Meet Our Staff

Our Northwest Adoption Exchange staff features dependable adoption professionals with years of direct experience and advocacy in the field. We serve as active consultants and educators, lending expertise and guidance to local, regional and federal task forces and committees. Many of us have personal, meaningful adoption connections that enhance our insight and understanding of the process.

We are passionate about our adoption and foster care work. We are here to help.

Contact us anytime at 1.800.927.9411 or

Staff Finder:  

Tyler Helbach, MPA
Director, Seattle
Since 2008

Tyler joined Northwest Adoption Exchange in 2008 and has served as an Adoption Recruiter, Wednesday’s Child Coordinator, and Operations Manager, before being named Director in July 2016. Tyler received his bachelor's degree from Willamette University in 2007 and his Masters in Public Administration with a focus on Nonprofit Administration from Seattle University in 2013. Tyler believes that adoption recruitment is most effective when youth in foster care are engaged and empowered to share their stories. Tyler is passionate about Seattle sports teams, permanency for children in foster care, and Thai food. A native of the area, Tyler considers himself lucky to be surrounded by amazing coworkers and working in the field of child welfare among an incredible community of youth, families, and professionals.

Nick Baumgartner, BA
Youth Engagement Specialist, Seattle
Since 2016

Nick joined NWAE in November 2016 as the new Youth Engagement Specialist. In his role, Nick works directly with youth in foster care to involve them in telling their own stories and creating content to share with adoptive families. Through a variety of storytelling mediums – from video, to photography, to writing, and more – Nick helps fill children’s profiles with an authentic look into who they are and what makes them special.

Nick received his Bachelor's Degree from Gonzaga University in 2011 and most recently worked as a Grant Writer for a local nonprofit addressing issues around family homelessness. Born and raised in Seattle, he has a deep commitment to the well-being of children and families in and around his home Northwest. Away from work, you can find him closely following all things Seattle sports, working with a grassroots nonprofit to support economic empowerment in rural Zambia, and fitting into any number of Seattle clichés that involve coffee, breweries, or hiking, to only name a few.

Luisa Barnes, MSW
Adoption Permanency Specialist
Since 2015

Luisa works directly with the Washington Specialized Recruitment Project (SRP). As an SRP recruiter, Luisa’s role includes connecting with families, reviewing home studies, communicating with state social workers, and occasionally engaging with children enrolled in SRP. She received her Bachelor’s in Art History from the University of Oregon and her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Luisa has worked directly with children and families for many years through her professional experiences in both national and international child care, as well as in mental health counseling. She has a strong passion for child welfare.

Luisa's favorite things include collecting passport stamps, spending time with her family and friends, cooking authentic Italian dinners, and dancing at weddings.

Jessica Tholmer, BA
Content and Communications
Since 2017

Jessica joined NWAE with a dedication to change and storytelling. In her role, Jessica applies her social media expertise to connect with local communities and families who are passionate about adoption and the welfare of children. She also writes and edits the biographies of waiting children, providing the right words to help find a permanent home.

In 2009, Jessica graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in English Literature. In her free time, she volunteers with youth, freelance writes, avidly consumes the latest hit TV show, and is a great resource for book recommendations. She also loves her cat.

Kendra Morris-Jacobson, MA
Program Manager, Oregon Adoption Resource Exchange (OARE), Portland
Since 2010

Kendra oversees the general functioning of two programs based in Oregon, including the Oregon Post Adoption Resource Center (ORPARC) and the Oregon Adoption Resource Exchange (OARE). She joined Northwest Resource Associates in July 2010. Honored as Senator Wyden's 2016 "Angel in Adoption," she has spent over 20 years in foster care adoption, including work with Boys & Girls Aid, the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption and Voice for Adoption. As a prior editor, writer and adoption recruiter, she has captured the stories of hundreds of foster & adoptive children and families, and it has fueled her enthusiasm for this cause. In previous clinical work at Oregon Health Sciences University, Kendra counseled children and families, led groups for adolescent depression, and contributed to research projects. Kendra obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; and her Master of Arts degree in Counseling Psychology at Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Oregon.

Kendra cherishes family time with her husband, sons and rambunctious white shepherd, and runs, gardens and bakes in her spare moments.

Lori Woodbury, BM
Program Assistant, Seattle
Since 2013

Lori came to NWAE with a strong desire to work for an organization that was making a difference, and doing good work in the world, and couldn't be more thrilled to become part of such a fantastic team. Having a close friend back in NM, who has worked for CASA for years and has adopted, and her own dear dad, also, active in supporting organizations involved in child advocacy served as points of inspiration for wanting to become involved herself.

As a Program Assistant, Lori handles all things registration. Reviewing and processing both children and family registrations, she handles the intake, the input, the proofreading (and on occasion writing) the photos, and finally, actually getting them on the website! In addition to the registrations, she processes family and worker inquiries, and registrations for WARE accounts.

Lori's other passions include music, Pilates, bicycles, swimming, hats, nutrition, and environmental issues. Her most recent environmental endeavor is doing her part to raise awareness on voluntary idling.

Felipe Ayala
Bilingual Program Assistant / Asistente Bilingüe, Seattle
Since 2014

Felipe, originally from Chile, is fluent in both Spanish and English. In the past he has volunteered as an interpreter and translator to help monolingual Spanish-speaking families within the Seattle area. Through this work he helped in implementing community events and programs promoting health and wellness in low income communities around King County. He is inspired by the work of NWAE and is thrilled to be part of the team. Currently, he responds to general inquires and helps connect Spanish speaking families interested in adopting, and fostering children, with a recruiter.

This fall he is expecting to receive his AAS from Bellevue College and is excited about transferring to a University to continue with his education. Outside of work and school he enjoys swimming, painting, spending time with his family, and exploring the many outdoor offerings of Seattle area.

Felipe, originario de Chile, habla fluidamente en Español e Ingles. En el pasado el ha sido voluntario como interprete y traductor para ayudar a familias de habla hispana en el área de Seattle. A través de su trabajo el ha ayudado a implementar eventos y programas que promueven la salud y el bien estar en comunidades de bajos ingresos alrededor de el condado King. El trabajo que realiza la organizacion NWAE lo inspira y esta encantado de ser parte de el equipo. Actualmente, el responde a preguntas generales y ayuda a conectar a familias de habla hispana interesadas en ser padres foster o adoptivos con un trabajador que los ayude con el proceso.

Este Otoño, el estará esperando en recibir su diploma AAS de Bellevue College y este entusiasmado en continuar su educación en la Universidad. Fuera del trabajo y de los estudios él disfruta de la natación, pintar, compartir con su familia, y explorar todos los lugares que el área de Seattle tiene para ofrecer.

In Memoriam - Barbara Tucker Pearson, MSW

NWAE founder and mentor, Barbara Tucker Pearson, joined Northwest Resource Associates (NWRA) in 1988 as the director of the Northwest Adoption Exchange (NWAE). She remained an integral and valuable member of the NWRA team until her recent death after a long battle with cancer.

During her years at NWRA, Barbara was frequently named to local, regional and national planning committees charged with developing and implementing foster care and adoption policies. She was also in demand as an adoption and permanency planning trainer. In 2006, Barbara was an honored recipient of the "Angels In Adoption" award from the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI).

Barbara was a generous individual who treasured family, and who enjoyed spending time with her horses at her Bainbridge Island home.

We are thankful to Barbara for the love and hope she brought to thousands of children and families in need, and for the support, encouragement and inspiration she so generously gave to her colleagues and friends.

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