What We Do

Why is advocacy important?
Without it, Nevada’s children are left behind.

Currently, Nevada isn’t making the grade when it comes to the safety, education, and health of our children. By building consensus around priorities and leveraging our collective strength toward real changes in policy and practice, we ensure that every child has a chance to thrive.

And when our children thrive, Nevada thrives.

CHILDREN’S ADVOCACY ALLIANCE is the independent voice for Nevada’s children and families.

Our Team

Holly Welborn

Youth justice has always been central to Holly’s work. During law school she focused on youth law and interned for Legal Services for Children where she represented children in delinquency and dependency matters, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Special Immigrant Juvenile Status applications, and school expulsion proceedings.

Holly received her bachelor’s in political science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and her law degree from Golden Gate University School of Law in San Francisco.

She currently serves as a board member of the Institute for a Progressive Nevada, Planned Parenthood Votes Nevada, and the Nevada Coalition Against the Death Penalty. She previously served as a gubernatorial appointee to the Nevada Sentencing Commission and the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice. Holly was recognized as a Reno-Tahoe Young Professionals 40 under 40 finalist and is a recipient of the Community Leadership Award from Silver State Equality. As a Nevada native, and first generation college graduate and lawyer, Holly strives to give back to her community through her advocacy and philanthropic efforts.

Jamelle Nance

Jamelle Nance enthusiastically joins the Children’s Advocacy Alliance Nevada team to serve as the Director of Strong Start Initiatives. Jamelle brings vast experiences in the field of Human Services, Education, and Organizational Leadership. Her personal and professional experiences are centered around public service to empower, educate, and provide opportunities for families to thrive not just in her community, but across the nation. She has led similar initiatives in her home state of Maryland to provide equitable educational opportunities to those who need it most. Jamelle earned a bachelor’s degree in Behavioral Science with a concentration in Child Advocacy Studies and a master’s degree in Administration of Human Services both from Wilmington University in New Castle, Delaware. Jamelle is passionate about providing access to essential resources and opportunities that strengthen families and level the playing field. She wholeheartedly believes that a strong start provides children and families with a solid foundation to build a strong and promising future.

DaShun Jackson

As a foster care alumnus, DaShun has a true passion for improving the child welfare systems and being a voice for those whose voice is often silenced. DaShun has served on several local, state and national councils all focused on improving the lives of young people, changing the foster care system and empowering and encouraging youth and young adults to stand up and use their voice. DaShun is a co-creator of the Nevada’s Foster Care Bill of Rights which passed in 2011. DaShun has served as a policy intern with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI), where he worked in Washington, D.C and was able to develop policy recommendations and work in former Senator Harry Reid’s Senate Diversity Initiative Office. DaShun has also served as an intern with FosterClub Inc. in Seaside, Or. where he was able to travel and work with policy and community leaders and young people from across the country on ways to improve the outcomes for youth in care. He currently sits on several boards locally and nationally. In 2019 DaShun was awarded the Youth Advocate of the Year Award by the North American Council on Adoptable Children (NACAC). DaShun has earned his bachelor's degree in psychology from UNLV.

Dr. Tara C. Raines

Dr. Tara C. Raines is a licensed psychologist with a history of research promoting equity and access in the areas of education and mental health. She has spent the last decade implementing and supporting a number of grants to improve outcomes for youth at highest risk for mental health disorders. She has partnered with large school districts including Clark County School District to do this work. Tara has been active in the Las Vegas My Brother's Keeper Alliance and sits on the Board of Directors for Democracy Preparatory Academy. She believes in the value of using data to identify and implement supports for Nevada's most vulnerable youth.

Shelly Speck

Shelly Speck is a staunch child advocate and brings a diverse range of experience to the Children’s Advocacy Alliance. Shelly joined the coalition in October of 2022 after spending a year as a parent ambassador and leader on a state and national level. During that time, Mrs. Speck provided testimony at the Nevada State legislature to the Interim Finance Committee and propelled legislation relating to families experiencing homelessness, food insecurity, early intervention, child development and outcomes, school curriculum and supports, as well as child specialist resources and development in rural areas.

