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FALL 2016 | ISSUE 5

STARTING NOW - Celebr at in g Holidays Wh ile Fost er in g ......................................... - Givin g Th an k s t o Ou r Ext r aor din ar y Her oes ............................ - You Can Help Ch an ge Lives Today ...........


A Magazine of Extraordinary Families Page

Cont ent s


Q&A A Conversat ion wit h Mart a Valle


IN FOCUS Celebrat ing Holidays While Fost ering


VOICES A Glimpse int o t he Lives of Children and Yout h in Fost er Care


ACTION ALERT You Can Help Change Lives Today


MAKING A DIFFERENCE Giving Thanks t o Our Ext raordinar y Heroes

Follow us and st ay informed!

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Q&A A Conversat ion wit h Mart a Val l e, Executive Administrator & Office Manager Q: Wit h your l ong t enure here, A: I think it goes back to the founder set the what changes have you seen over again. Sylvia really expectation that we advocate for t he years wit h t he organizat ion? these kids - that we don't just do as A: I have been working with the we're told. If it's clear a child's needs agency for the past 17 years, and aren't being met, their rights are I've seen it all. What started out as being violated, or what's truly in a small and primarily foster only their best interest isn't being agency has grown quite a bit - we considered, we speak up. We're serve a more diverse population of respected in the community and by parents providing both foster care the Department of Children and and adoption, serving a greater Family Services for our advocacy and number of children and youth than the work that we do for our kids. ever before. But the vision founder Sylvia Fogelman's original Q: Having wit nessed so many vision - is still the same. It's all chil dren and f amil ies come t hrough about the children and making t he doors over t he years, what is certain they are safe, cared for, and one of your most memorabl e given the same opportunities all st ories? children deserve. It was this vision A: There have been so many joyous that inspired me to join the agency and bittersweet moments, it's hard and remain here for nearly two to narrow it down to just one. Having decades. That, and the children - to my office next to a visiting room, I get to be a part of these children's get to see the munchkins busy at lives and the feeling of knowing play everyday with their families. you helped them in some way - is I've witnessed and shared many inspiring. It's what keeps me coming back to work everyday. When I joined the agency, I moved from the corporate world with a desire to do something more meaningful with my life. With the agency and with the children and families we serve, I feel I've found my calling.

precious moments. I'd have to say one of my most memorable experiences was the first agency holiday party I attended. I'd never seen anything like it - the reaction of the kids, their sheer excitement, especially when watching Santa walk into the room - it was priceless. Those children all came from so little. For some, it was the first time they'd ever celebrated the holiday or seen Santa. It was an incredible feeling to witness their joy. The holiday season and our annual party continue to be my favorite. It's just amazing how everyone in our community can be so generous and really step up to the plate to meet our requests for donations - all for the children. I'm thankful to be a part of it and for everyone who helps make it happen. I'm a big believer in passing it on and paying it forward. I encourage everyone to get involved and consider giving to the kids, or becoming a reosurce parent.

Q: What set s us apart f rom ot hers as an organizat ion?

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In In Focus Focus

Al t hough f ost er care is necessary for the safety and protection of children and youth who have suffered abuse or neglect, it can be lonely and tremendously difficult for them, especially during the holiday season. On average, these children can expect to spend two holiday seasons in care, and this often means: - not spending this special time with their parents or members of their extended families or friends - the loss of family holiday traditions, such as special holiday foods or activities - having to spend the holidays in "respite care" with families who are strangers to them if their resource family decides, for instance, to travel out of state Chil dren in care can also experience conflicting loyalties between their biological and resource families, compounding the stress of the holidays further. They may feel guilty for experiencing joy in their resource home, as though betraying their biological families. At the same time, they may worry about their families and wonder if they are safe or have enough to eat. The distinct sounds and smells of Ext raordinar yFamilies | Fall 20 16

the season can also trigger negative memories. For youth who have aged out of care, the holidays are often a stark reminder that they have no family and nowhere to call home. For chil dren in care, it is important for resource parents to address these issues in advance and prepare them for the holidays. Parents must be sensitive to children's feelings and help them feel just as included and special as anyone else in their family. Here are some helpful tips for resource parents to consider.

