Sonya M. Thorn, MSOL LCSW
Sonya M. Thorn, MSOL LCSW – Ms. Thorn is the owner and CEO of Praxis with Integrity Consulting PLLC. She is also the Executive Director of Family Nurturing Center of Texas where she partners with non-profits, state, and government organizations to assess and evaluate systems of care for young children, youth and families. Ms. Thorn has authored six Nurturing Families™ manuals. She is a Social Entrepreneur, Community Clinical Social Worker, and an internationally recognized trainer. 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 for the Renaissance TRiO Project and the training director for Nosotros Education Center. She is responsible for developing and managing a number of state and county wide initiatives for the department of mental health (Texas Children’s Mental Health, Tennessee PEI, California LA County DMH, New York Erie and Niagara County) and the department of Child Protective Services (Texas DFPS, Tennessee, Illinois, Bermuda, Missouri, North Dakota, Japan Military Family Support). 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 fidelity implementation, leadership, clinical and reflective supervision, diversity and equity, 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 empowering, and child welfare topics. 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, Texas Early Childhood Intervention, Head Start/Early Head Start, University of Texas Protective Service Training Institute, Kronkosky Foundation, Marine Base in Okinawa, Japan and San Antonio United Way Inc. She was instrumental in creating standards and guidelines for clinicians and Trainers. Ms. Thorn is one of twenty-one Rockefeller Fellows who were asked to work for the Barat Education Foundation, where she facilitated 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 a MSOL from Our Lady of the Lake University School of Business. Ms. Thorn resides in San Marcos, Texas.
Fran Kaplan, MSW, EdD
Dr. Kaplan’s fifty-year career has been spent working against poverty and for social justice and peace locally, nationally, and internationally. She holds a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and a Master of Social Work degree.
Her work as an adult educator, social worker and community organizer has taken her into various arenas, including farmworker rights, women’s healthcare, child protection, parenting education, and public history. She has served as an executive, program, and training director. She is also a published author and award-winning filmmaker. She authored Nurturing Parenting Program™ Implementation Manuals, Crianza Con Carino manuals and videos for Spanish speakers.
From Spring 2010 through Summer 2017, Fran worked as a full time volunteer with the community group that formed the Dr. James Cameron Legacy Foundation and worked to successfully reestablish the America’s Black Holocaust Museum, opening in a new building in Summer 2019. She was particularly involved in developing the Foundation’s innovative “museum-beyond-walls,” including its 3200-exhibit virtual (online) museum, public education programs, and interracial dialogues series. Dr. Kaplan also helped launch the Foundation’s publishing division, LifeWrites Press, and served as managing editor and contributor to its digital and print publications.
In 2017, Dr. Kaplan and her longtime ABHM colleague, Reggie Jackson, formed Nurturing Diversity Partners. They provide education, training, and consulting services that foster diversity, inclusion, and equity within institutions and the greater society by increasing historical/cultural literacy, empathy for others’ lived experiences, and capacity for personal and social action.
Dr. Kaplan has received twelve community service awards, including the 1992 Social Worker of the Year and the 1998 Promoting Racial Harmony awards from the WI Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the 2016 Eliminating Racism Award from the YWCA of Southeast Wisconsin. On her 70th birthday in 2017, the Honorable Gwen Moore, Representative of Wisconsin’s 4th District, read an extended tribute to Fran into the US Congressional Record.
In June 2018 Dr. Kaplan, together with her Nurturing Diversity Partner Reggie Jackson, received the Friebert Social Justice Award from Milwaukee’s Jewish Community Relations Council. http://nurturingdiversity.us/
Barbara Buie, LCSW
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.
John Chacón serves a Project Manager for the Policy and Rules Advisory Committee Coordination Office for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Prior to this position, John was the Community Development Specialist for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission “Texas Home Visiting program”, Executive Director of Community Programming at the National Fatherhood Initiative and the Executive Director for The Children’s Trust Fund of Texas. John has served children in foster care as a Therapeutic Social Worker with the El Paso Center for Children. He is a nationally recognized consultant and trainer for the Nurturing Parenting Programs, serving in that role for over twenty-five years via Family Development Resources, Inc. John is a former Master Trainer for the National Fatherhood Initiative’s 24/7 DadÔ and its Father Friendly, Best Practices and Community Mobilization workshops. He is the co-author of the first edition of the 24/7 DadÔ/Siempre PapaÔ and the Inside OutÔ curriculums. Originally from El Paso Texas, John graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso. John is a husband, father to two handsome sons, father-in-law to two beautiful daughters-in-law, and grandfather to four adorable grandchildren.
Kenneth Thompson, Sr.
Kenneth 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.
Jessica Presswood, Esq.
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.
Family Nurturing Center Staff and Trainers
Sonya M. Thorn, MSOL, LCSW
CHEIF EXECUTIVE OFFICER
LEAD INTERNATIONAL TRAINER/CONSULTANT
Sonya M. Thorn, MSOL LCSW was born in Nebraska but has lived in Texas most of her life. She resides in San Marcos, TX where she is in close proximity to her mother and 6 grandchildren. She is the Chief Executive Officer of Praxis with Integrity Consulting PLLC, Executive Director of the Family Nurturing Center of Texas and Lead Internationally Trainer/Consultant. She has facilitated and consults on most Nurturing Parenting Programs.
