A multidisciplinary team dedicated to protecting children
Elissa Malter Schwartz
Elissa Malter Schwartz has been a dedicated professional and lay leader focusing on advocacy, violence prevention and private/public collaboration in the Washington DC area for the past 25 years. She was a 2011 Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Fellow, a leadership development program for executive directors of agencies serving disadvantaged Maryland residents. Prior to joining Tree House, Elissa was the Executive Director of the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse (JCADA), the Association Director of the American Association of Children’s Residential Centers (AACRC) and Director of Continuing Education Programs for Education Essentials. Elissa joined Tree House in 2020.
Elissa received her B.A. from American University’s School of Public Affairs. Originally from New York, she lives in Rockville, Md. with her husband Jason, their four biological children, and two foster sons.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “I have spent my career focused on improving lives and strengthening communities while working toward equal access for all who need support and as a foster mom who has seen the work the Tree House does first hand; I knew it would be a perfect fit.”
Molly Cupid, LCSW-C
Mental Health Director
Molly Cupid has been working in the child sexual abuse field since 2010. Most recently, she investigated allegations of child sexual abuse for Montgomery County Child Welfare Services. Earlier in her career, Molly worked in multiple residential facilities providing treatment for adolescent males who had sexually offended. Molly has experience conducting forensic interviews and is one of the instructors for the Child First forensic interviewing training in the state of Maryland. She has collaborated with the Special Victims Investigation Division of Montgomery County Police to provide sex abuse related training to police officers, social workers, and other first responders. As a member of the Speakers’ Bureau with Montgomery County Child Welfare Services, Molly travelled around the county providing training on recognizing and reporting child maltreatment. Ms. Cupid joined the Treehouse CAC in the summer of 2020 and enjoys leading the clinical team.
Evelyn Shukat, MD, FAAP
Dr. Evelyn Shukat is a Board-Certified Pediatrician, with specialty Board Certification in Child Abuse Pediatrics, who has been providing medical services to abused and neglected children for the past 40 years. Before coming to the Tree House, she established and directed a hospital-based child advocacy center (CAC) at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center in New York City and maintained that post for 10 years before moving to Maryland. Evelyn has been the Director of Pediatric Emergency Services at Metropolitan Hospital in NYC and Children’s Hospital of Newark NJ, as well as the Medical Director of The Children’s House Child Advocacy Center of Hackensack University Medical Center, Associate Director of Pediatrics at Lenox Hill Hospital, NYC, and held the academic rank of Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at New York Medical College, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, and at Cornell College of Medicine.
Evelyn has served as the Tree House’s Medical Director since 2008. She is passionate about the CAC model to help children who have been abused and neglected. She always establishes safe, trusting environments for our clients in her child friendly office. She approaches child health in a holistic manner, addressing all medical concerns, regardless of cause.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “Children need an ombudsman in times of trauma and abuse. I try to help them in any way I can to help give them a voice.”
Sarah Abbott, LMSW
Transitional Trauma Therapist
Sarah Abbot grew up in Montgomery County, earned a Bachelor’s in Human Services, and a minor in Sociology, from Geneva College outside of Pittsburgh, PA and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore with a clinical focus in behavioral health. Sarah has worked with adults diagnosed with mental health disorders for the Housing Opportunities Commission and with children with severe behavioral disorders and mental health diagnoses in school settings. She joined the Transitional Trauma Therapy Program of the Tree House in 2019, providing therapy for children who face the trauma of being moved out of their home and into foster and kinship care.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “Having been assisted by the social services community as a child, I love giving back and helping new generations of children. But being a baker, when they told me that their main fundraising events was centered around cookies, I was sold!”
Pamela Bravo, LMSW
Family Advocate/Mental Health Therapist
Pamela Bravo graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland with a clinical concentration in behavioral health. She has an extensive professional background working with various immigrant populations within the criminal justice system. Pamela joined The Tree House in 2017, where she assists victims and their families in navigating the complex criminal justice system and dealing with crisis situations such as domestic violence, substance abuse, loss of income, and homelessness. Pamela provides services in English and Spanish.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “I decided to work at the Tree House because I wanted to help support and empower victims of abuse and their families during times of crisis.”
