Contributors

Contributors

Helen Ramaglia is a former foster child who became a foster/adoptive mother. She is the founder and executive director of Fostering Superstars, a nonprofit for foster children. Helen is a recipient of the 2012 Congressional Angel in Adoption award for her work with foster children and is the author of From Foster to Fabulous.

Htet Htet Rodgers is a young advocate for child welfare. She started her work as a Peer Support Representative, working with the Independent Living Providers of the Department of Child and Family Services in Louisiana. Htet Htet attended the D.C. Shadow Day and first ever White House Hack-a-thon in 2016. From there she began her advocacy in a national standard. Now, she sits on the National Foster Youth and Advisory Council and is a National Transitional Youth Database (NYTD) Reviewer for JBS International. She is a faithful member of the Pentecostals of Alexandria and assists with her youth group. In her free time, Htet Htet likes to snowboard, hike, go to the gym, and paint.

J.D. John is a survivor of the foster care system and spends time advocating for various causes. He is a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma and an avid traveler. He is the proud owner of an international foster care advocacy organization based in Las Vegas, NV and has three wonderful dogs that keep him active.

Though Mr. John has not found a relationship quite like the one that he enjoyed many years ago, he remains optimistic that even now love will enter his life when the timing is right and least expected. He says this because he wants all of the LGBT youth and ally who think they are undeserving of real love and happiness, just be patient. We all deserve love and happiness in our lives.

He is also an alumnus of the Wounded Warrior Project; member of Foster Care Alumni of America, International Foster Care Organisation, Voices for Change, National Indian Child Welfare Association and various other local, national, and international organizations.

Jamie Lee Evans is the founder and co-director of Foster Youth Museum. She was raised in Los Angeles, where she experienced foster care in the 70's, and now lives in Oakland.

Janelle Molony, M. S. L is an adoptive mom, homeschool mom, dance mom, special needs advocate, and author/blogger at AdoptionToLife.com. She has written a memoir of her experiences fostering her now-son and overcoming legal and social battles like “Mother.”

Janettee McCrary's writing journey began as a small child, writing poetry, essays, and short stories, not only for school assignments, but also to cope with her life as a foster child. She moved up in the ranks to Student Editor of her high school newspaper, and shortly after high school joined The Oklahoman's "Newsroom 101" program. She is the author of several poems, essays, short stories, blogs, and articles posted in various locations (online and off). She is a frequent guest on foster care blogs, and is currently writing her autobiography via her blog, Bruised Wings.

Chicago attorney and child advocate, Jay Paul Deratany (founder of Chicago’s Deratany & Kosner) has spent years working tirelessly to protect the rights of foster children. Most recently, he won a $45 million judgement – the largest award ever in the history of the State of Illinois – involving the death of a toddler in the foster care system. He is also the writer and producer of the award-winning film, Foster Boy, starring Matthew Modine and Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr., a courtroom drama based on several of Jay’s actual cases. Basketball legend, Shaquille O’Neal, a child advocate himself, took special interest in Jay’s film, and is an executive producer.

Dr. J.C. Owens, DDS is a dentist at Owens Dentistry in Shamokin PA.  He is a 1997 graduate of Mount Carmel Area Jr/Sr. High School (PA), 2001 graduate of Susquehanna University (Selinsgrove, PA), and a 2006 graduate New York University College of Dentistry. Dr. Owens established his practice in 2006, after a 2 month stay at the LBJ Tropical Medical Center in American Samoa. Owens Dentistry is a general dental office providing care for patients 6 months and older with services ranging from fillings and cleanings to dental implants, prosthetics, laser and cosmetic dentistry.

Dr. Owens is the proud daddy of 4 year old daughter Scotlyn, and in his spare time is a marathon runner, skier, gardener, beekeeper, and book lover. He is a member of the American and Pennsylvania Dental Association/s and served two terms as President of the Central Susquehanna Valley Dental Society. He is also member of St. Pauls Espicopal Church in Bloomsburg PA.

Jenny Christiansen is a certified Life Coach, Speaker, & Youth Advocate. She has spent 25 years of her life as an educator and school administrator.

