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Staff Member Bio's
Alison LaFerlita, Executive Director
Executive Director since September 2013
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Alison is the public voice and representative of the NAMC, speaking at and attending conferences, serving on leadership and advisory boards, and talking with the media. She works with the NAMC Board of Trustees, Corporate Committee, and other volunteers to ensure that the NAMC serves its mission, and she’s actively involved in planning and hosting events. You’re likely to find her at our annual Work/Life Conference, the NAMC Mile for Mothers Walk, and national NAMC Conferences. Linda also writes grants, raises money, and manages our budget.
She comes to us with over 18 years’ experience in non-profit and association management where she implemented and developed innovative programs that enhanced member experience and support, grant support and empowerment opportunities for all communities she served. Her experience details a dynamic leader with a proven track record in organizational change, program integrity, operational effectiveness and fund development.
Alison’s leadership style demonstrates the following characteristics and skills which she models and demonstrates for her staff and the community at all times:
- Problem Solver
- Solution Focused
- Capacity Building
- Leads with Integrity
- Takes calculated risks
- Performance Driven
- Customer Focused
Her core values include accountability, responsibility, integrity, humility, dedication, creativity and fairness. Her experience has taught her that the organizational culture must permeate these values from top to bottom.
Alison holds a Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts from Long Island University.
Prior to her working at the NAMC, Alison was a member of the Southwest Nassau and Long Beach Library Centers. She is married with two sons, ages two and four.
Things I do outside of work include travel, biking, hiking, photography, entertaining, reading, decorating and lots and lots of family time.
Traci Caines, Special Events Coordinator
Traci is the organizational mastermind behind all NAMC events. She coordinates our annual Mile for Mothers Walk, our annual Work/Life Conference in November, and the logistics for the NAMC National Conference.
Traci's History with Mothers' Centers
Traci joined the Mothers' Center of New Cassel in the summer of 2013. Although new to NAMC, she is no stranger to advocating for mothers and their children. Her eldest daughter's entrance into elementary school was the precipice of Traci's decision to channel her energies to the children of Westbury. She served as Secretary, Treasurer, and President of the Parent Teacher's Association at her daughter's elementary school. She continued advocating for children by serving as Treasurer and President of the middle school PTSA for two terms. Traci helped to coordinate and liaise between parents, school board, Community School facilitators and administrators.
At simple observation, I am happily married and a proud mother of three thriving daughters. It is when you look closer that my true nature becomes abundantly clear. I have long been an advocate and champion of children's rights and always understood the importance of serving the community. Kindly stated by others, "Traci is the personification of giving back".
I was born and raised in Nassau County. I received my education at Freeport High School, Nassau Community College and New York University. At NYU, I studied Organizational Behavior and Communications.
My civic-minded nature continued to manifest itself in my church and community involvement. One of my latest achievements in the Westbury/New Cassel Community is the New Cassel Youth-Run Farmer's Market operated by Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation. I raised funds and trained students in areas of small business management. I encourage youth to always take pride in their community. I thank God for giving me the strength and desire to continue to make a positive change in the lives of others. It is in my giving of my time, talent and treasure that I find I receive so much joy.
I always take pleasure in spending time with family and friends, especially around the holidays. I love to read, cook new recipes, and watch home decorating & renovation shows on HGTV.
Viviana Russell, Communications Project Manager
Communications Project Manager
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Viviana serves as the catalyst for public and media relations by issuing press releases, drafting presentation materials, and providing communications support. She assists with NAMC events, maintains the website, places articles in trade magazines and journals and supports other communications projects that arise.
Viviana’s history with Mothers’ Centers
Viviana got involved with the Unity Circle Mothers’ Center of Hempstead in 2004, after having her third child. Shortly thereafter she joined the Steering Committee.
- Co-founded the Unity Circle Mothers Center of New Cassel and served on the Steering Committee.
- Facilitated and coordinated center groups, events, and meetings.
- Came on board as a staff member of the NAMC in August 2007.
I was born and raised in East Elmhurst , New York and attended Jerome Hardeman Day Care, St. Gabriel’s Elementary School, Thomas A. Edison High School , Medgar Evers College and the College of New Rochelle where I received my B.A. in Social Science . I worked as a human resources benefits associate for 10 years at a major insurance company. I have also worked as a constituent liaison for the New York State Assembly, a program coordinator for a community revitalization non-profit organization, and am a licensed real estate agent.
I’m heavily involved in the community and have an extensive background in community outreach. I’ve worked with the Unified New Cassel Community Revitalization Corporation, New Cassel Block Captains, and the Weed and Seed Coalition. I’ve advocated on behalf of community residents, supported local organizations, participated in the planning of annual events such as the International Festival, National Night Out Against Crime, tree lighting ceremony, financial seminars and others. Volunteering for community, faith-based, and youth initiatives are all important to me.
I enjoy dancing as a liturgical dancer with the First Baptist Cathedral of Westbury Praise Dancers, Samaritan Women of God, and Sanaa Movement. I’m also a chaplain and an enthusiast. As a wife and the mother of three children, Gary Jr., Imani and Malachi I can testify that this is not an easy task, but I thank God for choosing me to be a mother--even when my creative three-year-old wants to play the ‘drums’ on my pot and pan lids while I’m trying to cook dinner!
