Joseph E. Ribsam Jr., Esq.
Lisa von Pier
Kara P. Wood
Elizabeth W. Bowman is DCF’s Assistant Commissioner of the Office of Performance Management and Accountability.
In this role, Bowman serves as a member of the department’s executive management team, and is responsible for providing leadership to the development and implementation of performance improvement and accountability work across the divisions and offices of the department.
Bowman has direct oversight for DCF’s Office of Performance Management and Accountability, which includes all quality assurance and program evaluation, information technology and reporting, child fatality and near fatality case practice reviews, child abuse investigations in institutional settings, and licensing operations for adoption, children’s residential treatment, and child care centers.
Since 2010, Bowman has been DCF’s director of Quality. Prior to joining DCF, Bowman worked as the Assistant Director – Office of Child Welfare Initiatives at the Rutgers University School of Social Work, Institute for Families; and Program Manager for the NJ Child Welfare Training Partnership.
Bowman also worked for DCF from 2006 to 2007 as a Training Manager for the NJ Child Welfare Training Academy. She began her career working for the New Jersey Department of Human Services (DHS), holding a variety of positions primarily in the field of educational program development.
Bowman earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Drew University in Madison, NJ, and a master’s degree in Social Services from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania. She is a licensed clinical social worker with experience working in the non-profit arena in programs serving primarily women and children prior to her state service.
Director, Office of Communications and Public Affairs
Kristine Brown is the director of Communications and Public Affairs for the Department of Children and Families (DCF). In this role she is responsible for promoting DCF program objectives and initiatives to the general public, local officials, legislators, stakeholders and the media. Kristine is the chief advisor to the Commissioner and senior staff on all matters involving the press and media.
Prior to joining DCF, Kristine was director of Public Relations at Barnabas Health, New Jersey’s largest health care system, where she created and executed media relations plans and PR strategies for several of the system’s acute care hospitals. Additionally she was responsible for internal and external communication programs, including publications, digital media, advertising and direct marketing initiatives. As hospital spokesperson and key liaison to the media, Kristine built and nurtured professional relationships with members of the press, establishing trust and confidence with local, state and national journalists.
Kristine has also served as director of Communications at Thomas Edison State College in Trenton where she utilized a variety of tactics to communicate with key publics including the news media, students, alumni, corporate friends and staff.
Kristine is a graduate of Monmouth University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and Journalism, and a master’s degree in Corporate and Public Communication with a concentration in crisis communication.
She belongs to the Jersey Shore Public Relations and Advertising Association, and is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Strand Theater in Lakewood, NJ.
Jeffrey J. Guenzel, MA, LPC is the Deputy Commissioner for Programs and Services at the Department of Children and Families. In this role, he oversees the Divisions on Women, Family and Community Partnerships, Children’s System of Care and the DCF Office of Education. Previously, Mr. Guenzel was the director of the Division of Child Behavioral Health Services where he provided oversight to the statewide child behavioral health system of care including a wide range of community based services, inpatient units, and residential treatment facilities.
Before joining DCF, Mr. Guenzel was the Executive Director of the Partnership for Children of Essex, the State’s largest Wraparound Care Management agency. Mr. Guenzel was the inaugural Executive Director of the Partnership for Children of Essex. He led the organization to become the State’s first Unified Care Management (UCM) organization successfully bringing together both the high and moderate levels of child behavioral health care management under one integrated program. Prior to serving at the Partnership for Children of Essex, Mr. Guenzel was a Clinician Supervisor and Program Director at UMDNJ’s University Behavioral Health Care overseeing many programs including crisis services, mobile response, rape care and domestic violence services, partial care services, and other related programs.
Mr. Guenzel earned his Bachelor’s degree in psychology and his Master’s degree in Counseling from Montclair State University. He is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and has specialized in child and family services, suicide and violence prevention and intervention, post traumatic stress, and system of care implementation. Mr. Guenzel has been a leader in the development of a child behavioral health system of care model in New Jersey and has served as an advisor for the National Wraparound Initiative.
Director, Children’s System of Care
Elizabeth Manley, LSW is the Director for the Children’s System of Care. In this capacity Ms. Manley has direct oversight of the statewide child behavioral health, substance abuse and development/intellectual disabilities systems. This includes a wide range of community base services, inpatient units and residential treatment centers.
