by: Bill Nunnally

Case manager's corner is Chief Quality & Performance Officer, Bill Nunnally's forum in which
to recognize various employees from case management organizations for their outstanding work.

Jesse Ottesen of Gulf Coast is considered by his team to be an all-around awesome Case Manager! He is very family oriented and it reflects in his work. On one occasion, he flexed out a day earlier in the week so he could work on a Saturday to transport 6 children to their mother who was in a drug treatment program with her newborn 4 hours away so they could all see/bond with mom and their new sibling. He took pictures and provided those to the mother as a reminder of why she needed to stay clean and sober. He has been able to connect with fathers that that previously had little involvement with their children. Some had just given up on being reunified with their children. He is empathetic but he is also very honest with his parents. Jesse is a Pastor also and he offers a little biblical humor to his team members. You epitomize the work we’re trying to do, Jesse…..keep it up!!

Becky Distler of OHU is a great case manager to start with, however the work that she has done on the one of her cases is over and above!  Even though she has encountered some outside resistance, Becky has been working diligently to get this child home to her father.  She has maintained her professionalism under pressure and kept the child’s and the father’s best interest in mind.  She drove all the way to Everglades City to complete a home study due to the complex nature of this case and the child’s complex needs.  She did this to ensure that all of the caregivers concerns were addressed and that the child would be safe in the home.  She also worked with the father to make sure the child’s needs for understanding and acceptance would be met by not only the father, but the school system.  She worked with the father to make sure the child would receive the counseling she would need after reunification.  The father’s home was destroyed during Irma and he has had to relocate to Sebring.  Now Becky is working to get him set up in a home in Sebring.  This has been a long and difficult case and Becky has shown true professionalism throughout.  You rock, Becky…..this is life changing work for this family.

HFC reaches out to CMOs every preservice class to bring a bio parent that has been reunified with their children to come share their story.  One Hope United, CM Theron Tucker brought a parent on 10/6.  This parent talked about her 30 year addiction to meth and being involved with the system for years.  She talked about during the DCF days, staff did not care.  She was handed referrals and that was the only help given.  No one treated her like a person and cared to hear her story much less help her.  Although she referenced that she understands child safety is first, no one took the time or cared.  It was not until she started working with staff at One Hope United that she saw things were going to be different. One Hope United cared and went above and beyond to help her with every need that she had.  They saw her as a person and did not judge her for the things that she has done in her past.   After spending a year in jail, she attended two residential treatment centers and successfully completed both.  She has been clean for 18 months and has been reunified with her children.  Her case is on track to be closed in December. One of her goals was to see her children graduate from high school and she was proud to say that one will be graduating this year and she will be able to be a part of it.   Speaking at preservice was the first time she has shared her story in public.  She found it to be so therapeutic that she has requested that she be able to speak at classes ongoing.  She made such an impact on the class that trainees stated that her story has inspired them to want to do this type of work.  Amazing work on this case by the OHU team…….this should inspire all of us.


Albert Sullivan of Neighbor to Family has continuously demonstrated what it means to be a good team player.  It doesn’t matter how far away a client lives, Albert is always willing to help out a fellow FCM as well as the clients. Recently, an NTF Supervisor had to assign an urgent case and contacted Albert to see if he could meet with the family ASAP. Albert was scheduled to be off that day, however, he answered his phone and even answered in a pleasant manner! Albert responded that he did not mind opening the case in such short notice and would re-arrange his schedule. Albert assists his co-workers as needed for vacation coverage.  Albert always offers to go out with other staff if they don’t feel comfortable going out to a home alone.  These are just a few of many examples that show Albert is not only a reliable team member but exhibits a pleasant and positive attitude.

Albert is constantly looking out for the safety and well-being of his co-workers.  For example, the NTF Bartow office has 3 separate suites; doors remain locked for safety reasons.  Sometimes you will hear someone “messing” with the door on the outside of any of the 3 suites.  If you peek out the window to see who it is – it is Albert!  He goes out of his way to make sure that all doors are locked for the safety of his co-workers.  Any time you mention Albert’s name to a community partner, it will bring a smile to his/her face as he is very highly regarded in this community. Albert, you are a great representative for your team and an example to all of us!

Shada Tobie has been a member of Children’s Home Society since April of 2017.  Ms. Tobie has proven to be an asset to the agency as she has demonstrated an ability to engage her families in a manner that allows them to build a rapport with her. She makes herself available to her clients when they are experiencing difficulties. Having only been out of training for approximately 60 days, she has adapted to her role as Dependency Case Manager with ease and has dealt with some more difficult situations.  Recently she was involved with a very complex case, and it was apparent, upon review, that she gave the case and the family, the time and attention required to be considered quality Case Management. In fact, she was praised for her hard work with the case and positive impact on the family. The HFC system and your tam are lucky to have you Shada….glad you’re here.




Comments about Berlendah Gadson from attorney Richard Harris: “I want to commend Berlendah for her performance at the hearing on Latasha Benavides’ motion to modify placement of the children, which started Monday and concluded this afternoon.   Berlendah was thorough, well-prepared, and demonstrated a deep knowledge of the case and everything that has gone on in it.  During her ruling Judge Pincket specifically pointed out Berlendah as a professional who has done a wonderful job on this case under sometimes trying circumstances and who has done everything required of her to assist the mother and the children, even going above and beyond what was required in her efforts to help this family.  I concur with the Judge’s assessment.  Berlendah has shown herself to be a thorough professional in all the cases I have with her and I could not be happier with her work.  Two thumbs up! “  

From attorney Treveno Tarpley:  “We just had an MBI hearing for Cassidy Lewis. Berlendah's testimony was flawless. She knew her case inside and out. She testified so fluidly that the Judge even commended her on how well she knows her cases. I was proud she was my witness. I usually adduce evidence of the grounds for TPR and MBI factors. I can often use GAL for a lot the testimony in these hearings, but their report was a "little skinny" on details, so Berlendah had to address all the MBI factors. She was an example to case managers of what we as lawyers expect them to be able to do at a hearing like this. Thanks Berlendah.”

Wow, Berlendah! Very few case folks in this business can impress the Court like that. Way to go!!

Here are some comments from attorney Rizpah Butler-Brannon about Karla Diaz. Karla is a new trainee just out of the last training class and Rizpah had this to say:  “Karla Diaz did an AMAZING job yesterday in Judicial Reviews.  I covered the Burnham/Moore case with her and she did a phenomenal job!  I’m sure you all are aware of the father in the case. He came in the hearing room upset regarding his visitation with his children.  Karla was able to explain the circumstances of the visitation and how it will be corrected in the future. I just want to commend her for a job well done and to let you all know (I’m sure you are already aware) that you have a gem of a case manager in Karla. In addition, the Magistrate (Robin Matis-Jackson) stated to me off the record that she thought she was a “really good” case manager.”

What a way to start off your work in the circuit, Karla! Looks like we really do have a “gem” out there serving our families…..we’re lucky you’re here.