Susan Ault is currently a Senior Director in Strategic Consulting for Systems Improvement for Casey Family Programs. The focus of her work is in safely reducing the need for foster care. She has over 35 years of experience in child and family services, over 20 of which are in public child welfare. In 2013 The University of Minnesota Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare recognized Susan with the Child Welfare Leadership Award for her contribution to child welfare practice in Minnesota.
Most recently before coming to Casey Family Programs Susan was the Director of the Children and Family Services for Ramsey County Community Human Services in St Paul, Minnesota. While at Ramsey County she led numerous change efforts that resulted in improvements in the delivery of services and outcomes for children and families. She also led Ramsey County’s innovative work to end racial disparity in the child welfare system.
Susan’s experience includes being one of the pioneers in the Family Service Collaborative movement and working on child welfare together with the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in a manner that has become a model for the state. She has worked in urban as well as rural settings, and for government as well as non-profits. Experienced in clinical practice and a seasoned administrator, Susan holds a B.A. in Sociology and Psychology and a M.S. Ed. in Child Psychology.
Jane Kretzmann, MA, is a Senior Fellow in the College of Education and Human Development and the Center for Early Education and Development (CEED) at the University of Minnesota. There she directs the Project for Babies, an initiative that aims to increase understanding of the impact of early experience and relationships on learning, health, and behavior across the life span, beginning before birth. Previously Jane worked as a senior program officer for the Minnesota Community Foundation and the Archibald Bush Foundation in Saint Paul, Minnesota for more than 20 years. Her grant making encompassed a wide range of health and human services programs, and she led the design of initiatives in early childhood development and environmental health. Jane also served as Minnesota’s first State Refugee Coordinator at the Department of Human Services. She earned received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Iowa.
State Representative Rena Moran
In 2011 Rena became the first black Legislator to represent District 65A in St. Paul and she is currently serving her second term in the House of Representatives. She joined Prevent Child Abuse MN in 2009 and is currently the Director of Prevention Initiatives and Parent Leadership. Rena was awarded a fellowship from the Bush Foundation in 2013. As a Bush Fellow her project will focus on engaging parents both in her community and statewide in the implementation, planning and evaluation of a single early childhood education experience for all Minnesota children from pre-Kindergarten to third grade. Rena has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Early Childhood Education where she worked in the field for over 15 years in the private and public sector. Rena is a strong advocate for building safe, nurturing environment in which children and families strive. She believes every child needs the opportunity to grow into strong functional adults. With that goal comes investment in program and policies that supports the strengths of individuals, families and communities. Rena is a member of the MN Taskforce of Prematurity appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton and is a community organizer and activist at heart who works for social, racial and economic justice. Rena is a mother of 7 children and a Grandmother of 3.
Jacquelyn (Jacquie) Thomas
Jacquelyn (Jacquie) Thomas is a native of Minnesota, with one child that she is raising as a single parent. Jacquie’s upbringing came with some challenges, growing up in a home with domestics; yet both parents showed her lots of love. Jacquie was the youngest of eight children, she attributes her being the youngest to the strength that she had during those times and now. Jacquie also, grew up during an era of controversy; and her parents made sure all of the children knew they had rights.
Jacquie didn’t quite know what that meant until she became a teenager. Jacquie along with many other Black students and some White students stood up, staged a non-violent protest, to a policy in school of not recognizing Black History month. This policy separated students; Jacquie felt this policy was not in the best interest of the children and students. After the protest the policy changed; Black History month was recognized and celebrated in this St. Paul Public School.
Jacquie’s adulthood has brought many challenges that she has worked through; including helping her siblings with understanding their parental rights within many systems; including but not limited to education, Child Welfare, city and state governments. Jacquie has fought for children’s and parental rights long before she became a parent. However, once she became a parent her involvement, advocating and policy work took off.
Jacquie serves on the Parent Child Safety and Permanency Leadership Team as a Parent Leader/Advocate/Consultant with Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota/Minnesota Communities Caring for Children; she was a member, before becoming President of St. Paul Network of Education Action Teams, were they strengthen, engage and empower parents around public school education policy; Serves on the Ramsey County Citizen’s Review Panel: Children’s Services; as well as being a Community Organizer.
Jacquie is looking to launch her own business this year to connect parents to the right organizations, programs and teach advocacy skill building. She feels that many organizations already exist to assist the child, which is very important; but these very same children go back home to parents that have no awareness, knowledge or how to start making their lives healthy. The parent must be healthy or on a healthy path in order for us to make healthy homes, and communities for children.