Regional Coach, OhioKAN
Lisa Remy first joined OhioKAN as a navigator in region 10 in southern Ohio. She had a background in case management working with youth experiencing homelessness at Sojourners Care Network. Lisa helped youth transition into paid housing and guided them toward independence, helping with life skills that would enable them to be self-sufficient and successful. A lot of the youth she worked with had transitioned out of foster care or had child welfare experience. Lisa enjoyed working with families and keeping them together, especially as some of the young people she worked with became parents.
While working at Sojourners Care Network, she heard about OhioKAN. The mission resonated with her, and she wanted to be a part of it, so she applied for an opening. She joined OhioKAN as a navigator in the fall of 2020. In 2021, Lisa joined Kinnect as a regional coordinator where she focused on administrative support. Then, she was promoted to the role of the regional coach where she works with her region’s navigators daily to ensure they are supported in all areas and that families are being served to fidelity of the program.
“I have seen OhioKAN grow and evolve, and it has been satisfying,” she said. “That has been a high point for me, feeling like I have a part in that.”
As a coach, Lisa has been able to tap into her previous experience as a navigator and her case management background. Helping navigators grow and develop has been rewarding to her, and she has grown in her role as well.
“At first, it was a learning curve because this is my first leadership role. I had to learn more about leadership and supervision styles, learn what aligns with my navigators’ needs and OhioKAN needs.”
One high point from her work at OhioKAN stands out to Lisa. When she was a navigator, a woman called for assistance with a challenge that was hard to discuss. Before they ended the call, she thanked Lisa for turning something that was hard to talk about into a pleasant conversation.
“Families call us, and we want them to feel welcome and accepted,” she said. “We want to create an environment of trust. I often tell people that if someone calls for a five-gallon bucket of green crayons, we will do our best to find it.”
“This is my favorite job and my favorite workplace,” she concluded. “It’s amazing to me all the great minds that work here, wanting to help children.”
Regional Coach, Kinnect to Family
Nolan Hensel joined the Kinnect staff four years ago. At the time, he was working as a community hub director at a public school. He was meeting families, engaging community partners, assessing strengths, and looking for barriers. In that role, Nolan brought a medical clinic to the school as well as a mobile food pantry, tax prep programs, and a GED program.
“When you lift up parents and the community, you will naturally lift up kids,” he explained.
All of those skills would go on to serve Nolan well at Kinnect. When he interviewed for the job of regional coach, he fell in love with Kinnect’s mission. Nolan started with Kinnect to Family (then 30 Days to Family ™ Ohio) in the Northwest region at the same time counties were joining the program. That allowed Nolan to onboard along with the county agencies and get to know the lay of the land.
Nolan takes the title of a coach to heart, having coached his children in a variety of activities. He takes that experience to his work with specialists. He looks at the specific skills of each person and uses his expertise in the program model to support them.
“I enable, equip, and encourage specialists to do the on-the-ground work,” he explained.
Nolan has a great deal of continuity in the counties he serves, and through his coaching, specialists often support each other across county lines. A specialist in one county may express a challenge and receive solutions from peers in another county.
“Watch your team play hard and encourage each other” is how Nolan describes it.
The other part of his job Nolan loves is his coworkers, particularly the Kinnect to Family coaches.
“My fellow coaches keep me going every day,” he said. “They keep me grounded. It’s difficult to bridge the relationship remotely but we’ve been intentional about keeping focused on it. We recognize each other’s strengths and share responsibilities.”
Nolan summarized his work at Kinnect this way: “Where I am right now is where I am supposed to be in this moment.”
Statewide Trainer, OhioKAN
Teresa Scrimenti brings a rich and diverse work history to Kinnect as the OhioKAN statewide program trainer. While she did not have previous experience focusing on training, her previous work with diverse audiences prepared her for the role.
Teresa previously worked in disability services, serving as a job coach for Linking Employment, Abilities, and Potential (LEAP). She also taught life skills classes for adults with developmental disabilities as well as art classes.
She left the Northeast Ohio area for a couple of years and when she returned, she became a personal chef and taught cooking classes before joining Kinnect.
At Kinnect, Teresa handles the onboarding for OhioKAN staff, navigators, and site supervisors. Training topics range from culture and values to customer service to technical training like the Statewide Automated Child Welfare Information System (SACWIS). All OhioKAN staff go through the same training as navigators.
“Navigators interface directly with families every day. It’s important that everyone knows what this involves,” she said.
OhioKAN also has specific training for each role (regional director, coach, and regional coordinator). Teresa is also involved in supplemental organization-wide training like Equity 101 and 102, and Sexual Orientation Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) 101 and 102. Teresa’s favorite activity in training is “unjargoning.”
“When you start a new job, it can feel like you have to learn a new language. We think about what these words mean and how we explain them,“ she said.
