Staff

Steve Brong, MS – Founding Partner, President & CEO, Family Worker

Bios

Steve began his venture in social services while attending graduate school at Shippensburg State College pursuing his Master’s degree in counseling. He holds more than 35 years of experience working in the areas of drug and alcohol, mental health, as well as providing directorship of several children and youth organizations. Steve has dedicated his career to helping adults, children and families in managing stress and crisis by guiding them to stability.

As a founding partner of Lehigh Valley Families Together, Inc., Steve continues his commitment to children and families through his everyday work. “Just as the original concept of helping parents build a family that will be stable, emotionally and physically safe continues to guide my efforts, my direct involvement with clients as a family worker and team leader shapes my decisions as the chief administrator of LVFT. There is no question in my mind that continuing to provide direct services helps me stay in touch with the needs of our families and the counties we serve, and has made me a more effective administrator.”

Allyn Benech, M.Ed. – Founding Partner, Vice President, Program Director

Starting out to be a business manager, Allyn decided towards the end of her undergraduate work that the counseling field was the direction she was headed. Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management and subsequently a Master’s of Education in Rehabilitation Counseling from Penn State, she now sees her life took her down the perfect path because she uses both of her degrees in her current position. 

Allyn has held several positions in the area of social services from mental health and intellectual disabilities services to working with children in foster care and seniors in a nursing home setting. Her experiences brought her together with President Steve Brong to create Lehigh Valley Families Together.

Throughout her work, Allyn has learned that every person has a story that deserves to be heard and honored, and there is hope even in the direst of circumstances. Allyn holds true to a saying her father would tell her, “Everything happens for a reason.” She works to help clients see beyond their immediate struggles to what may lie ahead.

In addition to holding the positions of Vice President and Program Director, Allyn is also certified in Family Group Decision Making and Family Development Credentialing. She enjoys spending time with her sons, dog and cat and when she’s not reading a good book you may be able to talk her into taking a sky dive!

Laura Gross – Office Manager

Laura has been working 12 years as Lehigh Valley Families Together’s office manager. Laura holds substantial management experience prior to joining LVFT and holds a degree in Computer Programming. Throughout her years with LVFT, Laura is inspired to see families who have so much going against them become success stories.

She enjoys spending time with her family and friends. Loves to laugh!

She believes you need to “enjoy the little things because one day you will look back and realize they were the big things!”

Laura is a longtime volunteer and loves to be outdoors especially on a beach somewhere.

Meghan Mello - Family Worker

Meghan recently graduated from West Chester University with her Master’s in Criminal Justice and graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice in 2017. This is Meghan’s first job in the social service field. Before coming to Lehigh Valley Families Together, she worked with the Lehigh Valley Pretrial Services as an Intern and experienced solely the court systems in Lehigh County. By working at LVFT, Meghan hopes to gain experience in the industry by working with parents, children, the foster care system, mental health issues and the criminal justice area. At Lehigh Valley Families Together, Meghan will get to expand her career path and test her knowledge in a field that is open to newcomers. This will be a great learning opportunity and she will be able to help families at the same time. She enjoys being able to interact with clients and staff in a friendly and professional environment while learning about the various resources available to the community and families. Meghan believes that LVFT is helping people achieve the best possible versions of themselves, not only for them, but for their families as well.  

In her spare-time, you will find Meghan at Lehigh playing soccer with her friends. When asked If she could be any cartoon character Meghan would like to be Winnie the Pooh because she loves to be around friends and you can most likely find her eating, just like him, haha. 

Meghan’s parents inspire her because she sees how hard they work and how much they care about her family and other people. She wants to make them proud and aspire to be like them every day, and become half the person they are. Meghan hopes that she can touch as many lives and help as many people as they have in their lives, and hopes to really use what they have given her, education-wise, morally and belief system-wise, to make the world a better place. 

A quote that she lives by is “The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” By Ayn Rand because it’s a reminder that you can accomplish anything that you set your mind to.

 

Stephanie Buck - Foster Care Recruiter/Trainer

Stephanie has wanted to work in the foster care field since attending college. This is her first job in the social services. Previously before LVFT, she worked at KidsPeace as a Mental Health Technician II.  Stephanie also worked as an Associate Teacher in a Life Skills Classroom at an elementary school for about 2 years.

Stephanie received her Associate's degree in Social Work from Northampton Community College, and a Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Kutztown University. 

Since starting at LVFT, Stephanie has been inspired by all her co-workers who have come from all types of backgrounds and work experiences. She feels her prior experience has prepared her the this new career opportunity. 

Stephanie had a Community Learning/Service paper published during her time at NCCC. She also presented at a research conference on The Importance of Program Evaluation for a Healthy Relationship workshop during her senior year at Kutztown. 

She enjoys hosting parties. When she wants to unwind, she cleans. Stephanie is inspired by great people who believe in making a difference, have each other's best interest in mind, and who use humor as a stress relief and a way to connect with others. 

Her quote to live by: In order to get on the road to success you have to get in the car and start the engine!

