Donnalee Sarda, LPC (licensed professional counselor)

  • Protect children from ongoing abuse or criminal mistreatment in their homes
  • Ensure children receive the rights to which they are entitled
  • Assist adult and child victims of family violence in Relearning Relationships©, healing the family unit
  • Identify and address inadequacies in the child protection and legal systems as they come to our attention
  • Bring about beneficial changes in those systems by encouraging positive changes in guidelines, protocols, and laws to ensure the safety and well-being of children
  • Conduct educational trainings for the community and professionals involved in child protection, welfare and children’s legal issues
  • Ensure safety in all areas of children’s lives, where they live and where they congregate: family situations, school playgrounds, internet chat rooms, etc.


Our Board of Directors

Executive Director

Vince is our Executive Director

Victims Service

Pat O'Connell

Board Chair
John McAlister

Donnalee Sarda, LPC

Joanne McDonald

Members at Large

​Annette Heasman, R.N.

Behavioral Health Specialist

In the Big World Of Courts and Controls
Children's Voices are small

Case Manager

Our Staff

Educational Advocate

Pat has more than 16 years' advocating for children. She was a Court Appointed Special Advocate in two states and was Arizona Court Appointed Advocate of the Year,  2006. Pat served on the Foster Care Review Board and Governor Napolitano's Child Protective Services Reform Education Work-Group. She has been advocating as a Special Education Parent. Pat has brought her expertise as education advocate to Defenders in 2015.

Staff Attorney

Vincent Guarnieri, MC

Donna Reid, MA

Read our book:

Child Advocacy 101

Behavioral Health Department Head and Trainer

Donnalee Sarda’s 20 years working as a professional child advocate has been acknowledged by the child protection community and State of AZ, notably receiving in 2013 with the Victims’ Rights Advocacy- Direct Services Award; and serving on victim rights' committees under both AG Tom Horne and AG Terry Goddard. Sarda was appointed by AZ Governor Napolitano to the Legislative Domestic Relations Committee (DRC) from 2006 to 2012. She served on the Reports Committee of the Governor’s Commission to Reform CPS from 2001 to 2003. She served as regional director of nonprofit Justice For Children-AZ, and transitioned to executive director of Defenders of Children. After a 15-month retirement, she returned as Behavioral Health Dept.Head and Trainer for Defenders.She was born in Ohio and earned her Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from ASU 1996.

Sue Ann Springer

In addition to working with client families, the staff liaisons with other non-profit organizations, such as residential treatment centers, along with state and county officials concerned with children's welfare. Defenders of Children works with families to provide information and referrals, and  social services including trauma-informed, free counseling for victims. Defenders offers legal services for client-families that meet our criteria,  and possible forensic and expert witness services when children and their families have exhausted available resources through public service groups, and yet the children still remain at risk (see Family or Legal Services). Defenders of Children also interfaces as needed with such agencies as the Attorney General’s Office, AZ State Bar, Family and Juvenile Courts, the Department of Child Safety (DCS formerly CPS), and State Legislators.

Defenders of Children may provide family support such as mediation, supervision, therapeutic intervention (aka reunification) and education advocacy with our own in-house team of qualified professionals when there is a compelling evidence that a child is at risk or family finances are exhausted.

About Defenders of Children

Glenda Carlon

Advisory Council

Carol A. Jacobson
Family Physician
Claire Bowey, MD

Educational Consultants

Tamara Ballou
Paige Frankel-Mollen

Consulting Attorneys

David M. Lujan

Shelley Adams
Betty H. McRae

Jami Cornish, Esq.

Child Advocacy 101

Consultant and Instructor

Dr. Chris Monaco holds two Masters Degrees and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology, with post-doctoral training in neuropsychology. She was in private practice for 16 years. For seven years, Dr. Monaco served as the national spokesperson and Director of the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline She presents seminars and provides trainings throughout Arizona, the United States and abroad on Child Abuse, AD(H)D, Juvenile Fire Setters, Anger Management, Stress Management and Parenting. Dr. Monaco taught graduate students at Northern Arizona University, Arizona State University, and has been an Adjunct Professor at Glendale Community College. Dr. Monaco is a published author.

Chris Monaco, Ph.D.

Kimberly Kino, LPC

Defenders of Children Goals

Helpline Advocate