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About Us

Our Mission

Families First Counseling Services of Iowa is dedicated to the process of partnering with families today to help foster growth and success tomorrow.


    Meet the Families First Team

    familes first executive team

    Executive Team

    Name: Laone Kishman
    Job Title: Managing Partner

    Laone has spent over 35 years in the Human Service field covering multiple programs and disciplines. Laone helped found Families First Counseling Services over 20 years ago with the beliefs that children do best when they live in positive family environments, community based services are effective in helping families be happy and healthy and quality of service to the customer is paramount in creating an organization that is successful in a dramatically changing service environment.

    Laone's primary responsibilities with the agency include Mental and Behavioral Health Services Director and Information Technology oversight. At a state level, Laone serves as a Board Member and past president for the Coalition for Family and Children’s Services in Iowa.

    Name: Rick Venenga
    Job Title: Managing Partner

    Rick has over 35 years of experience working and managing different human service programs in Iowa. Rick helped establish Families First in 2002 with the belief that quality in-home supportive services are the beginning of assisting families to become healthy, contributing members of society. Rick is one of two dedicated Managing Partners who are active in the Coalition for Family and Children Services in Iowa, participates in the growth and development of Iowa's Child Welfare programs and advocates for better legislation for all areas regarding children and families well-being.

    Rick is an active leader within the agency, providing consultation to staff in group and individual supervision and conducting direct staff development and training. Rick is also responsible for the daily financial operations of the agency, supervises the agency Child Welfare Contracts, and is part of the human resources team.

    Name: Katie Henniges
    Job Title: Junior Partner 

    Katie has over 20 years of experience in the human service field and has been employed with Families First since June 2005. Katie provides support and direction to supervisors and direct care staff through group and individual supervision to ensure quality services are being delivered to those families served by Families First. Katie is a Trainer for the Permanency Round Tables and is an approved statewide Trainer for the Solution Focused Meetings and the Youth Transition Decision Making Meetings. Katie has also facilitated trainings in partnership with the Iowa Department of Human Services for supervisors and direct care stadd across Iowa. These topics have included but are not limited to: Family Interactions, Engaging Non-Custodial Parents in Child Welfare, Placement Stability and Quality Case Visits in Child Welfare.

    Name: Jennifer Steinbronn
    Job Title: Quality Performance Director

    Jennifer has been with Families First since 2007 managing all Quality Assurance/Quality Improvement responsibilities for all programs the agency provides to the community and to our stakeholders. Jennifer provides oversight to the infrastructure for the agency in developing, implementing, and maintaining quality systems for service delivery and compliance with regulatory entities. Along with the Executive Team, Jennifer utilizes the agency’s Strategic Plan incorporating continual partnerships with public/private entities to ensure that child safety and well-being are top priorities when developing quality service to each one of the families we serve.

    Name: Angie Freiburger
    Job Title: Cedar Rapids Regional Director

    Angie has over 17 years of experience in the child welfare field and has been employed with Families First Counseling Services since June of 2015. Angie is our Cedar Rapids Service Area Regional Director and provides oversight to the Kinship Navigation program, Child Welfare Supervisors and Solution Focused Meeting Facilitators. Her prior experience includes in-home work with children and families, supervision of front-line staff, serving on numerous local and statewide committees, facilitating Family Team Meetings along with administration duties within the public and private sector of child welfare.

    Name: Natalie Clapp
    Job Title: Northern Regional Director

    Natalie has been with Families First since 2016 as our Northern Service Area Regional Director and has over 20 years of child welfare experience. Prior to joining our team, Natalie worked with foster/adoptive families through other local human service agencies providing various services, and the Department of Human Services as a supervisor covering 27 counties that included 8 programs. Natalie provides oversight to our child welfare services in 27 counties, participates in partnership with private and public agencies, judicial system, and works closely with the executive team and leadership team to ensure that the quality of service delivery meets the needs of the agency and other regulatory entities.