Lisa Kaplan-Miller, Program Director
As program director, Lisa works with new and existing Mothers’ Center programs, offering telephone support, helping with leadership development, and presenting workshops to centers on a variety of topics. She also coordinates special programs for the NAMC, including Circle of Caring support groups for women experiencing perinatal or postpartum depression. Lisa writes grants to secure funding for the NAMC and assists centers that are seeking grants in their communities.
Lisa’s History with Mothers’ Centers
Lisa joined The Mothers’ Center of Southwest Nassau when her first child was three months old and was thrilled to find such a warm and welcoming place to share the experience of being a new mom. She became active in various committees, including Membership and Steering, and “lived and breathed Mothers’ Center” as her center relocated several times before finding a more permanent home. She joined the board of the NAMC and also worked as a consultant to several centers. She joined the staff of the NAMC in 2001.
I was born and raised in Queens, New York and earned a bachelor’s degree from New York University and an master’s in social work from Hunter College. Before getting involved in the Mothers’ Center, I worked with the homebound and frail elderly at several local social service agencies.
I have two children, the oldest now in college. Through my local Mothers’ Center, I’ve been involved with Mother/Daughter groups with both of my girls. During my free time I like to garden, hike, canoe, and camp with my family.
Kristel Lazarus, Office Manager
Kristel maintains the NAMC member database, accepts and acknowledges donations, pays bills, takes care of payroll and refers people to Mothers’ Center programs in their area.
Kristel’s History with Mothers’ Centers
Kristel is an alum of Sunrise Mothers’ Center (1992 to 1999), where she served as a facilitator. She began volunteering at the NAMC in 2000, doing data entry and putting together newsletter mailings. She started working part-time for the NAMC in October 2001.
I graduated from Baruch College with a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1983. I’ve been married to Robert for 21 years, and we have two sons, Matt (16) and Brandon (13). We also have many pets that the boys wanted and I take care of: a beagle named Daisy, two turtles, one gecko, and assorted fish. My favorite activities are camping, computer games, reading, bowling, and kayaking.
Valerie Young, Advocacy Coordinator
Valerie represents NAMC and its netroots public policy MOTHERS Initiative in Washington , D.C. She is an advocate for recognition of mothers’ contributions to our national welfare and a proponent of economic security and independence for those who care for family members. Valerie analyzes state and national legislative action through the lens of motherhood, educating policy makers and others who work on issues pertinent to women. Valerie advises our members on developments in the political arena, demystifying the political process and encouraging the personal activism of mothers and other family caregivers.
Valerie’s History with Mothers’ Centers
Trained as an attorney, Valerie realized that gender continued to constrain women's achievements and status after reading The Price of Motherhood by Ann Crittenden. Thus began a long inquiry into economic and political data regarding women generally, and mothers and other family caregivers in particular. Valerie now blogs about the effect of family carework on a woman's economic security and related issues at Your (Wo)Man in Washington, as well as spurring discussion among stakeholders via Facebook and Twitter. She also serves on the Advisory Council for the Caring Economy Campaign, as well as other collaborative efforts promoting women's empowerment.
Inspired by Ms. Crittenden and other activists, Valerie helped bring MOTHERS into being and volunteered on the Steering Committee while the website developed and the membership grew. Her focus shifted from law to women’s issues through her work for the National Association of Women Judges and the National Partnership for Women & Families.
Valerie became the NAMC’s advocacy coordinator in 2005, devoting her head and heart to social justice initiatives furthering the interests of mothers, women, and those who do care work.
I love living near Washington, D.C., and watching the exercise of power at all levels of government. The women in the U.S. House and Senate are tremendously inspiring, and I am so proud of what we as a group have achieved in this country. I want all women, and especially mothers who have such a huge stake in the future, to see themselves as essential actors and agents of change in the formation of public policy. This work is more fun and more interesting than being a lawyer ever was.
My husband and I are raising our school-aged son and daughter, making constant trips to the library, and trying not to embarrass them publicly, which they claim we do with alarming frequency
Catherine Wright, Communications Liaison
Catherine is responsible for the NAMC eNews, social networking and website maintenance.
Catherine’s History with Mothers’ Centers
Catherine was introduced to Mothers’ Centers in April 2007. Her passion for families coupled with her networking activities led her to the opportunity to work for the NAMC. She began her career with us on May 21, 2007, her own mother’s 70th birthday! Catherine’s earliest experience connecting with other mothers was in Fairfield, Iowa in 1994. She was living 1,000 miles away from family and, after the birth of her son, Devan, friends brought her meals every day for five weeks. She was so moved that she started a “Meals for Moms” group to do the same thing for other new mothers.
Catherine now works part-time for NAMC remotely from Northwest Arkansas while pursuing a full-time career in with WorkMatters, a non-profit dedicated to closing the gap between faith and work.
I began my career in the software industry in 1981. In 1989, I started Arisoft Software, a business solutions software consulting company. I made the transition to sales and leadership training and coaching in 2000, driven by my passion for helping people be successful in all areas of their work and their lives. I love writing and public speaking and look for opportunities to do both whenever I can.
On a personal note, I gave birth to my son in 1994 at home with a midwife. I’ve volunteered for the Foundation for Sight and Sound, Island Harvest, Habitat for Humanity and WorkMatters in NW Arkansas. I have spoken for many organizations including BPW, American Business Associates, U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, Hauppauge Industrial Association, International Association of Business Communicators, Long Island Association, Long Island Center for Business and Professional Women, Independent Business Women’s Circle, Toastmasters International, and Big Brothers Big Sisters.