We are lucky to have a passionate, skilled and dedicated board of former youth in care and allies who are elected each year by our members to guide the work of our organization. They strive to ensure that the Fed’s strategy is in keeping with our mission, that we are always accountable to youth members, and that we are youth-driven in our approach to achieve our goals.
Debbie Cox, Board Chair
With more than twenty years of experience bringing people, communities and governments together to create positive outcomes, I feel privileged to have the opportunity to learn from the Federation and each of its youth members.
It is my hope that by listening, sharing and building collaborative relationships, I can bring value to the work of the Fed and help provoke meaningful dialogue and action.
As president of James Laurence Group, a company that helps drive change through communications, engagement and social impact work, I am excited about the direction the Fed is taking and look forward to continuing to work with the board, staff and members to amplify the voices of young people in and from care.
Gary Tennant, Vice Chair
Youth members of the Youth In Care Network have represented the needs of youth in care and youth in transition in presentations to government, social agencies and at public forums – The advocacy is direct from the youth, youth speaking to power. It’s an honour to be able to support this work.
My background is in Child and Youth Care. I started volunteering at a neighbourhood house when I was a youth and I loved the work and my path. With a few sidetracks along the way, I was a child and youth care for most of my career – in a group home and then into school programs for disadvantaged youth, then into training staff, which led eventually to teaching Child and Youth Care at Douglas College.
I started working as a consultant to social agencies when I retired from the College. My work now is with teams of workers, developing new programs and initiating projects. Creating change is essential to advocacy, and it certainly keeps life interesting.
So, given my background, I am familiar with some of the issues for youth in care, but I find I learn more each time I talk with the youth about their perspective on services and on planning for the future. I am impressed with how the youth connect with and support each other and how the friendships are maintained and nurtured as youth in care become adults supporting youth in care. It’s a pleasure to be part of this organization.
Three ways in which I may be useful to the organization:
- Knowledge of the post-secondary system
- Knowledge of child and youth care services in metro Vancouver
- Advocacy for youth and adults with lived experience as they apply to and enter college/university.
Pam Costello, Treasurer
I have worked at Aunt Leah’s Place for 17 years. I started off as a Support Worker at Aunt Leah’s House for teen moms. From there I was a Support Worker in the Support Link Program and have also worked as a Family Support Worker. Since 2007 I have been a certified doula for current and past moms of our programs and have been at around 25 births. I have been the Director of Operations at Aunt Leah’s for the past 6 years. I believe in changing the thinking and perception of the community about youth in and from foster care. It is an honour to work alongside youth in and from care to help them ensure their voices are heard.
Kim Lee, Member at Large
Hello! My name is Kim and I am a second generation foster kid and also a former MCFD child protection social worker. I was born in Saskatoon and then we were made ‘Continuing Custody Order’ wards a few years after we moved to Kelowna. This meant both my sister and I aged out of the system at 19 – just as many of you have also done!
I was able to obtain by BSW from UBC Okanagan in 2011 and worked for MCFD for just over two years on the Aboriginal teams in both Williams Lake and Penticton before deciding that child protection was not a job for me! While struggling to find a place to best use my skills and passion for YIC issues I found, shining like a beacon, the Federation of BC Youth in Care Networks. I joined the Board of Directors and never looked back! Working alongside MCFD and other stakeholders with young people in and from care made me realise that together we really can tackle the big issue and change policies for the BETTER! I stepped down to have a kid but she’s now a defiant two-year old so I am definitely ready to get back to it!
Ryan Wong, Secretary
I am currently working for a software development company named SAP based in Vancouver and have worked in the IT industry for over 20 years. Prior to joining my current company I worked in a variety of locations including the City of Coquitlam and Electronic Arts.
I’ve been involved with the Federation since 2006 starting with a little IT support and morphing into an adult support person during SCMs. I was also on the Board in 2012. I’ve really enjoyed seeing the positive transformation of the youth I’ve been able to meet and continue to look forward to any events I have the opportunity to see everyone again!
When spare time is available you can find me enjoying local theatre (both film and live), music, playing ice hockey, baking and cooking. I love to travel and have volunteered as Big Brother, for the DOXA film festival and GirlsSmarts4tech.
Kathy Wright, Member at Large
I believe that supporting all youth, regardless of where they come from and their individual circumstances, will ensure that communities and society will flourish.
Early in my career I worked in an alternate learning school for youth aged 14 to 19. I gained a deeper appreciation for youth who were struggling and not able to “fit in." Recognizing how important it is for youth to have a safe place to go where adults were listening and they could learn, reinforced my belief that it was essential to give youth every opportunity to succeed and develop.
Currently I work in human resources with employees who need help navigating medical issues that affect their ability to work. I continues that work in the BC K-12 public education sector as a leader in workplace health promotion.