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Current Members

The National Foster Care Youth and Alumni Policy Council is comprised of representatives of national foster youth-serving advisory organizations. 

 

Danno Mannino - Oregon

Danno Mannino is a 23-yr-old white, low-income, genderfluid, bisexual, and polyamorous-identified social justice advocate with a mental illness. Danno uses the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/theirs. They reside in Southern Oregon, where as a child they experienced foster care, temporary legal guardianship, and two unsuccessful attempts at reunification with a birth parent - all while separated from their older sibling. They moved out at 17 years old without legal emancipation or help from a transitional living program. Danno did not graduate high school and instead acquired a General Education Degree. Danno's experience includes being on the peer-elected legislative action committee of Oregon Foster Youth Connection which helped pass HB 2216 the Sibling Bill of Rights for Foster Youth in Oregon in 2017. Danno spent time with the youth this bill affects as a camp counselor at Camp to Belong Oregon, which reunites siblings separated in care for activities together. Danno was an All-Star intern at FosterClub for session A of 2017. They will continue foster-related work as a representative of OFYC at Foster Youth In Action's Leaders For Change Conference 2017, and as a guest panelist for the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform's LGBTQ Certificate Program 2017. Danno is currently a youth-adviser of the Quality Improvement Center for LGBTQ2S youth in care. They are excited for the opportunity to be a part of the important work of the National Foster Youth & Alumni Policy Council. 

 

Melissa Guiterrez - California

Melissa graduated from San Diego State University in 2014 on theDean's List with a double major in Psychology and Sociology, and a minor in social work. Her first speaking engagement was at age 18 as a Youth Ambassador for the Temecula Foster Youth Task Force. To date, she has conducted hundreds of training and presentations to foster parents, social workers, school districts, volunteers and community partners. Her experience with the FosterClub All-star internship, NFYI Congressional Shadow Day, FYA Leaders For Change Conference, and a San Diego-based alumni advocacy group called L.E.A.P. have each grown her ability to advocate on a national platform. She shares her story as part of San Diego County’s foster parent licensing program, providing caregivers with tools and techniques to understand and support their youth. She also serves as an Educational Liaison for foster youth through the San Diego County Office of Education, recognizing the power that a group of dedicated people have to change the outcomes for those who are disadvantaged. Melissa believes education is the great equalizer. In the future, Melissa plans to pursue a master’s degree to take her advocacy to the next level. Traveling, snowboarding, music and the ocean are some of Melissa’s favorite things.

 

David Hall - Oklahoma

David Hall was placed in Oklahoma’s foster care system twice. His time in care included kinship, traditional, and congregate care placements that resulted in an expedited case due to negligence and overmedication, fearing liability. In his early adolescence, he experienced multiple breaking points and was involved in the juvenile justice system on many occasions prior to being placed in care at the age of sixteen on Christmas Day. After overcoming those obstacles, he enrolled at Oklahoma City University as a Sociology and Instrumental Music Education Double Major and stayed involved in playing rugby on the side.

He began his advocacy by speaking on panels, teaching life skills to transition-aged youth in care, and getting politically engaged. Once this occurred, he realized the restrictions of the system he was advocating for, and began heavy involvement in political and nonprofit-related simplifying, strategizing, and organizing. David then became president of the state’s first Oklahoma Foster Youth Advocates Leadership Council and the first Oklahoman to have completed the FosterClub All-Star Internship Program, participated in his first Foster Youth Shadow Day before being asked to attend (and had an impromptu presentation for) the inaugural White House Foster Youth Hack-a-thon, and then simultaneously served as Director of Canvassing against a state ballot initiative and as Chief of Staff for his university. When he began to hone his skills, this public servant helped to create and pass several bills, an amendment and policy recommendation in his legislature before getting a significant interim study through and becoming a pod leader for National Foster Youth Institute’s Foster Youth Shadow Day Program.

Today, this next-generation public servant is helping and teaching others how to be successful in changing their system through forums, lectures, workshops, keynotes, radio shows and more, including starting Oklahoma’s first cross-system youth council and as a contracted consultant for the Capacity Building Center for States and the National Resource Center for Youth Services as well as his own independent consultation practices.

