Laureen K. Tanner, RN, MSN, FACHE, Chief Executive Officer
After serving on the Treasure House Board of Directors for three years, Lauri Tanner was asked by Brenda and Kurt Warner to transition to the CEO position in November 2018.
Lauri has more than four decades of experience and success in the healthcare industry serving as a registered nurse all the way up to CEO of a pediatric bridge hospital for medically complex children and their families. As CEO, she was responsible for managing all aspects of the hospital’s operations, from inpatient and outpatient care to administration, fundraising, and so much more. “I realized that I am most fulfilled as a leader when my personal mission takes care of not only the person needing care, but their family, too,” said Lauri. The hospital is where she met Brenda, who was a volunteer and later, a member of the Board of Directors.
“Brenda recognized my leadership, passion, commitment to my work, and heart for caring for those who are often overlooked,” said Lauri. “From start up to sustainability, I am grateful for the opportunity to blaze the trail for Treasure House. I will do anything it takes for our residents to fulfill vibrant lives, and I love seeing each of them develop as independent adults who amaze their parents with what they’re able to do on their own.”
To get the full Treasure House experience, Lauri resided at the unique living community for nine months and loved every moment. “The main lesson that I learned at Treasure House is that everyone can reinvent themselves if they are willing to put in the work.”
Lauri hales from St. Louis, Missouri, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Science in Nursing Service Administration from St. Louis University. She enjoys golf and all sports, cooking and baking, hosting resident pool parties at her home, and needlepoint in her down time. She is a proud mother and pet owner.
Coley Schaan Amaro, Director of Operations, is a founding member of Treasure House who has worked at the community since April 2017. A jack of all trades, her job entails overseeing programming, managing the life coach and community assistant teams, and handling solutions that every nonprofit needs to function such as billing, accounting, human resources, payroll and maintenance. “I stay super busy, but there are no bad days around here,” said Coley. “Spend five minutes singing in the car with Zach or get a huge hug from Nic and your day turns around.”
At just 16-years-old, Coley knew that she was meant to work with the intellectually and developmentally disabled (IDD) community, and it has been her true calling and passion ever since. As a sophomore in high school, she became a teacher’s assistant for a special needs development physical education class and eventually became a full-time paraprofessional there. She then moved on to become the High School Program Director at One Step Beyond, a day program for the differently abled. Coley was soon promoted to the Operations Director at One Step Beyond, where she served for nearly a decade.
Coley considers Treasure House folks to be family. “I remember taking a huge group photo at Celebrity Game Night with all of the residents and staff and I just started to uncontrollably ugly cry!” said Coley. “I saw everyone’s smiling faces as they were all dressed to the nines, and couldn’t help but reflect on how our community continues to flourish. I felt so much love and was incredibly proud of everyone.”
Coley is an Arizona native. She met her husband of more than a decade while working in the specials class at her high school, and together they have three children, two dogs and two cats. She enjoys Marvel movies, Star Wars, classics, and prides herself on being handy with DIY fixes. She loves to shop, spend time in California, and appreciates anything Disney related.
Her favorite quote? One by Disney himself that reminds her of Treasure House: “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, doing new things, because we are curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”
As the Executive Assistant at Treasure House, Amber Vandenberg assists the CEO in daily operations by ensuring that every aspect of the Treasure House ship sails smoothly. She thrives when helping others and has a heart for people who need her support, which makes her the perfect fit for our unique living community.
She joined the team in April 2020 and says that the most fulfilling part of her job is being greeted each day with resident hugs and smiling faces. “I also love seeing each resident’s weekly growth. A very memorable moment was witnessing the thrill and joy of a resident in her 30s learn how to ride a bike for the very first time,” said Amber. “My job never feels like work – I feel like I’m with family all day!”
Amber has served in education, rehabilitation and veterinary fields throughout her administrative career, all which challenged her to support many levels of management, be a leader, and help benchmark goals and objectives.
Amber is an energetic, animal-loving, Arizona native. She enjoys spending time with her two teenage boys and daughter, hiking, site-seeing, watching football, and having barbeques with family. One thing Amber has learned at Treasure House: ‘Life is not predictable, but you can adapt and overcome.’
Camerounan (Cam) Kenne began with Treasure House as a Community Assistant before becoming the Life Coach Manager. In his role, he oversees the well-rounded development of all residents through strategies he leads and develops with Life Coaches. He also supports the Director of Operations in creating activities and programs that produce supreme, quality living at Treasure House.
“The feelings, sensations and emotions that Treasure House gives people is healing,” said Cam. “Helping residents cross their limitations with love, kindness and compassion helped me realize my own limitations as well, and made me want to serve Treasure House even more. This is the place where I put all of my knowledge to use while continuing to learn.”
Cam lived in Africa and Europe before migrating to Arizona in his twenties to become a ‘forever’ student. Cam earned a Ph. D in Clinical Psychology and holds Doctorates in Business Administration Management and Theology from California Southern Law School. He also earned a Master of Science and Leadership from Grand Canyon University, and recently finished doctoral courses at Argosy University. He is an adjunct professor at Bryan University, Grand Canyon University and the University of Phoenix. “Treasure House provides me with real-life opportunity to execute what I teach to my students in terms of regulating emotions and stability.”
