The Casey Foundation Names New Jim Casey Fellows

Posted September 28, 2023
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
A group photo of the 2023 Jim Casey Fellows

This year's Jim Casey Fellows as well as other Youth Leadership Institute participants. Credit: Lance Thurman.

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.” 

Learn more about the Foun­da­tion’s child wel­fare work

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