Our Team

NSPN Staff Photo

Staff listed left to right / back to front: Laurie Jackson, Elizabeth Smith Miller, Rachel Hurst, Tammy Hopper, Mark Wolf, Sherry Casey, Susan Harmon, Shauna Brooks, April Carthorn, Autumn Sandlin, Kim Frierson, Eric Tadatada, Hillary Ladig

Laurie Jackson
Email: [email protected]

Laurie Jackson is the President/CEO for National Safe Place Network, which also administers the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center (RHYTTAC) cooperative agreement. She joined the organization in June 2010 and has been active with the Safe Place program for more than 15 years. She served as Associate Executive Director for Synergy Services, Inc. in Kansas City, Missouri. Jackson was with Synergy Services for 19 years and prior to that she worked for several years with Cedars Youth Services in Lincoln, Nebraska. She has been active with local, regional, state and national efforts in the areas of runaway and homeless youth, child welfare and domestic violence. 

Jackson holds an Executive Master's Degree in Business Administration from the University of Missouri Kansas City and a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work from the University of Nebraska Kearney. She serves as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Network for Youth and is dedicated to bringing awareness to the issues of runaway and homeless youth.

Tammy Hopper
Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer
Email: [email protected]

Tammy L. Hopper brings more than 25 years of experience as a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to her role at National Safe Place Network. This experience includes basic center, transitional living program and street outreach program management. She has also worked on an inpatient psychiatric unit for youth; served as a member of a Mobile Crisis Unit; and, worked as a therapist for a project dedicated to preventing sexual abuse of Appalachian Children. She has served as the Chair of the National Council on Youth Policy and spent 20 years as a member of the National Safe Place Advisory Board. Hopper is also a member of the first class of Certified Grants Professionals, recognized by the American Association of Grant Professionals.

Hopper is an advocate and enthusiastic believer in youth development and is committed to working with individuals and organizations that embrace the power and promise that comes from partnering with youth. 

Shauna Brooks
Performance and Evaluation Specialist
Email: [email protected]

Shauna Brooks found her rightful place as a social worker after fifteen years of project management experience in the information technology field.  She started her first job as a youth care worker with the Florence Crittenton Agency (FCA) in 2010 while enrolled in the College of Social Work bachelor’s program at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  After earning a BSSW in 2012, Shauna continued in their graduate program, earning an MSSW in Management, Leadership and Community Practice in 2014.  In addition to working for FCA throughout school, Brooks had field placements with the Youth Villages Transitional Living Program (TLP), Project Grad’s College Access office at Fulton High School, and National Safe Place Network (NSPN).  She also worked as a Youth Advocate in Helen Ross McNabb Center’s Runaway and Homeless Youth (RHY) programs, primarily with transition age youth in their TLP before joining the NSPN Team as a full-time staff member in 2015.  Brooks brings her business experience along with a commitment to youth, love of research, and passion for continuous improvement to the NSPN team.

April Carthorn
NSPN Membership Manager
RHYTTAC Training and Technical Assistance
Email: [email protected]

April Carthorn brings more than 20 years’ experience working with youth in both child welfare and runaway and homeless youth (RHY) programs. As the project manager for Youth OPEN and Project NOW, she assisted at-risk youth to become financially literate, secure caring adult connections, and find forever homes.  In the role of Director of Adolescent Services for a member organization, Carthorn supervised various programs that provided a range of services to include three gender specific group homes, the foster care department, child abuse awareness programming, as well as after school enrichment and education training. Carthorn has been a trainer for many years in areas of Trauma-Informed Care, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, Youth Development, Case Management and Permanency Planning. Carthorn started working with RHY youth in a Basic Center Program as a student intern and immediately discovered her career purpose; to advocate and promote safety, financial stability, resilience and self-sufficiency for at-risk and homeless youth. As a former staff person of a member agency and having served on the NSPN Board of Directors prior to the merger of Youth and Family Services Network (YFSN) and National Safe Place (NSP), Carthorn understands the essential support needs of organizations and shares excitement to have opportunities to work one-on-one with agencies to fulfill their purpose, mission, and service goals to vulnerable populations.

On a personal note, Carthorn lives in Tennessee and travels whenever she can. When she returns home, she is greeted by Pretty Lady, Honey, and Nugget. In her spare time, she enjoys being with people and engaging in social activities. Carthorn likes listening to comedy and loves all animals except for groundhogs that stalk her when she goes to her car.

Josie Elder
Operations Specialist
Email: [email protected]

Josie is an Operations Specialist who provides administrative support for NSPN and RHYTTAC. She has been working with children for over eight years as a preschool teacher and most recently as a site leader of Child Care for the Archdiocese of Louisville. She believes in the difference that NSPN is making across the country, and is proud to be a part of an organization that helps youth in need. A native of Detroit, Josie went looking for an adventure in 2013 and happily found Louisville, KY where she has been residing ever since. In her free time she enjoys painting, spontaneous travel, and spending time with her family and three dogs.

Kim Frierson
RHYTTAC Training Specialist
Email: [email protected]

Kim Frierson assists in coordinating RHYTTAC training opportunities, creating and researching content for trainings, and planning the annual RHYTTAC conference. Previously, she spent six years as a case manager at YMCA Safe Place Services youth shelter in Louisville, Kentucky. Frierson received her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Kentucky in 2005 and, after a year as an AmeriCorpos VISTA in 2006, returned to school and earned her Master’s of Science in Social Work from the University of Louisville. In addition to her role with RHYTTAC, Frierson contracts with the University of Louisville as a facilitator on a Pregnancy Prevention grant funded by the Department for Health & Human Service. She has spent the past six years as a sexual health educator with the university and other local agencies.

