In April 2013, Sadie joined First3Years (then the Texas Association for Infant Mental Health) as Executive Director. Since joining First3Years, Sadie has helped double the impact by increasing training, Endorsement and collaborative partnerships throughout the state. Her leadership has been critical in securing sustainable funding to increase the reach of the organization’s mission. Sadie serves on the University of Texas at Dallas – Center for Children and Families Advisory Board and the Texas Home Visiting Training Institute Stakeholders Planning Group. Sadie represents Texas on the Alliance for the Advancement of Infant Mental Health’s National Planning Board. Sadie brings vast experience working in the field and advocating for change both locally and abroad. Prior to working with First3Years, Sadie developed and managed the Together We Learn program at Catholic Charities of Dallas, where she was responsible for all aspects of early childhood and parent enrichment programming. The catalyst for Sadie’s drive to give voice and action to those in society who are often overlooked, began while Sadie lived abroad in Ecuador working for the Peace Corps Sadie received a B.A. in Anthropology with Honors from Eckerd College and her M.S. in International Management from the University of Texas at Dallas. Sadie is Endorsed as an Infant Mental Health Mentor, Level IV-Policy.
Ashley Borthick, MS, IMH-E (II) | Director of Strategy
Ashley joined First3Years in November 2016. Most recently, Ashley was a parent educator through Texas Home Visiting with ChildCareGroup, in Collin County. She brings with her nine years of experience working with children and families in many different capacities. She has worked as a “2-yr-old” support staff teacher in Oklahoma, worked with the McKinney ISD child care program, and as an educational specialist and child development specialist (screenings and curricula development for the school) at Nexus Recovery Center. She has also worked with children and families in inpatient child mental health care, summer camps, education, research and church.
In her role as Engagement Coordinator, Ashley is charged with engaging members, donors and partner agencies, and administering the IMH-E / Infant Mental Health Endorsement credential program for First3Years. Ashley received her BS in Psychology with a minor in Accounting from Southern Nazarene University in 2010. She also holds a Masters degree in Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas, 2013. Ashley has worked in other capacities to help develop new programs and positions, train interns, organize and execute professional development training events, and provide administrative support to non-profit organizations. Her passion for working in the early childhood field stems from her belief that all children are gifted and act as “little scientists” in their world. Thus, children deserve to discover their new world in the context of a caring, responsive and nurturing environment. Ashley believes that, “all children should have access to quality education and the opportunities to connect with loving and supporting caregivers. First3Years works tirelessly to advocate and educate on behalf of our tiniest citizens. To be a part of this team, is an honor, and I aim to continue their driving mission.”
Natalie Fellows | Marketing and Communications Director
Natalie Fellows joined First3Years in March of 2017, bringing more than eight years of experience in the for-profit and non-profit sectors developing, implementing, and executing programs. Through her experience in program management, Natalie has specialized in managing all aspects of marketing, public and media relations, community outreach, brand effectiveness, and advertising. As Marketing and Communications Director, Natalie’s primary focus is to develop strategies to help increase statewide awareness to advance the organization’s mission. Natalie received her Bachelors of Science in Sociology from Louisiana State University. Natalie brings vibrant energy and a creative outlook to the team. When asked what drives her, Natalie responded that “my daughters, Norah and Amelia, motivate me every day to be the greatest version of myself and to always color outside of the lines.”
Stephanie is the Safe Babies Director of First3Years and oversees Tarrant and Dallas Counties. Prior to joining First3Years, Stephanie worked in the child welfare system with the Dallas juvenile and family courts. Stephanie also has experience in program development for early childhood education, parent engagement, and community collaboration. Stephanie attended the University of North Texas and has been involved with various non-profits since 2012. Stephanie is bilingual, experienced in program alignment, staff management, and grass-roots outreach. Stephanie’s passion comes from the desire to help build a strong foundation for child success; she recognizes that this success stems from parent empowerment and engagement in their child’s development.
Christy Serrano | Houston Regional Director
Christy Serrano is the Regional Director of First3Years in Houston, TX. Prior to joining First3Years, Christy worked in child abuse prevention programming, early childhood policy and education philanthropy. Christy also has experience working with teens with disabilities on developing job readiness skills. Christy has demonstrated her leadership ability in positions with various advisory boards, committees and mentorship roles. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Spanish from Northwestern University and a Master of Public Policy from the Harris School of Public Policy Studies at the University of Chicago. Christy grew up in Fort Bend County and now lives in Harris County with her husband Matt and three adorable pets.
Laura joined the First3Years organization in 2019 as Community Systems Manager. She is responsible for collaboratively developing an integrated and coordinated community system within Baytown, TX where every family has an equitable voice, is supported, and can readily access and choose from quality resources and services for their young child.
In her previous role, she served as the Senior Director of Operations for the National Diversity Council to advocate for the value of diversity and inclusion within the private, public and non-profit sectors. During her time at the Council, she also led the efforts to coordinate and execute a four-year writing program in partnership with Rice University for high school students, which resulted in granting over $40K in scholarships. She is a Leadership Houston alumna, Class XXX, where she served on the Communication Committee and was previously named one of Houston’s 100 Hispanic Women in Leadership by the Houston Chapter of Hispanic Women in Leadership. Laura is also a board member for Communities in Schools Baytown and Our Promise for West Baytown. Laura is a graduate of Lee College in Baytown, TX with an associate’s degree in business administration. As part of her mission of continuing to give back to her community, Laura currently serves as a City of Baytown Councilmember where she serves as the Secretary for the Municipal Development District and Vice President of the Architecture & Engineering Committee.
