Vision: To reach, inform, and inspire the lives of children and families.

Mission: Strengthening Families are Essential to our community, city, and state. And, we believe, Everything Starts at Home...

About Terri

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Terri English-Yancy, BA, MA, MA
Founder and CEO
UMKC Alumni

Essential Families reflects its founder and CEO Terri English-Yancy, who from an early age combined the take-charge attitude of the oldest sibling with an innate love for children.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Terri’s family moved around a lot with her father’s job as regional territory manager with John Deere.

The family ultimately returned to the Kansas City area, where Terri graduated from Olathe North High School.

Nine years older than her sister, and six years older than her brother, Terri was the one who handled pickup from sports and other duties while her parents were working. Terri was also the go-to babysitter in the neighborhood.

Maybe she was a little bossy. But in hindsight, Terri does not see it that way.

“I was just a leader in the making…because I always wanted to take care of everyone.”

Before founding Essential Families, Terri spent 24 rewarding years with the Family Conservancy, a respected nonprofit that has served young children and families from its base in Kansas City, Kansas, for nearly 150 years.

At the Family Conservancy, Terri served as the Program Manager of the Head Start Home-Based program. She oversaw a 12-person staff.

While being Program Manager at the Family Conservancy, one mom in particular, helped propel Terri to start Essential Families. This mom was a single, working parent with a 3-year-old at home being watched by grandma.

The childcare arrangement was problematic since Head Start required a natural parent to fill that role. But the bigger problem was that the mom made just slightly over the income eligibility guidelines for Head Start.

This single working young mother touched me in such a way, that she motivated me to start Essential Families. Because this mom was desperate for Family Conservancy services… “She wanted her son in the program” but was denied.

Terri holds an undergraduate degree in child and family development from Southwest Missouri State University (now known as Missouri State University).

Terri also holds two (2) master’s degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (in curriculum and instruction) and from Webster University (in management and leadership).

Terri English-Yancy

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Essential Families

Executive Leadership Team

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Terri English-Yancy BA, MA, MA, as Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Essential Families, brings over 30 years experience of program policy, procedure, responsible fiscal management, and strategic planning with tactical detail experience.

Data and positive outcome driven, Terri effectively manages compliance and finance matters, relative to Essential Families operations, while making efficiency decisions, and appropriate delegations.

Additionally, Terri successfully completed the WIPFLI Head Start fiscal management training and is a former board memeber of Nurture KC. Terri is a trained trauma informed care facilitator, with a strong diverse individual collaboration “know how”.

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Jayce Greene, Chief Financial Officer

With 25+ years of commercial banking and financial services experience, I provide Strategic CFO Consulting services for real estate developers, small to mid-sized business owners, and non-profits. Formerly a Director of Lending with a CDFI in the Midwest, I specialize in affordable housing-related projects with developers that are looking to "give back" to their communities through their real estate development skills.

My clients work on all types of properties, icluding residential, commercial, and mixed use that involve both rehab and new construction throughout the United States. Given my prior investor real estate underwriting experience, my highest and best use is my ability to translate a developer's concept into a financial proforma that attracts lenders and investors to provide funding for their project.

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Riza Artizuela, Executive Administrator

With 9 years of diverse professional experience, she's taken on roles such as tutor, Content Writer, Digital Content Coordinator, Copywriter, Social Media Manager, Ghostwriter, and Administrative Manager. Riza is not only proficient in her day-to-day responsibilities, but is also passionate about optimizing processes and contributing to the overall success of the executive management team.

Dedicated to community service, Riza has been actively involved in spearheading feeding and nutrition programs for malnourished kids and seniors since 2016. During typhoons, she extends support by providing families with essential supplies. She's thrilled to contribute to Essential Families' vision of reaching, informing, and inspiring the lives of children and families, addressing the Digital Divide.

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Kenneth P. Yancy I, BBA, is Chief Digital Marketing and Business Development Officer for Essential Families. Kenneth is a serial entrepreneur and visionary, “gifted and talented” in the areas of Digital/ Mobile Marketing, Software Development, Telecommunications, Artificial Intelligence, and Real Estate Development.

Kenneth’s unique expertise and background is a result from 37 years of leading successful multi-million dollar projects for Big Data, software, marketing, Real Estate Development, and telecommunications powerhouses IBM, Sprint, Cisco Systems, and Proverbs Estates.

Recently, Kenneth was inducted into the UMKC Innovation Center Fellow program.

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Amy Fortney, BA, PMP, is Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Essential Families.

Amy has nearly 25 years of Operations leadership and Project Management experience as a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). Career highlights have included leading large teams and implementing provider credentialing systems for 250k+ providers at the nation’s largest health insurer as well as management of award-winning care teams and territories in home care for the country’s third largest non-profit health system. She has also been responsible for leading two business divisions in delivery and fulfillment of multi-year, multi-million-dollar state contracts administering Workers Compensation and tax processing for three state departments of taxation during her tenure at a leading Business Process Outsourcing company.

Ms. Fortney is a consultant for 7 and 8-figure small businesses providing fractional Operations leadership services and personalized business coaching.


Christina Kohn, Chief Rural Essential Digital Equity Program Officer

I am a seasoned social worker with clinical licensure since 2005, bringing nearly two decades of experience to my practice. My professional journey has afforded me the privilege of working with adults, teenagers, and children across diverse settings.

I am dedicated to employing a strengths-based approach, recognizing and building upon the inherent capabilities of each individual. I am committed to meeting you exactly where you are in your journey, focusing on your unique goals and aspirations. Your well-being and personal growth are at the heart of my practice, and I am here to support you every step of the way.