Sonya M. Thorn, LCSW, is a social entrepreneur, community licensed Clinical Social Worker, and nationally recognized trainer and the director of the Family Nurturing Center of Texas. She has previously worked for Texas State University as an Adjunct Professor, Upward Bound program director, and program faculty. In her 12 years with Texas State University, she brought in over two million dollars of external grant funds to the University. She has directed and been responsible for the management of two large projects serving disenfranchised and vulnerable youth and families (Casa Esperanza-University Service Learning lab and Upward Bound).
Ms. Thorn has been a training faculty member for the Renaissance TRiO Project and the training director for Nosotros Education Center. She is the founder and owner of PRAXIS with Integrity Consulting PLLC, where she partners with non-profits, state, and government organizations to assess and evaluate systems of care for young children, youth, and families. She completed a project as an executive coach and program evaluator with Eva Longoria’s nonprofit in San Antonio. She conducts professional development, training, and consulting to professionals in the areas of leadership, clinical and reflective supervision, equity and diversity, infant and early childhood mental health, parent education and family engagement, in-home family services, family and child assessment, early intervention, and many other leadership, family strengthening, and child welfare topics. She is a recognized National Trainer/Consultant for Family Development Resources Inc. where she trains throughout the United States and internationally (Bermuda Department of Child and Family Services, Camp Foster, MCCS Okinawa Japan). She has been involved in several statewide initiatives creating systems of care for multi-system involved families.
Ms. Thorn comes with a wealth of experience working with multiple university departments, school districts, and community partners on behalf of children, youth, families, and frontline staff. She has a long history of training foster parents. She is one of twenty-one Rockefeller Fellows who were asked to work for the Barat Education Foundation, where she participated in national university speaking engagements through a diversity forum with open discussions on critical social divides such as race, class, gender, social inequality, and injustices. She holds a BSW from Southwest Texas State, an MSW from Our Lady of the Lake University and is ABD in her PhD in the School of Business Leadership.
Barbara Buie, LCSW, has been a Nurturing Program trainer in the state of Texas since 2001, preferring to train small groups of 10-12, especially for those desiring to start a Nurturing Program. She has facilitated and coordinated Nurturing Parenting programs since 2001, and as a private practice therapist, she utilizes the Nurturing philosophy in her therapy with children, adolescents, individuals and families.
Barbara has over 40 years of experience working with domestic violence, substance abuse, foster and adoptive families, early childhood intervention, separation and divorce, chronic medical issues, mental health, grief and loss, and child abuse. Barbara received her Bachelors and Masters in Social Work at Texas State University in San Marcos and teaches field classes to social work students there. She is married with five children and seven grandchildren. She is currently in private practice in Bastrop, Texas.
Jessica Presswood, Esq., resides in Round Rock, Texas with her Husband (Jeff), their three children (Ava, Tavan, and Maggie) and their two dogs (Titan and Ace). As the founder and owner of Presswood Resolutions, PLLC she has the privilege to work with high-conflict parents in an effort to reduce tension between the parents and provide them with techniques to build an emotionally safe and physically comforting environment for their children.
As a lawyer, Ms. Presswood has watched the effects of litigation ruin relationships and drain bank accounts. It frustrated her, as a lawyer, when she was unable to provide her clients with the skills they needed to empower themselves. As a mother, and a divorced parent, she has personal experience co-parenting in a high-conflict dynamic. She knows how exhausting it can be, but she also knows how beneficial a parent coordinator or parent facilitator can be in diffusing high levels of tension. Her personal experience has inspired her to leave the corporate practice of law and combine her communications and legal backgrounds with her passion for helping others. She recently joined McGirr Law, P.C. as an associate attorney and practices family law and civil litigation.
Ms. Presswood received her Juris Doctorate from Hamline University School of Law in 2006. She has been a member of the State Bar of Arizona since January, 2007 and admitted to practice in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona since 2011. She has been admitted to practice law in Texas since January, 2015. She graduated with her Bachelorette in Science, Cum Laude, from Northern Arizona University in 2006. Ms. Presswood is certified through the Mediators of Texas in Advanced Mediation in Family Law and Basic Mediation. She is certified as a Parent Coordinator and Parent Facilitator through the Family Nurturing Center of Texas. Ms. Presswood is a member of the Texas Association of Mediators, Austin Association of Mediators and the Williamson County Bar Association.
Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., MBA, Ph.D, works as the Senior Research Analyst for Praxis with Integrity and the Family Nurturing Center of Texas. With her advanced degrees in Business and Organizational Leadership, focused on research and data analysis, she helps agencies that implement the Nurturing Program assess their own program services and parent outcomes through the use of the AAPI. Dr. Grayson assists service providers on how to use the data from the AAPI to document progress and provide recommendations for continued service delivery. Dr. Grayson has extensive experience in delivering high quality training, professional development and technical assistance. Her expertise in training from a multicultural context provides her with the skills needed to assist a diverse audience individually and in groups to learn about the data and/or learn how to evaluate their own data. Agencies are then prepared to knowledgeably use this validated and reliable data to report important outcomes to stakeholders, funders and parents.
Kristin’s background includes an MBA-PhD (Organizational Leadership and Masters in Business Administration) from Our Lady of the Lake in San Antonio, Texas, a Masters Degree in Multicultural Education (Oklahoma), and a Bachelor’s Degree in Spanish and Sociology (Minnesota). She is bilingual in Spanish and has worked for more than 20 years in the field of project evaluation, human relations and staff development. Prior to her work with FNC-TX she served in the Regional Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) Equity Assistance Center specializing in teacher leadership, project management and evaluation, intercultural relations and professional development. Her work included working with education departments to find ways to reach resolution agreements with the Office of Civil Rights and the Department of Justice to resolve issues based on race, gender, national origin and religion. In her personal time, Kristin is devoted to serving as an interpreter for medical missions and organizing logistics for people volunteering for projects in Sololá, Guatemala to help children in underserved indigenous communities and volunteering in San Antonio serving immigrants and asylum seekers.
Fran Kaplan, MSW, EdD, has worked for 50 years as the director of nonprofit and social-entrepreneurial organizations, some of which I helped to found—as well as an adult educator, social worker, independent scholar and researcher, writer and editor, and filmmaker. No matter what the “job,” she has always been a social activist working towards racial and economic justice, children’s well-being, and women’s equality.
FNC Texas Staff
Sonya M. Thorn, LCSW
Kristin Grayson, PhD
Mary Barrientos was born in Gilroy, California. Her parents were Mexican migrant workers and she along with her four siblings lived on a labor camp in Hollister and and Salinas California for a major part of their childhoods. Mary and her family relocated close to relatives in South Texas when she was 12. Peñitas/Mission, Texas is where she now calls home. She has 25 years of experience with business operations and management in University, School Districts and Legal settings. Mary embodies the philosophy of the Nurturing Program and believes this philosophy is in sync with who she is and therefore has carried this philosophy throughout her many career choices. Mary was first introduced to the Nurturing Program while working at Texas State University in 2003 where she began facilitating NPP to parents. Mary currently serves as the business manager, bilingual facilitator, and trainer for the Family Nurturing Center of Texas (FNC-TX). Mary is also a paralegal and a pastry chef graduating from the Arts Institute of San Antonio. She has a passion for child welfare and the impact the legal system plays in family systems. Mary is motivated by a passion to serve others on a similar path to a more nurturing and healthier lifestyle. She has three AMAZING children (Ashley, Mario & Anai) and is “Gammy” to five BEAUTIFUL grandchildren.
FNC Texas Trainers
Sonya M. Thorn, LCSW
Tanya Malveaux, LCWS, is a native Houstonian born and raised in 5th Ward. Her call to help came early in life as she found herself keeping confidentiality and helping friends through problems at a very young age. Her experience has made her sensitive to the needs of Houston’s lower socioeconomic sector, their physical and mental health, and spiritual needs. Tanya is a proud HBCU graduate of Prairie View A&M University and has a strong commitment to grass roots social work. She has a strong belief in honoring and respecting patients as we are meeting them at a point in their lives where their worth needs the most acknowledgment.
Tanya has an extensive history of providing services to severely mentally ill population of Houston as a Community Based Therapist, Supervisor, Manager, and Director of mental health services in the Houston community for the past 20 years. She has incorporated The Nurturing Program into all aspects of her personal and professional life and is grateful for the opportunity to share it with others.
