Our Staff

Our Staff

Children’s House International has a dedicated staff of professionals, many that have adopted internationally themselves. They understand the ups and downs of international adoption and will walk with you during the journey.

Executive Director

Debbie

Debbie Price
Executive Director, BSW – WA Office
International Specialist – Eastern Europe
Angels in Adoption Awardee

Adoption is my life and passion! I was adopted at birth, domestically. I have searched and found my birth family. I am also a mother of four children. I became the Executive Director of CHI in 1994, after adopting our daughter in 1991 in Romania, on our own. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work and have been blessed to have had the opportunity to work worldwide with CHI, developing programs and giving children who really need homes, a chance at having one of their own. A permanent, loving family is what children need. I’ve personally been in the adoption journey from several angles and I enjoy assisting others in theirs. I have traveled to over 40 countries in the past 20 years, developing a greater understanding of the cultures and how much adoption- permanency- is needed in the world for children.


Program Staff

AnneBJ

Carmina Alemar
Case Manager- Latin America- WA Office

carmina.a@chiadopt.org

I became a foster parent in 2010, I had the privilege of fostering three boys. Being a foster child myself, I always knew I wanted to inspire children that needed a home and love just the way my foster mom did for me. I adopted my daughter in 2011. She has brought so much joy into our lives. My son, who is now 14, has been a great big brother from the very start. He plans on adopting two boys when he’s older! I was raised in California with my 5 siblings. I like to take my kids swimming, go on hikes and ride bikes. In my spare time I like to make tutu’s or try new crafts. I’m so excited to be a part of the CHI family in helping children all over the globe find their forever families.


Lisa Anderson
Lisa Anderson

International Specialist – India – LA Office                                                     

Angels in Adoption Awardee 

lisa.a@chiadopt.org

A little over 16 years ago I adopted my daughter, Devi, from India. While I was there the orphanage director showed me many children that needed families and asked if I could help. This started a fire in me that has burned ever since. I immediately started finding families for those children and soon began working for Children’s House. I adopted my son a few years later. Both of my children were seven years old at the time of their adoptions and both had special needs. My heart is with placing older and special needs children and to fund-raise to establish and sustain programs that can help those children that are not adopted. Since that time I established our Ethiopia program and even named our transition home, The Thomas Center, after my son, Tommy. It’s been a long 16 years full of ups and downs, but it has been much more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. I like to think that my life has meaning because I made a difference in the life of a child.


Jill

Jill Dickson
Case Manager – Eastern Europe – WA Office

jill.d@chiadopt.org

I graduated with a BA in Human Services from Western Washington University in 2012. My focus while in school was child welfare and adoption has always been a strong passion of mine. After seeing my sister and brother-in-law go through the process of adopting two children within the US, I was very excited to have the opportunity to be a part of international adoption. I strongly believe every child was purposely created and love being able to work with families and help them provide a child with a loving home. I also enjoy playing sports, spending time outdoors with my husband and am excited to one day hopefully adopt one of our own!


Stefani
Stefani Ellison

China Data Resource Manager – UT Office

Angels in Adoption Awardee
stefani.e@chiadopt.org

Adoption is my passion, personally and professionally. I am the adoptive mother to 13 children, stepmother to 4 more, and have been a foster mother to many others. I started my journey to motherhood in 1995 as a single woman through adoption from China. I met my husband during that process and we married two months after that first adoption was completed. That precious child was the first Chinese adoption facilitated through Children’s House International (CHI). In 1996 I began working as the China Specialist for CHI and have been blessed by working with them continuously since. I have been with CHI and China from the very, very beginning. What a positive and profound impact CHI has had on so many lives for so many years! When we applied to adopt our second daughter from China in 1996, we were required by law to adopt a child who had special needs. I can’t imagine what our lives would be like today if China had not enforced the special needs provision in the law. I’m not afraid of special needs issues anymore. In fact, my husband and I continued to expand our family through special needs adoption. I pray that all the children can have families but also that someone will consider the special needs children as I know that with the hardships come heartwarming blessings. What a child may lack in body, they can make up in soul. These are my feelings because of my own personal experience. In my life, I was the one with the special need and my child was the one that filled it. How was I so incredibly lucky to be given these children?