“Everyone has had the experience of not knowing the jargon, whether it is at the doctor’s office or at the auto mechanic. It makes sense if you are inside that work, but it can set up a power dynamic which is not what we want to do with families,” she explained.
In all her job experiences, Teresa has tailored her approach to the needs of the learner or program. She loves that creativity and variety.
“Every day I love being able to look at my calendar and see what kind of day it is. It might be training or a deep dive into a project,” she mused. “I have been able to be creative in this role and to grow in ways that are meaningful to me in a way that I haven’t in other places…Kinnect has been a place for me to grow both professionally and personally.”
Office Coordinator, Kinnect
Jane Doherty has always been in the helping professions. While working in a nursing home in Maryland, she realized she was comfortable working with that population. That led her to get a degree in Gerontology from the California University of Pennsylvania. She served as a volunteer coordinator for a home visiting program for the county agency on aging in Maryland.
She also worked at the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at Lutheran Metro Ministries. And along the way, she worked at an adult daycare center where she did everything from planning activities to driving the van. Jane’s diverse work history led her to become a flexible person who wears many hats.
To balance a home and work life with her own young children at home, Jane shifted to providing administrative aid to nonprofits.
“I needed a job with fewer demands,” she explained. “I like support services because I like helping people be organized and making sure things run smoothly.”
Jane served as a program assistant for adult group homes and an administrative assistant for Chaplin Partnership. Before joining Kinnect, Jane served as the HR assistant and facilities liaison for Linking Employment, Abilities and Potential (LEAP), a program that supports persons with disabilities. Kinnect is Jane’s first experience in the child-serving world. She started as a regional coordinator for OhioKAN before joining the operations side of Kinnect. Jane has seen a lot of changes since she began her work at Kinnect but she doesn’t mind.
“The responsibilities change but the vision is consistent,” she remarked.
Jane’s favorite thing about Kinnect is her co-workers. “Working with good people makes a difference,” she said. “People that I enjoy and appreciate the work they are doing.”
Program Manager, Youth Navigator Network
Arlene Jones can be quiet when you meet her, but when she does speak, her words are action oriented. Arlene’s lived experience with the housing and child welfare systems led to her dedication to improving both.
“I am always looking for the next step forward and the next step up,” she said.
Arlene has been persistent about opening doors for those with lived experience.
“Boards of trustees, Children’s Trust Fund…I did not want anyone making decisions without someone at the table who could bring that realness to it.”
Arlene has a wealth of experience, all aimed at supporting young people and ensuring that their voices are heard, and they have a seat at the table when decisions are made about them. Arlene was a founding member of the Overcoming Hurdles in Ohio Youth Advisory Board (OHIO YAB), a statewide organization dedicated to being the knowledgeable statewide voice that influences policies and practices that impact youth who have or will experience out-of-home care. She was the foster youth advisor at the Public Children Services Association of Ohio, providing support to bring OHIO YAB to fruition.
Arlene also served as Youth Initiative Specialist with the Coalition on Homelessness & Housing in Ohio, where she worked with young people in Southeast Ohio to identify housing needs and barriers to achieving them in conjunction with child welfare. Along the way, Arlene also served as a children services caseworker and community health worker. Before joining Kinnect as the program manager for the Youth Navigator Network, Arlene most recently served as the urban church ambassador for Careportal, meeting with churches to let them know how to serve their communities through the organization. Arlene also serves as a Senior Family consultant for Capacity Building Center for States, supporting states outside Ohio in building capacity for their federal Performance Improvement Plans as part of their Child and Family Services Review.
What keeps Arlene motivated is not her own lived experience.
“The thing that keeps me going in any role I take is that this is not about me, this is about the young person in care right now. What do they need?”
“The goal is to make the system today better for the youth of tomorrow, and better than it was yesterday.”
Kinnect to Family Coach, SW
Lorie Bricker has been involved in human services in several ways. She served for over five years as a court-appointed special advocate (CASA). After a long hiatus during which she worked in another field and started a family, Lorie went back to college to complete her degree in Sociology and Criminology which led her to become a victim advocate with the Riverside Police Department. In that position, along with working with victims and police officers and conducting domestic violence training, she managed the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant.
Eventually, she felt it was time to return to working with children and families. She took her skills to the Miami County Board of Developmental Disabilities where she served as the housing coordinator. All along, she still followed VOCA funding that she oversaw at the Riverside Police Department with interest. When she saw Kinnect was a recipient of VOCA funding for the Kinnect to Family Program (then called 30 Days to Family), she thought she should find out what it was about. The mission spoke to Lorie because she believes in families.
“Families work. They are like fingerprints…they are unique, with ebb and flow, ridges and swirls...I try to step back and appreciate the uniqueness of each family and I try to empower professionals to value family, to take time to find strengths, and not just focus on the reason for children services involvement. There is always a strength; you have to be willing to look for it.”