Kitsap Strong Backbone Team 

Kody Russell, MSW

Executive Director

Kody Russell is one of 25 Washington State ACE Interface certified NEAR (neuroscience, epigenetics, ACEs, & resiliency) Master Trainer/Coaches. He is a talented and experienced presenter who has trained over 1,500 people in the NEAR sciences since being hired in April 2015.


Kody has over ten years of experience working with children and families in the child welfare system who have experienced significant trauma and struggled with the myriad of associated social and health problems; including mental health issues, substance use disorders, aggression, child abuse & neglect, anger, hostility, sexual behavior issues, homelessness, etc. Before being hired as the Kitsap Strong Project Director, Kody worked for the Department of Children & Family Services (DCFS) for over seven years as a Child Protective Services (CPS) Investigator, Department of Licensed Resources - Foster Home Licensor, and as a Family Team Decision Meeting Facilitator/Supervisor. Prior to working for DCFS, Kody was a supervisor at Ryther Child Center in Seattle, a behavioral rehabilitation center for “Sexually Aggressive Youth”.


Kody received his Bachelors in Psychology from Seattle University in 2000 and a Master’s in Social Work from Eastern Washington University in 2014. He uses his education and lived experience working with children and families through the child welfare system to add deep meaning and life to the neuroscience, resiliency, and trauma-informed curriculum.  

Cristina Roark joins the Kitsap Strong team as the Innovation Network Manager. The Innovation Network is working with a diverse group of community agencies to promote and expand trauma-informed practices and services to individuals in our community. This network consists of agencies across the life span (birth to 5 service providers to hospice care) and across numerous sectors (health, housing, education, justice, human services, etc.), and all the agencies are exploring new strategies, policies, practices, and services to support employees and clients from a trauma-informed perspective.

She supports the collaborative learning efforts that bring diversity of thought and methods for data-informed reflections of what is working and for what areas could benefit from improvements. Her role is to serve as a resource to the Innovation Network and help facilitate strategic partnerships and connections.

Cristina is recognized by her peers as a someone who cares deeply about developing meaningful and supportive relationships. She believes that the ability to influence system change begins with looking inward.

Before joining Kitsap Strong, Cristina served as a Senior IT Business Analyst at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Alumni for ten years on IT-related change initiatives. She was a culture contributor, building employee communities for greater impact and personal fulfillment. She holds an MBA from the University of Kansas and a BA in Economics from the University of California, San Diego.


Cristina Roark
Innovation Network

Alyson Rotter (pronounced r-oh-t-er) currently works as the Network Manager for Graduate Strong Network (formerly Kitsap & Mason) within Kitsap Strong. Her education background includes an undergraduate degree in Psychology and a graduate degree in Public Affairs from Washington State University. She has worked in the field of education for over 18 years in various capacities within higher education, college access, outreach and training, program management, expanded learning and behavioral health.

She strongly believes all students can and will be successful when they have the right opportunities, resources, and support systems. Ensuring equity in education is not only a professional passion, but a personal mission as well. Alyson currently serves a School Board Director in the community she resides and is involved in several other community volunteer efforts related to education. She enjoys spending time outdoors and attending sporting events with her husband Chris, and two children, Brennan and Macelyn.

Alyson Rotter
Graduate Strong Network Manager

Marlaina Simmons is Kitsap Strong’s Networks Coordinator. In her role, she provides support and coordination between all Network Managers and community partners. She acts as the primary contact for Kitsap Strong; managing presentation/training requests and scheduling for the Olympic NEAR Speakers cohort.

Before joining Kitsap Strong in 2016, Marlaina spent 6 years working as the Program Manager for a regional early learning coalition. During this time, she built relationships both within the communities of the Olympic Kitsap Peninsula region as well as at the state level with Thrive Washington and the Department of Early Learning. Marlaina holds a Bachelors Degree in Human Services from Western Washington University.

Marlaina Simmons
Networks Coordinator

Backbone Role


Continuous Communication

Creating a process and environment in our community where agencies can come together to discuss complex social issues - homelessness, intergenerational poverty, ACEs, mental health issues, substance use, criminal activity - and develop innovative solutions is hard work. We must all be patient while holding each other accountable.

Backbone Agencies

Kitsap Strong's role as the backbone:

  • Have a dedicated staff

  • Have a high level of credibility within the community

  • Serve as neutral convener - create a space/process for agencies to learn together

  • Build key relationships across agencies involved in the initiative

  • Focus people’s attention & create a sense of urgency

  • Frame issues to present opportunities & difficulties

  • Use evaluation as a tool for learning & progress

  • Ensure coordination & accountability

  • Establish collective ownership

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