Shelly believes in an altruistic approach to advocacy and parent/family engagement through leadership development and community outreach. She maintains that legislative policies which shape children’s outcomes should be equitable and led by families and those with lived experience so their perspectives will be integrated into decision making when deciding how to best help those in our communities. She is dedicated to providing essential public services which foster a safe, healthy, and inclusive environment for all of Nevada’s children to grow and thrive. Shelly is certified as a (CHW) Community Health Worker with a Bachelor of Arts in General Studies and a minor in chemistry. She has an extensive background in consumer relations and an objective to remove barriers to care in communities while providing cultural mediation among individuals and health/social service systems. Shelly was appointed as a member of the State Special Education Advisory Committee in 2022 through the NV Department of Education. She believes in working together with integrity and accountability across the board. Shelly is a mother to a 7yo and resides in Gardnerville, NV with her husband.

Carissa Pearce

Carissa Pearce (she/her) was formerly an intern with CAA during the spring of 2022, and then joined the CAA team in Health Policy after graduating with her Bachelor’s degree in Public Health. She is currently pursuing her MPH at the University of Nevada Reno, in Epidemiology. Her passion for health policy comes from her strong beliefs that everyone deserves to be taken care of and have adequate access to resources, especially those who are being disproportionately underserved in Nevada. Carissa formerly cared for children as a nanny with many families of different backgrounds, and is motivated by her personal experiences with children to promote positive health and wellbeing. Carissa is enthusiastic about her future in improving access to healthcare and creating equitable systems for Nevadans to thrive. Outside of class and CAA, Carissa spends most of her time with her dog, friends, and family.

Ben Douglas

Ben Douglas joined Children’s Advocacy Alliance the summer of 2020. With over a decade of experience with non-profits as a board member, serving as President and Treasurer, Mr. Douglas has finally been able to give back by assisting CAA as their Director of Finance and Operations. Ben comes with a great deal of experience from for-profit business serving as the executive in charge of finance, operations and administration. Mr. Douglas has spent the last 15 years facilitating accounting and management classes at the university. Ben loves helping students obtain their dreams by obtaining their bachelors and/or masters degree. Mr. Douglas graduated with his MBA in 2003 and then obtained his Masters of Science in Accountancy in 2010. Ben’s main joy is his family, including his wife of 25 years, three boys, one daughter-in-law and grandson. He is excited to continue fighting for the children of Nevada and beyond.

Annette Dawson Owens

Annette Dawson Owens is a lifelong education advocate who believes in equity and access to an excellent education for all students. She has worked in both district and charter schools and has studied high performing schools and leaders across the country. She has seen first hand, quality outcomes that are possible with effective school design. Annette serves on many community and education advisory boards. Annette attended K-12 in the Clark County School District and went on to earn an undergraduate degree in Zoology, a Masters in Education from UNLV, and a Masters in Administration from Sierra Nevada College. She completed Georgetown's Executive Leadership through the Public Education Foundation and is grateful to be a current Jameson Fellow. In her free time she enjoys exploring the great outdoors. Annette looks forward to working together with the community and improving outcomes for all students and families in the great state of Nevada.

Chip Carter

Chip has been active in the Nevada nonprofit arena since 2014 and is passionate about making sure every child has the chance to succeed.

Jeanette Belz

Incorporated in 2000, JK Belz & Associates provides a thoughtful tailored approach to governmental affairs. They have strong relationships with both sides of the legislative “aisle” to maximize opportunities for their clients. In support of this commitment, they work diligently to develop and nurture relationships with members of the legislature, both during legislative sessions as well as during the interim between sessions. Several areas of their advocacy work cross over into children’s issues. Ensuring children have access to education and a path to a career they love; ensuring access to mental health care and behavioral health services; supporting healthy outcomes for moms and babies; researching and exposing gaps in children’s health through dedicated reports on child welfare; supporting literacy efforts; and ensuring children are safely riding in cars with seatbelts and car seats. In 2019, JK Belz & Associates was successful in amending a bill to include a report on the number of children placed out of state for behavioral health services. This report has helped inform legislators on the need for residential placement and an expanded network of care in our state.

