Chris is a big guy. And powerful.

In foster care at age 14 after an accusation of violence towards his mom, he became the kind of kid that prospective foster parents avoid. Not surprising after living in shelters and group homes, medicated and underestimated, enrolled in below-grade schools, Chris ended up frustrated and angry. As a way to vent his emotions, Chris took up writing. He kept it to himself, but expressing his emotions on paper gave him peace and a sense of purpose. Chris aged out of foster care at eighteen, on his own, but kept in touch with an organization he worked with when he was in the group home: Valley Youth House’s Supportive Housing Program.

The counselors there encouraged him to plan for the future and helped with his job hunt and his housing. Today he has a job, is enrolled in college with interest in social work, public speaking and advocacy, and is contributing to his community on many levels. Chris is a natural leader. He serves as a Youth Ambassador with the PA Child Welfare Resource Center, consulting with individuals throughout the child welfare system. He has developed and implemented policies affecting older youth and alumni, partnered with Systems of Care efforts on a statewide and local level, trained a wide variety of audiences on topics of importance to older youth in the child welfare system and led activities on the local and statewide level for the Pennsylvania Youth Advisory Board. Other contributions include leading focus groups, participating on statewide work groups, reviewing training curriculum and much more.

His understanding of the system and some of the dangers it presents; he has overcome great adversity in hi life; he owns impressive communication ability; he employs exceptional skill teaching future caseworkers and informing policy makers/stakeholders about his experience in the system without being confrontational. Chris understands the child welfare system from a variety of perspectives and is impressive when training caseworkers, talking directly with youth in the system, or sitting on a statewide work group with judges, attorneys and administrators. Chris is inspirational, his impact on the system in Pennsylvania has been transforming, and he is known and admired throughout the State.

Team(s) or Cohort(s)
2012 Outstanding Young Leaders