Brinkley Castro | Executive Assistant
Brinkley is from Plano, Texas and is a recent graduate of the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication. She has over 10 years of experience working with children and 4 years of non-profit history. Brinkley has a passion for working with children, and more specifically children with special needs. Her most recent position before coming to First3Years was working at a private preschool as an assistant teacher in a 2-year old classroom.
Brinkley “strongly believes in the idea that all children should have access to the same opportunities and that caregivers play a huge role in providing those opportunities.”
Naomie Kadima is the Relational Health Program Coordinator in Houston, TX. Prior to joining our team, Naomie designed and implemented an Exclusive Breastfeeding Education Program for a women’s clinic in rural Haiti. She is passionate about the use of innovative, evidence-based methods to improve health care for women and children. She received a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Emory University, and a Masters of Science in Global health from Duke University. In her role as Relational Health Program Coordinator, Naomie will support First3Years efforts to increase community providers’ understanding of early relational health using the Welch Emotional Connection Screen (WECs) to assess the relational health between parents and young children
Tasha Muhammad, IMH-E (II), LPC, RPT | Professional Development Coordinator
Tasha joined First3Years in May 2018. She has worked with children and families for over 20 years through various capacities, including owning and operating a home-based daycare. In 2007, Tasha and her family relocated to Texas, where she attended the University of North Texas to receive her MEd in Community Counseling, with a specialization in Play Therapy. She completed her practicum and internship at Nexus Recovery Center’s Child Development Center, providing therapy for children and parenting education for the female residents. Before joining our team, Tasha served as an Infant Mental Health Specialist with MHMR Tarrant County, where she provided developmental assessments, practical routine based strategies and psychoeducation for parents with children with developmental delays.
As a Licensed Professional Counselor and Registered Play Therapist, Tasha’s expertise has been sought out to facilitate trainings that focus on subjects such as the impact of trauma on the brain, managing maladaptive behaviors, and building healthy relationships for organizations across the DFW area including Child Care Associates and previously by our very own First3Years. She is proficient in Child Parent Relationship Therapy, Theraplay and other restorative models used to enhance attachment, build strong families and emotionally healthy children and adults. Tasha believes that “establishing a strong connection is one of the most important keys used to build happy and healthy relationships.”
Heather Pugh | Safe Babies Coordinator
Heather Pugh recently joined First3Years in June 2019 as the Safe Babies Court Team Coordinator for Tarrant County. She brings with her a passion for infant mental health, it’s vast impact on future development, and advocacy for the world’s most vulnerable population. Heather is a former Early Intervention Specialist with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) in which she served as her team’s infant mental health and trauma consultant, gathering years of experience working with infants, toddlers and their families as a home visitor. Heather collaborated with caregivers to regularly implement several evidence based practices such as Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI), Circle of Security, Bonding and Relaxation Techniques(BART) and Incredible Years Parenting Groups.
Heather also continues to work closely with Oklahoma’s Association for Infant Mental Health as their Project Coordinator, distributing a weekly Monday Memo to professionals across the state, including the most recent information on best practices and articles encompassing early relationships and its impact on well-being.
Heather graduated from the University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology and then completed a Master’s of Science in Infant/Child Specialist. She has also received her Infant Mental Health Endorsement (II) through First3Years. She is inspired by the work of Dan Siegel, Bruce Perry and several other of the world’s leading infant mental health and trauma experts. “The more healthy relationships a child has, the more likely he will be to recover from trauma and thrive. Relationships are the agents of change and the most powerful therapy is human love,” is one of her favorite quotes by Bruce Perry.
Tosha Smith, LCSW | Professional Development Coordinator
Tosha is a Professional Development Coordinator with First3Years and an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant (ECMHC) with Project PLAY at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. As an ECMHC, Tosha works to promote positive social and emotional development of children in early childhood settings. She is a dedicated Licensed Certified Social Worker with expertise in connecting families and caregivers with helpful resources and designing intervention strategies to assist in developing and utilizing social skills that will help strengthen relationships and interactions with others across all environments. Tosha has a background working with a variety of developmental and behavioral needs, including autism spectrum disorders, cognitive/receptive/expressive delays, and other challenges associated with social/emotional development. Her experiences include consultation services, observations, and assessments using behavior rating scales and developing individualized therapeutic interventions to improve prosocial behaviors.
Matthew Willoughby, IMH-E | Safe Babies Coordinator
Matthew Willoughby rejoined First3Years in April of 2017. He has a profound interest in the two-generation approach with families, which creates opportunities for and addresses the needs of both vulnerable children and their families together. He also has a special interest in paternal involvement. Matthew earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Bachelor of Science in Child Learning and Development in 2015 from University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). In addition, he obtained his Master of Science in Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders in May 2017 from UTD. Matthew brings passion and experience working with families and youth from work with the Just Beginning Program, Dallas Preschool Readiness Program, and several others. He likes the quote, “At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.” (J. Hull)
Kimberly Morris | Marketing Intern
Kimberly is currently enrolled in the Public Health Master’s program at University of North Texas Health Science Center (UNTHSC) in Fort Worth TX, concentrating in Maternal and Childhood Health. She graduated from Texas Tech University this past May with a duel degree in Psychology and Biology, with minors in Chemistry and Public Health. While there she was a research assistant for Caprock FMRI Lab, and did research with Dr. Tyler Davis on decision making, including value based judgments and category learning. Kimberly is interested in advocating for, and educating on children’s development, including it’s future impact on life course.