Having spent her life with children, and teens, she knows what works and what destroys.

Jenny is a wife, a mom, and a grandmother who is all about helping others find their unique identity and impact.

Jessica Castillo is a former foster child with a lifetime of love for writing and speaking for those who - more often than not - go unheard. Through the pieces she puts out into the public she hopes to help those involved in the life of a foster child to better understand them - even if it’s just a little bit - and to encourage foster children to be themselves and to love themselves.

Jessica Tamez was in foster care from the age of 11-15 in Los Angeles County.

She is now adopted and lives in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Established in 1954, the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles manages charitable assets of more than $1 billion (as of 12/31/15) entrusted to it by over 1,200 families and ranks among the 10 largest Los Angeles foundations. The Foundation partners with donors to shape meaningful philanthropic strategies, magnify the impact of giving, and build enduring charitable legacies. In 2015, The Foundation and its donors distributed $96 million in grants to more than a thousand nonprofit organizations with programs that span the range of philanthropic giving.  Over the past 25 years, The Foundation has distributed more than $1 billion in grants to thousands of nonprofits across a diverse spectrum. www.jewishfoundationla.org

First Place for Youth (First Place) was the recipient of a $70,000 two-year General Community Grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of Los Angeles (The Foundation) for its Steps to Success Education and Employment Program. The initiative connects hundreds of foster youth ages 18-24 with a network of positive, caring adults who provide ongoing, intensive education and employment support services so that youth can earn their high school degree or GED, enroll in college, and build fundamental work skills. Pictured above is a First Place educator instructing on principles of personal finance.

Through The Foundation’s grant, First Place will be able to expand its Los Angeles County program by 70 percent to provide more than 200 at-risk foster youth with critical education and employment support services over the next two years. 

Johnny Madrid is a communication consultant to Foster Youth in Action, a national coalition of foster youth-led advocacy groups. He has been involved in foster care advocacy for almost 20 years, beginning as a youth member of California Youth Connection (“CYC”), where he participated on their advisory board, legislative committee, and the Youth Empowerment Training Project. While in CYC, he facilitated dozens of focus groups with peer foster youth, gave speeches across the country, lobbied legislatures and trained over 150 social workers. While a student at Stanford University, he wrote his honors thesis on higher education and founded the Stanford Foster Care College Project. After receiving the Harry Truman Scholarship, Newsweek featured him as one of “15 Students You Don’t Know But Will.” After graduating college, he joined the securities division of Goldman Sachs and pursued a career in finance. Across ten years, he also worked at Sanford Bernstein, Lombardia Capital Partners, Varadero Capital, and UBS. Notably while at Lombardia, he managed over $650 million in advisory assets for the U.S. Treasury. In October of 2012, Latino Leader magazine featured him in the “Leadership Landing” section of their magazine. In his personal time, he has served as an executive board member for three nonprofit organizations – California CASA, A Home Within, and Foster Youth in Action – and is a member of New America Alliance, an association composed of more than 100 prominent Latino business leaders.

Stephen W. Rideout is a retired judge who consults with states and localities on projects aimed at improving court, agency, and community collaboration regarding child welfare matters so as to improve permanency outcomes for children in foster care. He also volunteers as a member of the Juvenile Grant Planning and Review Council of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Crime Control and Prevention.  During his tenure as Chief Judge of the juvenile and domestic relations district court in Alexandria, VA from 1989-2004, Judge Rideout worked in and with his community to find ways to improve foster care outcomes, reduce the court’s delinquency caseload and contested custody docket, and to increase the number of prevention and early intervention programs that supported young people and their families.

Nationally Judge Rideout has been involved in a number of efforts to improve child welfare outcomes and has received the 2003 HHS Adoption Excellence Award, the 2004 National CASA Judge of the Year Award, The 2005 and 2010 Mitchell Wendell Jurist Award from the Association of Administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children.

The 2006 Lettie Pate Whitehead Evans Award for lay leadership from The Virginia Theological Seminary, Alexandria, Va., the 2009 Foster Care Alumni of America Volunteer of the Year Award, and the 2012 Golden Apple award for Dorchester County by the Comptroller of Maryland for his volunteerism with the school system.

