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Ext r aor din ar y Fam ilies

2n d An n u al Gala .........................................

- Becom e A M en t or

......................... - Ext r aor din ar y You t h


A Magazine of Extraordinary Families Page

Cont ent s


Q&A A Conversation with Beryl Varner


IN FOCUS Extraordinary Families 2nd Annual Awards Gala


VOICES A Glimpse into the Lives of Children and Youth in Foster Care


ACTION ALERT Become a Mentor


MAKING A DIFFERENCE Paying Tribute and Giving Thanks to a Valued Employee


EXTRAORDINARY FAMILIES Meet Lontho, an Extraordinary Youth

Follow us and st ay informed!

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Q&A A Conversat ion wit h Beryl Varner

Foster Care Social Worker Q: How l ong have you been working in chil d wel f are, and what keeps you dedicat ed t o serving t his popul at ion? A: I have been working in the field for over 35 years. I started out with the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). I only intended on being there a short while, but I ended up working at DCFS for 18 years before joining Extraordinary Families. It was a true learning experience, and although very challenging at times, it was also rewarding. I met and worked with people from all walks of life. I saw firsthand that all children could come to be in harm's way, regardless of their race or socio-economic background. I met some remarkable families who worked very hard to keep their families together. During my time there, all of my stereotypes went out the window. Times were changing, and I learned that men could be amazing single parents, just as can people who identify as LGBTQ. It is because of the amazing families that I work with, birth and foster, that I dedicated my career to child welfare. Even though horrible circumstances are what brings children into the system, many great things happen too because of strong, loving families. You are rewarded every day in this

protect them from further abuse. On those days I might have teared up, Q: What are some of t he most too, but found comfort that I was import ant advancement s and able to help a child in need. chal l enges you have seen over t he Q: What is one of your most years working? memorabl e experiences working A: Child welfare has improved wit h Ext raordinary Famil ies? greatly since I started: the reporting laws have made a big difference in A: The experiences that mean the helping protect children; many more most to me have been working with children are being listened to and the many teens I have had on my believed; the collaboration between caseload with Extraordinary Families law enforcement, child welfare over the years. As with all cases, agencies, and the medical they were sometimes challenging, community has improved ten-fold ? but mostly great young men and still not perfect but much better; and women, and I always appreciated the identifying what is "child abuse" has families who invited them to join also been made much more clear. It their forever home. Some of the amazes me the amount of sexual teens had behavioral and mental abuse cases that were overlooked or health issues, or were victims of simply ignored in the past. Doctors sexual exploitation. Regardless of used to diagnose young girls who the circumstance, the agency always complained of having irritation or welcomes and cares for them, and pain in their privates as having works to help them get the much "bubble bath/ soap irritation.? The needed services and support they solution was always to change their require and deserve. I'm still in soap. Thank God this is no longer the touch with many of the teens, now case. My most challenging adults, I've met over the years. They experience in the field, however, often say the agency was like family was when I worked in the emergency to them. Many now have graduate response unit for the Department, degrees, many more are working and first as a social worker and later as a earning a living, and some are even supervisor. Every day was different, raising their own children and doing and you never knew what you would a good job. One young adult I find. Sometimes I found children worked with years ago recently took who were very badly physically, me out to lunch to say thank you. emotionally, or sexually abused. I You can't beat that! That's one was thankful on those days that I reason I have been here so long, the could remove them and hopefully work is truly rewarding. field.

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In Focus

Ext raordinary Famil ies' 2nd Annual Awards Gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in April was a huge success! The gala attracted over 350 guests, all in support and celebration of children and youth in foster care. Inside Edition host Victoria RecaĂąo led the program with elegance, first introducing Gala Chair Brooke Kaufman Halsband, who then brought to the stage former foster youth turned Marine, Sergeant Carlos Boone. Sergeant Boone recalled his experience being adopted when he was 16 years old by Extraordinary Families' CEO Sarah Boone, and shared his hope for all children and youth in foster care to experience the same unconditional love. Ful l of pride f or her son, Boone took the stage and articulated the importance of supporting our children and youth in foster care, and the urgent need to recruit more families to care for them - perhaps now more than ever under the current political landscape. She stated, ?Let's make sure that children remain our top priority. This isn't a partisan issue. This is our moral imperative,? said Boone. Fost er mot her and First Lady of Los Angel es, Amy El aine Wakel and presented the Sylvia Fogelman Founder?s Award to Kim Kopp and Lisa McFann, who

Fost/adopt parents Kim Kopp and Lisa McFann

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President of NBC Entertainment, Jennifer Salke ,and Jess Rossenthal, executive producer of the NBC series "This is Us"

have fostered four children and adopted two in the past four years. ?Gratitude fills our hearts,? Kim began before recalling their first introduction to the agency at an orientation led by Ms. Fogelman. It was on that day that ?we knew we were home.? She expressed their gratitude for family, friends, fellow foster parents, and all at the agency who have supported them over the years. But most importantly, she thanked their children: ?We are honored and blessed to have them in our forever family.? Jennif er Sal ke t hen present ed the Luminary Award to the executive producers of the hit series on her NBC roster, This is Us. She played a poignant clip from the show, featuring the father in the series, Jack Pearson (Milo Ventimiglia), explaining to his adopted son, Randall (Lonnie Chavis), who is afraid to stand out as different, that he ?love(s) him as much as a human heart can? and that his difference as an outstandingly unique and exceptional young person is a difference to be celebrated. It is a message fitting for all adopted children. Co-executive producer, Jess Rosenthal, accepted the award on behalf of the series and expressed his aim to learn more about fostering and adoption, and ?to handle these complex subjects 4

In Focus

UP4Youth performers, Steven Barbee, Alexiss Valle, and Edana Jones

with real grace and all the sophistication it deserves.? Fol l owing a beaut if ul perf ormance by India Carney of ?Somewhere Over the Rainbow,? three former foster youth participating in our Unlimited Possibilities for Youth program (UP4Youth), Steven Barbee, Alexiss Valle, and Edana Jones, offered a powerful spoken word performance sharing their stories of how they fought to overcome traumatic life histories. They closed by stating in unison, ?We are strong. We are determined. We are resilient.? Chairman and CEO of Fox Television Group, Gary Newman, then presented the Visionary Award to renowned writer, director and producer, Lee Daniels. well known for his epic hit, Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire. Through his compelling storytelling, Daniels, a foster/ adoptive parent himself, exposes the difficult realities of the foster care system and gives voice to the voiceless. Daniels shared, ?my work speaks what I know - what I have lived.?

India Carney (left) & UP4Youth Volunteer, Kathy Katims (right)

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CEO of Fox, Gary Newman (left) & Director & Producer, Lee Daniels (right)

The Champion Award was a posthumous award presented to the family of legendary music manager Howard Kaufman, who passed away in February. Longtime friend and business associate Craig Fruin gave a moving speech about Kaufman's profound influence, whose legacy will endure through the Howard Kaufman Visitation Center at our agency. With his daughters by her side, