Executives:

Maria Nanos, LCSW, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

Maria Nanos, LCSW, PhD

Chief Executive Officer

mnanos@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

A. Maria Nanos, LCSW, Ph.D., is the Chief Executive Officer of the Center for Law and Social Work. Dr. Nanos received her Ph.D. in Clinical Social Work from the Institute for Clinical Social Work in Chicago and her masters in social work at Jane Addams, University of Illinois. Dr. Nanos’ clinical career began in 1987 focusing on children and families of sexual abuse and neglect in the Chicagoland area. Dr. Nanos rapidly moved into managerial positions supervising programs in areas of mental health, child abuse, sexual assault, DCFS investigations and more recently grandparents raising grandchildren. Dr. Nanos is an avid advocate for human services in Chicago and is a frequent presenter at conferences and trainings. Dr. Nanos is an adjunct professor at Loyola University Chicago in the Masters program and has a part time clinical private practice. She has consulted with many agencies in Chicago thus reaching thousands of families.

Dr. Nanos is a native Chicagoan who enjoys most outdoor activities, travel and nature. She resides with her family in Evanston.

Ruth McMahon

Chief Operating Officer

Ruth McMahon

Chief Operating Officer

rmcmahon@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Ruth McMahon joined the Center for Law and Social Work December 2017. Ruth brings her expertise and more than nine years of experience as the Chief Development Officer at Trilogy Behavioral Healthcare to her new role at CLSW. Ruth’s responsibilities include creating and implementing overall development, marketing, and public relations plans and strategies as well as partnering with CLSW’s Board of Directors on all fundraising efforts and activities.

Ruth is a graduate of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Before focusing on development, Ruth served for many years as a Regional Sales Manager and as a Marketing Services Manager in the retail industry. Ruth acted as Co-Chair for her parish’s Development Council board for many years and is an active mental health advocate. Ruth currently lives in Evanston with her husband Paul and four children.

Management:

Valerie Darby, MSW

Program Director

Valerie Darby, MSW

Program Director

vdarby@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Patti Fell

Director of Development

Patti Fell

Director of Development

pfell@greenlightfamilyservices.org

7737287800

Caroline Mahieu, MBA

Staff Accountant

Caroline Mahieu, MBA

Staff Accountant

Niki Escobar

Chicago Office Manager

Niki Escobar

Chicago Office Manager

nescobar@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Ms. Escobar has been with Center for Law and Social Work since July 2012. As the Office Manager, she oversees all administrative functions within the agency. Her role spans all departments as she provides clerical support to the Executive, Legal, Development, and Social Work staff. She began at the Center as the administrative assistant, whose key responsibilities involved assisting the Executive Director, providing technical support to staff, managing website development and computer databases, maintaining Human Resource records, and performing reception and initial client support duties. Her strong leadership skills and natural inclination to take on new tasks lead to an expansion of her role within the agency. In 2014 Ms. Escobar was recognized as the Office Manager. In that role, she was instrumental in overseeing the transition of two outside services into new programs at the Center in 2017. These were Porchlight Counseling Services, a nonprofit organization formerly located in Evanston, IL, and the Adoption Listing Service of Illinois, a statewide adoption program funded by the Department of Children and Family Services.

In addition to supervising the Administrative department, Ms. Escobar is part of the Development and Porchlight Counseling departments. She supports the outreach efforts of the Director of Development by writing the Center’s newsletters, sending e-blasts to the agency’s supporters, and aiding in the organization of fundraisers. Ms. Escobar is also the Intake Coordinator for Porchlight, acting as a first point of contact for survivors of sexual assault on college campuses who are seeking therapeutic services.

Ms. Escobar completed her B.A. at Columbia College Chicago. Prior to joining the Center, she worked as a freelance tutor and a Writing Consultant at Columbia College Chicago. She enjoys reading, writing original fictional stories, and spending time with her family.

Legal Services:

Karin Carli, JD

Staff Attorney

Karin Carli, JD

Staff Attorney

kcarli@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Karin Carli, JD, is an attorney at the Center for Law & Social Work. She joined the CLSW team in 2017. Karin received her law degree from DePaul University College of Law, in Chicago. Prior to working at CLSW, Karin was an attorney and Guardian ad Litem at the Office of the Cook County Public Guardian for 11 years, where she represented and advocated for abused and neglected foster children. Karin is passionate about and has spent her entire legal career helping children and families. She is dedicated to the clients she serves and public interest law.

