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Rosemary Tisch, Director

Mrs. Tisch is the lead author for Celebrating Families!™, SCRIPS, the Young Women Are Strong (YWAS) series, Success through Awareness and Responsibility Training (START) of California and co-author for Keys to Healthy Living. Rosemary was the founder of Kids Are Special and Family Education Foundation, nonprofits focusing on addiction prevention in high-risk populations: children of alcoholics/addicts, sexually active teens, and individuals with learning differences and those exposed in utero to alcohol and other drugs. Group models have been successfully replicated throughout the US, Mexico, Argentina, and Russia.

Rosemary has vast experience in non-profit organizations and the development of programs to address substance use disorders. She has been a member of numerous Health & Policy committees for national and local nonprofits. She was the chair of the Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Clinic Development Committee and Co-Chair of the Santa Clara County Community Learning Assessment Task Force and chair of the Perinatal Focus Group for Santa Clara County's Alcohol & Drug Master Plan Review Committee.

Honors include: 2015 Hope Tribute for advocating for children and adolescents affected by addiction and co-occurring disorder; the 2013 Simple Servant award from the Diocese of El Camino, CA; the 2012 Vernon Johnson Award from Faces & Voices of Recovery; the 2011 Ackerman/Black Award from NACoA; the 2010 California State Director’s Award for Cultural Diversity; 2008 selection as one of NACoA’s 25 individuals who “save, protect and guide children of alcoholics”, 2007 Crystal Bowl Winner, Outstanding Community Volunteer by Junior League of San Jose; nominated as Woman of the Year, Santa Clara County; and listing in Who's Who Among Human Services Professionals.


Ms. Tisch holds Master Degrees in Counseling Psychology from Stanford University and in Piano Performance from College of Notre Dame. She is married with two grown daughters and four granddaughters.


Mary Gardner, Project Director

Ms. Gardner assists the Director in the administration of various projects related to Celebrating Families!™. Retiring after eleven years as Superintendent of Saratoga Union School District (Saratoga, CA), Ms. Gardner currently consults with non-profit organizations and school districts. She was a teacher and administrator for 42 years. After one year at Harvard's Graduate School of Education, as an instructor and a visiting practitioner, she taught courses in educational leadership at California State University at Hayward and San Jose State University.

She has provided keynote speeches and workshops on Women's Ways of Leading and co-authored three books on Constructivist Leadership and one on Women's Ways of Leading. Her passion continues to be building communities of learners and leaders, ensuring that all families and children have the environment and support to be successful. She has completed Early Literacy, ABD doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley and has an MA in Education Administration from the University of Redlands. She is credentialed through ASHA: American Speech-Language-Hearing Association as a Speech and Language Development Specialist, California State Lie Credential in Secondary Education and K-12 Administration. Her commitment to Celebrating Families!™ has spanned more than 25 years. Mary has two grown daughters, four granddaughters and one grandson.


Linda Sibley, Co-Author and Editor

Ms. Sibley is the co-author of Celebrating Families!™and author of Kids Like Me. She was the team leader and co-author of Keys for Healthy Living, a prevention program currently being used in Russian speaking countries. Linda is the author and founder of Confident Kids Support Groups, an organization which has provided resources and training for children's support group ministries throughout the United States and other parts of the world for more than 30 years. 

In addition to the Confident Kids curriculum, she authored the Kids Like Me curriculum, a children's prevention program for use in churches and other Christian recovery ministries, Guides for Growing a Healthy Family Book Series (Baker Book House), contributed to Sunday School curriculum projects for Standard Publishing and David C. Cook Publishers and to Christian Parenting Today and STEPS magazines.

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Melissa Santos, Director, California Celebrating Families! Expansion Project

Ms. Santos is a Celebrating Families!™National Trainer and the Director of the California Expansion Project, in collaboration with Prevention Partnership International and the California Office of Child Abuse Prevention Project (OCAP). Melissa provides training, technical assistance and model fidelity oversight for the CA OCAP project. She is also currently the Senior Director of Professional Development and Organizational Initiatives at Community Solutions overseeing internal clinical training, leadership development, community-based training and strategic initiatives. Melissa has facilitated both the parent and preschool groups for Celebrating Families!™. 

Melissa is a graduate of the Rhode Island College School of Social Work where she earned her Bachelor of Social Work degree. She has 20 years of experience in the behavioral health field, with a focus on families impacted by substance use disorders and the criminal justice system, including the creation of a pilot program at Child Advocates within the Dependency Drug Treatment Court, in collaboration with Judge Len Edwards.  She has been an advisor and consultant to Prevention Partnership International for 15 years. Melissa is also a member of the Santa Clara County Touchpoints training team and facilitates trainings on trauma-informed care, mindfulness and recovery throughout the region. Melissa is a mother of two young daughters. 

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Shirley N. Sparks-Grief, Evaluation Consultant & Author (deceased)

Ms. Sparks-Greif, MS, CCC-SLP oversaw Celebrating Families!™ (CF!) evaluation process and author of numerous articles on fetal alcohol syndrome (FASD) and CF! She was an associate professor emerita, Western Michigan University, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology. Shirley retired recently as adjunct associate professor at Santa Clara University, Early Childhood Special Education, Santa Clara, CA. 

She was a Fellow of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a member of the original Board of Specialty Recognition in Child Language. During her 15 years at WMU she published and was a frequent speaker on the subjects of genetics, fetal alcohol syndrome, and early intervention. Shirley received a BA degree from the University of Iowa, MS from Tulane University, and while at WMU, undertook Ph.D. studies at the University of Michigan, School of Public Health in Health Behavior and Health Education. She moved to California before completing that degree. As a clinician, she served on the Fetal Alcohol Diagnostic Team at Valley Medical Center, San Jose, CA, and was a home visitor for children aged 0-3 for 20 years. 


Edward Cohen, External Evaluator

Edward Cohen is a Professor in the School of Social Work at San Jose State University. He received his M.S.W. and Ph.D. in Social Welfare at the University of California Berkeley. He teaches courses in research methods and international social work, and he was a recent Fulbright Scholar teaching in Vietnam. His experience includes providing training to mental health and social service agencies in improving agency performance through the use of data and evaluation; and he has had over 17 years of social work practice experience with children and families. 

Dr. Cohen was Director of the Center for Social Services Research at the University of California at Berkeley prior to joining the faculty at SJSU. He is past editorial board member of the journal Research on Social Work Practice and the International Journal of Clinical Psychiatry and Mental Health, and now serves on the editorial board of Child and Adolescent Social Work. In the Spring of 2019, Professor Cohen received a competitive 5-year grant from the University assigning a portion of his time to research and evaluation of Celebrating Families!™ (CF!). The time will be allocated to overseeing the evaluation of the California Expansion project, developing evaluation methodologies, analyzing data from CF! sites, and writing articles to enhance the evidence base for CF!. Ed has a grown son and lives in Northern California with his wife Mariam, a psychologist.

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