Mystri Hipsher, MA, Mystri received her master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from Texas A&M in 2015 and has since worked with children in the state of Texas and New Mexico. Mystri has experience working with individuals experiencing or who have experienced childhood trauma, early childhood intervention, childhood abuse/neglect, foster and adoptive families, crisis intervention, separation and divorce, chronic medical issues, mental health, grief and loss, interpersonal relationships, and domestic violence.
Mystri is currently working for Pathways Youth and Family Services Inc. which is a non-profit social service organization providing a wide array of programs and services to communities across the state of Texas including foster care, community-based services, adoption, behavioral health, residential treatment center, and a wilderness/adventure program. Pathways Mission is to create environments where children and families thrive.
Mystri began working in San Antonio immediately after she graduated at the Local Mental Health Authority, where she was first introduced to the Nurturing Parenting Program. She strives to accomplish with families: providing safety and stability, building self-esteem in every possible way, teaching self-control, allowing children to grow and mature in their own unique talents and gifts, engage children in the process we use to change their lives, equip families with the tools to create nurturing environments, and model acceptable behavior. She is passionate, caring, energetic, and motivated to help others succeed.
Kathleen M. McGaugh, MS, was born and raised in South Central New Jersey. She is the mother of 6 children ages 9-15: Jack, Kate Piper, Aiden, Von, and Macy and has two dogs: Bogey and Vino. Kathleen has worked in the field of non-profit social work for 25 years as a Case Manager, Regional Director, Community Engagement Specialist, Foster Care and Adoption Program Director, and Recruiter for Commercially and Sexually Exploited Children, Mental Health Counselor, Behavioral Technician, and Advocate for severely abused and neglected children. Kathleen has trained and licensed over 200 foster families and has placed over 250 children in their forever homes. Her specialty areas include: Child and Family Welfare/Violence Prevention, Foster Home Development and Placement, Family Counseling and Co-parenting, Family Facilitation and Mediation, and Prevention of Human Trafficking. Kathleen is Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) Certified, a Nurturing Parenting Program Facilitator, and a Child Placement Management (CPMS) Certified Foster Care and Adoption Specialist.
Kenneth Thompson, Sr. brings a talent for children’s and fathers’ advocacy cultivated in the public sector. Kenneth’ s experiences as a parent educator, facilitator, mentor, and talk show host serve him well in his current assignment as the first ever Fatherhood Program Specialist for Texas Department of Family and Protective Services in the Division for Practice Excellence. His previous assignments include lead host for “The Dad-Show” and the featured facilitator for “Focus on Fathers.”
Kenneth served as Director of “All American Mentoring Project,” a mentoring program with an emphasis on children from single parent homes and low social economic status. He is the former President of the Board of Trustees for the Pflugerville Independent School District where he was the first African American elected to political office in the Pflugerville community. Kenneth is also the former Vice President of Texas Caucus of Black School Board Members. Kenneth served as the Vice-Chair for the Austin Advisory Committee addressing Disproportionality within the Welfare System. Kenneth served as the Director of the East Austin Youth Foundation which serves economically disadvantaged youth by providing sports activities while promoting high academic achievement.
Kenneth served as Board Chair of “A New Entry LLC,” a program charged with providing counseling and transitional housing to formerly incarcerated men. Additionally, he served as the Chairman of the Board of Directors for The Overton Group which focuses on multi-lingual education in Head Start. He served as Vice-President of Parenting Across Color, a Trans Racial Parent Support Group. Kenneth was appointed to the National Advisory Board which focuses on Non Resident Fathers in the Child Welfare System. Lastly, Kenneth was appointed to the Community Advisory Board for the Travis County Family Courthouse expansion project. Kenneth is currently the Chair of the Austin’s African American Quality of Life Resource Advisory Commission. Kenneth is a graduate of Southwest Institute of Technology.
Kenneth is a lifetime Austinite married to Alisha, and they have one son, Kenneth Jr., a graduate of Texas Christian University.
I have realized that it was for the sake of (my children) and for many other families that I come across on a daily basis… I have learned that, we need to really “feel” what our children are going through and allow them to express themselves, instead of “shutting them down” so fast & hurting them… By no means you put a (guilt trip) on anyone during the conference, but I can definitely see where I can change a whole lot, for the sake of my children, from this point forward…I appreciate you, your time and your hard work.