Alisha Saavedra (she/her) is an Assistant Professor and the Director of Clinical Training for the Master of Science in Child Life Specialist program at Loma Linda University. She began her career 23 years ago as a child life assistant in the Hematology-Oncology unit at Loma Linda University Children’s Hospital. Alisha has since held a CCLS position in the Hematology-Oncology, Acute Care, and Surgery areas in addition to coordinating practicum and internship programming. Her high regard for educating and providing mentorship to aspiring professionals led her to pursue a position in academia and she has been a full-time educator since 2014.
Working in conjunction with students, developing community partnerships, and providing service to others have been focal points of her professional pursuits. Alisha has partnered in the development of the child life program at The Children's Hospital, Zhejiang University, P.R. China and continues to be a consultant. Her involvement in local and global partnerships has allowed her to take part in expanding the reach of the child life profession and sharing the importance of psychosocial care for children and families. Alisha has a decade long history of service with ACLP, where she has held the Chair position for the Internship Accreditation Oversight Committee (2021-2022) and Chair-Elect for the Practicum Task Force (2021). In these leadership roles she contributed her perspectives from an academic viewpoint and as an advocate on behalf of student needs. This also influenced her style in building a collective teamwork approach among members who encompass diverse experiences and knowledge. Additionally, she served as a subject matter expert for the Internship Readiness Practice Analysis and Alignment Study (2021-2022), participated in strategic planning (2021), the Think Tank (2020), and has been involved in various DEI efforts. As a co-leader of the Priorities workgroup, participant in the DEI Summit, and RCC leadership series, Alisha engaged in collaborative work that reflects her strong value for diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. This inspired her to pursue her Collaborator Certification™ through Racially Conscious Collaboration in 2021.
Alisha holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Child Development, Child Life Concentration from the University of LaVerne and a Master of Arts in Psychology, Child Development Concentration from California State University, San Bernardino. She was the recipient of the 2019 Faculty Scholar Educator Award (School of Behavioral Health, Loma Linda University) and values lifelong learning in and outside of the classroom.
Sarah Patterson is a Certified Child Life Specialist whose career has spanned over 30 years, providing care to children in a number of clinical areas at Sick Kids Toronto coupled with over 20 years of teaching at several universities. Currently Sarah is an Associate Professor and the Curriculum Coordinator for the Master of Science in the Child Life and Pediatric Psychosocial Care Program at McMaster University, Canada. She played a critical role in the co-creation of the design and content from inception and establishing the only child life masters program across Canada. Sarah’s current research within psychosocial practice and simulation education brings together many different discipline collaborators to the studies she is involved with and she has been invited to present her work locally, nationally, and internationally.
Sarah’s expertise and engagement in child life extends beyond her clinical and academic work. She is an international subject matter expert consultant for Sick Kids International. Sarah has designed, developed, and delivered pediatric psychosocial training and education initiatives in Austria, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, South Africa, and Qatar.
Sarah’s deep commitment to child life locally and globally extends to her active involvement over many years with the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP). She has held several committee member and leadership roles, both positional and within committees, including serving as a board member, journal reviewer, mentor, leadership development academy chair, and within partnership development. In addition to her diverse work with ACLP locally, she has been an invited keynote speaker and trainer for international initiatives in pediatric psychosocial care, representing the ACLP.
Beyond her direct work in child life, Sarah serves as an educational simulation expert. She lends her expertise within simulation faculty development workshops, with committees at INSPIRE (International Network for Simulation-based Pediatric Innovation, Research, & Education), and IPSS (International Pediatric Simulation Society). In the last two years, Sarah was elected to the IPSS Board of Directors as the first child life specialist to serve on the board, and was invited to deliver the INSPIRE inaugural grand rounds in 2022 on unifying emotional and physical safety within simulation-based education.
Sarah is grateful to all child life leaders who pioneered and paved the way. Sarah believes the child life field of practice continues to thrive and flourish in novel and innovative areas. Her passion, wisdom, and deep commitment to emotional safety, clinical simulation-based learning, preparation of learners entering the field, overall education, and diversity, equity, and inclusion continue to drive her.
