Meet our staff

Freida S. Baker, MSW

Freida Baker is the Executive Director of the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group (CWG) in Montgomery, Alabama.  Mrs. Baker was previously Deputy Director of Family Services with the Alabama State Department of Human Resources (DHR). She has worked in child welfare for 37 years, beginning at DHR as a social worker and retiring as Deputy Director. She participated closely in the implementation of Alabama’s landmark R.C. Consent Decree and has expertise in systems and change management.  She is a certified Federal State Reviewer and has participated in CFSR and QSR reviews nationally since 2000.  She is also LAMM certified through the National Child Welfare Workforce Institute.  She has trained social workers, the judiciary, educators, foster parents, physicians, and other partners across the nation. 

Mrs. Baker is an adjunct professor for the School of Social Work at the University of Alabama, and has served as adjunct in Sociology in other college settings. In addition, she has served as guest lecturer for graduate and doctoral classes across the country.  Mrs. Baker received her BA from Auburn University and her MSW from the University of Alabama.  

Grace Pruitt, MSW

Grace Pruitt is the Business Manager for The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group.  She has a B.A. in Sociology from California State University, Los Angeles, with concentration on diversity and inequalities. She received her MSW from Troy University.  While at CWG, Mrs. Pruitt has learned about policies and practices in national and local child welfare systems, particularly gaining knowledge and understanding of macro level social work. She has conducted research on child welfare outcomes nationwide and in states where CWG has supported training, assessment, Quality Service Reviews©, and other system assignments.  In addition, Mrs. Pruitt has developed curriculum and participated in important national conversations with varying agencies and states.

Senior Advisors

Cornelius R. Bird, BA

Cornelius R. Bird is a trainer, coach, curriculum developer and quality service reviewer with more than thirty years of experience in providing consultation services to human service organizations.

Cornelius has led projects to improve the quality of child welfare and children’s behavioral services in multiple states. Cornelius was a co-curriculum developer and facilitator of the New Jersey DCF Fellows program titled, “Managing by Data to Improve Child and Family Outcomes.” He also served as the Project Director for Western Washington University’s Children and Family Services Training Academy where he supervised new worker training and advanced training programs for child welfare personnel.

Additionally, he was a group facilitator at the Domestic Violence Resource Center Men’s Program and is a contributor to the Guidelines for Facilitating Child and Family Team Meetings with Families that have a history of domestic violence.

Sue Steib, PhD, LCSW

Sue Steib has over 45 years of child welfare experience including direct practice, agency administration, research, and consultation. Prior to joining the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group as an independent consultant in May 2016, she was a Sr. Director of Strategic Consulting at Casey Family Programs, a position she held for eight years.  During that time, she led CFP’s work in two states and served as part of a consulting team providing support to child welfare systems in 15 states.

From 2001 to 2008, Steib was Director of the Research to Practice Initiative at the Child Welfare League of America (CWLA), leading work to synthesize current research in child welfare and related fields while making it accessible to agency leaders and direct practitioners through papers, workshops, and direct consultation.

Steib came to CWLA following a 31-year career in Louisiana’s child welfare system where she served in positions ranging from caseworker to supervisor, ultimately serving as the statewide Child Welfare Program Director. 


Meet our consulting team

Mary Allegretti, M Ed

Mary retired as Statewide Deputy Director of Family Safety at the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF).  She began with DCF at the caseworker level and advanced to Child Welfare services manager in both rural (four westernmost panhandle Florida counties) and urban (Broward County, Fort Lauderdale) child welfare systems. During her tenure in Fort Lauderdale she transitioned the state-run services to the newly established private provider system.

As a consultant with The Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group, Mary has provided front-line training experience in Family Engagement, Family Team Conferencing, Assessment, Planning and Intervention, and Making Visits Matter in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Virginia, New Jersey, Utah, and Wisconsin among other states. Training specific to supervision of case practice adapted to location was delivered in Washington D.C. and New Jersey. Mary has also provided practice coaching in many states. 

In addition, Mary has assisted systems to implement the Quality Services Review, which included providing training and mentoring staff in the states of Utah, Wyoming, Tennessee, Iowa, Indiana, New Jersey, Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Margaret Bonham, MSW, LCSW

Margaret Bonham has been working in child welfare for over 37 years. She began her career as a protective services worker in Alabama’s public child welfare system and held a variety of positions during her tenure there including serving as the State’s Child Welfare Director from 1999 until 2005. She was involved in the successful implementation of massive systemic reforms resulting from a class action settlement.

