Isabel N. Rodriguez's journey is one of resilience, excellence, and unwavering dedication in her pursuit of social justice and reform within the foster care system. A former foster youth, Latina, and first-generation graduate with high honors from The University of Michigan, Isabel's path is a testament to her fierce advocacy and commitment to change.

 

Having spent over 7 years in the Michigan foster system, Isabel navigated through more than 10 different placements and encountered over 20 different case workers. Her experience was fraught with instability as her permanency goal shifted repeatedly, from reunification to adoption to independent living. During her time in foster care, Isabel confronted homelessness and struggled to find a sense of stability. The system's inability to provide a secure foundation only compounded her challenges. Additionally, she endured the heartbreaking experience of sibling separation, as the system tore apart her relationship with her sibling. This loss left an indelible mark, underscoring the systemic shortcomings that often fracture familial bonds.

 

Armed with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology: Law, Justice, and Social Change, accompanied by a minor in Intergroup Relations, Isabel is not only academically distinguished but also deeply immersed in the complexities of systemic injustice. Her expertise extends to her role as the lead Program Coordinator at One Simple Wish, an organization dedicated to granting the wishes of children in foster care, thereby bringing joy and hope into their lives.

 

Beyond her professional endeavors, Isabel's impact reverberates through her extensive advocacy work. She is a member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute's Advocacy Council, a Lived Expert for the Children's Interagency Coordinating Council, and the keynote speaker for the 2024 Michigan Teen Conference. Her journey as an advocate began as the president of the Michigan Youth Opportunities Initiative - Allegan/Barry Youth Board and has since expanded to national platforms, collaborating with esteemed organizations such as FosterClub and the National Foster Youth Institute.

 

Isabel's influence extends to the highest echelons of power, where she has briefed Congress, the White House, and the Department of Health and Human Services on the critical issue of sibling separation in foster care. Her ability to translate research and lived experience into actionable policies sets her apart as a seasoned advocate and catalyst for change. In 2023, she captivated audiences as the keynote speaker at the Angels in Adoption Congressional Gala in D.C., solidifying her reputation as an influential voice in the field.

 

Currently pursuing her Master of Public Administration as a Thurgood Marshall Fellow, Isabel seamlessly integrates her academic rigor with her real-world advocacy experience. Her unique blend of academic excellence, professional acumen, and personal passion positions her as a transformative speaker and role model for foster youth nationwide.

 

Isabel N. Rodriguez stands as a symbol of empowerment, dedicated to amplifying the voices of foster youth and driving meaningful change within the foster care system and beyond. Her journey, from homelessness and instability to academic excellence and advocacy, embodies the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. She is not only a dynamic advocate and inspirational speaker but also a source of hope for foster youth nationwide.


 
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