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Meet the Staff

About Us

Meet the Staff

Mission Champions

Erin Paugh

Sheena Sullivan

Sheena Sullivan has 15+ years of experience leading and consulting nonprofit organizations. An Iowa native, she spent almost two decades living in Chicago and Denver and is happy to have returned to her home state in 2019. 

Sheena has a master's degree in social work from Loyola University Chicago and is a candidate for a Ph.D. in organizational development and leadership from the University of Arizona Global Campus. 

She is passionate about proactively supporting families during the critical time of early childhood. 

Executive Director

Sheena Sullivan

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Rachel has always been drawn to helping other people realize their potential. After college, she worked in various family support positions before taking time away from the workforce to start a family. When her first child was born 8+ years ago, she quickly realized that all her “book knowledge” on parenting was not going to cut it! Parenting was more challenging, draining, AND rewarding than she ever could have imagined.


In her role as supervisor for the PAT program, Rachel works with our incredibly talented team of Parent Educators and appreciates their passion and commitment to helping families move through these early years.


Rachel and her husband have two sons who keep them very busy and entertained! In her spare time, she enjoys scrapbooking, gardening, and relaxing.

PAT Program Director

Rachel Bardwell

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Throughout Erin's life, she's been reminded of how true the saying "It takes a village" actually is.  She was born and raised the oldest of six kids in a small farming community in southern Iowa. From an early age , Erin learned firsthand the support that community can offer families and the impact that they can make. 


Erin graduated with a degree in Community Health Ed. from Iowa State and worked 17+ years at state and local levels in various programs relating to children's health issues. She recently had the privilege of working directly with youth in the Indianola Schools.


Erin and her husband have called Indianola home since 2002. They're raising three beautiful kids that keep them very busy; two daughters and a son. In her free time she loves creating in any capacity (baking, refinishing furniture, home projects) but her favorite thing to do is to take an outdoor adventure with her kids. 

Diaper Bank Program Manager

Erin Paugh

Parent Educators

Bonnie Forsyth


Parent Educator Mentor

Bonnie was born and raised in Creston, Iowa. She has always had a big desire to do all she could to make a difference in the lives of children. 

Bonnie spent 25-plus years doing child abuse prevention work. From an early home visitation project to serving eight years on the Prevent Child Abuse Iowa Board and six years on the Iowa Respite and Crisis Care Board, she has always aimed to better the lives of children.

Bonnie dearly loves being a cheerleader for Parent Educators. She is honored to be welcomed into the family's homes and lives. Bonnie is grateful for the opportunity to contribute positively to both the parents and children's day to day experiences. She has always felt that all parents (including myself) want to do the very best job possible of parenting.

Danielle Kenworthy


Parent Educator

Danielle joined The Short Years Partnership as a parent educator in May of 2018, and loves it! She finds it a joy to meet and work with families while helping guide and observe the development of their children. Prior to becoming a parent educator, Danielle taught kindergarten and first grade for 20 years. She graduated from Morningside College with degrees in early childhood and elementary education.

 In addition to her teaching experience, Danielle learned about children through foster parenting, adopting, and her own children.

Born and raised in Iowa, Danielle calls Lake Panorama home. In her spare time, she enjoys boating, driving her ’66 Ford Mustang, spending time with family, attending concerts and musicals, cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones, and traveling.

Sami Heithoff


Parent Educator

Sami has lived in rural Madison County nearly all her life. She and her husband are blessed to be raising their three sweet and energetic boys close to where she grew up.

Sami's professional background includes teaching special education and third grade for 6 years. She spent the last 11 years as a stay-at-home mom during which time she was also a substitute teacher and reading tutor.

Parents  As Teachers benefited Sami's family when her boys were younger and she is now excited to be a PAT educator herself and partner with families on this exciting adventure called “parenting”!

Sami currently spends much of her time supporting her children's extra-curricular activities and volunteering at school and church. When she has “free” time, she enjoys photography, shopping, and catching up  with family and friends.

Deb Seeman


Parent Educator

Deb is a born and raised Iowa girl. She and her husband have two grown children and she has always loved being around kids. 


In her younger years, Deb spent many hours babysitting and teaching swimming lessons.  During her career, Deb was a Para-Educator in a preschool, a Lead Teacher in a daycare, and most recently, a Nanny. 


Deb joined Parents As Teachers as a Parent Educator in May  2019. She enjoys meeting new families and helping them in any way she can. 


In her free time, Deb enjoys reading, crafting, traveling, spending time with my family, and playing with her dogs.

Ricki Schroeder


Parent Educator

Ricki joined Parents as Teachers in July of 2020.  Joining Parents as Teachers has been a blessing that has allowed her to continue to fuel herpassion for working with children and families in a new and exciting way. 


Ricki originally began her professional career in corporate America.  Upon having little ones of my own she realized her true passion and desire to work with children and exited the corporate world to open her home to other working parents and their children for the next 12 years. 


Ricki is a long-time resident of Warren County, Iowa, was born and raised in Indianola, and now proudly calls Norwalk home.  She and her husband have been blessed with three amazing children. In their free time, they enjoy cycling, boating, traveling, and spending time with their children and pups. 

Khulud Abdulhamid

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Parent Educator

Khulud was born and raised in Iraq where she grew up in a large extended family enjoying time with my many nieces, nephews, and cousins. She graduated from the University of Baghdad, Department of Business Administration and then owned a computer office store.


Khulud moved to Iowa in 2009 with her husband and young sons. Since being in the US, Khulud volunteered and worked as a translator for schools, hospitals,  or anyone who needed assistance.

She finds it a joy working as a Parent Educator, especially the opportunity to serve families by communicating in their language, understanding their needs, supporting them, and helping their children prepare for school.   


