Foster Care Alumni of America Seeks New Board Members

The national organization, Foster Care Alumni of America (FCAA), is seeking applications for new board members for its recently expanded Board. The organization is working to harness the knowledge and strength of alumni of foster care, and believes that the firsthand knowledge alumni have of the foster care system gives them an expertise that is powerful for improving foster care policy and practice.

It’s National Board of Directors is responsible for guiding the organization and is accountable for organizational performance.

The board is in need of individuals with several skill-sets to fill the newly opened board positions. These include, but are not limited to:

  • Fundraising
  • Finance Management
  • Communications/Writing

For more information and to view all of the requirements and process for applying, visit their website.

Simone Biles hopes to inspire other foster care kids to pursue their dreams.

Olympic gymnast Simone Biles is speaking out about her hardships growing up, being in foster care, and how she’s giving back now.

The gold medalist was placed in foster care when she was 3 years old, because her mother was addicted to drugs and alcohol. Her grandfather and his wife eventually adopted her and her younger sister, but the sisters still had to spend some time in foster care first.

“I was so young, I didn’t quite understand what was going on,” she said. “But I recall some of the kids coming to the foster home with only the clothes on their back and a backpack.”

“This is such a personal cause for me, because I know firsthand what it’s like to be in foster care — struggles and all,” Biles said. “I came from a foster home and went on to achieve everything I’ve achieved. I’m just hoping it can inspire other foster kids to never give up and to always pursue your dreams. And to play sports and get good sleep!”

For Hunter Industries, Donating Holiday Gifts Celebrates Family, Citizenship

Hunter Industries believes strongly in supporting the local community. In fact, they have a charitable giving charter centered on core values like family and citizenship. And last week, employees celebrated these values by donating holiday gifts for 93 Walden children and youth.

Gifts for children in Walden’s foster care and adoption program ranged from toys and dolls to bikes and scooters. For older youth in the transitional housing program, Hunter Industries’ employees purchased household items, gas cards and other necessary items. Employees also donated gifts for pregnant and parenting teens enrolled in Walden’s Nurturing Parenting and Cal-Learn programs.

Walden is grateful for Hunter Industries and the dozens of corporate partners committed to brightening the holidays for children and youth involved in Walden’s foster care, adoption and parenting programs.

You can still bring joy to a child in foster care this holiday season. Just make a donation online by December 31 for tax-deductible credit in 2016.

Balboa Travel Marketing Communications Director Joins Walden Board

Photo of Balboa Travel Director of Marketing Communications Andrea da Rosa

Andrea da Rosa, Balboa Travel Director of Marketing Communications

Balboa Travel Director of Marketing Communications Andrea da Rosa has been appointed to the Walden Family Services Foundation board of directors, joining business and community leaders from throughout San Diego. Da Rosa and her wife, Deborah Llewellyn, are longtime supporters of Walden.

“Walden Family Services creates a path for foster youth to succeed during a period of unprecedented change in the foster care system,” said da Rosa. “And by building a better future for these youth, we have an opportunity to enhance our community and the future for us all.”

Da Rosa brings a wealth of marketing experience to her board role, including 19 years contributing to the unprecedented growth of Balboa Travel, which consistently ranks among the top 1% of corporate travel agencies nationwide. She previously led the Vacations and Leisure department for the company, which was founded by her aunt and father in 1971. Da Rosa also sits on the board of San Diego’s ASTA chapter.

“Andrea’s marketing expertise will be a great benefit to Walden’s board as we expand our outreach,” said Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services. “Plus, her background in developing strategic partnerships will be vital to building partnerships with business and community leaders so that more children in foster care grow up with loving families and opportunities to thrive.”

Da Rosa will serve on the board’s Marketing Committee, which oversees the nonprofit’s direct mail, media relations and digital communications. Da Rosa’s three-year term on the board will end in 2019.

About Walden Family Services
Walden Family Services is a nonprofit provider of foster care, adoption and parent training programs. Founded in 1976, Walden connects children—infants, sibling groups and children with special needs—with loving foster and adoptive families. We also provide transitional housing and services for youth who choose to remain in foster care to pursue their education or employment, and coach birth families to develop nurturing parent-child relationships and break the cycle of neglect and abuse. Based in San Diego, Walden has offices throughout Southern California, including Encino, Riverside and San Diego.

