Candidate Statement

Karen Mull-Zapushek

Rockville, Maryland

During your 2+ years of membership in SVN, describe how you have utilized your member benefits. (Networking, training, credential, etc.)

As a member of the Supervised Visitation Network for many years, I have utilized the training to initially expand my skills as a Visitation Monitor. As I continued to work in the field and moved into leadership roles, the training available from the Supervised Visitation Network became a vital component of training new staff along with ongoing professional development opportunities for staff in the field. Additionally, the networking aspect has been a wonderful way to connect with others who are in the same field and to have the ability to reach out and learn from other providers and other programs.

Describe your experience in the field of supervised visitation or relevant experience that intersects with the field of supervised visitation.

My career in the field of supervised visitation began as a volunteer Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) with the Juvenile Court of Snohomish County WA then a paid Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) with the Circuit Court of Snohomish County WA . Upon request by Snohomish County Circuit Court and in collaboration with Snohomish County Department of Social Service, I developed, launched and operated the first Visitation Center in Snohomish County, WA. Under this model, I provided leadership in providing services to both family law high conflict families and families being served by DSS due to the families being impacted by child abuse and/or neglect. During this time, the center joined the Washington Chapter of the Supervised Visitation Network. As part of one of the committees of the Washington Chapter of the Supervised Visitation Network, I worked to provide feedback to the National SVN on the then developing Standards of Practice.

After a relocation back to the Baltimore/Washington area, I began Parent Time, a private practice in supervised visitation and child exchanges. In addition to private clients in multiple counties, Parent Time obtained a contract with the Harford County Circuit Court to operate the local visitation center in Harford County MD. I operated and provided leadership for the Visitation Center of Harford County for approximately 10 years.

In 2017, I was invited to coordinate the development, launch and continuing operation of the new Safe Passage Center for Supervised Visitation and Monitored Exchange in Montgomery County, Maryland. The Safe Passage Center is funded by Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services. The full time Visitation Center offers a safe and neutral setting for high- conflict parents and families impacted by domestic violence to exchange or visit with their children and provides approximately 250 visitations and exchange each month. The Safe Passage Center is the largest visitation center in Maryland. To date, I continue to provide leadership for the Safe Passage Center.

SVN’s vision statement is: “The Supervised Visitation Network champions a world in which all vulnerable families have access to safe and quality visitation services.” Discuss your commitment to better outcomes for families in consideration of racial, cultural, socio-economic, gender equity and ability/disability.


Part of my role and responsibilities as the leader of a visitation center is to have a commitment to providing trauma informed care and competent services to all families in consideration of cultural, socio-economic, racial, gender and abilities, with the goal to ensure better outcomes. As the Program Director of a large visitation center, we strive to have values and principles, philosophies, policies, procedures and professional development that ensure staff have demonstrated skills to support families to achieve better outcomes including some level of positive co-parenting.

What do you envision as the primary function of the position you are seeking and what skills, talent and experiences do you have that would most benefit SVN (and ultimately the membership) if elected to the position?

As a Board Member, I am aware that the key goals of the Board of the SVN are to enhance the mission through organizational planning and development, member management, ensuring resources for a sustainable future of the field and providing governance and oversight of the operations of the SVN. As a potential Board Member, I believe that I do have skills and experiences that would benefit the SVN. With a primary function of the Board being organization planning and development, I believe that my talent and passion for program development would benefit both the organization and membership. For example, with over 20 years of experience in the field of supervised visitation, I have been responsible for the development, launch, operation and oversight of multiple visitation centers across the country. Additionally, in working with local circuit courts, the Maryland Administrative Office of the Courts and the largest behavioral healthcare provider in Maryland (Sheppard Pratt), there is a goal to expand the number of visitation and exchange centers in jurisdictions that currently do not have such a resource and to ensure sustainable funding for centers.

Regarding diversity, equity, and inclusion, what strategy(s) would you utilize to effectively engage in dialogue with the membership?

Sometimes the dialogues around diversity, equity and inclusion can be difficult. However, one strategy that I would utilize to effectively engage the membership in such a dialogue is to work to create a safe space where members feel supported to ask questions and engage in a dialogue that intersection issues of race, class, gender, ability, and inequities can be explored. Additionally, as a Board Member, I would encourage professional development opportunities and networking opportunities for membership.

In what local, national, state, or provincial organizations (coalitions, groups, or task forces) outside of SVN or your current employer are you involved that would enhance the Networks goals?

 As a local leader in the field of supervised visitation, I have collaborated with local stakeholders including the local County Counsel, District Court, Circuit Court, Family Justice Center, CourtWatch, Department of Health and Human Services and local intimate and family violence organizations and provided trainings and engaged in formal and informal discussions about the field of supervised visitation. Most recently to expand conflict resolution training opportunities, I have most recently partnered with local Mediation organizations.