Elizabeth Cotellese is the Director of Baby University at Signal Centers. Elizabeth holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Auburn University and a Master’s Degree in Social Work from The University of Alabama. Elizabeth began her career with the Relative Caregiver Program serving relatives raising children where she acted as case manager, support group coordinator, and director. Elizabeth has also worked as the Housing Coordinator at the Southeast Tennessee Development District and as a discharge planning for Erlanger Hospital. Elizabeth is also an adjunct instructor for The University of Tennessee School of Social Work Distance Education program, teaching “Psychological Development and Mental Health in Later Life” each Spring.
Joyce Jackson is the Deputy Director of Baby University at Signal Centers. Joyce holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Georgia College and State University in her hometown of Milledgeville, Ga. Joyce began her career as a house parent working with clients with developmental disabilities while in graduate school. She later was employed at Central State Hospital in Millegeville where she held various positions in the developmental disabilities program to include Behavior Specialist, Unit Team Leader and Nursing Home Administrator for an ICR/MR nursing home. Joyce also worked several years in community based behavioral health services as Service Center Director, DD Division Director and Executive Director. She has also worked in juvenile justice as a Center Director. Before coming to Baby U, Joyce worked in workforce services with MAXIMUS as the Sr. Project Manager for nine years.
LaSha' Rockymore is a native and an original employee of Baby University since 2015. LaSha’ is also a 1st generation college student with her bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Tennessee. Today, LaSha’ is building communities and families as BabyU Outreach Coordinator. In 2012, LaSha’ began building her own nonprofit to connect her living purpose of social development and passion of arts. LaSha’ is involved in several community organizations/projects such as, S.W.A.G.G Management, Lincoln Park Neighborhood Association, Chattanooga’s Mayors Council for Women, Head Start Program, Good Neighbors, Community Advisory Board (CAB), social media and marketing, and more.
Patricia Chastain has been working for Baby University as a Bilingual Baby U Specialists for two years. She was born in the United States but lived in Barcelona and Buenos Aires for most of her early life where she earned her degree from Manuel Belgrano in Early Childhood Education. Before Baby University, Patricia worked for the State of Georgia for twelve years.
In her free time, she loves crafting and spending time with her two sons as well as her dog, Paco, and her pig, Lola.
April Rentzsch is from Texas originally but has been in the Chattanooga area for several years. She has a Bachelor’s of Science in Social Work from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas. She is currently a student at Southern Adventist University pursuing her MSW. While at Southern Adventist University, April has been awarded ‘Excellence in Field Award,’ is a member of Phi Alpha Social Work Honor Society and Dean’s List for academic performance. She plans to graduate in fall of 2019. April has been married to Brian for over 20 years and together they have 4 sons. In her spare time, April enjoys cooking, watching movies and sewing.
Jennifer Richards is the Administrative Assistant at Baby University. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in public administration/Non-Profit Management from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Jennifer began as a phlebotomist and later becoming Quality Assurance Assistant at Blood Assurance. Her interest in the non-profit sector began there.
Brandon Jermal Cooper, son on James Cooper and Angela Ware. I was born in a cool, city by the name of Memphis TN at The Med of Memphis. I came from a family where, I; the eldest grandson, had to become more willing to do great things than others because of my grandfather, Amos Bennett. He instilled in me from the beginning to “study, to show myself approved” in every industry or field of study. I have held on to these words through the toughest times in life. I graduated from Memphis Central High School, where I sharpened my people skills in the classroom, on the diamond, on the gridiron, in church, and at the various jobs held throughout those years. After graduation, I went to University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where more social and personal skills were groomed and enhanced. Ultimately, I came to my alma mater, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, to get away from all the orange! Mainly, to focus on the Brandon you may or may not know today. I changed majors from Business Administration to Education of Health and Human Performance, formally Pedagogy, then finally to a Bachelor of Integrated Studies, with a concentration in HHP and Early Childhood Development. During my tenure, I have held leadership positions, correlated with other organizations, advocated for disenfranchised students, and continue to this day to uplift the youth behind me! As a part of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. I have trusted men around me that do the same and have similar ideals in which to enrich the world. My greatest success is the will to keep succeeding! I love mashed potatoes!
LaShayla White is a Baby U Specialist for Signal Centers. LaShayla holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Central Missouri. LaShayla began her career with the Recovery Lighthouse in Warrensburg Missouri, helping adults who had substance abuse issues. LaShayla then moved to Chattanooga in May of 2014. LaShayla started her career working at Centerstone in their foster care division. She then moved on to work as an adult case manager at Helen Ross McNabb. LaShayla also worked in Helen Ross McNabb’s housing department where she became a Team Leader of one of the group Homes.
MaryBeth Steffey is a graduate from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies. MaryBeth’s passion for social work was speared by her internship with Baby U in the Spring of 2017. She hopes to obtain her MSW in the near future and continue her efforts in the social work field.
Layly Ramirez is a graduate of Southern Adventist University with a Bachelors of Science in Clinical Psychology. She has a drive and passion to fulfill serving and supporting others. Layly has been with Signal Centers since June of 2016. From Assistant Teacher to Lead Teacher she is now with Baby University as a Bilingual Case Manager. She helps her clients, who include children, adults and families by providing intensive case management, mentoring and support.
I am originally from Jacksonville, Florida and have lived in Chattanooga for 15 years. I am the mother of two girls and two cats. I am in my second year of graduate school at UTC for Social Work and graduated from Southern Adventist University with a Bachelors of Science in Child and Family Studies. I am a passionate advocate for women and children’s rights and developing their resilience to become self-sufficient, strong minded, and independent. I enjoy hiking, camping, live music, and spending time with friends and family, especially on the beach. My favorite fruit/vegetable is avocados.
Jasmine English recently joined Baby University in June 2018 as a Case Manager from Montgomery, Al. She is a graduate from Alabama State University where she obtained her Master’s in Social Work May 2018 and her Bachelors in Health Information Management May 2015. Her passion for Social Work soon emerged after becoming a mother and fully understanding the needs of women and children. Jasmine has experience providing intervention services to women and children of diverse backgrounds in both criminal and human services’ settings utilizing the empowerment approach technique. In the near future, Jasmine plans to acquire her LCSW and provide family therapy. She looks forward to working with the families of Baby University to ensure each goal to self-sufficiency is met.
Natalia Alva is a bi-lingual specialist at Baby University. She graduated from The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a Bachelor’s in Social Work. She has a passion for empowering others and advocating for diversity and human rights. Natalia prides herself in her ability to empathize with others and believes in taking a strength-based approach when assisting her clients. She has a background of working with different populations such as, homeless, domestic violence victims, children and families. In her spare time, she enjoys lounging around with her dog and is always looking to learn more about music, people, animals and nature.
Whitley Sampler graduated from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a BS in Child and Family Studies in December 2017. In August 2018, she will begin work on a Counseling degree from Southern Adventist. Whitley started at Signal Centers in January 2018 in the Children’s Program as a lead teacher and joined Baby University in July 2018. She enjoys helping support families, and also hearing their personal stories. In her spare time, Whitley enjoys traveling and spending time with her family.