Staff are selected not only for their education qualifications, but also their experience in the field and commitment to helping at-risk youth. Further, our comprehensive policy and procedure manual dictates our high expectations and needs for personal conduct, confidentiality and on-going evidence-based training.
All staff members are trained in CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention), CPR, First Aid, Cultural Sensitivity/Diversity, Cognitive-Behavioral approaches and interventions, and DCFS Mandated Reporting.
In short, you can trust Focus House staff members to have the education, experience and passion to make a real and significant difference in the lives of the youth placed here, and, that the children will be treated with respect and concern for their well-being.
Meet Our Staff
Brenda Mason, LCPC- Focus House Director
Mrs. Mason grew up in Ladd, IL and graduated from Spring Valley Hall High School in 2001. From there she attended Western Illinois University and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Law Enforcement and Justice Administration in 2005. Following that, she began her career as a Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor at Bridgeway in Monmouth, IL. In 2008 she moved to this area and began working at Sinnissippi Centers in Oregon while attending NIU, subsequently obtaining her Master’s Degree in Counseling. During her tenure at Sinnissippi she helped launch New Horizons Ogle County Drug Court and was the treatment provider for Drug Court clients. Brenda continued working at Sinnissippi as a Behavioral Health Services Clinician until 2015 when she joined Focus House as the Clinical Supervisor. Mrs. Mason was named Focus House Director in July 2018.
Katie Whitmore MSW, LSW- Clinical Supervisor
Mrs. Whitmore graduated from University of Illinois at Chicago with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. Katie started her career at an inpatient drug and alcohol treatment center for adolescents. She worked as a truancy officer for Rockford Public Schools before moving to working with youth in foster care. Katie also facilitated a Life Skills program for teenagers in foster care before joining the Focus House team in December 2014 as a Residential Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer. Katie since obtained her Masters of Social Work in May 2018 and was named the Clinical Supervisor in July 2018.
Joe Shaw- Residential Supervisor
Mr. Shaw graduated from Northern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in 2003. He began his career as a Residential Treatment Specialist at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois in Nachusa in 2004 then went to Focus House in 2005 as an Adolescent Treatment Specialist. He transitioned to Ogle County Court Services as an Adult Probation Officer in 2007 where he worked for eleven years. In 2018 he was named Residential Supervisor at Focus House.
Tony Wyatt- Head Teacher
Mr. Wyatt grew up in Rochelle, IL and graduated from Rochelle Township High School in 1999. He later decided to return to school in 2005 school and attended Kishwaukee College before finishing his degree in English with a certification for teaching. He worked for 6 years as a site coordinator for the Rochelle elementary school district as a site coordinator for the HUB Project. He would then move on to teach 7th grade at the Rochelle Middle School. After 3 years at RMS, Mr. Wyatt went back to school to receive his certification in Special Education before joining the FOCUS House school program as a special education teacher in August of 2021 and later transitioned to Head Teacher in the summer of 2022.
Becca Moser- Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer
Ms. Moser attended the University of Illinois-Springfield (formerly Sangamon University) where she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Education/History, and completed graduate studies in Public History. Ms. Moser spent nine years working with DCFS clients at Lutheran Social Services of Illinois before joining the Focus House staff in 2001. She first served in the role as the House Manager/Probation Officer at Focus House and moved to the Farm House in 2002 as the Residential Counselor. Ms. Moser enjoys being able to serve the youth of Ogle County and beyond.
Brandy Spear- Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer
Jasun Liepitz- Counselor/Juvenile Probation Officer
Jeff Birr- Adolescent Treatment Specialist/Juvenile Probation Officer
Mr. Birr relocated back to the Midwest from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Northern Colorado in order to be closer to family. He is originally from Wheaton, Illinois. He has nearly 30 years of experience working with children and youth in Residential Treatment and Educational settings. He holds a Bachelors of Arts degree from Marycrest College in Davenport, Iowa and completed additional studies in Education at Front Range Community College in Fort Collins, Colorado. At Focus House he serves as a Juvenile Probation Officer and Adolescent Treatment Specialist III.
Matt Schiltz- Adolescent Treatment Specialist/Juvenile Probation Officer
Mr. Schiltz graduated from Western Illinois University in 1995 with an RPTA Degree and a minor in Coaching. Matt started at Focus House in November of 2000. He was promoted to Juvenile Probation Officer in 2004.
Samantha Doyle- Alternative Program Coordinator
Mrs. Doyle Graduated from Northern Illinois University in 2016 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. While attending NIU she also studied to receive a minor in Family and Child Studies and a certificate in Criminology. After graduation she began her career with the Ogle County Reporting Center which has since become the Alternative Program of Focus House. In June 2021 she was promoted to Alternative Program and Quality Assurance coordinator.
Bonnie Moore- Office Manager
Ms. Moore graduated from Kishwaukee College and Capella University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. She began work with Focus House in 2010 as an insurance clerk and became the Administrative Assistant in 2014. She is a lifelong resident of Illinois.
Jeni Hardin- Community Projects/Marketing Coordinator
Mrs. Hardin grew up in Wheaton, IL before joining the Army to serve her country. She served three years and did tours in Germany and Kosovo as a Supply Specialist. After getting out of the military, she continued serving the community and helping people as an Activities Director for an assisted living facility. She also worked as a Marketing Coordinator and Community Outreach for hospice. She has a big heart and a passion for helping people in any way that she can. She enjoys interacting with the community and putting together events that will help people and organizations, which is what drew her to Focus House.
Alisha Kirk- Health Aide
Mrs. Kirk attended Highland Community College where she completed their Medical Assistant Program, graduating with an Associates of Applied Science in Medical Assisting. She worked for the Ogle County Health Department as a Contact Tracer before transitioning to a Public Health Medical Assistant. Mrs. Kirk continues her career in the medical field as the Health Aide at Focus House.