Rachel Albert, MSW
Data and Site Development Specialist
Previously, Rachel worked with the NC Child Treatment Program (NC CTP) as the Program Manager/Improvement Advisor for the Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Learning Collaborative, in addition to providing post-training support for all clinicians trained through NC CTP. As part of FCI’s implementation team, Rachel works through the Center for Child & Family Health to support all Family Connects sites with the database and post-training certification
Debra Best, MD, FAAP
Debi Best is a pediatrician, practicing at Duke Health, and medical director for both FCI and Family Connects Durham. She oversees Family Connects clinical protocols and directs training and implementation for the model across the U.S. Debi represents FCI with the larger medical community, championing the needs of newborns and their families.
Daijah Davis, MPH
Oregon State Director
Prior to joining FCI, Daijah worked as a project manager, supporting healthy community initiatives across the country. Outside of her work with FCI, she is a childbirth educator, and is dedicated to improving the lives of families through person-level support, supportive programs and systemic change. As part of FCI’s implementation team, Daijah works through the Center for Child & Family Health to manage the roll out of the Family Connects model throughout the state of Oregon.
Kimberly Friedman, JD
Managing Director External Relations
Kimberly came to the Center for Child and Family Policy and FCI in 2018. As policy engagement and analysis director, Kimberly serves as a model expert and consultant for public stakeholders as they are exploring development of early childhood systems at the local and state levels. She monitors relevant federal and state policy, provides guidance on public/private funding options and explores opportunities to engage with the insurance/managed care industry. Both in her experience as an attorney and as a business development officer for a nonprofit organization, Kimberly’s career has focused on early childhood.
Bethany Kuerten, MSc
Bethany joined FCI in November 2021, to support communities implementing the Family Connects model. Bethany brings a deep passion for maternal and child health to FCI. She is particularly focused on strengthening reproductive care services and autonomy while also building infrastructure around equitable access. Prior to FCI, Bethany’s work was centered around contraceptive technology and innovation.
Amy McCann, MA
Managing Director Internal Operations
Amy McCann is the managing director for FCI. Here, she oversees all financial and administrative aspects of the program, liaising with colleagues at both Duke and the Center for Child & Family Health to bring cohesion and clarity to our operations. Amy came to Duke in 2019 after working on foreign policy and trade-related issues in the federal government.
Emily McClure, MSPH, MA
Emily joins FCI with more than 10 years of experience in the fields of community health and health policy. She holds both a Master of Science in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts in Human Rights and International Law from United Nation’s University for Peace. Prior to joining FCI, Emily managed and evaluated community health innovations and payment models, facilitated collaboration among federal home visiting programs, and supported health departments in health equity work. Emily brings extensive experience in program management and evaluation, stakeholder engagement, and strategic planning
Texas State Director
Prior to joining FCI, Julie worked with the North Carolina Infant-Toddler Program (NC ITP), serving as the program’s Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement Manager and providing leadership for implementation of evidence-based practices to support and empower families with young children. She brings over 20 years of experience in the fields of social work and early childhood. Julie’s focus at FCI is managing and providing implementation support for the rollout and expansion of the Family Connects model in the state of Texas.
Karah Pedersen, MPH
Karah has more than 20 years of experience developing and standardizing program dissemination and learning initiatives to support evidence-informed maternal health projects. She brings significant experience in project design, business development, program management, knowledge management, training, and capacity-strengthening. Prior to joining FCI, Karah served as senior manager of program delivery and learning at IntraHealth International. Karah works with FCI via the Center for Child & Family Health.
Kyle Pennisi, MSW
Kyle received her MSW from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a concentration in Community, Management and Policy practice. She joins FCI and the Center for Child & Family Health with 10 years of experience working on reproductive and maternal health. Kyle has extensive experience providing technical and programmatic support, as well as training. She has worked with health systems around the world to improve maternal health outcomes.
Karen is an analyst programmer who has been with the Center for Child and Family Policy since 2001, working on a number of early childhood projects. As part of FCI’s team, Karen provides database and reporting support to our research team and to Family Connects sites.
Jessica Reinholz, MSW
Chicago/NCPC Program Director
With more than 10 years of experience in management and in reproductive and maternal health, Jessica’s work at FCI focuses on managing the roll out of the Family Connects model throughout the City of Chicago and on our work with the North Carolina Partnership for Children to expand Family Connects across the state. Jessica works through the Center for Child & Family Health. She holds Master of Social Work in Community Practice with an International Development Certificate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Salesforce Business Analyst
Andrew joined FCI in 2021 as a Salesforce Business Analyst to support our Salesforce platform. Andrew brings a decade of experience in Salesforce administration, leading global cross-functional teams, and developing customer relationship management systems and initiatives. Andrew holds a degree in Psychology and a degree in Music from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Meriel Shire, MPH, MSW
Meriel joined FCI in September, 2020, supporting new Family Connects sites in their planning phase in implementing the program model. She brings to FCI a deep passion for maternal and child well-being, and a desire for families to feel supported through the early postpartum days. Before joining FCI, Meriel helped community health centers and youth-serving organizations in Durham, NC implement best practices to promote adolescent access to sexual and reproductive health services.
Megan Squires, MPH, MSW
Senior Implementation Manager
Megan joined FCI in 2018 as an implementation specialist and began serving as acting director of dissemination in 2019, transitioning to her role as senior implementation manager in 2021. As leader of the implementation team, Megan works through the Center for Child & Family Health to provide support for communities implementing the Family Connects model. Previously, she worked with the North Carolina Division of Public Health where she managed data and continuous quality-improvement initiatives for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) program.
Mary Martin Vance, MSW
Mary is a public-health social worker with a background in maternal health. She has worked in evidence-based program implementation for the past 10 years, helping communities to implement reproductive health programs. She is also a doula and a childbirth educator. As part of FCI’s implementation team, Mary works through the Center for Child & Family Health to supports communities implementing the Family Connects model.
Winona Weindling, EdM
Analytics Project Manager
Prior to joining FCI, Winona worked with the NC Early Education Coalition, advocating for and researching policies that benefit infants, toddlers, and their families. She has also worked in child care centers and elementary schools supporting young children’s learning and development. At FCI, Winona supports ongoing research projects and reports on program implementation.
Dylan brings seven years of experience in the nonprofit sector working with communities to improve health outcomes for young children. In his role as Community Alignment Advisor, he supports sites in implementing strategies that connect families to resources and foster collaboration among their local network of support services. He is driven by the systems level change that is possible through the Family Connects model and seeks to support sites in realizing their community’s goals.
Emily Wright, MSN, CNM
Acting Director of Nursing
Through the Center for Child & Family Health, Emily provides training and consultation to nurses across the U.S. as part of the dissemination of the Family Connects model. She also works with Family Connects Durham, providing home visits to families with newborns. Emily has a Masters in Nursing–Midwifery and has had extensive experience with children, including being a birth and postpartum doula and a member of a certified foster family for children ages 0-3. Previously, Emily was the manager of Labor and Delivery at UNC Hospitals.
Shamira Wright, MSW, LCSW-A
Community Alignment Advisor
Prior to joining FCI, Shamira launched a consulting firm dedicated to bringing evidence-based solutions to social injustice and consulting with local entities on diversity, equity, equality and inclusion. She’s also served as a victim witness legal assistant for the State of North Carolina in the Charlotte Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office. At FCI, Shamira supports Family Connects sites in implementing community alignment strategies and assists them in developing local networks of support services for families. Shamira is also a licensed clinical social worker.