Learn more about our staff, teachers and trainers
Barbara Wojtach, LCSW
Barbara is a social worker by profession, working in Child Welfare and the Adoption field for over 25 years. Barbara began her role as the program manager of FAKCE in December 2013. Prior to that time, in addition to her full time job as a social worker with the County of San Diego, she was a trainer for FAKCE, specializing in attachment and adoption issues for approximately 15 years. Barbara is passionate about improving the lives of foster children by helping caregivers obtain the education and training that they need, so that they can provide exemplary care to the children in their homes.
Daniela Solano Murphy, MPA
Daniela Solano Murphy joined the Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Care Education Program in 2017. Daniela previously worked advocating for hunger relief issues in San Diego County and implemented strategic outreach efforts to help local citizens access food resources. Daniela is passionate and dedicated to impact initiatives that contribute to bettering the health and well-being of people living in San Diego County. Today Daniela provides daily administrative support to the FAKCE program and is instrumental in establishing community partnerships, scheduling classes/special events and recruiting expert educators/speakers to ensure that foster, adoptive and kinship families have access to vital resources, information and trainings to support them in their fostering journey caring for trauma exposed children and families.
Juliana Vega graduated from the University of California San Diego where she studied sociology with an emphasis on social inequality. Her commitment to equity in all communities throughout San Diego County led her to work advocating for hunger relief issues. Presently Juliana is Program Specialist for the Foster, Adoptive and Kinship Care Education Program where she manages the social media and prepares class materials for our trainers. She is committed to ensuring that our social media platforms can reach foster, adoptive and kinship parents in the county to increase awareness about our invaluable workshops, classes and support groups.
Aida has been a foster parent in San Diego County for over 14 years. Aida began working part time for the FAKCE program in 2010 and full time in 2014. Aida is the friendly voice you hear over the phone when you call our registration line. Aida is fluent in both English and Spanish.
Jeanne Schwertfeger is a foster mom of 17 years and an adoptive mom of four girls. She has had extensive experience recognizing signs and symptoms (behaviors) in foster children. She has extensive experience caring for children and youth who have experienced trauma. She enjoys sharing her experiences and ideas with other foster, adoptive and kinship parents. Jeanne has been an instructor teaching a variety of classes for the last 12 years with the Grossmont FAKCE program.
Gisella Gomez, MSW
Gisella Gomez has a Masters in Social work from San Diego State University. She worked for Child Welfare Services for 5 years as an adoption social worker and is now a social worker and family developer for Casey Family Programs. She began educating foster parents for FAKCE in 2013 and truly enjoys providing education and expertise in areas around trauma, grief and loss, attachment and discipline. Gisella teaches classes in both English and Spanish.
Denise Phipps, MFT
Denise Phipps is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist. She has been working in the field of Social Services for the past 15 years with the emphasis on helping both foster and adoptive families who are at risk, stay together, move toward healing and maintain healthy functioning lives. Denise has been extensively trained in Attachment Narrative Therapy, Theraplay, EMDR, Sandplay, Art Therapy, Grieve and Loss and TF-CBT. Denise is currently the Lead Therapist for San Diego Youth Services Adoption Support Program and provides individual, family, and couples therapy to pre- and post-adoptive families.
MaryAnn has been a foster parent for 25 years. In that time, MaryAnn has fostered over 400 children. Her home is currently a Way Station foster home which means that she on call, so to speak, to take children, mainly babies and toddlers, when called. In addition to being a foster parent, and being Mom to 9 children, MaryAnn is an incredible foster parent trainer and mentor. MaryAnn has been a foster parent trainer for about 8 years but over the last several years she has willingly, and enthusiastically expanded her role as a trainer to include teaching new foster and adoptive parents, teaching at support groups and specialty classes on trauma, and most recently, becoming a foster parent mentor. MaryAnn has a wealth of knowledge, experience and practical ideas that she shares freely with other foster parents as a trainer and she is a great asset to the FAKCE program.
Emma has been a foster parent since 1998 and states that the many years fostering have been very rewarding. Emma is an Options for Recovery foster parent, a Spanish Support Group leader, a Mentor, and a Board Member of the San Diego County Foster Parent Association. In addition, Emma has been involved with the Quality Parenting Initiative (QPI) and has worked as an after school tutor for foster teens. Emma is one of the primary Spanish Foster Parent Trainers for FAKCE.
Emma states she has learned so much from the numerous placements she has had and from advocating for foster children as well as for foster parents. Caring for foster children has been her passion and she hopes to continue her role as a foster parent and foster parent trainer for many years.
Andrea Lordson, MSW
Andrea Lordson previously worked as a social worker with Child Welfare in Adoptions for 23 yrs and has continued to be an Instructor for the FAKCE Program for over 20 yrs. She is an adoptive mother of 2 children and a bonus mom to 2. Andrea is passionate about educating foster/adoptive parents on issues around trauma, grief/loss, attachment, talking about adoption, and keeping connections.
