CAA Team

Denise Tanata, J.D.
Executive Director

Denise has been working in the field of child advocacy in Nevada since 1998.  She has extensive experience conducting applied research and policy analysis on children’s issues, with an emphasis on translating research and data to improve policy and practice.  In addition to numerous academic papers, reports and publications in the fields of child welfare, early childhood education and children’s health, Denise has also presented on legislative advocacy focused on empowering individuals toward collective action.  She previously served as a Senior Scholar at the Lincy Institute at UNLV and also served as the Executive Director of the Nevada Institute for Children’s Research and Policy (NICRP) in the School of Community Health Sciences at UNLV.

Denise received her Bachelor’s Degree in Women’s Studies from UNLV, with a minor in Sociology and received her Juris Doctorate from the William S. Boyd School of Law at UNLV.  She serves on numerous boards and coalitions aimed at improving the lives of children and families in Nevada and is the recipient of the US Congressional Flag by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for her commitment to the children of Nevada as an academic, advocate and volunteer.


Shelby Henderson
Policy Manager – School Readiness

Shelby Henderson joins the Children’s Advocacy Alliance as its School Readiness Policy Manager, overseeing our early childhood education initiatives and efforts. Her passion for child advocacy was ignited by her work as a 2012 Teach for America Corps member in the Las Vegas Valley. During her two year commitment, Shelby was a lead pre-school teacher at Acelero Head Start Stewart Center. While working at Acelero, Shelby witnessed the value of high quality early childhood education and realized the lack of access to high quality programs in Nevada. In addition to her teaching experience, Shelby has expertise with family and community outreach. She was most recently an Urban Leader Fellow who worked with the Colorado legislature developing Pay for Success legislation and worked with the Colorado Department of Education researching Kindergarten Entry Assessments.

Shelby received her Bachelor’s Degrees in Political Science and History from the University of North Texas and received her Master’s in Early Childhood Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


Jessica Lamb
Policy Manager – Health

Jessica Lamb joins the Children’s Advocacy Alliance as its Children’s Health Policy Manager. Jessica developed her passion for children’s health early in her career at the Boys & Girls Club of Truckee Meadows where she coordinated their health education program. After receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Community Health Science from the University of Nevada, Reno Jessica began working for the State of Nevada’s Health and Human Services Department as its Obesity Prevention Program Coordinator. While working at the State of Nevada, Jessica gained expertise in public health policy initiatives and community engagement efforts. Through serving on various boards and committees to volunteering in her community, Jessica is dedicated to ensuring that every child in Nevada has the opportunity to grow up healthy.


Jared Busker
Policy Analyst

Jared joined the Children’s Advocacy Alliance as an AmeriCorps VISTA* in 2013. In that role, he focused on research and policy issues for early childhood education. Upon completion of his VISTA service in August 2014, Jared was offered a full-time position with CAA as a Policy Analyst where he will be responsible for research and analysis of data, policies and trends in children’s safety, health and school readiness. Jared has served as the Treasurer of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of Southern Nevada and as a Board Director for the Nevada Council on Economic Education. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. While in college, Jared was a UNLV Lee Business School Student Ambassador, Phi Theta Kappa- Omicron Eta Honors Society President, founder of the Rock Valley College Conservatives Club, and intern with Illinois State Representative Joe Sosnowski.


Kaia Bartling
Strong Start Northern Nevada Campaign Coordinator

Kaia Bartling is the Northern Nevada Campaign Coordinator for Strong Start for Children: Building Nevada’s Future. Kaia developed her passion for ensuring a better foundation through early education when she taught preschool in Wyoming. In 2013, she moved to Reno, Nevada and became the lead teacher at Blue Kangaroo Preschool. From her many years in the classroom, Kaia has seen that quality early childhood education is the key to giving children the skills they need to further their education.

Kaia received her Bachelor’s Degree in Professional Child Development at the University of Wyoming.


Alejandra Martinez
Policy Associate

Alejandra Martinez joins the Children’s Advocacy Alliance as an Americorps VISTA* where she will be assisting with the Strong Start Early Childhood Community Navigator Project. Through this role she will help establish community navigators in targeted neighborhoods to ensure parents have access to the available resources to provide their children with high quality early education. Alejandra’s zeal for children’s advocacy sprouted from volunteering with organizations that focused on children’s health and education. Through volunteerism she has been able to recognize the impact a lack of high quality early education can have when establishing rudimentary learning skills that are fundamental to future success.

*VISTA was founded as Volunteers in Service to America in 1965 by President John F. Kennedy as a national service program designed to fight poverty in the United States.  In 1993, VISTA was incorporated into the AmeriCorps network of programs.