Upon her retirement from the public child welfare program, she became an independent consultant with the Center for Support of Families in 2009 where she supported the development and/or implementation of child welfare practice models in Connecticut, Mississippi, and Michigan. Prior to joining the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group as a consultant, Mrs. Bonham was involved in conducting functional assessments of children in therapeutic foster care placements in the Alabama system. She is currently serving on the Board of the Alabama Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and is a past chairperson. Mrs. Bonham is also a current Board Member of the Social Work Society for the University of Alabama.

Jennice Floyd, MSW, LCSW

Jennice Floyd has experience in all areas of child welfare, including front line practice,  supervision; and directing a county welfare agency. As director she managed all areas of child welfare and led the county′s reform efforts in reaching compliance with Alabama′s R.C. Consent Decree. As a state consultant during the reform effort she helped develop the case practice model, family teaming and quality service review protocol.

Since joining CWPPG she has provided technical assistance to child welfare systems throughout the nation. She has developed and provided training; coached supervisors in management practices; coached staff to facilitate Family Team Meetings, and conducted Quality Service Reviews.

Phil Goldstein, BS

Phil is CEO of PYGconsulting in New York, and brings 32 valuable years of experience in the child welfare arena in the Greater New York City Area. From working "boots on the ground" to serving as Associate Commissioner in Westchester County, he and his team have shown success and outcomes at all levels. In addition, he has important experience as an Expert Witness and as a provider of Case Review services. He has facilitated organizational strategic analysis for child welfare systems, and has a broad understanding of staff development and training. Phil's enthusiasm is unmistakable, and it is clear that he is passionate about improving outcomes for children and families.  

Some highlights of Phil's skills and experiences include:

  • Pioneered New York State model for identification and treatment for Commercially Sexually Exploited Children (CSEC)
  • Developed a 'Cross Systems Unit' approach to working with teenagers and families who have complex needs/trauma who touch multiple systems.
  • Created, developed, planned and implemented an in depth innovative training program for new workers in child welfare
  • Collaborated with Family Court Judges on all child welfare issues; including LEAN projects (Lean Project Management uses data-driven methods to manage projects by focusing on continuously improving the process)

Gabe Gomez, MS

Gabe Gomez is a therapist and consultant living in Seattle, Washington. He has a Master's degree in Clinical Child and Youth Work, and has worked with children and their birth, foster, and adoptive families for over 38 years. Currently in private practice, he has served as Program Director for a psychiatric child day treatment program, as well as Behavioral Consultant to the Oregon Child Welfare system. He has been a consultant with the Child Welfare Policy and Practice Group since 2002.

Over the last 20 years, Gabe has taken a special interest in the growing body of research about brain development, trauma and the impact of that trauma on children and the people who care for them. This information has shaped his direct clinical practice, as well as his work with caregivers and child-caring systems. Drawing on his extensive clinical experience and the emerging research in neurobiology, attachment studies and best practice in child welfare, Gabe has trained and coached parents, teachers, and child welfare professionals to use this information in addressing the critical behavioral and emotional challenges their children face while maintaining the nurturing relationships at the heart of strong, healthy families.

Jeff Harrop, BS, LSSW

Jeff Harrop graduated in 1994 from Weber State University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology (child and family studies) and Anthropology with an overall emphasis in statistics and research.  Jeff is a licensed Social Services Worker, and has spent the last 27 years working in child welfare in the Utah.

Jeff started as a Child Protective Services investigator in 1994, and later worked in the areas of Early Intervention, Family Preservation, and Foster Care. Throughout his career, he advanced into administrative positions including Supervisor, Child Welfare Administrator, Statewide Practice Improvement Coordinator, and Associate Regional Director.

For the past 22 years, Jeff has specialized in the areas of Continuous Quality Improvement and Quality Assurance. During this time, he contributed to the development and deployment of the Utah Practice Model philosophy.  Jeff is certified in Quality Services (QSR) or Qualitative Case Review (QCR) and has completed reviews in the Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice systems in Utah.  In addition, Jeff has reviewed and provided consultation in Oregon, Michigan, Tennessee and Los Angeles.