The Meaning of t he Season Have an age appropriat e open discussion about the upcoming holidays with the children in your care, and, if possible, talk to their family members as well. Ask them about the holidays they celebrate, their religious beliefs, customs, and activities. Share with them, too, the holidays you celebrate, the traditions of your family, and what those traditions mean. Do you celebrate Thanksgiving? Hanukkah? Los Posadas? St. Nick's Day? Christmas? Kwanzaa? All of the above? Talk about this and help the children imagine what to expect before the holidays approach. Knowing what to expect will ease their anxiety.


In Focus Ask youth what they want to do for the holidays. T ry to make that happen if the situation is a safe one. Be supportive of what they want. - Yout h for m er ly in care sour ce: Fost er Club

Ol d and New Tradit ions Famil y t radit ions are very meaningful to your child and provide comfort during the holidays. This may include celebrations you wouldn't otherwise observe. Or it may include incorporating traditional meals that the child in your care and their family enjoy over certain holidays. If they didn't celebrate with traditional meals, you can still include children in the holiday menu planning by letting them select a few of their favorite dishes for the festivities. Ask them how they would like to celebrate or perhaps what new and additional traditions they would like to incorporate with your family. This is an easy way to give them a sense of control and importance, something many children in care often lack.

questions and plan ahead how to respond without compromising confidentiality. Further, remind them that your child in care is a member of your family and should be treated as such. This includes gift giving. If your biological or adopted children will be receiving gifts from some of your friends and family members, your foster child should as well. Be prepared, though, with extra gifts in case someone forgets or wasn't aware. Children in care may ask you if they can keep the gifts, even if they no longer live with you. Reassure them that everything given to them belongs to them. If you're unabl e to casually introduce your family and friends to your children before the celebration, talk with your children about who they will meet, their connection to you, and what they're like - being mindful to prepare them for any "characters" in the family.

Rout ines and Predict abil it y Routines and predictability are very important to children, especially in times of high stress and even more so for children with traumatic histories. When life becomes unpredictable for them, their nervous systems go on high-alert. As the holidays are filled with parties, recitals and events that interrupt routines, every effort must be made to maintain

Prepare your Famil y If you're pl anning cel ebrat ions with friends and family, be sure to tell them about your children and try to introduce them before the festivities. Discuss with your children beforehand how they would like to be introduced and what information they would like to have shared about themselves. Remind your friends and family, too, about the confidentiality you honor concerning the children you foster. Anticipate

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In Focus predictability.

Temper Your Expect at ions Despit e your best ef f ort s and intentions, children in care may withdraw during the season. Be prepared for sadness and grief, and look for signs related to these emotions. It's also not uncommon for children to revert to more challenging behaviors, perhaps even back to younger behaviors developmentally. They may become rebellious, angry, or complain more than usual. Remember, their behavior is a coping mechanism and not necessarily a reflection of how they feel about you. Furt her, many chil dren with traumatic histories are more sensitive. Excess noise, crowds, and bright lights can be very challenging and they may be more easily triggered into dysregulated and maladaptive behavior. Be patient, mindful of your activities schedule, and allow them space to grieve or downtime away from the holiday hustle and bustle. Be sure to make time for one-on-one talks with them about their feelings.

Facil it at e Visit s wit h Loved Ones If possible and appropriate, help your children extend holiday wishes to their friends and family, either in person or by Skype, phone, email, or card.

They will likely need your assistance in gathering contact information, and this is a great opportunity to help them start their own address book. If gift giving is a part of the holiday tradition, help your foster children purchase or make small gifts for their loved ones. And if, for instance, they aren't able to spend Christmas morning with their birth families, perhaps include a present under the tree from them. Most important, do not allow your busy schedules to interfere with or postpone important visits. The hol idays are hard for many of us, but they can be extra challenging for children and youth in foster care. We hope these simple tips can help you and your children create meaningful holiday experiences and positive memories to last a lifetime together.

......................................... From our f amil y t o yours, happy hol idays! ......................................... If you would like more information on foster care or adoption, please contact us here, or call (213) 365-2900.

