Meet the team with over 50 years combined experience in non-profit and child welfare program development.
Shalita graduated from the University of Maryland at College Park with a BA in criminology and also holds a Masters of Social Work from the University of Maryland Baltimore.
Mrs. O'Neale founded Fostering Change Network LLC in 2012 as a way to use her 13 years of experience in launching, building and sustaining non-profit organizations and non-profit programs to help other Non-profit Visionaries do the same. She has also been heavily involved in child welfare training and advocacy and connecting young professionals with foster care histories, like herself, through local and national professional networking events. Her desire to help adults from foster care secure resources that will allow them to contribute to the economic development in their communities led her to found the Fostering Change Network Foundation- a non-profit organization that will provide Pay It Forward Loans and micro-grants to alumni businesses, non-profits and other professional endeavors of financially distressed alumni.
She is also Founder of Hope Forward, Inc.(formerly the Maryland Foster Youth Resource.); a non-profit organization launched in 2008 to connect transitioning and former foster youth to housing, financial assistance, health care and others who have experienced foster care. Through Shalita’s grant-writing skills and relationships with local Foundation funders and key community figures, she has been able raise over $2 million for this non-profit over the past 8 years.
Susan Emfinger is a senior fundraising professional with more than 15 years of nonprofit and volunteer management, alumni relations, communications, major gift, annual, corporate and planned giving fundraising experience at both the national and the international levels. She is also an alumna of the foster care system.
Susan joined Fostering Change Network in order to help bring much-needed resources, both human and financial, to creating business and community leadership opportunities for foster youth and for foster youth alumni. As Susan puts it, "In the US as well as other countries, foster youth who have thrived despite so many challenges clearly possess strengths, talents and leadership skills that should be acknowledged and developed, not only for the benefit of foster youth, but for society as a whole." Susan earned a BA in French from Michigan State University, and a master's degree in International Affairs from Columbia University.
April is an alumnus of the Illinois child welfare system. Now a college graduate April works to help youth in care and in her community solve problems, advocate for themselves, and improve their lives. Among the many issues related to foster youth, sibling rights are a cause April promotes most passionately. In August 2002, she sponsored a Sibling Symposium to draw attention to the importance of maintaining sibling connections and gather feedback for a Sibling Bill of Rights. She is a National Consultant on Child Welfare and Juvenile Justice, where she works on developing agency reform, strategic planning, youth programs, youth councils, conferences, grants, board development and trainings for agencies across the United States and Puerto Rico.
Mrs. Curtis is one of the founding and current board member of Foster Care Alumni of America National Board and IL Chapter. She is currently a Senior Fellow for CWLA after serving 12 years on the Board of Directors. She is currently on the Quality Improvement Center for Adoption/Guardianship Support and Preservation (QIC-AG) National Advisory Board. April is on the Board of Directors for two Chicago Humboldt Park Community Organizations, she is on the board for Both Sides of the Park and the Vice President and Coach for the Roberto Clemente Humboldt Park Little League Baseball.
Jamole has over 15 years experience in Child Welfare Training, Policy updates ad legislation and mental health and first-aid training. He has served as a Communications Strategist for at-risk populations and has devoted much of his career to leadership development andmotivational speaking. Mr. Callahan sits on various Boards that promote improved outcomes for current and former foster and adoptive youth. Jamole has a vision for empowering resource parents, caseworkers and foster care youth and alumni to succeed.
Sarah is a seasoned youth advocate with progressive experience in non-profit leadership. After spending 17 years in the child welfare 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 founder and CEO of Phenomenal Families where she works to provide children and youth in foster care and juvenile probation with access to education and resources that promote healthy relationships, sexual development, and positive parenting. Sarah has co-chaired the County of San Diego’s Children’s System of Care Council and is a current member of the Juvenile Justice Commission.
Additionally, she is actively involved in state-level initiatives, including the Katie A. settlement, Continuum of Care Reform, and Psychotropic Quality Improvement Project. Her educational and professional achievements paired with nearly two decades of experience within the foster care system grant her a unique perspective shared by few in her field.