2021-2022 ACLP Board of Directors


Quinn Franklin, PhD, CCLS – President

The psychosocial needs of children and their families carries so much importance in the work that Quinn Franklin strives to support and enhance. Quinn started her career as an Emergency Center Child Life Specialist working directly with patients in a high acuity, fast-paced environment. Between her internships and the Emergency Center environment, Quinn learned that she wanted to help children in ways that partnered with clinicians, researchers and academicians. Over the years, Quinn transitioned into utilizing evidence - based practice, teaching and leadership to help shape the psychosocial care being delivered to children in healthcare settings through various roles ranging from being an adjunct instructor to a leader. Quinn has nearly 20 years working as a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and considers this to be one of the greatest gifts, personally and professionally.

Quinn has been involved in many different aspects of the Association of Child Life Professionals (ACLP) spending the majority of her time working with the Child Life Certifying Commission (CLCC; 2006 to 2014) and continues to sit on the Appeals Committee.  During her tenure with CLCC, Quinn participated in Exam Assembly, co-chaired the Recertification Task Force, and chaired the Child Life Course Description Working Group. As chair of the CLCC, Quinn served on the ACLP Board. This is the time frame where Quinn gained an increased understanding and true appreciation for how evidence-based practice touches each decision we make as CCLS’ and how impactful it is to the work we do at the bedside and away from the bedside, as the field of child life continues to evolve.

In 2018, Quinn had the privilege of representing ACLP on the Disney Hospital and Wishes Advisory Group and participating in the Strategic Planning Summit. Currently, Quinn is the chair of the Scientific Advancement of Professional Practice Committee and the Assistant Director of the Psychosocial Division in the Cancer and Hematology Centers at Texas Children’s Hospital (Houston, TX). Quinn’s current role brings the world of evidence-based practice, education, and leadership together to support the psychosocial needs of children and their families, in addition to the faculty and staff that are working with them. Quinn is committed to ensuring that children and families receive the psychosocial support that they need, when they need it.

Lindsay Heering, MS, CCLS, CTRS – President Elect

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.

Kim Stephens, MPA, CCLS – Past President

Kim is the Child Life Manager at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin, Texas. With over 28 years of clinical and leadership experience as a child life professional, Kim has worked previously at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas; Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio; and Golisano Children’s Hospital formerly known as Strong Children’s Medical Center in Rochester, New York prior to moving to Texas in 2009. Kim received her bachelor’s degree from Wheelock College in Boston, Massachusetts in 1989 and then completed her master’s degree in Public Administration in Health Care at the State University of New York in Brockport, New York in 1996. Kim is currently finishing a term as Treasurer, Finance Committee Chair, and Executive Committee member for ACLP.  Additionally, Kim has served as an ACLP Mentor, two terms as a Child Life Council FocusReview member, two terms as a Child Life Council exam writer, and served on the Child Life Council Vision to Action Committee that served as a planning board to provide a vision and action plan to guide the future of the child life profession. She has given presentations at local, regional, and national conferences, including the National Hemophilia Association’s Annual conference, the Child Life Annual Conference, the Texas Pediatric Palliative Care Consortium, and the Texas Pediatric Society. Kim is committed to continuing to work to support ACLP and its membership in ensuring that every child and family has access to comprehensive services provided by a child life professional to overcome life’s most challenging events.

Kate Shamszad Photo

Kate Shamszad, MS, MPH, CCLS – Secretary

As Director of the Medicaid Policy Center with the New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute’s Medicaid Policy Center (MPC), Kate Shamszad works to advance Medicaid policies that increase access and affordability to high-quality health care. Kate works to identify emerging challenges in payment, service delivery, and program administration and provide leading-edge strategies, with particular focus on maternal, infant, and child health in the state.

Kate previously served as a Clinical Director of Child Life and Integrative Care at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center — and her leadership there and in other clinical settings gives her valuable insight into the delivery of care, and the connection between health policy and implementation. At the MPC, Kate works in partnership with the State and stakeholders. She identifies best practices in Medicaid delivery, analyzes existing state practice and performance, reviews analytics and data, and convenes multi-stakeholder groups to work toward innovative solutions.  A primary focus of her current work is on implementing a CMS-funded pilot program, Integrative Care for Kids, that focuses on universal social and behavioral health screening for kids and wrap-around support (including child life) for children at high risk for health complexity in the community.

Kate has a Bachelor of Science in biology from the George Washington University, a Masters of Science in Child Life from Bank Street College of Education, and a Masters of Public Health degree from the University of West Florida.