AlicaAlicia Gaston

Case Manager – Ethiopia – WA Office

alicia.g@chiadopt.org

I graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in Human Services in June 2011. Working for a non-profit had always been my goal and working with children has been my passion. Though I do not work first hand with the children I feel blessed to play a role in helping find forever families for each of them. I have a six year old son who has been the driving force for everything I do. I spend much of my free time with him and/or running; and for now my son still enjoys riding his bike with me.


KathyH
Kathy Holliday

International Specialist – Latin America and Ethiopia – UT Office

Angels in Adoption Awardee

kathy.h@chiadopt.org

My life long journey with adoption began in 1993, when I adopted two children from Bolivia. Spending time in the orphanage there with my children and the others, truly changed my life. Even though two were going home with me, I knew I had to do whatever possible to find families for the others, which led me to begin working with CHI in 1994. Through the years, I have helped develop programs in Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, Haiti and Colombia. I also became involved with the Ethiopia program several years ago. I truly believe that every child that comes home through adoption is a miracle. I very much enjoy working with the children and families we serve.


Nina

Tricia Jager
Program Office Assistant- China- WA Office

tricia.j@chiadopt.org

At a young age I was exposed to adoption through family friends, and soon after I learned that a boy in my Sunday School class was adopted. The idea of adoption was very intriguing to me as a five year old. Fast forward 16 years and that boy and I were married in 2000. As an adoptee, he always wanted to adopt and in 2008 we were blessed with our daughter from Ethiopia, and in 2013 our son also joined us from Ethiopia. Just two years ago my husband was reunited with his birth mother. Seeing adoption from so many angles, made me want to pursue a degree in Psychology and work in an adoption agency. I feel so blessed to be here at Children’s House International and am excited to walk with you on your journey.


Jenilee

Jenilee James-Fry
Case Manager- India- WA Office

jenilee.b@chiadopt.org

I graduated from The Evergreen State College with a Ba in Psychology in 2014. Currently I am working on my Master’s Degree to become a licensed therapist at Antioch University, Seattle. With my educational background in Multi-Cultural studies and Family Systems I have developed a passion uniting children in need with loving parents. I have two beautiful daughters and even though they are not by blood they are my whole world and everything I do is for them. I come from the strong belief that blood does not define a family, only love. I feel honored to be a part of this organization and privileged to be a part of process to unite loving hearts in their journey to becoming a family.


KathyL

Kathy Looser MA
PAR Coordinator – WA Office

kathy.l@chiadopt.org

I have a Master of Arts in Social Science and have worked in the field of adoption since 1996. I became interested in working in adoption after my husband and I adopted twin daughters domestically in 1988. I complete home studies and post adoption reports for families with CHI. I also love educating parents on the issues that children face and sometimes struggle with as they deal with being adopted into a family instead of being born into it. I enjoy going out for coffee with friends, quilting, reading, traveling, watching movies with my family and going birding.


AnneBJ

Amanda Morton, MSW
Case Manager – Eastern Europe – WA Office
Washington Social Worker

amanda.m@chiadopt.org

I am excited to be a part of the Children’s House International team and look forward to the opportunity to be a part of many different families’ adoption journey. I have traveled throughout the years which have given me a broader understanding of the needs and the beauty of both children and families in this world. After receiving my Masters in Social Work, I spent my next four years helping run an Emergency Receiving Center for Foster Children at The Salvation Army in Spokane, WA. This experience helped me realize how much permanency and stability is needed in every child’s life. Looking from the perspective of a child for many years, the need for forever homes is real and I am excited to help play a role in that process.