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Voices A Gl impse int o t he Lives of Chil dren & Yout h in Fost er Care

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Act ion Alert

As you spend t ime wit h your l oved ones this holiday season and reflect on all of the wonderful memories of the past year, we hope you will take the time to reflect on the profound work of Extraordinary Families. At Ext raordinary Famil ies, we seek to improve the lives of children and youth involved in the child welfare system so that they may have the same opportunities, hopes, and prospects that all children deserve. In 2016, we have provided 151 children safe homes with loving families to care for them for the time they're in foster care; 42 of these children found a permanent home through adoption. For many of them, it meant they didn't have to worry about being hurt anymore, when they might eat again, or where they were going to sleep at night. Recently, a resilient and gregarious 11-year-old named Corey (not her real name), who came into care after being severely neglected and her

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parents incarcerated, found her forever family when she was matched with one of our extraordinary families after years of waiting. Join this important cause so more children like Corey can find their forever families by making a donation today. Your generosit y helps provide services needed to support the children of Los Angeles County who have experienced abuse or neglect. Through your generous donation, you are making a real and lasting impact on the lives of children and youth in child welfare. Please join us and make a difference today. Help a child in foster care - right here, right now.


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Making A Dif f erence

Volu n t eer Spot ligh t Kathy Katims Kat hy Kat ims always wanted to be a writer. Even though she?d been taking classes, writing and tucking stories and essays into drawers for 20 years, she didn?t have the confidence to make a life as a writer. But something inside kept telling her it was time to reach for her dreams, and she could no longer ignore it. The first two pieces she submitted ? an essay and a short story ? were published in literary magazines. She is currently writing a book called Second Acts. In June, she enrolled in Antioch University to earn an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction Writing. She specifically chose this program because it had a social justice component ? she loved the idea of "doing good" with her writing. Driven by that passion, she chose to develop and facilitate a writing workshop for youth in foster care called Explore Your Story. An art icl e Kat hy read years ago about youth in foster care left an impression on her. One thing in particular resonated with her: that most children in foster care do not have a single person to hold their story through their life. That no one person can say, for

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instance, "When you were two you were shy, but then when you were seven you came out of your shell and later tried out for a play at 12." This was the inspiration behind Explore Your Story - to provide youth in care an avenue, through writing, to be the person to hold and tell their story. She approached Extraordinary Families with the idea, and soon after facilitated her first workshop with the participants of Unlimited Possibilities for Youth (UP4Youth) - a program that supports current and former foster youth between the ages of 16 and 26. The workshop was a huge success. It allowed youth the opportunity to put in writing their emotions and share, if they desired, what they wrote. Many youth related to one another's struggles and the workshop became a forum for support, self-expression, a sense of community, and learning how to communicate

I hope it helps participants know that every person has hard experiences they are carrying, gifts that they bring and that they are not alone.

calmly. Kathy recently hosted a second workshop this November, the focus of which was on gratitude and self-reflection. Afterwards, she and the youth shared a pre-Thanksgiving dinner together, creating bonds and memories to last a lifetime.


Making A Dif f erence In working wit h t he yout h, Kathy realized "you can have hard circumstances and still be courageous, full of grace and love, and have generosity of spirit." Kat hy ul t imat el y hopes youth will be able to use the workshop to "tap into the healing power of story. There is something about writing that when you set down your story, you are more in control of it. It is not in control of you." She hopes, too, that for these young people, writing "can be that look in the mirror, that reflection that helps them know who they are with all their imperfections and humanity and all their radiant beauty." To ot hers int erest ed in volunteering, Kathy said, "Just do it. It will fill you up till you are overflowing." Thank you, Kathy, for sharing your creativity, your love for writing, and generosity and kindness. ................................................................................................... If you are interested in participating in or volunteering for our UP4Youth Program, contact Isaac Casas at

St af f Spot ligh t Christina Pon Prior t o earning an MFT from Fuller Theological Seminary, Christina Pon was inspired by her work with adoptive families. As a preschool teacher, she set up a community meeting raising awareness about adoption, which resulted in several families adopting. She then went on to provide school-based therapy services for elementary and high school age children/ youth with issues such as terminal illness, emotional disturbance, abuse, trauma, and identity formation,

