Abby Williams, MSW, has worked for Family Builders since 2007. Currently she is a social worker in the RFA program and she assesses Resource Family applicants for San Francisco. She has worked in all aspects of Child Welfare including Child Protective Services, group homes, and Fost Adopt programs in her 25 year career. She is the parent of one child.
Alexis joined Family Builders in July 2021 as a Permanency Social Worker. After graduating from Chabot College with an AS in Behavior Sciences and an AA in Human Services as both a Bellini and Osher Scholar, she graduated from San Francisco State University with a BASW and a minor in Special Education. Adopted into a biracial and non-traditional family, she pursued her education despite the challenges of dyslexia, becoming a teen mom in high school, and working ever since. For the last 10 years her work has focused on commercially sexually exploited children, and homeless youth. She’s helped create group homes, drop-in centers, volunteer and client curricula, and provided training and case management services. She prides herself on being straightforward and truthful, compassionate and empathetic, and being a go-to person for colleagues and clients in complex situations.
Alfonso “Fonzie” Silva joined Family Builders in May 2014 as the Family Developer. Fonzie moved to Northern California in 2007 when he started attending U.C. Berkeley. During his time at Cal he worked with families applying for U-Visas at the East Bay Sanctuary Covenant. After graduating with a B.A. in Social Welfare he started working in retail management throughout the Bay Area. Coming back to social services is something Fonzie had been looking forward to and he’s excited to continue using his organizational and people skills to work with our families. He resides in Oakland and when he’s not at work he enjoys playing tennis, hiking, listening to music, reading and exploring the Bay Area!
Alía Hauwert joined Family Builders as a Fost-Adopt Social Worker in August of 2019. She was born in Peru and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining Family Builders she attended Columbia University School of Social Work located in New York City for her Master’s in Social Work degree. Prior to 2017, she received an Associate of Arts degree focusing in Social and Behavioral Sciences at De Anza College and majored in Sociology and minored in Women’s Studies for her Bachelor’s degree from Mills College. Throughout her college career she has interned at various non-profit organizations such as the YWCA and Native American Health Center which focus on supporting and empowering historically marginalized communities. With regards to the adoption field, Alía comes to this work both personally as an adopted person and professionally. She has worked within both the private adoption and foster care settings at agencies located in the Bay Area and different New York City boroughs. Additionally, she has participated in many adoption related panels and webinars, facilitated adoption focused groups, published research focusing on Latin American adoptees’ experiences with acculturation and identity, and, more recently, created and presented educational trainings for adoptive parents and professionals. In her spare time, Alía is working to achieve a certificate in Adoption from Rutgers University and enjoys hiking, thrift shopping, and spending quality time with family and friends.
Álvaro Pino joined Family Builders in 2021 as a Permanency Social Worker. Álvaro moved to the US in 2006 after obtaining his degree in Sociology from his native country of Chile. Álvaro has more than 14 years of experience in the Social Services field. In 2018, Álvaro graduated from Regis University in Denver, Colorado, with a Master’s in Organizational Leadership. He resides in Oakland. Álvaro loves outdoors activities and exploring new places.
America is a lesbian, Latinx advocate who believes everyone deserves to be their authentic self. America is an activist for the LGBTQI2-S+ community who is passionate about providing accessible and culturally appropriate mental health services through a social justice lens.
America earned her BA in Psychology with a minor in LGBT Studies from San Diego State University. She also earned her MS in Counseling (MFT) from San Francisco State University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who has had the opportunity to work with a variety of folx and cultures, but her passion always brought her to give back to her own community.
America loves to spend quality time out in nature with her wife and two daughters.
Andrea joined the Family Builders team in August of 2018 as an Adoption Navigator for the California Kids Connection Program (CKC). Andrea is a passionate advocate for children in the foster care system and enjoys educating others about foster care. Andrea relocated from Kentucky in 2018 where she was raised and received her Bachelor of Social Work from the University of Louisville. Outside of work, you can find Andrea hiking, at the beach, singing karaoke, or trying new restaurants with her friends.
Barbara Brigham is the Fost-Adopt Program Manager at Family Builders by Adoption. Barbara earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Counseling. She is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). Over the past two decades, Barbara has worked in Foster Care and Adoption, oversaw a Residential Facility for middle school girls and worked with teenage parents and their families. Barbara is a fifth generation Californian. She is married with two sons, a step son and two beautiful grandsons. She enjoys gardening, reading and travelling.
Carmen joined Family Builders after working in mental health for the past three years with youth in a residential setting. As a Bay Area native she felt honored to advocate and serve the Bay’s most vulnerable children and their families. At Family Builders, she extends her passion to help others and provide a positive voice for foster youth as an Adoption Navigator. In her free time, Carmen enjoys hiking, cooking, juicing, yoga, spending time with family and watching the Warriors. She also loves to travel, and her favorite place in the world is the beach.