Since July 2017, Lindsay has served as the Administrative Director for the Department of Child and Family Life at Michigan Medicine’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. In this role, Lindsay provides leadership for child life specialists, music therapists, art therapists, recreation therapists, school teachers, and education specialists. Through interdisciplinary collaboration, Lindsay continuously advocates for the developmental, psychosocial, and emotional needs of patients and families along with a patient and family-centered approach. For the previous 14 years, she was employed at the Children's Hospital of Michigan, most recently serving as the Director of Service Excellence. Prior to this role, she was the Manager of Child Life and Volunteer Services and started her career as the child life specialist for their inpatient Burn/Surgical and Rehabilitation Unit.
Lindsay also served as an adjunct professor teaching child life courses for Central Michigan University and the University of Michigan – Dearborn. She has remained actively involved with the Association of Child Life Professionals and Great Lakes Association of Child Life Professionals and is passionate about child life, making a difference for patients and families, inspiring and teaching others, and advocating for the best pediatric healthcare experience. Lindsay earned her undergraduate degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Central Michigan University and her graduate degree in Health Psychology from the University of Michigan – Dearborn.
View the ACLP Past Presidents
Cristie is a Certified Child Life Specialist, educator, curriculum reviewer, and course developer with over two decades of clinical, leadership, and program development experience in the hospital setting. Her clinical practice encompasses a wide range of diagnoses and diverse patient populations, spanning the medical continuum of care from emergency medicine to long-term rehabilitation. As a child life leader, Cristie has piloted services in new patient care areas and has worked as a program director, department supervisor, and internship coordinator.
Cristie is currently working as an Adjunct Professor at Nova Southeastern University, where she strives to guide graduate students toward their professional goals. Cristie has a passion for mentoring and supporting child life students by helping them bridge the gap between theory and practical application.
Cristie has presented at several regional and national conferences, published in the Journal of Pediatric Nursing, and was honored to write a book review for the first volume of the Journal of Child Life. As an active member of the ACLP, Cristie has served as a mentor, Chair of the Mentor Program and Volunteer Recognition and Engagement Committees, and currently sits on the Journal of Child Life Review Board, Conference Abstract Review, and Conference Program Committees.
Cristie earned her bachelor’s degree in Child and Family Studies from California State University, Long Beach, and her master’s degree in Child Life from the University of La Verne. She is currently working toward her PhD in Education with a Leadership Studies emphasis from Chapman University, focusing her research on the homogeneity of the child life profession and the healthcare disparities experienced by marginalized populations. Her goal is to become a better leader and educator for the next generation of child life practitioners through her educational pursuits.
Manager of Child Life Services
The Children's Hospital of San Antonio
San Antonio, TX
Riley is a passionate creative with a heart for people and programs that facilitate growth. Riley completed her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Texas A&M University in 2011 and her master’s degree in Family & Child Studies at Texas State University in 2013. Over the past 9 ½ years, Riley has worked in a variety of clinical settings at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio, Texas Children’s Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.
Currently, Riley is the Child Life Manager for Special Programs at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. She oversees the Puppyatrics facility dog program, Music Therapy, Child Life Zone, hospital school program and is involved in many department process improvement projects. In 2020, Riley supported the opening of Dream Big Studio, an independent radio/TV studio at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and managed the daily programming and operational needs.
Riley currently serves as a Director on the ACLP Board of Directors and formerly has been the chair for the ACLP Web and Online Networking Committee and a member of the ACLP Education and Training Committee. She also served on the Southern Association of Child Life Professionals Board and coauthored an ACLP Bulletin article. Riley has given presentations at regional and national conferences including the Child Life Annual Conference and the Texas Pediatric Palliative Care Consortium. Riley love crafting, goals, and do-goodery.
Cassandra currently serves as the Manager of Family Support Services at Our Children’s House at Children’s Health, in addition. She is also an adjunct professor of child life at Dallas Baptist University. Cassandra holds her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, both with a focus on child life, from the University of Alabama. She has been certified for 18 years, and has worked in various clinical areas at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, where she served as Student Program Coordinator and Lead Child Life Specialist. Cassandra has also had the opportunity to serve as an adjunct professor at University of North Texas and Texas Women’s University.
