Get to know the staff of Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association
DeAnna Alonso is currently the President/CEO of the Central Missouri Foster Care &Adoption Association (CMFCAA), which serves 13 counties in central Missouri.
DeAnna was the founder of CMFCAA in October 2008, along with two adoptive parents and one foster parent. DeAnna’s passion is derived from having been raised in the foster care system, ageing out of the system at 18 years old, only to become homeless after emancipation. DeAnna has served as the Executive Director of CMFCAA from 2009-2016. She has served as the President/CEO since 2016. DeAnna was selected as a Second Chance Scholarship Recipient from Zonta and pursued her education in her hometown of Jefferson City, Missouri.
DeAnna graduated in December 2012 after years of educational barriers. DeAnna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Lincoln University, where she graduated cum laude, and is currently pursuing her Masters Degree in Social Work at the University of Missouri. DeAnna also completed her certification in Executive Director 101 training from the Nonprofit Service Center in St. Louis, Missouri. DeAnna is a huge advocate of higher education and believes it can break the cycle of poverty. DeAnna strives to provide excellent resources, education, and advocacy for over 1,400 foster and adoptive children in central Missouri. In 2013, DeAnna’s excellence in serving these families was recognized when CMFCAA was named by the Missouri Department of Social Services as one of four Adoption Resource Centers in Missouri. DeAnna and her husband, Anibal, have four children, three of whom they were able to adopt from Kentucky’s state foster care system in 2009. DeAnna is active in many civic organizations such as a board member of the Asherah Foundation, Zonta, Columbia and Jefferson City Chamber of Commerce’s, Missouri Association for Social Welfare, National Foster Parent Association State Affiliate, Association of Fundraising Professionals and is a member of Memorial Baptist Church to name a few. DeAnna has also presented on various topics at the North American Council on Adoptable Children Conference, The ONE conference, conference presenter at the National Foster Parent Association Conference and has been the keynote speaker at the Homelessness Conference in Missouri.
Amanda Towns is currently the Operations Director for CMFCAA. Although Amanda holds a degree in photography, her passion is serving people. Amanda grew up in a great family in New Mexico who modeled serving others as family. She and her husband, Mark, have been long time believers in taking care of children and families. They have spent over 20 years of marriage in ministry roles (Mark is the pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Jefferson City) as well as serving as foster parents, respite providers, and adoptive parents. They have four adopted children, two of whom were adopted from the Missouri foster care system. When the Towns family moved to Jefferson City in 2009, one of the most exciting opportunities that presented itself was the opportunity to volunteer with CMFCAA. What started out as a volunteer position for Amanda has turned into an opportunity to communicate and build relationships with foster and adoptive parents, volunteers, and community supporters all across central Missouri. Today, Amanda actively advocates and speaks on behalf of CMFCAA and the foster and adoptive families that are served. She dreams of one day having a whole weekend just to herself where she can read all day if she wants to. She has served at CMFCAA since 2010.
Sue Engelage, entered the Foster System 1999 she was five years old. When she first entered, it was with her two older siblings. Sometime in 2000 she went back to her biological mother, a few months in she was in the system again. This time she was all alone. This time she didn’t just get placed once but multiple times. When she was 9 she lost her hearing, no one believed her so she spent the whole summer of 2004, without hearing. August 2004, is when everyone finally realized Sue really was deaf. That summer her whole life changed because in August of 2004 she found her parents.
After being in the system for five years she was finally adopted in December 2005 by her parents Vic and Lynda Engelage. She found her home, her family and that is where she learned that there is nothing wrong with having a family that isn’t blood.
Growing up Sue always felt like she was supposed to work with children, foster children. After her experience in the foster system, she wanted to help children who would follow her. After graduating from High School in 2013 from Russellville, she attended the University of Central Missouri. Sue graduated December of 2016, with a Bachelor’s in Public Relations.
Sue started working at Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association January 30, 2016 as the Program Coordinator. Since she started, Sue has enjoyed every single moment, because she gets the chance to help the children who need it. The children who need a voice. Sue was chosen to go to Washington D.C., for the National Foster Youth Initiative, where she hopes to learn more about the foster system in other states.
Jessica grew up in a small rural town in Missouri. She is the middle child of a blended family of five sisters and proud aunt of three. Jessica has always been creative and artistic, with a heart for children which naturally led her to pursue a degree in Art Education.
