One of Barker’s most distinguishing assets is our well-trained and experienced professional and administrative staff. Our staff includes persons who, in addition to their professional credentials, are also themselves birth parents, adoptive parents, adoptees, and passionate about serving the adoption community. Continuing in the tradition begun by Ruth and Richard Barker, our staff also provides consultation services and in-service training for teachers, physicians, nurses, social workers, and parent groups in the community.

Executive Director & CEO

Sue Hollar, LCSW-C, LICSW, Executive Director & CEO

Sue Hollar, LCSW-C, LICSW

Executive Director & CEO

BS, Lenoir-Rhyne University; MSW, Syracuse University

shollar [at]

Sue heads The Barker Adoption Foundation, one of the nation’s leading and oldest comprehensive adoption organizations. Her experience includes nearly three decades of social work practice focused exclusively on child welfare and adoption work locally, nationally, and internationally. She previously served in numerous roles at Barker. Sue’s experience includes direct-service and managerial positions in foster care, treatment foster care, and independent living programs. Prior to her work at Barker, she directed programs for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Children's Bureau supporting the federally mandated child and family services reviews and title IV-E foster care eligibility reviews of state child welfare agencies. Sue has also developed and conducted training for foster care and adoption staff throughout the country and serves on the National Training and Development Curriculum for Foster and Adoptive Parents Content Committee.

Senior Director

Beverly N. Clarke, LCSW-C, LICSW - Senior Director of Clinical & Support Services

Beverly N. Clarke, LCSW-C, LICSW

Senior Director of Clinical & Support Services

BSW, Andrews University; MSW, Andrews University

bclarke [at]

Beverly is the Senior Director of Clinical & Support Services and responsible for managing, developing, implementing, and providing oversight and quality assurance for the clinical aspects of the work provided by the agency’s adoption and support programs. Beverly has more than 21 years of experience as a social worker and clinician, with many of those years focusing on children and families. Previously, Beverly was the Director of Barker’s Project Wait No Longer. Prior to Barker, Beverly worked in the foster care system, family preservation programs, and domestic and international adoption programs. As an adoptive parent herself, she brings both a personal and professional understanding of the adoption process as well as a passion for supporting families and achieving permanency for children.


Chatez Bailey

Chantez Bailey

Director of Communications and Marketing

B.A., University of Maryland

cbailey [at]

Chantez Bailey serves as Barker’s Director of Communications and Marketing. She brings over 10 years of experience in nonprofit marketing and brand awareness to the Barker Adoption Foundation. Chantez held previous positions in communications and marketing with nonprofit organizations including the National REACH Coalition and Association of American Medical Colleges. Her talents encompass public relations, brand awareness and strategic outreach efforts to further increase the reach and overall impact of mission-based organizations. She works to implement a marketing strategy that leverages Barker’s position as a leading agency, while supporting its mission to provide lifelong services for all in the adoption constellation. A Maryland native, Bailey studied English with a concentration in Journalism and obtained her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Cynthia Cubbage, LCSW-C, LICSW

Director of Family and Post-Adopt Services

BSW, James Madison University; MSW, University of Central Florida

ccubbage [at]

Cynthia heads the Family and Post-Adoption Services Department at The Barker Adoption Foundation. She provides oversight of Search & Reunion Services, Support Groups, the Clinical Counseling Program, and Training & Education Services at The Barker Adoption Foundation. She has 20 years of experience dedicated to serving children and families in leadership and clinical therapy positions through non-profit work and county government agencies.  She has focused on child advocacy efforts, analyzing public local policies, developing innovative programming for youth/children, and provided clinical therapy to children and adolescents. Cynthia’s area of expertise is in providing pre and post-adoption services in a variety of local, national, and international agencies to anyone touched by adoption.  She and her wife are parents by adoption of two wonderful children.

Emily Marshall, LICSW, LCSW-C

International Program Director

BA, Kenyon College, MSW, Catholic University

emarshall [at]

Emily joins the clinical team at Barker in her role as the International Program Director. Previously, Emily has worked as a School Social Worker, providing ongoing clinical counseling and case management, as Child and Family Therapist with YMCA’s Linkages to Learning Program, and as a Social Worker for children in the foster care system in New York. In addition to her clinical experience, Emily brings her Spanish speaking skills to the clinical team. She is very excited to translate her wealth of knowledge and experience working directly with children into working on behalf of children who are in need of forever homes.