$100,000 +

$25,000 t o $49,999

$5,000 t o $9,999

$1,000 ? $4,999

Ahmanson Foundation Angell Foundation Eisner Foundation Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Ralph M. Parsons Foundation May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust S. Mark Taper Foundation UniHealth Foundation Weingart Foundation

Carl & Roberta Deutsch Foundation Carrie Estelle Doheny Foundation Green Foundation George Hoag Family Foundation Marilyn Ziering

Dara Barker Laurie Benenson Catharine Deely Dora Fourcade Robert & Diana Friedman Kym & Dell Furano Paul Koplin & Jill Lawrence Make A Noise Foundation Frank Military & Light Rand Elizabeth Morehead & Martin Hilton Renee Ridgeley & Matt Selman Dennis Roach LA County Supervisor Hilda Solis Errol Spiro Randi Steinberger Marc & Eva Stern

Nancy De Liban John & Tara Atwood Audrey & Sidney Irmas Foundation Allen & Carole Baker Leonardo Bolanos & Jennifer Hawbaker Michael Bonin & Sean Arian Boston Private Bank Andrew Bridge & Scott Young Dawn Bridges & Leigh Anne Jones Dana Brunetti Century Housing Ami Cohen Daniel Cutforth Michele & Donald D'Amour Laurie David Jennifer & Royce Diener Miguel Ferrer

$50,000 t o $99,999 Annenberg Foundation Howard Kaufman W.M. Keck Foundation/ Alliance for Children's Rights Anthony & Jeanne Pritzker Family Foundation

$10,000 t o $24,999 Shane Brennan Crail-Johnson Foundation Lisa Feintech John Gogian Family Foundation Lisa & Richard Kring Dale Miller Chris O'Donnell & Caroline Fentress John & Marilyn Wells Ziering Family Foundation Rosanne Ziering

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M ak ing A Dif f erence Making A Dif f erence and later became a Lead Milieu therapist for pre-school age children with severe social, emotional and behavioral issues often related to trauma or abuse. When a position became available at Extraordinary Families, it was the "job (she'd) dreamed of having seven years ago" - one that satisfied her desire to help children find forever families and one where she could use the clinical skills she'd gained along the way. Christ ina began working as a foster care social worker with Extraordinary Families in September of 2015, and has been an invaluable asset to the agency ever since. Christina's contributions have far exceeded expectations, and she was recently promoted to Family Support Specialist. In her new role, Christina will apply her clinical skills and expertise to support families who are providing foster care, and guide them in trauma informed parenting. Christina is a pleasure to work with and a team player in every way. Thank you, Christina, for your dedication, and for never hesitating to step up to advocate for the children and families we serve.

Mark & Janelle Friedman Peter Gal & Jaimie Fauth Carolynn & Jon Ghiloni Harrington Group The Help Company/ Claudia Khan Hitter Family Foundation Roy Firestone Timothy & Kim Jones Catherine Kaufman Darla Kim John Peter Kousakis Eve Kurtin & Michael Steinberg Litewka Foundation Janet Marinaccio Juliet Musso Saskia Pallais & Zachary Hoover Eric Christian Olsen Daniela Ruah James Todd Smith Jeffrey Smith/ Miami Foundation Jocelyn Tetel Paradigm Talent Agency Scott & Lannette Turicchi

U.S. Building & Development Amy Wakeland & Eric Garcetti Ralph Collins Walter Wells Fargo Community Support Campaign World of Wonder Productions Ira & Godeleine Ziering Michael & Diane Ziering $500 t o $999 Grant Anderson Nina Avramides Lisa Bittan Miriam Braveman Emily Brown Ana Chavez & Maria Garcia Michael D'Amour Heather De Michele & Anna Fitzwater Thomas de Simone & Jason Wright J.D. & Perry DeRosa David Eilenberg & Kirsten Roeters Duff Ferguson/ Amplitude Creative Calvin Fleming Barrett Foa Funsten & Franzen

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Par t n er Spot ligh t Daffany Clark Daf f any Cl ark, a fan favorite and well known for her role as "Daphne" on the hit series The Fosters, is a strong supporter of youth in foster care and the work of Extraordinary Families. Having experienced foster care and been a part of the system for 12 years, Daffany understands the trauma and hardships our children and youth in care experience. But she is also a testament to the resilience, strength and potential all youth in care possess.