Angela Quijada - North Carolina

Angela is currently a Junior at North Carolina Central University majoring in social work. Her home state is the golden state of California. She is a focused, determined, and resilient. While being in the substitute care system, she experienced and witnessed a plethora of injustice. Angela is now ready to speak up and make a change. She participated in the 2016 Congressional Foster Youth Shadow Program and in May 2017 was selected to come back as a Pod Leader. She had an opportunity to create and facilitate workshops, organize functions and lead discussions. She was inducted in the National Society of Leadership Success, the National Honor society, and the National Foster Youth Institute. She is currently employed at SAYSO (Strong Able Youth Speaking Out), where she serves on panels bringing the youth voice to legislative decisions, media and program improvement plans to create needed changes in the child welfare system. In addition, she has decided to pursue entrepreneurship as she is self-motivated and believes in being her own boss.

Angela believes resilience and hard work can get you anywhere in life. Her short-term goals are to graduate with a BSW, start a non-profit organization which would mentor and provide life coaching in order to empower people through truth, positivity, love and support.

Eric Warner - Arizona

Eric Warner, 24 years, currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona where he attends Arizona State University, studying Sociology. Outside of studies, he involves himself with youth in his state to see their needs and wants are addressed.

Eric spent 11 years in the Arkansas child welfare system where he encountered difficulties such as discrimination for his sexual orientation throughout much of his childhood, transitioned to 11 different placements (Therapeutic Foster Care, Methodist Group Home Facilities, Emergency Child Youth Shelter, etc.). In addition, Eric also faced trauma when he was unwilling to take psychotropic medications at age 13 (Prozac, Zoloft, Seroquil). Although, the complexities of these experiences seem overwhelming, he is determined, resilient and able to maintain an active and honest internal dialogue. He advocates for youths’ active participation in their own lives.

Eric's policy and advocacy work began as a 2012 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader. In 2013 he participated in Shadow Day with the Congressional Caucus for Foster Youth. In 2017 he was selected as a FosterClub All-star. Eric strives to realize his dream of opening a non-profit. With a “can do” attitude, a remembrance of who he serves, and a mentality of “yes he will,” Eric looks forward to where he can implement change for the betterment of the child welfare system.

 

Michael Teresa Mellifera - DC / Pennsylvania

Michael Teresa Mellifera is an undergraduate junior currently studying at the Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. She is majoring in Philosophy and double minoring in Theology and Islamic World Studies. Ms. Mellifera’s studies so far have largely focused on the languages, literatures, philosophies, and intellectual histories of Christianity and Islam in the medieval Near East. Upon completion of her undergraduate career, Ms. Mellifera intends to continue her studies at the graduate level by pursuing a doctorate in the History and Philosophy of Medicine. Ms. Mellifera envisions herself becoming a professor one day and dedicating much of her life to traveling, researching, teaching, and learning with others about the past.

Ms. Mellifera entered the foster care system at the age of seven and spent approximately ten years in care before emancipating at eighteen. Unfortunately, state intervention into Ms. Mellifera’s life contributed rather than eliminated her pre-existing trauma and she experienced a lack of stability, permanency, and normalcy while in care. Ms. Mellifera feels called to share her experiences to better inform federal stakeholders who govern the wellbeing of foster children. Ms. Mellifera is interested in helping decrease the disproportionate number of foster youth who experience negative outcomes such as homelessness, polysubstance abuse, school failure, social disconnect, teenage pregnancy, and mental health disorders. Ms. Mellifera has developed a keen interest in the crossover youth demographic which consists of maltreated youth who engage in delinquent behavior and become involved in the juvenile justice system. Ms. Mellifera has observed through her older brother’s experiences that incarceration confines young people to institutional settings which restrict their access to adequate education, mental health services, and community support. Though incarceration is originally intended to end criminal careers before they begin, Ms. Mellifera believes that incarceration inadvertently leads young people to become more deeply entrenched in criminal activity once they are released. Ms. Mellifera intends to continue her advocacy for bipartisan, bicameral juvenile justice reform during her time with NFYAPC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

Kodi Baughman- – Iowa

Mr. Baughman was involved in the system at a young age, eventually he would reunify with his mother. He was inspired to help others through his personal story to create change in the system and give youth a chance to be heard. He strives to effectively impact practice and policies relating to children and families.   
 

