Meet our Team
As Founding CEO of Empowering the Parent to Empower the Child (EPEC), which operates The Grooming Project, Natasha Kirsch believes in a two-generation approach to breaking the cycle of poverty. Basic needs for food and shelter must be met before a parent can focus on guiding children through school and out of poverty, so a living-wage, family-flexible career for the parent is key. Natasha’s innovative approach to breaking the cycle of poverty and proven success has received several awards and the attention of a national catalyst foundation.
Natasha has an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa and an Executive Master’s degree in public administration from the UMKC Bloch School. She is passionate about working with mothers and fathers with multiple barriers to entering the workforce, such as low reading skills, severe trauma, or past incarceration and brings experience in both staff and volunteer roles for Healing House, Reach Out and Read, Community LINC and Stop Child Trafficking Now to the EPEC project. Natasha enjoys spending time with her two kids ages 16 and 12.
Jarrod Sanderson, LCSW
Director of Housing and Program Design
Jarrod is a listener, leader, influencer, difference maker, and solution builder with a history of successful organization transformation and change management. Jarrod combines his education and background in direct service with his desire to help nonprofit organizations operate at the highest level. His nonprofit experience spans sectors that include clinical counseling, housing, and youth, family and senior services. He is a respected leader across the nonprofit community, known for his collaborative approach and innovative solutions. He holds the National Institutes of Health Protecting Human Research Participants certification and is a Full Inclusion and Diversity Awareness trainer. Using his educational and experiential background, he has created a series of workshops to help direct-care staff fight the mental and emotional fatigue and burnout that is all too common. He also provides consulting services to help organizations develop an environment and culture that supports this thinking and practice. Jarrod is certified in Social Impact Strategy by the Colorado Institute for Social Impact.
Director of Grooming
Director of Student Services
Betty Jean Curran is thrilled to be working at EPEC. As the Director of Student Services, Betty Jean works closely with students, providing wrap-around services that ensure student success. She also works closely with community partners to develop life skills programming that is tailored to EPEC’s students, like groups centered on developing social-emotional skills, parenting skills, and “soft-skills” that promote workforce readiness. Everyday, Betty Jean is inspired by the resilience of EPEC’s students, and she is excited grow with the organization.
Betty Jean recently moved back to Kansas City after earning a Master of Social Work Degree from University of Denver and a certificate in Animal Assisted Social Work. While in Denver, Betty Jean worked with underserved, high school-aged youth at the Colorado I Have a Dream Foundation. She also worked at the Institute for Human Animal Connection (IHAC), where she partnered with the City of Denver’s Office of Behavioral Strategies and many agencies serving Denver’s homeless population to develop creative programs that integrate the therapeutic aspects of the human-animal bond in homeless outreach services. She focused on educating various stakeholders about the growing evidence base for animal-assisted interventions (AAIs) and worked with agencies to brainstorm and implement new AAI programs. During this process, she also worked with IHAC to develop human-animal bond competencies that ensure best practices for this trail blazing work in Animal Assisted Homeless Outreach.
Betty Jean has three dogs, Dharma, Maiko and Bodhi, who fill her with joy and continue to remind her of the powerful lessons and uncomplicated love that animals can bring into our lives.
Director of Communications
Abby joined The Grooming Project in early 2018 as a volunteer grant writer, before transitioning to the Director of Communications.
Abby holds an undergraduate degree in English from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and a Master’s in Public Administration (MPA) from the University of Kansas. While staying home with her children, Abby opened a lifestyle photography business in Kansas City, becoming one of the top family photography businesses in the Kansas City area. After her youngest started kindergarten, she decided to pursue her lifetime goal of using her passion for writing to help those in need.
Abby performs a variety of tasks at The Grooming Project, including grant writing, data collection and analysis, fundraising, website design, marketing, and brand management.
In her spare time, Abby enjoys reading great books, playing basketball, spending time with her husband and two children, and gardening.
Theresa (pictured right) joined The Grooming Project as a volunteer in 2017 and quickly embraced its students and mission. After a recent move to Kansas City, the opportunity to become a member of the operations team was presented. She knew this was the perfect place to utilize her business acumen and her commitment to the continued success and growth of The Grooming Project.
After the birth of her daughter, Theresa left her administrative career to be a “stay at home mom”. Her entrepreneurial spirit didn’t let her stay out of the workplace for long though. She recognized an opportunity to resell gently worn maternity clothing (before they were widely available!) and eventually grew her business into an upscale boutique that was a staple for all-things maternity and baby in Wichita, Kansas for more than 20 years. Theresa later built on her experience as a successful business owner to serve Goodwill Industries of Kansas as a state-wide district manager where her management, trouble shooting and retail capabilities continued to advance. And, now she’s bringing those skills to The Grooming Project.
Theresa’s a self-proclaimed “junk queen” and can often be found scouring estate sales and auctions for fun, vintage finds. As new Kansas City residents, she and her husband, Steve, are enjoying exploring the city and spending time with their daughter, Meredith, and grand-puppy, Chloe.
Barbie Daniels (pictured right) joined the EPEC family in 2018. She brings a wealth of knowledge about community services and human behavior. With a background in substance use disorder counseling and recovery support systems, Barbie has worked with Independence Probation and Parole, Drug Court, and Heartland Center for Behavioral Change. Her professional trajectory reflects a dedication that has come from her lived experiences with Kansas City “street life.” Due to her past lifestyle, Barbie has a passion for helping people overcome obstacles and barriers in their lives, so that they may become empowered to live a new life.
Barbie is leading our Legal Clinic with volunteers attorneys, and regularly serves as a vocal advocate for our families in all local courts.
She is so excited to have this role at EPEC, and can’t wait to see all the success stories that will surely unfold.
Barbie is a single mother of two beautiful girls, Cianna and Sophia, and 5 rescued doggies-Boss, CoCo, Shuggs, Bella and Sadie.
Lead Grooming Instructor
Marrisa took the scenic route in her grooming career. She started as a bath and brusher for a mobile groomer in Bakersfield California. Over the next 6 years, she worked as a groomer for corporate salons, mobile salons, private owned salons, vet hospitals and eventually became the manger of the Bakersfield Vet Hospital grooming salon. At age 28, Marrisa started her own mobile grooming business in Bakersfield California. Her life long dream was to live at the beach, so in 2015, Marrisa made the move to the beautiful Central Coast of California. She re-built her business and became extremely successful in her endeavors. Although she felt she had peaked success, Marrisa was unfulfilled in her everyday work. In her words, “I know I have more to offer than just dog hair.”
In 2020, Marrisa made the 1,700 mile move from Pismo Beach, California to Kansas City, Missouri to work for the Grooming Project. Her desire to make a difference and give back is what drove her so far away from home. She is now the Lead Grooming Instructor for The Grooming Project and is passionate about our mission. She is pouring her experiences and love for grooming into students everyday and is finally able to offer, “more than just dog hair.”
Grooming Instructor Assistant
Amy Hall graduated from The Grooming Project as a student in early 2019. Prior to that she had gone into recovery to make life better for her children. After graduating, she worked as a full-time groomer at Rockhill Veterinary Clinic, until she was recruited by The Grooming Project to become a Grooming Instructor’s Assistant at the school. The Grooming Project knew her perseverance and life story would serve as great inspiration for the students. Amy loves helping women in recovery and being a positive force in the students’ lives. She is the mother of two beautiful daughters, one handsome son, and a sassy chihuahua named Ginger.