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Meet Our Staff


Abagail Hemelrick, Site Director, Teacher


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Alana Kramer, LMSW, Family Resource Team, Child and Family Therapist


Alana graduated from the University of Kansas with an advanced standing Masters of Social Work degree 2008.  She is pursuing credentials as a Registered Play Therapist and a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker.  Before her position at Positive Bright Start, Alana held a variety of titles including Milieu Group therapist with adolescents at KidsTLC Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facility and In-home Outpatient Therapist for children in foster care through KVC. Alana’s primary practice is the assessment and treatment of children with social and emotional difficulties, focusing on treating children with histories of trauma, depression, anxiety, attachment disruptions and adjustment disorders.  Alana prefers to use strengths based, solution focused, trauma informed and attachment based theories to assess the needs of children and their families. Alana has received training in a variety of models, including Dialectical Developmental Psychotherapy, Trauma Systems Therapy, Sandtray therapy, Theraplay, and Child Centered Play Therapy.  Alana’s primary focus is to build solid trusting relationships with her clients and their parents and to approach each unique family using a child-centered, attachment focused and trauma informed lens. Alana is passionate about helping children and their families improve their quality of life and reach their fullest potential.

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Becky Grammer, CACFP Home Visitor

Becky has lived in Douglas County her whole life.  She started her own in-home daycare in 1982. Becky has always enjoyed serving the children in our community by caring for them in her home.  As a in-home child care provider, Becky participated in CACFP for over 30 years. Becky believes children deserve healthy meals and snacks and all the love we can give them.  Becky says, “I’m so grateful to have the opportunity to serve the children and families of Douglas County by conducting home visits and supporting the providers.”

Billy Miera, Teacher

Mr Billy, as the kids call him, moved to Lawrence in 2020.  PBS is actually his first child care employment, but he quickly discovered his affinity for the job.  Billy is currently working with both toddlers and PreK, and says he “enjoys their energy.  I love watching children grow and use the skills they have learned in the classroom to help find solutions for themselves.  I love creating close bonds with each child and having games and conversations that are special to each individual.”  Billy stays with PBS because the work of helping children from all backgrounds be successful is so important, and he plans to continue training in order to serve the children and their families to the very best of his ability. 


Crystal Bell, Teacher


Dani Gonzalez-Dotti, Teacher

Dani started working in childcare as an assistant at a Montessori school, primarily in the infant and toddler classrooms. She has also completed assistant montessori training for infants and toddlers. Dani is currently a student at the University of Kansas, majoring in psychology and  minoring in applied behavioral science. Her goal is to work in mental health counseling for children and adolescents. Dani believes that to be a good support for children, it is important to understand how children think, act, and play outside of a clinical setting. She also believes that in a pre-kindergarten classroom it is important to build good academic skills but to also prepare them emotionally and creatively to thrive in their future.


Deanna Roberts, Site Director, Lead Teacher


Deanna has been working in childcare since August 2021. She’s worked with every age, but 3 to 5 years is her favorite.  Deanna is currently working on her CDA and plans to keep furthering her education in childcare.  As a teacher and a mother, Deanna’s goal is “to be a safe place for each child in my care.”  Deanna is passionate about advocating for children and is SO excited to be a part of the good work of Positive Bright Start. 


Erin Lawrence, Early Childhood Special Education Consultant

Gwen Pennewell, PBS Coach

Gwen has  been working in early childhood education since 2004, starting out volunteering for a high school credit in child development. Discovering then her love for the early childhood classroom, after graduation, Gwen became a classroom aide.  Since, Gwen has taken over 130 hours to learning new ways to understand childhood development and social emotional development. She feels passionate that all children should be loved, supported, and cheered for, even when they don’t have the language to express it.


Kristi McAlister, Bookkeeper 

Kristi began her journey with Positive Bright Start in 2014 as a Service Coordinator for the single classroom of PBS’s Early Childhood Education program.  Over the years, her roles grew and changed alongside PBS.  She served as Program Administrator for the schools, and as an administrative assistant to the classrooms.  Kristi now keeps the books for all our programs.  


Kristi is a self-proclaimed “jill of all trades” and has an AGS with an emphasis in business as well as a background in Publishing, as a CNA, and licensed home daycare.  She also has training in Trauma-Informed Care, A.C.E.’s (Adverse Childhood Experiences), Anti-Bias Education, the Positive Behavior Support (PBS) Pyramid Model, and Early Childhood Leadership.


Kristi is a mom to three, ages 12, 19, and 24, and a metastatic breast cancer warrior.  In her free time, she loves to cook, travel, and spend time with her family, preferably near water, whether it be a pool, a lake, or an ocean. 

Lane Eisenbart, Communications and Operations


Lane wears many hats for Positive Bright Start.  She’s the face you’ll likely see first as you walk in the door, and the person behind the social media posts you see and many of the emails and letters you get.  Lane tries to make sure everyone at Positive Bright Start has the support they need to do their jobs. Lane is the communications manager, as well as the on-site tech support, and event planner.


