|Children, Inc. employs over 200 dedicated staff members. Below is more information about the Children, Inc. central office staff members. Learn more about our directors, teachers, and the many other people who make the Children, Inc. Mission a reality.Central Office:
Rick Hulefeld, Founder and Chief Executive Officer
Rick holds a Bachelor of Science in International Affairs from Georgetown University, a Master of Arts in Humanities from the University of Chicago, and a Masters in Education from Xavier University. He has studied at the University of Madrid and was an exchange student in Peru. Along with his wife he began Children, Inc. in 1979. He has served as Children, Inc.’s executive director since its beginning. Rick and his wife, Mary, have reared their five children in an inner city Covington neighborhood.
Shannon Starkey-Taylor, Chief Operating Officer
Shannon Starkey-Taylor has specialized in the field of Early Childhood, Education, and Social Work for over 22 years. She serves as the COO for Children, Inc.
Prior to Children, Inc., Shannon was the Chief Operating Officer for Rettsyndrome.org where she was responsible for the day to day operations of a $6.2MM Foundation reporting directly to a national Board of Directors. During Shannon’s first year, she successfully led the organizational through a strategic planning process, rebranding initiative including a website design, and a fundraising plan allowing the Foundation to once again exceed the $5MM amount which they had not reached in the past two years.
Prior to Rettsyndrome.org, Shannon was the Vice President of Strategic Development where she was responsible for new program development, marketing and ensuring the agency met their strategic goals. Previously as the Vice President of Education for The Children’s Home of Cincinnati, Shannon oversaw the daily operations of over 70 personnel in the Education and Early Childhood departments, and was responsible for a $5MM of the organization’s $20 MM operating budget. Shannon developed new service initiatives including a full array of early childhood services and a high school for students with Autism and other related disorders.
Shannon began her career as a youth worker in residential treatment for children with mental health issues and advanced to senior executive positions. For the past 20 years, she has provided leadership to staff in child welfare, early care and education, alternative special education and family support services. Shannon has provided leadership in many children’s social service initiatives including Help Me Grow, Every Child Succeeds, Success by 6, and the State of Ohio’s Early Childhood Cabinet Fiscal Workgroup. She was instrumental in founding The Consortium for Resilient Young Children and was the past chair of this community collaboration. Shannon has presented locally and nationally on establishing partnerships in early childhood mental health consultation.
She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Heidelberg College, and her Masters in Social Work from the University of Cincinnati and holds a Masters in Education Administration from Xavier University.
Shannon has extensive experience in designing and implementing new programs, strategic planning, establishing community collaborations, and nonprofit executive management.
Tom Lottman, Deputy Executive Director
Tom Lottman also serves a number of different roles at CI. He directs the Research to Practice Impact Area, the Devereux Regional Training Center, and is the Research Director for Growing Sound. He has been the Deputy Executive Director of CI for the past seventeen years. Prior to that, he was with the University Affiliated Cincinnati Center for Developmental Disorders at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. Earlier in his career he directed a mental health center in Canada and taught full time at universities in the states and Canada. Special interests include emotional development in young children and training in the implications of developmental brain research.
Phyllis Berry, Director of Direct Services
Since 1995, Phyllis has overseen all Direct Services as a Children, Inc. Impact Director. Her responsibilities include overseeing 11 Early Care and Education Programs, the Family Child Care Program, the School Age Services Program. In addition, she is responsible for the recruitment of new staff and coordinates all activities to open new early care and education programs, from initial design to full implementation. She serves on several community collaboratives including Success By Six, Community Early Childhood Councils, United Way Learning Circles, and others. She is a former member of the STARS Advisory Committee, Partnership for a Fit Kentucky, Chair of the Kenton County Community Early Childhood Council for ten years, Chair of the Northern Kentucky Branch of the National Association of Social Work and has served on several other advisory boards in a leadership capacity. She has designed and implemented health curriculum for children enrolled in center-based care and works with local universities to recruit nursing student volunteers to support the implementation of this health initiative.Her educational background includes a Master Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on non-profits; a Master Degree in Social Work with state certification, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Registered Nurse. She holds a Level 5 Early Childhood Trainer Credential and provides a variety trainings to early childhood professionals and serves as a Training Consultant for 4C of Northern Kentucky.
Experience prior to entering the Early Care and Education field includes working as an RN in the hospital setting, working in schools and community agencies, working as an outpatient and residential therapist for abused and neglected children, and serving as Associate Executive Director for Family Nurturing Center, a non-profit agency focusing on child abuse prevention, education, and treatment services.
Jennifer Cruz, Professional Development and Training Administrative Coordinator
With over 10 years of experience in early childhood environments, Jennifer now enjoys working in Professional Development. Mostly, she says she loves how it allows her to support Children, Inc. teachers often. Jennifer is at the helm of facilitating all Children, Inc. workshops and plays a major role in supporting The Greater Cincinnati Center for Montessori Education.
Jim Epping, Director of Finance
Jim is responsible for all financial record keeping and reporting of Children, Inc. Jim has been with Children, Inc as Director of Finance in June of 2000. With a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting, Associate of Arts in Computer Technology from Thomas More College and a Master of Divinity from Christ The King School of Theology in East Aurora, NY. Jim has held controllership positions with numerous organizations prior to joining Children, Inc., including five years as President of Novus Debut, Inc., publisher of Minkus Stamp Albums and Catalogs.
Elizabeth Fricke, Director of Marketing & Public Relations
Elizabeth Fricke is the Director of Marketing and Public Relations at Children, Inc. She oversees the marketing efforts of all Children, Inc. programs and manages all public relations efforts for the organization including major events. Elizabeth holds a Bachelors of Art in Political Science and an Associate of Art in History from Thomas More College, in 2013 she completed a Masters of Public Administration from Northern Kentucky University. Prior to coming to our organization, Elizabeth worked in the Critical Thinking Center at Thomas More College and the Business Development Office at the City of Covington. If you have any media inquiries please contact Elizabeth at firstname.lastname@example.org.