Carol joined Family Builders in 2021 as a Permanency Social Worker in the WWK Program. She has worked in emergency foster care, domestic and international adoptions, high schools, and as a CASA volunteer for foster youth. She has an MSW from the University of Chicago, and her LCSW in California. Carol was a foster kid for 6 years, was adopted by her foster parents, and grew up with many foster kids. She loves thrift stores, Netflix and chill with her spouse and kids, and dancing with friends under the disco ball in her kitchen.
Dan Phillips joined Family Builders in August 2019 as a Home Study Social Worker after retiring from San Francisco HSA after 30 years as a social worker and a supervisor. Dan is excited to remain connected to his former colleagues and families through his work at Family Builders, and appreciates being able to keep his oars in the water, but perhaps not as deeply! When he’s not torturing metaphors, Dan enjoys sailing, kayaking, motorcycles and travelling. He is married to Lauren, a clinical psychologist, and has two adult daughters, Maura and Natalie, 22 and 24 years respectively.
Gloria has been employed at Family Builders since 1985. She started her social work career in Connecticut over forty-fiveyears ago as a foster care, family preservation, and adoptions social worker. After moving to California, she worked for Catholic Social Service in San Francisco initially as an office manager but then as a social worker, doing pregnancy counseling, domestic and intercountry home studies, and post-placement supervision of children. She also designed and implemented that agency’s post-adoption program which involved reunions of adult adopted children with their birth families. Gloria wanted to be a social worker from the time she was a teenager, and has Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology. Having grown up in a family of ten children, Gloria has always had a particular interest in preserving sibling bonds. She is passionate about the mission of Family Builders and the success the agency has had in providing permanent families for children who might otherwise not have what she considers a right of every child. She herself is a single adoptive mother of a teenage son.
Jaciara “Jaci” Bayer joined Family Builders as a Fost-Adopt Social Worker in December 2019. Before joining Family Builders she worked in the field of medical social work for many years at numerous institutions including Stanford Healthcare and Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital & Trauma Center. With regards to the field foster care/adoption, Jaci comes to this work both professionally and personally as an adoptee; born in Brazil and raised in Mendocino County. She has worked with a private adoption agency Pact, An Adoption Alliance for the past several years primarily in the role of a youth mentor/counselor, but has also spoken on adult adoptee panels and has created educational curriculum for youth teaching mindfulness practices, as well as teaching from her lived experience as an adoptee. She obtained her Master’s in Social Work degree from California State University East Bay and has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Sonoma State University. In her spare time, she enjoys being a devoted “dog mom”, spending quality time with family and friends, being a member a professional Samba dance team, hiking and attending an array of community, sporting and performance events here in the Bay Area.
Jill brings over 30 years of experience in multi-cultural community based health and social services organizations. She has a Masters degree in Health Services Administration, as well as extensive experience in fiscal management, human resources, program development, strategic planning and public policy advocacy. She has been the Executive Director of Family Builders since 1996, and has developed a program model that is responsive to the needs of children and youth needing permanent families. Jill is a national leader and advocate on issues affecting LGBT adoptive families and LGBTQ youth in foster care. Jill has created innovative programs to meet the needs of underserved and disenfranchised children and youth; including services for older youth, believing no child should leave the foster care system without a permanent family. Jill is the mother of two children, via adoption.
Jose Iniguez joined Family Builders in 2020 as the Family Developer for Alameda Probation and SF SOL Collaborative. He is originally from the Central Valley of California and moved to the Bay Area in 2012 to pursue an MFA from California College of the Arts. After graduating, he decided to stay and work in education, teaching and building curriculum for the Randall Museum in San Francisco. Aside from teaching, he also directed the 6th grade after school program (Club 6) at Children’s After School Arts that had a strong focus on helping youth transition smoothly into middle school life. Separately from his experiences working for youth and families in the Bay Area, he has also had experience working with families from all over California. He is highly motivated and looking forward to working with families, caregivers, social workers, and collaborative organizations to be at service to youth in need of resources and a home. In his spare time, he is an interdisciplinary artist that enjoys his practice in ceramics, assemblage, and mixed media exploring ideas around immigration, his Mexican identity, and LGBT topics.
Karen joined Family Builders in July 2013 as a Permanency Social Worker. She works with the Wendy’s Wonderful Kids program. Karen has advocated on behalf of families and children for many years, in the context of managing community planning efforts, working with families with special needs youth, and coordinating a court mediation program. Karen has an undergraduate degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in City Planning from UC Berkeley, as well as an MSW from Cal State East Bay. When not at work, Karen enjoys reading, working out, hiking, writing and spending time with her two sons.
