Welcome from the AMBER Alert Regional Liaisons

Liaison Region Map

From Yesenia (‘Jesi’), Region 1:

yesenia leon baron
Yesenia (‘Jesi’), Region 1 Liaison

As a Native to Florida, I began my career in law enforcement in 1997. In August of 2000, I became Special Agent Florida Department of Law Enforcement, investigating narcotics, organized retail crime, crimes against children, missing and abduction children and was assigned as the Child Abduction Response Team Coordinator. During this time in my career, my desire to help and protect our children from predators became a passion that reflected in my investigative work. 

After my retirement in 2012, I continued my passion through mission work and sharing my work experience with hopes to help others in their pursuit. Ultimately, this granted me the opportunity to work for the AMBER Training and Technical Assistance Program (AATTAP) as a Regional Liaison. Being a member of the AATTAP, I have had the honor of facilitating and helping our National and International AMBER Alert partners to expand their own capacities and capabilities resulting in a more confident approach in their own investigations. As a result, I have learned that by sharing our Best Practices and Lessons Learned, collectively we can find better solutions and approaches in protecting locally and globally.

From Gus, Region 2:

Gus Paidousis
Gus, Region 2 Liaison

I have been blessed to be in law enforcement and public safety for 36 years and I have found my work with missing children's issues my most rewarding experience. My work with Fox Valley Technical College has afforded me another opportunity to work with wonderful people working toward the noblest of missions.

From Melissa, Region 3:

melissa hansen
Melissa, Region 3 Liaison

I became involved with child protection issues in 2004 when I served as an advocate with the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center. As an advocate for the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center, I was responsible for assisting victims and enhancing collaborations among hospital personnel and local law enforcement. Following my advocacy work, I moved to Washington D.C. in 2010 where I joined the National Criminal Justice Training Center’s DC Office and worked on various training and technical assistance initiatives with Bureau of Justice Assistance and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. I currently live in Minnesota and now serve as a Project Coordinator for the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program.

What is most important/rewarding to me about being a member of the AMBER Alert Training and Technical Assistance Program is the opportunity to serve as a resource and increase collaboration between tribal, state, local and federal AMBER Alert Partners. I hope that I can be an effective and supportive collaborator, working to increase partnerships and communication between all AMBER Alert Coordinators and Clearinghouse Managers. Through this increased collaboration, I hope we will improve our ability to exchange best practices, identify lessons learned, and improve our response to missing and abducted children. I look forward to continuing to gain more insight from all of our AMBER Alert Partners about their current challenges and how the AATTAP can assist them in their AMBER Alert programs and initiatives across the nation.

From Janell, Region 4:

Janell Rasmussen
Janell, Region 4 Liaison

Welcome to the AMBER Alert Website!  We are fortunate to have a site that will give us the opportunity to share information, best practices, and to ask questions of our fellow AMBER Alert partners!  As a past AMBER Alert Coordinator, I learned from other AMBER Alert Coordinators best practices, new initiatives and key strategies.  Networking and sharing best practices can be the direct result of finding missing and abducted children.  I am honored to work with AMBER Alert Coordinators as we continue to improve AMBER Alert Plans and bring kids home safely!

I became involved with Missing Children/Child Protection/AMBER Alert work when I developed a proposal to implement the AMBER Alert Plan in Minnesota in 2000. After extensive collaboration with other Agencies, that plan was accepted.  I was involved in the implementation of the AMBER Alert Plan in Minnesota in 2001 and served as the AMBER Alert Coordinator for 16 years.  I also supervised the Missing Persons Clearinghouse. 

Working with the AMBER Alert Program has been some of the most rewarding work I have done.  I am inspired each today to see the dedication and commitment from AMBER Alert Coordinators throughout the country.  I want my work to add to the great work that is already being done.  I also want to continue to see the AMBER Alert Plan remain as the successful and well regarded program that is it throughout the world!

I hope to contribute to the program and our AMBER Alert partners the extensive experience I have gained in terms of what has worked, and many times, what has not worked with AMBER Plans.  I have been very involved at the legislative level and have worked with many Senators/Representatives and Administrators to help build a successful plan including evaluating other programs like Blue and Silver Alert.  I have also made collaboration within the AMBER Alert Plan that I have worked with a key initiative. 

I have learned from working with AMBER Alert Partners that each state faces different issues, different government structures, and different legislators.  That has helped me to understand that no one AMBER Alert Plan will work for every state.  We have to work together to share best practices so that we can use what works best in each state, while accomplishing the same end goal – safely recovering missing children. 

From Derek, Region 5:

Derek VanLuchene
Derek, Region 5 Liaison

I started my Law Enforcement career in 1991 on a rural police department in northern Montana.  From there I went to the Montana Division of Criminal Investigation where I was an agent for 11 years. 

My perspective is unique when it comes to missing and abducted children.  In 1987, my 8 year old brother Ryan was abducted and murdered by a repeat sex offender.  Since that time I have worked personally and professionally to ensure communities and children are protected.  This passion led me to do the work I do now with the Amber Alert program. 

The most rewarding part of being with the AMBER Program is the ability to assist agencies and individuals with forming the best plans for responding to missing or abducted children.  It is very rewarding to see and hear about success stories of recovered children and know that it was our training that made the difference.

It is my hope that my contribution to those that I collaborate with, is my ability to listen, communicate and problem solve.  If there is a need for a resource, I will not quit until I find it and have fulfilled that agency’s need.  Over my time in law enforcement and child protection, I have learned a particularly important lesson: The day you know it all, is the day you’d better hang it up. In every program I teach or assist in, I always learn something new from someone attending the course.