Lea Case

Incorporated in 2000, JK Belz & Associates provides a thoughtful tailored approach to governmental affairs. They have strong relationships with both sides of the legislative “aisle” to maximize opportunities for their clients. In support of this commitment, they work diligently to develop and nurture relationships with members of the legislature, both during legislative sessions as well as during the interim between sessions. Several areas of their advocacy work cross over into children’s issues. Ensuring children have access to education and a path to a career they love; ensuring access to mental health care and behavioral health services; supporting healthy outcomes for moms and babies; researching and exposing gaps in children’s health through dedicated reports on child welfare; supporting literacy efforts; and ensuring children are safely riding in cars with seatbelts and car seats. In 2019, JK Belz & Associates was successful in amending a bill to include a report on the number of children placed out of state for behavioral health services. This report has helped inform legislators on the need for residential placement and an expanded network of care in our state.

Vanessa Dunn

Elyse Monroy

Our Board

Lynn Purdue

As a public relations practitioner in Las Vegas for more than 30 years, Lynn Purdue has helped to acquaint the valley and the world with many of the city’s modern landmarks and experiences. After a successful public relations career that included working both within a corporation and in agencies, Lynn partnered with Bill Marion to found Purdue Marion & Associates.

Using her personal philosophy in how she practiced her craft, the goal was to create a firm that integrated itself seamlessly into the actual business plan of its client companies, thus operating in a true partnership. And this is where Lynn’s talents in creating synergistic relationships, working with diverse individuals to align their vision and applying strategic initiatives to move the needle of both public opinion and bottom line profits have benefited the agency’s clients across industry spectrums ranging from redevelopment, to education to development and more.

Over her extensive career – and more than 40 years as a Nevada resident – Lynn has developed deep relationships with all types of local, national and regional media working with clients in a vast array of industries. This means she’s not only adept at responding to trends and changing tides, she also helps motivate them.

A journalist by formal training with a degree from University of Nevada, Lynn is an award-winning public relations expert who was recognized as Agency Principal of the Year by the Public Relations Society of America. She donates her time, talent and resources to countless good causes, and is board chair for the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, past president of the Rotary Club of Las Vegas West, and is past chair of the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards.

One of the few Nevadans who bleeds both red and blue, she provides her expertise to the Dean’s Council for the Reynold’s School of Journalism at UNR, and the Marketing and International Business Advisory Board at the Lee School of Business at UNLV.

Aside from helping to shape innovative initiatives for a full roster of clients, Lynn also manages to find time to shape the hearts and minds of her three beautiful daughters.

Patricia Farley

Like most women, Patricia Farley wears many hats, including the one she threw into the political arena. She also wears a hard hat at her company’s construction jobs. And her leadership on important issues affecting our state, including the opioid epidemic, warrants a thinking cap.

Ms. Farley received a BS from the University of Arizona in 1996, shortly before she moved to Las Vegas. Today she’s a single mother raising two daughters and two nieces, all under 14.

She is also a successful businesswoman bringing diversity to the construction industry with her high-end contracting company, Southwest Specialties.

In 2014, her love of Nevada and desire to improve its business climate led her to seek elected office. Residents of far-west Las Vegas sent her to the state Senate with nearly 60 percent of the vote in a race against a better-known opponent.

During her two sessions in Carson City, she championed diversification of the state’s economy and promoted new opportunities for minority- and women-owned businesses. She also supported investing in our children and was invited by the Nevada Supreme Court to serve on the Blue Ribbon for Kids Commission.

She worked with Sen. Tick Segerblom and lawmakers from both parties to pass the nation's most comprehensive and thoughtful set of marijuana statutes. This effort proved beneficial to those under a doctor’s care, recreational consumers, licensees, their employees and the state’s coffers.

