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.
Alva Martinez-Saavedra joined Family Builders in 2023 as the Family Developer for Fost/Adopt. She is a First Generation college graduate from Mills College ’22 where she received her Bachelor’s in Sociology. Alva is an Oakland native and is passionate in giving back and helping her community in any way she can. In her free time, Alva enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, cooking, and traveling.
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.
Annie Rudorf (she, her) graduated from Cal State East Bay in 2020 with her Master’s in Social Work. She completed her undergrad at UC Santa Cruz (go slugs!) with her Bachelor’s in Psychology. Ever since she was young, Annie always knew that her passion for helping people would become her profession. Annie has had the opportunity to work in many different settings prior to joining Family Builders including schools, homeless shelters, and public child welfare agencies. When Annie isn’t working, you can find her taking neighborhood walks while listening to podcasts, trying new restaurants, or hanging out with her “framily.”
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.
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.
Emily is a Bay Area native, returning to the Bay after living in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo where she studied at Cal Poly, graduating with a BA in English. Emily has a passion for service, volunteering for local charities around the Bay Area and Los Angeles. Most recently, she delivered groceries for immunocompromised individuals during the pandemic. In her free time, Emily enjoys reading mystery novels near Lake Merritt, camping in the High Sierras and dog sitting for family and friends.
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.
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.
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.
Lanisha Johnson joined Family Builders in 2022 as a Permanency Social Worker in the WWK Program. Lanisha is a Bay Area native who earned her Bachelor’s in Psychology from San Francisco State and recently received her MSW from the University of Denver. In her spare time, Lanisha likes to karaoke, read, crochet, bake, travel, and spend time with family and friends.
Lisabeth Castro-Smyth is honored to nurture the joy, safety, and belonging of her beloved LGBTQ+ community as a family advocate with the Youth Acceptance Project. Inspired by intersectional feminism and social justice, she has provided trauma-informed services in diverse settings for over 15 years, including school-community partnerships, play-based therapy for children in foster care, inclusive healthcare advocacy, and narrative healing at end of life. Outside of work as an LCSW, Lisabeth is a writer with published poetry and articles such as “A Tristeza que Canta: The Role of Fado Music in Women’s Culturally Mediated Resilience”. She loves learning, dancing, the ocean, being with loved ones, and popcorn!
Maaika Marshall is proudly born and raised in the Bay Area. Maaika has worked in service of her community for almost 10 years, dedicated to providing resources and support to youth and the community; and specifically, youth that were entering or exiting the juvenile justice system. As the Youth Justice Program Coordinator, she supported youth as they navigated the system and provided diversion-based programming to reduce engagement and recidivism of West Contra Costa County youth. Maaika has also provided mentorship for young women in partnership with the California Endowment and Sisterhood Rising to create and facilitate workshops and retreats for young women across California to come together and collectively navigate identity and relationships. Maaika brings a unique approach to the CKC Project Coordinator role with a strong sense of organizational and program management. Maaika is an aspiring food blogger and loves cooking just about anything. She also enjoys live music, show, or open mic!
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.
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.
Santana (they/she) is a member of the queer community and has a passion for working towards equity and inclusion through a SOGIE lens (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity & Expression). They are a family advocate & social worker with the Youth Acceptance Program at Family Builders, where they have the opportunity to work alongside lgbtq+ youth & their family members.
Santana received their BA in Family and Human Development with a minor in Gender Studies from Arizona State University, and then went on to the University of Hawaii, Manoa where they earned a teaching credential in Special Education. They taught at schools in rural communities on the Island of Hawai’i and then in Oakland, CA and the surrounding bay area. In transitioning from education to social work, Santana obtained a Masters in Social Work with an emphasis in Child Welfare from University of California, Berkeley.
Santana likes to dance, bake, learn, explore new places, have engaging discussions, eat good food, watch movies & reality TV, play card games, read and go on long walks. Of course, spending time with family, friends and their dog Boujie are top priorities.
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.
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.