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2022 Tribal/State ICWA Conference Speakers

Day 1 - October 25, 2022

Fariborz Pakseresht, ODHS Director

Fariborz PaksereshtFariborz Pakseresht (Fair’-borz Pahk’-ser-esht) became the Director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) in September 2017.

Fariborz came to ODHS from the Oregon Youth Authority (OYA) where he was responsible for the state’s juvenile corrections agency. During his time at OYA, he was honored with the Outstanding Administrator Award from the Council of Juvenile Corrections Administrators for his leadership and contributions in the field of juvenile justice.

Earlier in his career, he served eight years with ODHS in a variety of leadership roles. He also spent 11 years with the Oregon Department of Administrative Services.

Fariborz earned his undergraduate degree in political science from Willamette University and holds a certificate in public management from Willamette’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

Adam Becenti, ODHS Office of Tribal Affairs Director

Adam BecentiAdam Becenti became the Director of the Office of Tribal Affairs for the Oregon Department of Human Services in April 2019. Becenti is the primary liaison to Oregon’s nine Tribes and oversees the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) program.

Becenti brings a background in public policy and outreach, strong relationships with Oregon’s Tribes and a passion for improving the well-being of Tribal communities. He was raised in New Mexico and is a member of the Black Streak Wood People Clan, born for the Sleep Rock People of the Diné Nation.

Becenti previously was with the National Indian Child Welfare Association where he was a Portland-based community development specialist. He has served Indian Country in various capacities such as Cultural Coordinator/Tribal Liaison for a Native American youth treatment program, and also worked as an admissions counselor for the University of Colorado.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and ethnic studies from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master’s degree in public policy from the Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

Shuína Skó – Kayce Womack, Klamath Tribes Social Services

Kayce WomackKayce Womack is a member of the Klamath Tribes located in Southern Oregon near Crater Lake National Park, one of the Klamath Tribes’ sacred sites. Kayce’s pronouns are she/her/hers and they/them/theirs and further identifies as a Two-Spirit person. Kayce also goes by her Klamath Tribal name “Shuina Sko” meaning “Singing Spring,” which was given to her by tribal elders when she was around three years old. Kayce’s maternal great-great-great-great grandfather, Chinchallo MukHas, was one of the signers of the Klamath Tribal Treaty in the 1860’s.

Kayce is currently an ICWA Caseworker within the Social Services Department at The Klamath Tribes. Prior to her current position, Kayce was a Screener at the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline, worked with youth and families while at the Native American Youth and Family Center, and had been in similar case management and advocacy roles for the past 10 plus years. Kayce designed the 2022 Tribal/State ICWA Conference logo. Learn more about Kayce and the conference logo design.

Samuel Daughety, Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice

Sam DaughetySam Daughety is a member of Dentons’ Public Policy and Regulation practice and Native American Law and Policy practice. Throughout his career, Sam has counseled clients on all manner of legal and policy issues relating to the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA), and has represented tribes and tribal organizations in trial and appellate court proceedings involving ICWA in numerous state and federal courts. Named in Best Lawyers in America for Native American Law, Sam also advises clients on complex Indian lands and water rights issues, gaming, economic development, regulatory compliance, and tribal governmental and administrative matters. He regularly assists clients in developing viable strategic solutions in the face of legislative and regulatory challenges.  Prior to joining Dentons, Sam served as an assistant attorney general for the Tohono O’odham Nation, a federally recognized Indian tribe. In that capacity, he advised the Nation’s legislative council, executive branch and departments on a wide variety of matters related to federal Indian law.

Amory Zschach, National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)

Amory ZschachAmory Zschach (Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes) brings deep experience in media relations, crisis communications, content strategy, and brand management for nonprofits. She joined NICWA as Strategic Communications Manager in 2018. With over seven years of leading communications efforts in the nonprofit sector, she’s served in organizations that combine her knowledge and experience to promote health equity and social justice. Amory has a degree in English with an emphasis in creative writing from the University of California, Irvine. She is a member of the board of directors of the Nonprofit Association of Oregon.

