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Family Spirit

Leadership Team Overview

Family Spirit leadership faculty and staff are based in several locations across the United States to bring a wide variety of knowledge and expertise to support our affiliates. Below are profiles of the Family Spirit leadership team, although it should be noted there are several others not listed that provide vital support in administration, finance, and information technology.

Director of Maternal, Infant and Child Health, Elizabeth Kushman, MPH

This position directs Family Spirit initiatives related to emerging maternal, infant and child health needs. This position oversees content development and implementation strategies for new Family Spirit curriculum and materials. This position engages national and local stakeholders in guiding Family Spirit directions, and also represents Family Spirit with national partners in the home visiting and Tribal maternal, infant and child health fields. This position works closely with all Family Spirit leadership team members to guide Family Spirit growth and ensure that the program is meeting the current and evolving needs of affiliate sites nationally.

Director of Training and Technical Assistance, Tara Stowbunenko, MPH, MSBH, CHES

This position directs Family Spirit training and technical assistance activities. This position oversees the Family Spirit training content, schedule, and staffing, and adapts the three-phase training process (pre-training, core training, and post-training) to meet current home visiting practices and affiliate site needs. This position also oversees the Family Spirit technical assistance processes to support affiliate sites to ensure successful implementation of Family Spirit. This position frequently liaises with affiliate sites and represents Family Spirit nationally.

Director of Innovations and Special Projects, Cibonay Jimenez, MA

This position directs innovations and special projects that ensure the Family Spirit Program is meeting unique needs in the home visiting field as well as specific needs of Family Spirit affiliate sites. This position liaises frequently with affiliate sites to incorporate guidance and feedback from Family Spirit affiliates regarding new directions. This position also works closely with the Director of Training and Technical Assistance to lead Family Spirit trainings and provide ongoing technical assistance, professional development, and overall support to Family Spirit sites.

Program Coordinator, Kristen Tallis, MPH

This is a multi-faceted position that includes working closely with the Director of Training and Technical Assistance to coordinate the national operations and schedule of Family Spirit training and technical assistance activities, organizing day-to-day activities and logistics, and supporting all programmatic efforts. This position frequently liaises with affiliate sites and represents Family Spirit locally and nationally. This position also works closely with the Administrative Manager to support coordination of budgets, contracts, invoicing, and providing general support for financial and administrative operations.

Data and Evaluation Manager, Amanda Harris, MS

This position manages data and evaluation activities related to Family Spirit replication and dissemination nationally. This position manages the implementation support database, maintains affiliate data and quarterly reports within the database, trains affiliate sites in using the database, and generates reports as needed. This position utilizes Family Spirit data to support the Leadership Team in improving training and technical assistance processes. This position also represents Family Spirit on national workgroups focused on home visiting evaluation and assists with special projects that pertain to Family Spirit evaluation and research.

Administrative Manager, Marissa Begay

This position manages budgets, contracts and invoicing related to Family Spirit training and technical assistance activities. This position liaises with affiliate sites to initiate new and amended contracts, depending on affiliate site needs. This position also liaises with the financial and legal representatives at Johns Hopkins to ensure all contracts follow the Family Spirit cost structure and internal Johns Hopkins University contracting procedures. This position works closely with the Program Coordinator to support program logistics and day-to-day management of Family Spirit trainings and programmatic activities.

Operations Director, Nicole Neault, MPH

The Operations Director oversees the Family Spirit Leadership Team’s personnel support, including personnel needs, workloads, and schedules. This position oversees day-to-day program operations and planning and advises on special projects and new program directions. This position ensures clear communication among all team members and manages progress towards goals. This position also liaises between the Family Spirit Leadership Team and colleagues at Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health to ensure that Family Spirit and Center goals and activities are aligned.

Curriculum and Content Coordinator, Sarah Stern

This position maintains all Family Spirit curriculum content and coordinates curriculum updates as needed. This position supports the team in developing curriculum and training materials for affiliates on an as-needed basis as well as updating the curriculum files on the website. This position also assists with other program and training content to ensure consistency and accuracy in all materials.

Communications Coordinator, Sarah Vanegas, MS

This position coordinates affiliate communications, including preparing and distributing newsletters and announcements, managing the listserv, and updating the Family Spirit website as needed. This position also supports Family Spirit curriculum updates and creates new as needed and assists with special projects.

Lead Trainers and Affiliate Liaisons, Jaime Begay; Laurelle Sheppard; Karla Decker Sorby, MS Ed, RN, PHN

Lead trainers and affiliate liaisons serve as independent contractors to conduct trainings, webinars, technical assistance support for sites, and local or national presentations as needed. These positions also assist with special projects and new initiatives.


Dissemination & Implementation Science Manager, Emily Haroz, PhD, MA

This position directs research, evaluation, and future directions for projects related to effective and efficient implementation of Family Spirit. This position liaises with the JHCAIH Director and the Leadership Team to design and guide dissemination and implementation science work.

Business & Contracts Manager, Kristen Speakman, MA, MPH

This position manages the approval of all new contracts with affiliate sites, facilitates the independent program contractual relationships, and oversees the program budgets. This position works closely with Financial Manager, Administrative Manager, and Budget & Contracts Coordinator. This position also serves as a primary liaison for larger multi-site contract implementation, such as Indian Health Service contracts.

Development Manager, Responsibilities currently shared by Allison Barlow, Lindsey Ford, Kristen Speakman

This position creates and implements all components of the program’s fund development strategy. This position identifies public and private funding opportunities, writes proposals and reports and collaborates with the Leadership Team to disseminate consistent program messaging, including external communications with media outlets at all levels (local, tribal, state, national, and international).

JHCAIH Director, Allison Barlow, PhD, MA, MPH

As Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health, this position oversees all JHCAIH programs and the work of Family Spirit and guides strategic, operational and research goals. This position oversees fundraising and development efforts and represents the organization in national and international forums.