Elkhart Coverage Area
Cari has worked directly with Medicaid Waiver services for over 15 years and has been as a Case Manager since 2015. Cari has extensive experience working with residential programs, day programs, and as a supervisor. Cari is a strong advocate and a proactive communicator.
Cari enjoys nature and spending time with her friends and family. Cari puts 100% effort into everything that she does.
Marcie Brabender is a case manager and case manager supervisor. She has been a case manager since 2005. Marcie was a QMRP for three years prior to becoming a case manager. She has an Associate Degree in Psychology and a Bachelor Degree in Human Services. Marcie enjoys using her skills and abilities to make a positive impact on the lives of others.
Marcie enjoys spending time with her husband and children. They are often seen at local sporting events. Her husband is a high school coach and the kids are active in various sports as well. She and her family are also very active in their church.
Kara has been in case management for over 10 years and been a supervisor for over 1/2 of that time. She has lived in Indiana since graduating from Grace College. She enjoys spending time with her family, crafting, cooking, and traveling.
Kara has worked in the field of Disability Services for over 14 years and has worked in various capacities including direct service. Kara is a CARF surveyor and is excited to learn and share her knowledge and experience with other organizations across the country. Kara serves on our Medically Fragile Committee and the Quality Review Committee.
Specialized Case Manager – Transitional
Nancy has been a case manager for more than 8 years. She graduated from Smith College with a Master’s degree in Psychology, and a minor in Philosophy. Nancy took on the role of Transitional Case Manager in 2014, and enjoys helping people get started with new waiver services.
She is dedicated to advocating for clients and their families, and is always willing to assist with answering questions regarding Waiver Services in Indiana. Nancy enjoys representing Advocacy Links at the Down Syndrome Walk and fairs throughout the year. Nancy is involved with the Technology Committee, and uses technology to add efficiency and security to the case management process.
Erin has a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and Sociology from Indiana University of South Bend. Erin has an incredible amount of experience in advocating for individuals who seek assistance as well as experience in caring for people who have developmental disabilities.
Having been raised in a family with an older brother who was medically fragile with developmental disabilities and in working as direct care staff for years, Erin possesses great compassion for individuals who need assistance and advocacy.
Erin has strong communication skills and is a team player. She has served as a Medicaid Waiver Case Manager for years, and takes pride in building strong, lasting relationships with those she serves and those she works alongside to serve the consumer.
Tamantha has been a Case Manager for over three years. Prior to working at Advocacy Links, Tamantha worked in a variety of positions within the DD/ID field for the last ten years. Tamantha’s passion is advocating for families and assisting in accessing community and paid supports. Tamantha graduated with a bachelor’s in criminal justice in 2012. Tamantha is currently involved in Child and Adolescent Committee, assisting families and communities to access and understand Medicaid Waiver Services.
Specialized Case Manager – Older adult
Kayla has worked with individuals with disabilities for over seven years and graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. Kayla began her journey in this field by providing direct care services to individuals with disabilities for four years and her passion only grew from there. She then became a Qualified Developmental Disabilities Professional for over a year before becoming a Case Manager at the beginning of 2017.
Kayla teaches CPR for Advocacy Links and is also actively involved in the Older Adult/Dementia Committee. Kayla exhibits a passion for helping, supporting and advocating for others that enables her to build strong relationships with her consumers, families and teams. Kayla strives to surround each individual with guidance, comfortability, respect, love and care to assist in building a foundation for their wants, needs and desires in life.
Specialized Case Manager – Mentor
MJ Frey has worked with individuals with disabilities in a group home and residential setting. She has extensive experience in organization management. MJ seeks every opportunity to work with individuals and families to reach their full potential.
MJ graduated from Bluffton University in Ohio. MJ serves on the Accessibility Committee and is a Case Manager Mentor, assisting new case managers with training. MJ enjoys seeing all people succeed. MJ enjoys spending free time with friends and family, traveling as much as life allows and various crafts.
