May 19, 2015, Washington, DC – Today, the White House honored twelve outstanding individuals as Champions of Change for Foster Care. Each individual honored has personally experienced foster care and now serves as an advocate for peers who will come through the system behind them. The Champions of Change showcased the stories and work of these inspirational leaders as a part of National Foster Care Month in May.
“This honor is completely humbling and one that I feel is shared among so many alumni across the country doing amazing things to give back,” said Nicole Dobbins, FosterClub Board of Directors Chairperson and one of the Champions of Change recognized today. “I am thrilled the Administration is taking the time and energy to highlight champions in the foster care arena, and it's very special that they would select alumni as the category to feature.”
The twelve foster care leaders recognized by the White House include:
David Ambroz, Los Angeles, California — Executive Director of Corporate Citizenship & Social Responsibility for Disney|ABC Television Group.
Maria Burgos, Providence, Rhode Island – 2015 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader and participant in Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Day 2014.
Sixto Cancel, Richmond, Virginia – 2012 FosterClub All-Star intern and former member of the National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Counsel. Young Adult Consultant with the Children’s Bureau, working in the Center for State Capacity.
Daryle Conquering Bear Crow, Denver, Colorado – 2006 FosterClub All-Star intern and former member of the National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Counsel. Member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and national advocate for native youth.
Nicole Dobbins, Silver Spring, Maryland – 2005 FosterClub All-Star intern and Chairman of FosterClub’s Board of Directors. Executive Director of Voice for Adoption in Washington D.C., a national advocacy organization.
Chelsea Faver, Greenwood, Indiana –National Foster Youth and Alumni Policy Counsel Member. Serves as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps while also pursuing her Juris Doctor.
Mary Lee, Memphis, Tennessee – National YVLifeSet Coordinator for Youth Villages, a national children’s services nonprofit headquartered in Memphis, Tennessee.
Sokhom Mao, Oakland, California – Juvenile Justice Commissioner for Alameda County and a Public Education Specialist for the California Social Work Education Center (CalSWEC) at the University of California, Berkeley.
Lupe Ortiz-Tovar, Tulsa, Oklahoma – 2005 FosterClub All-Star intern and former staff member. Currently manages consultant coordination, engagement, and communication efforts with JBS International Inc.
Briana Osbourne, Sacramento, California –California Youth Ambassador. Youth Peer Mentor at Visions Unlimited, Inc. and previously served with City Year Sacramento.
Eriq Swiftwater, Oglala, South Dakota — Member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Youth Guest Speaker for South Dakota’s Gear Up program, sharing his story and mentoring students in high schools across the reservation.
George White, Gardena, California –California Youth Ambassador and 2009 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader. Program Assistant at the National Foster Youth Institute.
“Every Champion of Change recognized here today had their own cast of champions, people who saw something in us,” reflected Champion Lupe Ortiz-Tovar. “For many, this is our first opportunity to publicly recognize the people who believed in us.”
Many of the Champions of Change have been involved in leadership programs of FosterClub, the national network for young people in foster care. FosterClub leads the efforts of young people who spearhead efforts to reform policy and practice, particularly for older youth who are preparing for the transition from foster care to adulthood. The leadership programs of FosterClub include:
- FosterClub All-Stars, a year-long internship with a seven-week intensive in-residence component that builds the capacity of young leaders,
- California Youth Ambassadors, a group of twelve young leaders who work to improve the educational outcomes for California’s foster youth,
- Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Experience, an annual opportunity for young leaders to travel to Washington DC and shadow their Member of Congress,
- 100 Outstanding Young Leaders, a recognition program that celebrates young people who are giving back in their communities,
- Core Leadership Teams, assemblies of young people who guide the work of FosterClub,
- National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council, 20 young leaders who assemble to provide recommendations to the Administration fro Children & Families and other federal stakeholders.
According to the White House, the Champions of Change program was created as an opportunity to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. To learn more about the White House Champions of Change program and read more about the young leaders who were honored, visit the White House Champions of Change website.