staff-photos-laurel

Laurel Rawson
Post Adoption Report Assistant- WA Office

I have an A.A. in Early Childhood Education from Skagit Valley College, and June 2017 will be receiving a B.A. in Human Services at Western Washington University. I’ve worked with children in numerous organizations, including Skagit Valley YMCA, Head Start, and Boys and Girls Club. I always thought I’d be a preschool teacher, but after spending a year in Ghana I developed a passion for wanting to advocate for children and families on the international level. From June 2014 to June 2015 I volunteered as a teacher and childcare provider in Ghana working at several schools and worked at an orphanage. I love being able to bring families and children together and                                          find their forever families. I’m a die-hard Seattle Mariners fan, and I enjoy reading, writing poetry, and drinking too much coffee.


Nina
Nina Thompson J.D.

International Specialist – China – WA Office

Angels in Adoption Awardee

nina.t@chiadopt.org

I am a retired attorney formerly licensed to practice law in Missouri and Kansas. I joined the staff at CHI in 2010 and have focused on placing special needs children in families. I have worked with all of our programs in Eastern Europe and also India and Morocco as a case manager and am now the International Specialist for our China program. I’ve lived in Bellingham for 13 years and have two teenage children, three dogs and a horse. I enjoy spending what little free time I have riding my horse or reading.


Yadira

Hilary Wright
Case Manager – China – WA Office

hilary.w@chiadopt.org

I am the mom of four teenagers (two sibling sets), adopted from foster care in Washington State. I’m thrilled to be able to use my passion for adoption to assist other families in bringing home their newest blessings, and help children find loving families. In my limited spare time, I enjoy drinking coffee, shopping for Converse, watching live theater (especially musicals), fixing cars and doing home improvements on my old, tiny house.


Charlene

Charlene Wang
China Relations Coordinator – UT Office

charlene.w@chiadopt.org

I grew up in China and earned a PhD in Engineering in the US. My hobbies are reading, hiking and cooking. In 1993, I heard that China was starting an adoption program and I wanted to help. After a phone call to Debbie, I started my first family with Stefani. CHI’s China program has grown so much over the years and our team has had so much joy in helping kids find their forever families.


Social Workers & Social Service Providers

Washington Staff

Cindi Fuller

Cindi Fuller
Social Worker

Cindi.f@chiadopt.org

I received my Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Montana and my Master’s in Social Work from Eastern Washington University. I am a licensed mental health counselor in the State of Washington. I have 2 adopted nieces and have worked in adoption as a home study and post placement provider since 1999. I began clinical counseling for adopted children in 2010. My husband and two children are my top priority, and we love spending weekends at our cabin and hiking through the mountains of the Northwest.


Dru Groves

Dru Groves, M.A., Certified Counselor
Social Services Supervisor

dru@chiadopt.org

I was born into the world of adoption as an adoptee. I am one of eight children in my adoptive family and we all joined our family in different ways. I grew up learning about the world of adoption. As an adult, I went into the adoption field in my twenties and have been an adoption professional ever since. I have a Master of Arts degree in Psychology with a specialty in Marriage, Family and Child Counseling. I have also completed the Foster Care and Adoption Therapy program through Antioch University. I feel very fortunate to have worked with all members of the adoption triad over the years. One of my passions is sharing adoption education with families on their adoption journey. I am happily married with three children and reside on Bainbridge Island. I love being a mom – it is one of my life’s greatest joys! I enjoy spending time with my family, socializing, gardening, reading and going on family vacations. I am happy to be part of the CHI family.


staff-photos-Jennifer

Jennifer Geracie
Social Worker- WA Office

I have a Bachelors degree in Psychology from UC Davis and a Masters in Social Work from Boston University. I have been licensed in Washington state as a LICSW since I moved here in 2003. I first worked with foster and adopted children when I was a college student and worked in a group home. Since then I have worked in many different settings, including residential treatment facilities, schools, hospitals and outpatient clinics. I have experience helping adopted children and their parents navigate the rewards and challenges of adoption while working with them in therapy. I am excited to accompany families on their adoption journey. I live in Bellingham with my husband and two daughters where I experience the joys and “education” of parenthood every day!



