship. She can be reached at Marcie@fosterkinship.org.