Other members of the Walden Family Services Governance Board of Directors include Arlene Lieberman (Chair), Executive Director, Barney & Barney Foundation; Leslie Levinson (Vice Chair), CFO, The Campanile Foundation; Jaye Connolly-LaBelle (Treasurer), COO, RippleNami; Sheila Ferguson (Secretary), Finance Professional; Stephanie Brownell, CFO, Hunter Industries; Cherie Enge, Esq. Law Office of Cherie A. Enge;  Rajah Gainey, Individual and Corporate Gifts Manager, Promises2Kids; Denise Jackson, President & CEO, Balboa Travel, Incorporated; and Emily Shults, Vice President of Energy Procurement, San Diego Gas & Electric.

The Walden Family Services Foundation Board of Directors include Art Candland (Chair), AJW Facilities & Construction; Dale Ganzow (Vice Chair), Sales Manager, San Diego Business Journal;
Lisa Betyar (Treasurer), Partner, Lindsay & Brownell, CPAs; Cheryl Goodman (Secretary)Executive Director, Athena San Diego; Dalia Cohen, Community Advocate; Kristi Craft, Community Advocate; Cheryl Doss, Community Advocate; James Lauth, Founding Partner, Beamer Lauth Steinley & Bond, LLP; Chris Powers, Vice President, CBRE; and Jorge Ruiz de Castilla, President, The Chip Merchant.

Intuit, Jack in the Box Fulfill Holiday Wishes

Holiday gifts donated to kids in foster care by Intuit

Holiday gifts donated to kids in foster care by Intuit

Employees from Intuit and Jack in the Box stopped by the San Diego office Friday with cars fulls of gifts to fulfill the holiday wishes of children and youth in foster care.

A Razor scooter and helmet for Leo. A Princess Fantasy Dress Up Chest for Bethany. And pots and pans, blankets and other household necessities for youth in Walden’s transitional housing program.

Intuit, a leading provider of business and financial management solutions, has a long history of employee giving to benefit children in foster care. This year, San Diego-based Jack in the Box joined in granting holiday wishes with presents for older youth who are moving into their own apartments.

Holiday gifts from Jack in the Box to furnish apartments for foster youth

Holiday gifts from Jack in the Box to furnish apartments for foster youth

Walden is grateful for all of our corporate partners for their generous in-kind and financial gifts throughout the year.  If you would like to join our corporate partners in brightening the holidays for a child in foster care, you can make a donation online. Make your gift by December 31 for tax-deductible credit in 2016.

What’s Your #MyGivingStory?

What inspires you to give your time, talent and financial gifts to Walden Family Services? In honor of #GivingTuesday, take a few minutes to share your #MyGivingStory about why you support children and youth in foster care. You could help Walden win up to $10,000.

Submit Your Story

Write a short story (150-600 words) about a time you were inspired to give to Walden. Be sure to include the name of the organization, why you give, and our website URL ( For added impact, you can upload a photo or video.

Submit the story using the #MyGivingStory tab of #GivingTuesday’s Facebook page. Submissions must be received before 2 p.m. PT on December 31, 2016.

Get the Word Out

Share your story with family and friends on social media. And if you let us know you’re writing a story about Walden, we’ll help you share it via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages.

How to Win

The 20 essays with the most Facebook “likes” will be sent to a panel of judges who will select the winner. Two additional honorable mentions for “Best Use of Original Video” and the top two submissions in Spanish will be awarded. Winners’ nonprofit organizations will be notified that they received grants in mid-January 2017.

Need Inspiration?

Watch a former foster youth share her story about foster care, or listen as Walden governance board chair Arlene Lieberman talks about how a friend inspired her to pay it forward as a volunteer, mentor and donor.

SDGE Executive, Adoptive Parent Joins Walden Board

Emily Shults

Emily Shults

Walden is pleased to announce that San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) Vice President of Energy Procurement Emily Shults has joined the organization’s governance board of directors. The role is deeply personal for Shults who adopted two daughters through Walden.

“I was really interested in serving on a board that I felt connected to—one that would best help serve the needs of so many children in our community,” said Shults. “Walden Family Services is an organization that I was instantly excited to join, as my husband and I worked with Walden when we formally adopted our daughters in 2015.”

