Meet Our Staff

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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.

Alissa Garrett, Director and Lead Teacher

Alissa is a Lawrence native who has been working in childcare for 12 years. She has been teaching at Positive Bright Start Preschool since 2016. She has worked with children ages 6 weeks to school age, but has found her home in the Pre-K classroom.  Alissa has completed Positive Behavior Support Training through Positive Bright Start and loves the way PBS allows the children in her classroom to work through their emotions in an individualized way.  She has a heart for working in an under-served community and enjoys the partnerships PBS has with community outreach centers such as Success by Six/United Way and The Sunrise Project.  Alissa is always searching for classes and training's to participate in to further her education in Early Childhood and Child Development.

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Amanda Morris, Program Director, Lakeview

Amanda is a Lawrence native who has been working in early childhood education since 2013.  She has worked in area programs with kids ranging from infants to 12 year olds.  Amanda knew from a very young age that she wanted to be a teacher and began her education at Johnson County Community College in Elementary Education.  After spending just a little time in an Early Childhood classroom, Amanda realized that toddlers are her very favorite!  “At the toddlers level,” says Amanda, “I think the most important thing a child needs to get from any care setting is the development of social and emotional skills.  PBS is has a great program to help children learn and grow in those areas.”  Amanda worked at DCCCA’s childcare center before it closed and she began working for Positive Bright Start, and she is excited to be back in her old classrooms in our partnership with DCCCA to open three new classrooms at Positive Bright Start at Lakeview. 

Anna Jenny, PBS Agency Executive Director

 

Anna Jenny has been the Executive Director for Positive Bright Start since May 2004.  With a BBA in Accounting, an MBA in Finance and a Masters in Social Work, she has the diverse skills required to manage a not-for-profit agency.  She loves knowing that no two days will be the same in this diverse agency.  She chose to make her career in social work administration because of the opportunity to create social change through innovative programming.  She loves to visit the classrooms and interact with the children, seeing the growth they are achieving, and knowing that they are developing the skills needed to reach their fullest potential.

Gwen Pennewell, Program Director, Edgewood Meadowlarks

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, Program Administrator

Kristi is the Service Coordinator for our classrooms.  That means she takes enrollments and gives tours, accepts and tracks tuition and scholarships, and manages some of the director duties.  Kristi also serves as a liaison between the school and our Edgewood Community hosts, the Lawrence Douglas County Housing Authority, and our referral agencies for the school.  Kristi administers the assessments and manages the data we collect on our kids’ growth and development collected for funders.  Kristi has been with DCCDA/PBS since 2014.  Prior to PBS, Kristi worked in the clinics at New York and Kennedy Elementaries, and you might know her face from those places. Kristi also has experience with home daycare and Publishing.  Kristi loves to go on adventures with her kiddos -- preferably by water, whether it be a pool, a lake, an ocean.  She also likes to watch them play sports, and to play sports with them.

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, as well as the planner behind the events you attend.  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, CACFP Claims Specialist

 

Lisa has an Associates Degree in Science from JCCC  and 9 hours of Early Childhood Development training from Emporia State University. Lisa was 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 for the past decade.  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.

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Maddi Myers, LPC, NCC, 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.  

Marsha Stetler, CACFP Claims Specialist

 

Marsha was a home child care provider for 20 years before coming to work at Positive Bright Start.  In the 20+ years she’s been with us, Marsha has worked in many different capacities.  Currently, Marsha is a CACFP Claim Specialist and Home Visitor.  Marsha enjoys being able to go into provider’s homes, offering one –on-one technical assistance and seeing the cute kiddos.

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Margaret Grove, Program Director, Edgewood Sunflowers

Margaret is co-lead teacher in the PreK classroom.  She’s excited to be a part of Positive Bright Start! 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 for the last 4 years, and hopes to continue expanding her knowledge. Meg’s hobbies include maintaining a healthy lifestyle, drinking coffee, and reading.

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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.

Sunday Monson, Continuous Quality Improvement Specialist, Scholarship Administrator

Sunday joined the Positive Bright Start team in 2013.  For over 30 years, Sunday has served in various roles in the field of Early Childhood Education.  Her newest role provides her with opportunity to work with preschool administrators, teachers, and families participating in the agency's early childhood scholarship program.  Along with much needed financial aid for families to afford quality early care, Sunday's work strives to promote quality school experiences for young children  by offering encouragement and support for the caregivers who directly provide care and education for children birth to 6 years old.  Direct classroom observation and data collection, peer-led focus groups are some of her tools.  Sunday enjoys supporting teachers and administrators as they build their leadership capacities within their school communities.  Sunday is inspired to see such dedication to young children in the teachers she works with, and feels privileged to be a part of such a heart-felt mission to honors the needs of young children and those who care for them.  

photos provided by Aaron Paden: http://www.padenphotography.com/