Cassandra has participated in the ACLP mentorship program, served as Co-Chair of the ACLP Advanced Professional Development subcommittee, as well as participated as a member of the ACLP’s Patient Experience Committee and Member Advisory Group. At the regional level, Cassandra served on the inaugural board of the Texas Association of Child Life Professionals (TACLP) as Professional Development Chair. She had the opportunity to work alongside a small group of child life specialists from Texas to form the TACLP. In 2020, Cassandra received the designation as a Certified Patient Experience Professional from the Patient Experience Institute.
Cassandra has a passion for leadership and mentoring. When not working, Cassandra is a busy wife and mom of three. She is an avid University of Alabama football fan, and enjoys crafting as a mode of self-care.
Since 2010, Victoria has served as a child life specialist at the Yale Child Abuse Clinic at Yale New Haven Children’s Hospital (YNHCH), a partner of the South Central Child Advocacy Center in Connecticut. In this role, she provides support and education to patients and their families during forensic evaluations conducted at the clinic and collaborates with community professionals involved in the investigative process that follows an allegation of abuse. Victoria is also co-coordinator of the accredited Child Life Student Internship Program at YNHCH and has been an adjunct faculty member of Southern Connecticut State University since 2019. She has volunteered with the Association of Child Life Professionals for over 10 years, serving on committees and participating in various think tanks and work groups. Victoria has experience presenting at past conferences, including the Child Life Annual Conference and the San Diego International Conference on Child and Family Maltreatment.
Victoria has an undergraduate degree in Biology and a graduate degree in Counseling. She began her child life career at YNHCH in 2005, but left her position two years later to live in Geneva, Switzerland with her husband. While spending four years abroad, Victoria worked at an English-speaking nursery school and volunteered for a non-profit support organization as a child and adolescent counselor. The majority of her work for the support organization focused on serving children of adult cancer patients but Victoria also presented to various audiences about helping children cope during stressful events. Supporting children during healthcare related experiences started during Victoria’s adolescent years as she has volunteered at a weeklong summer camp for children with cancer and related blood disorders since she was 16 years old. She directed the camp for over 10 years and now fills the role of the child life specialist for campers during the week.
Director, Child Life & Expressive Therapies
Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital
For more than 26 years, Alyssa has worked as a Certified Child Life Specialist. She attended Baylor University studying child psychology and child development. Later, she graduated from the University of Phoenix with a Master's degree in Psychology with a focus on Industrial and Organizational Behaviors. She began her career as a PRN Child Life Specialist at Our Children's House- Baylor in Dallas and soon after secured a full-time position at Children's Hospital of San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas. She had the opportunity to work in oncology, hematology, and bone marrow transplant in San Antonio. After four years, she made the decision to take a different route and started her long-term career at Children's Memorial Hermann in Houston, where she has now worked for 21 years. Alyssa served as a Child Life Specialist in the Neonatal Intensive Care unit, Day Surgery, Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, and Pediatric Emergency Department. Alyssa began her career in management in 2007 as the manager for the Child Life and Expressive Therapies team. Alyssa was promoted to Director of Operations in 2018 and is now responsible for the Ronald McDonald House, volunteers, the Child Life and Expressive Therapies Team, and educational programming.
Her achievements include expanding the team to 16 Child Life Specialists, 3 Music Therapists, 3 Art Therapists, 2 Facility Dogs, an academic coordinator, and a volunteer coordinator, as well as implementing a full-time Child Life Specialist serving the adult population at Memorial Hermann- Texas Medical Center and developing an artist in residency program in collaboration with CMHH and Theater Under the Stars (TUTS).
Alyssa is committed to and enthusiastic about her profession. She keeps strategizing, considering ways to enhance procedures and uphold best practices. Her dedication to the child life field for 26 years demonstrates her love for hospitalized children and families.
Assistant Clinical Professor
Janelle is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Ohio University and a Certified Child Life Specialist. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Science from The Ohio State University and graduated from Bank Street College of Education’s Child Life master’s program in 2009. Upon returning to Ohio, Janelle worked as a child life specialist at Nationwide Children's Hospital for 12 years in various outpatient and inpatient settings while teaching adjunct at Ohio University.
Janelle has participated in several hospital-wide workgroups and was a practicum and internship preceptor for Nationwide Children’s student program. In addition, she has served on ACLP’s Education and Training Committee, Transition Taskforce, Strategic Planning, Academic Excellence, Governance Committee, and Educator-At-Large for the regional Great Lakes of Child Life Professionals (GLACLP).
