Advocate of the Year is presented to a Federation member who has played a strong role in carrying out the mission of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families: to influence public policy and practice in support of the highest quality services to vulnerable children and families.
Khadija Walker-Fobbs, Executive Director of The New Foster Care, was presented with the 2019 Federation Member Advocate of the Year award in recognition of her consistent involvement in the Federation’s advocacy efforts.
When thinking about a Federation member who is highly involved in advocacy efforts and systems change, Khadija comes quickly to mind. In the fall, Khadija’s organization spearheaded and convened a candidate forum to facilitate discussions to develop more informed voters. Khadija understood that both statewide and local candidates for office do not always address the many issues that matter to children and families involved in the foster care system, and she proceeded to develop a forum led by youth to ask important questions about foster care. Khadija was very involved in the Federation’s Annual Executive Legislative and Advocacy Day, maximizing the number of legislators and staff that she spoke with about the Federation’s state budget and policy priorities. Through The New Foster Care’s work at Fostering Success Michigan, the organization testified to the House of Representatives in support of increasing funding available through the Fostering Futures scholarship fund. The organization has also supported the Annual Teen Conference and the National Foster Youth Institute’s first legislative Shadow Day in Lansing, bringing youth voices to the public policy process, which is essential and a priority to Khadija and her team. Khadija is both a skilled advocate for her agency, and colleagues in the field know she is someone who will act to ensure kids, families, and especially teenagers, are equipped with the best resources to be successful and thrive in their communities.
Ambassador of the Year is presented to a Federation member who embodies the core values of the Federation: all children deserve excellence, strategic advocacy, partnerships and collaboration, and equity, diversity and inclusiveness.
Cathey Prudhomme, President & CEO of Eagle Village, was presented with the 2019 Federation Member Ambassador of the Year award for her dedication to coming to the table at Federation meetings and events with the greater good in mind, strengthening and advancing the quality services provided by community-based organizations.
Cathey was an instrumental voice at residential treatment contract negotiations last fall, developing a firm and respectful stance toward developing a contract with MDHHS that kept children at the forefront of treatment and services, while effectively communicating the needs of private agencies in being a true partner with the state. Cathey has been a critical contributor to the development of the Federation’s Legal Trust Fund, now serving as a Trustee, and approaches the role with thinking about how to best assist her fellow Federation member agencies in making use of this resource. Cathey demonstrates highly effective and thoughtful leadership for her organization and the Federation and never waivers to stand up for what is right.
Leader in Child Welfare is presented to a Federation member who helps to assure the Federation’s vision statement is at the forefront of all their actions: communities where all children, youth, and families thrive.
Jerry Peterson, Executive Director of Ruth Ellis Center, was presented with the 2019 Federation Member Leader in Child Welfare award for being an outstanding leader in the field.
Over the past several years, Jerry has been entrenched in the community of Detroit where Ruth Ellis Center is located, learning about the needs of the children and their families who have come to the agency for assistance. When Jerry saw the community’s needs for more access to mental, behavioral, and physical health services, he responded with a call to action to build a center that did not previously exist and remained laser-focused on efforts to fundraise, construct, and develop partnerships to deliver services to completion. When the local MDHHS and central training team reached out for more resources and training on serving LGBTQ and diverse SOGIE youth, Jerry and his team responded with a robust program and willingness to respond to what the community needed. Jerry has been pivotal in implementing positive youth development, harm reduction, family engagement, and trauma-informed care strategies at the agency. Jerry’s contributions to the Federation are many, and his work is helping to ensure the vision that all children, youth, and families thrive.
Advocate. Collaborate. Make a Difference. award is presented to two Federation members who have embody the spirit of the Federation’s new tagline “Advocate. Collaborate. Make a Difference.”
Brad Keller and Rachel Willis of Bethany Christian Services were presented with the Federation’s newest award: 2019 Federation Advocate. Collaborate. Make a Difference.
When federal court Judge Nancy Edmunds ordered a third-party evaluation of the MiSACWIS system, Brad Keller and Rachel Willis immediately asked the question, “How can we help?” and quickly responded with development of a MiSACWIS demonstration session for Dr. Kurt Heisler where they were able to walk through and showcase the challenges unique to community-based organizations in working with the technology. Again, when MDHHS Director Gordon came on board earlier this year, Brad and Rachel stepped up to provide the director with the demonstration and effectively highlighted the challenges the system presents for users on a daily basis, articulated how this impacts work with kids and families, and offered solutions to collaborate and streamline the IT processes. Brad and Rachel participated in several focus groups, workgroups, and conversations with MDHHS, legislators, consultants, and other stakeholders as momentum sparked to explore other technology solutions for our state. Together, Brad and Rachel were innovative in their approach to advocacy and collaboration, addressing a barrier impacting all Federation member agencies and have truly made the difference in moving the state toward resolution.