Julie Baumgardner, Board Chair
For 23 years, Julie Baumgardner was part of the First Things First (FTF) leadership team, serving 19 of those years as President and CEO. In January 2021, Julie took on a new role as the Senior Director of WinShape Marriage for the WinShape Foundation.
During her time at FTF, the award-winning nonprofit dedicated to strengthening families in Chattanooga, Tennessee, generated model duplication efforts nationwide and garnered international attention for its outstanding leadership in family, marriage and parenting issues.
As a passionate advocate for helping people have healthy relationships, Julie reached hundreds of thousands each week through her Chattanooga Times Free Press column and as host of JulieB TV, a YouTube-based talk show that focuses on all things relational. A frequent speaker to local and state groups, Julie currently serves on the Chattanooga Women's Leadership Institute board, and the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce's Leadership Chattanooga curriculum committee.
Often in the spotlight, Julie currently chairs the board for the National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education. She has presented at the White House Conference on Helping America's Youth, testified on Capitol Hill about the benefits of marriage, and speaks nationwide on topics related to strengthening marriage, fatherhood and families. Internationally, Julie has presented at the World Congress for Families in Amsterdam and at the International Smart Marriages Conferences. Because of Julie's marriage and family expertise, she is broadly utilized as a consultant by communities and agencies, and is a sought-after-speaker and retreat leader. Julie's tireless efforts have been recognized across the globe. Her many honors include: the International Smart Marriages Impact award, NARME VIsion and Leadership award, the Chattanooga Bar Association Liberty Bell award, the American Lung Association Woman of Distinction award and 2017 Chattanooga Manager of the Year award.
Julie and her husband, Jay, have been married since 1989. They are the proud parents of a daughter, Ashley. Julie enjoys gardening, horseback riding, cooking, working with children, mentoring couples and baking.
Joneen Mackenzie, Vice Chair
Joneen is the President and Founder of the Center for Relationship Education in Denver, Colorado. She's the lead author of the nationally-acclaimed REAL Essentials curriculum and has certified over 10,000 educators to empower their students. Joneen Mackenzie graduated from University of Texas' School of Nursing and is a former 1st Lt. in the USAF Nurse Corps. Her credentials in public health make her a valued member of national boards leading the discussion on public policy and health standards in schools. Joneen is the mother of 4 grown children and has a special knack for starting belly laughs in her grandchildren. She loves traveling with her husband, Bruce, and experiencing new cultures and traditions around the world.
Richard Albertson, Treasurer
Richard Albertson is the Founding President of Live the Life, a statewide, faith based non-profit organization dedicated to strengthening marriages and families. Founded in 1998 and headquartered in Tallahassee, Florida, Live the Life has regional offices in Ft. Lauderdale, Jacksonville, and Panama City, FL. Richard is a co-Founder and Board Treasurer for the National Association for Relationship and Marriage Education (NARME), and he authored NARME’s charter in 2010, which has been signed by community leaders and practitioners from 28 states to date. Florida Governor Rick Scott appointed Richard to the Florida Faith-Based and Community-Based Advisory Council in 2013, and fellow Council members elected him Chairman in 2017. He previously served as Chairman of the Florida Commission on Marriage and Family Support, Chairman of the Florida Commission on Responsible Fatherhood, and Board member of the National Abstinence Education Association.
Since Live the Life launched in 1998, the divorce rate in Leon County has dropped 48%, more than double the drop in the Florida divorce rate during the same time. After Live the Life launched its Community Marriage Initiative in Jacksonville, FL in 2015, two Independent Research studies, one from Florida State University and another from the University of Virginia, documented a 28% reduction in the divorce rate in Duval County. Brad Wilcox, lead researcher for one of these studies, stated “As family scholars, we have rarely seen changes of this size in family trends over such a short period of time. Although it is possible that some other factor besides COFI’s intervention also helped, we think this is unlikely.”
Jacqualine Thomas, Board Member
Jacqualine Thomas currently works as a Team Lead, Community Readiness Consultant at the Hurlburt Field Airman & Family Readiness Center. As a Certified Family Life Educator, she values and actively promotes the practices and principles of relationship education. She is the Cofounder/ Co-Pastor of R.E.L.A.T.E. Ministries in Milton Florida.
Carl Caton, Board Member
Carl Caton is the President of the San Antonio Marriage Initiative. He is a business owner, having operated a real estate company for forty years. He serves on the board of NARME, as well as UnicitySA, an organization whose mission is to unite people, ideas, and resources for the faith community in San Antonio. Carl is a student of community mobilization methods including collaboration, collective impact, asset mapping, community listening, trust building, asset mobilization, empowerment, and strategic resourcing. He is the husband of Kelli, his high school sweetheart, the father of two wonderful kids and three grandkids.
Patty Howell, Ed.M., A.G.C., Board Member
Patty Howell is President of Healthy Relationships California. Patty has been with Healthy Relationships California (HRC) since its founding in 2005, and has been integral to its growth as one of the most prominent Relationship, Parenting, and Marriage Education organizations in the country. During this time, HRC has received Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Federal grants amounting to more than $30 million, through which they have developed a statewide network of instructors who have taught more than 200,000 participants, developed numerous best practices in the field of Relationship Education, and conducted numerous studies on program impact including the country’s largest multi-year, multi-program, multi-site outcome study (N= 17,407).
With graduate degrees from Boston University and Washington University in St. Louis, Patty’s career started in Counseling Psychology before she moved into training. She and her late husband, Ralph Jones, have taught relationship skills, health promotion, and other psychosocial education programs in 15 countries around the world, and are the co-developers of the World Class Relationships family of curricula. Patty is also the author of numerous other professional publications including the award-winning “Healthy Marriage” series of research booklets.
Originally from Martha’s Vineyard Island, Massachusetts, Patty has lived in the San Diego area since 1975.
Alan Hawkins, PhD, Board Member
Alan J. Hawkins, PhD, is a professor and director of the School of Family Life at Brigham University in Provo, Utah. He earned a PhD in Human Development and Family Studies at Pennsylvania State University in 1990. Professor Hawkins’ widely-cited scholarship focuses on educational interventions and policies to help couples form and sustain healthy marriages and relationships and to help fathers be deeply involved in the lives of their children. He has been intricately involved in state and federal policy efforts to strengthen families. In 2002-2003, he was a visiting scholar with the Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE), Administration for Children and Families, working on the Federal Healthy Marriage and Responsible Fatherhood Initiative. He is the past-Chair of the Utah Marriage Commission.
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