Jeff is currently the Service Review Administrator for the Office of Quality and Design in the State of Utah-Department of Human Services, and oversees Quality Services Reviews, Case Process Reviews, Child and Family Services Reviews, Conflict of Interest Investigations, Fatality Reviews and the office of Child Protection Ombudsman. The office of Quality and Design provides comprehensive performance data with trend and strategic analysis for the child welfare system. 

Narell Joyner, BS

Narell has forty-two years of experience working with children and adults in both the private and public human services field which includes the areas of mental health, developmental disabilities, special education, and child welfare. Her work includes consulting, coaching, and supervising case managers/caseworkers as they examine the process for strengths-based needs assessments, planning, and individualized service delivery for children, as well as conducting training for staff on wrap-around components.

She has participated in several thousand record reviews, interviews with families, children, and providers, as well as service planning in a variety of states/cities including North Carolina, Missouri, Florida, Alabama, New York, Arizona, Pittsburgh, PA and Chicago, IL.  She has worked extensively within North Carolinas Willie M. Lawsuit as well as Alabamas R.C. lawsuit and Arizonas J.K. lawsuit.

Scott Langford, MSW, MHA

Scott Langford has been a consultant with the Child Welfare Group since 2000 following employment with the Division of Child and Family Services in Utah during the critical system reformation in the 1990’s.

He spent significant time with CWG developing the qualitative review protocol and feels that some of his most important education came at the capable hands of senior CWG members who were patient with his vocal participation in the reform process   While remaining very active in child welfare in Utah, Scott has spent the last 18 years participating in qualitative reviews in several states and enjoys watching system improvement that has a tremendous, positive impact in the lives of families.  He currently utilizes his engagement, teaming, planning and implementation skills in healthcare as the administrator of two hospitals in Southern Utah.

He also serves as Clinical Director of a Residential Substance Abuse Treatment program and serves on various boards including Get Healthy Utah.  Scott received his Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Masters of Social Work from the University of Utah followed by a Masters of Health Administration from Ohio University.  He lives in Beaver, Utah with his wife Kristy with whom he raised four wonderful children.  He enjoys the outdoors with cycling and fishing occupying his limited free time.  

Louise (Lu) Missildine, MSSW

Lu has spent her entire professional career working with children and families.  She began her journey by teaching in the Montgomery (AL) Public School system.  During that time, she also supervised special assistants for children diagnosed with ADHD. 

Lu then joined the Alabama Department of Human Resources and worked as a Child Development Consultant in the state office, planning and developing community-based Early Childhood Education Centers in the state. 

After completing the MSSW, Lu worked in the Human Services systems in Texas and Alabama as a line worker and supervisor in Family Services at the county level.  She later served as Child Welfare Training Manager at the state level during the Alabama Child Welfare Reform.  She was manager of the Lee County, AL Child Welfare program during their successful System of Care Reform.  While in Lee County, Lu represented DHR and served as Co-Chair of the Lee County Multi-Needs committee, partnering with leaders in the Education, Juvenile Justice, and Mental Health systems to meet the needs of children and families receiving services from multiple systems.  She also has experience working with teen girls committed to the Alabama Department of Youth Services (Juvenile Justice).

Since joining CWG in 2004, Lu has provided consultation in more than 20 states, training and coaching staff and supervisors in facilitating and coaching Family Team Meetings, conducting evaluative reviews of state child welfare practices, and mentoring reviewers in conducting Quality Service Reviews.

Florence Racine, MSW, LSW

Florence Racine has been an advocate for children and their families involved with public systems for over 25 years. Her career began in community based mental health, working with chronically mentally ill adults and seriously emotionally disturbed children. Her work in child welfare has ranged from direct practice and supervision in CPS investigations and permanency, to case practice model implementation and continuous quality improvement. Florence is the Assistant Director of the State of New Jersey’s Office of Quality, responsible for staff who plan, conduct, analyze, and report on a range of qualitative reviews across the state.

Florence also works as an independent consultant who provides consultation to multiple child welfare systems on strategic planning, training, coaching and mentoring staff for practice development. She has coached and mentored frontline staff, supervisors and administrators in the Quality Service Review in numerous states, including Washington DC, Utah, Michigan, Illinois, and Maryland.