Office Manager/ Interpreter
Laura Casanas joined the Tree House, CAC as an Administrative Assistant in 2018. She became a Certified Interpreter, which enables her to help children and parents that are non-English speakers get the help they need after being victims of domestic and sexual abuse, and neglect. Laura is now the Office Manager, and she is the heart that keeps all the moving parts at the Tree House working together.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “It makes my heart happy knowing that somehow, I can contribute to getting smiles from the kids…and they keep me feeling young!”
Andrea Coleman, BSN, RN
Andrea Coleman earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Cincinnati in 1997. Since relocating to Maryland in 1999, she has devoted her career to caring for underserved populations. The last 16 years of Andrea’s professional career have been spent working for the Montgomery County Government, with 8 years at the Department of Correction and Rehab, 6 years at Child Welfare Services, and 2 years a dual role of Child Welfare Nurse and Nurse for The Tree House. While the work is challenging, she finds the experience to be both rewarding and fulfilling as she focuses her energies toward helping improve the lives of children who have been victims of abuse, neglect, or assault.
Why do you work at the Tree House?
“What started as a mandated transfer, has turned out to be the most rewarding experience. One could not ask for a more cohesive and caring team of individuals with which to spend the work week. But the children are the gems that make every difficult day, every traumatic story, and every hardship faced seem small in the light of their smiles. Onward to the better and brighter days ahead! #Healing”
Clara Jane "CJ" Timme
Outreach and Communication Coordinator
Clara Jane “CJ” Timme has been a volunteer advocate for parenting-with-compassion and preventing child abuse for almost 10 years. She is also a volunteer admin in her local Buy Nothing Project group where she inspires her neighbors to see beyond the “free stuff” and use the group as a personal lifeline to their local community. In 2020 she became active in the Vaccine Hunting community, booking over 100 appointments for the Covid-19 vaccine while focusing on community outreach and promoting vaccine acceptance.
“CJ” graduated from the Maryland Institute, College of Art in Baltimore with a BFA in Fibers. She is an artist who loves to cook never runs out of passion to create!
Why do you work at The Tree House?
“Long ago, I was inspired by something Nelson Mandela said, ‘The true character of society is revealed in how it treats its children.’ (27 September 1997) I truly believe we ALL have a role to play in helping children to grow into healthy, well-adjusted adults who will add value to our society. My mission at The Tree House is to promote community awareness, education, and partnership, so we can increase our impact on the world around us, starting right here in Montgomery County, Maryland.”
Linda Kim, LMSW
Transitional Trauma Therapist
Linda Kim is a Licensed Social Worker who earned her Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University with a clinical focus on children, youth, and families. Linda’s experience serving diverse populations includes providing case management to families facing homelessness, engaging in support groups with women transitioning out of incarceration, and providing crisis response services. During her grad-school practicum at Community Crisis Services Inc., Linda provided suicide prevention, crisis intervention, and counseling services to individuals seeking assistance on 12 national and local lines, in addition to documenting Child Protective Services and Adult Protective Services reports for PG County.
Linda has worked with and served children in many environments: volunteering and working in Early Childhood Education, leading weekly activities with children living in the Patrick Henry Homeless Shelter, engaging in crafts and packing backpacks for children in Nicaragua, and helping to raise funds for teen parents with Generation Hope.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “I have known that helping children who have experienced trauma is what I most want to do with my life. Children are amazing and bring so much life into any room. I want to do whatever I can to help keep them safe and let them know that they matter.”