Michele Mazzei, Director of Development

Michele Mazzei

Director of Development

mmazzei [at]

Michele is the Director of Development and responsible for crafting, implementing and managing development and fundraising strategies. She is also responsible for expanding and deepening relationships with the Barker Adoption Foundation community.

With ten years’ experience as a manager and individual contributor in a fast-paced, mission and metrics driven environment at the American Heart Association, and account management and business process experience at Siemens, she is a successful architect and implementer of strategic and tactical development plans that aligned with organizational mission.

Michele has been recognized by the American Heart Association as a National Rome Betts Award winner for consistent performance, leadership, professionalism, and dedication; an award granted annually to those who value and exhibit integrity, excellence, vision, dedication, inclusiveness and sensitivity in their work. With a business mind and mission heart, she thrives in meaningful and challenging roles that benefit children and families.    

Saara McEachnie, LICSW, LCSW-C, Director of Domestic Adoptions

Saara McEachnie, LICSW, LCSW-C

Director of Domestic Adoptions

BSW, Oakwood University; MSW, Western Michigan University

smceachnie [at]

Saara is the Director of Domestic Adoptions, the integrated program of Project Wait No Longer (PWNL) and Infant Adoptions. Saara came to The Barker Adoption Foundation in 2018 with over eleven years of experience working with children and families. She spent the first years of her career working with children who were diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and assisting families of soldiers who had served overseas in the military. The majority of Saara's experience has been with the public child welfare system, helping children to achieve permanency either through reunification with their birth parents or through adoption/guardianship with a loving and able caregiver. Saara worked on supervisory teams to implement evidence-based, trauma-informed treatment models to best serve the vulnerable population of children within the foster care system in the District of Columbia. Her passion is mostly found in ensuring happy, healthy, and loving families for children.

Nancy Wilkinson

Nancy E. Wilkinson, CPA

Director of Finance and Administration

B.A., University of Maryland M.S., Accounting, Georgetown University

nwilkinson [at]

Nancy joined The Barker Adoption Foundation as Director of Finance and Administration in March 2020. In this role, she is responsible for Financial and Accounting operations, Human Resources and Benefit Administration, and Operations Administration. As a CPA, she brings a broad range of experience to Barker, in both public accounting and other finance management roles for several large nonprofits. Nancy is thrilled to be able to utilize her accounting skills to support the amazing Barker staff.


Sami Albert, LCSW-C, LICSW

Pregnancy Counselor & Family Support Specialist

BA, The Pennsylvania State University; MSW, University of Maryland, Baltimore

salbert [at]

Sami is the Pregnancy Counselor and Family Support Specialist for the Domestic Infant Adoptions program. Sami had spent much of her social work career working for the public child welfare system in Washington, DC prior to coming to The Barker Adoption Foundation.  In her previous role, Sami worked with children and families to achieve permanency, whether through reunification with birth parents, adoption, or guardianship.  She has worked with children and families that have experienced high levels of trauma and often had multiple mental health diagnoses.  Sami uses her clinical experience working with families to enhance the adoption process for children, birth parents, and adoptive families.  

Virginia Downes

Domestic Program Support Specialist

B.A., The University of the South

vdownes [at]

Virginia serves as the support specialist for families in both the infant and Project Wait No Longer Programs. She works closely with families and outside agencies from home study to finalization.  Virginia joined our team after completing a year of service with AmeriCorps, where she worked in the DC public school system. She has a passion for women and children’s issues and enjoys putting her skills to work on behalf of the children and families we serve across our domestic programs.

Molly Dunlap

Community Outreach & Recruitment Specialist

BSW, BA, James Madison University

mdunlap [at]

Molly serves as Barker’s Community Outreach & Recruitment Specialist. She comes to Barker with her certification as a Registered Behavioral Therapist, having worked as a Behavioral Therapist for children, teens and young adults with a variety of special needs. Her previous volunteering and internship experience include time spent working with organizations like- The Office of Children and Youth, Generations Crossing, and Boys and Girls Club. Molly works within the greater DC metropolitan community to recruit families who could be the right match to give permanency to waiting children, and build partnerships to support this important mission.

Kaitlin Fischer, LMSW, LGSW

International Case Manager & Family Support Specialist

BSW, James Madison University; MSW, Virginia Commonwealth University

kfischer [at]

As our International Case Manager & Family Support Specialist, Kaitlin provides support to families in Barker’s international adoption programs and is responsible for the review of child referrals and matching with prospective adoptive families. Prior to coming to Barker in 2019, Kaitlin worked for a non-profit serving families experiencing homelessness and poverty in the Washington, DC area. Kaitlin is passionate about serving children and families and is excited to continue this work in the adoption field.

