“Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the caliber of talent we have attracted to the All Star team. We are honored and grateful to welcome Dr. Hoffman and Dr. Ghazarian!”
– Graci McGillicuddy, co-founder and board chair.
Meet Dr. Kristin Hoffman, All Star’s Chief Program Officer
When you think of the exact right person whose background brilliantly aligns with All Star’s mission, Dr. Hoffman’s resume is a perfect fit. Her expertise includes working with children and families with child welfare involvement and most recently served as the director of trauma psychology at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. She is certified as Level II (statewide /regional) Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) trainer by PCIT, International. If that’s not enough, in her early career she had the privilege to have worked for an agency that received funding from the National Child Traumatic Stress Network – an organization dedicated to child trauma.
While at Johns Hopkins, All Star had the pleasure of collaborating with her to develop All Star’s programs and define our approach for research and outcome measurements. In her new role Dr. Hoffman will lead the way in creating a welcoming and safe environment for biological family engagement, overseeing trauma-informed clinical services, training foster parents in trauma-informed parenting practices, and coordinating care with the entire child-welfare system— all designed to create a new path for kids in the foster care system.
“I’m passionate about providing practical tools to effectively help children and their families lead more healthy, valued lives,” says Dr. Hoffman. “All Star’s mission and goals are primed to let us create positive change for so many people in this community and I’m thrilled to be part of it.”
Say “Hello!” to Dr. Sharon Ghazarian, Chief Research Officer
Graci loves to introduce Dr. Ghazarian as a “research nerd with a heart.” We are 100 percent sure she has a passion for kids and if nerd is defined as a serious researcher, then Graci is right on the money. Dr. Ghazarian is a research methodologist and an expert in complex statistical analysis and research methodology for medical, behavioral and social sciences. She comes to All Star uniquely qualified having built data and analytic teams for more than 10 years, including teams of biostatisticians, database designers, data scientists and clinical analytic specialists. Because her arrival to All Star coincides with the organization’s early program development and implementation phase, Dr. Ghazarian will ensure programs are constructed with proper protocols to allow for clean data. “Building programs with the intention of reporting outcomes for wide review creates the need for implementing and monitoring them with rigor. To be on the ground floor of this transformational work is a dream come true for me,” she says. Dr. Ghazarian will measure the impact of trauma-informed treatment and programs, interpret the findings and follow children long-term. It is through this research that All Star will advocate for change in national policy and ultimately change how foster care is practiced today.
Dr. Ghazarian was most recently the senior director for Health Informatics at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and is a published author of more than 50 publications, many of them having to do with the impact of stress and trauma in the youth population.
These two positions have been partially funded through the generous donation of the Charles and Margery Barancik Foundation. “We are so grateful to the Barancik Foundation for supporting us in the early years of our vision to transform foster care, here is Sarasota, and beyond,” said Dennis McGillicuddy, All Star’s CEO.
How Resilience Can Save a Child’s Life
Why do some children make it out of a traumatic childhood seemingly undamaged, while others have a host of difficult behaviors that flatten their potential in education and career and suffer unexplained health issues?
Research provides the answer. A child who has at least one stable and committed relationship with a supportive adult can overcome many of the odds than a child who does not. These supportive relationships buffer children from developmental disruption and help them develop resilience or skills they need to respond to adversity and thrive.
“Resilience depends on supportive, responsive relationships and mastering a set of capabilities that can help us respond and adapt to adversity in healthy ways,” says Jack Shonkoff, M.D., director of the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard. “It’s those capacities and relationships that can turn toxic stress into tolerable stress.”
This knowledge is the basis for several of the programs we have in place at All Star. Our foster parents are specially trained to understand this important component of child development and we provide them with specialized, trauma-informed caregiving. All Star recognizes foster parents as hands-on healing agents for the children in their care and our clinicians instruct foster parents on ways to offer deliberate and consistent mentorship to biological families that will develop their parenting skills. Add to that our enrichment programs designed to support traditional clinical interventions and open up a child’s world to new opportunities and adults who may become mentors.
When children live under severe and ongoing stress, it takes all their energy and focus to keep themselves safe. At All Star we have created an environment where children can let down their guard and begin exploring safe, nurturing relationships. And that is fundamental to their mental health healing journey.
We invite you to help us ignite a forever belief in these children that life can be beautiful and safe. We have many ways for you to be involved with healing our most vulnerable children. We are currently looking for foster parents to lead one of our campus homes and volunteers to support our families. Call Director of Programs Lindsey May for more information: 941.259.3703.
Audio Video Partners (AVP) Donates State-of-the-Art Board Room Technology
All Star’s campus has state-of-the-art technology, thanks to the expertise of Audio Video Partners (AVP). “Our work impacted every building on the grounds,” explains Kevin Tippen, one of the partners at the Sarasota-based technology firm.
According to Tippen, the campus-wide project encompassed installing network wiring and audio/visual capability for all of All Star’s offices and treatment areas. The CCTV system connects 58 cameras located throughout the property and the entire site is connected as one network using fiber optic cabling. There is an access control system encompassing nine access doors and the front gate. The company also installed a white noise system throughout the treatment areas.
Add to that, AVP, and several of their vendors, donated a state-of-the-art A/V system in the board room. The system consists of an 82” video display, a video teleconferencing solution, motorized window coverings, a room occupancy sensor with an exterior room availability sign. Control of the room is from the tabletop touch panel.
“With the pandemic and our usage of ZOOM and other technology, it has been a treat to have these tools,” says Graci McGillicuddy, All Star’s co-founder and board chair. “We are so grateful to AVP for donating our state-of-the art A/V system in our Board Room!!!”
Volunteer Your Time and Talent
An important part of All Star’s program is providing foster parents with unprecedented support, and offering the children in their care experiences to enrich their lives and support to help them thrive.
To accomplish our work, we are looking for folks with a wide variety of talent, including artists, musicians and tutors. We also need support for childcare, household help and more. Additionally, we have specific needs for help in marketing and general office support. We’d love to hear from you! To explore volunteer opportunities, please call Sally at 941.259.3701.
Local Design Company Brightens All Star Cottages
When Stan Writesel and Alan Gravley, founders of Beginning to End, a Sarasota design firm, heard Graci talk about All Star’s mission, they knew they wanted to be involved. After a tour of the campus and a conversation with Kim Cornetet, owner of Greenhouse Fabrics, Inc., the two companies combined forces and created vibrant and comfy pillows for each of the cottages. “Graci had the idea that the pillows should be custom to each cottage by coordinating with the home’s shutters. It’s a fun detail and that’s what Graci is known for!” explained Stan.
Graci and the entire team at All Star are grateful to Stan, Alan and Kim for adding an important pop of color for the children and foster parents to enjoy every day. A big thank you to each of you!
Make a Child’s Night a Little Sweeter
Would you like to bless a child with a brand new pair of comfy pajamas? Follow this link to donate a pair today and help make a child’s bedtime feel safe and comfy!