Cam loves Treasure House because everyone – including the chef, janitor and maintenance repair person – understand that a community is being built. “It takes a family to raise a child, not a single expert,” he said. “The mind and soul demand a whole family of ‘healers’, and my goal is to help make that concept sustainable so that Treasure House can eventually be replicated across the country.”
Cam is a member of the National Agriculture Support in Africa, and he uses his aptitudes and resources to empower small businesses in Cameroon.
With a disability or without, life coaching is the process of helping someone move forward in life by setting goals, achieving them and being inspired to keep them alive while setting the next goal. By developing dynamic, trusted and comfortable relationships with residents, Life Coaches are able to assist in attaining independence and community inclusion, thus enhancing the quality of life for those who call Treasure House home.
Each Treasure House Life Coach manages no more than seven residents at once to ensure each individual’s success, and serves as the liaison to parents or guardians. Life Coaches assist residents with budget management, health and fitness planning and execution, developing meaningful relationships, helping with grocery shopping, and scheduling doctor visits. Additional responsibilities include working with residents to find jobs and volunteer opportunities, preparing them with interview skills, and providing job coaching and organizational training.
Community Assistants provide 24/7 oversight at Treasure House, and focus on all of the details that keep our IDD residents thriving. This team helps residents navigate their day by making sure their daily routines and schedules are met. Routines include hygiene, laundry, meal accommodations, in-house activities, community participation, interactions with other residents, and more. Community Assistants play a major role in the lives of community members, and keep daily operations running smoothly
Through expert recommendations from Amy McCallister, RD, owner of AM Nutrition Services, Treasure House prioritizes an overall healthy and balanced lifestyle for each resident that is enhanced with foods known to promote peak brain and cognitive function.
Amy has owned AM Nutrition Services for 14 years of her 21-year career as a registered dietitian. “My mom had a major health issue and passed away when I was deciding my major. I felt that nutritionally, she could have made some changes to benefit her health,” said Amy. “I wanted to learn and join this ‘helping’ profession. Being a dietitian is as close to teaching as I can get.”
Amy earned a degree in Nutrition Science and Chemistry from Northern Arizona University. She began AM Nutrition Services in 2007 and manages 26 Registered Dietitians who see youth and adult patients with a variety of health issues at seven Valley locations. When Treasure House formed in 2018, the nonprofit knew that it needed to retain expert nutrition services to help resident’s stay as healthy as possible so that they could achieve fulfilling lives at Treasure House and in the community. That’s when we discovered Amy, a leading nutritionist in the Valley.
In 2011, she was named a “35 Entrepreneurs under 35” by the Arizona Republic. She has made appearances on Channel 12’s Today in AZ and Ask the Experts segments and has spoken at numerous engagements on the topic of leading a healthy lifestyle.
“Food heavily impacts mental health and behavior. Studies show that a balance of exercise, nutrition and supplements can have just as helpful an impact as medicines commonly prescribed for depression,” said Amy. “Treasure House is on board with that and is unlike any group living home in the Valley – they never blink an eye when it comes to quality nutrition as they help residents lead fulfilling lives. Eat better, feel better, live better.”
Chef Brian Robison is the Executive Chef at Treasure House. He works with Amy, our nutritionist, to develop meal plans that include fresh ingredients to nourish resident bodies and minds. “I’m not an ‘open-the-box sort of guy,” said Brian. “I source unprocessed and raw elements to cook with, like super fresh meats and from-the-garden veggies. My cooking style is healthy. I always focus on making low sodium and low sugar foods.”
Brian’s spaghetti and meatballs and fry bread tacos are major hits with residents and staff. People devouring his cuisine is not the only rewarding part of the job. “Fifty percent of my job is cooking, and the other half of the time I’m interacting with residents which is really cool because before Treasure House I no experience with the intellectually and developmentally disabled community. I’m learning every day.”
Brian started working in restaurants when he was 14-years-old. Brian attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco with encouragement from his father who recognized Brian’s passion for cooking. Before moving to Arizona and discovering Treasure House, Chef Brian worked at high-end restaurants and hotels.
“Treasure House is developing a kitchen system than can be easily replicated,” said Brian. “From kitchen design, to recipes, to ordering the freshest produce, we’re thinking about everything in terms of expansion so we can impact more lives in the disability community.”
Murphy provides loyal friendship and support to all staff and residents at Treasure House. He is trained to manage anxiety and depression in residents by providing emotional support and distraction, and he encourages physical activity. “Plus, he’s just so cute – he smiles, the dog actually smiles!” said Lauri.
Murph and Lauri go way back as a truly perfect match. When Murphy was almost 3-years-old, he became a service dog for the pediatric bridge hospital where Lauri was serving as CEO. “I had requested a service dog for three years to provide support to patients, and when we finally met it was love at first sight,” said Lauri. “As his handler, he lived with me and came to work with me each day to provide therapy to medically complex children. I called him Chief Puppy Officer – CPO!”
When Lauri left the hospital, the nonprofit that provided Murphy asked to place him elsewhere because he was such an incredible service dog. This was devastating to Lauri, who checked in with the nonprofit’s Executive Director monthly to see how Murphy was doing. “After nine months, it was determined that he was depressed and wouldn’t ‘work for’ anyone else, so he moved from St. Louis to Phoenix to provide service to young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.” They would be lost without each other, and the residents love him.