First Choice In-Home Care started as a small, family-based organization and soon began to grow rapidly as the company's reputation for providing care you can trust spread throughout the community.

Today, First Choice In-Home Care provides services to over 2,800 clients annually throughout King, Pierce and Snohomish counties and provides over one million service hours annually to our population of adults and children in need.



Michael Howard

Executive Director

I was born and raised in the Chicago area before relocating to Washington State in 1989.  In 1998, I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Washington and then attended law school at DePaul University in Chicago, where I graduated with honors in 2001.   

Prior to joining First Choice In-Home Care in 2018, I worked for over seventeen years as an attorney in Seattle, representing individuals and commercial entities in civil litigation matters, including claims as varied as wrongful death, breach of contract, workplace injuries, employment discrimination/harassment, and insurance bad faith.  As a litigator, I arbitrated dozens of cases and conducted multiple jury trials in state and federal courts with consistently favorable outcomes for my clients.  Most recently, I tried a property damage subrogation claim resulting in a directed verdict for my client and payment of my client’s attorney’s fees and costs through trial.  Most rewarding to me in my legal practice are the approximately 100 cases I have settled, where I worked diligently with opposing counsel to negotiate a compromise satisfactory to all parties. 

Notwithstanding the success I found as an attorney, I always aspired to do something professionally that would allow me to make a real, lasting impact in my community.  That opportunity came when First Choice In-Home Care founder Jim Lord offered me the chance to succeed him in his role as First Choice’s Executive Director.  Although this is a monumental career change, as it turns out, it’s the best decision I have ever made and I have not looked back since. 

I’ve seen firsthand the difference First Choice is making in the lives of our most vulnerable community members, from children with developmental disabilities, to our ever-expanding aging adult population, to our disabled Veterans.  While there will always be challenges, none is too great for our Client Services Team and high quality Caregivers to tackle head-on.  This is not by accident—First Choice’s entire focus is on providing the very best personalized care services possible for our clients, and those who work here are united in that goal.

I arrive to work each day with the drive and purpose that what we do matters, and I could not be prouder to be part of First Choice’s continued evolution as an industry leader. 

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Steve Hay

Director of Operations

I attended the University of Colorado and majored in Chemical engineering and manufacturing production management. I became very interested in computers and programming during his time there and spent time working in their computer lab on one of the few CDC 6400’s in the world at the time.

After 10 years in real estate, I formed a computer consulting business and spent most of the next 20 years specializing in customer relationship management systems. My customers included some of the largest insurance companies in Washington State as well as numerous associations and hospitality related businesses. I became a full time employee of the largest Dell reseller in North America in 2007 as their Senior Database Engineer.

I joined First Choice in 2012 and applied my skills automating business processes to the Home Care business and helped First Choice deliver a more efficient, data driven service than any other Home Care organization in the State of Washington.

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Carleen Pierson—Program Director

Carleen Pierson

Program Director

I graduated from Central Washington University with a degree in Sociology and Family Studies and started working at First Choice In-Home Care in 2012 as a Job Coach/Home Care Aide. I was drawn to First Choice because I wanted to work in an environment that helped people and made a positive impact on their life.  After a couple of months working in the field I was promoted into the office as a Direct Care Supervisor and continued to grow with First Choice.

Growing up, my father taught me that if you do something you are passionate about you will never work a day in your life; this is something that First Choice has given me, passion.  I am passionate about helping every individual maintain their independence and live in their own home safely.   I am proud to be the Program Manager of First Choice In-Home Care overseeing all client services operations throughout King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties. Every day I wake up knowing I have the opportunity to touch people’s lives, help them in a real way that other are not able.  Working with our clients gives my life so much meaning, I might make a positive impact in these lives of our clients, our caregivers and they do the same for me every day.

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Ryan Asman

Fiscal Manager

I have the honor of paying all our terrific home care aides and ensuring their payroll related needs are met.  I take great pride in knowing that my work directly helps our valuable home care aides who in turn deliver top quality care to our client population.  In addition to payroll related activities, I also work closely with the Client Services staff to ensure all client needs are met.

I joined the United States Navy out of Lake Havasu City, AZ and was stationed at NAS Whidbey Island where I flew on P-3 Orion Submarine hunters.  In the military I learned the discipline and attention to detail needed to succeed here at First Choice In-Home Care.  After the military I attended Western Washington University where I majored in Financial Economics.  After graduation I came to First Choice In-Home Care and never looked back, it was one of the best decisions of my life.