Karin is from Indiana, and moved to Chicago in 1994. In her free time, Karin enjoys spending time with her family and friends, biking, baking, reading and traveling. She lives with her family in Chicago.

Ashley Reed, JD

Staff Attorney

Ashley Reed, JD

Staff Attorney

areed@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Ashley Reed is an attorney at the Center for Law & Social Work (CLSW). Ashley joined the CLSW in August 2017. Ashley’s passion for helping families and children began in 2005 when she represented abused and neglected minors as a Guardian AD Litem/ Attorney at the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian. Working at the Public Guardians office allowed Ashley to become an experienced and versatile litigation attorney as well as a devoted advocate for her clients. She received her law degree from Loyola University Chicago School of Law in 2005 where she also received a certificate in Child and Family Law. She graduated in May 2002 from Baylor University where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.

Ms. Reed is a strong advocate for families and children. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Our Community of Illinois and spends time volunteering with BuildOn in the Chicago area and her children’s school. Ms. Reed is a member of the Chicago Bar Association.

Ms. Reed resides in West Bucktown with her husband and three children. Ms. Reed enjoys traveling, cooking, and exercising.

Michelle Johnson

Legal Administrator

Michelle Johnson

Legal Administrator

mjohnson@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Ms. Johnson has been the Administrative Assistant for the Legal Department for over four years. She comes to this role with over twenty years of experience in administration. Prior to joining the Center for Law and Social Work, Ms. Johnson worked with the Greater Food Depository as the Assistant for the Healthy Kids Meal Program. Ms. Johnson joined the staff at Center for Law and Social Work in the spring of 2015. She works directly with the staff attorneys in order to provide clients with the optimal level of assistance possible. Ms. Johnson provides clerical support and client intake services for the Legal Department. She also works directly with the Mediation Manager to help carry out the Mediation program by scheduling mediation for individuals who have filed a service appeal with the DCFS Administrative Hearings Unit.

Ms. Johnson is passionate about supporting families and providing assistance to clients as they call in to the office. Her interests include spending time with her grandchildren, crocheting, dancing and traveling.

Adoption:

Katie Friend, MA

Program Supervisor

Katie Friend, MA

Program Supervisor

kfriend@clsw.org

773-728-7800

Katie Friend has recently joined the Center for Law and Social Work team as the supervisor for the Adoption Listing Service and Inquiry Unit. This statewide program is run by the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) Adoption Unit, and has been managed by Center for Law and Social Work since October 2017. The Adoption Listing Service and Inquiry Unit serves the entire state of Illinois by helping to place children with their forever families, and providing information to individuals and couples who are interested in adopting or fostering.

Ms. Friend is uniquely qualified to manage this program for Center for Law and Social Work. She began her career in Child Welfare 24 years ago as a case manager after she attended Michigan State University and received her bachelor’s degree from DePaul University. Since then, she has worked at well known Child Welfare Agencies such as Ada S. McKinley and ChildServ. Ms. Friend was a licensing representative for the first half of her career, and during this time, she grew into her role as a leader and supervisor, taking the initiative on projects that included creating a program model for a biological parent support group, and even a program model for a 3 million dollar emergency shelter program from a grant that was awarded by DCFS. In 2013, Ms. Friend began her work with the Adoption Information Center of Illinois and Wendy’s Wonderful Kids. It was as a Wendy’s Wonderful Kids recruiter that Ms. Friend truly began to excel. In 2016, Ms. Friend was promoted as supervisor to the newly formed Adoption Listing Service and Inquiry Unit. This newly created unit combined the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program, and both have found their new home at Center for Law and Social Work under the leadership of Ms. Katie Friend.

Ms. Friend enjoys spending time with her family, especially her son Kendall and daughter Kiari.

Beth Carlson, MSW

Family Development Specialist

Beth Carlson, MSW

Family Development Specialist

bcarlson@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Beth recently joined the Adoption Listing Service of Illinois Team as a Family Resource Specialist. She received her Bachelor’s Degree from Bradley University and her Master’s Degree from University of Illinois at Chicago. Beth worked as a Foster Care Caseworker for seven years prior to starting at Center for Law and Social Work. Beth worked closely with the Adoption Listing Service while working as a caseworker and is excited to join the ALSI team. Throughout her time as a caseworker, she developed a passion for working with youth in DCFS and helping them find their “forever home”. Beth is excited to work in the adoption field at CLSW and continue to play a crucial role in a child’s adoption story.

