Since 1991, Linda Coon has served as Executive Director of FCAN, the Families’ and Children’s Network. Based in Chicago, FCAN serves HIV-affected families, youth and children with in-home social work and legal services, HIV prevention and education, and other supportive services. She has an extensive background in child welfare and juvenile justice, and holds a JD from Loyola University of Chicago School of Law.
Linda is a leading advocate for sound public policy for children, youth and families, especially those involved in the state’s child welfare and corrections systems. She has advocated for Illinois policies and statutes that have reformed the state’s guardianship, adoption, HIV confidentiality, and child welfare laws, including sibling rights to contact while in foster care and post adoption. Linda received the Child Welfare Advocate of the Year Award from the Illinois Chapter of the FCAA in 2015.
Linda resides in Chicago. She and her partner, Caren, recently married and have a new grandson.
April Curtis is the Illinois statewide administrator for child welfare involved families at Be Strong Families, where she supervises work as it related to foster and adoptive parents, current and former youth in care, and birth parents. April earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and is working on her master’s degree in social service administration at the University of Chicago.
In addition to her service on the national board, April was a founding member of FCAA’s Illinois chapter. She also advocates for youth through her service on the board of the Child Welfare League of America and is a member of the Department of Children and Family Services’ Latino Advisory Committee. An alumna of Illinois’ child welfare system, April takes a particular interest in siblings’ rights and serves on the Governor’s Joint Task Force on Sibling Post-Adoption Continuing Contact. Her work has been recognized with awards from the Hispanic Advisory Committee, the Chicago Area Project, the Child Welfare League of America, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children.
Chris is a developmental psychologist who has worked on child welfare issues for more than 35 years in the public, academic, and nonprofit sectors. He presently leads The Downs Group, LLC, a national child welfare consulting firm focused on helping organizations improve services and outcomes for youth.
Chris earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology and sociology from Indiana University and a Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Texas.
An alumnus of foster care in Indiana, Chris is married and lives in Seattle. He is passionate about efforts to attract new groups of foster alumni to the movement, such as those who are over age 40 and from the LGBT community.
“I didn’t think there was any group or organization for older foster alumni like me until I found FCAA. FCAA cares about foster alumni of all ages. That’s very powerful to me. I am attracted to FCAA because it works on national, regional, state, and local levels to meet the needs of alumni of foster care.”
Frederic (Ric) Fouad is an attorney in private practice who splits his time between Tokyo and New York. He is fluent in Japanese and is adjunct faculty at Temple University’s Beardsley School of Law, Tokyo Campus.
Ric earned his bachelors degree from Penn, his law degree from NYU, and was a 2009-2010 Visiting Scholar at Harvard Law School.
He spent most of his childhood in various forms of out of home care, including foster care and a children’s home.
Ric serves on the advisory boards of the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard College and the International Honors Program of World Learning, in Brattleboro, Vermont. He is also president of Protect The Hersheys’ Children, Inc. Ric’s past volunteer service includes working in Sarajevo on behalf of Bosnian War refugees and displaced people.
Ric joined the FCAA board because he is a passionate advocate for foster care children and at-risk youth, with emphasis on systemic reform, broad policy improvement, linkages among various forms of care and juvenile justice, and empowering foster care alumni to build a better future.
Mary is a communications officer for World Vision’s global water program, where she helps raise awareness and support for clean drinking water in the developing world. Mary has extensive professional experience working with the child welfare system. She was manager of foster care programs for the College Success Foundation and held research positions with Casey Family Programs and the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.
Mary earned her master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington. She is a founding member of FCAA, co-founded the Washington chapter in 2013, and joined the Board of Directors in January 2014. Mary spent eight years in foster care and aged out at eighteen. She has studied or done volunteer work in Chile, Colombia, Peru, Guatemala, Italy, and Japan, and she is fluent in Spanish.
“I believe in FCAA because I know alumni are a powerful force for improving foster care, and I joined the board because I wanted to inspire more people to help.”
Lacy is an international expert in youth engagement. A partner at Change Matrix, LLC, Lacy works at the local, state, federal, and international levels, including implementation of federal initiatives, systems transformation, change management, strategic planning, facilitation, coaching, keynotes, policy development, implementation, and outcomes improvement.