Specialized Case Manager – Child-adolescent
Bethany came to Advocacy Links in October 2018 with over eight years of case management experience. She has worked at non-profits within the Michiana area supporting children, adults, and families of all ages.
Bethany has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Notre Dame. She has a passion for serving others. Bethany is a strong advocate for the individuals and families that she works with. She supports and encourages them in achieving their goals and vision of a good life.
In her free time, Bethany enjoys spending time with her family and her dog. She is a huge Notre Dame Football fan and loves going hiking and to the beach.
Elizabeth started working for Advocacy Links in 2018. Prior to working as a Case Manager, she worked with young children with disabilities and developmental delays as a Service Coordinator with Indiana First Steps for over 10 years.
Since graduating from Valparaiso University in 2001 with degrees in Psychology and Sociology, Elizabeth has worked with families and individuals and enjoys working with people from all backgrounds. She is interested in learning about others and likes to hear their stories.
She loves to travel to new places and spends a lot of time supporting her 6 children at their activities. Elizabeth has a great sense of humor and wants to spend time getting to know each person and learning how best to advocate for them.
Valerie has worked in the field of Intellectual and Development Disabilities since 1989 and has been a case manager since 2001. She is currently serving on the Older Adult/Dementia Committee.
She holds a Bachelor's degree in Sociology with a minor in Criminal Justice from Indiana University. She has worked in various positions within the human services field, such as, direct care, group home manager, QIDP, Administration and Case Manager. Valerie has supported all ages and a variety of disabilities which has provided a wide range of knowledge.
Blanca Cervantes is bi-lingual in Spanish and English. She has lived and worked in a variety of states helping families whose loved ones needed help. She enjoys seeing children thrive and families flourish as a result of having the appropriate tools to improve their situation. In her free time, Blanca enjoys watching movies with her family and being outdoors when the weather is warm.
Christina Chowrimootoo has a bachelor’s degree in education from the UK. She has eight years teaching experience, specializing in teaching children with special educational needs and music. She is a dedicated and passionate individual whose loves working with others, meeting new people and has a love of learning. In her spare time, she directs and sings in a church choir. She is creative in the kitchen and loves to cook vegetarian meals. She enjoys going on adventures with her family.
Annie Emery graduated from Indiana University and worked as a Kindergarten Assistant for 12 years before starting her career as a Case Manager in June 2018.
Annie has lived in South Bend her entire life and is very familiar with the Michiana community. She is active in her community, volunteering at the local homeless shelter, playing handbells in her church, and teaching life skills to elementary aged girls as part of Girls On The Run.
Karen has been working with people with developmental disabilities since 2009. She has a Bachelor's degree in Elementary Education from Bethel College in Mishawaka, IN. She has held the role of Direct Support Staff, Direct Support Manager, Program Coordinator, Service Coordinator and has been a Case Manager with Advocacy Links since 2016. Karen serves clients of all ages throughout St. Joseph and Elkhart Counties. She enjoys advocating for all people and helping them reach their goals and their highest potential.
Lauren Horn has a degree in Psychology from IUSB and a passion for helping others. She has experience working with children as an ABA therapist.
She enjoys music, movies and travelling. She is very family oriented and loves spending time with her family and dog.
Through her previous work experiences, Kirstyn has had the opportunity to work with children and adults with many special abilities. Her education in Spanish Translation and Secondary Education are beneficial as she serves the Spanish speaking community and bridges the gap to meet the needs of individuals. Translating for the local hospital for the past 20 years has given Kirstyn a great understanding of medical terminology and treatment plans.
Her skills in networking and relationship building will be an aid to creating supportive teams for helping them to achieve their goals. Her hope is to help consumers build teams that will allow them to always have someone who know the answer to questions and is just one phone call away. Kirstyn has enjoyed teaching fitness and quilting classes in her community over the last 10 years.
