Meet Our Home Visitors

AMINA HASSAN

AMINA HASSAN

When did you begin working at DLEC? March 2023, Home Visitor since September 2021

Home Visiting Background:

Prior to working with Denise Louie, I spent a year as a home visitor. I worked with prenatal parents and kids 5 years of age. I have also worked as a babysitter for ten years. I enjoy supporting kids and families in realizing their full potential as a team.

Passion, what do you love about your work? 

I am passionate about working alongside children and their families to achieve their children’s early learning education. One of the reasons I enjoy my role as a home visitor is because it encourages children to step outside of their comfort zones and start developing independence at a young age.

Monica Gustaveson

MONICA GUSTAVESON

Home Visiting Background:

I majored in Psychology in 2021. Throughout my time as a Psych student, I worked many people-oriented jobs and realized my interest stuck with early childhood development. I have worked customer service, resident advising, college admissions, and childcare. My experience with a wide range of ages taught me how to interact with many different types of people. Patience, compassion, and adaptability are the traits I hope to carry with me in this position.

Passion, what do you love about your work? 

Early childhood development has interested me since 2015, when I worked as a reading tutor to young ESL students. I thought it was amazing to watch them progress so rapidly in such a short amount of time. During my time working at a preschool, I was amazed at how starkly different every child’s personality was. They are 100% authentic to themselves, their feelings, and their needs all of the time. Every child is unique, and there is no “one size fits all” style of parenting or teaching. Just like adults, children deserve the benefit of the doubt. Everyone deserves respect. Children have a lot to teach us, if we pay attention.

VIrginia Wanjiru

VIRGINIA WANJIRU

When did you begin working at DLEC? June 2022

Home Visiting Background:

My experience with home visiting is limited but growing each day. I received my B.S in Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a certificate in Women and Gender Studies. I worked predominantly in the healthcare field until I took a position with the Peace Corps in 2019. This position sparked a deeper interest in global/public health, and preventative education/rights-based awareness as a means of self-sufficiency. I remain curious and open to learning something new each day.

Passion, what do you love about your work? 

I enjoy working with an organization that aligns with my interest to strengthen interfamilial bonds and promote self-empowerment and self-advocacy. The family unit is the most integral microsystem in a child’s life; from conception, the first 1000 days of a child’s life set the foundation of how well the child will thrive through life, families need support systems. Denise Louie staff take the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ personally and have supported families in our community for over 40 years to access resources and gain mobility. I am grateful to be part of this great organization.

LESLY CRUZ

LESLY CRUZ

When did you begin working at DLEC? October 2021

Home Visiting Background:

My background includes mentoring, tutoring, and supervising groups of different ages. I earned my degree in social work, studying various branches of social work and how social services work. DLEC is an example of the types of nonprofit organizations that were included in my studies.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I love that I am able to be a part of a great support system that empowers family and child relationships.

LEONA ZHAO

When did you begin working at DLEC? September 2014

Home Visiting Background:

I majored in Psychology that helps me understand people’s thoughts and behaviors.  It is helpful for me to build up a good relationship with children, parents and families. I majored in Special Education which taught me more skills in supporting child learning.

Passion, what do you love about your work? 

I love my job because it is meaningful to me. I think children are important to families and societies. They are the hope and future to human beings. I am happy to help them grow into healthy and great people. In addition, I can learn more and more knowledge on child development and child education in my position.

BRENTNY LANAE GARNER

BRENTNY LANAE GARNER

When did you begin working at DLEC? August 2023

Home Visiting Background:

Prior to working with Denise Louie, I spent a year as a lead ECEAP teacher. I worked with a family advocate as well as parent’s  for children ages 3-5 years of age. I also worked as a lead Preschool teacher for 5 years. I love being able to be a part of a child’s early development as well as offering support and resources to families to support that child’s development.

Passion, what do you love about your work? 

I’m very passionate about working with and supporting children and their families to reach developmental goals for their education. The main reason I enjoy my role as a Home Visitor is due to me being raised in a single parent household. A single parent household with my father to be exact. Who is a refugee with only an 8th grade education. I want to be the support that my father and I needed during my Early Childhood Educational Development.