Teresa A.P. Schoell, MA, CCLS – Treasurer

After completing her master’s degree at Syracuse University and internship at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Teresa launched a one-person child life program at Rochester General Hospital, an adult hospital with pediatric services in western New York.  In the near-decade since, Teresa’s program has expanded to a two-person program providing child life services to the pediatric emergency room, pediatric inpatients, NICU, ambulatory surgery center, and children of adult patients, as well as a wide range of staff-education classes and in-services. Teresa currently serves on the ACLP Benchmarking & Data subcommittee, and previously served as a peer-reviewer for Focus, as well as a committee member then co-chair of the ACLP Professional Resources committee. At the ACLP 2018 Strategic Summit, Teresa was an invited participant for her insight and experience with small programs and community hospitals. Teresa wrote the chapter on one-person programs in the new edition of The Handbook of Child Life, authored several Bulletin articles on a variety of subjects, and presented at several ACLP conferences over the past decade on the topics of grants, metrics, one-person programs, two-person programs, and staff education.


Sarah Patterson, MSc, CCLS  Director

Sarah Patterson is an Assistant Professor and the Curriculum Coordinator for the Master's of Science in Child Life and Pediatric Psychosocial Care Program at McMaster University.   

Sarah’s child life career has spanned over 28 years, providing care to children in a number of clinical areas, with a specialization in solid organ transplant care. Sarah has been an educator, teaching at several North American universities since 2001.

Sarah is a subject matter expert consultant for international child life and pediatric psychosocial training.  Within her career, Sarah has been involved in ongoing pediatric psychosocial training and education initiatives in Europe, Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Sarah has been involved actively within the ACLP, holding a number of committee leadership roles, journal reviews, mentorships, leadership and partnership developments and involvement internationally providing pediatric psychosocial training.

Sarah is grateful to all child life leaders that have pioneered and paved the way for her career.  Sarah believes that the child life profession continues to thrive and flourish in novel and innovative areas.  Emotional safety and clinical simulation based learning are initiatives Sarah is excited to be involved in. Sarah is also thankful to the ACLP for championing leadership within DEI initiatives and the training she is involved with.

Riley Hammond, MS, CCLS – Director

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 8 years, Riley has worked in a variety of clinical settings at The Children’s Hospital of San Antonio and Texas Children’s Hospital.  Currently, Riley is the Child Life Specialist Coordinator for Dream Big Studio at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.  Riley supported the opening of the radio/TV studio in 2020 and continues to manage the daily programming and operational needs.  Riley has served as the chair for the ACLP Web and Online Networking Committee and is currently a member of the ACLP Education and Training Committee.  She also served on the Texas 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.

Rene Guilbeau

René Guilbeau, CCLS – Director

René Guilbeau considers herself a passionate advocate for children and families. In 2017, after working at Tulane for 22 years she accepted a position as the Director of Child Life and Creative Therapies at Children’s Hospital New Orleans. She has experienced much change and growth over the past three years and is now also the Director of Patient Experience and Arts in Healthcare.  

René truly believes that you should do what you love and love what you do. René loves to share her passion for child life by improving the lives of patients and families, providing evidence-based programming, creating educational opportunities for staff development, and contributing to the growth of the child life profession. The past 10 years have been both challenging and rewarding as she has been a member of the ACLP benchmarking committee and has been the Committee Chair for the past year. 

René attended Wheelock College and has been a Certified Child Life Specialist since 1994. Throughout the years she has challenged herself to meet the needs of the patients, families, staff, and community she serves. Whether it was becoming a Certified Infant Massage Instructor to help support babies and parents, a Child Passenger Safety Technician to help build an injury prevention program, or a Resolve through Sharing Trainer to help build a palliative care team, she is always committed to the needs of the patients, families, and colleagues she works with.    


Janelle Mitchell, MS, CCLS – Director

Janelle Mitchell is an assistant clinical professor at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio, and child life specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.  Janelle 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 in various outpatient and inpatient settings while teaching adjunct at Ohio University.  Janelle has participated in several hospital workgroups and served as a practicum and internship preceptor for Nationwide Children’s student program.  She has served on ACLP’s Education and Training Committee, and Transition Taskforce. Currently, she serves on the Great Lakes Association of Child Life Professionals board as the Educator-At-Large.  

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 further build interprofessional education and collaboration with future health care professionals.

Tracy Akitt

Tracy-Lynn Akitt, CCLS – Canadian Liaison

Tracy Akitt has been a part of the Child Life profession for 25 years, contributing in both a teaching and clinical capacity. She has worked in Canada and the United States. Presently, she is the Clinical Leader of Child Life, and Family Engagement Lead at McMaster Children’s Hospital, in Ontario, Canada.


