Three experienced professionals have joined the staff of Jewish Family Services in key positions: Porsche Elkins, JFS developmental disability specialist; Naomi Kaplan, JFS’ clinical manager; and Sarah Ferguson, coordinator for the Greater Kansas City Mental Health Coalition (GKCMHC).
Porsche Elkins oversees this new Intellectual and Developmental Disability Services to assist in developing goals and linking families to professional resources that are developmentally appropriate. With a bachelor’s degree in community-based services from Doane University, Porsche has been working with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). She served in various settings including the public schools and group homes. Most recently, Porsche worked as a support coordinator at Developmental Disability Services of Jackson County—eitas.
“It’s very exciting to be at the beginning of this great new program,” Elkins said. “We hope to help people reach goals that ultimately lead to them living full and meaningful lives.”
Naomi Kaplan works directly with clients as well as providing clinical oversight for other JFS therapists. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Denver. Her father taught at the University of Denver and worked with JFS in Colorado. In Naomi’s childhood home, social justice was an important concept.
“As a child I volunteered for Head Start, went to South America to immunize kids against measles, and had many other wonderful opportunities to help others. I knew early on that social work would be my chosen profession,” Kaplan said.
Sarah Ferguson will continue the work of the GKCMHC, which launched in 2014 to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illness. Today, the Coalition has more than 20 members working together to decrease the stigma by encouraging open and healthy conversations. Sarah has long been passionate about mental health and suicide prevention.
“I am excited to work on reducing stigma around mental illness in our community,” Ferguson said.
Sarah has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas and is currently working on a master’s degree in fundraising management at Avila University. She is also active in the Jewish community serving on the board of directors for Congregation Kol Ami and the Young Professionals Advisory Board for Jewish Vocational Service.