Beatrice (Bea) Salazar, BSW, MA (Counseling/Psychology)

Bea is a committed human services professional who has 25+ years of experience in the areas of child welfare, juvenile probation, behavioral/mental health, and holistic community health and wellness.  She has worked in various capacities from caseworker to director of children’s behavioral services and director of an integrated community health and wellness department.  Bea has developed, managed, and provided oversight for over 20 federal, state, and community grant funded programs.  As Director of a behavioral agency she developed and implemented a system of care that incorporated the Child and Family Team process.  The program grew from 7 employees to 62 employees who served over 900 children and families annually. System of Care philosophy, strength based family driven care, individualized child & family team facilitation, cultural responsiveness, and quality assessment have been the foundations that have guided Bea’s work.

In addition, Bea has provided independent consulting, coaching, mentoring, and training in several states and Native American tribal communities to include system change planning and implementation of the Child and Family Team process.  Her extensive experience working with diverse populations at system, program implementation, employee, and service participant levels has served to strengthen community engagement and enabled the success of Child and Family Team implementation.  Cultural responsiveness, Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS Standards), and health disparities are areas of specialty trainings that Bea is well versed in.

Bea has also conducted System of Care Practice Reviews (SOCPR) for the state of Arizona Children’s Behavioral Health Department to ensure fidelity of practice and adherence to the Arizona JK lawsuit.. Cultural competence/diversity & inclusion are critical component woven throughout all of her work.

Darnell Sharperson, BSW

Darnell Sharperson is a passionate and skilled social worker, advocate, and mediator, and has spent his career focused on representing the rights of children and families. He brings a wealth of experience, and is currently a Social Service Supervisor Specialist with the Georgia Department of Human Services, where he serves as DHS/Juvenile Court Liaison in Atlanta.

Mr. Sharperson worked for more than twenty years in Alabama as a Social Worker with various agencies, including the Alabama State Department of Human Resources. He worked closely with the Juvenile Court as DHR liaison in Huntsville, Alabama, and served on Alabama's Statewide Quality Assurance Team for four years. These and other past and current job responsibilities have afforded him opportunities to work with diverse populations and challenges, including the elderly and disabled; those struggling with mental illness or substance use disorder; child and family safety, permanency, and well-being; and adjudicated and At-risk youth. Darnell received his BSW from Oakwood University. 

Rachael Stinson, BA

Rachael Stinson is passionate about strengthening families and ensuring they have access to the resources and support they need to achieve success. She has over a decade of experience working with children and their families. She began her professional career in the classroom, teaching Spanish to middle and high school students. After 4 years and a transition out of the classroom, Rachael became the District Relations Manager for Florida Virtual School. On the leading edge of virtual education, she collaborated with 21 school districts across NW Florida to tailor unique solutions that addressed the academic, financial, and logistical barriers faced by both youth and individual schools. She advocated for policy and practice change at the district and state level to increase access to academic resources, particularly to those students disadvantaged by geography or economic factors.

A move to the D.C. metro area, and her undergraduate degree in Spanish and International Studies, opened the door to work with the Latin American Youth Center. As the Outreach Specialist for the Young Parents Program, Rachael established a communication network of service and resource providers, to identify and connect with eligible recipients. She also developed a departmental financial tracking and resource allocation system to increase efficiency and efficacy. Rachael designed and facilitated additional curriculum to engage and support program participants. Through case management, she had the privilege of supporting young parents in DC as they struggled to overcome the challenges of being a young, single parent, and watch these young families begin to thrive.

In 2019, Rachael began a Master of Social Work, with a concentration on Children, Adolescents and Families, through the University of Alabama. She had the distinct honor of completing her first-year field placement with CWG, where she deepened her knowledge of both local and national child welfare policies, and their implications for families. She also had the opportunity to participate in a large-scale residential treatment facility assessment. Rachael is excited to continue the work of improving outcomes for families as a new consultant with CWG

George Taylor, MS

George Taylor is one of the founding members of CWG and has been involved in the majority of the group’s projects in more than ten states and major jurisdictions. He has been principally involved in the assessment of systems intended to provide child welfare or mental health services to children, youth, and families; the development of strategic plans; training direct practice and assessment skills; and in the analysis of formal and informal evaluation results.

Examples of current and recent work include supporting the monitoring of a statewide child welfare reform in Utah, consulting with the Center for Community Partnerships in Child Welfare in the national rollout of the community partnership initiative supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation, as part of an external evaluation of privatized child welfare services in Broward County, Florida, and providing data consultation and analytic support for the Katie A. Advisory Panel, which advises the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) on the implementation of a settlement agreement designed to improve outcomes for children and youth with mental health needs served by the Los Angeles County DCFS.

