Office of the Child Advocate Staff

Cassandra Sanchez Child Advocate

picture of Cassandra Sanchez, Child Advocate

Cassandra Sanchez was appointed as the second Child Advocate for the State of New Hampshire in April 2022. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a M.A. in Community and Social Psychology, both from UMass Lowell. In Spring 2021, she received a certificate in Multicontextual Trauma from Simmons University. Cassandra brings with her an expertise in child welfare from the MA Department of Children and Families, with a specialty in kinship care, as well as a background in mental health care. She has a passion for working with children from all backgrounds, empowering them to speak out, and making certain their voices are heard. By establishing strong working relationships and collaboration with state agencies, legislature, community partners and the governor’s office, Cassandra will seek to ensure protection and advocate for the best interest of children across the state. In her leisure time, Cassandra enjoys being active outdoors, going on hikes, paddle boarding, and taking scenic drives through the granite state from the coast to the snow-capped mountains. Although she currently resides in Massachusetts, she is eager to move her family across the border to New Hampshire.

Lissa MascioAssociate Director & Counsel

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Lissa Mascio joined the Office of Child Advocate in March 2023 as the Associate Child Advocate. She grew up in New Hampshire and has a B.A. in Journalism & English from the University of New Hampshire. After working for several years in nonprofit advocacy and marketing in Vermont, including advocacy for runaway and homeless youth, Lissa attended Hofstra Law School. Since becoming an attorney, Lissa has spent time practicing in both Arizona and New Hampshire, working for a time in private family law and litigation practices, and in public child welfare and child protection services, representing both the State and parents. Most recently, Lissa has done legislative and policy work for the NH Department of Corrections, and prosecuted felonies with NH Employment Security and the NH Attorney General’s Office. Lissa is thrilled to be joining the Office of Child Advocate, to bring together her passion for child welfare and her love of legislative and policy work, to help make systemic change for the most vulnerable children and families in New Hampshire. Outside of that important work, Lissa enjoys time spent with her daughter, community theater, and traveling.

Jason Taylor Assistant Child Advocate

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Jason Taylor joined the NH Office of the Child Advocate in March of 2020 as New Hampshire's first Assistant Child Advocate. He holds a B.A. from UMass Lowell. Jason brings to the team 15 plus years of experience within child welfare, having previously held positions in the Division of Children, Youth and Families. As Assistant Child Advocate, Jason's focus is working directly with children and all involved parties to ensure that their concerns regarding the system are addressed. The relationships he has built, extensive knowledge of child protection and juvenile justice, and passion for helping youth in New Hampshire bolster the mission of the NH Office of the Child Advocate. In his free time, Jason is a musician and enjoys spending time with his family and friends.

Jennifer Jones Assistant Child Advocate

Jennifer Jones joined the Office of The Child Advocate in December of 2022 as Assistant Child Advocate. Jennifer has a B.A. in Sociology and Communication from Keene State College. She brings 17 years of experience in Child Protection Services and Advocacy in both the public and private sector. She began her career as a Clinical Coordinator working with children placed in specialized foster care in the Boston metro area. Returning to NH, she joined the Division for Children, Youth and Families as a Child Protective Services Worker. During her 11 year tenure as designated Child Forensic Interviewer and Program Coordinator for the Child Advocacy Center in Nashua NH, Jennifer met with nearly 2,000 children who were identified as possible victims of child abuse and/or neglect and worked diligently with her multi-disciplinary team to promote justice for victims both criminally and civilly. Jennifer is dedicated to affording people the opportunity to be heard and growth within the systems that serve children her in New Hampshire. In her free time Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, being outdoors, and traveling.

Christopher SheehanChildren’s Services Analyst

NHOCA

Chris Sheehan joined the NH Office of the Child Advocate in July of 2021 as the Children’s Services Analyst. Chris obtained his B.S. in Meteorology, minor in Technical Mathematics from Plymouth State University. In his position, he coordinates the collection, analysis, and reporting of data to assess the performance of state and state-funded child serving agencies and programs for children’s best interests. His analytical and data skills from past positions as meteorologist, and director of marketing, combined with a determination to do meaningful service has positioned him well as part of the team. When not at work Chris is usually playing in the mountains on his snowboard or mountain bike.

Karen Kimel Office Coordinator

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Karen Kimel is the Office Coordinator for the OCA and was the first employee after the Child Advocate was appointed. She earned her A.A from New Hampshire Technical Institute and is a Certified Public Manager. With more than 20 years' experience in supervision, training, and advising the public, municipalities and state entities on various programs, her role in office operations is to manage a small office with the same needs as a large department. This includes financials, travel, budget, and various other administrative tasks, working closely with the Department of Administrative Services, to which the OCA is administratively attached. As a New Hampshire native and long-time public servant, she is inspired every day by the hard work and heart each team member gives to the children of New Hampshire each day.

Caitrin PerryLegal Aide

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Caitrin Perry earned her B.A. from Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. She is currently working on her Masters of Social Work from Capella University, where she is the Secretary for the Capella University Social Work Club. As the Office’s Legal Aide, Caitrin is on the front line in data collection, bringing issues and trends in incidents to the Child Advocate’s attention. She researches child-related scientific and professional literature for use in legal case and system reviews, reviews complaints by the public, agency personnel and other constituents concerning alleged violations and compiles information from children’s records, service contracts, agency policy and procedure, and statutes for use in preparation of legal case and system reviews. With her busy, blended family of seven, Caitrin enjoys spending free time at the lake and going on surprise adventures exploring New England. She is reminded daily how precious childhood truly is.

Makenzie MarrLegal Secretary

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Makenzie Marr joined the Office of The Child Advocate in February of 2023 as the Legal Secretary. She holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice Administration and an M.S. in Psychology, both from the University of Phoenix. Since a young age, Makenzie knew she wanted to work with children, advocating for their best interest and ensuring their safety. Makenzie has volunteered as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), worked as a mental health worker supervising and supporting children struggling with mental illness, and as an assessment worker in the child welfare system. Makenzie has met with many children and their families from all different backgrounds to ensure child safety and provide resources to address their needs. Makenzie continues to advocate for children while dedicating more time to focus on her journey providing a safe and loving home as a new mother and a licensed New Hampshire foster parent.

Melanie WallisPublic Relations Representative & Training Officer

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Melanie Blackman Wallis joined the team in November 2023 as the first Public Relations and Training Officer for NH Office of the Child Advocate. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with a BA in Creative Writing and English in 2014 and an MFA in Fiction Writing in 2016. She is currently pursuing a BS in Public Health with a minor in Psychology from Rivier University. Melanie has an extensive background in creative writing, communications, and editing. She looks forward to putting her passions for storytelling and public health to work to bring awareness to the amazing work that the Office does for children across her home state. In her free time, Melanie loves to create–whether it's through painting, cross-stitching, writing, or baking.