QUYNH-NHU NGUYEN

When did you begin working at DLEC? December 2023

Home Visiting Background:

I have been in the childcare and early education field since 2015. I started as a home daycare provider and then transitioned to teaching at childcare centers. Several years of working in this field has taught me the importance of parent/family participation and engagement. I look forward to partnering with them to enhance their knowledge and skills and to watch their children grow.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I am passionate about caring for children and being a part of the ‘village’ that raises a child. The parent/caregiver and child bond is empowering and beautiful to see. 

PRAY SHIFERAW

When did you begin working at DLEC? December 2023

Home Visiting Background:

Although I have no prior home visiting experience, I am learning and growing every day. I graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology from Gonzaga University, and I have worked with kids as little as few months all the way up to high schoolers.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I love that I can watch families grow and succeed with the help that we are providing for them. I am very passionate about service and helping others as well as working with children and DLEC allows me to do just that!

KHATIRA SULTANI

When did you begin working at DLEC? January 2024

Home Visiting Background:

I came to the United States of America thirty years ago. I started my first job at the YWCA as a teacher’s assistant. I realized I enjoyed working with children and decided to pursue this career. The first thing I did was to receive my certificate in early childhood education. After that, I received my AA and BA in early childhood education. Meanwhile, I have worked in different fields of early childhood education, such as Head Start teacher, assistant teacher, Multilingual Paraprofessional, and more.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

One of my biggest goals was to support bilingual and at-risk families to overcome the achievement gap. During the times that I worked with children, I worked very closely with parents as well. Since I connected with diverse communities and worked successfully with families in the past to support children’s achievement goals, I decided to take on a role that brings me much closer to the families and the children.

Fana Hadush

FANA HADUSH

When did you begin working at DLEC? October 2023

Home Visiting Background:

hile I am new to home visiting, I have previously worked as an interpreter and had the privilege of facilitating communication between home visitors and families. Through this experience, I absorbed valuable insights into child development, witnessing firsthand the importance of early interventions and nurturing environments. These interactions not only honed my linguistic skills but also deepened my knowledge of child development, offering me a unique perspective on the vital work of home visitors.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I love that I get to support children and families and be a part of their growth and well-being.

Laura Sanchez

LAURA SANCHEZ

When did you begin working at DLEC? October 2023

Home Visiting Background:

I had not worked as a home visitor before but I do have experience working with children and supporting their parents. I have worked as a Spanish teacher for children of different ages, from 3 to 10 years old. I have also been a babysitter for the last 3 years.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I really like meeting new families, knowing their stories, gaining their trust, and being able to offer support to parents. I also really enjoy playing with the children, gaining their trust, feeling that they enjoy me and seeing their happy faces when I arrive, and seeing how they wait for me with many toys and desire to play.

Sandra May

SANDRA MAY

When did you begin working at DLEC? September 2023

Home Visiting Background:

After earning my Bachelors degree in Psychology in 2018, I started to work as a Certified Behavioral Technician working primarily with children between the ages of two to six-years old. I had the pleasure to work with a diverse population where I assisted my client with day-to-day activities, aided in establish

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I enjoy being part of the journey that families undergo as they grow and build the confidence they need in order to support their little ones. I hope to have an impact on the lives of the families and the lives of the children.

Marley Berft

MARLEY WINCHELL

When did you begin working at DLEC? December 2022

Home Visiting Background:

Before joining the DLEC team, I completed my BA in Psychology from the University of Montana. Since then, I moved back to Seattle and became a toddler teacher. I’m excited for the new opportunity to be outside of the classroom.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I have always had a passion for helping others. I enjoy helping children learn and grow.

MEET OUR HOME VISITOR MENTOR COACHES

EARLY HEAD START SUPPORT TEAM

ARTURO CONTREAS

ARTURO CONTREAS, Family Community Partnership Coordinator

When did you begin working at DLEC? July 2023

Home Visiting Background:

I am a highly educated and passionate professional with a master’s degree in Child Development and Family Science, providing me with a deep understanding of the complexities faced by children and families today. My interdisciplinary coursework has enabled me to explore interpersonal and family relationships, emphasizing community involvement, practical application, and research. As a Community Engagement Ambassador for the City of Seattle, I engage with the public, community leaders, and program participants to identify needs and develop or revise programs accordingly. Additionally, as part of Family Pals at Camp Korey, I design and facilitate outcome-based programs, encouraging campers and their families to try new activities and fostering positive behavior within the camp community.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

What I love about my work is the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of children and families. Engaging with the community and families allows me to truly understand their needs and develop programs that can make a difference. Another thing I love about my work is witnessing the growth in both children and families, as well as helping to close the gap between families and the community.