Beth lives on the Northside of the city with her husband. She enjoys traveling, spending time with family and friends, and is on a mission to find the best gluten free donut in the city!

Damita Hill

Family Development Specialist

Damita Hill

Family Development Specialist

dhill@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Damita J. Hill was born and raised in Chicago. Damita received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Damita has over 14 years of experience working in social services, which enables her to reach others with humor, warmth, transparency, and strength. Damita’s experience includes working in foster care and intact. She is bringing her experience and passion to her current position as an Adoption Recruiter. Damita has joined the team under the Adoption Listing Service of Illinois, a program that is dedicated to finding forever homes for children in foster care.
Damita loves to read, laugh and watch science fiction and fantasy films.  She loves spending time with her family and friends.

Mercedes Lovett, MSW

Family Development Specialist

Mercedes Lovett, MSW

Family Development Specialist

mlovett@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Mercedes Lovett is a native of the south side of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice at Kentucky State University in 2011. She went on to pursue a Masters in Social Work, which she received in 2016 from Governor’s State University. Since graduating, she has worked as both a Foster Care Case Manager and an Intact Family Recovery Case Manager. This experience has allowed Mercedes the ability to assist in strengthening and preserving families. She brings her experience in, and her passion for, child welfare to her new role as an Adoption Recruiter at the Center. Since January 2019, Mercedes has joined the team under the Adoption Listing Service of Illinois, a program of the Center’s that is dedicated to finding forever homes for children in foster care.

Mercedes loves working with children and families. She loves spending time with her dog and her family, and she enjoys going to the cinema.

Rachel Meyer, LCSW

Family Development Specialist

Rachel Meyer, LCSW

Family Development Specialist

rmeyer@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Rachel Meyer has been a Child-Centered Recruitment Specialist with the Center for Law and Social Work since January 2018. Along with the other recruiter in the office, Rachel works to match Illinois children listed with the Adoption Listing Service and Inquiry Unit with potential adoptive families.

Throughout her career, Rachel has always worked at nonprofit organizations. Just before joining CLSW, Rachel spent many years working as an Intact Case Manager, providing strengths-based case management services to at-risk families in their homes all over Cook County. Rachel received her BA in Communication and Spanish from Truman State University and her Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Rachel is now a Licensed Clinical Social Worker as of October 2019.

Rachel grew up in the suburbs of Chicago and now lives on the north side of the city. Rachel loves exploring Chicago, whether it is walking along Lake Michigan, visiting the many museums, going to concerts, or finding the best brunch spot. Rachel also enjoys photography, traveling, reading, watching British television shows on Netflix, baking, and spending time with her family and cat Mina.

Felicia Stratton, MSW

Family Development Specialist

Felicia Stratton, MSW

Family Development Specialist

fstratten@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Felicia Stratten joined the team at Center for Law in Social Work in 2017. She came to this agency when the Center began managing the Adoption Listing Service and Inquiries Unit, a program formed by DCFS. The goal of the Adoption Listing Service is to match youth in care with their forever families. Ms. Stratten is a Child Centered Recruitment Specialist for the program. Her role requires both diligence and care as she coordinates with caseworkers at foster care agencies, meets with youth awaiting adoption, builds relationships with these youths, and responds to inquiries made by families interested in adoption.

Ms. Stratten earned her undergraduate degree from Chicago State University in 2007, and later went back to earn her MSW in 2014. She began her career in Child Welfare in July of 1995 as a Case Assistant Specialist with Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Agency. In January of 2001, Ms. Stratten became the lead teacher for Aunt Martha’s Head Start program, and from November of 2007 through February of 2015 she was a Foster Care Case Manager with Aunt Martha’s Youth Service Center. In October of 2016, Ms. Stratten stepped into her role as an adoption recruiter.

Ms. Stratten enjoys family, traveling, reading, and life’s many adventures. She and her husband are also licensed foster parents and have completed their family through foster care.

Sandra Casillas

Family Development Support Specialist

Sandra Casillas

Family Development Support Specialist

scasillas@greenlightfamilyervices.org

773-728-7800

Sandra Casillas joined the Center for Law and Social work in October 2017. As the Family Support Specialist, Sandra is a vital member of the team. She works under the Adoption Listing Service of Illinois, a program of the Center for Law and Social Work. She brings over 25 years of child welfare experience to her role. She acts as the first point of contact for individuals and couples who are interested in becoming adoptive or foster parents. As an adoptive parent herself, she has an understanding and appreciation for the questions, concerns, and struggles that callers have when they contact the Center. Sandra is devoted to helping families become whole through adoption and foster care.

