Developmental and Behavioral Services, Mat-Su Valley, Alaska
Krista Hobson

Krista Hobson, FNP-BC, PMHNP

Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner &
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

While providing care as a Family Nurse Practitioner, I found my calling as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I realized in order to treat the physical body effectively, I needed to treat the mind as well.

As a team member at Ptarmigan Connections, I help children and families by providing medication management, complementary and alternative solutions, and mental health education. I have worked with young children to mature adults, and enjoy all ages and stages of development.

I grew up in Palmer, Alaska and graduated from Palmer High. I attended University of Alaska Anchorage’s Nursing program where I earned a bachelor's in nursing science and obtained licensure as a Registered Nurse. Next, I attended Frontier Nursing University in Versailles, Kentucky for my master’s and post graduate master’s certificate in nursing science for Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I am a nationally certified Family Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and Family Nurse Practitioner. My hobbies include skiing (downhill & cross country), snowshoeing, hiking, and reading.

Desiree Cook, CPNP-PC, PMHNP

Certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner &
Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

I have a deep and abiding passion for children and teen mental healthcare. As an Advanced Practice Nurse; caring for my patients with compassion, integrity and civility are the principles that guide me. I am providing care to both the patient, and the patient’s family. Comprehensive care means I interpret a patient’s overall health through the lens of their quality of life, living situation, environment, culture, and personal relationships. Nursing is more than just science; it is focusing on a deep level of caring in service to our patients.

I had the pleasure of receiving my Bachelors of Science in Nursing from Middle Tennessee State University 2012. I spent the next several years working as a Registered Nurse, learning humility and the importance of leadership and patient advocacy. In 2017, I completed my Masters of Science in Nursing from King University with a focus in child growth and development. During the Pandemic I had the opportunity to further my education into the beautiful complexities of mental health obtaining my post graduate certification as a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I am a nationally certified Pediatric Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

Growing up in Knoxville, TN I thought there could be no place more lovely with mountains until we relocated to Alaska in November of 2016. In my spare time you’ll find me with my family at sporting events or enjoying the various adventures in Alaska!

Desiree Cook
3 Amber Shea, Psych NP

Amber Shea, PMHNP, RN

Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Children bring us great joy, deep sorrow, and amaze us every day. Sometimes we wish they would never get hurt, always do what's right, and live an easy life full of pleasure. Thankfully, even though this is not what we are given, we can choose to help them achieve the healthiest life possible.

As a team member at Ptarmigan Connections, I help children and families by providing medication management, complimentary and alternative solutions, mental health education, validation and encouragement. My experience in the field spans more than 10 years. I have worked with very young children to very mature adults, and enjoy all ages and stages of development.

My education is through the University of Alaska's Nursing program where I earned a bachelor's and a master's in nursing science. I am a nationally certified Family Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner and I have a state license for both Registered Nurse and Advance Nurse Practitioner.

Cathleen E Marshall, MD

Pediatric Developmental Neurologist

Bio coming soon.




Alaska's Center for Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, Ptarmigan Connections, Wasilla, Palmer, Eagle River, Alaska

Elowyn M. Smith, DO


Pediatrician Dr. Elowyn Smith, D.O. is happy to be part of the team at Ptarmigan Connections. Her expertise with children who experience complex medical, developmental, and behavioral health problems is an invaluable contribution to our community.

Tamara Russell, PsyD

Clinical Psychologist

Working with children and families to figure out how the child’s brain is working and how to best support them so they can reach their personal definition of success is the most rewarding type of work for me. I love helping parents clarify the challenges their child or teen might be facing and recognize the strengths and gifts that child has while connecting them to the resources that will foster growth and support them as they take their next steps toward becoming amazing.

My educational background includes a master of science in school counseling and an education specialist degree in school psychology from La Sierra University, and a masters and doctorate in clinical psychology from George Fox University. I completed my internship at the University of Utah Neuropsychological Institute in Salt Lake City and my post-doctorate training at Southcentral Foundation in Anchorage while working as the psychologist for their FAS Diagnostic Team. Prior to joining Ptarmigan Connections, I completed psychological evaluations for the Providence Pediatric NeuroSciences Clinic in Anchorage with a focus on diagnosing children and adolescents with developmental disabilities and learning challenges secondary to medical conditions.


Alisa Stevens, LPC, IMH-E(II)

Licensed Professional Counselor

My greatest goal is to help children grow up to be the best versions of themselves. They learn how to do that in the context of relationship with their caregivers. Because of this, I strive to provide compassionate care to both children and their families to support building secure attachments and strong relationships.

I earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from University of Alaska Anchorage in 2012 and a Master of Science in Professional Counseling from Grand Canyon University in 2016. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and am endorsed as an Infant Family Specialist at level II. I have experience facilitating individual therapy with ages 0-18, dyadic work with children and caregivers, family therapy, Child Parent Psychotherapy, Circle of Security Parenting, and Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I enjoy working with families and children of all ages, and have a passion for serving early childhood.