Mental Health Therapist
When Dara Kruman was a child, she wanted to help other children around the world… and join a circus. The circus never materialized, but she did become a social worker. Dara completed her Master of Social Work at Boston College, with a concentration in children, youth, and families. While in Boston, she did community work as an intern at a family center and a community health center for children. After moving to Montgomery County, MD, Dara worked with several agencies, including Linkages to Learning, WorkSource Montgomery, and CCI Health and Wellness Services in Silver Spring. She loves working as a part of a team to help support families during their recovery, focusing on addressing the systemic needs that affect them.
As a therapist, Dara has worked mainly with Spanish-speaking families from Latin America. She has also done volunteer work across the globe in Ecuador, Greece, and Thailand.
Why Do You Work at The Tree House?
“I believe that learning from people around the world has enriched my life. I am grateful to be working at The Tree House where I am helping children heal.”
Sara Kulow-Malavé, LCSW-C
Sara Kulow-Malavé had ten years of experience working for Montgomery County Child Welfare Services prior to joining The Tree House as the dedicated forensic interviewer in 2013. Sara has testified in numerous court cases as an expert on risk assessment and children’s safety. Sara earned her undergraduate degree in Social Work from McDaniel College and her graduate degree in the same field from The University of Maryland, Baltimore. At the Tree House, she conducts compassionate forensic interviews of suspected child victims and their non-offending family members.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “Who wouldn’t want to work in a tree house! I always wanted one as a kid! I decided to apply to work here because my favorite part of being a social worker is interviewing children. The child’s point of view can be overlooked, yet it is often the most honest. When the opportunity arose to apply for the Forensic Interview position, I jumped on it! I love being part of an organization created to offer our most vulnerable members of society who have been abused and neglected a safe and neutral space to talk about what has happened to them and begin to heal.”
Allyssa Lanza graduated with her doctorate in clinical psychology from Antioch University New England. She previously worked at Veterans Affairs Medical Centers and is currently in private practice where she focuses on trauma, depression, and adjustment issues. She is certified in Cognitive Processing Therapy and EMDR. She has practiced in Haiti and South Africa in which she focused on treatment and assessment of children. Allyssa has twice been awarded the Jonathan Daniel’s Award for her contribution for her commitment to issues of diversity and community outreach. She is excited to offer supervision to training students and future psychologists.
Tree House Therapy Dog
On April 4, 2015, a black Labrador Retriever was born in the nursery of The Guide Dog Foundation. At the age of 18 months, this young pup began his formal training to become a guide dog. However, this gentle canine made it clear that he had a different career in mind, and he became a Certified Therapy Dog instead. He came to The Tree House in 2017, where he received the name Lego and has been quite happy providing love and attention to the children who come to us for services. His calming presence is an integral part of the hope and healing we provide.
Why do you work at the Tree House? “Woof.”
Check out his instagram page here.
Data Manager/ Family Advocate
Ateret Frank holds a BA in Psychology from University of Maryland, College Park and is pursuing her MA in Forensic Psychology from John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Ateret has worked with children in school settings and in an emergency childcare center during the COVID-19 pandemic. She also conducted research on the long-term impacts of child sexual abuse and sexual grooming. She joined The Tree House in 2021 as a data manager and family advocate.
Why do you work at the Tree House?
I have always wanted to work with children in the Criminal Justice System in some capacity. When I began my research on child sexual abuse and found out about The Tree House, I knew I found exactly where I wanted to be!
Nancy Welsh, LMSW
Mental Health Therapist
Nancy (Paz) Welsh grew up in Montgomery County, earned a Bachelor’s in Social Work, and a minor in Political Science from University of Maryland Baltimore County. Nancy soon after earned her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Maryland, Baltimore with a concentration in Families and Children. Nancy’s work prior to the Tree House was in Child Welfare Services both in Prince George’s County and in Montgomery County. Nancy’s focus in her work has been geared towards improving the lives of both families and children in crisis in efforts to promote stability, growth, and empowerment.
Why do you work at the Tree House? Part of being human is helping others and what better way to do it than at the Tree House with a strong and caring team focused on helping families and children find the light at the end of the tunnel during turbulent times.