Linda Baker, Program Director
Linda Baker is the Program Director for the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention. Linda has a Master’s degree in Social Work with a concentration in Administration and Management and a Master’s degree in Guidance and Counseling. She has worked in child welfare in both the public and private sectors and has over 30 years experience in all areas of child welfare, family support and agency administration and management. She has been a strong advocate for children and families and has given workshops and keynote addresses at state, national and international conferences.
Dr. Valerie Collins Russell, Training and Technical Assistance Supervisor, has 25 years experience working with and for youth and families including 18 years in local and state government in North Carolina. At the local level, she worked with adolescents and their families at Durham County Substance Abuse Services, with the Chapel Hill Carrboro City School System as the Student Assistance Specialist, and with the Orange County Department of Social Services’ Adolescent Parenting Program. At the state level, she managed primary and secondary teen pregnancy prevention programs and later served as the Branch Head for Injury and Violence Prevention for the NC Division of Public Health. Valerie has a master’s degree in health science education and a doctorate in health administration and is continuing to conduct research on suicide and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth in NC which she hopes will inform future state policy decisions.
Contact Valerie (Mebane, NC):
Casandra Firman, Technical Assistance Coordinator, has been a teacher, program manager and advocate for programs that empower families and increase safety for children for the past 30 years. She taught parenting and adult basic education at a women’s prison and was a parent educator Parenting Specialist for Oregon’s Child Protective Service. Casandra taught Child Care practices at North Sydney Technical College in New South Wales, Australia, and later managed a Family Day Care network in Queensland, Australia. Casandra has been assisting respite programs and CBCAP-funded agencies to conduct evaluations of their programs since 2000. Casandra graduated from Central Washington University in 1972 with a degree in Education. In 1990, she earned a Master’s Degree in Special Education from the University of Oregon.
Contact Casandra (Port Orchard, WA):
Edi Winkle is a training and technical assistance coordinator for the FRIENDS National Resource Center for Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention. Edi has a Masters Degree in Social Work with an emphasis on child development. She has worked in public and private agencies and has over twelve years experience in providing training and technical assistance to states. Edi has provided workshops and training at the state, regional, and national level. In addition to her training and technical assistance expertise, Edi has worked in the development of computer databases to monitor program and family outcomes and has knowledge in web site management.
Contact Edi (Tulsa, OK):
Alicia Luckie comes to the FRIENDS team as a Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator. Alicia has worked in the child abuse and neglect prevention field for over nine years with the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama where she was the State CBCAP lead. Alicia has a Master's Degree in Counseling and Human Development with an emphasis in Early Childhood and Adolescents. She has extensive knowledge in local and statewide networking and program development and implementation. Alicia has experience in working with local, state, and federal governments, public-private partnerships, and outcome evaluation. She has provided workshops and trainings in prevention at the state and national level.
Contact Alicia (Wetumpka, AL):
MaryJo Alimena Caruso joins FRIENDS as a Training and Technical Assistance Coordinator. MaryJo has over 23 years experience in the delivery of services and in the provision of training and technical assistance for child welfare and human service professionals. MaryJo has a Master's Degree in Counseling and Education with an emphasis in disability issues. She has experience in statewide and national initiatives with program planning and design, curricula and resource development and dissemination, product/material creation, fiscal management, and a focus on quality assurance, best practices and outcome data. In addition, MaryJo has worked to develop respite resources and serves as an adjunct faculty member and field supervisor for local universities' social work and rehabilitation counseling programs.
Contact MaryJo (Pittsburgh, PA):
Yvette Layden is the Office Manager for the FRIENDS National Resource Center. Her role supports the director and T/TA Coordinators, while managing the day-to-day operations of FRIENDS. In addition, she serves as a Graphic Designer for FRIENDS and other Chapel Hill Training-Outreach Project (CHTOP) programs. Prior to this position, she was the Information Specialist for the ARCH and FRIENDS National Resource Centers, and a Media Assistant at CHTOP. Yvette holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education.
Emily Turner is the Administrative Assistant for the FRIENDS National Resource Center. She supports the Office Manager and Director with various administrative tasks which contribute to the coordination and implementation of FRIENDS National Resource Center's activities and goals. Emily has 3 years of non-profit experience as an Office Manager working with the Arts Council of Beaufort County in Beaufort, South Carolina.