Christine Samms, M.A., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

The ability to communicate is a personal right of all, no matter the age. Helping your child be the best communicator possible is a passion in my life. I get a thrill when I watch a child master and use a skill that had previously been difficult or may have seemed impossible. I like to celebrate all achievements with them and never grow tired of watching a child or teen realize they possess the skill within themselves to change their world.

I received a Bachelor’s in Arts in Secondary Education Spanish, but quickly realized that my love was Speech and Language. I completed my Masters of Arts in Communicative Disorders and Sciences from Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas. I worked in the Kansas public schools before moving to Alaska. I have received training in PECS, SOS Approach to Feeding, Proloqu2go and Social Thinking. I focus on making literacy a part of all sessions as literacy impacts every child’s life daily. I enjoy helping all children, tweens and teens with: Articulation, Fluency, Receptive and Expressive Language, Voice, Feeding including food aversions and picky eaters. I particularly enjoy tweens and teens.


Abigail Parris M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

I absolutely love supporting children in their communication development, whether it’s articulation, language skills, or pragmatics. As a mother of four little ones, all with very different strengths and challenges, I get to see how strategies that work for one child may not work for another. One of the most rewarding parts of my job is helping a child share their joy, excitement, and frustration with others.

I had the pleasure of receiving Bachelor’s Degrees from Seattle Pacific University as well as the University of Washington before earning my Masters of Science in Medical Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Washington. Over the past decade, I have worked with children from 1-18 years of age with a wide variety of diagnoses including Autism Spectrum Disorder, Articulation and Language delays, Fluency concerns, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Attention Deficit Disorder. I am trained in PROMPT, iLs, Social Thinking, SwallowWorks, DIR/Floortime, and have spent countless hours working with Occupational Therapists and their patients with Sensory Processing Disorder. I enjoy working with minimally verbal children and their families, using Augmentative and Alternative Communication methods to support their communication. I also love targeting social communication skills in a group setting with peers.

Ellen Kelsey, M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist

I believe one of the most important keys to a high quality of life is communication: expressing your own thoughts, being understood, and understanding others. I want your child to communicate to the best of his or her ability and love to celebrate each successful step in the journey.

I received a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Texas at Austin, followed by a Master of Science degree in Communication Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas. I have received training in PECS, PROMPT, SATPAC, Beckman Oral Motor protocol, and LAMP and enjoy working with children of all ages and difficulties, including: articulation, receptive/expressive/pragmatic (social) communication, feeding/swallowing, fluency, and voice. Much of my focus the past few years has involved feeding/swallowing, as well as guiding children that are minimally or nonverbal into the world of augmentative and alternative communication (AAC).

Ellen Kelsey, M.S., CCC-SLP, Speech-Language Pathologist

Erika L. Stannard, PsyD

Pediatric Neuropsychologist

My great passion is connecting children and families to healing resources. When a child is not developing as expected, it is common to feel overwhelmed. I help by providing early identification of developmental and behavioral disorders, educating parents and professionals about treatment strategies, and collaborating with a child’s wellness team for ongoing care.

My educational background includes a bachelor of science degree in biology from the University of Rochester, as well as a master of science degree in counseling psychology and a doctor of psychology degree from Alaska Pacific University. Additionally, I have a certificate in Primary Care Behavioral Health from the University of Massachusetts and a postdoctoral certificate in neuropsychology from Fielding Graduate University. I am a licensed psychologist, chemical dependency clinical supervisor, and supervisor for licensed professional counselors in the state of Alaska.

Heidi Walter, CSP

Board Certified Psychometrist

Originally from Michigan, I have lived in Alaska since 2008 and have been a team member with Ptarmigan since 2012 starting with Ptarmigan Pediatrics and growing with Connections.

I have a passion for children and helping them to reach their potential as they navigate and grow through life’s many situations. As a parent, I believe our role is to provide encouragement, support, and access to activities that enable children to master key developmental tasks; and I strive to also incorporate this belief into my daily work.

My educational background includes a Bachelor of Science degree in natural sciences with a concentration in pre-health professions and a minor in psychology from the University of Alaska Anchorage. I work with Ptarmigan’s psychologists as a Neuropsychological Technician.

In my spare time you’ll find me with my family and enjoying all of Alaska’s amazing outdoor activities.

Heidi (technician
Alaska's Center for Behavioral and Developmental Pediatrics, Ptarmigan Connections, Wasilla, Palmer, Eagle River, Alaska

Bobbi Kousoulos

Office Administrator

I believe the most important resource we have is our kids and there is nothing more important we could invest in for our future then our children. I am proud to be a small piece of this puzzle in helping children have better futures and getting to know them and their families.

I received my Bachelor degree in Business Management in 1999 from Montana State University – Billings. I have been working in the pediatric field for 10 years which has given me the opportunity to work in almost every capacity in the office. When I am not working I volunteer as the director of Mid-Valley Wolves Wrestling Club. I feel extracurricular activities are important in giving kids opportunities to see what they can accomplish.