Miriam Mohamed – Chapter Director
Before joining ONCAC, Miriam Mohamed served as Coordinator of Kids’ Place, Licking County’s accredited child advocacy center, and Kids’ Team, a multidisciplinary team that responds to child abuse, from November 2012 until December 2016. As a member of Kids’ Team, she provided case coordination and victim advocacy services to all child victims and their families. Miriam previously served as the Program Director of Girls Inc. of the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area before moving overseas to volunteer with the Education Development Center on a United States Agency for International Development-funded youth development program. Miriam received a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies from Goshen College in Goshen, Indiana.
Colleen O’Connor – President
Coordinator, Summit County Children’s Advocacy Center
Colleen O’Connor is the coordinator of the Summit County Children’s Advocacy Center which is located within the Children at Risk Evaluation (CARE) Center at Akron Children’s Hospital. Her responsibilities include maintaining interagency cooperation and coordination in the case management and review of child sexual abuse allegations that occur in Summit County. Utilizing her B.S. degree in Secondary Education from The University of Akron, Colleen also provides education on Human Trafficking, Shaken Baby Syndrome and is a trained facilitator for the “Stewards of Children” child sex abuse prevention program. Employed by Children’s Hospital for over 35 years, she has been in her current position since the launch of this program in 2000. Colleen is a founding member of ONCAC, has held several offices and has served on many committees.
Lisa DeGeeter – Vice-President
Executive Director, Harcum House
Wendy Holt – Secretary
Coordinator, Clark County Child Advocacy Center
Wendy Holt is the administrator of the Clark County Child Advocacy Center (CAC) that provides a multidisciplinary team response to the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child sexual and severe physical abuse cases. Wendy earned a bachelor’s degree in Human Services Administration at Antioch University’s McGregor School and a master’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Cincinnati. Wendy has spent over 26 years in the child welfare field. Prior to becoming the administrator of the CAC in 2011, she worked in varying roles which include social services worker and supervisor at Clark County Family & Children Services. Wendy has also served as a Human Services Program Administrator at the Ohio Department of Job & Family Services. In addition to her role at the CAC, Wendy is an authorized facilitator of Stewards of Children curriculum for adults.
Rhonda Wurgler – Treasurer
Executive Director, Children’s Center of Medina County
Rhonda currently serves as the Executive Director of the Children’s Center of Medina County. At the Center, she has launched a number of successful programs and events, including facilitating the effort for the Center to obtain status as a nationally accredited Child Advocacy Center with the National Children’s Alliance. As a result of her work at the Center, Rhonda has won recognition and a number of awards, including the 2014 Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International. Prior to work at the Children’s Center, Rhonda worked in Medina County as a Deputy Sheriff, Volunteer Firefighter and as a board member with a number of organizations. Her current list of organizations where she serves as a committee member, participant or board member include, 100 Plus Women Who Care, Medina County Family First Council, Medina County Coalition Against Human Trafficking, Domestic and Sexual Abuse Coalition, the Columbus-based Ohio Network of Child Advocacy Centers and as Chair of the Youth Advisory Consortium. Rhonda holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration, both from University of Akron, and certificates in bookkeeping and Microsoft Access Database management.
Becky Opel – Member at Large
Coordinator, Kidz First Children’s Advocacy Center
Becky Opel is the Coordinator of Sexual Assault Services based with The Nord Center, a comprehensive mental health agency located in Lorain Ohio. She is a graduate of Youngstown State University with a Bachelors in Social Work and is a Licensed Social Worker. Becky has experience in working with children, teens, and families, first through the school system, Jobs and Family Services, as a Guardian Ad Litem and then with the Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC) in 2005. In 2013, she became administrator of the Lorain County Rape Crisis Center as well as the Sexual Assault Care Unit in addition to her duties with the CAC . Throughout her career, she has served as an administrator, grant writer, social worker, forensic interviewer, educator, team coordinator and mentor. She has served as a member of the ONCAC board for the past few years.
