COFCCA Staff and Contact Info
Jim Purcell,Chief Executive Officer
Jim has enjoyed a long distinguished career with the Division for Youth and the Department of Social Services, which are predecessor state agencies to the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. His work focused in the areas of policy and funding. His intimate knowledge of regulatory guidelines has helped member organizations and the field of child welfare throughout the country.
Dianne Heggie, Associate Executive Director, Downstate
Dianne has more than 30 years of child welfare practice in the areas of residential care, protective services and staff training. Her prior experience includes work at all levels of service delivery, from front-line social work practices to the duties of executive director.
Diane Leske, Chief of Staff
Diane has been with COFCCA for almost 30 years. During this time, she has served in a variety of positions within the agency. Currently Diane oversees both the New York City and Albany Offices in her role as Chief of Staff and is the contact person for organization operational issues and for COFCCA’s CEO and Board of Directors.
Prior to joining COFCCA, Jacques worked for 18 years at a large multi-service child welfare agency. During his tenure there, Jacques worked closely with staff to improve cultural competence and staff skills. His trainings outside the agency included Buffalo State College, Denver County Family and Children Services, and NYC Human Resources Administration. During his time with COFCCA he has increased the capacity of the training program.
Mary Jane Dessables, LMSW, Director of Research and Information
Mary Jane brings her education and more than 10 years experience in the areas of child welfare social work, technology, and data systems to COFCCA. During her career prior to coming to COFCCA, Ms. Dessables held the positions of group home caseworker, agency staff trainer, and Management Information Systems Director for a large multi-service agency.
Sophine Charles, Ph.D, Director, Preventive Services Policy and Practice
Sophine has more than 18 years of experience in child welfare including working as a director of preventive services and working in foster care as a therapist, trainer, and consultant. In addition, she has made significant contributions in law enforcement, reentry programs, and youth mentoring. She is an Assistant Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
Meredith LaFave, MSW, Director of Member Services and Coordinator of Center for Excellence
Meredith LaFave has been with COFCCA since 2009 and is the project administrator for the Child Welfare Workforce Initiative grant, as well as other COFCCA workforce interests, primarily Social Work and other Mental Health Professional licensing issues. Meredith is a 2007 Center for Women in Government Fellow through the Rockefeller School of Public Policy and graduate of the University at Albany School of Social Welfare.
Kathleen is COFCCA’s new Director of Advocacy and is responsible for analyzing policy and developing positions relating to child welfare and juvenile justice. Kathleen is also the primary liaison to state government entities, as well as coordinate the activities of the NYS Coalition of 853 Schools. Kathleen, a recent Center for Women in Government and Civil Society Women and Public Policy Fellow, holds a Master of Social Work degree from SUNY Buffalo and a Bachelor of Arts in English from Vassar College.
Agnes Simulinas, Executive Assistant
Yolanda McLeod, Administrative Assistant, Training
Alan Stricoff, Fiscal Officer