Chris Chmielewski is the Creator, Owner and Editor of Foster Focus Magazine, America's only monthly foster care magazine. He spent five years in foster care before aging out. He created Foster Focus so that others in care would have the most up to date information. The magazine has consistently grown as Chris is entering his sixth year of the magazine. He has interviewed celebrities such as Maia Mitchell and Jimmy Graham. And writers from all over the country contribute articles to the magazine, making it one of the leading sources of foster care news and information in the country.
My name is Chris Zollner. Currently I work as a teacher, but I have a background as a professional writer. I am a narration writer and screenwriter who worked with Kritzer Productions, the Department of Defense, the USAF Audiovisual Department and Bosustow Media Group.
I am currently helping write a documentary of the UPA film studio (the creators of Mr. Magoo, Gerald McBoing-Boing).
My story, “The Kindred,” was published in a recent edition of Aoife’s Kiss.
Dr. Capri Cruz is a former foster child who, by the grace of God, survived a plethora of tragic life events that attempted to destroy her. Years later, Dr. Cruz received a revelation that compelled her to take deliberate action over her life. She has since turned her life into a cinematic worthy legacy that her beloved daughter and future generations can be very proud of.
At a very young age, little Capri suffered identity altering physical, mental and sexual abuse, and two attempts to end Capri’s life. Never to be the same again, her life tragedies continued to multiply as she later witnessed the harrowing death of her mother, became a teenage runaway to get away from her abuser, unknowingly found herself a target for racists, and ultimately lost any sense of identity that she had.
Unconsciously, her brain tried to protect her by sequestering her in mental oblivion for two decades as the depth of her trauma was just too much to process alone.
At 37 years old, she found herself on the losing end of a terrifying domestic dispute with a narcissist she later realized she should have never gotten involved with. Running for her life, she ended up finding safety in her best friend’s condo garage. Upon awakening the next moring, Capri had an acute spiritual awareness that everything in her life needed to change.
For the first time in her life, Capri began to “consciously awaken”. Solution–Focused therapy helped her to realize that she was the problem in her own life and she was also the solution. This new philosophy ignited a depth of personal responsibility that catapulted her out of powerless victimhood and into Deliberate Creation.
Since discovering the concept of deliberate creation, Dr. Cruz has become a retired U.S. Navy Veteran, PhD, Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Clinical Hypnotherapist, Transformational Public Speaker, Entrepreneur, Founder of “Fostering Hearts and Homes” 501(c)(3), and the acclaimed Author of From Foster Care to FABULOUS: An Imperative Movement and Maximize Your Super Powers Vol. 1. Despite her achievements, Dr. Cruz feels like her life has only just begun. Now she is on a mission to offer others the thoughtful guidance and emotional support that she wishes someone would have offered her.
To receive guidance or support on a life experience you’re struggling with, please email your questions DrCapriCruz@gmail.com. All responses will be anonymous
Rhonda Sciortino, author of Succeed Because of What You've Been Through, Successful Survivors, and Kindness Quotient, serves as a National spokesperson for Safe Families For Children, Royal Family Kids, and as national champion of the Love Is Action Community Initiative. Rhonda used the character traits and abilities developed throughout an abusive childhood to create successful businesses that protected and defended child welfare organizations. She is a passionate speaker, trainer, and advocate.
Richard Villasana, a proud Navy veteran, is a leading international authority on reuniting children in U.S. foster care with their relatives. Villasana is an author and international speaker who has been featured by the San Diego Business Journal, the Union-Tribune Radio Network show, San Diego Finest Business Radio, and EFE, the world’s largest Spanish language media company. He is the founder of Forever Homes for Foster Kids. For more than 20 years, the organization has been building stronger families and communities by locating relatives of foster children so they can move out of foster care into forever homes.
Forever Homes for Foster Kids has handled foster care cases for several agencies and nonprofits including Casey Family Programs, Seneca Center and CASA of Travis County in Texas.
Villasana’s insights on locating families have been taught to social workers around the country. He specializes in cross-cultural and “family finding” training for universities, social service agencies and nonprofits. To have Villasana speak to your company, school or association, email him at info@ForeverHomesforFosterKids.org.
Visit www.ForeverHomesforFosterKids.org to become part of the growing number of supporters of foster children because every child deserves a forever home and a happier, healthier life. Villasana can be found on Facebook and Twitter at @FamilyFindingMX.
Sandie Morgan, R.N., Ph.D.(c) is the director of Vanguard University’s Global Center for Women and Justice. She and her husband, Jean, have served as missionaries in Greece, where they first observed children trafficked openly. Sandie and Jean founded Live2Free.org, an organization founded to end modern day slavery.
Foster Care Alumni of America is a non-profit association that has been founded and is led by alumni of the foster care system. We use the term alumni to describe those of us who have been in foster care during our childhood/youth.
The mission of FCAA is to connect the alumni community and to transform foster care policy and practice, ensuring opportunity for people in and from foster care.
