The PET Power/Smashing ANTs Team
Our after-school and summer camp programs (through Amazing Futures Foundation) and the new Online Learning Center (through Building Futures, LLC) are created and managed by a dedicated team which oversees design, content, development, and program operations. We are motivated by the desire to make this one-of-a-kind program available to children everywhere.
Founder and Creator
Albina Romagna is president and founder of Building Futures, LLC, and author/creator of Smashing ANTs™ and has ten years’ experience teaching and leading the program to hundreds of Howard County students. The inspiration behind the program is the belief that the parent/child relationship is of paramount importance, and that a child’s healthy self-concept can be strengthened through building better communication, mutual respect and understanding within the family. Albina’s education is in organizational behavior and personal and group dynamics. She enjoyed many years in the corporate world as a successful IT and project management specialist. Noticing a standard business practice of training employees to relate to their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates in supportive, non-confrontational ways, Albina determined that parents and families could also benefit greatly from this training.
Albina’s unique yet broad perspective on family life is the result of an extensive 20+ year study in parenting, life strategies, motivation and healthy self-esteem. This, combined with insights on her own parenting experiences, personal struggles, and business management philosophies, have made her a sought-after speaker, lecturer and author. She is a member of the Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) Bully Prevention Policy Writing Committee, HCPSS Board Policy 1060: Bullying, Cyberbullying, Harassment and Intimidation Implementation Team, HCPSS Student Services Advisory Committee, and has presented at the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Summer Institute.
Michaela Naess is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, a Ph.D. candidate in Mind-Body Medicine, an integrative psychotherapist trained and practiced in EMDR, hypnosis and theta healing, a certified yoga instructor, and an adjunct professor at Garrett College. She has served as our advisor since the inception of Smashing ANTs™ in 2006.
Michaela has over 18 years of extensive mental health experience with a variety of clients, serving as a clinical services director, an educational consultant, and a public mental health clinician along with extensive work with women’s issues, depression, anxiety & addictions. She graduated from West Virginia University with a Master’s in Clinical Counseling in 1996. In 2006, Albina opened Skyeia Wellness Center, a holistic and integrative therapy practice in her native Oakland, Maryland. Albina’s private practice can be found at www.skyeia.com.
Júlia Abeln has a Master of Education from the University of Missouri, St. Louis, specializing in Early Childhood Education and bachelor’s degrees in psychology and family science with a minor in human development from the University of Maryland, College Park. Júlia’s experience at the University of Maryland includes work as a research assistant at the Neurocognitive Development Lab, as a peer counselor at the Peer Counseling and Crisis Intervention Hotline, as an advisor at the Department of Academic Advising, and as a teaching assistant at the university’s top-rated Center for Young Children. She was chosen from a pool of many highly competitive candidates to be a corps member for the Teach For America organization in Kansas City, Missouri, where she worked with students using strategies to cope with their negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors stemming from trauma.
Júlia currently serves as a content advisor for the Smashing ANTs program by providing feedback and enhancement recommendations for existing curricula. Her wealth of knowledge, education, and experience make her a valued resource for our program.
Program Coordinator and Web Designer
Rina Sitz has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Towson University and, in addition to her work with Building Futures and Amazing Futures, has been a volunteer mediator and restorative dialogue facilitator with the Mediation and Conflict Resolution Center at Howard Community College since 2005.
Rina began with Amazing Futures Foundation in 2011 as a facilitator of the after-school and summer camp programs. She now contributes to the organization more broadly, assisting with branding, marketing and operational support. She designed and administers the PET Power/Smashing ANTs and Smashing ANTs Online Learning Center websites, maintains organization databases and collaborates on the creation and improvement of program content, strategies and processes.