STATE OF CONNECTICUT CHILD ADVOCATE: JAMEY BELL
Jamey Bell was appointed Child Advocate for the state of Connecticut as of November 2012. She has 30 years experience as an attorney and policy advocate representing the interests of children and families in a broad array of systems including child welfare, health, education and family economic security.
From 2008 to 2012 she was Executive Director of Connecticut Voices for Children, where she worked on health, education, child welfare and tax and budget issues, and led the organization's legislative advocacy. She engaged in policy research and data analysis, advocacy, community education and coalition-building to promote policy reforms that support children and families.
Jamey was an attorney at Greater Hartford Legal Aid for 26 years, concentrating on legal issues affecting the well-being of low-income children and families, including health care policy and access, education, child welfare and immigrants' rights. She was lead counsel in successful class action litigation to require the Connecticut Department of Social Services to provide adequate dental care to children in the Medicaid program.
Jamey Bell has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Michigan and a J.D. degree from Northeastern University School of Law.
ASSOCIATE CHILD ADVOCATE: MICKEY KRAMER, MS, RN-C
Mickey Kramer, MS, RN, joined the Office of the Child Advocate on July 1, 1998. Initially hired as an Assistant Child Advocate, she was promoted in 2004 to the position of Associate Child Advocate. Prior to 1998, Mickey worked for the Department of Children and Families as a Regional Resource Group nurse, consulting on childrenís health issues in the regional office. Earlier in her career, Ms. Kramer worked for many years in the community as a maternal-child health specialist.
As Associate Child Advocate, Mickey oversees and manages the child focused operations of the OCA, including ombudsman activities and much of the office's investigatory work. She represents the Child Advocate on numerous committees, work groups and task forces charged with examining and improving the delivery of state funded services to children. Mickey is frequently invited to speak to professional, student and citizen groups on topics related to child health, safety and well-being in CT.
Mickey graduated from Saint Joseph College in West Hartford with a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and earned a Master of Science degree in Nursing from the University of Connecticut.
ASSISTANT CHILD ADVOCATE: JULIE McKENNA
Julie McKenna joined the Office of the Child Advocate as an Assistant Child Advocate in July 1999. Previously, she was employed by the State Department of Children and Families as a Childrenís Services Worker at Riverview Hospital for Children and Youth. Julie serves as the lead responder for the OCA to the public when there are concerns regarding the provision of state funded services to children. She assists those who contact the office in understanding and navigating complex public systems, and assesses each concern for possible violations of policy, law or best practice standards.
Ms. McKenna is a graduate of the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.
ASSISTANT CHILD ADVOCATE: HEATHER PANCIERA
Heather Panciera joined the Office of the Child Advocate in December 2001. Heather serves as the lead for OCA on matters related to children, youth and young adults in residential facilities and congregate care settings, including investigating concerns regarding the provision of state funded services and supports by the Department of Children and Families, Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and Department of Correction. She advocates both for the individual needs of children, youth and young adults, and for necessary systemic reforms to help these systems be more effective, efficient and accountable.
Prior to joining OCA, Heather worked for 10 years at the Department of Children and Families.
Heather holds a Bachelors degree from the University of Connecticut School of Family Studies.
ASSISTANT CHILD ADVOCATE: FAITH VOS WINKEL, M.S.W.
Faith Vos Winkel joined the Office of the Child Advocate in July 2001. Faith serves as the lead for the OCA on matters relating to child fatality review and prevention. She convenes the Connecticut Child Fatality Review Panel (CFRP) each month which reviews all unexpected and unexplained child deaths. Faith is the Child Advocate's prinicipal investigator on any in-depth child fatality investigation requested by the CFRP, the Governor, the General Assembly or conducted at the Child Advocate's discretion.
Child fatality reviews focus on the examination of systems and opportunities to improve policies and practices to prevent additional tragedies from occurring. Faith's focus on prevention includes participating in many statewide groups including the Statewide Suicide Advisory Board, the Domestic Fatality Review Board, the Child Poverty and Prevention Council, the Teen Safe Driving Coalition, the Garret Lee Smith Grantee Steering Committee, the School Climate Working Group and the Connecticut Interagency Restraint and Seclution Initiative. Faith has also been involved in numerous child death review initiatives on a national level.
Prior to working at OCA, Faith worked at the State Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities for 15 years, advocating for the rights of persons with disabilities.
Faith holds a Bachelorís degree from the University of Connecticut and a Master of Social Work from the University of Connecticut School of Social Work.
ADMINISTRATIVE ASSISTANT: SHARON DEXLER
Sharon Dexler joined the Office of the Child Advocate in August 2007, after serving several years as Center Administrator of the A.J. Pappanikou Center for Developmental Disabilities, located at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Sharon's office management and administrative skills are vital to ensuring maximum efficiency and effectiveness of the Office of the Child Advocate. Ms. Dexler received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Central Connecticut State University majoring in both political science and public administration.