Mr. Baughman is a certified Family Team Facilitator, Breakthrough Series Collaborative facilitator, a Youth Transition Decision-Making Team Facilitator for the Children & Families of Iowa/State of Iowa. He is also involved with assisting the Building a Better Future Training while advocating for youth, parents, frontline workers and foster parents to work more effectively together to create better outcomes for children and families. Mr. Baughman is a member of Iowa Cultural Equity Alliance, Youth Insight board, Community Partnership for Protecting Children, and he has worked extensively with Youth Policy Institute to elevate the youth voice across multiple systems. Mr. Baughman  obtained an AS degree in Human Services at Des Moines Area Community College and is currently attending Upper Iowa University to obtain his Bachelor’s Degree.

 

 

 

Latasha Fuller- – North Carolina

Ms. Fuller spent the first seven years of her life in kinship cares, At age 8 she entered foster care and was subsequently adopted. Currently, Latasha  is the Resident Manager with  LIFE Skills Foundation. She has been working  with Foster Youth, and as an Advocate for Children,  for the past five years. Latasha was named a Notable Name to watch by PRIDE Magazine (Charlotte, NC)  in 2015, and is a Children’s Trust Fund Hero with the Los Angeles, CA  Children’s Trust Fund.

 

Latasha  received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science  with a concentration in Public Administration, from Winston-Salem State University in 2014.  Ms. Fuller has dedicated her life to being an Advocate in her community for youth, no matter her location,  because she recognizes that they  are the future. Her family, and faith,  have been her  backbone of support,  as she’s embarked on her journey over the years. Latasha  looks forward to enrolling in  a  Masters of Social Work program in  2017 so that she can serve as a  Child Advocate with the court system.

 

 

Samuel Martin– Washington

Mr. Martin primarily grew up in kinship care. He has been an advocate for youth in foster care at both the local and national level for many years, participating as a Chapter Leader with the Mockingbird Society to advocate for state laws impacting foster youth, as a member of Passion to Action and in CCAI's Foster Youth Internship Program.

 

Samuel is a graduate of the University of Washington, with a Bachelor's Degree in Political science. He is currently enrolled at Seattle University in the Master in Public Administration Program. He plans to either get his Juris Doctorate or my Doctorate in Public Policy. He is currently employed as a Senior Education Specialist at Treehouse. Treehouse has a goal of youth in care graduating from high school at the same rate as their peers.

 

 
 

Samantha Smith– New York

Ms. Smith is a fierce advocate and recent graduate from John Jay College. She is highly involved in advocating for oppressed groups who are underrepresented in politics.
After eighteen years in the New York City foster care system, Samantha aged out. When her biological mother’s rights were terminated she knew that the cycle of fractured families had to END with her! Samantha is a dedicated advocate and spokesperson for youth in foster care and wishes to establish her own women’s empowerment organization. Samantha describes herself as a young activist working hard to change what is broken in the foster care system. She’s travelled to Albany, Washington DC, California, and Oregon in order to share her knowledge and experience while in foster care.


Samantha is currently employed as a Social Worker in an Elder Abuse Program to identify, eliminate, and prevent abuse.  When Samantha is not working she enjoys jazz music, traveling, Buddhism and spending time with loved ones.
 

 

 

Tamya McGee– Michigan

Ms. McGee entered the Wayne County foster care system at the age of 11 with her two younger brothers. After living with 4 different family members in 3 years, they were reunited with their mother. Her experiences in the foster care system motivated her to pursue a career in social work and social welfare policy in an effort to remove the barriers many families who seek to reunify experience.

 

In 2014 Ms. McGee interned with Voice for Adoption in Washington, DC. She received my bachelor of arts in Political Science from Michigan State University in 2015 and is currently completing her Masters Degree in social work at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She plans to use the knowledge she has gained and her experiences to become a change agent and assist in the regulation and implementation of laws and policies that impact children in the foster care system.

 

 

Timothy Dennis – Tennessee

Mr. Dennis grew up in foster care for all of his teenage years. Timothy graduated high school in Knoxville, TN and went on to obtain his certified nursing assistant license. His passion in life is to give back to current foster youth who are experiencing the same things that he experienced.

 

Timothy’s dream job is to work with the Department of Children's Services in the Independent Living Department or CPS Division. Mr. Dennis aspires to do so first, he believes prevention is key. Secondly, in the event teenager must experience foster care he wants to ensure they are aware of all the opportunities available to them that will help them successfully transition out of adulthood into a prosperous future.
 

 

 

Crystal O’Grady – Washington

On Thanksgiving when she was 13, Crys O’Grady entered foster care in New Jersey and had four placements, including a kinship placement. Instead of aging out, Crys ran away and stayed with friends until she began school in California. She received her B.A. in Sociology from Stanford University and is now in her third year of law school at the University of Washington School of Law and hopes to continue working in child welfare policy when she graduates in 2016.