After the 2015 legislative session, Ms. Farley helped form the Nevada Marijuana Council. The ad hoc organization of fellow lawmakers and cannabis industry leaders encouraged stakeholders to become actively involved in the political process and to promote diversity in the fledgling industry. Today, according to Nevada Dispensary Association statistics, minorities fill nearly a third of the jobs in the marijuana industry.

Her work in the private and public sectors — which includes everything from founding a developmental play space for young children to running a Senate committee — has provided a unique breadth and depth of experience.

In addition to her business and government experience, Ms. Farley is also a philanthropist. She served as president of the board of trustees for Aid for Aids of Nevada, one of the largest nonprofit organizations in the state and the largest AIDS service organization. During her tenure, AFAN increased its financial support even as Las Vegas suffered in the Great Recession. Currently, Ms Farley is the Board President for Serving Our Kids Foundation and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Child Advocacy Alliance.

She has supported many other organizations with her work, expertise and resources. Those include the Las Vegas Veteran Memorial, UNLV Foundation, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Foundation, Volunteers in Medicine, Veterans Village, Catholic Charities, CASA - Foster Youth Graduation, and Serving Our Kids Foundation.

Among the many causes she advocates, the one closest to her heart is the fight against opioid abuse. She stood strong when addiction touched her family and has inspired others with her frank discussion of the ordeal. In a search for answers, she’s heard the cries as she walked the halls of addiction treatment centers and raised money and supported drug abuse research by Roseman University.

Whatever the test — economic downturns, political fights, and family challenges — Ms. Farley retains Nevada’s spirit of optimism and openness to all.

And she is quick to say her love of children inspires her efforts to create opportunities for them as big as the state that welcomed her long ago.

Fernando Serrano

Fernando Serrano is currently serving as Program Monitor for Rite of Passage, Western Region which provides residential services to youth. He has worked nearly 40 years in the social services profession and has spent time in the substance abuse, child welfare, and juvenile justice fields. He spent most of his government career working in juvenile probation having spent twenty four years as a Chief Juvenile Probation Officer in two Nevada Judicial Districts. He finished his government career in state administration with the State of Nevada, Division of Child Family Services where he served as Administrator and Deputy Administrator – Juvenile Services.

Fernando also serves on the State of Nevada, Department of Health and Human Services, Grants Management Advisory Council (GMAC). He conducts audits of juvenile residential facilities for the American Correctional Association. He is also active with the Rotary Club of Carson City where he is a Past President.

Gard Jameson

Gard received his undergraduate degree at Stanford University, his MBA from the University of San Francisco, his PhD from Pacifica Graduate Institute. He spent 25 years as a CPA, working for Deloitte & Touche, Laventhol & Horwath, and, most recently, as a partner of Piercy, Bowler, Taylor & Kern, as their director of Financial Planning. He is the author of two volumes, Phaethon, Our Mythic Moment, and Monkey, Our Mythic Moment. He teaches Chinese and Indian Philosophy at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a Founding Board Member and Trustee Emeritus of the Nevada Community Foundation, a Founding Board Member and past Chair of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, Treasurer of Volunteers in Medicine of Southern Nevada, Chair of the Interfaith Council of Southern Nevada, Board Member of the Stillpoint Center for Spiritual Development and The Raymond M. Alf Museum of Life. He is married to Dr. Florence Jameson and has two children, Michael and Julia.

Hilary Westrom

More than 20 years ago, Hilary Westrom, came to Las Vegas as a District Manager for the retail chain the Limited. In 2000, Ms. Westrom completed a master’s degree from UNLV to pursue a career in counseling. Together with her significant other, John Ritter, their goal has become investing in the community that they call home.

As a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in private practice, Hilary provides treatment for children, adolescents, adults and families for various issues including sexual abuse and domestic violence.

Hilary and John hold the belief that it is the responsibility of those who have experienced success in their community to reach out and help those that are less fortunate. This has led them to establishment of the Ritter Charitable Trust which is a supporting organization to the Nevada Community Foundation.

