The Casey Foundation Names New Jim Casey Fellows
The Annie E. Casey Foundation has welcomed 17 new Jim Casey Fellows. The young leaders, each of whom has experienced foster care, will partner with the Foundation, its Jim Casey Initiative sites and local community organizations to design strategies and make recommendations for improving the lives of teens and young adults in and transitioning from the child welfare system.
This year’s Fellows were invited to attend Casey’s Youth Leadership Institute in July 2023. They spent five days immersed in the Authentic Youth Engagement Framework, deepening their understanding of equitable, data-driven advocacy, as well as child welfare policies and practices.
As the latest Fellows to join the nearly 20-year-old program, these young people will use their expertise to support policy and spearhead efforts to improve their communities:
- Kekoa Abellera (Hawaii)
- Sharnelle Bennett (Kansas)
- Anastasia Blake (Ohio)
- Patti Chagolla (Arizona)
- Joanna Delaney (New Mexico)
- Taylor Hart DuRard (Tennessee)
- Ashellmee Gann-Gatt (Indiana)
- Deasia Harris (Maryland)
- Tyonna Hartsfied (North Carolina)
- Andrew Jones (Nebraska)
- Maria Kelley (Connecticut)
- Sylvia Parrott (Rhode Island)
- Zoie Simone Points (Iowa)
- Gloria Richardson (Florida)
- Eshontee Rowe (Georgia)
- Amouree Small (South Carolina)
- Makyla Watson (Mississippi)
“By investing in today’s young leaders and nurturing their skills and talents, the Casey Foundation continues to sow seeds of relationships, resources and opportunities at the local and national levels that lead to better outcomes for young people transitioning from foster care to adulthood,” says Catherine Lester, associate director of the Foundation’s Family Well-Being Strategy Group.
The 2023 class’ areas of interest include:
- kinship care;
- keeping siblings together;
- youth homelessness;
- mental health; and
- raising awareness about services for transition-age young people.
“I really enjoy working with peers who have similar life experiences as well as seeing how the policies of other states could be applied to my state,” says Andrew Jones, who aspires to a career in policy advocacy. Nebraska Children and Families Foundation, a Jim Casey Initiative partner site, nominated Andrew to participate in the program. “What makes it [even] more impactful is that you get perspectives from different parts of the country.”