The Road Home


The Road Home staff. Together, our case managers have over 65 years of experience working with homeless families in Dane County.

photos by Kim Upton


Kristin Rucinski, Executive Director | • 608-294-7998 ext 302
Kristin serves as the Executive Director at The Road Home, working with a team of 20 staff members to help develop programs that follow national best-practices to end family homelessness. In this role, she is very involved in partnership with other community groups. She chaired the Homeless Services Consortium Shelter Providers Committee from 2014-2018. After being on United Way of Dane County’s Basic Needs Community Solutions Team for several years, she currently serves on their Vision Council and is also an agency representative on the advisory board for Numbers 4 Nonprofits.

Kristin received her master’s degree in social work in 2007 at The University of Wisconsin-Madison and has been working at The Road Home since that time in various positions. She’s been the executive director since 2012. Kristin believes that children, families and communities are all stronger when we have more families in stable housing. She believes in The Road Home’s vision: every child deserves a home.

Peggy Halloran, Development Director | • 608-294-7998 ext 311
Peggy brings with her 25 years of nonprofit fundraising and communications experience. As Development Director, Peggy oversees The Road Home’s annual fundraising program including the Homes for Families Breakfast, event sponsorship, individual and corporate giving, grants and appeals. She works with the development committee, board and staff to identify prospective donors and develop strategies to cultivate those relationships. Peggy received her bachelor’s degree in journalism and master’s degree in mass communications from Drake University. Peggy has served on the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Madison Chapter Board of Directors and co-chaired the Chapter’s Philanthropy Day. She continues to be a member of AFP as well as a member of Madison South Rotary. She has been with The Road Home since 2013.

Peggy feels fortunate to work for an organization that has a positive impact on children and their families. She is continually amazed by the resiliency and determination of families who come to The Road Home, and by the commitment of staff to providing long-term housing solutions.

Sheila Kirschbaum, Business/Development Coordinator | • 608-294-7998 ext 301
As the Business and Development Coordinator, Sheila coordinates The Road Home’s events and major fundraiser as well as the creation and printing of agency publications and marketing materials. In addition, Sheila manages business and office administration, donor communication and documentation, and general office operations.

Sheila has a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. She has been at The Road Home since 2013 and has worked in the non-profit and social services field for more than 12 years. Sheila believes homelessness can have long-term effects on children’s behavior, brain development, health, well-being and ability to be productive members of society. She enjoys working for a healthy non-profit that is making a difference in the lives of children and families.

Diane Speich, Human Resources | • 608-294-7998 ext 301
Diane has worked with The Road Home since 2015. She brings with her 30 years of experience in the human resources field, with 20 years of that working with nonprofit organizations. Diane received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.

Diane has always believed employees are an organization’s greatest asset. She is happy to work for an organization that truly appreciates and respects its employees. She enjoys helping employees by answering questions, problem solving and, most importantly, listening.

Case Managers

Melissa Mennig, Program Director | • 608-294-7998 ext 314
As the Program Director, Melissa helps to develop, oversee and manage all of The Road Home’s housing programs. She supervises the case managers, works with agencies to develop strong partnerships, and represents The Road Home in multiple capacities in the Dane County Continuum of Care. She serves on the Continuum of Care Core Committee, the Homeless Services Consortium (HSC) Board of Directors and also chairs the HSC Membership meetings.

Melissa received her undergraduate from Clarke College and her Master’s of Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has worked for The Road Home since 2008 and has served in her role as Program Director since 2015.She loves working with strong, resilient families, compassionate case managers and leaders in our community who are all passionate about ending homelessness. She enjoys the collaboration of coming together to think creatively and constantly improve services to ensure every child has a home.

Justin Burton, Rapid Rehousing  & House-Ability | • 608-206-9586
In his role as a case manager, Justin’s objective is to support families in their efforts to stabilize housing. Justin graduated from Our Lady of The Lake University with a master’s degree in social work. He’s a Certified Advanced Practice Social Worker in the state of Wisconsin and has four years of  experience working with families and youth, including one year at The Road Home.

What Justin enjoys most about working at The Road Home is the ability to work with dedicated families who, like many of us, have personal struggles but lack some of the resources that could help them succeed. He works hard to create an environment where everyone can reach their goals and feel a part of their community.

Dominique Q. Christian, RISE Rapid Rehousing, Housing Advocate  | • 608-206-9583
Dominique works in collaboration with The Salvation Army as a housing advocate for the RISE program, a one-year Rapid Rehousing Program designed to assist with temporary financial burdens while empowering people to become self-reliant through personal recovery plans, strength-based strategies, and encouragement. Dominique began her position at The Road Home in 2018 while earning her bachelor’s degree in social work with a minor in political science. With her background as a Certified Peer Support Specialist, Dominique has experience supporting people with mental health struggles, psychological trauma and substance use.

