Welcome to RUSH!
Guided by the principle that all children have a right to safe access to both parents, the mission of Return US Home (RUSH) is to educate the public and public servants about Parental Child Abduction (PCA) and remedies for its prevention. RUSH supports children impacted by this crime through research, education and advocacy.
Educating the public and public servants about Parental Child Abduction and affecting its prevention by:
Advocating for national and international policies that facilitate the return of wrongfully retained and abducted children;
Collaborating with relevant agencies – nationally and internationally – to understand the depth and impact of PCA toward the establishment of procedures that ensure the physical and psychological safety of seeking parents and their abducted children; and
Creating informative and empowering messages and programs to generate stronger recognition of the crime of PCA, and to increase remedies for prevention.
A general public, and public servants, who are educated about Parental Child Abduction (PCA), its breadth, and harmful impact, toward a global recognition of PCA as a form of child abuse.
Édeanna M. Barbirou
Édeanna Barbirou has been researching the issue of Parental Child Abduction (PCA) since 2011, when her own children were parentally abducted to Tunisia. Having spent three years in Tunis to pursue her legal rights of custody and the right to return to the U.S. with her children, she developed tremendous working knowledge of international law, Tunisian law, diplomacy and politics as they each pertain to PCA. She returned to the U.S. in 2014 with her daughter and continued to pursue the return of her illegally detained son. Her family was fully reunited when her son was returned to the U.S. in June 2017.
Return US Home (RUSH) became an advocacy organization in 2012, when Édeanna became determined to raise greater awareness and research on the issue of PCA. Through her personal experience, research, and advocacy, she has developed a strong, and unique, expertise regarding this crime.
Édeanna has had great success in raising awareness of PCA with responsible state and federal agencies, members of Congress, and their staffs toward the enforcement of existing legislation, and development of new policies, that protect families impacted by this crime. In June of 2015 and May of 2016, she testified before Congress regarding the implementation of the 2014 International Child Abduction Prevention and Return Act (ICAPRA). Édeanna has been a keynote speaker at Congressional briefings on International Parental Child Abduction (IPCA); has presented before the Federal Interagency Task Force on Missing and Exploited Children; participated as a panelist for International Social Services - USA; has developed presentations for national legal associations for CLE credit; and delivered a speech to the staff of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children on the topic of resiliency in IPCA cases.
Édeanna obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from American University in 2001 in a combined degree program of Communications, Law, Economics and Government (CLEG). In 2010, she obtained a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the St. John’s University, Rome, Italy. She continues to participate in continuing education opportunities and is focused on mediation and legal remedies in civil and family law. While she is presently committed to providing the time and attention her recently reunited family demands and deserves, Édeanna will pursue a JD in international and family law in the coming years.
Board of Directors
Sabeen Khan - Treasurer
Sabeen Khan is an Accounting Supervisor for a regional CPA firm, Snyder Cohn, PC. She has over 17 years’ experience in accounting. She has worked with clients in a wide range of fields, including: insurance, legal, lobbying, medical services, non-profit, real estate and transportation. Sabeen received her B.A. in International Service from The American University in May 1999.
Liesel Kuhr - Vice Chair
Liesel Kuhr is a financial and administrative professional with over ten years of experience in public administration in the non-profit sector. She is a Human Resources Benefits Specialist at the National Education Association (NEA) in Washington, D.C., which serves 3.2 million public educations nationally. She has previously served as the Business and Finance Manager of NEA’s Health Information Network and as Administrative Manager for the NEA’s Staff Organization. She has also worked on, and with, various 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(5) governing boards. Liesel holds a Master’s in Public Administration from George Mason University and a B.A. from Kenyon College in Ohio.
Stacey Pearson - Director of Training Development and Law Enforcement Liaison
Stacey Pearson is a retired law enforcement professional with extensive experience in complex missing and exploited children investigations. After a distinguished 20-year career, she retired in July 2018 as a veteran sergeant with the Louisiana State Police where she most recently served as the Manager of the Louisiana Clearinghouse for Missing and Exploited Children (LACMEC), the Statewide Coordinator of the Louisiana AMBER Alert Plan, and as a Special Victims Unit supervisor.
Currently, Stacey provides all manner of child safety education through Espoir Consulting. Espoir is the French word for “hope” and a nod to the Acadian French heritage of her south Louisiana home. Stacey believes she can provide hope to families by training others.
Stacey regularly instructs at the Louisiana Juvenile Officers’ Academy and has enjoyed public speaking, panelist, and guest lecturing engagements at the National Missing and Unidentified Persons Conference, the national AMBER Alert Conference, Loyola University in New Orleans, and Boston University. In 2016, Stacey developed a 50-page handbook, Introduction to Missing and Abducted Children Investigations, designed to provide Louisiana law enforcement officers guidance as to the statutorily mandated response to missing and abducted children.
