Lara Taggart, M.S., OTR/L is a full time lecturer at Northern Arizona University (NAU) Occupational Therapy Doctorate Program since July of 2015. Lara holds a Master's Degree in Occupational Therapy (OT) from AT Still University, and a Bachelor's Degree in Applied Psychology from ASU. She is currently working on her Doctorate of Education in Leadership and Innovation at ASU.
Lara's research interests are in infant mental health and the relationship between child and caregiver sensory processing patterns and bonding. She has worked as an OT in various settings, which included outpatient/inpatient rehabilitation for adult and pediatric populations, school setting, and early intervention. She has served on the Executive Board of the Arizona Occupational Therapy Association as President and in Pediatric and Neuro Special Interest Groups. She is currently the Arizona Representative Assembly for the national OT board (American Occupational Therapy Association). Her favorite hobbies are: family activities, tennis, reading, and advocating for infant and toddler mental health.
Personal Statement My vision, as the Developmental Director, is to support the goals of the ITMHCA leadership by increasing the workforce capacity of infant and toddler mental health providers for the well- being of families in our state.
Chair Nicole R. Schuren, LMSW, IMH-E® (III), Infant Mental Health Specialist
Nicole is the Pediatric/Adolescent Medical Social Worker with the Mayo Clinic of Arizona. Nicole's experience includes over 10 years as a medical social worker with Phoenix Children's Hospital where her primary responsibilities were with the Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center and Forensic Pediatrics (child abuse). Endorsed at Level III as an Infant Mental Health Specialist, Nicole is a graduate of the Harris Institute and provides trainings across the State on the impact of trauma in young children. Nicole is also involved in community efforts such as the Never Shake a Baby Task Force and was influencial in bringing the Endorsement® System to New Jersey. Nicole is a founding member of the new national Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health. She has served on the Board for ITMHCA since 2008.
Eric is currently employed as Clinical Director for Arizona's Children Association, managing 6 fully functional Behavioral Health Clinics in Maricopa County. AZCA's clinics provide a full array of services to Children and Families including, Psychiatric, Case Management, Therapeutic and specialized services, specifically Trauma and Birth to Five Clinical services. He has worked in this capacity since 2011, prior to which he served as a Clinical Supervisor for AZCA, overseeing four rural Clinics in Pinal County. Eric additionally serves as the chair of the agency's Statewide/ Cross Program 0-5 Initiative.
Previous to working at AZCA, Eric worked as Clinical Supervisor for Valle del Sol's In Home program, overseeing a variety of contracts through DCS (CPS), including a specialty contract in working therapeutically with families of origin and foster families with substance exposed newborns.
Eric is a licensed master level social worker, alumnus of ASU, and additionally has a Master in Business Administration. Eric is a long time NASW member, member of several Political Action Committees, and also has worked as Associate Faculty at ASU's College of Public Programs, teaching graduate classes for the School of Social work since 2012. Eric has been an ITMHCA member since 2014.
Mary Beardsley has both an undergraduate and graduate degree in Family Studies and Human Development from Arizona State University. She currently works at Cenpatico as the Children's Program Specialist for Children's Outcomes and Initiatives. Mary's role involves overseeing adherence to DBHS requirements and best practice standards for the birth through five population, as well as transition age youth and children with developmental disabilities. Since beginning employment with Cenpatico in April of 2005, Mary has worked on behalf of infants and toddlers, having been active in multiple Best for Babies committees operating within numerous Cenpatico counties. Mary has also participated in past infant/toddler trainings conducted at Cenpatico and other Cenpatico communities. She has been in her current role since November of 2010. Most recently she has developed an infant toddler focus group within Cenpatico to assist providers in their endeavors to gain expertise in infant/toddler development, as well as to achieve endorsement under the ITMHCA. Prior to working in this role, Mary's previous positions under Cenpatico have focused on collaborative activities with DES/DDD, CPS, and other stakeholder agencies. In addition to her experience at Cenpatico, Mary has worked in the Medicaid arena for 19 years with a specific focus on children and adults with developmental and/or physical disabilities.