Shults further shared that she believes her various leadership positions in the business community have helped her to understand the importance of listening and supporting people at every level of an organization.

“I believe in working together to solve difficult problems and I am passionate about performance,” Shults said. “I think that this experience, combined with navigating a lengthy struggle in the interest of our girls, will give me the ability to provide a creative contribution to Walden in a way that prioritizes the interests of the children, first.”

At SDG&E, Shults is responsible for all aspects of acquiring energy and capacity to serve the company’s customers. Simply stated, Shults and her team are responsible for procuring the company’s vast renewable energy resources, as well as traditional resources. She also oversees economic dispatch of power plants, power trading, risk control and settlements. Prior to this role, Shults held numerous positions at Sempra Energy, and also worked with Williams Energy Marketing & Trading and Deloitte & Touche, LLP in her home state of Oklahoma before relocating to San Diego.  Shults holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Tulsa.

“Emily’s experience adopting two children through Walden speaks volumes about her commitment to foster children and youth in our community,” said Teresa Stivers, CEO of Walden Family Services. ““In addition, her extensive business skills and knowledge of the community will be an invaluable asset to our board.”

Shults will serve on the board’s Continuous Quality Improvement Committee, which oversees evaluation of Walden’s programs and services and ensures regulatory compliance. Her three-year term on the board will end in 2019.

Celebrate National Adoption Day November 19

Walden Family Services invites you to join children and families throughout the United States today in celebrating National Adoption Day. Each year, the Saturday before Thanksgiving, communities come together to honor and celebrate families formed through adoption. Earlier this month, one Walden family participated in a ceremony that celebrated the adoption of 83 kids in the San Fernando Valley.

On Friday, advocates gathered on the steps of the State Capitol to read the names of the 39,000 California foster children still awaiting adoption. With your help, these children—many who have developmental disabilities and complex medical needs—will be matched with families who can give them the love and support they need to thrive.

Adopting from Foster Care

If you are interested in adopting a child from foster care, check out the five steps to becoming a Walden parent or contact the Walden office in your county to request an application.

The Gift of Family

You can also make a gift so that more children discover the joy of growing up in a loving family. Your gifts help Walden match children with specially trained foster and adoptive families, provide medical care and equipment for foster children with developmental disabilities and complex health needs, and create opportunities for foster youth to take part in after-school activities and summer camp.

Thank you for celebrating National Adoption Day!

Walden Board Chair Earns Exemplary Service Award

“How can you pay it forward?” That was the question Arlene Lieberman, Walden’s governance board chair, asked the audience when she was honored by the San Diego Business Journal with the 2016 Women Who Mean Business Exemplary Service Award.

Lieberman recalled how a friend helped her as a struggling young mother, then encouraged her to pay it forward. Lieberman later launched a successful career at Barney & Barney, where she enjoyed mentoring people. But she never expected that she would mentor a young woman in foster care who would one day call her Mom.

Recognizing how one person can change a child’s life, Lieberman continues to pay it forward as a donor and champion for both the Barney & Barney Foundation and Walden’s governance board.

Watch the video to find out how Lieberman became a champion for children in foster care. If you’re inspired by her story, pay it forward and make a gift to help children in foster care today.

Walden Leaders Recognized

Two other Walden leaders were also recognized at the event. Jaye Connolly-Labelle, treasurer of Walden’s governance board and president/CEO of Ripplenami, was among the 2016 class of Women Who Mean Business Award winners. In addition, Cheryl Goodman, secretary of Walden’s foundation board and executive director of Athena San Diego, was a finalist.


National Adoption Month Story Contest

Are you a Walden child, youth or family with an adoption story to share? Enter our National Adoption Month Story Contest by sharing a memory of your adoption experience. Just “Like” Walden’s Facebook page, then post a short story (approx. 100 words) and a family photo in the comment section below our “National Adoption Month Story Contest” post.

Entries that receive the most likes before 12:00 noon on November 18 will win either a $25 gift certificate to the Olive Cafe or four free passes to the San Diego Automotive Museum. Prize winners will be announced on Facebook on National Adoption Day, Saturday, November 19.

Learn more about National Adoption Month, or make a tribute gift to celebrate how adoption has changed your life.