Missy Herendeen

Missy Herendeen, LMSW

Adoption-Competent Child, Family, and Adolescent Therapist

mherendeen [at]

“Missy” (Melissa Herendeen), is Barker's Adoption-Competent Child, Family, and Adolescent Therapist. She is passionate about walking with individuals as they work to gain insights and find their voice in their personal narrative, using storytelling, meditation, and the mind-body connection.  Missy’s focus at Barker is working with children, adolescents, and families. Her previous work has equipped her with skills to work with clients and their families as they process and heal from trauma, work through grief and shame, and gain tools they can utilize in their ongoing journey to create a safe environment to explore complex emotions and thoughts.

Varda Makovsky, LCSW-C, Director of Family and Post-Adoption Services

Varda Makovsky, LCSW-C, LICSW

Family and Post-Adoption Clinical Specialist

BS, New York University; MBA, New York University; MSW, University of Maryland

vmakovsky [at]

Varda provides ongoing consultation and support to adoptive and birth families and coordinates support groups and skill-building educational programs for all members of the adoptive triad in both domestic and international programs. She acts as Barker’s confidential intermediary, serving as a link between adoptive and birth families and assisting adult adopted persons who seek non-identifying information about their birth families, or undertake court-ordered searches.

Varda’s prior social work experience includes working with adoptive families in the home study and post-placement process, counseling women facing domestic abuse, and providing therapy services to clients at a mental health center.

Avon Pagon

Office Administrator

University of Maryland, University College - BA in Communications Howard Community College - Spanish language program

apagon [at]

Avon serves as Barker’s Office Administrator and brings to Barker over a decade of experience in management and supervision. She has expertise in the areas of vendor management, IT support, human resources, communications, event planning, workplace efficiencies, and board and volunteer management. Avon is certified as an English as a Second Language instructor and is committed to making a difference in all that she does. Avon is passionate about the important mission of The Barker Adoption Foundation and is very excited to support Barker to further its impact.

Kathleen Porter, Receptionist

Kathleen Porter


Montgomery College – Technical Writing

kporter [at]

Kathleen joined Barker in 2008 and handles all incoming calls and requests for information. She came to Barker after many years in the telecommunications industry. Kathleen manages Barker’s calendar and coordinates and schedules workshops, training, and other events, including Barker’s annual conference. She enjoys being the first point of contact and speaking with all families and individuals who call for information, assistance, and support.

Margeline Thomas, Digital Marketing & Outreach Manager

Margeline Thomas

Digital Marketing & Outreach Manager

mthomas [at]

Margeline, an expert in digital marketing and outreach, joined The Barker Adoption Foundation in 2017 to increase Barker’s name brand recognition and relationship building. As Barker’s Digital Marketing Outreach Manager, she focuses on increasing the community’s awareness of and exposure to the agency’s adoption programs and services through external and internal communication and outreach, content development and delivery, brand management, and integrated marketing campaigns. 

Margeline came to Barker with years of experience at an international humanitarian development organization, where she provided technical and digital support in marketing and development. She is passionate about using digital strategy, graphic design, and data analysis to tell Barker's story and make a lasting impact in the lives of those who need it most.

Maeve Tilly, LMSW, LGSW

Clinical Intake & Family Support Specialist

BA, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; MSW, Catholic University of America

mtilly [at]

Maeve serves as Barker's Clinical Intake & Family Support Specialist. Prior to joining Barker in 2020, Maeve worked as a Social Worker with a permanent supportive housing program at Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. Maeve is excited to support families in the intake process and is committed to helping children find safe and loving families.

Yessenia Turrubiartes

Adoption Home Study & Family Support Specialist

yturrubiartes [at]

Yessenia serves as Barker’s Adoption Home Study and Family Support Specialist. Before joining the team at Barker, she worked with social science research participants at nonprofits in Chicago including NORC at the University of Chicago and Lincoln Park Zoo. Her commitment to Barker’s mission is fueled by her passion for serving families and children.

