Mothers' Center Groups Leadership Council Coordinator
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 Mom-mentum, speaking at and attending conferences, serving on leadership and advisory boards, and talking with the media. She works with the Mom-mentum Board of Trustees, Corporate Committee, and other volunteers to ensure that Mom-mentum serves its mission, and she’s actively involved in planning and hosting events. You’re likely to find her at our annual Womens Leadership Conference, the Mom-mentum Mile for Mothers Walk, and national Mom-mentum Conferences. Alison 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 Mom-mentum, 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.
Kate Fineske, Assistant Executive Director
Leadership Liaison/Social Media Strategist
Kate maintains and provides the content to the Mothers Central Blog - the Official Blog of Mom-mentum. She is also responsible for organizing our National Mothers’ Center Leadership Council with the goal of building strong connections to and support for Mothers’ Center leadership.
Kate's History with Mothers' Centers
Kate joined the Mothers Center of Greater Toledo in the fall of 2005. As a member of her local chapter, she initially got involved at a leadership level as the Programming Chair at the Toledo, Ohio chapter (helping to program weekly meetings with guest speakers and facilitated topics). Later she became Facilitator of her chapter and currently still participates in a leadership role as Website and BigTent Chair with the Mothers Center of Greater Toledo. In 2009, she began participating in the NAMC (now known as Mom-mentum) webinar's and was highlighted as a guest webinar presenter discussing unique ways to successfully organize, maintain and pass the torch of leadership roles within the local Mothers' Center Organizations. In 2011 Kate joined the NAMC (now known as Mom-mentum) staff by blogging on a weekly basis for Mom-mentum's Mothers Central Blog.
I was born in Mansfield, Ohio and have always been the "creative type" - enjoying art, creative writing, and music. I graduated from the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts and a personalized degree focusing on graphic design, advertising, marketing and communications while also concentrating in music by participating in the university's orchestra and jazz band as a string bassist and pianist.
After graduation, I landed an internship in London, England where I worked for a large soft-bank company doing web and print marketing. This time abroad (along with the many family vacation trips I took as a child!) helped to ignite my great love of travel. After returning to the states, I worked in the fast-paced industry of advertising design for a large mid-west advertising firm. In 2000 I married my husband and together, in 2002, we began what would become our current family of 3 children and 1 very loved (and very patient!) Shitzu dog.
I also teach graphic design as an adjunct faculty member at a local community college and occasionally freelance as a graphic artist. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with my family, bike riding, reading and just relaxing at home.
Traci Caines, Director of Development and Events
Director of Development and Events
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Traci is the organizational mastermind behind all Mom-mentum events. She coordinates our annual Mile for Mothers Walk, our annual Women's Leadership 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 Mom-mentum, 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 four 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.
Melanie Denzer, Group Development Manager
Group Development Manager
In the newly created role of Group Development Manager, Melanie will be responsible for growing the community of Mothers' Center Groups and supporting those already in existence.
Melanie’s History with Mothers’ Centers
Melanie first joined the Rockville Centre Public Library’s Mothers’ Circle in 2011 after having her second child. Later, she joined The Mothers’ Center of Southwest Nassau after being presented with the opportunity to take their Facilitator Training Group. Melanie is a group facilitator and member of: the Babysitting Co-Op, Peer Business (group programming), the Finance Committee and Mom-mentum’s Leadership Council.
Her three children love the on-site childcare at Southwest Nassau and look forward to going to the Center as much as their mom does each week!
Growing up, public service was a core value in my family, and I am trying to instill that same ethic in my children. I see Mom-mentum and the Centers as an extension of that service. I’m excited for the opportunity to spread Mom-mentum’s values and build support networks for women. In my “spare” time, I am a recruiting consultant in the Fashion industry.
Viviana Russell, Administration and Communications Manager
Administration and Communications 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 Mom-mentum events, maintains the website, places articles in trade magazines and journals and supports other communications projects that arise. She also works on vendor negotiations and contracts.