Gerard Fox Law Kristen Hall Lisa Jordan Barbara Lazaroff Rubylen & Stephen Lutkus Tessa Milman & Raelynn Napper Miracle Mile Advisors Thea Nesis Jerry & Louise Oliver Tom Polenzani Rose & Michael Rakosky Alexandra & Chris Robertiello Janet Salter Eric Schlissel Kristen Schaffer & Linda Kennedy Hormoz Shon Saleh Lisa Stern U.S. Bank

$250 t o $499 Teo Alfero Ronald & Sandra Banks Teddy Bass Margaret E. Black Rene & Lasse Bombien Sarah Boone

Wendy Bruget Dee DeLara & Christopher Turoci Lorna Grant Samantha Guttman Avery Geoffrey Hutson Nina Lieberman Shelley Luce & Sean Bergquist Dale Mayeda Barnaby Murff Denise Orazi Rona & David Passman Christina Pon Susan Reiner Thomas Safran Associates Adam Sher Pamela Solomon Rich Valenza Dana Valenzuela Mira Velimirovic Brian Weiner Cindy & Jacob Winebaum

.............................................................. Visit here for the complete list of our generous donors.


M ak ing A Dif f erence Making A Dif f erence At f irst guarded of her past, Daffany shared that her experience working on The Fosters prompted her to "live in the truth" - to not be ashamed of her past and let her story help others like her see that they are not alone. "I made it through. I chose to pursue a dream. Now it's my duty to give back."

No matter what you go through, or what circumstances you find yourself in, you can rise above it.

Det ermined t o raise awareness about foster care and the many children and youth in need of homes and loving families, Daffany is currently producing, writing and starring in her own one woman show, Pieces. The show chronicles the intricate story of her past, comprised of family mental illness, abandonment, foster care and deep psychological scars forcing her to overcome her struggles and find her purpose in life. Daf f any reveal ed t his show is only the beginning. She plans to collaborate with others and bring forth voices to share their unique stories. She hopes to continue the dialogue and bring attention to the issue of child welfare - to "catch" the kids and let them know she is here for them and on their team. The one-night -onl y perf ormance will

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benefit three Los Angeles-based non-profit organizations, including Extraordinary Families. We would like to recognize and give special thanks to Daffany for her work to help raise awareness about foster care, and her dedication to the children and youth in foster care. Thank you, Daffany! Pl ease show your support for Daffany and the children in foster care by attending this highly anticipated show, Pieces, expected to come out this Spring! Stay tuned for details. For more information about Daffany, visit her website here. ...........................................................................................................................


Our Ext raordinar y Families Our ext raordinary f amil ies are the primary force behind our recruitment efforts. By word of mouth, new families come to us regularly, eager to begin building their families with our help. This is how we met Lasse and Rene Bombien. Wit hin six mont hs of their arrival to the states, the couple began researching adoption options. They met a family who had foster-adopted two children from Extraordinary Families, and soon enough the Bombiens were at our door. While their new friends calmed their worries about how they would be received as a gay couple, the two shared they were "surprised to find that - for once - (they) were not in the minority....We felt welcome and pleasantly ordinary. " Further, the couple felt the organization genuinely cared about the children it served. This became especially clear when former CEO, Silvia Fogelman, told them and a class of prospective resource parents: make no mistake - this is not about you, this is about the children. This, in part, solidified their desire to partner with Extraordinary Families.

"They walk and talk and are very much aware that a significant change is happening. They observe but don?t always understand." Emotional turmoil became routine, with daily temper tantrums and their nerves stretched to the limit. Extraordinary Families advocated and ensured the family received comprehensive support from wraparound services, a family-centered, strengths-based, multidisciplinary approach to ensuring permanency for children, and they had a myriad of support from their treatment team leading up to adoption, including social workers, therapists (four of them), and therapeutic behavioral services (TBS).