Florida Staff

June

June Lewis, LCSW, DCSW
Social Worker

I have a background in education and nursing and found my true calling as a social worker later in life. I have both a personal and professional interest in adoption and work exclusively in that field. I am a widow with grown children and my work is an important part of my life. I love life and living things including people, animals, and plants and also enjoy reading, exercising and spending time with family and friends.


Stacy Johnson

Stacy Johnson
Social Worker

stacy.j@chiadopt.org

Stacy got involved with child welfare immediately after graduating from Florida State University in 2007.Stacy has worked directly with families through the dependency system and loves to help create families through the process of adoption. It quickly became a passion for her and over the years she has gained expertise in the following adoption areas: Special Needs, Relative, Domestic, International, Embryo, and both state and private adoptions.

Stacy currently resides in the panhandle of Florida with her husband. Together in their free time, they enjoy traveling, boating, and spending time with their families.

Stacy is a warm and compassionate person who cares about the welfare of children and their futures. She looks forward in being able to assist you in becoming the family you have always dreamed of being. She is a dedicated activist for you and the children that she works for.


JenniferS

Jennifer Starkey, LCSW
Social Worker

jennifer.s@chiadopt.org

I was first exposed to and became interested in adoption work during an internship in 1999, I had always wanted to work with children and it became clear that bringing families together via adoption was the perfect fit for me. I began working with Children’s House International in 2002. I have also worked with The Dave Thomas Foundation as a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids Recruiter, where I helped older children in foster care find their forever families. I have also worked with birth mothers and adoptive families via domestic adoptions here in Florida. My husband and I became adoptive parents in 2010, when we adopted our daughter Hope from China. I earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology in 1998, and Master’s in Social Work in 2000. I then became a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) in 2005. I am married with two children, Bella and Hope, both four years of age. My hobbies include reading and spending lots of time with my family.


Lousiana Staff

Jana Holmes

Jana Holmes
Social Worker

jana.h@chiadopt.org

I was born and raised in central Louisiana and was the middle child in my family. I earned my Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree in Social Work from Northwestern State Univeristy in 1999 and then completed the Masters of Social Work program at LSU in 2000. My husband and I recently celebrated 6 years of marriage and we have 4 biological sons, including a set of twins born in early 2016.

I enjoy working with people with various abilities and disabilities. I spent 5 years with the state of Louisiana, working with adults with developmental disabilities. I’ve been in the public school system in special education since 2007. Just before coming to the school system though, a friend contacted me and asked if I’d like to help out with a domestic adoption home study in my hometown. I was eager and excited to see what that entailed, and 9 years later, I’m still eager and excited each time I am asked to help expand a family unit through adoption. I’ve participated in both domestic and international adoption processes and am always personally affected and moved by the families I work with. I joinied the CHI team in November 2015 and have loved the experiences I’ve had so far. I look forward to many more opportunities and experiences with this group!


Massachusetts Staff

Nuala Sullivan-Wall

Nuala Sullivan-Wall
Social Worker

nuala.s@chiadopt.org

Nuala Sullivan-Wall brings with her 26 years of experience as an adoption social worker. Nuala has worked helping all members of the adoption triad over the past 26 years. She has helped to facilitate both domestic and international adoptions. Nuala has also worked as a hospital social worker in labor and delivery and the neonatal intensive care unit. Nuala is still in touch with many of the birth mothers whom she worked with over 20 years ago and hundreds of her adoptive families. Nuala is extremely passionate about adoption and feels that this is her life’s work. Nuala resides in Longmeadow, Massachusetts with her three children ages 15, 10 and 6 and her husband.


Texas Staff

Shirley Addicks

Shirley Addicks
Social Worker

Shirley.a@chiadopt.org

I am the second of seven children. As the oldest girl, I was always babysitting and taking care of my younger siblings. As such, I have always loved children and wanted to do all I could to make their lives better. I can recall wanting to adopt and advocating for adoption since I was 7 years old.

