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Carolyn Allshouse
Executive Director


Carolyn Allshouse has been a leader in the patient-and-family-centered care movement since the late 1980’s, she has written several publications for families of children and youth with special health care needs and disabilities about family-centered care and parent/professional collaboration including: “Working with Doctors”, “Speaking Up For Your Child”, and “All About Me” and has managed multiple federal maternal child health grants.

Prior to accepting the position of Family Voices Executive Director, Carolyn coordinated the Minnesota Pediatric Medical Home and the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention quality improvement learning collaboratives at the Minnesota Department of Health. In the 1990s Carolyn coordinated a health advocacy program at PACER Center and coordinated a program focused on health reform for families of children with special health care needs and disabilities at Pathfinders Resources.

Carolyn has been a strong advocate for the involvement of families whose children have special health care needs and disabilities in program and policy development, implementation and evaluation. Carolyn is a mom of four children; her youngest son was born with multiple complex health care needs.

Kelly Korpela
Parent Support Navigator, West Central Minnesota


Kelly is the mother of four wonderful children, some of whom have diagnoses which include: autism, sensory processing challenges, oppositional defiant disorder, ADHD, and anxiety. She has experienced how difficult it is to “juggle” employment, appointments and the daily routine while trying to obtain resources in order to support her family. When her son was diagnosed with autism, she made the decision to become a stay at home parent so her son could receive in-home behavioral therapy. This also allowed her time to learn more about advocating for her children and really get involved in supporting other families going through similar situations.

She is a Partners in Policymaking (class 32) graduate, has attended many parent leadership trainings and workshops; she has volunteered as a support parent/note taker at IEP meetings for other families. She stays involved in her local schools Parent Advisory Committee meetings and is part of the county Human Services Advisory Committee.

Kelly has learned to step outside her comfort zone, ask questions and be a voice in order to help the next family traveling down this path. What began as a very lonely and overwhelming time in her life has become one of the most positive and rewarding and it all began when she connected with others who “just got it.”

Terri Boettcher
CONNECTED Program Manager, Southern Minnesota


Terri Boettcher lives in Southern Minnesota. She is a wife and mother to two beautiful adopted children one dog and two cats. Terri’s children have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, attachment issues, and anxiety. Terri enjoys spending time with her family and friends, watching movies, and shopping. Terri is a strong advocate for her children in all aspects of their lives. She continues to improve her parenting skills by networking and using resources, learning as much as she can about their diagnosis, staying active in their lives, and improving her self-care.

Before working with Family Voices Terri was a Speech Language Pathology Assistant for 15 years in an outpatient clinic in Mankato that provides physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy for kids from birth to 18. She graduated from Partners in Policymaking class in 2016. She has attended many state and national conferences, such as MOFAS and ATTACH, as well as other trainings in and around the state of Minnesota. Terri is active in the adoption community in the Mankato area and wants to spread her knowledge to all parents of kids with disabilities. She believes strongly that it takes a village to raise all kids, especially when they have special needs.

Jamie O’Conner
Outreach Coordinator


 Jamie O’Conner is the Family Voices of Minnesota Outreach Coordinator. She is mom to two children, 7-year-old Charlie and 9-year-old Norah. Norah is a bright, bubbly, musical, empathetic kid who was born with a rare genetic condition called Williams Syndrome (WS). Charlie is a curious, kind, sports-loving kid who is always on the go. When they join forces, Norah and Charlie are makers of great trouble and noise (and fun).

Before joining Family Voices, Jamie was a full-time mom and advocate. She is a Class 34 Partners in Policymaking graduate and has attended PACER workshops including Family Leadership Training. Jamie is a member of her local Special Education Community Advisory Committee (SECAC) and has a passion for advocating for inclusive education practices. For Jamie, the support and guidance from other parents in her journey as the parent of a child with a disability has been not just empowering but transformative. Many mentors have turned to life-long friends. Norah’s health, development and emotional well-being are immeasurably better because of the family support they have received along the way.