The Ritter Charitable Trust supports children and families in need in southern Nevada. In addition to serving their own organization, Hilary also makes it a priority to give her time, talent and resources to many other community organizations. Currently, she serves on the board for Boys Town Nevada, the Children’s Advocacy Alliance, the Clark County Mental Health Consortium, and Three Square. Hilary is the founder of the Southern Nevada Child Welfare Network.

Dawn Gibbons

Dawn Gibbons is the former First Lady of Nevada and the only one to have been a state legislator. Dawn has advocated for many important causes such as autism, children’s issues, domestic violence, human trafficking, drug addiction, health concerns, and our military. She helped propel the well-known Crystal Darkness campaign statewide, nationwide and worldwide. She co-chairs the Organ Donor and Tissue Task Force at the University of Nevada Medical School, a program she initiated as an Assemblywoman. Recognized for her many legislative efforts, Dawn was recognized as Assemblywoman of the Year by the Nevada Police Protective Association. Ms. Gibbons changed the Nevada Constitution twice through an initiative petition with overwhelming voter approval — Gibbons Tax Restraint Initiative and the Education First Initiative.

Dawn is a graduate of the University of Nevada. She was a successful entrepreneur owning five businesses. She has received many accolades including Business and Professional Women Woman of the Year, Who’s Who in Business, Who’s Who in Politics, Who’s Who of Women, Attorney General’s Role Model of the Year, and Las Vegas Women to Watch. Dawn has served on many prominent boards such as Desert Research Institute, Reno Tahoe Airport Authority, Washoe County Visitor’s and Convention Authority, Sierra Bank of Nevada, American Red Cross, Children’s Cabinet, Westcare, National Leadership to Keep Children Alcohol Free, Positively Kids, American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women 2011/2012 Chairwoman and Children’s Advocacy Alliance.

Most recently, Dawn had a radio talk show with Fox News 1270 and a news show segment at KSNV NEWS 3 with Jim Rogers called Dawn & Jim and a political commentary with Rory Reid called Dawn & Rory. Of all of her accomplishments, Dawn is most proud of her son, Jimmy Gibbons, a Navy aviator and instructor pilot.

Mary Bacon

Mary Bacon is a full-service business litigation attorney. She prosecutes and defends claims on behalf of business entities in a host of industries in courts and arbitrations in cases involving difficult and complicated business matters. Mary’s litigation practice is focused on complex civil litigation in both state and federal court involving construction disputes, breach of contract actions, and defending financial institutions.

Mary has negotiated and litigated construction claims at the city, county, state and federal levels on behalf of general contractors and specialty subcontractors. Mary has litigated claims involving defective specifications, constructive changes, acceleration, excusable and compensable delays, differing site conditions, terminations for default and the False Claims Act. She also handles private construction litigation involving disputes between owners, general contractors and subcontractors, as well as performance and payment bond claims and mechanic’s lien issues. Mary has also successfully represented bid protesters before the Comptroller General of the General Accounting Office.

Elaine Wenger-Roesener

Elaine moved to Las Vegas 34 years ago after marrying her husband Dale. Prior to moving to Las Vegas Elaine was on staff at UCLA Medical Center as a Registered Nurse. She worked in adult ICU and patient teaching in the Enterostomal Department. Upon moving to Las Vegas, she worked at Valley Hospital in ICU and founded and directed the Nevada Diabetes Center. After the birth of their first child, Elaine retired from nursing to raise their son and daughter. Over the past 25 years, Elaine has been involved in several charitable organizations. She served as a Director and a Chairperson of the Nevada Community Foundation and remains an Emeritus Director. She also served on the board of Communities in Schools.

Currently, she serves on the board of Children’s Advocacy Alliance and Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation. She is a member of Nevada Women’s Philanthropy. In addition to her charitable work Elaine is the President of the Queensridge Owner’s Association. Her educational background includes a Diploma in Nursing from Lutheran Hospital School of Nursing, BA’s in Philosophy and Political Science and a MPA from Loyola Marymount University. Elaine‘s philanthropic work is grounded in her believe that every person has the ability to create a better community one step at a time, one day at a time. Any donation of time, goods, services and or money all help effect change and build a better community. The main focus of the Roesener Family Fund is children’s issues.