Kania has been caring for foster children since 2003. She has cared for children of many ages from birth to16 years old, of different cultural backgrounds, and trauma histories. Her passion is helping children and families to heal from trauma. Kania joined the FAKCE team in 2017 as a trainer, teaching TIPS, adoption, specialty classes, and support group trainings. She is an official mentor for Resource Families as well. In 2020, she joined the team in a more administrative role, coordinating the TIPS program online as well as the support group trainings.
Kania has two biological children and has adopted five children. She enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking and camping with her family. She is always reading and increasing her knowledge around trauma, healing, recovery, and the brain. She also believes that going to trainings and support groups regularly helps resource parents remember to use their positive parenting and attachment tools and strives to support resource parents in these trainings.
Patty Boles has been a foster parent for 40 years and has cared for over 150 infants. She and her husband have adopted 11 children and have one birth child. Patty has specialized in medically fragile, drug and alcohol exposed babies.
Patty started as a trainer for over 25 years ago. She teaches some classes and monitors many of our TIPS zoom classes each week as well as other administrative duties. Patty is a resource parent mentor and loves to support families as they navigate the CWS system. She is very interested in policy, law and regulations and sits on many boards to help bring the voice of the caregivers and children to help shape policy.
Patty has worked as the Legislative Chair of the California State Foster Parents Association and was able to work with a local state Assemblyman to change California law to make all caregivers addresses confidential.
Patty is the founder and Director for the past 24 years, of Straight From The Heart Resource center in San Marcos which is a support center for foster, adoptive, kinship children and their caregivers. Straight From the Heart also has two training rooms offered for in person trainings, a wonderful thrift store full of children’s clothing and items and a Kid Pack room full of new items given directly to the children when they enter foster care, on their birthdays and during the holidays.
Heidi Blue, MSW
Heidi Blue holds a Masters Degree in Social Work and a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from San Diego State University. She retired from the County of San Diego, Child Welfare Services after 30 years of service. While working for CWS, Heidi was a social worker, Supervisor and Manager in the Adoption program, Central and South Regions and Polinsky Children’s Center. Since her retirement in 2018, Heidi has been training for FAKCE on multiple topics, including Positive Discipline, trauma informed parenting and issues related to kinship care. As a former kinship caregiver herself, Heidi has a passion for providing training and support to both the kinship and resource parent community.
Nicole Espinosa, LCSW
Nicole has worked in the field of social services for 20 years. She started her career in the school system as a school social worker while living in Illinois and is currently working as a school social worker for Lake Elsinore Unified School District. Nicole has worked with foster youth, relative caregivers and foster and adoptive families in California for over 15 years. She worked for a Foster Family Agency and as a Protective Services Worker in Child Welfare in the Foster & Adoptions Program with San Diego County finding homes for some of the most vulnerable children. Nicole has been an instructor for Grossmont College, Foster and Adoptive Kinship Care Education (FAKCE) Program for almost ten years and teaches classes on attachment, open adoption, grief and loss, and alternative therapies to healing trauma. Nicole is passionate about permanency, adoption and believes every child deserves a loving family to heal in. Nicole is married and loves to travel, hike and go on adventures in nature with her husband and dog.
Robin Thompson, MSW
A little about Robin, she is from Maine, joined the US Navy at age 25 and served almost 12 years as a K-9 law enforcement officer. Robin’s dogs were dual trained in attack and drug detection. She spent 12 years in San Diego and fell in love with it. When she left the military she went back to Maine and attended college for the first time at the University of Maine, Orono, at the age of 38. Robin earned a Master Degree in Social Work and returned to San Diego. She worked for the County of San Diego for 20 years in Child Protective Services where she supervised many programs and retired in March 2020. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with her two granddaughters, anything on or near the water, and playing pool.
Donna Boissiere, MSW
Donna has a Master’s in Social Work from UCLA. She worked in reunification services for San Bernardino County before working at County of San Diego Child Welfare Services. She was a protective services worker and a supervisor in the adoptions program for 15 years. She was an adoptive parent trainer for County Adoptions for five years before joining FACKE in 2012. She also works as an independent contractor writing home studies for domestic and international adoptions. She is the lucky adoptive mom of two wonderful children. Her family has provided kinship care. She has spent the majority of career in adoption services which is her passion because she believes every child deserves a family. She is passionate about supporting resource families to help them grow stronger together. She enjoys training families in cultural identity, attachment/ adoption issues, trauma healing modalities and understanding brain architecture.
Debra "Debbie" Stolz
It was a true honor to have known Debbie Stolz. She made being a foster mom look effortless. She was patient, caring, and extremely knowledgeable when it came to the most troubled youth which is why she was the go-to person when you needed help.
She was a mom to eight children, fostered countless of children for over 35 years in San Diego County and trained and mentored for 20 years with Grossmont College’s Foster Adoptive & Kinship Care Education Program. She was also Director of the Family Attachment Resource Center and President of the Foster Parent Association, plus much more. We miss her tremendously but her memory and advocacy efforts will not be forgotten.