Staff

Christine Stoner-Mertz, LCSW
Executive Director

Christine Stoner-Mertz presides over all Alliance advocacy, accreditation, member services and executive support activities and staffs the Executive and Nominating Committees.

Chris came to the Alliance in 2019 after being President and CEO of Lincoln Child Center in Oakland, a California Alliance member agency delivering behavioral health and family strengthening services in the San Francisco Bay area. Since 2005, she led the organization through a transformational period, moving from a residentially-based services focus to designing an array of culturally responsive community and school-based services for children and youth ages 0-21. Her deep commitment to equity is reflected in the transformation of services at Lincoln.

A licensed clinical social worker in California, Chris received her MSW from the University of Michigan and began her career in California in 1985, as co-founder of Seneca Center, now the Seneca Family of Agencies, where she was instrumental in the development of programs and oversight of operations for 15 years.

In, 1999, she founded inFocus Consulting and Development, LLC providing consultation to over 50 private behavioral healthcare providers as well as the California State Department of Mental Health, various county departments of mental health and social services, and to school districts. As a sought after expert on MediCal EPSDT program design and implementation, Chris developed the Medi-Cal Specialty Mental Health Services Manual. 

She has served on the boards of directors of the California Alliance, the California Council of Behavioral Health Agencies, the National Council of Behavioral Health Organizations, and has been the recipient of numerous service and leadership awards during her career, including the Jefferson Award for Public Service. 

Email Chris at [email protected].

 

Public Policy Advocacy

Doug Johnson
Associate Executive Director

Doug is associate executive director and staffs the Residential Care, Juvenile Justice, and Research and Evaluation Committees. His particular areas of expertise include policy development in the areas of residential care and juvenile justice, with a special emphasis on federal and State funding, auditing and licensing requirements, and government regulatory processes.

Doug came to the Alliance in 1998 from nearly 20 years in state service, spending 18 years with the California Department of Social Services. Probably best remembered by member agencies for his work as a bureau chief in the Children and Families Services Division, Doug oversaw development and implementation of the current group home and FFA rate-setting systems. He served as chief of the Foster Care Policy Bureau, the Child Welfare Services Policy Bureau and the Emergency Assistance Program Bureau. Additionally, Doug held management positions in the Individual and Family Grant, the Refugee Services, and the Food Stamp Programs. His last assignment prior to joining the Alliance staff was as the coordinator for federal legislation during welfare reform.

Doug holds a bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA and did graduate work in Soviet studies at the University of Glasgow. From 1975-1978, he was an adjunct professor of political science, teaching courses on comparative government and international relations at the Monterey Institute for Foreign Studies in Monterey and at Hartnell Community College in Salinas.

Email Doug at [email protected].

 

Jacqueline Rutheiser
Senior Policy Advocate

Jacqueline Rutheiser is a senior policy advocate responsible for advocacy on child welfare issues including the adoption of children from foster care, foster family-based care and services, in-home and family-based services, and housing, services and support for transition-age youth. Jackie staffs the Adoption, Foster Family Agency and Family-Based Services Committees.

Jackie came to the Alliance in 2007 with over 20 years experience in local, state and national politics, most recently with the California State Legislature where she served as senior staff for Senator Nell Soto (D-San Bernardino, Pomona) and previously as staff with Assembly Majority Leader Kevin Shelley (D-San Francisco). Prior to her work in the State Capitol, Jackie was a managing partner in a political research and campaign strategy consulting business for eight years and was the research director for the National Health Care Campaign for then First Lady Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee.

Jackie holds a bachelor's degree in international relations from UC Davis.

Email Jackie at [email protected].

 

Danielle Molé
Senior Policy Advocate

Danielle Molé is senior policy advocate and grassroots advocacy coordinator. On the policy side, Danielle works under the supervision of the education consultant and executive director to support members during the transition of educationally-related mental health services from county mental health departments under AB 3632 to local SELPAs and LEAs under AB 114.

As grassroots advocacy coordinator, Danielle coordinates and supports Alliance members as they re-focus their advocacy and marketing efforts in a realigned environment on county boards of supervisors and county departmental leadership in child welfare, mental health and juvenile probation; and with school boards, district superintendants, special education directors and SELPA administrators. Additionally, she helps members build local linkages with state legislators and coordinates members’ district level advocacy on state legislative and budget issues.

Danielle comes to the Alliance from the California Family Resource Coalition where she was a Project Manager and where her responsibilities included the building of grassroots advocacy capability. Previously, she served as a Program Manager for the Child Abuse Prevention Center in Sacramento, Program Officer for United Way of the Bay Area, and as first an intern, then as Juvenile Justice Division Program Coordinator with the Child Welfare League of America.

She received her bachelor's degree with distinction in political science from San Diego State University, and her master's degree in political science from California State University, Chico.

Email Danielle at [email protected].

 

Stephanie Ivler
Senior Policy Advocate

Stephanie Ivler, an attorney and former director of the Foster Care Foster Care & Adoptions Division of Bienvenidos Children’s Center, joined the Alliance staff in Sept. 25 as senior policy advocate.

Stephanie is a senior policy advocate focused on issues involving transition age youth, juvenile justice and residential services. Stephanie is an attorney and former director of the Foster Care & Adoptions Division of Bienvenidos Children’s Center. Stephanie has practiced business law both in the U.S and abroad. She has created nonprofit organizations from mere vision as well as serving in senior management in complex organizations serving children and adults with developmental disabilities and youth in foster care.

Stephanie has a passionate commitment to changing the perception of foster youth and improving systems and services, enabling them to move beyond mere survival to leadership. While not acting in a legal capacity, Stephanie utilized the knowledge and the skills acquired as a practicing transactional and litigation attorney as Bienvenidos primary representative to the California Department of Social Services during transition under the umbrella of Continuum of Care Reform. Her work resulted in Bienvenidos being selected as one of the statewide five Early RFA Implementers. 