Savannah Tobias - Family Worker

Savannah graduated from Cedar Crest College with a Bachelor of Science in Health Promotion and Wellness, which helped her to realize her passion for wanting to help people in every aspect. She also has a minor in Nutrition, which is one area that she is passionate about and likes to utilize in everyday life. One of Savannah's main goals is to build a strong and stable foundation with all of her clients, in hopes that they can grow and learn together. Additionally, her main focus is to provide clients with the most beneficial and advantageous care that will improve their lives, both in the short-term and long-term. Before beginning at LVFT, she worked in an Inpatient Behavioral Health unit, which she learned a great deal about social services, and the importance of maintaining suitable mental and emotional health. After working with people who were looking to bettering themselves, she is now thrilled to be a part of Lehigh Valley Families Together because of their commitment to bettering families, which Savannah believes is one of the most fulfilling tasks one can do. All of the staff members at LVFT offer unique and accommodating skills, which she believes helps to provide the best services to the clients.

 On the weekends and in her spare time, you can find her being outdoors with friends and family, mostly hiking or camping. She finds that there is a therapeutic aspect of being outside in nature, and that is her favorite part about it. Savannah also loves trying new foods and going to new restaurants in the Lehigh Valley, so you can also find her wandering around town and exploring new places.

“Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” -Joshua J. Marine. 

Life can be challenging at times, but when we decide to step out of our comfort zone and overcome our challenges, it is rewarding and helps us to grow.

Jahmae Dent - Family Worker

Jahmae graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Psychology and Sociology and a minor in Legal Studies. This is her first experience in social services. She wanted to work at LVFT because she thought it would be a good experience to work with families and the community and providing the support they need to succeed. Jahmae's favorite part of her work is seeing people overcome the odds stacked against them and coming full circle and being able to succeed.

She previously worked at UPMC's Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic on the general adult unit as a therapist and served with AmeriCorps Jumpstart program for preschool aged children.  

In her spare time she likes reading, cooking, baking and learning new things.

Nicole Ang - Resource Family Care Caseworker

Nicole has recently graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Being a caseworker at LVFT is her first job in the social services field. While at IUP, she was involved in the Seedling Project, which gives local residents fresh soil, gardening tools and seeds in order to start their own gardens. Nicole participated in the Women and Gender Studies Club, which aims to better inform people on gender issues.

LVFT stood out to Nicole because the agency's goal in foster care is reunification with families. She feels that family is key and LVFT makes every effort to try and keep families together. She feels that working here could make an impact on these children's lives. The part of her work she enjoys the most is working directly with the children and looks forward to making connections with them. 

Nicole has started getting involved with the local Boys and Girls Clubs. 

She is a recent newlywed, loves to travel and try new cuisine! Future plan is to go back to the Philippines for a visit, where she was born. Loves listening to hip-hop and R&B music. 

Her mom is her inspiration because she showed her that no matter where you come from and how you grew up, you can make something of yourself as long as you have the determination to do so.

"People who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do." - Rob Siltanen

Michelle Sadowski - Family Worker

Michelle graduated from Mansfield University of Pennsylvania in 2016.  During her time in Mansfield she obtained a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Criminal Justice.  Being a family worker at LVFT is her first job in social services.  While at Mansfield University she was involved in several aspects of student life.  Michelle took part in a Mentoring program during her time there and the program solidified that she wanted to continue to assist people post-graduation.  Michelle’s favorite aspect of her job as a family worker is watching her clients grow and gain the confidence they need to succeed and reach their goals.

When Michelle isn’t working you can find her playing with her two dogs Ava and Dexter. You can also find Michelle hiking with her friends and family on the weekends or searching for a new adventure.  Michelle is a firm believer in utilizing the outdoors to unwind from social media and other distractions and reconnect with yourself.  

Alexandra Woytowicz - Visit Coach

Alex has worked in social services for three years, and has been with LVFT for two months. She graduated from Temple University with her bachelors in arts, majored in Psychology- focus on child development. She also worked at a day program with adults with autism and worked direct care in a home and community program with individuals with intellectual disabilities. Alex was also a nanny for three years. Alex chose LVFT because her passion is working with and for children. She finds it so important that every child is given the same opportunity to grow and succeed. In order for that to happen, there has to be a healthy and safe environment and she gets to help families make that possible. In her short time at LVFT, she has enjoyed seeing client’s progress and watch them grow as a family. Alex understands sometimes people just need support and guidance, and loves being able to help them get where they need to be. Social service is where she knows she belongs. It's nice going home every day knowing that she is something to positively change someone’s life and give them an opportunity to succeed.  

 When she is not working Alex likes going hiking and camping. She loves all Philadelphia sports. She just moved to the Lehigh Valley in March. She is a great addition to our staff.

 

Kimberleigh Burgess - Family Worker and Visit Coach

Kimberleigh graduated from Moravian College in 2016 with a Bachelor's in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Spanish.

She has completed internships at multiple non-profit organizations. Her time at Buxmont Academy was the most impactful. During that time she developed a desire to work further with families.

She has a strong passion in adolescent and family development. Kimberleigh loves conducting research in the areas of development and behavior. She also loves music and can usually be found with earbuds on and music playing almost 24/7.

Kimberleigh's own experience during adolescence drew her to wanting to help people in similar situations.  She feels that working at Lehigh Valley Families Together will give her the opportunity to gain experience working with families.

Her ultimate goal and hope is not only to aid and help reunify families but also help cultivate love and an environment for the family to succeed.