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
The voices of young people in and from care are making a difference at every level in our communities. As board chair, I am honoured to have the opportunity to contribute and learn from each of you. It’s my hope that my experience listening, sharing and building collaborative relationships will bring value to the work of the Fed and help provoke dialogue and action.
With a degree in communications, specialized training in facilitation and collective impact, a deep understanding of global expectations, and more than twenty years’ experience bringing corporations, communities and governments together to tackle challenging issues, I bring a strong commitment to fostering positive change for people and communities. As a person with strong connections to youth in and from care, and as president of James Laurence Group, a company that helps drive change through communications, engagement and performance management, I am excited about the direction the Fed and its members are taking. I see the next few years as a time to build on the strong foundation that has been established
From my roots in small northern communities and my experience bringing together different perspectives and interests, I’ve learned to believe that together we can achieve great things. My goal for this year is to help BC’s youth in and from care continue to grow stronger and to help ensure your voices are celebrated across the province and the country.
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.
Katelyn Crabtree, Member at Large
I was driven to be on the Board because I am enthusiastic about the abilities of youth to initiate and drive change.
As a multicultural, First Nation woman from a smaller community who is now working as an urban professional, I look forward to bringing my experiences to connect with and assist youth in care with reaching their goal.
I feel passionately about being a contributing community member and I am continuously looking for ways to be involved, assist and learn from the community. I believe the Fed has many amazing things to offer and I am thrilled to be involved with their work.
Pam Costello, Member at Large
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!
Alexis Martin, Member at Large
I am a former youth in care turned leadership development coach and business consultant, passionate about revolutionizing the child welfare system. Born in Vancouver, raised in Manitoba, I FINALLY moved back to Vancouver in fall of 2018 – and I'm so happy to be part of the Fed family!
A few folks who have a really good memory may remember me from the fall of 2015 SCM when I had the privilege of joining the Fed briefly to support and co-facilitate the Fed strategic planning discussions. That was a lot of fun, and I was so inspired by the great ideas and passion shared by everyone involved.
Not too many years ago, I was the youth outreach worker for VOICES; Manitoba’s Youth in Care Network. In that role (in addition to planning and attending a ton of fun events for youth in care), I learned a lot more about the various systems and people that influence the experience of youth in care. I decided I wanted to build the skills and knowledge to be able to make system level change; and so I became a business consultant for a large professional service firm. In this role, I have had the opportunity to work with government and service delivery agencies to redesign systems and processes to better meet the needs of children and youth in care. I have helped design several pilot programs focused on creating better outcomes for youth in care and better supporting families to stay together.
I probably sound rather “business-y”, and I can be when I need to be – but I am usually rather playful and enjoy being silly. The strongest and most meaningful connections often happen when you are having FUN. Some of the things I have the most FUN doing include: improve (attending or performing), board games, being in nature (can’t wait to get to beautiful British Columbia!), and crafting – in particular scrapbooking and card making.
Ryan Wong, Member at Large
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.