Lacy was a 2014 VOICE award recipient for her work in mental health advocacy. In addition to FCAA, she serves on the boards of Young People in Recovery and the International Foster Care Organization. She earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Missouri State University and a master’s degree in counseling psychology and business administration, both from William Carey College.
Lacy spent six years in foster care, and was adopted at age 28 by her long-time foster parents, who received the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption Award in 2013.
“Having connections to other people with experiences like mine has been one of the most powerful and positive impacts on my life. FCAA provides a place to feel connected and safe with others who have shared care experience, and provides a place to unify our voices as a powerful mechanism to make foster care a better place for future generations.”
Andrea Hightower is a project coordinator within Arizona State University’s Center for Child Well-Being, where she works to create public/private partnerships and increase support for child welfare training and research. Her research interests include: family preservation, foster care, post-adoption services, identity formation, public/private partnerships, social equity, and elimination of disproportionality in service delivery systems.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Services Administration from Antioch University, Seattle, and a master’s degree in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University. Professionally, Andrea has over two decades of experience creating partnerships in a variety of states which increase support for child welfare training of staff, caregivers and constituents through maximizing federal Title IV-E funding.
Andrea is an alumni of Washington State, where she was placed at birth into a pre-adoptive home and where her adoption was finalized two years later. She is currently in reunion with her birth family on both her maternal and paternal sides after searching and finding them in her late 30’s.
Constance Iannetta works in the hospitality industry in the Philadelphia area. She aged out of foster care determined to help enact positive change for future generations of Pennsylvania youth.
Constance attended the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College prior to earning a Business degree from Gwynedd-Mercy University.
Constance has been an active advocate on child welfare issues for the past ten years. She was one of the co-founders of the Pennsylvania Chapter of FCAA. She was a founding member of the Bucks County Youth Advisory Board, has served on the Philadelphia Blue Ribbon Commission on Children’s Behavioral Health, and is a youth partner for the Montgomery County Systems of Care Leadership team. Her work has been recognized with awards from the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners and the Golden Heart Group.
Founder of Changing Lives Entertainment, LLC, Travis has delivered more than forty keynotes at statewide, regional, and national events related to mental health services, child welfare, social services, and foster care advocacy. In addition, he is a registered nurse with experience in emergency departments, pediatrics, and as a mental health mobile crisis worker.
Travis earned his bachelor of science in nursing from Allen College in Iowa, and has also completed business courses at the University of Northern Iowa and graduate courses at Grand View University.
Travis is the vice president of Our Fields of Hope Foundation and a contributor to the Trauma Informed Care Project. He is the author of Overcoming Emotional Trauma: Life Beyond Survival Mode and a contributing author to Fostering Hope For America and Parenting Adopted Adolescents: Understanding and Appreciating Their Journeys.
“After seeing so much of my younger self in the eyes of young people who still navigate the system I felt drawn to continue to stay connected and contribute in a way that not only impacts on the community level, but has a presence nationally.”
Cheerese works with the Allegheny County (Pennsylvania) Office of Children, Youth, and Families. She also has been involved in the practice of social work with Casey Family Programs, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, and the College Success Foundation.
Chereese is a doctoral candidate for a Ph.D. in social work from the University of Pittsburgh, and also holds a master’s in social work and a bachelor’s degree in sociology, both from the University of Washington. Her research focuses on a wide range of issues related to child welfare.
Chereese serves on the Human Subjects Review Board and the Constituent Research Advisory Team for Casey Family Programs. She is a member of the Council on Social Work Education, the Society for Social Work Education, the National Association of Black Social Workers, and the Society for Research in Child Development.
“I appreciate FCAA because, over the years, it has been the vehicle for me to create meaningful and long lasting connections with fellow alumni of care.”
Lupe is a consultant coordinator for the Child Welfare Review Project and Child Welfare Compliance Reviews Team with JBS International. A former Program Development Specialist for the National Resource Center for Youth Development, she has extensive experience in managing capacity-building efforts to promote engagement, leadership development, transition planning, and lifelong connections for young adults, their families, and child welfare professionals.
A member of the FCAA national board since 2007, Lupe also was a co-founder of the Arizona chapter and is helping establish chapters in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Kansas. She has championed Thanksgiving reunions the last two years for the foster care network in the Midwest—an effort inspired by FCAA.