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Edward Alhart—Training Director

Edward Alhart

Training Director

I oversee and develop the training department here at First Choice In-Home Care. I have been with the organization since 2013, and in my time here I have helped First Choice become regarded as one of the best training centers in the State of Washington.

Most of my background comes from my experiences rather than formal education – I served with our United States Armed forces, and worked as a Law Enforcement officer in Florida, prior to relocating to Washington. When I first joined First Choice, I worked as a Caregiver for a number of clients and felt like for the first time, I was truly making an impact in peoples’ lives. All my prior positions had a very fast paced “deal with the crisis and move on” feel to them, but I loved the attitude that First Choice fostered with its employees, that of providing real care to our clients and treating everyone with kindness, fairness and patience.

When the opportunity to join the Training team presented itself, I jumped at the chance because I love to teach AND learn, and it was a good opportunity for both. Currently, First Choice offers numerous training opportunities that my team and I are happy to provide to all our Caregivers, including Home Care Basic Training, CPR / First Aid / BLS courses, Individualized training for Specialized Needs, Nurse Delegation and Diabetes instruction, and coming up in April 2016 we are pleased to add Crisis Prevention Strategy and Right Response Training to our list of available educational resources.

I personally believe that providing the best training resources and being open and available to talk to our Caregivers about their skills and identifying areas for growth is one of the keys to ensuring that the care they provide is safe, respectful, competent and trustworthy.

See Edward's Bio

TJ Lord

Director – Human Resources

My association with First Choice In-Home Care all started 17 years ago when our founders, my parents, cemented a methodology for locating quality Caregivers for the Agency’s first Client, my brother Corey. As they moved to assist other in-need members of our community, each family they helped made it possible to continue on and assist the next.

My responsibilities started small; accounting reconciliation projects after school, filing paperwork and other administrative tasks. When it came time for me to choose a career path, I knew there was only one direction I could go and when I was offered the opportunity to work as a Direct Care Supervisor, managing the daily needs of one of our Client Caseloads, I took it and haven’t looked back.

As the Human Resources Manager, my overarching responsibility is to ensure that our Client Services Team has access to a high volume of quality Caregivers to directly service their Client Caseloads. I take pride in my HR Team’s ability to drive candidates and identify those special characteristics that make a dependable, trustworthy and successful member of our Caregiver ranks.

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2n. Bereiter, Shannon - Photo - sm

Shannon Bereiter

Program Manager
I started with First Choice In-Home care in July 2015 as a Direct Care Supervisor, and now work as one of our Home Care Managers leading a team of Direct Care Supervisors.


I graduated from the University of Washington with degrees in Psychology and Anthropology. I found my passion for social work when I had the opportunity to volunteer at a crisis intervention phone line, where I was able to provide emotional support and suggest resources to people in need of assistance.  At First Choice I get to expand these skills by working closely with both clients and caregivers. I love the opportunities that I am given every day to make a positive impact in someone’s life.

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Missy Hoffman—Home Care Manager

Missy Hoffman

Home Care Manager
My interest and dedication to social work began while working with youth in the Spokane area. While attending college, I volunteered with several organizations allowing me to reach out and assist with at-risk populations. I focused my attention on the vulnerable populations in my community as they related to the criminal justice system and specifically ways to best utilize the system to reach out and assist those greatly in need.

After graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Criminal Justice and Psychology in 2017, I moved to the Seattle area to join First Choice In-Home Care as a Direct Care Supervisor, responsible for connecting our clients with our caregivers and ensuring our clients’ personal care needs are met. I am now a Home Care Manager, supporting our passionate Client Services Team in providing excellent care to our clients. I love working with people who are endlessly compassionate and share my desire to make a difference in people’s lives. I could not be more grateful to work for First Choice In-Home Care which aligns so strongly with my core values and I end each day with a sense of accomplishment, knowing that we do work that matters.

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Julia White—Senior Direct Care Supervisor

Julia White

Home Care Manager

I began working for First Choice in 2015 as a Direct Care Supervisor servicing clients in King and Snohomish County. First Choice has provided me with many opportunities for personal and professional growth, where I can continue to learn new ways to navigate the challenges of our client population. I take pride in knowing that every day I get to work with families and help my clients work towards independence. I have grown into the role as a Senior Direct Care Supervisor in our Pierce County office, where I get the privilege of leading a team of supervisors who all share similar passions.