While obtaining her degree at Missouri Western State University, Jessica began working for a residential and respite care group where she found her true passion in working with and serving families with underprivileged and at risk children. The children in this home gripped Jessica’s heart and changed her life for the better every day. Jessica’s faith and family are the foundation of everything she does. She loves serving others and has enjoyed her times getting to work at church camps for kids, volunteering with nursing homes and YMCA, and spending a spring break with Bhutanese refugees in Nashville. Jessica is passionate about spending her life working to provide a better future for children in Missouri in whatever form that presents itself.
Extreme Recruiter/30 Days to Family Supervisor
Sarah was born and raised in the Lake of the Ozarks area. For the past twelve years she has lived in Jefferson City. She enjoys spending time with her husband and three children. Sarah earned a bachelor’s degree in Rehabilitation Psychology from the University of Central Missouri in 2003. Since then Sarah has gained extensive knowledge in child welfare during her thirteen-year career with the Children’s Division, most recently specializing in adoption and guardianship.
Sarah is excited to start working for the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association, so that she may further her passion in advocating for children and families. Her goal is to bring awareness to the need of foster and adoptive homes for foster youth in Central MO, as well as to find permanent and long term connections for older youth.
We asked Sarah why she chose CMFCAA: “Over the years I have found that my passion is in advocating for families and finding every child a forever family. CMFCAA educates, advocates and supports foster & adoptive families in my community. I am happy to become part of this agency to contribute and give all I have to help in these efforts. In addition, adoption is important to me because it means a child or older youth will have a forever family and I believe every single child, no matter their age, deserves to have permanency. A family to be there in the best of times and in the worst of times.” We couldn’t agree more!
Sarah’s favorite hobbies are painting, crafting and wine tasting.
30 Days to Family® Recruiter
Darlene joined CMFCAA in November 2017 as the “30 Days to Family® Specialist.” Although she has recently joined our team in Missouri, she brings with her both personal and professional experience. During her time with child welfare in Florida, she worked closely with families and various service providers and child advocates to ensure that the children served reach permanency in a timely manner. She also has experience with the importance of servicing children in the community, as she herself was raised with foster children since her biological parents were foster parents to children in need. From very early on she has personally witnessed the importance of a family environment for children. Darlene attended Florida International University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a Certificate for Women’s Studies in 2005.
Extreme Recruitment® Recruiter
Christal grew up in a small town in central Missouri. She currently lives in Osage County with her daughter and husband, while her son is currently serving in the U.S. Navy. Christal earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Columbia College. She brings with her 16 years of experience with working older youth with Division of Youth Services and an additional 2 years working with the MO 4-H program building educational programs on a college campus.
Christal is excited to be working with the Extreme Recruitment program at CMFCAA. In this program she will have the opportunity to continue advocating for older youth, helping to bring awareness to the need of foster and adoptive homes for this age group. Christal’s goal is to find permanent, as well as long term connections for youth who would otherwise not have the opportunity to be connected to those who will provide them with a safe, nurturing and enduring relationship.
Christal’s favorite hobbies include spending time on her farm with the horses and dogs, yearly camping trips with her church’s youth group and reading.
Extreme Recruitment®/30Days to Family® Investigator
Jason was born in North Western Missouri but grew up in the Lake Area graduating high school in Camdenton, Missouri. Shortly after high school Jason married his wife and together they have three children and three grandchildren. Jason comes to CMFCAA with a background in law enforcement. He has 16 years of full-time law enforcement experience working with Cole County Sheriff’s Office, Miller County Sheriff’s Office and Eldon Police Department. During this time Jason has served in positions to include corrections, patrol, investigations and most recently as a School Resource Officer. As a detective Jason spent much of his time concentrated on investigating crimes against children. As a SRO he worked to build a positive rapport with kids so they can learn they can trust law enforcement.
After being out of School for many years, Jason returned to school and completed his Bachelor’s Degree. Jason obtained his Bachelors in General Studies with a minor in Psychology from Columbia College. When not work Jason likes spending as much time as he can, hanging out with his family and spoiling his grandkids.
When asked why he chose to join CMFCAA, Jason stated “I am excited about working with CMFCAA and to be able to continue working to help children. I was first introduced to CMFCAA as a foster parent and was impressed with their passion they have in helping children and assisting families. I am honored to be able to join this team and to continue helping children find their forever homes, as I believe every child deserves to be raised in a safe and loving home.”