Dominique chose to enter this field because she believes that while there are many people passionate about this work, there aren’t enough people of color who share commonalities and similar experiences with the many of the clients being served. She believes her lived experience helps her be effective in supporting and advocating for others in their recovery process.

Olinka L. Clark, Rapid Rehousing | • 608-294-7998 ext 307
As a case manager at The Road Home, Olinka is responsible for providing case management to families that are housed through the Rapid Rehousing Program. Olinka has a Bachelor’s of Science in criminal justice, with a minor in psychology, and is currently working towards her Master’s of Science in social work. She has worked at The Road Home since June 2016, but began working as a housing case manager a year before that. She is also the founder and president of the Madison Association of Black Social Workers.

Olinka loves the opportunity to advocate for families who aren’t always able to advocate for themselves. Her favorite part of her job is seeing the excitement on families’ faces when they are able to move into new housing. Olinka’s own lived experiences as a woman of color and someone who has experienced homelessness and the hopelessness and despair that can come with it, helps her connect to the families she serves on a more personal level and work with them to reach their goals.

Elizabeth Hendrickson, Housing & Hope | • 608-235-6853
Elizabeth came to The Road Home in 2017 after earning her Master’s of Social Work from Aurora University. She works as a case manager at Housing & Hope, a permanent supportive housing program that provides on-site case management for families experiencing high barriers to housing. She also works closely with the education coordinator to help ease barriers of education for the children, allowing them to thrive not only in school, but in their futures as well. Prior to working at The Road Home, Elizabeth worked in case management for 5 years with individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as street outreach with homeless individuals. She has also worked supporting survivors of sexual assault, doing violence prevention in schools, and providing hospice care and bereavement services.

Elizabeth was born down the street from where Jane Addams went to college, so she likes to say she was destined to do this work! She loves being able to work closely with families at the Housing & Hope site, as well as working with other community organizations to create a flourishing neighborhood.

Qiana Holmes-Abanukam, Education Coordinator | • 608-535-0330
Qiana helps families build partnerships and become better advocates for their children in the schools and surrounding community, while also making referrals and connecting them to services. She is part of the Homeless Education Network, Superintendent’s Human Relations Advisory Committee and Early Childhood Homeless Workgroup as well as the committee organizer for the Infamous Mother’s: Talk Back Conference. Qiana graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater in social work. She’s worked at The Road Home since 2014 and has been in the education field six years longer than that.

Qiana chose to work in education because she wanted to plant seeds of success to help youth make better choices. She has come to believe that we must first support families in order to strengthen youth. She enjoys working with families, mentoring youth and giving them a voice in their lives so they can control their destiny.

Helyn Luisi-Mills, Heart Room and Bilingual Housing Specialist | • 608-608-235-3875
Helyn has worked at The Road Home for two years, helping families who are exiting shelter or have recently been homeless. She supports families in getting settled into their new homes, restoring credit, supporting their children in school as well as assisting with job searches and housing stabilization. Helyn also works with Spanish speaking families.

Helyn has a Master’s of Science in human ecology; program evaluation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Throughout her career, she has helped families connect to community resources in the midst of difficult situations. She enjoys the networks and partnerships that come from working with hundreds of volunteers, a variety of staff and other community partners. She loves being part of closing gaps in health and economic disparities.

Georgie Nazos, The Breese | • 608-235-3959
Georgie works on-site at The Breese Supportive Housing Program, The Road Home’s newest  housing program, providing case management to families. She supports families in maintaining their housing and achieving their self-identified holistic goals. She also serves on a staff program committee, on the Housing and Health Care Integration Initiatives, and with the Affordable Housing Action Alliance.

Georgie received her master’s degree in social work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009 and has been working at The Road Home as a case manager in a variety of programs since then. She began her work in the social services field in 2005, working at neighborhood centers in Madison and also has experience in medical social work. Georgie is drawn to this field because she believes housing is a human right and necessary for families and communities to be successful.

Brittany Neal, Housing & Hope | • 608-253-7916
Brittany works with families in a permanent supportive housing model, providing case management to ensure families have an equitable opportunity to achieve and maintain their goals. She received her Bachelor’s of Arts in Psychology and Human Service in 2014 from Upper Iowa University and is currently completing her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin with a graduation date of May 2019.

Brittany believes the attributes of empowerment, empathy and acceptance are essential for a healthy community. As a strong advocate of the importance of representation in the development of a community, Brittany uses personal and educational experience to bring a holistic approach and connect with those she works with.

Dana Palmer, Second Chance Apartment Project | • 608-294-7998 ext 304
As a case manager, Dana works to support families so they can successfully stay in housing. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in social work from the University of Iowa in 1979 and her master’s degree in art therapy from the University of Southern Illinois in 2000.

Dana has worked in the social services field for many years. She has experience working in domestic violence shelters, with mentally ill individuals in a work setting, in a day center for individuals with dementia and for Rock County’s Child Protective Services department. She has worked for the Road Home for nearly 13 years. Dana enjoys that each day is different. She particularly enjoys playing with kids and seeing them grow.