Addison Cooper, MSW, LCSW is a licensed clinical social worker and therapist with focuses in foster care and adoptions. He writes adoption- and foster-care themed movie reviews and discussion guides at Adoption at the Movies (www.adoptionlcsw.com). Follow him on Twitter @AddisonCooper and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AdoptionAtTheMovies.
Alexandria Ware is a recently received her Master’s of Science in Human Development and Family Science. Alexandria co-founded Fostering Success, a program that seeks to provide college students in or exiting from the foster care system with resources and skills by providing connections to mentors. Alexandria’s goal is to advocate for those in foster care with the hope of establishing a center where foster youth will have access to tutoring, mentoring and assistance for future college admissions.
Recently Alexandria was selected for an internship with the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI). Alexandria was one of 12 young professionals selected to participate in the CCAI’s Foster Youth Internship Program. Through the program, she gained a summer internship with the U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means Majority under Chairman Kevin Brady.
Through the CCAI Alexandria was able to write a Congressional Policy Report and Brief Congressional staff members. Alex’s policy report begins on page 47 which is titled Increasing Social Emotional Support for Foster Youth on College Campuses by adding Single Point of Contact Models and Mentors.
Alice Magnusson is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and has been estranged from her family for her adult life. She credits her survival to her dog and her education. Ms. Magnusson has a B.A. in psychology from University of California, Davis and a Master's in Counseling Psychology, which she completed at the young age of twenty-four. She went on to gain her License as a Marriage and Family Therapist in 2010. She has since worked as an advocate, therapist, and mentor for primarily foster youth from the LGBTQ community in both non-profit and private settings. In 2013, she completed her Pupil Personnel Service Credential in order to work as a therapist in schools for youth struggling to access education due to mental health disorders. As a survivor herself, she offers a unique perspective to thriving in chaos. She can be contacted by email at email@example.com. Alice also writes a blog that can be found at www.notyournormaltherapist.com
Amanda Babine has worked in the nonprofit field in both a direct practice and research capacity. She is currently the Director of Evaluate for Change, a program evaluation company. She has also spent the last few years evaluating large citywide programs with partnerships at Columbia University and the City University of New York (CUNY).
Before transitioning into a more quantitative role, she worked at the Center for the Study of Social Policy developing a youth well-being framework while conducting Participatory Action Research (PAR) with marginalized communities throughout New York City. Amanda holds a Master's Degree in Public Policy and Social Work from Columbia University.
Amnoni Myers is a dynamic public speaker, child welfare advocate, and former alumni of the foster care system. She currently is an associate consultant for Forward Change Consulting In 2017, Amnoni graduated with a Masters in Public Administration from the National Urban Fellows Program. Amnoni previously worked with the U.S. Children’s Bureau as a child welfare policy consultant as well as interning on both Capitol Hill and The White House Domestic Policy Council helping influence policy. Amnoni is a compassionate and driven individual dedicated to reshaping policies affecting vulnerable populations. You can learn more about her work on her personal website at www.amnonimotivates.com
Amy Rath is a foster parent near Chicago, Illinois. She and her husband, Mark, try to keep some order in a house filled with children, dogs, cats, birds, a guinea pig and fish but are more successful giving love than controlling the chaos. Their family motto is “Live, Love, Lunch” (yes, ‘lunch’) because their goofball daughter thought “Live, Love, Laugh” was unoriginal. Amy works at a technology start-up because you only live once. She believes a better understanding of foster care coupled with being kind to others will change the world.
Anda Warner is a preschool teacher and a writer, she has been teaching kids for 5 years now. She is young and ambitious and does hope to share her knowledge and experience with anyone willing to learn something new. The reason why she decided to become a teacher is that she believes that knowledge is power and she gives her best to educate her pupils.
Born in Colorado, Angela married a handsome Texan and spend ten years living down in the South before recently moving back to her home state. She and her husband Kyle spent seven years fostering children in the state of Texas and have adopted four - three girls and a boy. She has served as a youth director and as a middle school teacher, and is currently enjoying a season of life as a full-time mama. Angela loves reading, writing, music, running, and spending time with family and friends. She is borderline addicted to puttering around on ancestry.com, and is also a enthusiastic anglophile. Her blog can be found at fosteringjourneys.blogspot.com
Arthur C Woods, M.A. and his wife, Elizabeth live in Pennsylvania and are preadoptive parents to their two adorable foster daughters. Woods also serves as a CASA, holds a Masters Degree in student and family ministry, and speaks and teaches regularly on issues related to foster care, adoption and orphan care. To book Arthur for your next event, visit www.arthurcwoods.com
Arthur Cooksey serves as the Chairman and CEO of Let’s Talk Interactive, Inc. (LTI), leading the corporate strategy and development to drive the adoption of LTI’s suite of products and services.
He founded the technology platform in 2001 as a way to provide consumers with access to qualified and licensed behavioral health professionals, which he later evolved to customized services and telehealth technology that LTI is known for today.
With that middle name, my Mom must have known I was going to break into the fashion world someday, right? My personal style can be described as feminine and engaging. I am always looking for the newest fashion finds that can complement more than one look.