Julie Lu

JULIE LU, EDUCATION COORDINATOR

When did you begin working at DLEC? July 2023

Home Visiting Background:

My name is Julie and I have my bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Families Studies with a minor in Diversity from University of Washington. Before joining the DLEC team, I was a Preschool Teacher for 7 years.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I am excited to learn more about home-based early education and supporting families.

CELESTINA ADU

CELESTINA ADU, PROGRAM SPECIALIST

When did you begin working at DLEC? May 2023

Home Visiting Background:

I have a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a minor in Human Development focusing on Early childhood Education. In college, I worked as a preschool teaching assistant for two years. After graduating, I worked as a Certified Behavior Technician and a preschool teacher for 2 years. Specializing in working with families and children with developmental disabilities.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I am passionate about making a positive impact in the lives of families in need. Providing support, guidance and the right resources to help families and children have the ability to develop their full potentials and be successful.

GRACE BERNIER

GRACE BERNIER, COACH

When did you begin working at DLEC? August 2019

Home Visiting Background:

I completed my BA in History and Early Childhood Education. My previous experiences include being a Mentor with UCLA, and worked in community based organizations such as the Santa Barbara Food Bank.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I love being a part of the journey in a child’s learning. 

MAGDA CISNEROS FARIAS, PROGRAM ASSISTANT

When did you begin working at DLEC? June 2023

Home Visiting Background:

I started my career in the early childhood setting back in 2019. I have worked with children of all ages and needs. Since then, I’ve worked in group home settings and non-profit organizations.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I enjoy helping others and being their cheerleader. I knew that by joining DLEC, I would be part of an organization that would allow me to do that – help others.

MEET OUR HOME VISITOR SUPERVISORS

EARLY HEAD START

Janaty Carana

JANATY CARANA

When did you begin working with DLEC? April 2023

Early Childhood Background:

I originally started my career in 2017 as a Teacher’s Assistant in the Extended Day Classroom at DLEC’s Beacon Hill Location. I then steered my career path into supportive roles for Early Learning Centers around Seattle. I enjoy working with individuals who also share the same passion for early childhood education, as well as all the awesome families I get to meet and work with along the way.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

Since I grew up in South Seattle, it has always been a passion of mine to support early childhood education for the community. Growing up, there weren’t many opportunities for my community to obtain information about early learning programs that served the area so it became my passion to bridge that gap to ensure that all children have access to quality early learning programs.

KRISTEENE SMITH

When did you begin working with DLEC? December 2023

Early Childhood Background:

I am descendent of the Chickasaw nation of Oklahoma, and I am Afro-Indigenous. My last job was a Program manager for a Native American-based home visiting program that I worked at for 16 years. I am currently pursuing my masters in early childhood education. I have 4 children, one daughter who is a graduate of an Ivy League and three sons who reside with me.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

Birth to three is one of the most critical times in child development. Early learning provides the foundation for all future learning, behavior, and health. My goal is to impact the home visitors as much as possible, so they see how their role influences families and improves outcomes. In my spare time I am a board member of community engagement at my church, and we practice strengthening our community and serving food and supplies to the homeless. I also enjoy gardening and nature walks.

MEET OUR TEAM CONSULTANTS

KAREN SNOWDEN, MENTAL HEALTH CONSULTANT

When did you begin working at DLEC? September 2021

Home Visiting Background:

I began my role as a consultant for Denise Louie in 2021 as part of my ongoing work as an Infant and Early Childhood therapist at Navos. Prior to working clinically with children and families, I have spent time as a preschool teacher, an adoptions worker with DCYF, and a youth advocate at a domestic violence shelter. I have a Master’s degree in social work and a background in psychology and child development.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I love being able to meet families where they are and to help strengthen the relationship between parents and children. I am fortunate to have the opportunity to witness the strengths and resiliency of so many families in the community, and I am passionate about providing early intervention and supportive services for families.

NICOLE DEFRANK, NURSE CONSULTANT

When did you begin working with DLEC? August 2016

Early Childhood Background:

I began working as a Child Care Health Consultant in 2005. I aim to support Teachers and Home Visitors in helping children develop healthy habits.

Passion, what do you love about your work?

I am passionate about physical activity, breastfeeding, and handwashing. My favorite part of working with DLEC is visiting families after the birth of a baby.