Jamie is a transplant to the Minneapolis area from the Carolinas and enjoys road trips exploring her new state. Her hobbies include reading, yoga, cooking, cake decorating and dance parties with her kids.

Debbi Harris, M.S., M.A., GCAS-Creative Writing/Narrative Medicine
Systems Specialist


When Debbi and Victor Harris’ son Joshua was born prematurely, subsequently experiencing lifelong complex medical needs and disabilities, the family learned to embrace a new normal—one that includes Josh in every aspect of life, valuing his unique contributions to the world.

Along her journey to become the best advocate possible for Josh and her family, Debbi has served on the board of The Arc Minnesota, becoming its first African American woman board chair, represented families on the bioethics committees of Children’s Hospital of Minnesota and Gillette Children’s Specialty Center, and worked with the Committee on Diversity for The Arc US. She serves on the Workers Advisory Group (WAG) for Paid Leave for All, is a parent leader with the Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs (CYSHCN) Research Network, and is a member of the QI Transition Team at Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, among other endeavors. Debbi is a graduate of Partners in Policymaking and, because of that enriching experience, she has volunteered to promote inclusion, community integration and human rights for persons with disabilities and complex health care needs for over 20 years.  Debbi has testified at legislative hearings, hosted home visits for state legislators and public officials, and met with many members of Congress—fueled by a desire to make the world a much more inclusive place for children with complex medical needs and their families.

Debbi has an M.S. in Health Science Administration, and an M.A. in English and Creative Writing, with a concentration in Nonfiction, Narrative Medicine. She has contributed to various publications, including Today’s Caregiver, Existere Journal of Arts & Literature, Kaleidoscope Magazine, a literary journal about disability, at, and JAMA Pediatrics.

Debbi will work on several special projects with Family Voices of MN, including partnerships with the Minnesota Department of Health, the Collaborative for Improvement and Innovation Network (CoIIN), the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare, and others.

Debbi loves music and plays classical flute to unwind.Through faith and the inspiration of Josh’s tenacity, Debbi has learned how to make the best of a joyful yet challenging life—twenty minutes at a time.

Kaylie Schmidt

Parent Support Navigator, Northwest Suburbs


Kaylie is wife to Scott and mom to 3 beautiful kiddos ages 12, 7, and almost 2. Between the 3 of them, Kaylie has experience with several diagnoses including Autism and mental health diagnoses. They keep life busy and so much fun as Scott and Kaylie try to keep up!

Kaylie’s professional background is as a pediatric RN in the NICU and triage. She loved caring for critically ill babies, but her favorite part was educating families on the care of their children. She is greatly looking forward to pairing her personal and professional experience to support families on their journeys of raising and advocating for their children with extra needs.

Joel Liestman

Parent Support Navigator, Twin Cities


Joel is the proud dad to a son with Williams syndrome, a rare, but fascinating genetic condition. After an unpleasant diagnosis meeting and the initial stress of months in the NICU, Joel decided to get involved with advocacy groups for the developmentally and cognitively disabled. He is the chairperson for the Upper Midwest region for the Williams Syndrome Association. He also serves as a Board Member for Partnership Resources, Inc., a Twin Cities-based service organization for adults with developmental disabilities. He’s been an actor and singer for over 25 years and loves having ties to an excited and supportive arts community of the Twin Cities. You can find out more information about him at

Elizabeth Marsh

Parent Support Navigator, East Central MN


Elizabeth Marsh lives with her husband, their two daughters, a golden retriever, four guinea pigs and many fish.  She and her family enjoy being outside, spending time with family and friends and camping.

Elizabeth has firsthand experience of personally being diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder.  Elizabeth is passionate about advocating for individuals with disabilities.  She has a child that has multiple diagnoses including a rare genetic disorder along with Hydrocephalus, Cerebral Palsy and cognitive delays.  Elizabeth has spent time in the medical field and is a Licensed Practical Nurse.  She enjoys meeting new people, helping others and is excited to offer support to families.

Elizabeth completed the Charting the LifeCourse Ambassador Series in the spring of 2021 and enjoyed learning the tools to help families achieve their envisioned best life.