Prior to joining DCF Ms. Manley was the CEO of Caring Partners of Morris/Sussex, Inc., a Care Management Organization (CMO) specializing in working with youth with complex behavioral health challenges. Prior to this position, Ms. Manley worked for Capitol County Children’s Collaboration, the Mercer County CMO, as the Director of Operations, since it’s inception in 2002. She came to that position after spending 15 years at SERV Behavioral Health, in various positions with her final position at SERV as the Director of Children’s Services for SERV Behavioral Health.
MS. Manley earned a B.S. degree in Health Education from William Paterson University and a M.S.W. from Rutgers University in New Brunswick.
Assistant Commissioner, Legal, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs
Joseph E. Ribsam Jr., Esq. is the Assistant Commissioner of Legal, Regulatory and Legislative Affairs. In this role, Joe serves as the primary point of contact between DCF and the Attorney General’s Office, the Administrative Office of the Courts and the Public Defender’s Office, the Governor’s Policy Office, the Office of Counsel to the Governor, the Governor’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, legislative offices and the Office of Legislative Services. He also oversees legislative affairs, policy and regulatory development and modifications, and all legal liaison work between the divisions and offices of DCF and the Attorney General’s Office. Mr. Ribsam also serves as the Northeast State representative on the Executive Committee of the National Association of Public Child Welfare Administrators.
Previously, Mr. Ribsam served as DCF’s Director of Policy and Legislative Affairs where he was the department’s primary liaison to the Governor’s office on matters regarding policy, legislation and intergovernmental affairs as well as legislative offices and the Office of Legislative Services. In that role, Mr. Ribsam testified on behalf of DCF before legislative committees regarding legislation of significance to the Department. He also managed the department’s legislative services including tracking, reviewing and advising on the impact of proposed legislation and responding to inquiries from legislative offices. In addition, he directed the department’s policy development.
Upon joining DCF in 2008, Mr. Ribsam served as a legal specialist within DCF’s Office of Legal Affairs where he provided general legal review and guidance to executive staff regarding a range of issues such as: preparation and implementation of new legislation, regulations, and policy; compliance with federal and state mandates; drafting and reviewing Final Agency Decisions; the operation of the department-run regional schools; and the impact of precedential court decisions on policy and practice.
Mr. Ribsam has also worked in private practice where he focused on family law and related matters. He completed a clerkship in the Middlesex County Family Court in New Brunswick. Before earning his juris doctorate from Rutgers School of Law – Newark, Mr. Ribsam taught English at Dunn Middle School in Trenton. He earned a bachelor’s degree in History/Secondary Education from The College of New Jersey in Ewing, NJ.
Chief of Staff
Barbara Rusen is the Chief of Staff for the Department of Children and Families overseeing Administration and Legal Affairs; Grants Management, Auditing and Records; Communications and Public Affairs; Advocacy; Child Welfare Training Academy and Partnership; and Information Technology.
Ms. Rusen brings over 20 years of experience in developing strategic plans, models, processes, needs assessments, curriculum, and evaluation components that result in producing effective organizational products and services. Prior to coming to DCF, Ms. Rusen was the Acting Director for the Institute for Families at the School of Social Work at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey where she has organized, developed, interpreted, and managed policies for remote offices throughout the state that lead to the increased service capacity and stability of human service professionals ensuring that children and their families receive all available support services.
Along with Ms. Rusen's commitment to children and families in New Jersey, she has been actively involved in collaborating with other state and national agencies highlighting New Jersey’s diverse needs while leveraging work perspectives and efforts from other agencies. Ms. Rusen has been an educator, guest speaker, committee member, and child advocate at state and national conferences and meetings such as National Child Support Enforcement Agency, National Judicial Task Force, New Jersey Child Support Conference, Judicial College, and National Staff Development and Training Association, serving as a resource for other similar programs and initiatives that enhance children and family services.
Ms. Rusen's personal academic achievements include a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Management, Project Management Critical Skills Certificate, and a Master's Degree in Education.