She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise, in her 29 years of experience facilitating, training and consulting. She has managed several statewide and countywide initiatives involved in fidelity implementation regarding the evidence-based, trauma informed Nurturing Families Infant-19™, Nurturing Families 5-19, and Nurturing Parenting Programs. Sonya has co-authored four state manuals Nurturing the Families of Texas, Illinois, North Dakota, and California with Dr. Bavolek. She is most proud of the updated Nurturing Families™ which includes families with childrens infant to 19 . Nurturing Families Infant-19™ will be released December 2020.
CRIANZA CON CARIÑO FACILITATOR
Mary 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 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 27 years of experience with business operations and management in University, School Districts and Legal settings. Mary currently serves as the business manager, Crianza con Carino bilingual facilitator and is fidelity implementation specialist for the Family Nurturing Center of Texas (FNC-TX). 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 bilingual facilitating NPP to parents. 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.
Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., MBA, Ph.D
Dr. Grayson 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
FAMILY NURTURING CENTER ORGANIZATIONAL TRAINER
Jose was born and raised in Eagle Pass, Texas. Jose grew up as a migrant worker and he believes the experience molded him to be who he is today. Jose is married to Janette and is the father of two daughters, Aubree and Sophia Perez. Jose has actively implemented the skills he learned through the Nurturing Parenting Program in his role as a father and husband. Jose and his family currently reside in Eagle Pass, Texas. Jose has a passion for helping people and empowering others with an intentional desire to make a difference.
Jose Perez graduated from Texas A&M in Kingsville Texas with his Bachelors in Behavior Science and is currently working toward a Masters in Counseling.
Jose moved back to Eagle Pass after graduating from college with hopes to be a positive influence with youth in his community. Jose has worked with juvenile probation, local mental health agencies, volunteered with Mission Border Hope, Boy’s and Girls Club, Kidz Club, and Camas Para Niños serving families most in need in the Southwest area. Jose has made a significant impact in this field of social services by implementing wraparound services and the Family Nurturing Program. Jose Perez contributed to developing prevention and intervention programs in the Tri County of Maverick, Zavala, and Dimmit with Juvenile Probation. During this time the juvenile justice department saw a decrease in recidivism rate by 50% as it went from 67% to a 13%. Jose is known for serving the At- Risk Youth population and was recognized by the local mental health clinic in his area. He received the “Golden Achievement Award” for his dedication in serving families and training staff. Jose continues to serve families in the Southwest region of Texas.
Mystri Hipsher, MA
FAMILY NURTURING CENTER ORGANIZATIONAL TRAINER
Mystri received her master’s degree in Counseling and Guidance from Texas A&M. She has worked with children in the state of Texas and New Mexico. Mystri has experience working in trauma informed systems of care and facilitating trauma informed intervention. She has worked in the field of childhood abuse/neglect, foster and adoption, 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. Pathway services include 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 was first introduced to the Nurturing Parenting Program when she began working at a Local Mental Health Authority. She is passionate, caring, energetic, and motivated to help others succeed.
FAMILY NURTURING CENTER ORGANIZATIONAL TRAINER
Angie Jackson was born and raised in Chicago, IL. Life’s events led her to combine her passion for teaching with the field of parenting and mental health. Angie taught school in the inner city of Chicago for over 15 years before moving to Texas. The move to Texas led her on an exciting journey as she navigated the mental health system with her son. This journey allowed her to combine the worlds of education and mental health. Combining those subject areas, she has become an expert trainer and facilitator. Angie has experience in training Certified Family Partners, Nurturing Program, Youth and teen Mental Health First Aide. As a trainer and consultant, she brings innovative ideas and enlightening perspectives to new family partners, certified family partners, parents, staff and supervisors. Angie’s background includes being a parent, teacher, trainer, supervisor of staff working with youth and their families. Angie appreciates her accomplishments of earning degrees in Education, Human Services and an MBA in Healthcare administration, however she is honored by her status as a Master Level Certified Family Partner and being a mother to her now adult son
FAMILY NURTURING CENTER ORGANIZATIONAL TRAINER
Jessica Penney is the Executive Director of Family Promise of Lake Houston, a transitional living program for children and families in North East Houston. Jessica is an enthusiastic and dedicated professional with a successful career of child and family work spanning more than 2 decades. Jessica is a strong advocate for the Nurturing Parenting Program, and has been coaching families in this model since 2005. Helping families enrich their lives is more than a job, Jessica views the opportunity to do this work as a great privilege and responsibility. In addition to her work with Family Promise and Nurturing Parenting, Jessica is a married mom of 3 kids, 3 dogs, and one bossy cat! She is a certified yoga instructor who loves swimming, travel, reading, and adventures with her family.
Tanya Malveaux, LCSW
FAMILY NURTURING CENTER ORGANIZATIONAL TRAINER
Tanya 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.
Kathleen M. McGaugh, MS
FOSTER, ADOPTION, AND KINSHIP CONSULTANT
Kathleen 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.
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.