A former Group Home Administrator and social worker in foster care, Julia Neiman is a top selling author, youth entrepreneurship coach and founder and Executive Director of Group Home Consultants, a 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation that creates programs for foster youth. She is an experienced behavioral specialist and life skills coach with 20 years of experience working with foster teens.  She believes that their dreams matter and is passionate about teaching them how to make those dreams come true.

Contact Julia via email at julia@julianeiman.com.

Join Julia on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/julianeiman

Connect on LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/julia-neiman/13/443/965

Julie Lawson Timmer is a novelist whose  new book, Untethered (coming from Putnam June 7, 2016) explores the life of a child who was adopted out of foster care and later “rehomed” by her adoptive family. She is a volunteer mentor through Foster Care to Success. She can be found at www.julielawsontimmer.com, and on Twitter at @JulieLTimmer.

Karla Marie Williams is a national radio personality, speaker and writer. She has interviewed and partnered with some of the most influential pioneers in adoption, foster and orphan care. As a member of the Bethany Christian Services Board, Karla passionately and candidly shares her personal and professional experience on adoption and foster care. Karla is author of a monthly column in Foster Focus Magazine and part of the blogging team for I Corinthians 13 Parenting. She trains and encourages parents to raise confident and well-adjusted children through adoption. Karla and Tom were nominees as Family of the Year 2013 for MARE (Michigan Adoption Resource Exchange). They are proud parents of 6 great kids via adoption and live in Grand Rapids, MI.

Katherine Jones is a resident of Citrus Heights, CA. She is an advocate for animals, abuse survivors, and foster care youth. 

Katherine Reddick is an educator and the author of “Access Denied,” a memoir about her experience growing up in the foster care system. She has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and specializes in social services reform through public speaking, advocating for children’s safety as a legal advocate, program developer and consultant for organizations dedicated to reforming foster care and preventing child abuse. She is also an accomplished author and has worked in public education for the past 17 years. For more information, visit www.saveus2.com.

As a youth in the foster care system, Katia Aguirre always tried to look past her situation. Even though she lived with many foster families, Katia was finally able to settle with one family that provided her with the support she always needed.

In 2015, Katia received her Associates in Administration of Justice degree from Northern Virginia Community College and is continuing to pursue her education as a Junior at George Mason University. She hopes to continue on to Law School and become as attorney as well as an advocate for Foster youth. 

Katie Powner lives in rural Montana where cows still outnumber people. She has worked alongside her husband in youth ministry for over a decade and is a mom to the third power: biological, adoptive, and foster. She blogs about family in all its many forms at www.katiepowner.blogspot.com.

As a lifelong resident of Mt. Carmel, PA and a nurse for 14 years, the health and wellness of those closest to her has always been one of Kelly Ryan’s most important priorities.

She currently work as an Elementary School Nurse in the Mt. Carmel Area School District.

She is the mother of 3 beautiful children and has been married to her best friend for over  fifteen  years!

The Golden Gate Bridge is one of the most recognizable structures to define a modern city. Yet, for author Kevin Hines the bridge is not merely a marker of a place or a time. Instead, the bridge marks the beginning of his remarkable story. At 19 years old, Kevin attempted to take his own life by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge - a distance which took four seconds to fall. Recently diagnosed with bi-polar disorder, Kevin had begun to hear voices telling him he had to die, and days before his attempt, he began to believe them.

The fall would break his body, but not his spirit. His story chronicles the extraordinary will of the author to live mentally well in the face of his mental illness: bipolar disorder with psychotic features. With each mental breakdown, however, the author’s desire to live mentally well- and to be a mental health advocate- pulls him from the depths of his condition. Kevin’s story is a remarkable testament to the strength of the human spirit and a reminder to us to love the life we have. His story also reminds us that living mentally well takes time, endurance, hard work, and support. With these disciplines in place, those living with even very difficult diagnoses can achieve better lives for themselves and those who help to support and care for them.

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