Lane has a degree in English and Secondary Education from KU, has lived in Lawrence since 2003, is active and involved in her community, and believes that all children deserve love and safety and the opportunity to learn and grow.

Lisa Zwiener, CMP, CCNP, CACFP Administrator


Lisa has an Associates Degree in Science from JCCC  and 9 hours of Early Childhood Development training from Emporia State University. Lisa was a home daycare provider for 5 years.  She has been at Positive Bright Start since 2004, training home daycare providers in CACFP guidelines for nutrition and activity.  She has trained at the state level and several other counties in Kansas. To express how she feels about the importance of early childhood, Lisa shares this quote: “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.” Lisa strives to make positive deposits daily with adults and children.


Maddi Myers, LPC, Therapy Services, Therapist


Madeline received a Master of Arts in Counseling degree from MidAmerica Nazarene University in the spring of 2020. She is currently pursuing credentials as a Registered Play Therapist and a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Madeline is trained to use a variety of therapeutic models including Child Centered Play Therapy, directive play therapy, and Sand Tray therapy. When conceptualizing family needs, Madeline refers to Family Systems Theory and emotionally focused models.


Before joining the PBS team, Madeline taught Pre-Kindergarten at Little Building Blocks Early Childhood Development Center in Gardner, KS. During her clinical internship, Madeline was a Play Therapist for the MNU Community Counseling Center. She also offered support during monthly Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) groups for children and families through the Kansas Post Adoption Resource Center.


Madeline’s primary practice is the assessment and treatment of children, birth through age 6, with social and emotional difficulties, including children with histories of depression, anxiety, attachment disruptions, and development disorders. She also has experience with children that are going through the adoption process, grieving a loss, and struggling through a divorce. Madeline believes in the power of play to help children and their families flourish.

Marci Ramsay, LSCSW, RPT-S, Therapy Services, Therapist, PBS Consultant


Marci’s advanced degree is a Master of Social Work degree earned in 2006 from The University of Kansas. She holds licensure in the state of Kansas as a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker.  In addition, she is a Registered Play Therapist/Supervisor and is currently pursuing certification in the Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics through the Child Trauma Academy.


Marci has been employed at Positive Bright Start as an Early Childhood Mental Health Clinician and Positive Behavior Support Administrator since 2007.  Marci’s primary practice is the assessment and treatment of children, birth through age 6, with social and emotional difficulties, specializing in treating children with trauma-related conditions, including child maltreatment, posttraumatic stress disorder, and attachment or adjustment disorders.  Marci is trained to use a variety of developmentally-based, play therapies to assist children with self-expression and problem resolution including child-centered play therapy, directive play therapy, Theraplay®, and EMDR.

Marci is passionate about building solid relationships with her clients and approaches each unique situation using a child-centered, attachment based framework.  It is through a solid foundation of strong relational connections that Marci believes children can thrive.  

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Margaret Grove,  Early Childhood Program Administrator

Originally from Pennsylvania, Margaret, or Meg, found her passion for early childhood and teaching while working as a day camp counselor in high school.  Meg has been working in childcare and pursuing her degree here in Kansas since 2016, and hopes to continue expanding her knowledge.  Meg has just recently, in 2022, transitioned to a new role at Positive Bright Start as Program Administrator.  She oversees all our early childhood classrooms for everything from licensure to staffing.  

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Marie Taylor, Executive Director


McKayla Paez, Data Manager

McKayla noticed her passion for working with children around the age of twelve. She worked as a nanny for five years before she started college, and during college, she worked as a classroom and research aide in the University of Kansas’ Applied Behavioral Science classrooms. McKayla graduated from the University of Kansas in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in History, with a minor in Applied Behavioral Science. After that, she spent time working as an assistant teacher before she came to be at Positive Bright Start.  McKayla was a preschool teacher in our Edgewood classrooms before taking time off to stay home with her daughter, and now rejoins us as agency-wide data manager.  McKayla believes all children deserve an educational experience that’s fun, but also safe and nurturing.


Nora Dibben, LMSW, Therapy Services, Therapist

Nora earned her Master's of Social Work degree from Washburn University in 2021. She is currently pursuing credentials as a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker and Registered Play Therapist. Nora has 7 years of professional experience supporting grant-funded programs that serve children with significant cognitive disabilities. As a social worker, Nora has worked with all ages in settings such as skilled nursing facilities and community mental health. Her background is in helping adults with anxiety, depression, and trauma through evidence-based practices like cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectical behavior therapy. Nora is passionate about helping people in every stage of life. She collaborates with clients and focuses on their strengths to ensure they receive the best treatment possible.


Penny Nuckolls, Cook


Sunday Monson, 


Vivian Moriarty, Teacher

photos provided by Aaron Paden:

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