2020-21 Partnerships for Well-Being Institute Award Winners

Watch the nomination videos and learn about the award winners:


Parent Partners Award Winners
Video: Cheryl Barrett - Contra Costa County, Children and Family Services

Cheryl Barrett is Contra Costa County’s first Parent Partner, where she has been supporting and guiding families through the Child Welfare System since 2005. Barnett is motivated by her own experience reuniting with her four youngest children after navigating the child welfare system. Through her journey, she has overcome addiction and fought through the despair and hopelessness that came from having her children removed from her care, and yet emerged as the face of hope to the families she works with. Barnett has reunified hundreds of families in her work as Lead Parent Partner and overseeing the East County Family Engagement Team. She has shaped practice and informed decisions as she participated on committees, workgroups and convenings on a local, state and national level, including her presentation at the Resource Family Approval and Foster Family Agency Convening in February 2020, alongside the California Department of Social Services. Barnett inspires everyone around her and has paved the way for way for many others who have come after her.

Video: James Thyssen - Stanford Sierra Youth and Families

James Thyssen is dedicated to supporting the greater Sacramento, Yolo and El Dorado's County’s most vulnerable youth and families in his role as Partner Parent. He provides guidance and direction to families facing the child welfare system, foster care, group homes, disrupted adoptions and the juvenile justice system, helping youth build coping skills and move back into their communities. As a father who has navigated these systems himself, Thyssen uses his lived experience to inspire and motivate people to overcome behavioral challenges. He is also seven years sober and meets regularly with adults being released from incarceration at the Daily Reporting Center to share his story and support adults with system navigation and reconnection with their families.


Collaboration/Integration Award (Organization) Winner

Video: Starlight Community Services

Starlight has been instrumental in identifying at risk and confirmed Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) youth. The program developed a specialized CSEC team with facilitators, therapists, Child and Family Services, peer mentors, and Parent Partners who were specifically trained in serving this at-risk population. They are recognized monthly from the county for their effective services and linkages to community partners. Our team shows great determination and works with CSEC youth and to provide collaboration, a team-based approach and overall persistence. This specially trained CSEC team is instrumental and innovative within the county, encouraging the rise of more CSEC programs to even better provide support for these youth.


Collaboration/Integration Award (Individual) Winners

Video: Alison Book – Northern Academy, UC Davis Human Services

Alison Book has taken great initiative to connect critical practice reform elements into coherent workforce and training products, enhancing the understanding of child welfare systems and their partners. She has been a consistent voice in California's reform efforts, connecting key partners through thoughtful and effective messaging of what might otherwise be seen as competing reform efforts. Book possesses unique vision, and the ability to engage with sometimes disparate views, in pursuit of alignment and integration efforts. She consistently takes initiative to explore new ways of envisioning and supporting effective practice. Her creativity, resourcefulness and persistence have strengthened both regional and statewide outcomes.

Video: Alyssa McCrary – Placer County Probation

Officer Alyssa McCrary, affectionately known as Miss Mac, uses her authority to empower youth and build a trusting and collaborative relationship with their families. Her genuine care and consideration have made her a trusted and universally loved figure to families and Wraparound teams alike. McCrary is conscious of the potential harm that probation officers can do and uses her power to advocate for and facilitate the youth finding their own power to make informed choices, rather than using punitive means. McCrary also leverages her relationships with community members, non-profits and schools to create more options and ideas for teams to choose from. Whenever possible, she consults with the family team before making impactful decisions for the youth, which makes all the difference in establishing trusting and positive relationships between herself, youths and their families.


Wraparound Champion Award Winners

Video: Vanessa Hernandez – Olive Crest

Vanessa Hernandez is wholeheartedly committed to the Wraparound goal. She has used her excellent communication and interpersonal skills to build trusting relationships with families starting with the first conversation. She is a vital part of the collaborative and integrated experience that Wraparound creates to aid families.

Video: Terry Lynn Fisher – Orange County BHS

Terry Lynn Fisher has been a long-standing Wraparound advocate and is dedicated to providing impactful Wraparound services for children and youth. Fisher has been a part of many statewide work groups to improve Wraparound; she is a visionary and a voice for children, youth and families, and she is always hopeful. Fisher is excellent at collaborating and actively taking part in California Wraparound. Her dedication, drive, advocacy and big heart make her an inspiring figure in the program.


Youth Champion Award Winner

Video: Zahira Elmansoumi

Zahira Elmansoumi is a vocal and dedicated leader in the Independent Living Program (ILP) and a California Foster Youth Initiative AmeriCorps youth mentor, educator, resource navigator and tutor. As an AmeriCorps service member, she has demonstrated her ability to be a leader and advocate in changing how services should be provided to youth in foster care. Elmansoumi has made a tangible difference in improving the lives of her peers and other youth in foster care. She has collaborated with her community to provide youths with laptops, Chromebooks, cell phones, hotspots and other technology they might need in order to participate in Yolo County Child Welfare Services’ ILP program workshops through Zoom. Her work has increased engagement and expanded the program’s outreach and retention. Elmansoumi also earned bachelor’s degree in International Studies from UC Davis in just two and a half years, demonstrating her determination to improve herself and use her knowledge to benefit others.

Video: Manpreet Singh

Manpreet Singh serves in a lead role at the California Department of Social Services (CDSS). She draws on her experiences as a former foster youth, as an advocate for foster youth and as a trainer for child welfare professionals to bring real-world experiences to the workforce, policy and program development that she does. Manpreet supports county child welfare, probation and behavioral health agencies with the implementation and maintenance of their California Wraparound Programs and coordinates workforce development regarding racial equity and the equitable inclusion of people with lived experience in child welfare, probation and behavioral health systems. She demonstrates great passion, empathy and persistence in her work, and goes above and beyond her expectations to positively impact the lives of the most marginalized communities.