Profiles Showcase Latest Class of Children and Family Fellows

Posted October 25, 2022
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
The 2022–24 Child and Family Fellows stand together, smiling at the camera.

A new series of pro­files reveals how the lat­est mem­bers of the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s Chil­dren and Fam­i­ly Fel­low­ship® came to their ben­e­fi­cial work and shares their hopes for improv­ing poli­cies and pro­grams affect­ing com­mu­ni­ties of color.

The nine men and six women hail from 11 states. These 15 select­ed for the inten­sive, 21-month exec­u­tive lead­er­ship pro­gram are shaped by a vari­ety of per­son­al and pro­fes­sion­al experiences.

Edu­ca­tion experts Ange­lo Gon­za­les, Sha­ron­i­ca Hardin-Bart­ley and Sher­man Whites are all dri­ven by the oppor­tu­ni­ties they were giv­en to lead and learn as young peo­ple in com­mu­ni­ties where oppor­tu­ni­ty was uneven­ly distributed.

Malik Ben­jamin and Ali Knight share the roots of grow­ing up Black in New York City in the 1980s and 1990s — the begin­nings of an era of cost­ly crim­i­nal­iza­tion of Black boys that saw an end to oppor­tu­ni­ty for many. 

Across expe­ri­ences, the Fel­lows share a com­mon recog­ni­tion that child wel­fare and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems have often done more harm than good and that K–12 edu­ca­tion is nec­es­sary but insuf­fi­cient to pro­vide the oppor­tu­ni­ties young peo­ple and their fam­i­lies need.

They also share a belief in a poten­tial solu­tion: ampli­fy­ing the voic­es of peo­ple of col­or and equip­ping them with the tools to share their sto­ries to shape policy.

Knight, the CEO of Fresh Life­lines for Youth in the Bay Area, is posi­tion­ing youth who have first-hand expe­ri­ence with juve­nile pro­ba­tion or oth­er court-ordered con­di­tions. He helps them become advi­sors to the jus­tice sys­tem and to fam­i­lies whose chil­dren are new­ly enter­ing the system.

Kas­si Lon­go­ria, vice pres­i­dent of MAYA Con­sult­ing, is posi­tion­ing fam­i­lies of young chil­dren as experts by engag­ing them as paid con­sul­tants to local programs.

In addi­tion to pri­or­i­tiz­ing the voic­es of chil­dren and fam­i­lies, Fel­lows are shift­ing major child- and youth-serv­ing sys­tems from reac­tion to pre­ven­tion and from one-size-fits-all ser­vices to grass­roots care.

I want to see a shift of fund­ing to grass­roots, com­mu­ni­ty-ori­ent­ed agen­cies so they are able to build an infra­struc­ture to use the fund­ing local­ly to make changes in their com­mu­ni­ties,” said Jodi Hill-Lil­ly, deputy com­mis­sion­er of the Con­necti­cut Depart­ment of Chil­dren and Fam­i­lies. If our work begins fur­ther upstream, we can pre­vent chil­dren and fam­i­lies from com­ing to the atten­tion of the depart­ment in the first place,” she said.

Beyond set­ting and advanc­ing indi­vid­ual objec­tives, the fel­lows’ work con­tributes to a shared result: ensur­ing that all youth ages 1424 have the nec­es­sary and equi­table school, work and fam­i­ly con­nec­tions to achieve suc­cess. This work will involve learn­ing about and apply­ing the com­pe­ten­cies of Results Count® — Casey’s sig­na­ture approach to lead­er­ship devel­op­ment — to lever­age data and dri­ve deci­sion-mak­ing around con­crete goals.

It’s become more and more clear in my career that this isn’t a solo game,” said Lon­go­ria. You have to cre­ate teams and work in the com­mu­ni­ty to shift pow­er. Through the Fel­low­ship, I’m look­ing for­ward to hon­ing my strate­gies and lead­ing through my identity.

Read the Profiles

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