Family Development Supervisor
573-476-6039 (COMO office)
“I am excited to serve as the Family Development Supervisor for CMFCAA. I grew up in Marceline, a small town in Northeast Missouri (Walt Disney’s childhood home) where I learned the importance of serving others through several community projects based on the need of community residents. I came from a family full of love and support, I understand this is not the case for many of children and families in Central Missouri. I want to use my privilege to create community change so we can all live in a world where each child has a safe, loving, and caring place to call home.
I have dedicated my career to helping vulnerable families find stability through Community Action programs in Central Missouri. I am hoping to bring passion to my new position at Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association.”
Megan recently finished her Masters in Social Work with a concentration in Policy, Planning, and Administration at the University of Missouri—Columbia. Her training and experience will allow her to lead the Family Development Team to prepare families to become foster, adoptive, kinship and respite parents. She is so excited to join a team that is passionate and dedicated to systems which connect youth and families. “CMFCAA is an innovative agency that is creating solutions for families and youth involved in the foster care systems. and collaboration across sectors in the community is critical to create sustainable change for abused and neglected children. By creating partnerships around needs in the community, nonprofits, local government institutions, faith based organizations, businesses, and residents can become part of the solution. If we want real change for these children, we all have to be involved.”
Megan loves her small wolf Max. He is a Bichon Frise who has a lot of spunk and brings a lot of joy to Megan. Max has been part of the family for 5 years and has been spoiled every single moment!
Family Development Trainer
“I am thrilled to be joining the CMFCAA family!! Words I love to live by, “We Rise By Lifting Others”. My career has been centered around my passion to advocate for children and families in crisis who can’t find their voice. I am focused on using my skills, passion, and community relationships to ensure quality care for the families of CMFCAA. CMFCAA is a family of expertise, dependability, and talent supporting families to ensure change. They are committed to providing the best continuity of care by building trainings and continuing education to foster/adoptive/kinship/respite providers. They believe that by working together our team will be essential in engineering a stronger community safety net for the families we have the pleasure to serve.
As Family Development Trainer I am prepared to provide foster, adoptive, kinship and respite parents with enriched “tools” for their “tool belts”. In my previous employments I developed ongoing trainings for volunteers and staff, using my trainings from MCADSV, Crisis Intervention, Green Dot, Positive Behavior Support, and Train The Trainer approach. I incorporate creative ideas to help build and support families and team members I work among. My individual professional goals are self-growth and new challenges.
I was raised in south Florida with loving parents and six siblings. With in laws and nieces and nephews my family has grown to 39, never a dull moment at Sunday dinners!! I grew up in a Catholic home where family is my core value. I was deeply moved as a teen when our house burnt to the ground. The community took us in, clothed and fed us for weeks. I realized the strength in community. I was able to develop my skillset by watching my father provide direct services in our community with the elderly and military veterans.
I graduated with a BA in Criminal Justice Administration from Columbia College, where I met my husband. We moved back to Columbia in 2003 with our four healthy and loving children. We enjoy being together for family meals, movies, and traveling.”
Family Development Trainer
“My name is Mary and I was born and raised on a farm in Callaway County Missouri and continue to live there. I was the youngest of three children and as a child, I enjoyed being outside running around with the horses and livestock.
I went to college and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia, with a degree in Family Studies. I started out working in a daycare and as a substitute teacher at the school I attended when I was young. I then took on the job as a nanny and then went to work for Central Missouri Community Action (CMCA) first as a Head Start teacher and then as a Family Development Specialist. I worked with families one-on-one to assist them identify local resources in an effort to help them in their life journey. As a Family Development Specialist, I also had the opportunity to develop and facilitate classes that focused on topics such as; “life skills”, “soft skills’ and “self-improvement” skills.
It was during my time as a Family Development Specialist that I saw the need for Foster Parents; especially in the smaller, rural communities. One of the biggest barriers that I often had to address was arranging transportation assistance for the parents to visit their children in other counties. The children had been placed in these other counties due to the lack of local placement availability, so these children would have to change everything from the school they were attending to the community where they were living.
I am excited to join the Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association team and make a difference in the communities I will be serving. But also as important, I am looking forward to making a difference in the children’s lives that will be touched by this wonderful program.”