In her free time, Crys volunteers as a family law Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), serves as the legal intern for the Center for Children and Youth Justice, and serves as the secretary for the Washington Chapter of Foster Care Alumni Network of America. Crys enjoys enriching her advocacy efforts and personal life with travel, reading, and kayaking.

 

 

Dani Townsend – Illinois

Dani spent eight years in the Illinois foster care system. Dani had both good and bad experiences but refused to let her past determine her future. She was unable to participate in extracurricular activities after entering care, and hopes that one change she can make will be to improve normalcy for all foster youth.

Dani is attending college classes in Fall 2014 majoring in social work with a minor in political science. Dani’s ambition is to become a powerful voice for the youth in care who are unable to speak on behalf of themselves. She feels that she has the knowledge and experience of a youth in care and can pass this on to other youth so they do not have to endure what she did.

 

 

 

DaShun Jackson – Nevada

Dashun entered foster care at the age of 13 with his 3 younger siblings, but was later separated from siblings after living in an abusive home. Multiple placements, including the local shelter, his aunt’s home, psychiatric facility and a residential treatment home, caused Dashun to move through four different schools while in care. While at a shelter, Dashun attend a school that did not provide credits, causing him to fall further behind in school. Dashun credits a mentor from a group home for teaching him about his culture and the gift of philanthropy.

Currently emancipated, Dashun attends a local University studying psychology and public administration. He was one of two creators of Nevada’s first foster care bill of rights, and is president of both the local and state foster youth chapters. Dashun is a bill-creator, college student, brother… and a foster kid.

 

 

 

 

 

Jessica Harris – Maine

Jessica spent twelve years in foster care. She lived in several placements including group homes, foster homes, and kinship care placements. Jessica has advocated for enhanced post-secondary and extended care options for former foster youth. She is a speaker and has testified multiple times in an effort to improve health care access for foster youth and alumni. Ms. Henderson has served on youth advisory boards in Maine. Based on her experience, aging without adequate permanent connections, Jessica is passionate about improving lifelong connections for youth in and from foster care.

Jessica is currently in the process of being adopted. Presently, she is pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and is employed as a behavioral health professional serving children with disabilities and behavioral health concerns. In the future she hopes to become a social worker at the Department of Human Services.

 

Kaysie Getty – New Jersey

At the age of two, Kaysie was adopted, but at the age of 14, she was separated from her siblings and placed in a foster home. For four years, she bounced around from placement to placement until she landed at Center for Family Services at 18 where she could finally become stable.

Kaysie is an active and devoted foster youth advocate. She served as the president of the Center for Family Services Internal Youth Advisory Board and Camden County YAB for 4 years. Kaysie now works with the Rutgers School of Social Work as a Youth Advisory Board Ambassador, and as a Youth Advocate with the Center for Family Services. Kaysie plans on becoming the Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families of New Jersey.

 

 

 

Madison Sandoval-Lunn – Nevada

At the age of 10, Madison entered foster care with her three younger siblings and had seven different placements. She was eventually separated from her siblings and adopted just before she turned 18. Madison has held various leadership positions in youth advisory boards and was recognized with FosterClub’s Outstanding Young Leader award in 2009. She served as a 2011 Larry Bolden Scholar and co-founded the Nevada chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America in 2013. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2014 and is working toward a career in federal child welfare policy.

 

 

 

 

Sarah Pauter – California

Sarah is a seasoned youth advocate with progressive experience in nonprofit leadership. After spending 17 years in the foster care system before ultimately emancipating, Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from San Diego State University and a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. Currently, Sarah is the Executive Youth Partner of Family & Youth Roundtable of San Diego County where she works to improve public child-serving systems through advocacy and awareness.

Sarah has co-chaired the County of San Diego’s Children System of Care Council and continues to serve as a representative of youth involved with juvenile justice and residential treatment. Her educational and professional achievements paired with nearly two decades of experience within the foster care system grants her a unique perspective shared by few in her field.

 

 

Tamisha Macklin – Colorado

Tamisha spent twelve years in the foster care system. She lived in foster homes, kinship care placements, and juvenile detention. She was placed in restrictive settings, however, through her resilience she re-acclimated into the community and became an advocate. She has served as a member of the Bridging the Gap Youth Leadership Board, which helps foster youth make successful transitions into adulthood.

