Ampersand Families strives to be the employer of choice for extraordinary professionals who are committed to helping develop innovative and effective approaches to achieving and supporting permanency for older youth.

 

Michelle Chalmers, (she/her) - Executive Director

Michelle has worked with youth in out-of-home care since 1989, her child welfare career has included front-line staff positions in residential settings, a home-based intensive supervision worker, and youth development work in a therapeutic foster care agency. Prior to co-founding Ampersand Families in October 2008, Michelle directed The Homecoming Project, a federally-funded Adoption Initiatives program to increase adoptions of teenagers from Minnesota’s foster care system. Read More

Al Willig, (he/him) - Finance & Operations Director

Al was a founding board member of Ampersand Families and is thrilled to now be a part of the staff as the Finance and Operations Director. Prior to joining our staff, he was the Director of Finance & Operations for 19 years at the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery; a shelter for children at risk of abuse and neglect. Read More

Amber Buer, (she/her) - Permanency Specialist

Amber joined Ampersand Families in November 2020.  She earned her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree from St. Cloud State University.  Amber has experience working in different areas of child welfare including child protection, foster care, and adoption. Read More

Danielle Brown, (she/her) - Permanency Specialist

Danielle joined Ampersand Families team in 2018 after receiving her bachelor's degree in sociology and to pursue her passion for working with youth in the child welfare system. Read More

Misty Coonce, (she/her) - Program Director

Misty joined Ampersand Families as Program Director in 2016, after working 6 years at another adoption and foster care agency. In addition, Misty brings experience supporting survivors of domestic violence and providing children’s mental health wraparound services. Read More

Amanda Coppess, (she/her) - Senior Permanency Specialist

Mandi Coppess (she/her/hers) has been a Permanency Specialist with Ampersand Families since July, 2018. Mandi has her LSW and before coming to Ampersand, was part of the foster care intervention team through the YMCA. Read More

Stacy Gehringer, (she/her) - Program Director

Stacy joined Ampersand Families in 2015 after earning her MSW at the University of Washington-Seattle where she focused on multigenerational children and family social work. The youth and families involved in Ampersand Families’ programs serve as a perpetual source of inspiration for Stacy! Read More

Aubrey Haddican, (she/her) - Program Director

Aubrey started at Ampersand Families in 2014 as a Permanency Specialist, and has been a Program Director since 2019. She received her MSW from the University of Minnesota, and attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison for undergrad, majoring in Psychology and African-American Studies, and minoring in Women’s Studies and LGBT Studies. She previously worked at the 4th District Guardian ad Litem Program and the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). Read More

Meghan Heffner, (she/her) - Family Support & Education Assistant

Meghan is re-joining us at Ampersand Families as a Family Support Specialist. She has a Master’s Degree in School Work and is a Licensed Independent Social Worker. Read More

Perry Huff Jr., (he/him) - Permanency Specialist

Perry joined Ampersand Families in 2015. He earned his MSW from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, his MPA from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and a BA in Urban & Public Affairs from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Read More

Emily Lindell, (she/her) - Youth Leadership Program Coordinator

Emily was excited to join Ampersand Families in August 2020. She brings a multi-disciplinary background that includes everything from working at an LGBTQ youth community center. Read More

Jory Miller, (he/him) Permanency Specialist

Jory graduated from the U of M with his MSW in 2019 with a Families and Children concentration and as a IV-E scholar. Shortly after graduating, he joined Ampersand Families with a strong passion to support youth in the child welfare system. He is driven to provide education, connection, and resources to the families and youth working towards permanency. Read More

Vanessa Monahan-Rial, (she/her) Senior Permanency Specialist

Vanessa joined Ampersand Families as a Permanency Specialist in 2018. In addition to supporting youth and families on their journeys toward permanency, she also provides assessments with the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics (NMT) to help youth, families, and caregivers gain additional tools for healing from developmental trauma. Read More

John Peterson, (he/him) - Administrative Specialist

John started at Ampersand June of 2020 and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of St. Thomas/St. Catherine’s University. Read More

Renee Banas, (she/her) - Family Support & Education Specialist

Renee joined Ampersand Families in October 2017.  She is thrilled to continue her work with an organization that supports children and families. Read More

Teiana Nakano, (she/her) - Heart Gallery Coordinator

Teiana is honored to be a part of Ampersand Families! She received her BA in Race & Ethnic Studies and Religion, along with a concentration in Education at St. Olaf College. Teiana spent much of her undergrad working and volunteering in classrooms with youth of all ages and backgrounds. Read More

Jordan Thomas, (she/her) - Permanency Specialist

Jordan began working at Ampersand Families in September of 2019. She completed her Master's Degree in Social Work at the University of Minnesota, studying Child Welfare and Clinical Mental Health, and gaining a significant amount of direct experience working as a primary worker with youth and adult clients in both a county and private agency setting. Read More

Katherine Wald, (she/her) - Senior Permanency Specialist

Katherine has been a Permanency Specialist since 2018. Katherine is a licensed social worker in the state of MN, and graduated with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Social Work with Family Studies, Race & Ethnic Studies, and Women & Gender Studies concentrations. Before coming to Ampersand, she gained experience in different settings working with youth and families. Read More

Why choose Ampersand Families?

“Ampersand is amazing!  They are there for you 100% or more. Love them all.”

PARENT

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