Ashley Rhodes-Courter, MSW, is an internationally recognized child welfare expert, speaker, adoptive parent, and former foster child, foster parent, and volunteer Guardian ad Litem (CASA). She is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, “Three Little Words” and “Three More Words.” Find her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (@RhodesCourter) or learn more at www.rhodes-courter.com. Ashley is currently opening a Therapeutic Family Center in conjunction with her nonprofit, The Foundation for Sustainable Families (www.sustainablefamiliesfoundation.org). They are in need of volunteers, donations, and fiscal supporters. The Foundation was also gifted a piece of land that will grow more than 300,000 pounds of fresh, organic food to donate to the families they serve.
Beth Tyson is a psychotherapist, parenting coach, and children's book author who specializes in coaching families with children exposed to loss and trauma. She coaches Grandfamilies, foster, adoptive, and biological families.
Bethany Wipf is a young Coloradoan foster parent who writes short poetry the way others might doodle on desks or keep rhythm with the tips of their fingers: not particularly well, not overly polished-- but as a way to process the excitement and frustration, the purpose and hopelessness, of foster care. She and her husband have been fostering for over two years and are currently fostering a 3-year-old and 4-year-old sibling pair (who consistently light up their life). They count it an honor to be entrusted with the care of these tiny people.
Bill Lindsey spent his childhood in foster care, and understands the importance of education and character development for foster youth. Bill spent 26-years in the Army with tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Bill retired as a Sergeant Major in 2014, and currently teaches and coaches at the high school level. Bill served as a volunteer educational liaison for the Department of Children and Family Services and continually looks for ways to improve educational outcomes for foster youth.
Bill holds a M.Ed. in Organizational Leadership from Northcentral University, and is currently pursuing a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Drury University.
Bill contributes his passion for lifelong learning to the educators throughout his life, and all of the foster youth he teaches each day. We learn together, from each other, and overcome obstacles together.
Brad VanDenend is WMPC’s Clinical Liaison, increasing access of children and youth in foster care to mental health services and supports. Mr. VanDenend understands the complexity of community mental health resources and has developed and delivered trainings on secondary traumatic stress in the workplace. Mr. VanDenend has more than 16 years of experience working with children and families and before joining WMPC in March 2019 served as a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) Supervisor at D.A. Blodgett – St. John’s. He is personally called to WMPC’s mission having grown up with foster siblings, five adopted siblings, and four biological siblings. Mr. VanDenend has a Master’s in Social Work from Grand Valley State University and a Bachelor’s in Social Work from Calvin College.
Brian Morgantini is a young advocate for the child welfare system. He works with FosterClub improving transitional outcomes for youth in the foster care system, sits as a member of the National Foster Youth & Alumni Policy Council, attended 2015 DC Shadow Day and spoke at various colleges and conferences on his child welfare experience. He continues to step into opportunities to be a voice for foster youth in our nation. On his down time, he is writing a book and likes hiking, traveling and cooking.
Brooke Teike is a 2018 graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene with Magna Cum Laude Honors. She has always had a passion for being a positive impact on the lives of others. She is a dental hygienist in her hometown of Greenwood, Indiana.
Caroline Bailey, MS, has worked for the past sixteen years in child welfare and has worn many hats – case manager, adoption specialist, licensing specialist and supervisor. Caroline and her husband were foster parents in the state of Missouri for four years and are the adoptive parents of three lively, and a bit ornery, children. Caroline currently works for a private child welfare agency in Missouri. She has been a guest speaker at churches and conferences regarding infertility, foster parenting and adoption. She is also a Staff Storyteller for the websites, Adoption.com, Adopting.org and Fertility.org. In 2015, she contributed for the devotional, Adopted for Daily Life: A Devotional for Adopting Moms. Her writing has been featured by CASA, the Ronald McDonald House; Inspire a Fire Website, America's Heart Gallery Website, CNN iReport, The Forgotten Initiative and she was recently quoted on a card developed for a foster parent advocacy group in Canada.
Cassidy Littleton, 21, formerly of Twin Falls, Idaho currently attends Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. There, she is public relations with a focus on political science, and is working to create real change in the foster care system in the U.S. on both a state and national level.
From being a foster care kid at a young age, Littleton was in search of a place that she could truly call home and found it at her local Boys & Girls Club. Even with significant tragedy and challenges in her life, Cassidy became even more involved in her Club as president of the organization’s Keystone Club while also maintaining a 4.0 GPA in school. Through this role and her schooling, she traveled across the country to speak at events and participate in leadership conferences.
She reached the ultimate honor of being selected as Boys & Girls Clubs of America’s 2017 Pacific Youth of the Year winner and continues to use her influence to advocate for foster care reform.
Chanel Andrews has enjoyed playing the piano and singing from the tender age of 6 and had private piano lessons at Carnegie Hall annex. Her love of dance and music then placed her in Alvin Ailey for 8 years of training. Born and raised in Brooklyn, the city helped shape her artistry.
Currently she is a participant and Production Team member in the Possibility Project's foster care program. She also loves to sing reinterpretations of music that spans from the 40’s through today and occasionally writes a tune on her own.