On t he day t hey received their certification, their first child, Lorenzo, was placed with them at just three days old. They learned he had a 5-year-old brother, Joseph, and a 4-year-old sister, Angela, who they'd been told were already placed in a permanent home. However, when the dust had settled a bit, they learned otherwise - a common occurrence in the field of child welfare, where cases can unfold in surprising and unexpected ways. After all three siblings and the couple visited together for the first time, the couple knew the children belonged together and requested to have Joseph and Angela join their family. For several months they visited at least weekly, followed by two months of weekend overnight visits until they were finally "ready to be together forever." Having t wo ol der chil dren join them, though, was very different from bringing home a 3-day-old infant. Ext raordinar yFamilies | Fall 20 16

Lasse and Rene Bombien and their children, Lorenzo, Angela, and Joseph


Our Ext raordinar y Families calm and wild, likes hugging, kissing, and dancing to his favorite music. He also happens to be awesome at eating tomatoes! The coupl e said t hey wished to give special thanks to their foster care worker, Beryl Varner, "for being so encouraging, always having a smile, and overall being amazing;" Sarah Boone, our CEO who was then an adoption supervisor, "for the initial placement of Lorenzo and her contagious optimism;" Kim Sutton Director of Foster Care, for "advocating for us and the children in rough times - even after signing the adoption papers;" and Marta Valle "for always being ready to laugh." To ot her prospect ive resource parent s, Lasse and Rene offered the following advice: take care of yourselves! It?s really hard to make other people feel good, safe, and loved if you don?t feel like that yourself. Don?t be too hard on yourselves either when you make mistakes - don?t try to be perfect. The couple couldn't be more accurate: children in foster care don't need perfection - they simply need your love and support and to know you are their forever family. Lorenzo's adopt ion was f inal ized in April of 2015, and Angela and Joseph finalized the following January. The family continues to receive post-adoption support through the Adoption Promotion Support Services (APSS) program and a support group for parents. But the couple said they are "now at the point where (they) look into the future with optimism." Lasse and Rene shared t he f ol l owing about their children: Joseph, a snuggler who's not too fond of scary things, is a great artist and lover of action and fun. Angela, who likes making everybody happy just as much as she enjoys being the center of attention, is a great social being. She's also a creative crafter and storyteller with a beautiful voice. Lorenzo, both

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Ext raordinary Famil ies woul d l ike to recognize and give thanks to the Bombiens for not just their love and commitment to these children, but for working to keep the siblings together. The importance of this act cannot be stressed enough. For many children in foster care, this is not their reality and it signifies yet another loss and traumatic event in their young lives. We urge others to consider opening their hearts and homes to more siblings like Lorenzo, Joseph, and Angela. .................................................................................................... To l earn more about f ost ering or adopt ing f rom f ost er care, visit our websit e or cont act us here. ....................................................................................................


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BOARD OF DIRECTORS Chair Juliet Musso, Chair Flournoy Professor of State Government, USC Sol Price School of Public Policy Secret ary Sean Reese Time Warner Cable District Manager, Los Angeles Treasurer Dawn Bridges Director of Information Technology, KTGY Chief Execut ive Of f icer Sarah Boone, MSW Rick Bieber Principle, MiNDS i CiNEMA, Angel City Pictures Emily Brown Associate, Orrick Roy Firestone Senior Director of Product, Engage BDR

The mission of Ext raordinary Famil ies is to transform the daily lives of children and families in child welfare with innovative strategies and visionary policy reforms.

Thank you for your support!

Lisa Jordan President, Human Solutions Brooke Kaufman Halsband Associate, Hilton & Hyland Lisa Kring, LCSW Instructor, Insight LA Shauna Shalom Vice President, Relationship Manager, Boston Private Jocelyn Tetel Vice President Advancement, Skirball Cultural Center Rosanne Ziering Ext raordinar yFamilies | Fall 20 16 Entrepreneur, Activist & Philanthropist

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Profile for ExtraordinaryFamilies

Starting Now - Fall 2016  

A Magazine of Extraordinary Families

Starting Now - Fall 2016  

A Magazine of Extraordinary Families