Katie began working for Family Builders in 2007, as part of the Adoption SF program. After taking several years off to be with her two children in 2010, Katie came back to work in the RFA program as a Home Study Social Worker. Katie spent much of her childhood in Austin, Texas and has called San Francisco home since 2002. She graduated from the University of Texas with a BA in Psychology, and San Jose State with a Master’s in Social Work. She earned her License in Clinical Social Work in 2011. Before joining Family Builders, Katie worked in adoptions at Catholic Charities and spent the first few years of her career in early childhood mental health. Katie enjoys traveling, hiking, entertaining, gardening, and volunteering in many capacities at her children’s schools.
“By the time I was a junior in high school, I knew that I wanted to be a social worker, to work with youth.” Kevin received his BS in Social Welfare from Adelphi University, Garden City, NY., in 1982. “I was living in New York and wanted to be bilingual.” Kevin decided to join the US Peace Corps where he served three years as a social worker in the children’s facility, Las Aldeas SOS, Tegucigalpa, Honduras. “That paved the way for my professional experience upon my return to the US in 1987.” In 1990, Kevin received his MS in Community Development at the University of Missouri, Columbia, MO. He then worked for ten years as a social worker for The Casey Family Program in Walnut Creek California. After a well-needed sabbatical, Kevin began working for Family Builders in 2002. Kevin has been a permanency expert, creating permanent homes and life-long connections for older youth from Alameda and San Francisco counties for almost 10 years.
Laura is excited to have joined the Family Builders team in 2016. She has her doctorate in clinical psychology and has specialized in culturally sensitive assessment and treatment services for youth and their families, as well as in school-based behavioral health. Laura has worked with children 3-18 and their families in foster care, hospitals, group homes, schools and in private practice settings. She is the adoptive parent to one son and is passionate about being part of a team that provides thoughtful services to children and families touched by foster care and adoption. In her free time Laura likes to be in, on, or under the ocean. Other than spending time with her son, she enjoys dancing, traveling, curry, chocolate and laughing out loud.
Luis Chavez joined Family Builders as the Family Developer in 2018. Originally from the Bay Area, Luis began attending U.C. Berkeley in 2014. During his time there, he worked in retail, and also as a Behavior Therapist providing one-on-one ABA Therapy for children on the Autism Spectrum. He graduated from Cal with a BA in Sociology, a BA in Social Welfare, and a passion to work with families and children. He is excited to begin his career with the child welfare system at Family Builders, and hopes to one day become a Child Welfare Social Worker. Luis is most excited to expand his organizational and interpersonal skills working with families and alongside the Family Builders team. On his time off, Luis enjoys playing the piano, exploring the Bay Area, and walking his mini Australian Shepherd, Kovu.
Maria loves accounting and working with numbers on a broad scale. She also loves helping an elite group within Family Builders and fulfilling a worthy cause, which helps humanity. She obtained a Masters Degree in Guadalajara Mexico before attending Chabot College in Hayward. Her personal interests include numerology, reading and astrology.
Mattson received his BA from the University of Mary Washington and his MFA from Mills College. Originally from Virginia, he moved to the Bay Area in 2016 for a change of pace. He has been a park ranger in Washington, DC, an art framer in New York, and an escape room builder in San Francisco. In his free time he enjoys gallery-hopping, exploring parks, and supporting local drag.
Mercedes Hoglund joined Family Builders as a part-time bilingual social worker in September 2021. She was born and raised on Long Island, NY where she was adopted at the age of 12 by a large Irish Catholic family of 11 children. Prior to her adoption at age 12, she spent 7 years in foster care. She moved to the Bay Area to attend The University of California at Berkeley where she earned her bachelors degree in social welfare. She lived in Honduras where she worked with homeless youths in Tegucigalpa. She then moved to San Juan, Puerto Rico where she earned her Masters degree in social work (MSW). Prior to Family Builders, Mercedes has worked in mental health clinics and spent years working as a school social worker in New York city schools. Mercedes and her husband adopted their first child as an infant from foster care and then went on to have two more boys. Mercedes’ personal history has helped to foment a passion for helping foster children find loving homes. In her free time, Mercedes loves spending time with her family, her Yorkies, cooking elaborate meals, exercising and shopping for big earrings.
Nancy Buffum was thrilled to join Family Builders as development director in 2021. She received her BA from Bryn Mawr College and since 1991 has served a variety of Bay Area educational and cultural organizations in marketing, development and program management roles. Her passion for child-friendly communities extends to advocacy for public education and transportation alternatives. Nancy has also taught special education and children’s and intergenerational workshops in bicycling, storytelling and art.