    Name: Sharon Durnin
    Job Title: Office/Billing Manager

    Sharon has been with Families First since 2004 and has over 20 years of Office Management experience. Sharon is responsible for maintaining daily operations in the Waterloo Families First office. Sharon provides direct oversight to the Administrative Assistants and billing support to the Care Coordinators in the service delivery area. Sharon manages all aspects of billing and staff payroll.

    Name: Josh Pedretti
    Job Title: Director of Child Welfare Strategy Development

    Josh has 16 years of experience in the child welfare field and has been employed with Families First Counseling Services since November of 2018. His prior work experience includes direct in-home work with families, supervision of various child welfare and behavioral health staff/programming and administrative duties within the private sector of the child welfare system. Josh currently serves as the Training & Supervision and IT Committee Chair within the organization and is responsible for organizing and responding to all Request for Proposal (RFP) contract bids for the agency. Josh is a statewide certified trainer of Solution Based Casework (SBC) and operates as the agency’s SBC Coordinator, overseeing Evidence Based Program (EBP) development and implementation. Josh also serves on various statewide committees to further enhance child welfare services, systems and programming.

    Name: Hanna Hofmeister
    Job Title: Eastern Regional Director

    Hanna has 12 years of experience in the human services field and has been with Families First Counseling Services since 2015. Hanna is the newest member of our Executive Team and is the Eastern Service Area Regional Director. Hanna’s prior experience includes in-home work with children and families, and supervision of front-line staff, supervisors, and facilitators. Previously, Hanna was a member of the Linn County Family Treatment Court and an adjunct faculty member at Mount Mercy University’s Social Work Program. Hanna is also trained as a Solution Focused Meeting Facilitator. Hanna currently oversees child welfare programming in 10 counties and works closely with the Executive Team and Leadership Team to ensure quality service delivery as well as partnership with public and private entities.

    Name: Sarah Enke
    Job Title: Community Development Director

    Sarah, the newest member of our Executive Team, is the Community Development Director. She has over 20 years of experience working in community outreach and has worked as a Rural Outreach Specialist, Community Health and Benefit Coordinator, Trauma Specialized Social Worker, and Director of Behavioral Health. Within these roles, Sarah has gained over 10 years’ experience in program coordination, holistic health education, business development, and project management. She has experience leading Federally Qualified Health organizations to provide value-based program design and development through future oriented and meaningful strategic planning.

    Sarah currently works toward creative and continuous process improvement of our Counseling Support and Education programs including: In Office Therapy, Behavioral Health Intervention Services and Pediatric Integrated Health Home Services, which operate out of 15 offices across the state of Iowa. Additionally, Sarah collaborates with the Executive Team, Leadership Team, and agency staff to create transformational and administrative processes and procedures that support our mission of partnering with families today to help foster growth and success for tomorrow.

    Families First Supervisors

    Cedar Rapids Service Area Supervisors

    • Amber Busch – Kinship Navigation Services Supervisor 
    • Elizabeth Mann - Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Katie Van Zuiden – Behavioral Health Intervention Services Supervisor 
    • Kelli VanEgmond – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Lucy Petz– Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Mallory Morgan - Family Interaction Supervisor 
    • Robin Krogman – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Sharon McAllister – Family Centered Services Supervisor

    Eastern Service Area Supervisors

    • Alexis Lellig - Family Interaction Supervisor 
    • Amber Busch – Kinship Navigation Services Supervisor
    • Brittany Wells – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Deb Hagy – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Jamie Theisen – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Katie Van Zuiden - Behavioral Health Intervention Services Supervisor
    • Sara Crigger – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Megan Stephens – Family Centered Services Supervisor

    Northern Service Area Supervisors

    • Alejandra Seth – Family Centered Services Supervisor 
    • Amber Busch – Kinship Navigation Services Supervisor 
    • Anne Varney – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Bethany Ellingson - Integrated Health Home Director & Behavioral Health Intervention Services Supervisor 
    • Danielle VanHooser – Family Centered Services Supervisor 
    • Lindsey Ramker – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Peggy Sells – Family Centered Services Supervisor
    • Sara Barnard - Family Interaction Supervisor
    • Wendy Nuss – Family Centered Services Supervisor
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