Consumer Advisory Board
The National Center on Family Homelessness Consumer Advisory Board is a diverse group of adult family members with first-hand experience of homelessness who help ensure that our work is responsive to the needs of families and children experiencing homelessness. Members of the Consumer Advisory Board provide input and make recommendations on organizational activities, including research and program evaluation, program design, training and technical assistance, public education, and policy. Members provide staff and projects with the opportunity to learn from the valuable life experiences of families who have been homeless.
The Consumer Advisory Board is involved in a number of key activities across the organization including:
- Providing real life input on subjects such as unmet needs of homeless families and children, services that are working or not working, and program and policy barriers faced by families as they transition out of homelessness.
- Reviewing a range of research evaluation, training, public education, and policy products and materials.
- Participating in the Campaign to End Child Homelessness and other National Center projects and initiatives.
Amy Grassette is a Data Entry Assistant for the Care Coordination Program at the Family Health Center in Worcester, MA. Before joining the Family Health Center team as a paid staff member, Ms. Grassette volunteered her time as a way to give back to the program that assisted her family while they were experiencing homelessness. Ms. Grassette and her family became homeless in 2002 after losing an airport shuttle business, as a result of 9/11. She and her family doubled up with other family members for nearly 10 months while waiting for a Section 8 voucher. Unfortunately, Ms. Grassette an her family were unable to secure affordable housing and were placed in hotel in a different community from the one they have been living in. After living in the hotel for 3 months, they moved to a family shelter for an additional 3 months. They finally secured permanent housing. In addition to Ms. Grassette's work at the Family Health Center she also started attending the annual Health Care for the Homeless Conference and began her work as an advocate both locally and nationally. Ms. Grassette serves as Chair Person of the National Consumer Advisory Board for Health Care for the Homeless as well as Secretary of the Board of Directors.
Arlene Hendrick is an early childhood educator at Bright Horizons Family Solutions. Many years before joining Bright Horizons, Arlene experienced homelessness while fleeing a domestic violence situation. At the time, Arlene was eight months pregnant with her son. Arlene gave birth in a shelter and struggled to find childcare assistance that would enable her to return to work. After two years of living in shelters, Arlene found a job at the same early childhood center that her son attended, moved out of the shelter, and obtained her teacher certification.
Nancy McDaniel has over twenty years of experience with diverse groups of people including: parolees, individuals experiencing homelessness, elderly, and individuals with disabilities and chemical dependency. Her skills include program development, patient advocacy, and systems networking. Her own personal journey - surviving a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as a single parent and working professional - inspired her current academic and career choices. As a result of her TBI, she experienced abrupt lifestyle changes, persistent unemployment, poverty, and a lack of health care and rehabilitative options, which eventually lead to homelessness. Through these experiences, she became an advocate for individuals and participated with agencies and governmental organizations to raise awareness about the need for supportive services, programs, and safety nets for individuals with TBI. She is currently pursuing a Master's degree in Vocational Rehabilitation Counseling at San Diego State University and has a Bachelor's degree in Social Work.
Sandra Oliveira works as an ophthalmic technician for Medical Eye Care Associates. Sandra experienced homelessness after fleeing a domestic violence situation. As a survivor of domestic violence, Sandra understands the needs of programs to help support women who have had similar experiences. Thanks to supportive programming, Sandra was able to find stable housing, a new career, and now helps other survivors.
Theresa M. Rankin
Theresa M. Rankin is the National Community Educator for Brain Injury Services, a Virginia national model of care coordination serving adults and children with disability due to brain injury. As a young San Diego college student, Theresa survived a severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). As a military dependent with no access to post-acute rehabilitation care for TBI disability, Theresa experienced chronic unemployment, lacked coordinated health care and rehabilitative services, and from 1977 to 1993, she often experienced homelessness. Today, Theresa lives in Alexandria, Virginia, working on health, housing, disability, and employment initiatives after being homeless in 2007-2008 due to a flooded apartment. She is the originator of www.BrainLine.org, a national multimedia project funded by Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, and produced by WETA TV Public Broadcasting. BrainLine uses the web and social media to disseminate authoritative information on preventing, training, and living life after brain injury. Her recent work includes advising on the USDA National Military and Veterans Program's Army funded Texas A&M Wounded Warrior Project with the University of Wisconsin TCARE Military Caregiver Project and the George Mason University 2012 Conference, Promising Practices on Psychological Healing for Military Families.
A long time advocate for children and individuals with mental illness, Monica currently works as a PATH (Project for the Assistance in the Transition from Homelessness) Homeless Outreach Worker in Oakland County, Michigan. A recipient of PATH services herself, Monica experienced homelessness for a brief period of time after being laid off. She previously worked as a homeless advocate at Goodwill Industries of Greater Detroit.