Julie Oates – Member at Large
Executive Director, The Child Protection Center
Julie Oates is the Executive Director for The Child Protection Center of Ross County, a Child Advocacy Center and coordinates services for children and families impacted by sexual and physical abuse. The Child Protection Center is a 501 c3 and serves the South Central Ohio region. As a trained forensic interviewer and professional clinical counselor with Supervisory endorsement, she brings a diversity of strengths to her current role in child advocacy. In 2013, Julie co-founded and serves as chairperson of the Ross County Coalition to End Human Trafficking. Prior to her current position with The Child Protection Center, Julie served as a child and adolescent therapist in a community mental health center and a mental health technician for an inpatient psychiatric unit. Julie obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, earned her Master’s of Education in Clinical Counseling and is currently attending Ohio University for her Doctorate in Counselor Education. In addition to her various roles at The Child Protection Center, Julie works as an independent trainer and consultant with foster care agencies. Likewise, she provides on-going educational services to area schools, foster care agencies, and local community organizations. She is a recognized presenter on a local, state, national level, and international level.
Jody Richter – Member at Large
Law Office of Jody Richter, LLC
Jody Richter, after achieving top scholastic status through her educational levels, received her Juris Doctor from The Ohio State University, Moritz College of Law in 1998 and was admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1999. Her career includes serving as Assistant Licking County Prosecutor in Newark, Ohio, where she was an active member of Licking County Kids Team. Her tenure also included addressing Marketing and Compliance concerns in a privately owned medical products company; as well as, legal representation and corporate compliance for a multimillion-dollar medical management company serving in excess of 200 employees over a 30 state territory. Her determination and dedication to ‘make a difference’ has returned her to Newark where she currently maintains a private practice. Her strong work ethic and passion to work with youth is demonstrated profoundly as she serves as a Court appointed Guardian ad Litem for Licking County Common Pleas Court, Juvenile and Domestic Relations Division; dealing with situations from neglect and abuse to family solidarity. Jody proudly accepted her appointment to ONCAC and will strive to help ‘make a difference’.
Erin Riha – Member at Large
Huntington Bancshares Inc.
Ms. Riha is currently a Senior Internal Auditor with Huntington Bancshares Incorporated. She previously worked for JP Morgan Chase & Co. from 2012 to 2015 in Columbus, Oh as a Compliance Officer and Know Your Customer (KYC) Analyst.
Paula Sawyers – Member at Large
Licking County Prosecutors Office
Paula Sawyers has been an attorney for over 23 years. For the last three years, she has served as an assistant prosecutor with Licking County for the last 3 years. During this time, she has prosecuted numerous child abuse cases. Paula has also worked as in-house counsel for both Stark County Department of Job & Family Services, Children Protective Services, and Wayne County Children Services, where she prosecuted the child abuse and neglect cases for those counties, and served as the Chief Assistant Prosecutor, Juvenile Division, for the Summit County Prosecutors Office. Paula also served as a magistrate for the Ashtabula County Juvenile Court for several years, and worked as a legal consultant for the Geauga County CASA program. Throughout her career, Paula has been actively involved in the CAC’s of all of these counties, including being involved in the founding and formation of the Wayne County CAC. She has provided numerous trainings locally, countywide, and statewide on legal issues involving child physical and sexual abuse and the prosecution of these cases.
Teresa Wiles – Past President
Manager, Michael’s House
Teresa Wiles is the director of Michael’s House Child Advocacy Center in Greene County. She is a 30-year employee of Dayton Children’s Hospital and a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a degree in Child and Family Development, and earned her Master of Social Work from the University of Cincinnati. Teresa has a vast experience in working in children’s advocacy centers, and working with the pediatric community and child abuse victims. Throughout her career, she has served as an administrator, social worker in the emergency department, forensic interviewer, educator, team coordinator and mentor. She has been a member of ONCAC since its inception.