Day 2 - October 26, 2022

Aryel Harrington, Social Services Director, The Klamath Tribes

Aryel HarringtonAryel is a Mother, sister, niece, daughter, and cousin. Born and raised in Medford, Oregon; graduated debt-free from the University of Oregon in 2013, with her 3-month old baby. Aryel and family moved back to Chiloquin in 2011. She has worked for her Tribe since 2011. Starting with entry level work Harrington has held various positions with increasing responsibilities in the Department. In August 2017, she became the youngest Social Services Director in the history of the Klamath Tribes and continues to serve in this capacity.

Rebecca Jones Gaston, ODHS Child Welfare Director

Rebecca became the Child Welfare Director in November 2019 after serving as the executive director of the Social Services Administration at the Maryland Department of Human Services. In that role, she oversaw both child welfare and adult services, which focuses on the needs of the elderly, disabled and vulnerable adults.

Rebecca has worked in human services and child welfare for more than 24 years as a social worker, advocate, therapist, consultant, and administrator. She spent eight years with Casey Family Programs, providing technical assistance to child welfare agencies throughout the United States. Rebecca also served as the national director of a campaign for foster and adoptive families in collaboration with the Ad Council and Children’s Bureau. She was a program director with the National Association of Former Foster Care Children of America and a program coordinator for the National Center on Permanency for African American Children at Howard University.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Georgetown University and a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.

Jennifer Holman, ODHS Family Preservation Program Manager

Jennifer HolmanJennifer has worked for the Oregon Department of Human Services Child Welfare for 15 years and is currently the Family Preservation Manager for both Child Welfare and Self Sufficiency Programs. She was previously the Reunification Manager for ODHS.

Day 3 - October 27, 2022

Lacey Andresen, Child Welfare Deputy Director - Program and Practice

Lacey was appointed Deputy Director of Program and Practice in February of 2019. She first began working for ODHS Child Welfare in an internship in her Master’s Social Work program. After finishing graduate school, she spent five years in various types of casework, including supervising a unit of caseworkers serving children with complex behavioral and mental health challenges and older youth in foster care. She has also managed a federal grant for retention and recruitment of resource families and served as program manager for the Title IV-E waiver project. When she became the Child Permanency Program Manager, she formally created a reunification program and oversaw permanency planning and post-permanency supports. When she is not working, she loves to cook, read, travel and spend time with her incredible family and friends.

Aprille Flint-Gerner, Child Welfare Deputy Director - Equity, Training and Workforce Development

Aprille Flint-GernerOregon Child Welfare Division Deputy Director Aprille Flint-Gerner is a social worker with over 25 years of public service ensuring sound implementation and provision of social work “best practices” as well as culturally appropriate, trauma-informed services and supports to children, youth, families, communities and Tribal Nations. She is considered an expert in many promising practice frameworks in child welfare and human services having worked in various systems in both California and Nevada. With a strong commitment to promoting equity and inclusion and modeling cultural humility, and an awareness of how healthy relationships can shift organizational culture, she has helped countless leaders and organizations work towards transformation of the human service workforce.

Aprille’s past work includes serving as the Child Welfare Workforce Development Manager at the University of Nevada Las Vegas where she created, implemented, and managed effective workforce development assessment and training to Nevada child welfare workers, supervisors, and providers. Aprille is very active with several initiatives aimed at eliminating disparate outcomes for youth most impacted by the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.

Emily Hawkins, ICWA Consultant Oregon Department of Human Services

Emily HawkinsEmily has worked for the Oregon Department of Human Services since 2009. Emily’s area of focus and expertise for the last 13 years has been on Tribal-State partnerships and relationships, Indian Child Welfare Act and advocacy, the intersection of ICWA within Child Welfare, drafting of ORICWA, implementation of several key ICWA/ORICWA initiatives, writing policy/procedure/protocols related to ICWA & ORICWA and serving as a consultant for matters related to correct application of ICWA/ORICWA within casework; providing supportive assistance to the nine Tribal Nations of Oregon and maintaining ICWA compliance for ODHS staff and field structure. Emily has been in her current role as an Indian Child Welfare Consultant within the Office of Tribal Affairs since 2016.