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 (now known as Mom-mentum) 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, am a NYS Licensed Real Estate Agent and Notary Public. I also hold the distinction of making history by being the first African American woman ever elected to the North Hempstead Town Board. Elected in November 2009, I serve as Councilwoman for New Cassel/Westbury, Carle Place and the Villages of Westbury and Old Westbury.
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 and to all types of music. I love bike riding and recently obtained my motorcycle permit. 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.
Valerie Young, Public Policy Analyst
Public Policy Analyst
Valerie represents Mom-mentum as our Advocacy Coordinator 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. In addition to writing the twice a month NAMC Advocacy eNews, her work also appears in The Shriver Report, Brain/Child Magazine, and is frequently featured on BlogHer.com.
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.
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.
Brandi Walerius, Mothers' Center Group Support and Growth Training Consultant
Mothers' Center Group Support and Growth Training Consultant
As a Mom-mentum consultant, Brandi is helping to lead our new start-a-group initiative and working to build an easier model to expand our groups and our member benefits.
Brandi's history with Mothers’ Centers:
Brandi has been a member of the Mothers' Center of Greater Toledo since 2013 and currently co-facilitates their Executive Momma's Group - a group set up for other their members to meet other working parents, network and learn from each other, while also getting support through the joys and frustrations of working and mothering.
Brandi lives in Ohio, has 2 young children and in addition to her consulting with Mom-mentum is a Human Resource and Business consultant and co-facilitates MC Toledo's Executive Mommas Group.
Christine Farrugia, Center Groups Leadership Council Coordinator
Center Groups Leadership Council
In her role, Christine coordinates and implements ideas and programs which will increase communication and collaborative initiatives between Mom-mentum and our Mothers’ Center Groups. She also works to Identify ways Mom-mentum can better support Mothers Center Groups including implementation and planing of the programming for the annual Leadership Council Retreat
Christine’s history with Mothers’ Centers
Christine joined the Mothers’ Center Circle at the Middle Country Public Library in 2010. She took facilitator training and eventually became a group Facilitator. She currently facilitates two different library mothers’ center circles. She has been involved with the Leadership Council for the past two years.
Motherhood is the most rewarding journey I have ever embarked upon and having the opportunity to share it with other women through Mom-mentum is a gift. I believe strongly in the kinship, acceptance, compassion and strength that women find in our mothers’ center groups. I thank my four precious children for providing me with the opportunity to experience these gifts. A native Long Islander, I received my Bachelor of Arts in English and Journalism from the State University of New York at Stony Brook and my Master of Library Science from Queens College. I work as a librarian in a public library. Helping people, especially children, and my community is a priority for me and I fulfill it by serving as a Girl Scout leader, Cub Scout leader, religious education teacher and Board member of our school’s Parent Teacher Association. My three daughters and one son, as well as my husband, believe in the value of community service and sharing our time and energy with various organizations. Words are a vital part of my life and I nurture that passion by being both an avid reader and writer. I am a longtime member of a Book Discussion Group, love connecting with the natural world through hiking, camping and caring for my pets, and enjoy cooking and baking (both indoors and outdoors!).
Jan deQuillfeldt, Mothers' Center Group Library Coordinator and Mothers' Center Group Growth Consultant
Mothers' Center Group Library Coordinator and Mothers' Center Group Growth Consultant
In her various roles with Mom-mentum, Jan coordinates all our Long Island area Family Place Library Groups, advises on various Mothers' Center Group initiatives and is working to help us expand our facilitative training model so we can reach more of our membership with our unique facilitator training.
Jan's history with Mothers’ Centers:
Jan has been a member of Mom-mentum for 24 years and has held many leadership roles in the organization. She currently facilitates Mothers’ Center groups at the Sachem and Middle Country libraries. She also is the Social Work Consultant of the Midshore Mothers’ Center in Massapequa, New York.
Jan has two grown children and is a psychotherapist with a private practice on Long Island, New York. Her previous positions have included Information and Referral Coordinator of Response Crisis Hotline, Executive Director of the Displaced Homemakers Multiservice Center, and Administrative Assistant to the United Methodist Office at the Church Center for the United Nations.