Eileen Wharton, MSW Child Matching & Family Support Specialist, Project Wait No Longer

Eileen Wharton, MSW

Child Matching & Family Support Specialist, Project Wait No Longer

BSW, Radford University; MSW, University of Denver

ewharton [at]

Eileen serves as the Child Matching & Family Support Specialist for Project Wait No Longer. She is responsible for managing matching and placement services, which includes connecting waiting families with children who are awaiting adoption in the public foster care system. Eileen, who previously worked in international adoption, has also been a home-based child therapist and has worked with families, at-risk youth, and individuals with disabilities.

Laura Zartarian

International Adoption Program Support Specialist

BA, American University

lzartarian [at]

Laura serves as a support specialist for the international programs at Barker, and is responsible for helping families navigate the complexities of the international adoption process including dossier preparation, immigration filing, and re-adoption. During her time at American University, she volunteered with JumpStart, a division of AmeriCorps, and interned with Barker in 2016. She has a genuine passion for educating both herself and others on adoption issues, and enjoys being able to do so in a setting where she can also provide support and guidance to our families.

Home Study & Post Placement Social Workers

Sandy Batton, LICSW, LCSW-C

Home Study Social Worker

BS, University of Pittsburgh; MSW, University of Cincinnati

Sandy has worked in the field of adoption since 1995.  Throughout that time, she has worked with adoptive families, expectant parents considering adoption, and birth parents and adult adopted persons interested in search and reunion.  Since 2007, she has served as a Home Study Social Worker at Barker, where she supports adoptive parents and children throughout the adoption process.

Lisa Bridges

Lisa Bridges

Home Study Social Worker

Lisa is a Licensed Clinical Social who has been working in Child Welfare in Maryland and Washington, DC since 1999.  What started out as a case management position with a foster care agency in Prince George’s County has turned into a career devoted to helping to build and strengthen families touched by all aspects of foster care and adoption.  Lisa has been with the Barker Adoption Foundation since 2006 working as a home study social worker, preadoption group facilitator, and birth parent counselor.  In addition to her work with Barker, Lisa sees clients at her private practice in Anne Arundel County and at a substance abuse recovery facility for women.  

Carol Liu, LCSW-C

Carol Liu, LCSW-C

Home Study Social Workers

Carol is a licensed clinical social worker in the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia. Her experience with children and adoption involves both from her work as a therapist at The Lourie Center for Children's Social and Emotional Wellness and from her work as an attorney representing children in abuse/neglect cases with Maryland Legal Aid and as a court-appointed attorney in Washington, DC. In addition to her work at Barker, Carol provides therapy to children and teens in a local private practice.

Molly McKenna

Molly McKenna, LICSW, LCSW-C, LCSW

Home Study Social Worker

BA, Boston College, MSW, Catholic University

Molly is a home study social worker with Barker.  Prior to joining Barker, Molly worked as a behavioral health and oncology social worker at the National Institutes of Health.  She also has vast experience working with immigrant and refugee families and advocating for the fair treatment of immigrants. She is passionate about working with vulnerable populations and adoptive families. 

Eliza Niemann

Eliza Niemann

Home Study Social Worker

B.A., The University of Virginia MSW, The Catholic University of America - School of Social Service

Eliza is a clinical social worker with over 20 years of experience in the adoption field and has had the pleasure of working with adoptive families, birth parents and adoptees.  She has been part of the Barker staff since 2003.  Currently, the focus of her work involves preparing families to adopt a child through Barker's domestic and international adoption programs and supporting them during the post-placement period.  Since 2007, Eliza has facilitated the Pre-Adoption Group Training that is required for all families adopting through Barker.  Eliza also has the great joy of being an adoptive parent.  Eliza and her husband adopted their daughter from Guatemala in 2006.  She believes that being an adoptive parent herself has enriched her work in the adoption field. 

Theodore C. Reynolds, LCSW-C, LICSW

Home Study Social Worker

BSW, Stony Brook University; MSW, Columbia University

Ted is a home study social worker who joined Barker in 2018. Prior to coming to Barker, Ted worked in the public child welfare system. He initially  trained and assessed foster parents to work with children who had experienced abuse and neglect. Ted has also worked with children and families to achieve permanency through reunification, guardianship or adoption with a loving permanent family. Ted also has a background in mental health as a result of his experience working with mental health patients at a hospital in Baltimore city. 