Taylor retired from the University of Alabama’s multi-service training and treatment center that addresses training, research, and services for children and adolescents with complex mental health needs, and for their families. In Alabama, Taylor was active in the statewide provider organization and was its president during the critical years of the Alabama child welfare reform.

Featured Scholars

CWG Supports MSW Field Placement Opportunities

Alysa Durham

Alysa Durham is from Birmingham, Alabama and will be receiving her undergraduate degrees, a BA in Social Work and a BA in Political Science, from Auburn University in May 2021. She is excited to learn about the child welfare system and the macro systems perspective. Alysa has for years demonstrated community and campus leadership through volunteer work, organization, and scholarship. Among many activities at Auburn University , she serves as the School Council President for The College of Liberal Arts. Alysa is an excellent addition to CWG's strong intern team. She is bright, eager to learn, and passionate about practice and policy in child welfare. We say welcome and...War Eagle!

Akedria Matthews 

MSW Field Placement, University of Alabama, September 2020
CWG is fortunate to welcome new intern Akedria Matthews! She is a native of Montgomery, Alabama, and earned her BS in Psychology at Troy University in Troy, Alabama. Akedria is currently completing her MSW at the University of Alabama with a concentration in Children, Adolescents, and Families. Akedria brings a great set of experiences with her, as her previous employment was as a school social worker. We understand she possesses great skills when it comes to working with children.
We can already see that Akedria is excited to join our CWG family, and she is clearly eager to learn more about a macro systems perspective of social work, mental and behavioral health, curriculum development, and child welfare policy. We are delighted to welcome Akedria to the CWG family. 

Ronterika E. Matthews

September 2020.  Meet our newest MSW intern, Ronterika Mathews! Ronterika received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from The University of Alabama (UA) and decided to continue her graduate education at UA.

Born and raised in the Capital of Dreams, Ronterika values the history of the city of Montgomery as well as the advancements made in the state of Alabama. Ronterika supports CWG’s mission of improving outcomes by strengthening front-line practice. She is eager to learn of and research principle-driven reforms and curriculum that will best aid social workers and other professionals in organizations across the country, but especially here in Alabama, to serve children and their families. Ronterika believes CWG’s commitment to invest in child welfare systems will provide her with the skill set to do so as well after she graduates and begins her career in the field of social work. We are honored that Ronterika chose CWG as the right fit for her field placement!

Cynthia Perry

We are delighted to introduce our newest MSW intern, Cynthia Perry, a graduate student at The University of Alabama. She is a native of Tuskegee, Alabama, and received her BSW at Tuskegee University. She brings over 13 years’ experience in social work to her field placement. This includes child welfare, mental health, special education, and medical and residential settings. She has also been involved in many community service opportunities in Alabama and Ohio.

Cynthia said that she looks forward to learning about the macro perspective of social work, particularly in the areas of policy development and large-scale improved practice. She is clearly committed to "creating stronger families, better communities, a better society, and ultimately, a better country." Welcome to CWG!

Rachael Stinson

CWG is pleased to continue our partnerships with MSW programs. Please meet our newest 2019 intern, Rachael Stinson.

Rachael earned her B.A. in Spanish and International Studies at Iowa State University. She has over 10 years of experience working in education and is currently completing her MSW at the University of Alabama with a concentration in Children, Adolescents and their Families.

Field Placement: CWG with a focus on national child welfare policy, curriculum development, outcomes data research, and systems review.

Kiambri Mason

Kiambri Mason received her undergraduate degree from Alabama State University in Montgomery, Alabama.  Master of Social Work degree was received in 2019 from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Field Placement: CWG with focus on substance abuse research, curriculum development, and macro systems perspective. 

Grace Pruitt

Field Placement 2018. Grace graduated from California State University in Los Angeles, California.  In 2019, she received the Master of Social Work degree from Troy University in Troy, Alabama.  Field Placement:  CWG outcomes data research, survey and curriculum development, multi-systems research.


CWG's Board of Directors:

Thomas Bernier, President

Jerry Glover, Vice-President

Thelma Braswell, Treasurer

Andy Hornsby, Secretary

Eric Graves

Ron Marks

Stephanie Wander 

Marie Youngpeter

Paul Vincent – Advisor to the Board

Nina Kynard – Advisor to the Board