I graduated from University of Washington Tacoma with a degree in Social Work. I focused my studies and service hours on disproportionality of youth in the greater Tacoma area. My involvement with youth was primarily within Tacoma Public Schools. I lead a mentoring program while I worked at Chief Leschi Schools as a social worker/counselor. These experiences drove my passion to immerse myself in issues surrounding diversity and social justice. I am privileged to continue my involvement in the Greater Tacoma area through First Choice in servicing members of this diverse community.

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Analisa Espinoza-Lopez FCIHC

Analisa Espinoza-Lopez

Home Care Manager
At a very young age, I was taught that compassion and empathy were the most sought virtues and characteristics that a person should embody. Throughout my life, it was ingrained in me to help people, specifically people who weren’t able to advocate for themselves.
I have always known that I wanted to help people as a career. I received a Psychology degree from Seattle University where I strengthened my understanding about the human condition. During my education, I volunteered at Childhaven which is a non-profit daycare that specializes in working with children with behavioral issues who come from abusive and neglected homes. During my time at Childhaven, I aided psychologists and social workers in creating a structured learning environment that would enhance the children’s early developmental skills. I assisted in assess and redirect a child’s mental to assess a child’s mental, physical, developmental, and behavioral status and engage in accordance to what the child needs.
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Jolie Baldwin—Senior Direct Care Supervisor

Jolie Baldwin

Home Care Manager

My career in social services began with my first job ever – an in-classroom tutor for a young boy with autism. Since then, I’ve made it my goal to diversify and expand my experience in social services. 

Throughout my college career, I was a home care aide myself, working with high-needs foster children as I pursued a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with an emphasis in Human Services from Whitworth University. I interned at an after-school care center in a low-income neighborhood focused on providing homework aid, supervision, educational opportunities and positive mentoring to children of immigrant parents. Prior to working at First Choice, I was a services coordinator at the Downtown Emergency Services Center’s Crisis Solutions Center, assisting people in crisis with stabilizing, accessing mental and physical health services and pursuing employment. I began a career with First Choice to better understand the process of coordinating and providing services to a wider array of people, from young children to adults to the elderly, and ensuring that they are receiving the best care possible.

See Jolie's Bio
Romento, Lauren - Photo - SM

Lauren Romento

Senior Case Manager

Making a difference in the lives of individuals has always been a passion of mine. I graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in Anthropology in 2014. After graduating, I went to work with vulnerable populations, spanning from working as a caregiver for patients with dementia to an Activities Coordinator at an Assisted Living Facility, and later as a Case Manager for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Working at First Choice gives me the unique ability to apply both my analytical and creative brain to solve complex problems. I love working with clients and caregivers to tackle problems head on, establish and tweak schedules, and come to creative solutions to issues. Getting that phone call from a well-served client or happy caregiver is what I strive for!  I feel lucky leaving the office each day knowing that I made a difference in someone’s life, and will continue to do so.

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Annie Doggett

Senior Case Manager

I was born and raised in West Texas. I earned a Bachelor of Social Work and a Minor of Sociology from Angelo State University. While in Texas, I gained experience through aiding law enforcement as a part of the Tom Green County Sheriff's Office Crisis Intervention Unit, interning at a local high school counseling center, and mentoring a group of adolescents within my local community.

Throughout my time traveling, living, and volunteering in Texas, California, Russia, Indonesia, and Washington, I've experienced a rich understanding of the human condition from many different social and cultural perspectives. I strive to create a positive and respectful impact in my community while always seeking to learn from others.

As someone seeking to empower those around me, I am proud to be a member of the First Choice management team. First Choice enables me to be a part of a passionate and dedicated group of like-minded individuals working towards making a positive imprint on those that need it most. As a Senior Case Manager, I coordinate and manage care for individuals in need and work with them and their families to live a safe and independent life, while also leading a team of other diligent case managers. I value the relationships fostered with clients and staff and honor the privilege of being entrusted with maintaining the health and safety of First Choice clients. Working at First Choice In-Home Care allows me to grow within my passion to help and serve others.

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Anna Ramirez FCIHC

Anna Ramirez

Senior Case Manager

Growing up I always knew I wanted to help others. I was not quite sure in what capacity, but I knew for certain I wanted to help make a difference in people’s lives. While attending college at Washington State University, I realized that a career in social services had a lot to offer. I began to study Psychology and Human Development, which ultimately led me to pursue this path.

