Partners and Team
Help Me Grow San Mateo County is a collaborative system led by First 5 San Mateo County in partnership with community organizations AbilityPath and Stanford Children’s Health. Many other valued partners in the community are part of the Help Me Grow San Mateo County network and are vital to its success. Help Me Grow San Mateo County recognizes the tremendous value of all our partnerships, including those that provide funding. Together we are committed to achieving and maintaining a system that partners with parents to promote the full potential of all children birth through five.
Sonia ValenzuelaCall Center Manager, AbilityPath
Trained in evidence-based family engagement methodologies, Sonia has been supporting families and providers for almost 18 years. She oversees care coordination for families served through Help Me Grow and helped to develop and launch the Call Center. She is passionate about serving parents and providers, and enjoys using her personal and professional experiences to bring communities together.
Emily Gudaitis, MPHProject Coordinator, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford
Her experience at Stanford Children’s Health prepared Emily for her current partnership-building role with Help Me Grow, where she coordinates outreach efforts to pediatric healthcare providers. Her passion is to bridge the gap between families and the resources in the community to ensure that all children have equitable access to healthcare services.
Mara McGrath, MPHConsultant, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Stanford
Mara has trained and provided technical assistance to over five hundred pediatric healthcare providers. She’s now channeling this experience in her current training role. The parent of a 36-year-old son with cerebral palsy, Mara’s passion is to enhance services to children with special health care needs and other populations facing challenges.
Cheryl OkuConsultant and Initiative Manager
For over 20 years Cheryl has supported quality improvement in programs and initiatives for children 0-5. Cheryl is the co-lead for the Help Me Grow in San Mateo County, coordinating and supporting the continuing development of our system. Her experience as a young child with special health care needs fuels Cheryl’s passion to ensure that every family receives the support they need.
Emily Roberts, MSW, MPHHealth and Development Specialist, First 5 San Mateo County
Emily brings nearly 20 years of experience in the child- and family-serving professions. With a passion for working with children and families, deepening community connections and promoting equity through increased access, Emily co-leads the Help Me Grow San Mateo County system. As a mother of two, Emily also knows firsthand the importance of having trusted professionals to turn to for advice and support.
Neel Patel, M.D.Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Pediatrics
Dr. Patel is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and has previously served as the Co-Chair for the Northern California Section on Young Physicians. His professional interests include pediatric infectious diseases, developmental screening and early intervention, co-management with specialists, ambulatory safety/quality, and the patient experience. Dr. Patel is fluent in English, Spanish, Hindi and Gujarati. The patient and family experience is what ultimately drives his passion in health care.
Carol ElliottDirector, Family Support Services, AbilityPath
Also an elected Trustee of the San Carlos School District, Carol has been in nonprofit management since 1991. In her role with AbilityPath, she oversees administration, operations, fiscal and strategic planning for three programs including Help Me Grow. Carol is passionate about building systems that support all children reaching their fullest potential.
Martha CarcamoHelp Me Grow Supervisor
Martha Carcamo joined AbilityPath in December 2014 and oversees the supervision of the Help Me Grow Care Coordinators. She is bilingual in Spanish and brings over 15 years of experience working directly with children birth through five, and their families. Prior to joining Help Me Grow, Martha worked in home and center base settings with the Institute for Human and Social Development in San Mateo County. She is passionate about serving her community and partnering with families so they can feel empowered to advocate on behalf of their child.
Alejandra GarciaBilingual Care Coordinator
Alejandra joined AbilityPath in July 2019 as a Bilingual Care Coordinator. She attended San Jose State University where she received her BA in Psychology. She formerly worked at Center for Social Dynamics as an ABA therapist and assessor, assisting clients with developing and implementing individualized goals related to their treatment plan. Raised in South San Francisco she is passionate about giving back to her community and supporting families. Alejandra enjoys spending time with her family and exploring new places.
Patricia IdrugoHelp Me Grow Care Coordinator
Patricia joined AbilityPath in March 2019. Originally born in Peru, the Bay area has been home since 2001. Patricia holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Tourism and Hospitality Administration. She is bilingual in Spanish and has 4+ years of experience working with families and children in San Mateo County. Prior to coming to AbilityPath, she worked at CORA where she learned about the intersections of child abuse, sexual/labor trafficking and homelessness. Patricia is passionate about working with parents to support their child’s development and believes from experience in the benefits of early intervention.
In her free time, she spends time driving around her two active boys and collecting old poetry books in English and Spanish. She loves chocolate, enjoys sunsets and tries to improve her salsa dancing skills.