I earned my dual Bachelor’s of Science degree in Psychology and Criminal Justice with the intent of using those degrees to help children in need. Upon graduation, I learned the hard way that I could not do much with those degrees, so I went back to school and earned my Master’s in Social Work. Since graduating, I have had the ability to participate and work with children and their parents in a variety of settings. I truly love and appreciate children. Working with them is fulfilling and inspiring everyday, no matter the circumstances. I am still very close to my siblings and have been able to learn so much from each of them. They motivate me to do better and be better every day.

I am grateful of the opportunities that I have been blessed with here at CHI as well as through other positions. In my spare time, I like to read, cook, learn new things, meet new people, and spend time with my family and friends.


Heather Main

Heather Main
Social Worker, LCSW, ACSW, CCM

Heather.m@chiadopt.org

I earned my Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Science in Social Work degrees from the University of Texas in Arlington. Through my employment in various fields of social work, I found my most rewarding work in assisting members of the adoption triad with their individual adoption journeys. I have been privileged to work in the field of adoption for the last twelve years. My husband and I are the adoptive parents to three wonderful children. It is truly my desire to assist in educating others about the miracle of adoption and watching these children thrive in their loving homes.


Cathie Richardson

Cathie Richardson
Social Services Supervisor

cathie.r@chiadopt.org

I received my BS in Human Development & Family Studies from Texas Tech University & my MSW from the University of Houston. I am a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW), a Licensed Child-Placing Agency Administrator (LCPAA), and a Board Approved Supervisor for social workers seeking to earn their Independent Practice Recognition (IPR) or their LCSW licensure. I have worked as a social worker in the adoption field since 1989. Although I have never officially adopted, I have parented seven of my grandchildren and one great grandchild. My ministry has always been working with children. I currently oversee the Texas CHI office. My passion is seeing the children after their adoption and how they change and grow when planted in a loving and nurturing family.


Utah Staff

Ginger
Ginger Healy

Social Services Supervisor
Angels in Adoption Awardee

ginger.h@chiadopt.org

I received my master’s in social work from UNLV and I’m a licensed clinical social worker. I have worked as a social worker since 1996 and started working in the adoption field in 2002 after I adopted my son from Romania. I’m married with four children and I love working in the adoption field but my favorite job is being a mom.


Melissa Larsen

Melissa Larsen, SSW
Social Worker

melissa.l@chiadopt.org

I am the daughter of Robert Yeates who started Children’s House International in 1975 with his friend and colleague Ric Oddone, so international adoption has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I graduated from Weber State University with a Bachelor Degree in Social Work in 1993. When Debbie Price took over as Executive Director of the agency in 1994, I seized the opportunity to work for Children’s House as a social worker. I am married and have four biological children. I enjoy reading, exercising, and watching my children’s ball games and musical performances. In 2012 I had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia when my brother and sister-in-law adopted a little girl. We are so happy to have her as part of our family and the experience renewed my desire to be a part of the adoption process for other families.


Maryanne

Maryanne McFarland
Social Worker

maryanne.m@chiadopt.org

I am an adoptive parent alumni of Children’s House International. My husband and I welcomed three children, one girl and two boys, from India. We went on to adopt four more children, one private and three from the Foster Care system. I have worked extensively with child welfare and the foster care system. I provide counseling to children in foster care, adoptive parents and children who have found permanency through adoption. In addition to working with Children’s House International, I have a private practice. My family and I are veteran travelers and have traveled to many parts of the world.


Overseas Staff

OverseasSW

Deborah Driessen-Grikadebbiedriessen@randybarlow.com
Overseas Social Workers
American Adoption Professionals Abroad, Inc.

Since its inception in 1990, American Adoption Professionals Abroad, Inc. has remained on the vanguard of pre- and post-adoption services for Americans living abroad. We are a network of licensed social workers and other adoption professionals, living and working in various countries around the world. We conduct pre- and post-adoption services for American adoptive families living abroad. The partners, Randy, Jane and Debbie are state licensed social workers with many years of experience in adoption, child and family advocacy, counseling and teaching. Randy and Jane live near Frankfurt, Germany while Debbie alternates between Amsterdam, Netherlands and New Jersey.