After graduating from Washington State University with a degree in Human Development, I started my career as a child behavior specialist. Being a child behavior specialist gave me an experience I will never forget and provided me with so much knowledge on a population I had never interacted with on an individual basis before. While in that position, I realized that I wanted to do more to help a wider and more diverse group of people.

In the spring of 2020, First Choice In-Home Care offered me an opportunity to work as a Case Manager. Being a part of this dedicated team has impacted my life in more ways than I can count. I am able to live my dream of helping others become independent and enjoy their lives. I am making a difference in the lives of those we serve and as a fluent Spanish speaker, I am able to make it easier for our Spanish clients and caregivers to communicate with us. I also get to work with peers I genuinely respect and enjoy being around and they have helped me grow and learn even more.


See Anna's Bio
Haellie Ziegler-SM

Haellie Ziegler

Senior Case Manager

For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for helping those around me and wanting to make my community a better place. As I made my way through high school and college, I found my interests and passions pointing toward a future in social services. 

Accordingly, I volunteered to work an internship at Home and Community Services where I found myself invested in case management services, with a specific focus on in-home care. This niche of social services impacts many different parts of the community and enables me to serve the people around me while empowering them to be independent.

After graduating from the University of Washington with a degree in Social Work in 2018, I started my career with First Choice In-Home Care. As a Senior Case Manager, I work with a dedicated, skilled team of professionals that allows me to continually learn and grow within my chosen field. Through the pandemic, we at First Choice continue to stand strong together to ensure our clients are as safe, healthy, and as strong as they can be, which is something I am extremely proud of!

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Meagan Sablan FCIHC

Meagan Sablan

Senior Case Manager
I have always known I had a passion for helping others, whether in the field or behind the scenes, assisting those who are most vulnerable finding the help they need. After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Washington State University, I spent a couple years working in the hospitality/business management industry, and soon realized the hospitality industry was not for me.

I soon began working with a company that utilized ABA therapy to support autistic children and young teens. I worked one-on-one with a child to help her reach social, academic, and behavioral goals while in the classroom. I learned so much while working with children, but I wanted to work with multiple populations in need. After searching, I finally found First Choice In-Home Care. I knew I would be able to put my passions to work and make a positive difference in the lives of many. As a Senior Case Manager, I am honored to work with skilled and compassionate Case Managers as well as continually grow as a leader in the field that I am most passionate about. I have loved being a part of a company and team that puts the needs of the clients we serve before our own.

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Ashley Williams

Senior Case Manager
I was born and raised in northwestern Pennsylvania.  I began working in a facility setting while still in high school and I knew immediately that I was meant to help others.  I graduated from California University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work.

Since then, I have continued to work in direct care and administrative positions assisting vulnerable adults.  I have experience working with clients in their homes as well as dementia patients in a facility setting.  

While working in home care in my native Pennsylvania, I was promoted to an administrative position responsible for hiring caregivers and completing intakes for new clients.  Although I loved this job, I visited Washington State and wanted to make it my home.  After relocating, I was fortunate to land a position with First Choice In-Home Care that I love just as much.  At First Choice, I am able to continue helping those in need find the resources to help them maintain their independence and I have built meaningful connections with others that find the same joy in giving back.

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Chelsey Whilding FCIHC

Chelsey Whilding

Senior Case Manager
I was born and raised in Alabama, and I have always had a passion for working with vulnerable populations. In 2014, I received my degree in Social Work from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and spent the following years working with a nonprofit dedicated to youth development. I also had the opportunity to volunteer with a hospice organization and learned so much about working with the aging population. Providing dignity and comfort in the aging process is one of my passions, and I feel fortunate that I have been able to carry that passion through to my work here at First Choice In-Home Care.

When I had the opportunity to relocate to Washington State, I knew I could not pass it up! I have been working as a Case Manager with First Choice In-Home Care since 2019 and have learned so much during my time here. Every day, I work alongside some of the most dedicated teammates providing care for those in need in our community. This work became especially challenging as we encountered a global health crisis, but I watched as First Choice continuously rose to the occasion and never stopped doing work that matters. I am grateful for the opportunity to support our clients in some of their most difficult times, and I am incredibly proud of the work that we do.