Sandra now resides in the Belmont Cragin neighborhood with her husband and their four wonderful children.

Post Adoption:

La’Shea Gibson, MSW

Program Supervisor

La’Shea Gibson, MSW

Program Supervisor

lgibson@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

La’Shea Gibson joined the CLSW team in November 2019. She received her Master of Social Work degree from Jane Addams College of Social Work with University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to CLSW, La’Shea has experience in supervising Therapeutic Foster Care and working as an Adoption and Licensing Specialist, Foster Care Case Manager, and as a Family Resource Specialist. She has a passion for working with children and families and being an advocate in order to eliminate barriers and enhance their quality of life.
Outside of work, La’Shea enjoys reading, being out in nature, traveling, going to brunch, and spending quality time with friends and family (especially her husband and cat and dog).

Stephanie Auwers, MSW

Family Development Specialist

Stephanie Auwers, MSW

Family Development Specialist

sauwers@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Stephanie Auwers, LMSW, joined the Center for Law and Social Work in July 2019. Stephanie received her Bachelors of Social Work from Calvin College, and her Masters of Social Work from the University of Michigan – Go Blue! Prior to coming to the agency, Stephanie spent 8 years working in foster care adoptions in Michigan where she held case worker and supervisory roles.

In her free time Stephanie enjoys being active, spending time with her dogs, and exploring her new hometown with her sister.

Crystal DeBerry, MSW

Family Development Specialist

Crystal DeBerry, MSW

Family Development Specialist

cdeberry@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Crystal Deberry, MSW, joined the agency in January 2019. Crystal received her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master of Social Work degree from Governors State University. Prior to working for the Center for Law and Social Work, she provided therapeutic services to youth in care to maintain or achieve stability in foster care placements. She has extensive experience in completing mental health assessments, individual treatment plans, as well as clinical reports. Crystal also provided coaching services to parents who were working to be reunited with their children.

Crystal is an avid reader, enjoys listening to jazz music and spending time with her family.

Abelia Perez, MSW

Family Development Specialist

Abelia Perez, MSW

Family Development Specialist

aperez@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Abelia Perez, MSW, joined the social work team at the Center for Law and Social Work in September 2016. She originally became involved with CLSW when she served as an intern during her graduate studies. She has since returned to CLSW and provides case management and clinical services to families.

Abelia received her BA in Applied Psychology and her MSW from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Abelia’s experience prior to joining the social work team at CLSW includes providing mental health services to children with special needs.

Abelia loves spending time with her family. She also finds great pleasure in taking day trips to quaint towns in Illinois.

Tiffany Powell, MSW

Family Development Specialist

Tiffany Powell, MSW

Family Development Specialist

tpowell@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Tiffany Powell, MSW, joined the agency in June 2019. Tiffany graduated with her BA in Applied Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and also obtained her Masters in Social Work from Jane Addams College of Social Work at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She has worked in residential services and foster care case management for several years, with children, families, and pregnant and parenting teens, who have significant emotional and/or medical special needs. She has supported children and families involved in the Child Welfare system by providing educational support and advocacy, mental health support and advocacy, court advocacy and other services that support the health and well-being of children, as well as overall family health in the hopes of family reunification.

For fun Tiffany enjoys painting, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

Nsenga Wilson, MBA

Juvenile Court Liaison

Nsenga Wilson, MBA

Juvenile Court Liaison

nwilson@greenlightfamilyservices.org

312-633-4060

Nsenga Wilson, MBA is a DCFS Post Adoption and Subsidized Guardianship Court Liaison at the Center for Law and Social Work. She joined the Center for Law and Social work team in October of 2017. Some services that she provides are; Attending Juvenile court proceedings and communicating service needs between court and the DCFS Post Guardianship Unit. Nsenga also provides case management services and advocacy for DCFS Post Adoption/Post Guardianship clients.

Prior to working for the Center for Law and Social work, she has worked in direct residential services, foster care case management, provided case management services to pregnant and parenting adolescents and recruited/retained at risk youth in care for educational programming. She received her BA from in communications from Western Illinois University and her MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management. She is a licensed child welfare specialist, has had extensive training in working with trauma exposed children and various DCFS trainings.

In her spare time Nsenga enjoys fitness, traveling, acting and spending time with family and friends.

Springfield Office:

Joan Hammond, MA

Program Supervisor

Joan Hammond, MA

Program Supervisor

jhammond@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Joan received a Masters’s degree in Child and Family Community Services from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2000. Prior to joining The Center for Law and Social Work in November 2019, she worked in the child welfare system for eighteen years. Joan has experience in the areas of specialized foster care with Camelot Care Centers, residential care for individuals with disabilities with The Hope Institute, and at-risk families and youth with The Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery.

Joan enjoys warmer weather activities such as fishing, boating, and swimming. She loves spending time with her family and friends. Joan lives in a small town south of Springfield with her husband and three dogs.

Helen Escobar

Springfield Office Manager

Helen Escobar

Springfield Office Manager

hescobar@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Helen is the Office Manager for CLSW’s newest office in Springfield, IL.  She began at the Center as the Assistant Bookkeeper at the main office in Chicago and has moved to Springfield to help the Center expand its ability to assist families in their adoption journey.

Ms. Helen received her B.S. at Loyola University Chicago and her skills in management and bookkeeping along with her experience with the agency in Chicago put her in high gear to hit the ground running in getting the Center’s newest office established.  In addition to her exciting work at the Center, Ms. Helen enjoys her pet cats, spending time with family and going on adventures. She says that adventures can happen anywhere, and even if they’re small adventures, they can teach you so many new things.

Nicole Meek, MA

Family Development Specialist

Nicole Meek, MA

Family Development Specialist

nmeek@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Nicole Meek is a native of Springfield Illinois. She received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Benedictine University. She then went on to pursue a Master’s in Humans Services with the emphasis in Child and Family Studies which she received in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Springfield. During graduate school, Nicole worked as a Child Welfare Specialist. This experience allowed Nicole the ability to provide excellent case management services to children and their families. She brings her experience and passion for child welfare to her new role as a Family Resource Specialist at the Center for Law and Social Work since July 2019. Nicole joined the team under the Adoption Listing Service of Illinois at the centers new location in Springfield that is dedicated to finding forever homes for children that are in foster care.

Nicole enjoys working with children and their families. She loves spending time with her French Bulldog Gizzmo, her family and friends. Nicole also enjoys traveling, shopping and dining out to eat.

Charlotte Sizer, MS

Family Development Specialist

Charlotte Sizer, MS

Family Development Specialist

csizer@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Charlotte received her Bachelors degree in Sociology from Illinois State University and her Masters in Human Services from Capella University. Prior to working for the Center for Law and Social Work, she has spent over 20 years working with families involved in foster care in positions ranging from advocate to case manager to supervisor.

Charlotte is an adoptive caregiver to her nephew through foster care and has fostered three other relatives all with special behavioral and cognitive needs.

Charlotte enjoys the outdoors and food because she runs 5k’s to half marathons when she’s not reading or spending time with friends and family.

Sexual Assault Counseling:

Ale Carrera

Intake Case Aide

Ale Carrera

Intake Case Aide

acarrera@greenlightfamilyservices.org

773-728-7800

Ale Carrera joined the Center for Law and Social work as the Administrative Assistant in March 2018. She became an administrative backbone of the Executive, Development, Porchlight, Adoption Listing, Legal, and Social Work programs, where no task is too big or too small for her! Ale finds joy working in the non-profit community for over three years, inspired by her previous position at Youth Outreach Services. She developed a knack for supporting and interacting with families in English and Spanish and providing assistance with education, child welfare, and counseling services. This determination held with her through college, where she earned her B.A. in Psychology at St. Augustine College in December 2019.

Ale now resides in Old Irving Park neighborhood with her significant other and their furry babies. 

Updates: Covid 19 and Demonstrations

Greenlight Family Services is dedicated to supporting our communities and families who have been affected by COVID-19 and the recent demonstrations. Now more than ever, we realize the importance of our mission - to achieve the best outcomes for families, young adults, and children, regardless of their race, color, religion, sex, age, sexual orientation, or physical and mental abilities. Greenlight is committed to equality and fair treatment for everyone.



At Greenlight Family Services, the well-being and safety of our clients and our employees is our priority as we navigate through these challenging times. As a result, Greenlight’s committed staff is reaching out to youth and families to ensure that Greenlight continues to preserve families, provide hope and protect lives while working remotely. Greenlight is maintaining regular business hours. If you are interested in adoption or any family services please call 773-728-7800 for immediate assistance.