Tamisha has helped pass several bills through the Colorado Legislature. She regularly speaks at case worker and foster parent trainings. She was part of the Breakthrough Series Collaborative Project as a crossover youth advocate, helping to promote collaboration between the various stakeholders in the Child Welfare, Juvenile Justice and court systems for crossover youth. Tamisha is in the process of completing her Associates Degree in Human Services. She hopes to become a youth diversion worker or a counselor.

 

 

C:\Users\VIVIAN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Scout Hartly.pngScout Hartley– New Jersey

Scout entered the New Jersey child welfare system at the age of 14 and primarily stayed in kinship placements until he aged out of the system at age 21. Despite struggling with mental health issues, he was able to graduate high school on time and transition to college with the financial assistance from a local nonprofit serving foster youth. Currently studying public administration, Scout is planning for a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Organization Management with a possible future of law. Scout is a political enthusiast. He spends most days following esoteric issues of our nation and the world.

 

C:\Users\VIVIAN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Brian-Morgantini_300.pngBrian Morgantini  – Pennsylvania

Brian entered Pennsylvania's foster care system at age four and experiences over 25 different placements, including kinship, family foster care, and congregate care. He was separated from his brother when his brother was adopted by their aunt, and Brian aged out of the system at age 18. 

 

Brian currently resides in Los Angeles. He hopes to obtain his Bachelor’s of Art in History and Pre Law with a minor in Business. Brian is a strong child advocate, he has been on his local Youth Advisory Board and has helped develop a “Teen Success Agreement.” He was chosen to be a foster youth representative in May 2015 for FosterClubs “Shadow Day.” During his time at “Shadow Day” he spoke with Congresswoman Karen Bass, and his story is now apart of the House Bill, “Education Stability for Foster Youth.” Brian will continue to strive and focus on child advocacy as he plans his future.

 

C:\Users\VIVIAN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Nicolee 2.jpgNicoLee Rohac – Pennsylvania

NicoLee spent several years in kinship and foster care, including group homes until she aged out. She remembers having several case workers, child advocates and CASA volunteers during her foster care experience. NicoLee was impacted by the lack of control she was allowed to have over her life, but remembers her independent living classes, and feels her experience in care assisted her to grow up to be an assertive advocate and shape her career path.  

NicoLee has earned her BA degree in Psychology at Washington and Jefferson college. She also earned a Masters of Social work from the University of Pittsburgh and is a licensed clinician working with adopted children and children in foster care.

 

C:\Users\VIVIAN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Antionette.jpgAntionette Rucker - Georgia

Antionette was placed in foster care at age 13. She was in foster care and group homes, having 7 placements. She had better experiences in group homes, rather than foster homes. Antionette lost her mother to cancer while in foster care and this led to her diagnosis.

Ms. Rucker is a senior at Albany State University completing her degree in social work. She is a member of the policy team at Georgia EmpowerMEnt, a Veteran Tribe Development Coordinator, Jim Casey “Young Fellow”. Lastly, Antionette is founder and president of Fostering Through College at the University, an affiliate of the Embark Georgia Network.

 

C:\Users\VIVIAN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\ed.pngEdwyn ‘ Ed’ Shoemaker – Massachusetts

Before aging out of the child welfare system at 18, Edwyn cycled through many homes and organizations and times experiencing homelessness.

Edwyn is currently pursuing his Masters degree in public policy and administration from Wilmington University. He has assisted former congressman and UMASS President Marty Meehan, and experience in policy and political elections on a state and national level. He is a volunteer and passionate about social and human rights issues. He is a member of Massachusetts Foster Care Alumni of America where he is a volunteer as the education chair.

C:\Users\VIVIAN\AppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\Temporary Internet Files\Content.Word\Victor Sims.pngVictor Sims - Florida

Victor entered foster care at just 4 months old and experienced 11 different family foster homes and 13 different schools. Eventually Victor landed in the Sims’ home, where he was adopted by the loving and supportive family.

Victor has overcome many odds to excel in his education. He has received multiple awards and recognition; including membership in the National Honor Society, and elected as president of student government. His experiences in foster care made achievement in school very difficult, yet he persevered through these barriers and graduated on time and is currently attending college at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He will graduate with his BS degree in May, 2016. He plans to pursue a career in politics and give back to his community with the hopes of changing the way society views children in and from foster care and improving the views and negative statistics.