Tia Aery has more than 10 years of nonprofit management experience working with homeless and at-risk families. Prior to re-joining Family Promise of Essex County, Ms. Aery was the Executive Director of Family Promise of Greater Orlando, where she has led the effort to implement a “best practices” approach to ending family homelessness. Called “Housing First,” this approach has seen great success in both rural and urban areas across the country. Under her leadership, Family Promise Orlando has tripled the number of families served annually. Prior to that, Ms. Aery was the Florida Regional Development Director for the national office of Family Promise. Determined that “every child should have a safe home,” Tia has dedicated 20 years of her life to helping homeless families recover from the crisis of homelessness. Ms. Aery, served on the Board of Trustees and then as Executive Director in Essex County from 2001 to 2013.
Ms. Aery attended Colgate University where she received a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology. She received a Certificate in Business Management for Nonprofit from the Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business in Orlando, Florida.
Director of Social Services
Kelly Curry is a Licensed Social Worker with more than 12 years of experience working in various social services settings. Prior to joining the FPE team in September 2020, Kelly managed a subsidized housing program specialized for individuals transitioning out of State Psychiatric Hospitals or homeless shelters. Kelly has worked with individuals and families who experience a serious and persistent mental health diagnosis, chronic homelessness, or cyclical poverty. Additionally, Kelly worked as a Mental Health Counselor providing individual and group therapy to adults, adolescents, and children in an Intensive Outpatient Program. Kelly is a lifelong resident of Essex County and studied at Seton Hall University before achieving a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of New England in Maine.
Kathleen Rios has 16 years of experienced in the Social Service field. She has worked for Catholic Charities for six years servicing low-income individuals and families with housing stabilization and rental arrears and utility stabilization. Prior to working at Catholic Charities, she worked at Children’s Aid Society with Intensive Preventive Services, partnering with ACS for children suffering from abuse and neglect. She worked for five years and gain experience with mental health, child abuse and neglect, substance abuse (DV) domestic violence and homelessness. She was born and raised in New York and have lived in Essex County for 16 years. Kathleen says, “My goal is obtaining my Maters Degree in Social Work, which I am currently enrolled. I want to continue to work in the community, servicing individual & families.”
Manager of Community Engagement / Circles Coordinator
Melissa Perales joined the FPE team in April 2020. Prior to working for FPE, she worked as Lead Trainer and Advocate Supervisor for CASA of Essex County coaching volunteer advocates as they worked with children in foster care and their families. Melissa has over 15 years of supervisory experience and 12 years of non-profit experience. Melissa worked as the Program Director at The Bowery Mission Women’s Center in New York City and as the Executive Director of a long-term, residential women’s recovery program in Pennsylvania. Melissa has a long history of volunteering, primarily working with women and children experiencing homelessness. She currently leads an activity group at her church in Montclair.
Director of Development
Danee Sarman joined FPE in 2019 with experience in a non-profit development setting specializing in planning and executing fundraising events and building donor relations. She wants every day to be an opportunity to make a positive change in the world. Prior to joining FPE, Danee was the Foundation Coordinator at the Princeton Medical Center Foundation and a Development Assistant at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, which has given her a diverse knowledge of fundraising initiatives. Danee holds a Master of Arts Degree in Museum Studies from University of Oklahoma.
Dana M. Smallwood
Dana M. Smallwood joined the Family Promise of Essex team in 2021 and is an exceptionally hardworking and meticulous Human Service Professional with over 20 years of experience, a stellar client satisfaction record and superb attention to detail. Dana was employed with Irvington Neighborhood Improvement Corporation for 10 years as a social service Aide and ultimately the Municipal Alliance Coordinator focusing on youth prevention program development. She has also been employed by NCADD-NJ as an Assistant Care Coordinator and Gateway Family Services YMCA of Elizabeth as a Case Manager. Dana is adept at crafting family service programs carefully tailored to individual client needs and is passionate about human services. Dana is the Founder of Naturtude LLC, Co-founder of Urban Citizen Advocacy Association and Abraham Smallwood Publishing LLC, all businesses that focus on empowerment of the disenfranchised community through advocacy, art, and literature. Dana’s motto is “Why not me?” and she proudly lives amongst the population she serves.
Jacquelin Datiz joined the Family Promise of Essex in April 2022. Jacquelin is a compassionate community service professional with a history of exemplary service delivery. Jacquelin earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. She takes great pride in connecting with the population she serves. Jacquelin was previously employed at Oasis, A Safe Haven for Women and Children in Paterson, NJ. She was also employed at Catholic Charities Hope House in Dover, NJ as a Rapid Re-Housing Case Manager. Jacquelin is excited about her undoubtedly lifelong career in social services and is committed to providing the best service experience possible to all she encounters along her journey!
Chanel, a graduate of Thomas Edison State University, she had the pleasure of working for corporate America at a Fortune 500 company which started her on her path to working with children and families. Chanel has spent more than 15 years working with vulnerable children and families. In addition to having been a CASA Volunteer in both Essex and Bergen counties and working as a caseworker with the Department of Child Protection and Permanency, she is a certified drug and alcohol counselor who has served as a family advocate and educator with the Family Support Organization, a facilitator with RWJ Barnabas Institute for Prevention and Recovery, and with The Center for Alcohol and Drug Resources/Children’s Aid and Family Services, all opportunities to be part of the prevention, treatment and recovery process, reaffirming her belief the best way to see change is to be change through advocacy and support. Chanel’s grant-funded work with the Central Jersey Family Consortium as a Perinatal Opioid Project Consultant included training and presenting on Opioid Use Disorder among pregnant women.
Dorothy “Dottie” Wright
Dorothy “Dottie” Wright joined Family Promise of Essex in 2022 as our volunteer Administrative Aide. Dottie retired after an exemplary career of 32 years as an Office Manager at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) in Newark, NJ. She is excited to contribute her many years of experience and expertise to the population we serve.
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