Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees, led by Chair Walter Howard Smith, Jr., is responsible for ensuring that the varied assets of Casey Family Programs are effectively used in support of the organization’s objectives and purposes. The board works with the president and chief executive officer to develop and review existing and proposed programs, as well as to promote strategic partnerships across the United States.
Walter Howard Smith, Jr., Ph.D., Chair
Walter Howard Smith, Jr. joined the Board of Trustees in September 2018 and became chair in June 2021. He is retired from the Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Department of Human Services (DHS) in Pittsburgh, where he served as the DHS clinical director and the deputy director for Children, Youth and Families. Previously, Smith served as executive director of Family Resources, a private nonprofit organization that prevents and treats child abuse in the Pittsburgh region. Smith is a licensed psychologist with a private practice that specializes in treating children, couples and families. He is the founding member of the Western Pennsylvania Family Center. LEARN MORE>>
Joan B. Poliak, MSW, Vice Chair
Joan Poliak has been a Casey Family Programs trustee since 1982 and currently serves as vice chair. Ms. Poliak began her career as a social worker and retired from Wellspring Family Services in Seattle as the director of family education and support services, with a strong emphasis on homeless children and families, outreach services and preventive education. She has served on prominent boards, including the Child Welfare League of America, Marguerite Casey Foundation, and the King County Commission for Children, Youth, and Families. In 2015, Grantmakers for Children, Youth and Families recognized Ms. Poliak with the Fred Rogers Leadership Award in Philanthropy for Children, Youth and Families. In October 2016, Casey Family Programs’ Seattle field office, which provides direct services to youth in foster care, was renamed the Joan B. Poliak Seattle Field Office for Casey Family Programs.
America Bracho, MPH, CDE, Secretary
America Bracho, a recognized expert in Latino health issues and public health, joined the Casey Family Programs Board of Trustees in January 2008. She is the executive director and founder of Latino Health Access, a community-based center working to provide health services and create healthy communities. Located in Santa Ana, California, the center was started to assist and engage low-income members of the local Latino community, especially those with multiple needs.
Sharon L. McDaniel, PhD, EdD, MPA, Treasurer
Dr. Sharon L. McDaniel was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Casey Family Programs in 2005. She is the founder, president and CEO of A Second Chance, Inc., the nation’s leading nonprofit voice on kinship care. Throughout her career, she has worked to improve opportunities for children in foster care. Before founding A Second Chance, she was a child protective services caseworker, a child welfare and permanency services administrator and a director of adoption services. She also is an alumna of foster care.
Benjamin Danielson, MD
Dr. Benjamin Danielson joined the Board of Trustees in November 2022. Dr. Danielson is a pediatrician and clinical professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington School of Medicine. He previously worked as the medical director of the Odessa Brown Children's Clinic at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Dr. Danielson is known throughout Seattle as an advocate for underserved children and families, working to increase access to health care and fighting against racial inequities. Dr. Danielson’s service to the community includes chairing the Governor’s Interagency Council on Health Disparities, co-chairing the Governor’s Task Force on creating an Office of Equity, serving on the boards of Amara Adoption and Foster Care Services and the Center for Children and Youth Justice, and directing Allies in Healthier Systems for Health & Abundance in Youth (AHSHAY) to help address and prevent youth incarceration.
Karen Jones joined the Board of Trustees in November 2022. Jones retired in 2014 from Microsoft, where she held the role of vice president, deputy general counsel of HR Legal, and then briefly served as the interim legal director for the ACLU of Washington in 2015. Before working at Microsoft, Jones served as the managing principal for the law firm Riddell Williams P.S., where she worked for 26 years. Jones’ community engagement includes serving on the board of directors for YouthCare in Seattle since 2006 and as its board chair. She has also served on the board for Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), has represented unaccompanied minors in immigration proceedings and is a “big sister” with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America. Jones is also a leader on the Grants Committee and the Grantee Engagement Committee for the Washington Women's Foundation, where she has been involved since 2006.
Lance G. Morgan
Lance G. Morgan, president and chief executive officer of Ho-Chunk, Inc., joined the Board of Trustees in September 2018. An enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Morgan founded Ho-Chunk, the tribe’s economic development corporation focused on creating nongaming economic development opportunities for the tribal community. Morgan was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House in 2011 and serves on the Board of Trustees of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. He is a partner at one of the nation’s leading Native American-owned law firms, Big Fire Law & Policy, and is an adjunct professor at Arizona State Law School. Morgan earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Nebraska and graduated from Harvard Law School. He is a member of the Minnesota Bar Association. He also has served in the U.S. Army Reserve.
Doug Patejunas joined the Board of Trustees in September 2016. He retired in 2014 after 30 years with Aon Hewitt Investment Consulting, where he served as lead investment consultant to a number of foundations and other not-for-profit organizations. His commitment to volunteer work has included serving as a longtime court-appointed special advocate for children in the child welfare system in Cook County, Illinois. Patejunas has also served on a variety of boards. He has a B.S. degree in finance and economics from the University of Illinois at Chicago and an M.B.A. degree in finance and statistics from the University of Chicago.
Eric Pettigrew joined the Board of Trustees in November 2022. Pettigrew’s diverse experience includes various levels of government, the private sector and the nonprofit sector. In addition to the 18 years he served in the Washington House of Representatives, he has worked for Gallagher Consulting and Regence BlueShield of Washington. Currently a private consultant, he most recently served as vice president of government relations and outreach for the National Hockey League’s Seattle Kraken. Pettigrew previously served as deputy chief of staff for public safety to former Seattle Mayor Norman Rice. Pettigrew, who has a master’s degree in social work, also worked as a recruiter to increase diversity in the University of Washington School of Social Work and served as the former director of the Minority Youth Health Project. An adoptive father himself, Pettigrew has three adult children.