Diane has over 25 years experience in both direct service and program administration of early childhood programs. She has experience as a teacher, child care center director, trainer/consultant, and Regional Director for a national child care corporation. Currently she serves as the Regional Director at Child and Family Resources for the Early Care and Education Programs. Diane sits on the Infant Toddler Mental Health Coalition Board, the Professional Development committee for United Way's Impact Council, the First Things First T.E.A.C.H. Advisory Board, is an active member in the Southern Arizona Association for the Education of Young Children, and is the Chairman of the Board of Directors for Tucson Nursery School and Child Care Centers, a non-profit center in Tucson. She is a certified trainer for the Program for Infant Toddler Care (PITC).
Bob Klaehn, M.D. is a Board Certified Child Psychiatrist, with extensive experience in diagnosis and treatment of persons with Developmental Disabilities and the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders in infants and toddlers. He is currently a Medical Director for Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield and has a small private practice in Chandler with Redemption Psychiatry. Previously, he was Medical Director for the Division of Developmental Disabilities, Arizona Department of Economic Security for nearly fourteen years. He has been active in the National Wraparound Movement since the early 1990's. Bob received his undergraduate degree in History and Science from The Johns Hopkins University in 1976 and his medical degree from Wayne State University in Detroit in 1980. He received his adult and child psychiatry training at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics. Bob is a member of the volunteer faculty of the Maricopa Integrated Health System's Child Psychiatry Residency Program. He was previously the Child Psychiatric consultant at Southwest Human Development's Good Fit Center. He has been on the ITMHCA Board of Directors since 2013.
Bob was a member of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's Committee on Community-Based Systems of Care from 1995 to 2014. He is currently the Committee's Liaison to the AACAP Autism and Intellectual Disabilities Committee. While a member of the Committee, he has helped draft multiple Academy addressing Systems of Care Issues affecting young children, including: "Best Principles for Early Childhood Systems of Care" (AACAP, 2003) and was the Lead Author for the "Early Childhood System of Care" and "Developmental Disabilities" Modules for the "Systems Based Practice Toolkit" (Approved by AACAP, 2009) developed in order to educate child psychiatric residents on the essentials of community-based practice. He also helped to develop the Child and Adolescent Service Intensity Instrument (CASII) and the Early Childhood Service Intensity Instrument (ECSII), non-diagnostically driven tools for determining the appropriate intensity of service, which are used by state Medicaid and private insurance companies across the country. He continues to be active nationally as a trainer for the ESCII and the CASII.
Yvonne is currently working at the Good Fit Counseling Center at Southwest Human Development providing therapeutic intervention services to children birth to five. Yvonne has a BA in communications and a Masters in Infant Family Practice from Arizona State University. Yvonne has been working with children and families for over 10 years. Yvonne has ample experience working directly with children with trauma, abuse, behavioral challenges, depression, anxiety, autism, and who were medically ill. Yvonne has worked at Phoenix Childrens Hospital with inpatient pediatric psychiatry with children 3 to 12 years of age. Here she implemented therapeutic interventions and coping techniques to each child's developmental level. In addition Yvonne worked with the Homeless Youth Outreach Program with children birth to 5, delivering health, vision and hearing, developmental and Medicaid eligibility screenings to the patients. Lastly, Yvonne completed an extensive 120 hour practicum with the Child Life Department working along the sides of specialist who promote effective coping through play, preparation, education and self expression activities. Yvonne assisted with providing emotional support for families and encouraged optimal development of the children facing a wide range of challenging experiences, specifically related to healthcare and hospitalization.
Jennifer has worked at Touchstone Health Services for the past 10 years and helped develop the Infant and Early Childhood Program there. She is currently the coordinator for the Parent Child Interaction Therapy Program and provides counseling services to children and families ages birth to 7.
Jennifer has a Master's Degree in Professional Counseling with an emphasis in Clinical Counseling. She is a graduate of the Harris Institute. Jennifer has been trained in a variety of modalities including; Sandtray, Storyplay, Theraplay, Circle of Security, Love and Logic, and is currently training in Child Parent Psychotherapy.