Amber Zimbrick, Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde: Children & Family Services Supervisor

Amber ZimbrickI am inupiaq and Yu’pik. I am a mother to three beautiful children: Violet, Wyatt and Josephine. My children are enrolled members of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. My husband and I also have dogs, cows and horses that are a part of our family. The confederated tribes of Grand Ronde has been my tribal community/family for the past 12 years. I consider CTGR my home away from home. Professionally, I have been employed with Children and Family Services for the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde for the past 12 years where I am now a supervisor for the program. I am passionate about keeping our Indian children with their families and tribal communities when possible and addressing the disproportionality that exists for our families in the child welfare system. I also love food, hiking and being in nature!

Ashley Harding, Diné/Navajo Nation - ODHS Senior ICWA Manager

Ashley HardingAshley K. Harding is an enrolled citizen of the Navajo Nation. She was born in Gallup, NM and grew up in Window Rock, AZ, the capitol of the Navajo Nation. Ashley currently serves as the Senior Indian Child Welfare Act Manager for the Office of Tribal Affairs and supervises the 11 Regional Indian Child Welfare Act Specialists who serve the state of Oregon in guiding staff on the federal Indian Child Welfare Act and the Oregon Indian Child Welfare Act. She graduated from Michigan State University with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a specialization in American Indian Studies. Ashley has three children who are enrolled citizens of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, Cayuse band.

Marty Schroeder, Regional ICWA Specialist: Klamath and Lake Counties

Marty SchroederMarty has served as an ICWA caseworker for the Klamath branch for seven years prior to her appointment as a Regional ICWA Specialist. She works predominantly with The Klamath Tribes.

Joanna Gutierrez, North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians - Regional ICWA Specialist: Polk/Marion/Yamhill Counties

Joanna GutierrezJoanna Gutierrez is the new Regional ICWA Specialist for District 3, covering Yamhill, Polk, and Marion Counties. Joanna has been with ODHS for a little over 3.5 years and has served as a Certifier and as a ICWA Permanency Caseworker, prior to her appointment as a Regional ICWA Specialist. She will be working predominantly with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde.

Shannon Dennison, Attorney in Charge - Department of Justice, Child Advocacy Section

Shannon DennisonShannon Dennison is an Attorney in Charge in the Oregon Department of Justice’s Child Advocacy Section (ChAS). Along with ChAS’ management team, Shannon manages the Assistant Attorneys General who advise and represent the Oregon Department of Human Services Child Welfare Program (ODHS) in juvenile dependency and termination of parental rights matters throughout Oregon. Shannon’s Central Office advice roles include ODHS’ Tribal Affairs Unit, ICPC program, and ADA Coordinator. Before joining the DOJ, Shannon served as a public defender for 10 years with Legal Aid Services of Oregon/Native American Program representing parents and children in juvenile dependency termination of parental rights cases in Multnomah County. She also previously served as a child welfare permanency caseworker in Multnomah County.

Kayla Templeton, Regional ICWA Specialist: Lincoln/Benton/Linn Counties

Kayla TempletonKayla Templeton has worked with the Oregon Department of Human Services for 9 years. During that time, she has worked as a permanency worker, CPS worker and Regional ICWA Specialist (Active Effort Specialist.) Templeton brings to this work a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Science focused in Human Services from Oregon State University and an expert recognition in Child/Human Development through the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission.

Miranda Wagner, Regional ICWA Specialist: Grant/Harney/Malheur Counties

Miranda WagnerMiranda serves as the Regional ICWA Specialist for District 14, Grant Harney and Malheur Counties, which neighbors Burns Paiute Tribe and Ft. McDermitt Paiute Shoshone. Miranda has worked for the agency for over 16 years serving the local community and families.

Annajean Goins, MPA - Senior Federal Policy Analyst

Annajean GoinsAj Goins has worked in several states over her career in the child and family services field. Most recently she was a program manager for federal policy at ODHS when she retired in 2018. She recently accepted a part-time position with ODHS with a focus on implementation of the Family First Prevention Services Act, specific to the federally recognized tribes in Oregon.

Kevin Simmons, MS – Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde and a descendent of the Muckleshoot tribe; Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde: Certifier

Kevin SimmonsKevin is an enrolled member with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde. Kevin currently works in child welfare and is an advocate for programs, services and communities that strengthen tribal families in a number of areas. He is a PhD student at the University of Oregon with research interests in culturally based pedagogy, native-centered evidence-based practices and increasing western based outcomes for American Indian/Alaskan Native people. As a father of 5 children, Kevin believes his greatest achievements are centered on family (tilixam) life.

