Meet Our Board of Directors

Brian Franklin – Board Chairperson

Brian Franklin is a Vice-President at Edelman Communications, one of the world’s largest public relations firm and is the father of Samuel, who joined his adopted family in September, 2009.  Brian is also on the board of Africa Bridge, an NGO that empowers orphans and vulnerable children in Tanzania.   Beginning in 2009, Brian has provided pro bono public relations services to various NGOs and played a critically important role during the Haiti earthquake.

Dana Ernest Johnson, M.D., Ph.D.

Dana E. Johnson is Professor of Pediatrics, member of Division of Neonatology and Founder of the International Adoption Clinic at the University of Minnesota which is one of the largest adoption-related medical programs in the world. Over the past twenty-three years, information gathered through this clinic on the medical status of children adopted from dozens of countries and a wide variety of living conditions has helped establish the field of adoption medicine. His research focuses on the short- and long-term effects of early deprivation on child health and early development. Dr. Johnson is an adoptive parent, serves on the Editorial Boards of Adoption Quarterly and Adoptive Families Magazine and is a Senior Research Fellow in the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute.

Kjersti Olsen, Phd.

Kjersti Olsen is currently an Assistant Extension Professor at the University of Minnesota.  Prior to her position at the U of Minnesota, Kjersti was the Director of International Programs at Children’s Home Society & Family Services.  She also held positions as a Technical Consultant at the University of Minnesota Extension – Family Development, the Director of Major Gifts at the Science Museum of Minnesota and Associate Director of Development for the Minnesota Medical Foundation.

Alexis Oberdorfer-Secretary, MSW

Alexis picAlexis Oberdorfer has her master’s degree in social work and is the Senior Director of Adoption at Children’s Home Society and Lutherans Social Service of Minnesota.  Ms. Oberdorfer has worked in both the private non-profit sector and across the public child welfare continuum for 20 years.  She has worked for the Minnesota Department of Human Services where she was responsible for adoption policy and contracts that delivered adoption services throughout Minnesota. She also held a position in Illinois Department of Children and Family Services where she coordinated their Post Adoption and Guardianship Services, and she was the Foster Care Manager for Illinois.  Ms. Oberdorfer also has experience training, facilitating support groups, working in early childhood prevention/early intervention with at-risk families, and in Child Protection Service.

Frank Garrott, MBA

Frank Garrott is the President & CEO of Gladney Center for Adoption.  He was formally the Chief Operating Officer of the organization, having his first experiences with Gladney in 1987 and 1991 when he adopted two children through Gladney and then later serving as a Gladney Center board member for nine years. Mr. Garrott earned his MBA from the University of Texas after graduating from Duke University. He went on to a career in business consulting, including the last eleven years with PriceWaterhouseCoopers in New York and Connecticut. In addition to his work with Gladney and Joint Council he also sits on the Board of the Christian Mission to the United Nations Community.

Ellora DeCarlo, MSW

Ellora DeCarlo is the President and co-founder of Futuro de los Ninos, a foundation that provides aid for children in Guatemala.  Ellora is a founding member of the Guatemala 900 Campaign and serves on the board of Semillas de Amor Children’s Village in Guatemala. Ellora has a Masters in Social Work and over ten years experience in education and advocacy for women and children.  She currently lives in New York City with her husband, Gary Cooper, and their 3 beautiful children, Leo, Julia, and Lorenzo.  When she is not advocating and/or mothering, she works as an actor and theatrical producer.

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