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Our Team

Drs. Patricia Phelan and Ann Locke Davidson founded Educational Connections in Oregon in 2001. In 2006, Kristin Kajer-Cline, MA founded Educational Connections in Washington in Bellevue and Dr. Jennifer Heckman founded Educational Connections in California in Palo Alto. Dr. Pamela Sheffield joined the Oregon office in 2015 and assumed full responsibility for the practice there in 2022. Educational Connections Oregon, Educational Connections Washington, and Educational Connections California are distinct and separate business entities, but operate with the same approach and philosophy. They share research on programs and resources, collaborate on program visitation and the collection of program information, and value a collegial and supportive relationship.

Between the three offices, Educational Connections has helped over 3,000 families and visited more than 300 schools and programs. Our current practicing consultants, Dr. Pamela Sheffield and Kristin Kajer-Cline, continue to serve and support many families through difficult times and decisions, and evaluate and stay up-to-date on programs, resources and relevant research.  (Dr. Heckman stopped taking new clients as of 2022.)

Oregon: Young Adults Only

Dr. Pamela Sheffield leads the Oregon office. Dr. Sheffield is a clinical psychologist with over 15 years of experience working in the mental health field. She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her role as an educational consultant. Her background includes:

  • Clinical work with young adults, adolescents and families
  • Research on at-risk youth and mental health issues in adolescents and young adults and
  • Program assessment and evaluation

Dr. Sheffield keeps up-to-date on the latest research related to learning differences, mental health issues, and chemical dependency, as well as research concerned with “best practices” in the fields of education and treatment. She is a member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and has two young children.

Learn more about Pamela Sheffield and the Oregon office.

Pamela Sheffield, Ph.D.

During an emotionally tumultuous time for our family, Educational Connections helped steer us in the right direction. We never could have navigated the maze of wilderness programs and therapeutic programs without their professionalism, knowledge and empathy. We will be forever grateful.

- Matt and Lisa, Oregon

Washington: Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults

Kristin Kajer-Cline leads the Washington office. For more than two decades she has focused on understanding and assisting children, adolescents, and adults struggling with emotional, social, behavioral, learning, or mental health challenges.

Having earned her M.A. in Education with a focus on At-Risk Youth from the University of Washington, Kristin has developed three key areas of expertise and experience:

  • Assessment of individual social, emotional and academic needs
  • Evaluation of academic and treatment systems and direct intervention, and
  • Communication with adolescents and their families.

Kristin is a professional member of the Independent Educational Consultants Association and served on its Therapeutic Committee for two years. Kristin feels passionately about providing comprehensive, holistic, collaborative and caring support to each family who reaches out for guidance. She is also the very proud mother of two young adult children.

Learn more about Kristin Kajer-Cline here.


Michelle Weber is the Intake Coordinator at Educational Connections Washington. She has been a member of the Washington team for over five years, and provides compassionate, thorough and prompt support to each family. Years after Kristin placed her then 14 y.o. son in a therapeutic wilderness program and therapeutic boarding school for his struggles with anxiety, Michelle was driven to support other families through similar healing, therapeutic and life-changing experiences. In her role, Michelle talks to parents who are just beginning to consider this journey for their own struggling children, and provides ongoing support with Kristin throughout that journey, including helping families identify appropriate local options and resources for their child when needed.

Learn more about Michelle Weber here.

Kristin Kajer-Cline
Michelle Weber


Jennifer Heckman, PhD, MACP has a long history of working in the areas of education and mental health, with particular emphases on children, families, and family-systems. Upon completing her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Colorado in 1977, Dr. Heckman returned to her home in Hawaii to work with the local Easter Seal Society’s Residential Services program. This program, developed to serve multiply handicapped children who were unable to live in their parents’ home, included group and foster “teaching home” placements. While with Residential Services, Dr. Heckman worked initially as a group home counselor and then became responsible for providing psychosocial and educational support for the foster teaching home parents; during her last year and a half with Residential Services, Dr. Heckman served as the Director for the program.

Desiring to further her work with children and families, in 1980, Dr. Heckman returned to the mainland to pursue graduate work in Education at Stanford University. She subsequently completed her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Educational Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford in 1981 and 1987, respectively. While at Stanford, Dr. Heckman worked as a research assistant and treatment group leader for a study on the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral coping strategies for children, ages 9-12, with recently divorced parents. Dr. Heckman also worked on studies of school effectiveness and at-risk adolescents and developed a violence prevention curriculum for use with at-risk families and management training materials for school administrators. Immediately following the completion of her Doctoral dissertation, Dr. Heckman served as a Senior Research Associate for the Department of Psychiatry in Stanford University’s Medical School. Following her work with the medical school, Dr. Heckman worked with a non-profit research and technical assistance organization in Los Altos, California where she conducted program evaluations of educational programs designed to assist at-risk adolescents.

Learn more about the California office.

Jennie Heckman, PhD
Jennie helped me through one of the hardest times of my life. My daughter was in a severe downward spiral and nothing we tried at home helped. Much effort at home was focused on medications for diagnoses that turned out to be incorrect as well as ineffective therapy approaches. After a painful and stressful year, I asked Jennie to help me find help for my daughter. Jennie’s recommended placements were both extraordinary and my daughter is now back at home, attending regular high school and her future looks bright. The key was Jennie’s expertise in matching my child’s specific behaviors and conditions to programs with the highly sophisticated and appropriate expertise. This match is not likely to happen by searching on the internet or by word-of-mouth. Jennie knew from her experience which programs had the best chance of pulling my daughter out of the deep dark hole and helping her rebuild her confidence and learn life skills to manage her challenges.
- Mother, California