Post-Adopt Staff/Contractors

Cynthia Cubbage, LCSW-C, LICSW

Director of Family & Post-Adopt Services and Adoption Competent Family, Child, and Adolescent Therapist

Cynthia heads the Family and Post-Adoption Services Department at The Barker Adoption Foundation. She provides oversight of Search & Reunion Services, Support Groups, the Clinical Counseling Program, and Training & Education Services at The Barker Adoption Foundation. She has 20 years of experience dedicated to serving children and families in leadership and clinical therapy positions through non-profit work and county government agencies.  Cynthia’s area of expertise is in working with children and teens with ADHD, anxiety, LGBTQ Youth and families, depression, attachment, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD), adoption related grief and loss, international search and reunion, multi-racial/cultural family counseling, emotional/behavioral disorders, and other neurodevelopmental disorders.  Cynthia has provided numerous trainings and workshops at the national and international level.  She and her wife are parents by adoption of two wonderful children.

Barbara Donesky

Barbara Donesky, LCSWC, LICSW

Barbara Donesky has more than 20 years of experience providing individual counseling, couples therapy/marriage counseling and group therapy. Her style is interactional, holistic and strengths-based. Barbara facilitates two support groups at Barker- Parents of Adopted Teens and Older Children Support Group and the Parents of Young Adults Support Group.  Recently voted as one of the top three couples counselors in Washington, D.C.  Much of her work with couples involves healing from infidelity, which can be sexual or emotional. As for individual therapy, Barbara’s areas of expertise are grief/loss, substance abuse, adoption, and infertility.

Missy Herendeen

Missy Herendeen, LMSW and Registered Yoga

Adoption-Competent Child, Family, and Adolescent Therapist

She is passionate about walking with individuals as they work to gain insights and find their voice in their personal narrative, using storytelling, meditation, and the mind-body connection.  Missy’s focus at Barker is working with children, adolescents and families. Her previous work has equipped her with skills to work with clients and their families as they process and heal from trauma, work through grief and shame, and gain tools they can utilize in their ongoing journey to create a safe environment to explore complex emotions and thoughts.

Varda Makovsky, LCSW-C, Director of Family and Post-Adoption Services

Varda Makovsky, LCSW-C, LICSW

Adoption Competent Adult Therapist

vmakovsky [at]

Varda Makovsky, LCSW-C, LICSW (Adoption Competent Adult Therapist) is passionate about counseling and empowering adults who have been touched by adoption, including adoptees, birth parents and adoptive parents. She counsels adoptees - at various life stages.  She assists adopted persons, birthparents, and adoptive parents as they navigate the complexities of the search and reunion process and reconnection.  Counseling with adoptive parents may focus on: developing strategies for talking to children about adoption, exploring issues surrounding race (in transracial adoptions), navigating the complexities of open adoption, enhancing family relationships, and the role adoption has played in their lives.

Varda also provides counseling services at Barker to many people who are not connected to adoption on issues related to depression, anxiety, mood disorders, relationship issues, fertility and family-building, life transitions, grief and loss, trauma, self-esteem and parenting. 

Kristen Reighard

Nationally Certified Counselor

Kristen Reighard is a Nationally Certified Counselor who has worked with Barker for over 10 years. She facilitates Barker’s monthly Adult Adoptee Discussion Group.  In addition, she co-facilitates Barker’s Adopted Kids' & Teens' Groups throughout the year. Kristen is also an adoptee herself. She was transracially adopted as a baby from Seoul, South Korea and grew up in New Jersey.  She has been married for 7 years and has a son and daughter.

Ellen Singer

Ellen Singer, LCSW-C

Adoption-Competent Adult Therapist

Ellen Singer, LCSW-C, (Adoption-Competent Adult Therapist) co-facilitates the Birth Parent Discussion group,  provides parent and professional education and training; search and reunion counseling, and individual, couple and family counseling for adoptive parents and adopted adults at the Barker Adoption Foundation. Ellen has dedicated her 35+ years career to providing pre and post adoption services in non-profit, private adoption and mental health organizations. As an experienced therapist and trainer for both parent and professionals, her areas of expertise include making the decision to adopt, open adoption, search and reunion, transracial/transcultural adoption, relationship issues. She has been a key author/contributor to a number of adoption/foster care publications. Ellen and her husband are parents by adoption and by birth of two wonderful adult children.

Seth Solondz

Seth Solondz has more than 20 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and adults. He has co-facilitated Barker’s Teen Connections program since its inception and enjoys facilitating groups involving children who have been adopted and supporting siblings and parents. In his private practice, he provides therapy to children, adolescents, and adults, including individuals who have been adopted. He also works in the school system as a school social worker, serving youth and families with a wide range of backgrounds, including those who are at risk and those with special needs.