News

New Hires Join Alliance-COA in Critical Social Sector Impact Areas

COA
June 3, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Council on Accreditation (Alliance-COA) announced the recent addition of five new staff members in the focus areas of practice excellence in accreditation; equity, diversity and inclusion; safety and resilience; and brain science and trauma-informed care.

Diane Barnes, Ellie Walborn, and Keesha Souvenir joined Alliance-COA as accreditation coordinators to oversee and coordinate accreditation services for a variety of human and social service organizations. Alliance-COA offers full-organization accreditation, including phased approaches for Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTPs) under the Family First Prevention Services Act, for nonprofit, for-profit, and government programs in the U.S. and Canada. Alliance-COA also offers accreditation for military family readiness and child and youth development programs. They bring extensive experience in the sector to the accreditation team.

Diane Barnes joins the Alliance-COA having worked to support a wide range of accredited organizations with varying budgets, sizes, and areas of focus. Previously, Barnes worked for Catholic Charities of Venice to develop and implement the first federal grant to address human trafficking in partnership with the University of South Florida and Lee County Sheriff’s office. She has a decades-long career supporting those who have experienced domestic violence, homelessness, and mental illness.

Ellie Walborn joins Alliance-COA with a background in social services in the areas of foster care and elementary education. Most recently, she was a care coordinator at West Michigan Partnership for Children (WMPC), a private foster care oversight entity where she worked closely with the performance and quality improvement coordinators to improve outcomes for children in the child welfare system. She also served as the co-chair of WMPC’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee. She was a member of the subcommittee to address permanency for LGBTQ+ youth at risk for homelessness and chaired the Employee Advisory council which helps to drive development of organizational culture and wellness initiatives. 

Keesha Souvenir joins Alliance-COA with varied experience. Most recently, she worked for the NYC Department of Corrections as an investigator. Prior to her work there, she worked in child welfare using the Sanctuary Model as well as utilizing her certification in Solution-Based Casework. She has developed effective crisis management skills throughout her work in social services including in her work as a crisis counselor for a visiting nurse service following Hurricane Sandy. 

Romero Davis has joined Alliance-COA as part of the Safety and Resilience Impact Area. Romero is a mentor; an award-winning leadership, professional development, and life coach; published author; and an advocate of safe communities and families. He has been active nationally working with agencies in areas such as poly-victimization; trauma in families; equity, diversity, and inclusion; juvenile justice; and domestic violence. Romero previously served as program manager for agencies focused on sexual assault and domestic violence. Davis will co-lead the technical assistance for the DOJ-funded Child Safety Forward initiative and will also support the Alliance-COA’s equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) portfolio

Karen Johnson has joined the organization as Director of the Change in Mind Institute. Johnson is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in individual and organizational resilience, brain science, toxic stress, trauma, and trauma-informed approaches. She has over 25 years of experience working in behavioral health, community services and child welfare.  She led the National Council for Mental Wellbeing’s trauma-informed services team and more recently served as an independent consultant working to advance trauma-informed, resilience-oriented approaches. She also led and developed community-based programs during her 19 years at SaintA in Milwaukee. Johnson will oversee a cohort of 10 Texas-based organizations in a collaborative learning model funded by the Powell Foundation and the Episcopal Health Foundation to strengthen their ability to translate brain science concepts into programs, practice, and policy change. 

According to Jody Levison-Johnson, president and CEO of the Alliance-COA, “Barnes, Walborn, and Souvenir bring extensive expertise in quality improvement and accreditation, an important focus and critical service offering from the Alliance-COA. Davis brings tremendous depth of experience to our Child Safety Forward work to build the body of knowledge about strengthening child and family wellbeing to prevent crises. Johnson’s efforts will combine the newest science around brain research, trauma-informed care, adversity, and resilience to strengthen these crucial areas in organizations across the social sector. The addition of these five staff represent our continued growth and commitment to the areas of quality improvement, equity diversity and inclusion, and brain science as critical areas to propel our field forward and improve outcomes for all people.”

About the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities and Council on Accreditation (Alliance-COA)
The Alliance-COA and resulting new organization will convene and catalyze a dynamic, inclusive, multifaceted network of human/social services organizations that leverages the collective experience of the field and research to spark a current in the sector and drive continuous evolution and improvement. Our goal is to activate the power of the social sector and create a unified, intrepid, just, and purposeful network that propels our field forward so all people can thrive. The new organization will provide a range of offerings and learnings to actively shape the sector through policy, advocacy, knowledge exchange, certification, accreditation, connection, and ongoing iterative and reflective interactions. 

About COA

Founded in 1977, the Council on Accreditation (COA) is an international, independent, nonprofit organization that accredits human and social service providers. Our mission is to partner with human and social service organizations to strengthen their ability to improve the lives of the people they serve.