Robert Sabreen is the Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Children and Families where he provides leadership on inter-departmental efforts and is responsible for the overall administration and management of the Department’s $1.5 billion budget. As Deputy Commissioner, he oversees Policy and Legislative Affairs, Child and Family Health, Educational Support Services, Budget and Revenue, and DCF Contracting and the five Business Offices.
Previously, he served as the Assistant Commissioner overseeing the Department's fiscal operations and Child Health Operations. Prior to this, he served as DYFS Deputy Director for Business Operations, supervising the Budget Office and five Area Business Offices which contract with agencies to provide services for the Division’s families.
Mr. Sabreen has more than 35 years serving New Jersey’s children and families. He began his career in state government as a DYFS caseworker and has held various positions such as County Service Specialist, District Office Manager, Regional Administrator and Special Assistant to the DYFS Director.
Mr. Sabreen earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Pittsburgh and a Master of Social Work from Rutgers University.
Director, Office of Adolescent Services
Jessica Trombetta, LCSW is the Director of the Office of Adolescent Services. The Office of Adolescent Services is a Department level office focused on prioritizing the needs of youth who are aging out/aging in, ensuring that DCF staff has the resources they need to service these youth, and building strong collaborative partnerships with other stakeholders and advocates serving these youth.
Most recently Ms. Trombetta served as an Associate Director at Family Connections Inc. where she supervised community based programs and a therapeutic afterschool program that provided case management and clinical services to at-risk children, adolescents, older adults, and families. In this role, Jessica gained extensive experience in working with youth involved with DCF, including DCP&P (formerly DYFS) and CSOC (formerly DCBHS). Additionally, Ms. Trombetta has provided direct clinical services and case management as well as clinical and programmatic supervision.
Jessica earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Ithaca College and a Master’s Degree in Social Work with a concentration in Direct Practice to Children and Families from Rutgers University. She is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and clinical supervisor with extensive training regarding children and adolescents with complex trauma and family systems theory.
Assistant Commissioner, Director of Division of Family and Community Partnerships (formerly DPCP), Acting Director of Division on Women
Lisa von Pier is the Assistant Commissioner serving as the Director of Family and Community Partnerships and Acting Director of the Division on Women. Previously, Lisa was the Director of the Division of Family and Community Partnerships, which oversees a statewide network of child abuse prevention programs to strengthen and support families. She also oversaw the transition of the Division on Women from the Department of Community Affairs to DCF. Lisa brings a wealth of child welfare experience to her post. Most recently she served as the DYFS Deputy Director for Case Practice where she led a team solely dedicated to the implementation of improved case practice.
Previously, she served as the DYFS Area Director for the Burlington/Mercer Area Office where she also led two of the case practice immersion sites. Prior to that, she held a supervisor's position within the Division of Prevention and Community Partnerships, where she supported seven counties in beginning prevention initiatives. Lisa has worked on child abuse and neglect cases for the state and Monmouth County judiciaries, and worked for a non-profit agency serving adolescents. While at the Administrative Office of the Courts, Lisa was the Family Division's representative to the Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect and has served on its Prevention Subcommittee for many years.
Director, Division of Child Protection and Permanency (formerly DYFS)
Kara P. Wood is the Director of the Child Protection and Permanency (DCP&P), the State’s child protection agency. Most recently, Ms. Wood served as the DYFS Chief of Staff where she was responsible for the operational management of the division and its 5,000 employees and for managing all reporting aspects of the federal consent decree. Previously she served as the Department’s Chief of Staff with responsibility for the daily operations of DCF and advising the Commissioner on strategic planning, crisis management and communication, and policy.
Prior to joining DCF, Ms. Wood served as the Director of Project Management at the New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety, where she created and managed a grants management office and improved coordination of department resources. She has also served as Director of Communications for the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs and Director of Communications and Policy for the New Jersey Department of Community Affairs. In both positions, she was responsible for communications with media, outreach, speech writing, and advising on strategic planning, crisis management and media relations.
Prior to moving to New Jersey, Ms. Wood served as the Deputy Director of Public Affairs for the United States Department of Justice, and the Director of Communications for the National Partnership for Women and Families in Washington D.C. Wood began her career in public service as Deputy Press Secretary to United States Senator Paul S. Sarbanes.
Ms. Wood graduated Cum Laude from Georgetown University, with a B.S. in International Politics and a minor in African Studies.