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Meet the Staff

About Us

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. 

Meet the Staff

Mission Champions

Sheena Sullivan



As the mother of a toddler, the mission of The Short Years Partnership is close to Sheena Sullivan's heart.

Sheena is happy to have recently returned to my home state of Iowa after spending almost 20 years in the Chicago and Denver Metro areas where she served, led, and consulted with nonprofit organizations.

Sheena holds a master’s degree in social work with a focus on leadership and development in the social services and a post master's certificate in philanthropy and nonprofit management from Loyola University Chicago.

Executive Director

Val Cameron



Val was born and raised in Iowa. She has two grown children and they have always been her number one priority. Val's career in early childhood has allowed her to work with programs and families in many different roles. She is passionate about helping families succeed.


In her role as a coordinator, she believes in the importance of bringing awareness and education in order to prevent child abuse.


When Val isn't traveling to spoil her granddaughter, she enjoys camping, attending Iowa State sporting events, and being outside.

Child Abuse Prevention

Program Coordinator

Rachel Bardwell


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 Supervisor

Erin Paugh


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 the small farming community of Humeston, 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. 

Program Assistant

Young Dad

"Our parent educator genuinely shows interest in my concerns and genuinely seems to enjoy what she does and our family. She truly cares and encourages all of us. It brings me happiness and gives us confidence." - PAT Particpant

Parent Educators


Parent Educator

Bonnie Forsyth

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 had the goal of bettering the lives of children.

Bonnie dearly loves being a cheerleader for all of her past and present PAT families. She is honored to be welcomed into the family's homes and lives. Bonnie is grateful for the opportunity to make a positive contribution 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.


Parent Educator

Danielle Johnston

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.


Parent Educator

Sami Heithoff

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.


Parent Educator

Deb Seeman

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.


Parent Educator

Ricki Schroeder

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. 


Parent Educator

Melany Garcia

Melanie was born in Mexico and raised in a small farming town in Southern Illinois, where her family served a community of migrant workers. It was there that her love for community and families was born. She recognized the huge need for bridging gaps and connecting families to resources and support organizations.


Melanie continued to pursue her passion both professionally and through volunteer work with various outreach organizations working with inner city kids, at-risk youth, foster care families, and summer or after-school programs.


She loves teaching and building relationships and is excited to be a part of PAT, a team that is making such an impactful difference in their community.


In her free time, Melanie loves spending time with family and friends, making music, and going on adventures with her daughter.

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Parent Educator

Khulud Abdulhamid

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. 


Parent Educator

Rebecca Woell

Rebecca has known for a long time that she enjoys working with children and their parents and has been fortunate to do so in a number of different settings. She started in multi-age elementary classrooms, taught middle-school science, and most recently worked in a Montessori pre-school. Being part of the Short Years Partnership as a Parent Educator feels like the job for which she's been training all of her career.


Although she grew up in Michigan, Rebecca lived in West Virginia, California, and North Carolina before returning to the Midwest ten years ago—first to Michigan and now to Iowa since 2020. Moving during the pandemic has been strange, but she has enjoyed exploring Iowa and getting to know her new home state. She and her husband have two sons, a dog, and a cat who keep them busy.

Board of Directors

Parent Educators
Board of Directors

Alaina Santizo



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. 

Marc Elcock

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Vice President

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.

Greg Staples


Past President

Greg is the Chief of Police for the City of Norwalk, Iowa. He has been a sworn Law enforcement officer for 31 years. Greg came to the Short Years Partnership after serving as President of the Child Abuse Prevention Council of Warren County. His interest in helping families succeed stems from a previous investigation into a missing 3-year-old.  When not serving the community as a police officer, Greg enjoys spending time with his wife, playing ice hockey, over the road cycling and tending to his day lily flowers.

Robert Endriss



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



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.

Alyssa Caldbeck



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.

Staci Scheurenbrand


Staci Scheurenbrand is the Executive Director of the National Balloon Classic (NBC) in Indianola, Iowa. Held annually for over 50 years, the NBC is the second-largest competitive hot air balloon event in the nation. Prior to her position with the NBC, Staci was Director of WeLIFT Job Search Center where she helped prepare individuals to become job-ready. Staci has 25+ years of experience in marketing, strategic planning, and business development.

An Iowa native, Staci graduated from Simpson College with a degree in Marketing Communications. An avid volunteer, she is also a freelance writer for various writing genres and has been published many times. Staci lives in Indianola with her husband Jim and their two sons, both Drake Bulldogs.

Catherine Reaman-Gerdes


Catherine is currently the Program Supervisor for Crisis and Advocacy Services, which provides comprehensive victim services in Polk and Warren County.  She has spent her entire career working with survivors of child abuse, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and other violent crimes.  Throughout her career, she has been active in developing community-based programs designed to prevent abuse and to help those impacted by violence heal from the trauma.  She is passionate about programs that support resiliency and trauma-informed principals.

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