399 Taylor Blvd., Suite 102, Pleasant Hill, CA 94523(925) 356-6260adopt@atwakids.org

Our Staff

Cara HelbergCara Helberg

Executive Director

Executive Director.
Cara has worked in adoption for 29 years.  She started out with domestic adoptions, was the Assistant Director at Across The World Adoptions (ATWA) for 13 years and then the Executive Director of Angels’ Haven Outreach.  Today, Cara returns to her roots serving children in international adoption as ATWA’s new Executive Director.  Her experience in both international and domestic adoption has prepared her to lead ATWA as we bring more children into forever families from more countries.  Eight years ago, Cara and her husband adopted her then 12 year old daughter and she realized her passion and mission was to assist older and special needs children who need families.  She has helped hundreds of children into domestic and international families.

Lesley SiegelLesley Siegel


Director and Founder, has 38 years of experience in the field of Child Welfare.  Lesley completed an undergraduate degree with a focus on Child Development.  She was a Senior Rehabilitation Counselor for the State of California where she assisted teens with developmental disabilities.  After completing law school, Lesley began a practice serving the best interests of children and has since touched the lives of thousands of children who need families.  In 1995, she founded Across The World to further assist with international child welfare.


Kathy Bargar LCSWKathy Bargar LCSW

Social Work Supervisor

Kathy Bargar, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Social Work Supervisor, has both professional and personal experience in the field of international adoption. Kathy completed an undergraduate degree in psychology. She then graduated with a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Southern California in 1994. Since that time, she has been working with adoptive families providing direct service through home studies, post adoption support and adoptive parenting education.


Shonna CroninShonna Cronin

Family Coordinator

Shonna has been working in international adoption for the past 14 years, and 10 of those years with Across The World Adoptions.
Shonna is passionate about her work in adoption, and has helped thousands of of children in families in her 14 years.
Shonna is an expert working with homestudy and dossier paperwork and feels very fortunate to be working in a field she loves!

Audrey MontanaAudrey Montana

Post adoption Coordinator

Audrey earned her Law degree from Hastings College of Law and has worked as an Investigator and as an Elementary school teacher.
Audrey speaks Japanese and lived and worked in Japan as an English teacher.  Audrey has worked with Across The World Adoptions for the past year,
and has been a great addition to our team!

Joe Ramirez, LCSWJoe Ramirez, LCSW

Social Worker

Joe Ramirez has a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from UCLA and received his Master’s in Social Work from San Diego State University in 1984. Joe is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. He is passionate about his work with children and families. Joe has been involved in international adoption for over 15 years. 

Robert Woolridge, MSWRobert Woolridge, MSW

Social Worker

Robert has worked in adoption since early 2006. Assisting families who wish to adopt orphans internationally has always been his passion and he brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the international adoption arena. Robert also specializes in working with older foster youth and assisting them in their efforts to achieve permanency. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley and a Master of Social Work degree from Columbia University. He is a dedicated father and husband and is truly inspired to find loving and caring homes for the orphans of the world.

Diana Cheng LCSWDiana Cheng LCSW

Social Worker

Completed a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development and a Master’s degree in Social Work, Diana Cheng, LCSW, has been in medical social work since 1997.  In the field of adoption, she has both professional and personal experience in adoption. Diana has been working with adoptive families for the past eight years, providing direct services through adoptive parenting education, home studies and post adoption services.

Jill Christopher MSWJill Christopher MSW

Social Worker

Holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Child Development from Cal State University, Bakersfield in 1994.  She worked for the Department of Human Services investigating elderly abuse when she graduated college and then obtained her MSW in 1998 from California State University, Long Beach.  She now works fulltime as a program manager for the Department of Human Services in their Child Welfare division.  During her almost 20 years with that agency she has worked in their Adoption program.  She joined ATWA working as a contract social worker in 2000 and enjoys meeting the couples and watching their families grow.  She is a mother to four children and a grandmother to six children.

Tanya Cohen LCSWTanya Cohen LCSW

Social Worker

Is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has an undergraduate degree in Child Development and a Masters of Social Work degree.   She has worked in the adoption and foster care field for 18 years and has experience in both domestic and international adoption.  She now provides her expertise to several adoption and foster care agencies during the pre-adoption and post-adoption period.

Annette Eastman LCSWAnnette Eastman LCSW

Social Worker

Graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology. She obtained her Master’s in Social Work in 1971 and is now a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Annette worked in foster care from 1974 until 1996 when she began work with an open adoption program. She now works as a social worker, providing the benefit of her 35 years of experience to several adoption agencies.

Emma Johnson MSWEmma Johnson MSW

Social Worker

Completed an undergraduate major in sociology (emphasis in criminal justice) with a minor in psychology. She worked to reunify families and as a counseling intern for five years. She then obtained her Master’s of Social Work and began a focus on international adoption. She has a license as an Associated Clinical Social Worker.

2013 Staff Training


2012 Staff Training


2011 Staff Training