16 years in Ohio's child welfare system.

26 years old


Cleveland, Ohio

Sonia Emerson entered foster care at the age of two and remained in care until she emancipated out at 18 years old. After leaving care, Sonia experienced homelessness for a year. During this time, Sonia began volunteering with Fill This House, an organization that provides household goods to newly emancipated youth. She then realized her life’s work was to give a voice to a marginalized and underserved youth. She served on a Youth Leadership Board for A Place 4 Me, an organization whose mission is to end and prevent youth homelessness.


Sonia identifies as a cisgender lesbian and recognizes her sexual orientation as a contributing factor to her struggle with homelessness. She became a Youth Lead on an implementation committee to help advise her local child welfare agency on how to best serve youth who have diverse sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.


Sonia now works with Kinnect as a Project Coordinator to provide trainings to child welfare workers, private providers, and youth in care around issues affecting LGBTQ+ youth in care. As a representative for the Jim Casey Youth Advisory Committee, Sonia has presented to senators and congressional representatives about the impact of policies aimed to support transitioning youth.


In her spare time, Sonia enjoys performing spoken word(live poetry), photography, writing songs and short stories, taking her berner Kazey to the dog park and on hikes with her family, and spending time with her family at her wife’s family farm.


Sonia hopes to continue her advocacy efforts through publishing inspirational books for youth in care, traveling the world as a thought leader to empower other youth, and dreams of presenting a TED Talk around the power of storytelling for marginalized youth who’ve experienced trauma, loss, and grief.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2019 #FosterEquality Spokesperson