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Daphne Millard, FCIHC

Daphne Millard

Senior Case Manager

Growing up in Northern California, my father introduced me to aspects of social work through his occupation as a police officer. These early conversations ultimately drove my passion for helping others, and I began actively seeking out ways in which I could aid my community. Throughout high school and college, I worked as a teacher, both as a swim instructor for a local academy and as a T.A. for an academic summer camp. In 2017, I received my B.A. in Criminal Justice and English with a minor in Classics from Rutgers University.

Immediately after graduating, I worked at a compliance laboratory in the Bay Area, with the aim of ensuring public safety on a large scale. I managed a team of engineers and associates through various projects, and was a chief liaison to regulatory bodies such as the FCC and EPA. While this position was rewarding in many ways, particularly in the invaluable managerial experience I received, I found myself desperately missing the person-to-person facets of my previous work.

I found First Choice In-Home Care shortly after I moved to Washington in early 2020, and am so grateful that I did. The culture at First Choice is imbued to its core with positivity and a rich emphasis on collaboration and teamwork. Most importantly, we not only provide and coordinate care for the vulnerable members of our community, but we do everything within our power to ensure their safety and well-being. It is an absolute privilege to come to work every day with such a caring and dedicated group of people, and to provide meaningful services to those most in need. I am honored to be a part of the First Choice team!

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Kendall Foster, FCIHC

Kendall Foster, MSW

Agency Affiliated Counselor

After earning my BSW degree from Saint Martin’s University in 2018, I began my career at First Choice In-Home Care as a Direct Care Supervisor. I soon realized that First Choice was my social work home. However, I knew in my heart that I could do more in this special field, so I returned to school and earned my MSW degree from Boise State University in 2020. First Choice was gracious enough to create a new opportunity that would allow me to utilize my new skill set, thus I am the Agency Affiliated Counselor (Credential Number: CG61114233). In short, I provide supplementary support to our staff, supervise our interns, and help our clients access the additional resources they need.

I am a proponent for helping our clients and staff find their true inner strength through self-empowerment, encouraging their right to self-determination, and providing clients and staff with the necessary skills and knowledge to overcome any adversity they may face. I integrate trauma-informed care, strength-based and solution-focused approaches in my work. My goal is to help First Choice clients and staff feel at their strongest during times when barriers and obstacles may make them feel at their weakest.

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Jim Lord, Executive Director First Choice In-Home Care

Jim Lord


In 1999, my wife, Rhona and I founded a small home care agency that got started by providing personalized care to our six incredible clients. We called this company First Choice In-Home Care and created it to serve the needs of our vulnerable communities located throughout King, Pierce and Snohomish counties in Washington State.

A lot has changed since then, and today we provide in-home personal care to over 2,200 clients annually and employ over 1,500 of the finest, best trained and respectful home care aides, nursing assistants and registered nurses in the industry…who do work that matters every single day.

One thing that hasn’t changed is our purpose; which is to provide responsive, respectful and caring services and to ensure that First Choice In-Home Care is a company that in all ways is all about helping people.

As the founder of First Choice In-Home Care, I have the great privilege of developing and implementing concepts, structures and methodologies that allow us to deliver services in a manner that is state-of-art and always mindful that our job is to maintain the health, safety and happiness of each person we serve.

Our Home Care Agency has grown tremendously over the last several years. In 2002, First Choice In-Home was awarded a contract with the Division of Developmental Disabilities (now called the Developmental Disabilities Administration) in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. This contract allows us to provide care to our population of children and adults with very special care needs. Now in 2018, we are the largest provider serving this wonderful population in the State of Washington, a job that is always rewarding.

In 2010, we were awarded home care contracts in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties to provide services to our aging adult population. These contracts with City of Seattle Human Services, Pierce County Community Connections and Snohomish County Human Services require a great deal of State and Federal mandated compliance, which includes three comprehensive audits of our home care agency each year. 

In 2014, we were awarded a Home Health Aide contract through the Veterans Administration and now have the honorable privilege of providing care to our Veterans who served our country so proudly.

At First Choice In-Home Care, we are a group of highly motivated individuals, who have come together to do as a team, the one thing we all do naturally in our daily lives…which is to help people.

Thank you for your interest in First Choice In-Home Care. Whether you’re seeking to learn about home care for a loved one, exploring partnership opportunities or considering employment with us, I’m confident you’ll find the information you need as you explore 

See Jim's Bio