Kathyleen Tomlin, PhD, LPC, LMHC, CADC III – Cheyenne River Sioux; National American Indian and Alaskan Native Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, SAMHSA

Kathyleen TomlinSince 1974, Dr. Tomlin has been in the addictions and mental health treatment and prevention field as a counselor, administrator, educator, and consultant. Dr. Tomlin is committed to sharing her experiences and knowledge within Native American/Alaska Native communities. Her career has focused on the development of supervision and training practices to support the professional development of evidence-based practices. She is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe where her mother was raised. On her father’s side, she is Irish American from County Mayo in Ireland. Her family has many roots in the NW with relatives from the southern Willamette Valley to Seattle.

Sean Bear – Meskwaki Tribe in Tama, Iowa; Co-Director of the three National Technology and Transfer Centers

Sean BearSean earned his B.A. from Buena Vista University in 2002, majoring in psychology/human services and studied mental health counseling at Drake University for 2 years. He has worked with Native American with substance use disorders for many years. He is an Army veteran of 9 years, honorary discharged from the 82nd Airborne. He has worked as an Administrator/Counselor in EAP, adolescent behavioral health programs, substance abuse and in-home family therapy. He has experience in building holistic Native American based curriculum and implementation with substance abuse clientele. He was the training coordinator for the National AI/AN ATTC from 2013-2017. He took the position of Co-Director of the three National AI/AN TTCs in 2018.

Kevin Tomlin, LMHC, SUDP – Cheyenne River Sioux; National American Indian and Alaskan Native Mental Health Technology Transfer Center, SAMHSA

Kevin TomlinKevin Tomlin provides consultancy, mentorship and training to professionals who help people change. His focus and interests are in change and behavior change among patients, clients and the practitioners who serve them. Kevin is a Substance Use Disorder Professional, holding a Masters in Addiction Studies--Counseling Psychology from Lewis and Clark Graduate School of Education and Counseling. He traces his ancestral roots to the plains people of the Lakota Nation and is an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Holding an MA in Social Philosophy from Loyola University Chicago, he honors early influences from the ancient traditions of transformative inquiry. This includes myriad indigenous ways of knowing, Ignatian Spirituality and the American Pragmatism of William James. He has worked as retreat leader and spiritual director, and these experiences inform his current “ambivalence-informed” approach to helping helpers become better at engaging people with their natural mixed feelings about change. Kevin Tomlin recognizes his multiple unearned advantages in life and acknowledges his feet stand on land which does not belong to him. He welcomes the ongoing conversation about how best to proceed in this reality.

Heather Lynch, MA, CRC, OPMA, Member MINT; ODHS Child Welfare Training Specialist

Heather LynchHeather currently practices her Motivational Interviewing skills with the Child Welfare Equity, Training, and Workforce Development Team. She is a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor and has been a member of the Motivational Interviewing Network of Trainers since 2014. Heather lives in Bend and finds joy in learning, growing, and sharing conversations about MI.

Caroline M. Cruz, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs; General Manager, Health and Human Services - Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

Caroline M. CruzAs the Health and Human Services General Manager for the Confederated tribes of Warm Springs, Ms. Cruz provides leadership, management and vision to the Branch. In this role, she leads, evaluates, develops and implements plans to enhance the health and welfare of the community members.

Throughout her career, Ms. Cruz has served in numerous professional positions. She worked for the Department of Human Services Addictions and Mental Health Branch for 21.5 years, serving in numerous roles such as Lead Prevention Trainer, Tribal Liaison, Prevention Specialist, Project Officer for grants, Director of Resource Center and development of statewide Diversity training. Ms. Cruz is a former Deputy Sheriff for Santa Clara County California and worked in a Housing Project with under-served youth. She has experience in Community Prevention, Community Mobilization, Treatment, Training, Curriculum Development, Grant Writing, and Administration. Prior to returning home to the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, Ms. Cruz played a key role in being the main author for Oregon Tribal Based Practices, developing curriculum for certifying prevention specialists, and developing and presenting numerous trainings nationally.

Ms. Cruz received her bachelor’s degree from Eastern Oregon State College, Certificate of Public Management Willamette University- Geo. Atkinson Graduate School of Management.