Susan Harmon
Director of Safe Place National Operations
Email: [email protected]

Susan Harmon works to expand Safe Place’s national network of programs and provides consultation, technical support and instruction for new Safe Place agencies. She joined the organization in July 2000 after serving 10 years as the Safe Place coordinator for the Louisville, Kentucky program.

Harmon specializes in organizing and conducting training sessions geared towards preparing new agencies and coordinators on how to operate a Safe Place program. She represents the Safe Place program and conducts training and networking opportunities at regional and national conferences for Safe Place personnel and other agencies interested in learning more about the program. Prior to joining Safe Place, Harmon worked for Louisville’s Jefferson County Public Schools. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education and History from Shorter College in northwest Georgia.

Deborah A. Michelle Hurley, CSW
Program Advocate
Email: [email protected]

Michelle Hurley, CSW, joins NSPN as a Program Advocate, where she will be providing support for the Safe Place and Membership teams. Since her childhood as a Girl Scout, she learned the value in seeking to build up others with gusto, empathy, and positivity. Michelle received her MSW with Distinction from the University of Kentucky in 2017 and her BS in Psychology from Centre College in 2019. She is eager to create positive change within her community through leadership, empowerment, and solution-focused problem solving. Previously, she utilized these passions in her roles as a therapist, case manager, domestic violence victim’s advocate, and researcher on sexual violence prevention. Michelle’s favorite quote is from Fred Rogers, who said “There are three ways to ultimate success: the first way is to be kind; the second ways is to be kind; the third way is to be kind.” Her goal is to implement these words into her everyday life with hopes it will spread to others.


Autumn Sandlin
Communications Manager
Email: [email protected]

Autumn Sandlin is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations. She began her professional career with NSPN after graduating in 2017 as the Marketing and Communications Intern. She then moved on to Operations Specialist, and began work as the Communications Manager in December of 2018. Autumn is always actively seeking to make a difference, and is delighted by all of the work that comes out of National Safe Place Network, its members, and licensed Safe Place agencies. A native of Kentucky, Autumn enjoys playing with or talking about any type of dog, reading, true crime, and binge-watching t.v. with her fiance when she has the time.

Elizabeth Smith Miller, MSEB, CYC-P
Director of Marketing and Events
Email: [email protected]

Elizabeth Smith Miller is a business, marketing, and events professional who has led organizational initiatives for more than 20 years. She is a certified Child and Youth Care (CYC) practitioner at the professional level and has been connected to the youth and family services field for more than 25 years. She has served on and lead youth advisory boards and completed two terms of service with Ameri Corps.  She also has led the development and implementation of a volunteer support center for a youth and family organization with more than 35 distinct programs.  She has implemented policies and procedures for state and national organizations. Smith Miller’s creative vision drives branding and marketing efforts for nationally recognized programs and has worked directly with federally funded grantees as a professional marketing and branding consultant.  She has also served as a subject matter expert for national trainings and facilitated webinars.  She is an effective leader of events who excels in attention to detail, organization, and time management.  Smith Miller is resourceful and has a keen ability to proactively solve problems.  Regardless of how busy she is during events and meetings, she always makes time for members, licensed agencies, and grantees of the Network.  There's never an event where she doesn't hear one or more attendees say to her “you’re always smiling; it’s contagious”!  She doesn’t hesitate to share “I love my NSPN family and I’m excited each and every moment that I get to work with such amazing thought leaders of the youth and family services field”.  Smith Miller is a playmaker for events that successfully leaves participants motivated to change the world. Along with her business connection to the youth and family service field, Smith Miller is also a licensed foster and adoptive parent and is a passionate advocate for young people in her community.

Eric Tadatada
RHYTTAC Technical Assistance Specialist
Email: [email protected]

Eric Tadatada provides technical assistance via telephone, on-site, or online to runaway and homeless youth grantees in need for RHYTTAC. In addition, he assists with the preparation of reports for Federal Project Officers as well as presenting and planning at technical assistance clinics. He has supervised and worked in youth programming for 21 years. This includes basic center, transitional living, and street outreach program management experience. Prior to joining the organization in 2013, Eric worked for the YMCA Safe Place Services branch in various roles starting as a youth worker and ending as their Outreach Director. In between these two roles, he served as a counselor, Residential Shelter Director, Independent Living Program Director, and Aftercare Program Director. In 2003 he received the Southeastern Network’s Dick Moran Youth Services Award. Tadatada holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Sociology/Social Work from the University of Louisville.

Mark Wolf
RHYTTAC Training and Technical Assistance Director
Email: [email protected]

Mark Wolf received his MSW Degree from West Virginia University and he holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work and Sociology from Utah State University. Prior to his work at RHYTTAC, Wolf served as the Director of the K-Town Youth Empowerment Network for Tennessee Voices for Children. In this role, he was responsible for program development, management, and oversight of a $1.5 million a year SAMHSA System of Care grant with 20 staff. The program, which began in 2010, has been recognized by the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Wolf has directed state-wide initiatives related to permanency for youth and has more than 30 years of experience with runaway and homeless youth. He has an extensive history of training, including certification through the Child Welfare League for Effective Supervisory Training. He has provided leadership in youth services at the local, state, regional and national level and has presented at multiple national conferences. Mark has been recognized for excellence by National Safe Place Network, the Child Welfare League of America and the National Network for Youth.