During her free time, Khulud enjoys spending time with her family, painting, and the newest member of their family, a British Shorthair kitten. 

Laura Molina

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Parent Educator

Laura was born and raised in Mexico. She received a Bachelor's degree in Accounting at Tecnologico de Monterrey. Before moving to Des Moines in 2021, she lived in Dallas, Texas for almost 20 years which is where she and her husband started raising their three daughters.


Laura’s corporate work experience is in Human Resources and Finance. However, she has always loved being around kids. While living in Dallas she was a teacher at Spanish School House, where she taught young children in Spanish.


Laura joined Parents as Teachers as a parent educator in November of 2022. She enjoys getting to connect with new families and aiding with the language barrier. As an immigrant herself, she knows the struggle of raising children in a foreign country.


In her free time, Laura loves running, painting, and spending time with her family, which includes their golden doodle, Molly.

Tracie Backstrom


Parent Educator

Tracie’s passion in life has been to support children and families in central Iowa. After serving 20 years as a public schools special education teacher in Des Moines and surrounding suburbs, she is thrilled to have found the perfect career as a Parent Educator for Jasper County. She is committed to serving the individual needs of the families she works with; and understands how crucial the early years of a child’s development is, and the importance of parents being their child’s first teacher. 


Tracie lives at Holiday Lake in Brooklyn with her husband PJ, who is also a special education teacher.  They have 7 children ranging from age 5 to 17.  The kids keep them busy and they love spending time as a family doing all things outdoors-fishing, boating, swimming, and riding ATVs. 

Felicia Hazelton


Parent Educator

Felicia was born and raised in Newton, Iowa and grew to find her passion in working with children. Graduating from University of Upper Iowa with a Human Services degree and Psychology Minor, Felicia has worked in a number of different fields with children including: Head Daycare Teacher, Shift Supervisor at ChildServe, and a Teacher Aide in a school setting. In 2021, Felicia came across Parents as Teachers, and she instantly fell in love with her role as a Parent Educator and the families she served.


After becoming a new mom in 2023, Felicia took time away from PAT to be a stay-at-home- mom to her daughter. Felicia is beyond excited to be back as a Parent Educator, serving both Jasper and Marion counties. 


During her free time, Felicia enjoys traveling, riding her bike, camping, boating, and spending time with her family and friends.

Jennifer Murray


Parent Educator

Jenn is a long-standing member of the Marion County community, residing proudly in Pleasantville. She married her high school sweetheart and they have four children. During her free time, Jenn enjoys attending her children's extracurricular activities, spending quality time with her family, and actively contributing to the community.  

Her professional journey began in corporate America before she pursued her aspiration of being a stay-at-home parent. She later owned and operated a daycare before transitioning to a Paraprofessional in preschool. 

Board of Directors

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Marc Elcock

Elcock Law Firm/State of Iowa/SWCC - Magistrate/Professor

Marc has spent much of his professional life working with families and children. As a practicing attorney and judicial magistrate, he is acutely aware of the obstacles facing many of the families we serve. His legal work is primarily focused on assisting children and families navigate the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.


He has a BS from Iowa State University, an MPH from Des Moines University, an MPA and a JD from Drake University, and is in the dissertation phase of his Ed.D. at Drake’s School of Education.


Vice President

Alyssa Caldbeck

Iowa Project Launch/Drake University- Mental Health Consultant

Alyssa is passionate about supporting children and families. She has a Bachelor’s of Sociology and a Masters of Social Work from the University of Iowa. Alyssa combines her knowledge and experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and mental health professional to use her voice to advocate for others. In her career, Alyssa has had the opportunity to work in the different communities served by Short Years through various roles. She has also lived in Warren County most of her life.


Past President

Alaina Santizo

Iowa Economic Development Authority, Senior Project Manager

Alaina has spent most of her career working at the Iowa Economic Development Authority, managing various funding programs directed at both public and private entities. She is passionate about helping families and early childhood education. She has a BA from the University of Iowa and an MBA from Drake University. During her free time, she can be found at various parks and ballfields throughout central Iowa with her husband and three children. 



Robert Endriss

Denman & Company, LLP - Partner

Robert is an audit manager for Denman and Company with a practice focusing on audit and consulting services for non-profits and local governments in Central Iowa. Robert joined the Short Years Partnership board as Treasurer in 2017 and has previously served in similar roles for WeLIFT Job Search Center, the National Balloon Classic, and his Church. Robert lives in Indianola with his four children.



Lisa Connell

Iowa Economic Development Authority, Assistant Legal Counsel

Lisa Connell is an attorney for the Iowa Economic Development Authority. She provides legal counsel for the administration of programs relating to energy, tourism, and business development and general representation of the agency. Lisa has a BA from the University of Northern Iowa and JD from The University of Kansas School of Law. Lisa grew up in Council Bluffs and now lives in Waukee with her husband and two daughters.



Morgan Konrad

Choices Therapy Services, Counselor

Morgan has worked in the substance abuse field since 2014 and has worked in Warren County since 2015. She provides substance abuse counseling as well as education/prevention services.  Morgan is a member of the Indianola community with her family and is a graduate of Iowa State University. Morgan is passionate about keeping the community safe, healthy, and growing which includes helping our families succeed when in need and being able to connect to resources. 

Parent Educators
Board of Directors

Our team at The Short Years Partnership all share a commitment to helping children have the best possible start in life. We know that parents in our community want the best for their children, and we also know from our own experiences that parenting is challenging.  Our STAFF, PARENT EDUCATORS, and BOARD OF DIRECTORS are passionate about providing the families we work with the information, tools, support, and resources they need to help their children learn and grow. 

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