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

Executive Director

As the mother of a toddler, the mission of The Short Years Partnership is close to my heart.

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

I hold 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.

Val Cameron

Child Abuse Prevention Program Coordinator

I was born and raised in Iowa. I have two grown children. Children have always been my number one priority. My career in early childhood has allowed me to work with programs and families in many different roles. I am passionate about helping families succeed. In my role as a coordinator, I believe the importance of bringing awareness and education in order to prevent child abuse. When I am not traveling to spoil my granddaughter, I enjoy camping, attending Iowa State sporting events, and being outside.

Rachel Bardwell

PAT Program Supervisor

I have always been drawn to helping other people realize their potential. After college, I worked in various family support positions before taking time away from the workforce to start a family. When my first child was born 8+ years ago, I quickly realized that all my “book knowledge” on parenting was not going to cut it! Parenting was more challenging, draining, AND rewarding than I ever could have imagined. Now that I am past the baby, toddler, and preschool phases, I can start to see the truth in the old saying, “The days are long, but the years are short.”


In my role as supervisor for the PAT program, I get to work with our incredibly talented team of Parent Educators. Each Educator approaches her job with such a passion for families. It is a joy to work with a team that is so committed to helping families move through these early years. I get to hear so many wonderful stories from our Parent Educators about the great things they see happening with the families they get to visit.


My husband and I have two sons who keep us very busy and entertained! In my spare time, I enjoy scrapbooking, gardening, and relaxing.

"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

Bonnie Forsyth

Parent Educator

I was born and raised in Creston Iowa. I have always had a big desire to do all I could to make a difference in the lives of children. 

I have 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, I have always had the goal of bettering the lives of children.

I dearly love being a cheerleader for all of my past and present PAT families. I am honored to be welcomed into my family's homes and lives. I am grateful for the opportunity to make a positive contribution to both the parents and children's day to day experiences. I have always felt that all parents (including myself) want to do the very best job possible of parenting.

Danielle Johnston

Parent Educator

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

 In addition to my teaching experience, I have learned about children through foster parenting, adopting, and having children of my own. I do private academic tutoring, and I am a volunteer mentor for New Opportunities. 

I was born and raised in Iowa, and I call Lake Panorama home. In my spare time I enjoying boating, driving my ’66 Ford Mustang, spending time with family, attending concerts and musicals, cheering for the Iowa State Cyclones, and traveling.

Sami Heithoff

Parent Educator

I have lived in rural Madison County nearly all of my life. My husband I are blessed to be raising our three sweet and energetic boys very close to where I grew up. I understand the joys and struggles we parents face on a daily basis.

 I have always had a love for children. My professional background includes teaching special education and third grade for 6 years. I have spent the last 11 years as a stay-at-home mom during which time I have been a substitute teacher, reading tutor, and of course doing all of the “mom things” that we do.


I currently spend a lot of time supporting my children at their extra-curricular activities and volunteering at school and church. When I have “free” time, I enjoy photography, shopping and catching up  with  family and friends.


Parents  As Teachers is a wonderful program that benefited my family when my boys were younger. I am now very excited to be a PAT educator myself and am ready to be a partner with you and your family on this exciting adventure called “parenting”!

Deb Seeman

Parent Educator

I am a born and raised Iowa girl. My husband and I have 2 grown children. I have always loved being around kids. 


In my younger years, I spent many hours babysitting and teaching swimming lessons.  During my career, I have been a Para-Educator in a preschool, a Lead Teacher in a daycare and most recently, a Nanny. 


I joined Parents As Teachers as a Parent Educator in May  2019. I look forward to meeting many new families and helping them in any way I can. 


In my free time, I enjoy reading, crafting, traveling, spending time with my family and playing with our dogs.

Ricki Schroeder

Parent Educator

I joined Parents as Teachers in July of 2020.  2020, has been an interesting year for everyone.  It has presented many challenges and surprises.  Joining Parents as Teachers has been a 2020 blessing and has allowed me to continue to fuel my passion for working with children and families in a new and exciting way. 


I originally began my professional career in corporate America.  Upon having little ones of my own I realized my true passion and desire to work with children. In 2008, I made the decision to exit the corporate world and open my home to other working parents and their children.  Over the next 12 years, I was blessed to work with amazing families. This further fed my desire to make a difference in the lives of families, children, and our community. 


I am a long time resident of Warren County, Iowa.  Born and raised in Indianola and now proud to call Norwalk my home.  My husband and I have been blessed with three amazing children. In our free time, we enjoy cycling, boating, traveling, and spending time with our children and pups. 

Melany Garcia

Parent Educator

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


I moved to central Illinois 10 years ago and I continued to pursue my passion both professionally and through volunteer work with various outreach organizations working with inner city kids, at risk youth, foster care families, and summer and after school programs.


I love teaching and building relationships and am excited to be in Iowa now as part of PAT, a team that is making such an impactful difference in their community.


In my free time I love spending time with family and friends, making music, and going on adventures with my daughter.

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

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.

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.

Bailey Saal



Baily has been in the mental health field since 2007 and opened a mental health practice in 2012. She also provides therapy services to the Indianola School District.  Her two young children are involved in many activities and the family enjoys spending time at their lake house. Bailey is passionate about keeping families safe and connecting them to early intervention services to help families succeed.