At Ohio University, Janelle’s clinical interests include creating partnerships within the College of Health Sciences and Professions and Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine to build further interprofessional education and collaboration efforts with future healthcare professionals. She has been awarded by the College of Health Sciences and Professions for Innovative Teaching and recognized by the Department of Social and Public Health for the Chair's Award for Excellence.
Sandy has 30 years of experience in the Child Life profession working at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, Canada. She completed a bachelor’s degree in Therapeutic Recreation before pursing her career in child life. In 2006, Sandy was responsible for the development of the Therapeutic Arts Program at the hospital encompassing art therapy, music therapy and horticultural therapy. Her current role provides clinical leadership for child life specialists, recreation therapist and the therapeutic arts team.
Sandy is a strong advocate for pediatric pain management. As a member of the hospital Pain Committee, she developed and led many of the Commitment to Comfort initiatives including resource development, educating staff, and working collaboratively with community and provincial partners, such as public health, lab services and the COVID-19 taskforce. Sandy has served on the national working group to develop the first Pediatric Pain Management standard in Canada with the Health Standards Organization of Canada and Solutions for Kids in Pain (SKIP), to improve pediatric pain management at hospitals serving children and adolescents across the country.
Tracey Craddock is a Certified Child Life Specialist in the emergency department at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, Pennsylvania. She received her Master’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with a specialization in child development from West Virginia University. During her 19 years as a child life specialist, she has worked at hospitals in both Pennsylvania and Ohio.
Tracey’s involvement volunteering with ACLP began in 2014 as a member of the Focus Review Board. Since that time, she has served on the Advanced Professional Development Committee and with the Child Life Certification Commission on the Item Writing Committee and Communications Committee (Committee Chair 2021-2022). In addition, Tracey has served as co-presenter for two ACLP webinars related to ethics.
When not working or volunteering for ACLP, Tracey can be found reading, quilting, going to concerts or traveling.
Senior Vice President & COO, The Beryl Institute
Stacy Palmer is a visionary thinker and pragmatic strategist who has been a critical leader in the rapid expansion of patient experience as a central conversation in healthcare. Through her role as Senior Vice President at The Beryl Institute, the global community of practice and thought leader on improving the patient experience, she has helped extend the focus on patient experience into a true global movement.
Prior to joining the Institute, Stacy spent eleven years in the media industry focused on communications, advertising and product development for The Dallas Morning News. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Mass Communication, Public Relations from Texas State University.
Stacy has helped establish a resource library of proven practices and research sharing how healthcare organizations around the globe are creating positive experiences for patients, family members and caregivers.
Stacy has co-authored numerous white papers from The Beryl Institute including publications such as The Power of Person-Centeredness in Long-term Care, The Critical Role of Spirituality in Patient experience and Voices of Measurement in Improving Patient Experience. In addition, she is a regular contributor to the Institute’s Patient Experience Blog and stays connected to the work on the front lines of care through visits to healthcare organizations, sharing their experience journeys through the Institute’s On the Road series.
Jeffrey Salvon-Harman, MD, CPE, CPPS
Vice President, Safety - Institute for Health Improvement
Jeff Salvon-Harman, MD, CPE, CPPS, Vice President, Safety, Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), is a Certified Physician Executive, Certified Professional in Patient Safety and IHI Fellow who is resolute about creating Safety and Belonging for patients and the healthcare workforce. He provides strategic leadership in Safety with deep operational expertise in implementing change initiatives and applying quality improvement methods. He is a recognized subject matter expert in high reliability, patient and workforce safety, Human Factors application to Root Cause Analysis, and system level management of quality and safety. Previously, Dr. Salvon-Harman was the Chief Patient Safety Officer/VP, Quality Institute and Medical Director of Infection Prevention and Control for Presbyterian Healthcare Services in New Mexico.
He is retired from the US Public Health Service where he dedicated 20 years to the Indian Health Service and the US Coast Guard in roles ranging from clinical service delivery to management and leadership. Dr. Salvon-Harman completed his residency in Family Medicine at Carilion Health System in Roanoke, VA after graduating from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA.