Optimistic, driven, and compassionate are some words that describe Desiree Parker, 21, of La Crosse, WI. She entered foster care at age four, then spent fourteen years in care where she struggled with multiple placements and sibling separation. She insightfully reflects that “growing up, I knew I wanted to make a change so that those who were going through the system with me and those that would come after me would not have the struggles I did.”

Caring about the well-being of others is at Desiree’s core. She is prepared to dedicate her life to that mission. The support of her foster parents has helped her internalize the values of hard work and serving others. This is evident in her wealth of leadership and volunteer experiences.

Among them are several trips to Louisiana after Hurricane Gustav to help people after the devastation there. During college, Desiree studied in Mexico where she spent much of her time distributing supplies to the indigenous people in rural villages. Upon returning to the United States, she has continued to demonstrate her commitment to her community by volunteering at local organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club and Saint Clare’s Health Mission of La Crosse.

Desiree was a former Foster Youth Intern with CCAI where she successfully advocated for foster and adoptive children on Capitol Hill, and currently serves as the secretary for the Wisconsin Youth Advisory Council. Desiree has been honored for her work as a young leader. Her recognition includes a 2011 Governor’s Foster Care Award for her advocacy in Wisconsin, the Viterbo University Saint Louise de Marillac Social Work Scholarship, as well as a mention in Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities.

She is currently attending Viterbo University where she is ready to graduate and begin a social work career serving veterans or foster youth. She is undoubtedly poised for a successful future no matter which field she chooses.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2012 Outstanding Young Leaders