Kate Nelson Ward, MPH, CHES

Kate is a certified health education specialist who has spent the past several years as the training and curriculum specialist for SPOON Foundation, the world’s first and only organization dedicated to transforming nutrition and feeding for orphaned and vulnerable children. She has trained audiences of caregivers, doctors, nurses and social workers on nutrition and feeding for orphaned and fostered children in Kazakhstan, China, India and the US. Her two greatest passions are kids and health, and she is thankful that her work allows her the opportunity to focus on both.Kate is a proud Minnesota native and alumnus of the Pennsylvania State University. She did her graduate work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she specialized in health behavior and health education with a focus on pediatric and international health.In her spare time, Kate is a consultant, an avid reader, and loves doing just about anything active outside, especially yoga, scuba diving and running. Though in transition, Kate’s home is where her heart is: with her husband, Marcus, and dogs, Scout and Ranger. 










Emily Blackmer, MSW


For the last eight years Emily has worked as a senior level social worker with the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). For the past four years in her role as Dependency Investigator, Emily has conducted more thorough interviews of parents, children, medical experts and law enforcement officers for the purpose of meeting DCFS’ burden of proof in dependency court. Additionally, Emily has experience in intensive outpatient psychiatric treatment, residential care and treatment for juvenile offenders with co-occurring disorders and medical social work. She received both her Bachelors and Masters of Social Work from Azusa Pacific University (APU). Currently, Emily works as an assistant professor in the Undergraduate Department of Social Work at APU.  













Kathryn Ecklund, Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology


Kathryn Ecklund is a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children and families. She has worked with Child Protective Services and has extensive experience working with foster and adoptive children and their families for 21 years. She is the Interim Chair and professor in the Undergraduate Department of Psychology at Azusa Pacific University, teaching multiple courses including Psychology of Exceptional Children and Behavioral Science Practicum.











Linda Howe


Linda D. Howe, M.Ed, received her education and credentials at the University of California, Santa Barbara and California State Polytechnic University, Pomona.  She acquired additional specialized training in perceptual-motor development at Fresno State University and Fresno Pacific College under the direction of Professor Elizabeth Davies, M.A.   Professor Davies and Dr. Newell C. Kephart, author of, The Slow Learner in the Classroom series, implemented this program at the Glen Haven Achievement Center for Children.  Linda Howe has held a private practice as a perceptual-motor consultant in Southern California for 30 years.  Prior to establishing her private practice she taught elementary and junior high school.  Linda is also the mother of a family of eight children with twenty grandchildren











Bobbi Thomas, MFT

Bobbi is a licensed marriage and family therapist with over twenty years of experience working with children and families involved in foster care and adoption. She has helped families work through issues related to marital distress, trauma, grief, behavioral problems, and attachment. Bobbi maintains an ongoing commitment to working with foster and adoptive families, as well as a strong interest in providing couples counseling. She believes in the importance of considering the interplay between physical, mental and spiritual well-being. She has a dedication to community mental health and the integration of faith in the therapeutic process.

In addition to her work at Bridges Counseling, Bobbi is the Director of Clinical Training for the Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology: Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Azusa Pacific University. She enjoys teaching courses related to marital therapy, treatment of domestic violence, law and ethics, and general clinical courses.












Cynthia Roe


Cynthia Roe is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker currently working in clinical practice in the psychiatry Department of Kaiser Permanente Orange County. She works as a consultant and trainer in the field of adoption and foster care. Throughout her over twenty year career, she has worked as a social worker in the public and private sectors, focusing her work on children and families impacted by trauma, abuse and neglect, foster care and adoption, and kinship care. Cynthia and her sister are graduate survivors of the Colorado foster care system. In 2003, she and her sister were able to connect with their biological brother who had been placed for adoption by their mother as an infant over sixty years ago. She received her Master’s in Social Work degree from the University of Southern California. She and her spouse are the proud adoptive parents of two sons who were in foster care in Los Angeles County. They enjoy spending time with their sons, their daughters-in-law and their grandsons.