Our Staff

The greatest asset Focus House can offer youth is our dedicated and superior staff.

Staff are selected not only for their education qualifications, but  also their experience in the field and commitment to helping at-risk youth.  Further, our comprehensive policy and procedure manual dictates our high expectations and needs for personal conduct, confidentiality and on-going evidence-based training.  

All staff members are trained in CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention), CPR, First Aid, Cultural Sensitivity/Diversity, Cognitive-Behavioral approaches and interventions, and DCFS Mandated Reporting.

In short, you can trust Focus House staff members to have the education, experience and passion to make a real and significant difference in the lives of the youth  placed here, and, that the children will be treated with respect and concern for their well-being. 

Meet Our Staff

Brenda Mason, LCPC
Focus House Director
Brenda head shotMrs. Mason grew up in Ladd, IL and graduated from Spring Valley Hall High School in 2001. From there she attended Western Illinois University and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration in 2005.  Following that, she began her career as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor at Bridgeway in Monmouth, IL.  In 2008 she moved to this area and began working at Sinnissippi Centers in Oregon while attending NIU, subsequently obtaining her Master’s Degree in Counseling.  During her tenure at Sinnissippi she helped launch New Horizons Ogle County Drug Court and was the treatment provider for Drug Court clients.  Brenda continued working at Sinnissippi as a Behavioral Health Services Clinician until 2015 when she joined Focus House as the Clinical Supervisor.  Mrs. Mason was named Focus House Director in July 2018.

Katie Whitmore MSW, LSW
Clinical Supervisor
K.Whitmore headshotMrs. Whitmore graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology.  Katie  started her career at an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center for adolescents. She worked as a truancy officer for Rockford Public Schools before moving to working with youth in foster care.  Katie  also facilitated a Life Skills program for teenagers in foster care before joining the Focus House team in December 2014 as a Residential Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer. Katie  since obtained her Masters of Social Work in May 2018 and was named the Clinical Supervisor in July 2018.
 

Joe Shaw
Residential Supervisor
Joe cropped
Mr. Shaw graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2003. He began his career as a Residential Treatment Specialist at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois in Nachusa in 2004 then went to Focus House in 2005 as an Adolescent Treatment Specialist.  He transitioned to Ogle County Court Services as an Adult Probation Officer in 2007 where he worked for eleven years.  In 2018 he was named Residential Supervisor at Focus House.


Janice Prusator
 Head Teacher
Janice P.Mrs.  Prusator was raised in a southwest suburb of Chicago and then graduated with a BA in psychology from Knox College, where she met her husband Todd. Together they have two grown children, Alexandra (Chicago) and Grant (Indianapolis). After a year and a half traveling the country in sales, Janice went back to school for her master’s degree in special education. Her first teaching job was in Polo, IL. She then taught for a year each in Monmouth, IL, and in the Rochelle Elementary district before being hired by Rochelle Township HS to teach at Focus House, in 1991. Throughout the last 28 years, Mrs. Prusator has taught a wide variety of classes in subject areas like English/language arts, social sciences, math, the arts, and consumer economics here at Focus House. She says she can’t imagine a better teaching job in the country. “Here, building relationships among students and staff to positively impact the living and learning environments, and to build student resilience is not just a possibility; it is a priority.”

Michelle Aldridge, R.N.
Focus House Nurse
MicheleA graduate of Kishwaukee College’s Nursing Program in 2008, Michele  first worked at Focus House for the summer of 2012. Michele joined Focus House full time in 2013. Michele has lived in Ogle County for the past 32 years, moving to Illinois from Alaska.




Becca Moser

Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer
Ms. Moser attended the University of Illinois-Springfield (formerly Sangamon University) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education/History, and completed graduate studies in Public History.  Ms. Moser spent nine years working with DCFS clients at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois before joining the Focus House staff in 2001. She first served in the role as the House Manager/Probation Officer at Focus House and moved to the Farm House in 2002 as the Residential Counselor.  Ms. Moser enjoys being able to serve the youth of Ogle County and beyond. 

Chandler Farris
Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer
Chandler for websiteMs. Farris received her Bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, where she majored in biology and minored in psychology. During her time at Marquette she worked for campus security and helped build programs to increase student access to safe rides and safe walking escorts. After graduation she chose to continue her work with young adults as a Life Skills Counselor for Harmony Transitional Living Program on Chicago’s south side. While there she helped homeless youth learn to live independently and access the social services they needed.  She also proposed and implemented several changes to the case planning policies and subsequently was able to increase group attendance and youth participation at Harmony’s outreach events. In the Spring of 2018 she initially joined the Focus House team as a House Manager, becoming familiar with the organization and the County. After spending the summer of 2018 organizing NIU’s Summer Program, she returned to school to pursue my Masters of Public Health and rejoined Focus House in her current position.

Emily Clutter
Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer
Emily photo - Copy
Ms. Clutter grew up in Sheboygan County, Wisconsin and received her bachelor’s degree in 2016 from UW-Stevens Point in Sociology and Criminal Justice. Emily started working with justice involved youth while receiving her bachelor’s degree at an after school program associated with the Boys and Girls Club. Emily has worked as a juvenile detention officer and a foster care caseworker.  Emily obtained her master's degree in Community Develpment and Organizational Leadership from UW-Stevens Point in May 2019.

Jeff Birr
Adolescent Treatment Specialist/Juvenile Probation Officer
Jeff Birr
Mr. Birr joined us at Focus House nearly 3 years ago. He had recently relocated back to the Midwest from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado in order to be closer to family.  He is originally from Wheaton, Illinois. He has nearly 30 years of experience working with children and youth in Residential Treatment and Educational settings.  He holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa and completed additional studies in Education at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colorado. At Focus House he serves as a Juvenile Probation Officer and Adolescent Treatment Specialist III.

Matt Schiltz
Adolescent Treatment Specialist/Juvenile Probation Officer
Mr. Schiltz graduated from Western Illinois University in 1995 with an RPTA Degree and a minor in Coaching. Matt started at Focus House in November of 2000. He was promoted to Juvenile Probation Officer in 2004.

Christa Reiter
Alternative Program and Quality Assurance Coordinator 
ChristaMrs. Reiter received her Bachelor's degree from Aurora University, majoring in Criminal Justice. She joined Focus House in 2016 bringing an extensive background in mental health from working in many settings including homeless shelters, correctional facilities, hospitals and treatment centers. She oversees four programs including Alternative to Suspension, Alternative to Detention, Public Service Work and GED programming as well as developing quality assurance standards and conducting quarterly audits.

Bonnie Moore
Administrative Assistant
Ms. Moore graduated from Kishwaukee College and Capella University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She began work with Focus House in 2010 as an insurance clerk and became the Administrative Assistant in 2014. She is a lifelong resident of Illinois.


Jeni Hardin
Community Projects/Marketing Coordinator
jeni - Copy





 

 

Back
to top