Vision: To reach, inform, and inspire the lives of children and families.

Mission: Strengthening Families are Essential to our community, city, and state. And, we believe, Everything Starts at Home...

About Terri


Terri English-Yancy, BA, MA, MA
Founder and CEO
UMKC Alumni

Essential Families reflects its founder and CEO Terri English-Yancy, who from an early age combined the take-charge attitude of the oldest sibling with an innate love for children.

A native of Kansas City, Missouri, Terri’s family moved around a lot with her father’s job as regional territory manager with John Deere.

The family ultimately returned to the Kansas City area, where Terri graduated from Olathe North High School.

Nine years older than her sister, and six years older than her brother, Terri was the one who handled pickup from sports and other duties while her parents were working. Terri was also the go-to babysitter in the neighborhood.

Maybe she was a little bossy. But in hindsight, Terri does not see it that way.

“I was just a leader in the making…because I always wanted to take care of everyone.”

Before founding Essential Families, Terri spent 24 rewarding years with the Family Conservancy, a respected nonprofit that has served young children and families from its base in Kansas City, Kansas, for nearly 150 years.

At the Family Conservancy, Terri served as the Program Manager of the Head Start Home-Based program. She oversaw a 12-person staff.

While being Program Manager at the Family Conservancy, one mom in particular, helped propel Terri to start Essential Families. This mom was a single, working parent with a 3-year-old at home being watched by grandma.

The childcare arrangement was problematic since Head Start required a natural parent to fill that role. But the bigger problem was that the mom made just slightly over the income eligibility guidelines for Head Start.

This single working young mother touched me in such a way, that she motivated me to start Essential Families. Because this mom was desperate for Family Conservancy services… “She wanted her son in the program” but was denied.

Terri holds an undergraduate degree in child and family development from Southwest Missouri State University (now known as Missouri State University).

Terri also holds two (2) master’s degrees from the University of Missouri-Kansas City (in curriculum and instruction) and from Webster University (in management and leadership).

Terri English-Yancy

Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Essential Families

Executive Leadership Team


Terri English-Yancy BA, MA, MA, as Founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Essential Families, brings over 30 years experience of program policy, procedure, responsible fiscal management, and strategic planning with tactical detail experience.

Data and positive outcome driven, Terri effectively manages compliance and finance matters, relative to Essential Families operations, while making efficiency decisions, and appropriate delegations.

Additionally, Terri successfully completed the WIPFLI Head Start fiscal management training and is a former board memeber of Nurture KC. Terri is a trained trauma informed care facilitator, with a strong diverse individual collaboration “know how”.


Jeremy Sanders, Chief Financial Officer, BA Accounting, MBA Finance
12 years of international CFO experience, ranging from startups to multinational turnarounds, and oversight of budgets up to $130 million. Jeremy has provided advisory and finance training, and support to businesses in more than 24 industries. Jeremy’s advanced skills includes: corporate finance leadership, strategy development, ERP and systems implementations, transformational leadership, innovation commercialization, fundraising, audit management, residential, commercial, and historic preservation real development projects.


Kenneth P. Yancy I, BBA, is Chief Digital Marketing and Business Development Officer for Essential Families. Kenneth is a serial entrepreneur and visionary, “gifted and talented” in the areas of Digital/ Mobile Marketing, Software Development, Telecommunications, Artificial Intelligence, and Real Estate Development.

Kenneth’s unique expertise and background is a result from 37 years of leading successful multi-million dollar projects for Big Data, software, marketing, Real Estate Development, and telecommunications powerhouses IBM, Sprint, Cisco Systems, and Proverbs Estates.

Recently, Kenneth was inducted into the UMKC Innovation Center Fellow program.


Amy Fortney, BA, PMP, is Chief Operating Officer (COO) and leads the Program Management Office (PMO) for Essential Families.

Amy is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP), with more than 20 years of experience. Amy has led Operations and Project Management initiatives for a Fortune 100 company, the nation’s third largest non-profit health system, and in the service of federal and state government contracts.