Molly Strothkamp, LMSW, IMH-E(III), is a child therapist and the training coordinator at the Good Fit Counseling Center at Southwest Human Development. She has worked with young children and their families at Southwest Human Development since 1999. Molly specializes in providing relationship-based counseling to young children and their caregivers. Molly is a faculty member for the Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute. In addition, she teaches and provides trainings on infant mental health, attachment, trauma, child development, and other related topics to parents, professionals, and community organizations statewide. Molly completed the Harris Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute in Infant/Family Clinical Practice in 2007. She received endorsement by the Infant Toddler Mental Health Coalition of Arizona as an Infant Mental Health Specialist (Level 3 Clinical) in 2010. Molly currently serves on the ITMHCA Board of Directors.
Geri has worked in the field of accounting for over 25 years in both for-profit and non-profit agencies. Now self employed, she spends her time country dancing, going to the D-backs games, and volunteering to ITMHCA. As a way to give back to the community, Geri believes in the philosophy of ITMHCA and the work the Coalition is doing to help promote healthy first relationships for young children.
Genett has volunteered as the Chair of the Training & Education Committee for ITMHCA since 2010. She served as the Co-Chair of the ITMHCA Training Institute in 2014. Genett is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker specializing in Infant Mental Health. She works as a Clinical Supervisor and Therapist at the Good Fit Counseling Center at Southwest Human Development providing therapeutic services for children birth to 5 years old. Genett also opened a private practice in Chandler in 2010 where she provides therapy for children birth to 12 years old.
Genett is endorsed as an Infant/Toddler Mental Health Specialist level III. She also completed the 2 year clinical track of the Harris Infant & Early Childhood Mental Health Training Institute. She has over 200 hours of training in Play Therapy.
Genett completed a 200 hour Yoga Teacher training program through At One Yoga and incorporates these skills into therapeutic services. Genett's treatment approach includes Child/Parent Psychotherapy, Play Therapy, Expressive Arts, Mindfulness and a holistic approach to young children's Social/Emotional development. Genett has extensive experience working with young children who have experienced trauma, abuse/neglect, behavior challenges, anxiety, and foster care.
Genett has facilitated trainings on Infant Mental Health & the social/emotional development of young children for ITMHCA, AZ Play Therapy Association, Southwest Human Development, Head Start and the Crisis Nursery. Genett presented at the 2008 Arizona Infant/Toddler Mental Health Institute. Genett previously volunteered on the Board of Director for AZ Play Therapy Association for 6 years.
Priscilla Whitlock-Coates has served on the ITMHCA Board of Directors since 2012. She is the Membership Committee Chair and also assists in the coordination of Southern Arizona Professional Training and Development opportunities. Priscilla has a BA in Psychology and a Masters in Counseling. She is endorsed at Level II as an Infant Family Specialist. Priscilla has been working in the field of children and families for over 30 years. She has served in various capacities from direct service therapy to being the Regional Director for Child Welfare and a Regional Behavioral Health Intake Agency.
Kate is the National Director of Training and Professional Development for Healthy Families America, a national evidence-based home visiting program and is a nationally certified home visitor trainer. Primary training content includes strength-based, family centered, relationship focused, and culturally sensitive services for families in a home visiting setting with a strong anchor to the parallel process. She has been a home visitor, supervisor, technical assistance and quality assurance provider for Arizona for over twenty years. Kate has worked closely with researchers and policy makers in the field of child abuse prevention with the primary focus of strengthening home visiting. She currently coordinates and develops training for the 625 HFA sites in 39 states and 5 Territories.
Honorary Board Members
Nicole Valdez, MSW, LCSW, IMH-E® (III), Infant Mental Health Specialist
Nicole has been a member of the Infant Toddler Mental Health Coalition of Arizona's Board of Directors since 2007 and was nominated as Chair of the Board of Directors in September 2009. She is a Harris Institute graduate and is Endorsed in Arizona at Level III as an Infant Mental Health Specialist. She has worked in direct practice with families and young children for eight years and is currently providing Reflective Supervision/Consultation and training statewide.
Clay Jones, M.Ed., IMH-E®(III) is the statewide Coordinator for the Infant Mental Health Endorsement® program for ITMHCA and is endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Specialist. Clay is a former board member of ITMHCA; CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) volunteer, and has worked in child welfare for nearly 20 years, the most recent 12 years in Infant Mental Health. Clay is a Harris Graduate and currently a supervisor with the Cradle to Crayons Program for Maricopa County Superior Court.