Belinda Richardson, Program Coordinator | • 608-206-5423
Belinda received her master’s degree in rehabilitation psychology in 2012 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and obtained her LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) certification in 2016. She began working at The Road Home in 2013, helping families who were literally homeless find housing as well as working with families already in housing to maintain that housing. In her current role, she is involved in service coordination and program development and evaluation.

Belinda has had an interest in this type of work ever since she was a child. Her grandmother was a strong local activist in our community when Belinda was young. She took Belinda to her first protest and told her that as a person of color, she had to work together with others to break down walls. Belinda loves helping families become stable and being part of reducing racial disparities.

Jenna Schmitt, House-ability | • 608-294-7998 ext 309
Jenna is a case manager for a scattered site program that serves families whose head of household has a disability. She also co-chairs the Education and Advocacy Committee for the Dane County Homeless Services Consortium. Jenna sits on the Community Plan Oversight Committee and co-chairs the Planning Committee for the Youth Homelessness Summit.

Jenna received her Bachelor’s of Arts in social welfare from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2012 and her Master’s of Social Work, with a concentration in mental health, in 2017. She is a certified Advanced Practice Social Worker and Substance Abuse Counselor in Training in the State of Wisconsin and has completed the Motivational Interviewing Certificate Program at the University of Wisconsin Division of Continuing Studies. Jenna has worked in the field for five years and at The Road Home for three years. What Jenna likes best about what she does is witnessing how extremely resilient the families and children she works with are and being part of reducing the trauma that children experience in our community.

Zach Stephen, Case Manager | • 608-294-7998 ext 303
Zach works with families in The Road Home’s housing programs to help them find stable housing as quickly as possible. Once in housing, he continues to assist the families in reaching goals they set for themselves and in maintaining their housing.

Zach graduated with honors from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in social work and has worked in the field since then. He has been at The Road Home since 2016. Zach’s favorite part of his job is moving day. There’s nothing he finds more exciting than watching a family move into a new place they can call home.


Amber Thompson, Rapid Rehousing | • 608-235-7916
Amber works with families in a permanent supportive housing model, providing holistic client centered case management to assist families in reaching their goals and maintaining housing. Amber received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and psychology. She worked for several years as a shelter case manager before joining The Road Home in 2017. Amber is also a certified yoga teacher with an emphasis on trauma-informed practices. She uses her background to help families build resiliency around trauma responses and to manage stress triggers.

Amber loves building relationships with the families she works with. She believes wholeheartedly in the housing first model, an approach that quickly connects families to permanent housing without creating any preconditions. She believes that housing is a human right and enjoys working with families to steer their own journey and achieve goals they set out.

Program Staff

Alane Conn, Volunteer Manager | • 608-294-7998 ext 306
Alane fills two roles at The Road Home. As the volunteer manager, she helps volunteers support the organization’s mission by matching them with rewarding volunteer opportunities that focus on supporting families in housing. As a Housing Stabilization case manager, she works with families to maintain housing and achieve their goals. Alane received her bachelor’s degree in social work from Upper Iowa University and became a licensed social worker in 2008. She worked at The Salvation Army of Dane County as a shelter case manager for six years and at the YWCA-Madison for five years as a member of their front desk staff before starting at The Road Home in 2010.

What Alane loves best about her job is meeting and interacting with people across the community—both families being served by The Road Home and volunteers—who share similar dreams for themselves and their community and who are working in their own way to make sure every child has a home.

Takisha Jordan, Programs Assistant | • 608-294-7998 ext 312
Takisha provides administrative support to staff as well as program participants by connecting them to resources within the community. She is currently working toward her Bachelor’s of Science, double majoring in human services and psychology.

Takisha has been employed with The Road Home for six years. Currently, she is the Vice President of the Homeless Services Consortium Board of Directors, sits on the FEMA Board of Directors and serves on other committees within the community. Takisha’s own lived experience gives her unique insights into the issue of homelessness and enables her to relate to the families served by The Road Home.

Ralph Holmes, Facilities Maintenance Coordinator | • 608-294-7998
As the facilities maintenance coordinator, Ralph maintains a clean, safe and comfortable work environment. He does this through custodial cleaning, maintaining supplies and inventories, making repairs, detecting and correcting any hazards, and coordinating contracted work when it is required.

Ralph earned his associate degree in applied science supervisory management degree and later received a Home Inspection certificate. He has gained experience doing custodial work at Lake Edge UCC and handyman work at an apartment building. Ralph’s career with The Road Home began as the transport driver for the families in shelter in 2011 and included occasional repairs to the office facilities and equipment. He transitioned to his new position in April 2018. He is currently enrolled at Madison College in the facilities management certificate program with expected completion by May of 2019. Ralph enjoys his contribution of maintaining the building and work environment, allowing The Road Home team to concentrate on doing their important work.