Meet The Team
Jennifer Morris Banna, Center Coordinator
Jenn realized the power of family-to-family support when she was pregnant with her third child. Faced with a devastating diagnosis, she reached out to a mother who had received the same diagnosis for her unborn child. The mother, a stranger, provided deeply meaningful support. The comfort of that connection is a lasting memory, and the foundation of Jenn’s work as coordinator of the Montana Family to Family Health Information Center. Jenn believes families have the power to help each other, sharing resources and validating the vast range of emotion inherent in raising a child with a disability or healthcare challenge.
Jenn is raising five children, including a daughter with Pitt-Hopkins syndrome. She also has experience with anxiety, sensory integration disorder, auditory processing disorder, and the impact of addiction on family. She has a particular interest in genetics. Her daughter received her diagnosis at 12 years of age through genetic testing, opening up a global network of family support through the Pitt-Hopkins Research Foundation.
Jenn has degrees in Child Development and Elementary Education from Montana State University. She is actively involved in making systemic change for Montana families with physical, developmental, and mental health diagnoses. She currently serves on the Montana Assistive Technology Loan Program board, the Montana Empowerment Center board, the Montana Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs board, and the Mountain States Regional Genetics Network State Team.
Shawna Hanson, Outreach Coordinator
Raising two sons on the autism spectrum, Shawna never placed much value on connection with other families. Her hands were full, social opportunities were rare, and community events were likely to be negative experiences she tended to avoid.
When Shawna’s oldest son hit his teens, things got real. Nonverbal and on the more severe end of the spectrum, his frustration combined with his physical strength made it increasingly difficult to keep him safe and to keep targets of his anger safe as well. When he was 17, the Hansons found themselves in the heartbreaking position of seeking out-of-home placement and treatment.
Montana’s health care system is not prepared to handle people with serious behavioral needs on top of a developmental diagnosis. The solution is to send the child out of state until an in-state option can be created. For the Hansons, this painful process took 15 months. For other Montana families, right now, it is taking years. Connecting, through the MT F2F, with Montana families struggling with similar situations has enriched and informed Shawna’s life and choices.
Shawna has degrees in English and journalism. She is the outreach coordinator for Montana’s state assistive technology program, MonTECH. She serves on the board of the Missoula Developmental Service Corporation and the board of Proactive Living Facility, a grassroots effort to build a group home in Ronan for men with autism.
Suzanne Bancale, Family Navigator
Suzanne remembers well the feeling of being overwhelmed and overloaded, of “what do I do with this child”. So many times she found herself there, and somehow would gather enough courage and energy to search for help. Through the challenges her child faced, she learned to connect to community services. She would say, “There’s not a rock, stone, pebble or twig that I would not overturn in search of help for my child’s needs.”
Suzanne is mom to five children ranging in age from 13 to 23 including three university students, and wife to Mark. Her kids have grown up in the Missoula community, schools, and Scouts. She has personal experience navigating IEPs and Behavioral Intervention Plans, and teaming with medical and mental health providers.
Suzanne recognizes the great need for services to wrap around our children and help families meet challenges. Because she knows what it feels like to be in desperate need of support, she is passionate about helping others find resources. She is pleased to bring that passion to the Montana Family to Family Health Information Center at the Rural Institute for Inclusive Communities and looks forward to assisting you and your child.
In addition to her love of family and service, she enjoys singing with the Sweet Adelines and rose gardening. Roses always remind her that in order to cultivate beauty, one has to manage the pain of the thorns.
Jobyna McCarthy, Family Navigator
Jobyna McCarthy found her way to the world of special healthcare needs when she became the mother of two preemies: Quinn and angel-baby Tyler. Sixteen-year-old Quinn was born at 28 weeks, weighing two pounds. Tyler was born even smaller at 25 weeks.
Jobyna (pronounced jo-BEE-nah) hails from Butte, America, which is historically the hunting ground for the Salish / Sélish and Pend d’Oreille / Ql̓ispé, and other native American tribes. Joby is a firm believer in active, healthy living. Playfulness is the spice of life, and she partakes fully as a dance fitness instructor of Oula and Oula One, softball player, and rookie artist. Fun fact: she was also a National U.S. Collegiate Hurling Champion!
Jobyna has a Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Human Performance, Exercise Science from the University of Montana, but it is her lived experience as mom of two preemies that makes her a most valued member of the MT F2F team and a wonderful support to families traveling a similar path. Her journey has also made her a strong advocate for access to quality mental healthcare. She is available to families in need of support and resources as they care for infants, children, and youth dealing with the challenges of premature birth. She is also a valuable resource for parents and caregivers navigating the adolescent mental health system when their kids are experiencing a crisis.
Bonnie Kelley, Family Navigator
Bonnie Kelley is originally from California but came to Montana in 2000 to raise her two children in a more wholesome environment. She settled in Missoula in 2006 to study history at the University of Montana, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in history and a Secondary Education certificate.
In 2011, Bonnie experienced a life-changing vehicle accident that affected herself and her children in deeply significant ways. Her personal journey to find supports and resources for herself and both children as they adjusted to new circumstances gave her deep compassion for those working toward physical healing and improved mental health.
As a Family Navigator, Bonnie works to benefit others and finds value in her role. She will often be the compassionate voice families hear when they first contact the MT F2F. Bonnie has learned a lot about navigating her own mobility challenges, which include use of a wheelchair for mobility, adaptive driving, accessible housing, and personal care. She has been involved in housing assistance, transitions to community living, information and referral, and disability awareness.
In her free time, Bonnie loves creating collages and making cards for friends and family. Having participated in theater in high school, Bonnie loves the performing arts and hopes to find herself onstage once again. Bonnie is also certified in Reiki 1 and personally interested in energy work and alternative paths to wellness.