Amanda Hostetler

Amanda Hostetler, BS
Overseas Home Study Specialist

amanda.h@chiadopt.org

I am the mother of twelve children, seven of whom have been adopted from China. As CHI’s Overseas Caseworker for Asia, I am thrilled to bring CHI’s caring services to expats! Our family has been residing in Mainland China for seven years. I feel very privileged to walk alongside families through the home study process, to help identify potential children for those families, and to share my passion for adoption wherever in Asia I roam!


Ashley Stern

Ashley Stern
Asia Caseworker

ashley.s@chiadopt.org

Raised in a home where foster care and adoption were a way of life, care for the orphan has always been an interest. I’ve worked in orphanages in Russia, China, Korea and Southeast Asia. Working with those least likely to be adopted for 5 years in China was my favorite job ever! It was an honor to be trusted with these amazing children, but also an education on the practices, cultural or practical, that occur in institutions. I am passionate about educating prospective parents about the effects of abandonment and institutionalized care and providing them with the tools needed to prepare the whole family for adoption. As a parent of a special needs child from china, I’ve seen firsthand the healing that takes place when children are given a family. This commitment, though, is not always easy. I am so lucky to have studied TBRI© under Karyn Purvis and David Cross just months prior to adoption. This has been an invaluable resource for me, personally and for other families who I have coached post-adoption.


Administrative Staff

staff-photos-yadira

Yadira Clapper
Executive Assistant- WA Office

I graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Sociology. I’m the oldest of seven kids in my family, four of whom were adopted from Mexico. This has given me a unique perspective on the anticipation and excitement that comes with adoption. As office assistant at CHI, I feel incredibly lucky to play a small role in helping our kids find stability and love with their forever families.


HeatherE

Heather Evers
Office Manager and Personnel Coordinator – WA Office

heather.e@chiadopt.org

At the age of 16 I was blessed to find my forever family through the foster care system. I have several adopted siblings and was blessed to be a foster mother to one of my adopted sister’s children. I am a mother of three and a grandmother of 3. My deepest passion has always been helping children. I have spent my adult life working with nonprofit US youth organizations, I am so very excited to be at CHI where I’m part of a team that reaches children in need around the world!


Olympia

Olympia Mannur
Bookkeeper – WA Office

olympia.m@chiadopt.org
I am a Bookkeeper with Children’s House International. I’m a staunch believer in the culture of peace and non-violence and committed to peaceful living by practicing peace in everyday life. I am all for building a peaceful and better world through international adoption. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Psychology from Maharani’s College, India and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Central Michigan University, U.S.


Jeanne

Jeanne Petersen
CFO and Bookkeeper – WA Office

jeanne.p@chiadopt.org

For most of my teen and adult life in one way or another I have been involved in child care, foster care, adoption, child advocacy, and accounting. My life’s passion has always been children!

My husband and I are both from very large families, so naturally we just assumed our future would lead to a house full of children. Little did we know that in our quest to “have our own children”, our long and bumpy road would lead to adoption. We now have 2 sons (7 years apart), adopted as infants who couldn’t be more “our own”.

In 2001, with our youngest son in school, I was blessed to find a part time job as bookkeeper with Children’s House International. CHI offered me the perfect opportunity to mix my passion for children and my love for accounting. Since then, that part time job has grown by leaps and bounds under the leadership of Debbie Price and the BOD. I look forward to many more years working with the wonderful adoptive families and passionate staff here at Children’s House.


Marri

Marri Syndergaard
Volunteer Office Assistant – UT Office

marri.s@chiadopt.org

My name Is Marri Syndergaard I was adopted back in 1993 from Bolivia. I recently became office assistant for the Utah office but have been a volunteer for over a year for Children’s house. I love what this company does by helping children like me find a family.