Nancy is very pleased to be a part-time Home Study Social Worker for Family Builders. Nancy earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Justice from the University of Illinois and earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology from John F. Kennedy University in Pleasant Hill. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Counselor. Her work in foster care and adoption has been very rewarding and inspirational. Nancy feels honored to work with Family Builders’ remarkable families. She is married, has six adult children and eleven grandchildren. Nancy enjoys reading, travel, and her family. Nancy firmly believes every child deserves a loving home and permanency. She is deeply committed to this mission.
Pat Reynolds is the Program Supervisor for the Older Youth Permanency Program. She earned her BA from the University of California, Berkeley in Social Welfare, her MA from the University of Chicago in Social Service Administration, and her MSPH from Harvard University in Maternal and Child Health. She has had a long career in Child Welfare including as a Child Welfare Director in San Francisco County, a Child Welfare Program Officer at the Stuart Foundation, Executive Director of the Black Adoption Placement and Research Center, and Founding Director of the California Permanency for Youth Project. She is passionate about helping foster youth get permanent family connections before aging our of the system. She is also an adoptive parent.
Patricia Grant describes herself as a “people person”. She enjoys helping others in the best way she can. Born in Chile, Patricia was drawn to writing short stories and essays and won two national awards for her work. As an adult, she attended college, studying psychology. Patricia has also worked in the health services field.
Patricia currently lives in Oakland and absolutely loves it. She is both a volunteer translator and interpreter for Just Cause, and is a folk artist who likes to communicate the perception of what she sees and experiences through canvases.
Patricia would like to focus on helping even more communities in the future. Currently, her goal is to make a difference for children and families in the foster care system.
Sara is a Homestudy Social Worker, working with families in the Fost-Adopt, RFA and Probation programs. She holds a BA in Human Development and Family Life, as well as an MA in Counseling. Sara has lived in Overland Park, KS and Birmingham, AL but has called California home since 2005. She has worked in all areas of child welfare off and on since her undergraduate practicum. Sara loves meeting prospective resource families, hearing their stories, and helping to prepare them for their foster care and adoption journey. In her free time, she can be found hiking the beautiful Bay Area trails with her family, cooking without recipes, and trying to keep her houseplants alive.
Susy joined Family Builders in December of 2014 as a Permanency Social Worker. She received her Master’s in Psychology from Arizona State University and Bachelor’s in Psychology from San Diego State University. Her passion to help children in the foster care system began while she volunteered as a CASA in San Diego for two years. This passion and dedication grows as she continues her work as a permanency worker. In her spare time, Susy enjoys going to Giants games, running, and spending time with her family.
Tanya Miller, M.Ed. has worked on and off for Family Builders since 2007. She is currently working as a part time social worker in the RFA program. Prior to that she worked for Child Protective Services in both El Dorado and Marin Counties. Tanya is a parent to two daughters and a 4 year old maltipoo. In her spare time she enjoys skiing, gardening, spending time with friends and family and volunteering with her daughters.
Thao Lam is the Program Supervisor for the Alameda County Probation Department and San Francisco SOL/FAM (Family & Me) Permanency Programs. She earned her BA from the University of California, Riverside in Political Science/Women’s Studies and her Master of Social Work degree from San Francisco State University. She began her Child Welfare career at the Los Angeles County Department of Children & Family Services where she was a Supervising Children’s Social Worker. She later worked for the Alameda County Social Service Agency Adult & Aging Services Program as a Social Work Supervisor. She is committed to assisting our youth achieve permanency.
Trisha is a Homestudy Social Worker working with families in the Fost-Adopt, RFA and Probation programs. Trisha earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Elementary Education from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and earned a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a specialization in Child, Adolescent and Family Health, from University of Maryland, School of Social Work. Trisha has called California home since moving here in 2006. She received her License in Clinical Social Work in 2014, and has worked in various settings as a Medical Social Worker and with Wraparound Services. Trisha also owned and operated a small preschool for 10 years in San Francisco. She is married, and has two daughters. Trisha enjoys biking, cooking, reading and dancing. Trisha feels honored to work with Family Builders and to have a role in a family’s journey to adoption.
Vida Khavar joined Family Builders in June 2016 when she became the project director for Get REAL California. She is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and was a child welfare consultant who assisted a multitude of agencies throughout the state of California in developing or enhancing child welfare programs. Vida began her career as a clinician in various agencies throughout Los Angeles. She pursued her passion of working with children and families while running a foster care & adoption program as well as ITFC, ILP and community group home programs. She also served as a master coach and fidelity reviewer for the federal initiative: RISE which aimed at improving the lives of LGBTQ youth in foster care. When she is not working, Vida enjoys spending time with her (65 lb) puppy. She loves music, cooking and exploring new places. She currently divides her time between California and East Tennessee.