Leslie Daniels, CCLS - CLCC Liaison

Leslie Daniels, CCLS, is a Child Life Manager at Children’s Mercy Hospital (CMH) in Kansas City, Missouri. Leslie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Missouri-Columbia. For over twenty years, Leslie has worked in direct patient care, primarily serving in critical care areas and the emergency department, and she served as child life internship coordinator. Leslie has played an active role on the CMH Aftercare Committee, providing support to children and adolescents who have experienced the death of a sibling. Leslie holds a certificate in Pediatric Bioethics. Leslie has been active with ACLP, specifically the CLCC, most recently serving as Appeals Chair and Ethics Chair Elect of the Certification Commission. Away from the hospital, Leslie enjoys spending time with her husband, Billy, and her children, Alex, Cheyanne, and John. She also enjoys visiting with family and friends and traveling. 
Dr. Jennifer Jewell

Jennifer Jewell, MD, MS, FAAP

Jennifer Jewell graduated from Knox College and Boston University School of Medicine. She is a pediatric hospitalist in Portland, Maine at The Barbara Bush Children’s Hospital. She is interested in child advocacy and quality improvement.

Jen serves on the Maine Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics Board of Directors and on the National American Academy of Pediatrics Committee Forum Management Committee. Some of her favorite people are Child Life Professionals, and she is honored to be a Public Member on the Association of Child Life Professionals Board of Directors.

Kari Mastro

Kari A. Mastro, PhD, RN, NEA-BC

Kari A. Mastro is the Director of Practice, Innovation and Research at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center. In this role, she is responsible for patient care excellence initiatives across Penn Medicine Princeton Health, driving innovation and leading the Center for Innovation and Excellence. Additionally, she serves as faculty teaching evidenced-based policy development in the Nursing PhD program at Rutgers the State University of New Jersey.

Dr. Mastro has served in many senior leadership roles as Vice President and Chief Nursing Officer of Nursing & Patient Care Services at Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital and the Sloane Hospital for Women of New York-Presbyterian and as Assistant Vice President, Nursing and Patient Care Services for Bristol-Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. She began her nursing career Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and joined the staff of Robert Wood Johnson in 1991 where she held several nursing leadership roles.

Making a difference in the lives of children and their families is her passion. For over thirty years, she has focused on ensuring that the care provided to children is of supreme quality regardless of where the care is provided and who is providing that care. Her impact to children’s health has been far reaching. 

She has received many awards for her work and has been recognized for her leadership by the March of Dimes as Nurse of the Year, the NDNQI Award for Outstanding Nursing Quality in the Academic Medical Center, the Magnet Prize Honors for Innovation, and the HRET Community Outreach Award for Improving End-of-Life Care.

Dr. Mastro is well published in the field of Nursing Leadership, Children’s Healthcare, and Patient- and Family-Centered Care and speaks nationally and internationally on these topics. She has extended her influence in improving the care of children internationally as the key note speaker at the Beijing International Forum of Pediatric Development where she presented how nursing in the United States is leading children’s healthcare into the future. While in China, she organized a collaborative in which China’s nursing leaders came to the United States and partner with U.S. nursing leaders in an effort to bridge the gap in care and improve the quality of care for children in China. 

Dr. Mastro received her undergraduate degree in Nursing from Catholic University of America and a Master’s degree in Nursing from Seton Hall University and her Ph.D. in Nursing at the University of Colorado with a focus on Patient- and Family-Centered Care and the impact of patient and parent partnership in care on quality, safety, and satisfaction outcomes. 

Alison E. Heron, MBA, CAE, Chief Executive Officer, ACLP

Alison E. Heron, MBA, CAE serves as the Chief Executive Officer and is a Certified Association
Executive (CAE) with 27 years of diverse association sector experience and 21 years in leadership
roles. Alison holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Maryland
University College (UMUC) and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Strayer University. She is data-driven and a high-achieving visionary leader committed to advance an organization’s strategic goals diversity, equity and inclusion strategies, transformational leadership, trend/data analysis, and high-level customer service experience.

Before joining ACLP, she served as the Senior Director of Membership and Customer Relations at the
Water Environment Federation. Prior to WEF, she served as the Senior Director of Membership and
Units at the Council for Exceptional Children. Alison is an active member of the American Society of
Association Executives (ASAE) and a 2008-2009 ASAE Diversity Executive Leadership Scholar.

She is the proud mother of two thriving sons in college and enjoys spending time with her family,
traveling by planes, trains and automobiles and considers herself a life-long learner.


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