Stephanie received a bachelor’s degree in international relations magna cum laude from the University of Southern California, where she was also elected Phi Beta Kappa. She graduated at the top of her class on an accelerated academic schedule from Southwestern Law School, during which time she externed for the Honorable Terry J. Hatter, Jr., United States District Court, Central District of California. 

Email Stephanie at [email protected].

 

Lynn Thull, PhD
Consultant for Mental Health Policy and Practice Improvement

Lynn serves as the children’s mental health policy and practice improvement consultant for the Alliance. As such, Lynn is primary staff to the Mental Health and Practice Improvement Committees and is our consultant on public policy issues pertaining to children's mental health.

A licensed clinical psychologist in both California and Arizona, Lynn has over 30 years experience in the field, 15 years in executive positions. Most recently, she has been principle of LMT Consulting and has provided consultation to several Alliance member agencies, primarily in the Sacramento area. From 1993 to 2005, she held a succession of positions of increasing responsibility with Alliance member agency River Oak Center for Children, beginning as a staff psychologist and advancing through director of psychological services and vice president for professional services, to chief operating officer.

Lynn began her career in Arizona, first as a youth counselor in a children’s hospital and later as a special education teacher. She also has an active California Teaching Certificate for severely/profoundly handicapped, multiple subject and pupil personnel-counselor.

Lynn holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, Fresno, a master's degree in educational counseling from Northern Arizona University, and a bachelor's degree in education with a specialization in special education from Arizona State University.

Email Lynn at [email protected].

 

Gina Plate
Consultant, Education Policy

Gina Plate manages all policy advocacy pertaining to educating children in foster care, with particular emphasis on the use of nonpublic schools and charter schools to provide educational services, and staffs the Alliance Education Committee.

Gina has a wide range of administrative and teaching experience including experience as regional director, program director, director of educational services, and special education teacher at Seneca Center for Children and Families. She has more than 15 years of experience in the special education field in both public school districts and non-public schools. Gina worked as a special day class teacher and taught severely emotional disturbed pupils at the elementary and middle school level. She also served as a full inclusion aide, transition job coach and speech therapy aide.

Gina holds a master's degree in special education from the University of San Diego and a bachelor's in communication with a minor in business administration also from the University of San Diego.

Email Gina at [email protected].

 

Strategic Initiatives

Deborah Son, MSW
Director of Strategic Initiatives

Deborah Son oversees organizational efforts that provide members and others in children and family serving organizations with supports, research, learning communities and other initiatives that further the fields of child welfare, behavioral health and education. Deborah has over 10 years of experience as an activist and leader in the fields of systems change, advocacy, and community engagement. Her work spans across various fields including trauma-informed care, anti-violence, children and family services, and public and behavioral health. She has dedicated much of her career to bringing various service platforms together in collaboration toward meaningful achievements in social justice.

In previous work, she helped lead the domestic violence homicide initiative for Contra Costa County in the San Francisco Bay area, spearheaded the growth and integration of medical-legal partnerships throughout the Alameda County public health care system, and has facilitated leadership development opportunities for individuals across the state of California raising the capacity of individuals and networks who represent the communities they serve.

She is an active leader with the National Association of Social Workers, California Chapter, was a County Commissioner with the Contra Costa Commission for Women, and a national trainer and technical assistance provider in gender-based violence issues as they pertain to communities of color and historically marginalized groups.

Deborah received her Masters in Social Work from California State University, East Bay and her bachelor's degree in English from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Email Deborah at [email protected]

 

Membership and Marketing

Kevin Swartzendruber
Director of Membership and Marketing

Kevin Swartzendruber directs all membership and marketing activities for the Alliance. He is the principal liaison with national accrediting bodies and staffs the Membership and Marketing Committees.

Kevin has extensive experience in membership recruitment and retention, strategic marketing, business development, corporate communications, publication management, media and public relations, and governance processes and oversight.

Prior to joining the Alliance, he was director of marketing and communications for the California Association of School Business Officials (CASBO) and he has also held positions as associate director, communications for the California School Boards Association (CSBA), marketing communications director for the Chico Chamber of Commerce, and has operated his own marketing and communications firm, Exclamation Point Communications and Consulting in the Sacramento area.

He received his bachelor's degree in journalism and mass communications from the University of Iowa, with a concentration in marketing and public relations.  

Email Kevin at [email protected].

 

Conferences and Training

Deborah Clore-Myers
Event Specialist & Special Projects Manager

Debbie coordinates all conference and training events and assists in staffing the Continuing Education Committee. A certified meeting planner, Debbie is responsible annually for the coordination of two executive conferences and several conferences and trainings throughout the year on a variety of topics.

Debbie came to the Alliance in 2000 through the merger of the California Association of Children's Homes (CCH) and the California Association of Services for Children (CSC). From 1990 to the merger, Debbie worked with CCH as executive assistant, meeting planner and office manager. Prior to joining CCH, Debbie held bookkeeper and full-charge bookkeeper positions in several settings including the California Psychiatric Association.

Email Debbie at [email protected].

 

Administration and Support

Kim Janoe
Finance and Human Resources Manager

As finance and human resources manager, Kim Janoe manages all Alliance bookeeping functions, payroll and human resources activities. Kim assists the executive director with Board and Executive Committee Meetings and is also the support for the director of membership and marketing.

Kim came to the Alliance in 2000 when it was formed by the merger of the California Association of Services for Children (CSC) and the California Association of Children's Homes (CCH). Previously, Kim worked at CSC as a bookeeper, office manager and executive assistant and worked in the financial sector with Van Kasper and Company and E.F. Hutton.

Email Kim at [email protected].