Annie graduated from Indiana University with a Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts and Science, with a concentration in Psychology and Criminal Justice in 2013. She obtained a Child Development Associates through the State of Indiana in 2005 while teaching preschool in an integrated classroom and then worked in the South Bend School System.
She has experience as direct care staff and a supported living house manager for adults with disabilities before becoming a Case Manager in 2014. Annie has always enjoyed forming bonds and friendships with people she has worked for and making a positive impact in their lives.
Christy lives in Goshen with her husband and son. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work as well as a nursing license.
She has worked with individuals with special needs for the past 20 years. Christy enjoys empowering individuals to live as independently as possible and reach their full potential.
Christy loves to spend time with her family and they can often be found camping, riding bikes, hiking, or playing at the park. She also enjoys reading and playing the piano.
Katelyn started working with individuals with disabilities while she was in college by tutoring students who received Special Education. Katelyn graduated Cum Laude from Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Health and a minor in speech and hearing processes. Since completing college, she has also worked with a residential provider as a QIDP overseeing the care for several people living in supported living sites and family homes. Katelyn has been working as a Case Manager since July of 2016. Katelyn is involved in the Employee Recognition Program. Katelyn has always had a passion for helping others and strives to help individuals reach their highest potential of independence. She takes great patience, understanding and care when working with her families and teams to develop a platform for each individual’s vision for their lives.
Kelly Sienicki worked as a Special Educator for 18 years, assisting students with a wide variety of intellectual and developmental disabilities. She took pride in getting to know her students on a deeper level-- listening and watching for areas of need or desire. Building a relationship with the student, their guardians, general education teachers, and outside providers has been paramount in helping students obtain growth and work toward meeting their academic, behavioral, or emotional needs. Personal enjoyment centers around Kelly’s faith, family, friends, and the ability to keep learning. Kelly is an avid football fan and she enjoys other outdoor sports as well.
Kelly Straub has worked with people who have intellectual/developmental disabilities for over 5 years in a variety of positions including caregiver and family consultant. She has been a Case Manager since November 2018. Kelly has a degree in psychology from Indiana University-South Bend. Kelly has chosen to be in this field to be a voice for those that need it and to advocate for them. She loves helping others and has made a career out of it. Kelly likes to travel, hike, read, and paint. She has traveled to all 48 contiguous states in the country as well as Canada and the Dominican Republic.
Julie Sweetser graduated from the University of Indianapolis and has over 15 years of experience working with people who have disabilities. She has been a Case Manager since 2004. Julie enjoys working with individuals and their families to help navigate what can be a confusing world of services. She really enjoys connecting people with services that are going to make their lives easier, better and perhaps more enjoyable. Julie enjoys spending time with her family and pets. She volunteers with her children’s school and activities.
Marcia has over 6 years of experience serving individuals with developmental disabilities. As a case manager, she wants to support individuals and families with services and resources to help them achieve their goals and enhance their quality of life. She also serves on an Advocacy Links committee for the needs of the Medically Fragile.
Marcia holds a degree in psychology and has a special interest in helping individuals on the autism spectrum. Previously, she taught many years in an integrated Montessori classroom and also worked with children with special needs in the public school system. In her free time, Marcia enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking with her family, and participating in her church activities.
Casarah Wolfe graduated from Indiana University South Bend. She has worked with children and others with intellectual/developmental disabilities for 2 years.
Having a family member who has a debilitating condition has provided Casarah with a personal perspective of those struggles to get the help and support they need to live life daily.
Casarah enjoys making people smile. She enjoys mystery stories and crime movies.
Advocating for people with disabilities has been a large part of Calise Zollinger’s character for her entire life. She volunteered with people who have Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities in middle school and high school. In college, Calise was a paid caregiver and most recently she provided care for children with disabilities at the YMCA.
Calise has chosen to work in this field because she feels there is a need for more than just parents to be advocates for their own children. She wants to make sure people who are looking for services can receive the help they need.
Calise has six children and maintains a busy family life.