Stacey has completed thousands of hours of law enforcement training, including NCMEC's Chief Executive Officer Seminar, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice Law Enforcement Leadership program, and the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government program. She also holds a Master of Criminal Justice from Boston University. Her future plans include pursuing her PhD in criminology and public policy.
Sara Robertson - Director of Communications
Sara Robertson is a veteran communicator with nearly 20 years of experience in media logistics, media relations, digital strategy, crisis communications, and speech/content writing.
As Manager of Marketing and Outreach at Learning Policy Institute, Sara develops and implements promotional/marketing campaigns to disseminate LPI's education research and policy concepts.
Sara has been nationally recognized for campaigns in crisis communications, media strategy, and was awarded PRNews PR Professional of the Year in 2016. Sara refined her skills for 11 years as senior communications specialist and media strategist at the National Education Association in Washington, D.C.
Prior to NEA, Sara spent five years in media logistics and relations for the United States Senate Radio-TV Gallery in the U.S. Capitol. She holds an M.S. in Journalism and a B.A. in Mass Communication from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. Sara is the proud mother of a son, Ori, and wife to husband Travis.
Judy Thornell - Secretary
Judy Thornell is the President and CEO of Baytek LLC & Baytek Consulting Group specializing in Sage and Intuit Accounting Software Solutions, offering solutions throughout the US with a focus on Small and Midsized Businesses.
Judy Thornell is an advocate for Children. Judy first volunteered to help children 10 years ago working with the Outlook Foundation whose mission is to repurpose computers and provide them to children in need as well as military personnel being deployed to help bridge the communication gap with their families. In 2013, Judy and her family became dedicated and immersed in learning about custody laws and Prevention of International Parental Abduction as her own grandson’s biological mother had made numerous threats of abduction to a non-Hague country. Through Judy and her family’s efforts her son has Sole Custody of her grandson. Judy knows that Protection and Prevention is a 24/7, 365 days a year effort and commitment.
Joel Zuckerman - Chair
Joel Zuckerman, Esq. is a Maryland Family law attorney at the firm, Maxwell Barke & Zuckerman LLC. His practice includes an emphasis on complex litigation in family law with a focus on international custody, including matters regarding the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. His firm has had success in reuniting children with their families following parental abduction or wrongful removal from their home state or country.
Mr. Zuckerman received his B.S. in Counseling and Family Studies from the University of Rhode Island, 1992, and received his J.D. cum laude from the University of Baltimore in 1995. He is admitted to practice in the Courts of Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and various Federal Courts, including the District Courts of Maryland, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Pennsylvania, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit. Mr. Zuckerman has received training in Collaborative Law, and as a mediator; is a member of the Bar Association of Montgomery County, Maryland; has been recognized by Washingtonian Magazine as one of the area's "Top Lawyers"; and is speaker and lecturer on topics concerning disability, civil rights, and mediation.
Ambassador Susan Jacobs
Ambassador Susan Jacobs was a career Foreign Service Officer for over 40 years. Her assignments included Deputy Consul General in Tel Aviv, Refugee Officer in New Delhi and Consul General in Bucharest. After serving as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Legislative Affairs, she was the U.S. Ambassador to Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. In 2010 Secretary of State Hillary Clinton appointed her to be the first Special Advisor for Children’s Issues at the Department where she focused on international adoptions and international parental child abduction.
In her retirement, Ambassador Jacobs continues to be involved in promoting the welfare of children, volunteer work and visiting her grandchildren.
Nancy Regan, PhD
Dr. Nancy Regan joins RUSH as member of the Board of Advisors where her primary focus is grants and programs. Dr. Regan has over forty years of experience in the administration of public and Federal academic programs, and the development of regulatory and compliance evaluations. She has served in three State systems of higher education and six Federal agencies, the last being the U. S. Department of Education where she was responsible for over $900 million in discretionary grant funding to institutions of higher education. In the public sector, she was responsible for institutional and programmatic accreditation compliance ensuring quality standards of educational programs.
Dr. Regan's past work includes: U. S. Department of Education (Director of Strengthening Institutions Division and Director of Accreditation and State Liaison); U. S. Capitol Police (Dean of Educational Development); National Academy for Credibility Assessment (Dean of Academics); U. S. Army (Director of the Clinical Laboratory Officer Course); U. S. Navy (Director of Medical Department Correspondence Courses); U. S. Air Force (Clinical instructor and Technical Supervisor); University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs); University of Maryland School of Medicine (Academic Coordinator); and Coastal Carolina Community College (Director of Associate of Arts in Medical Technology).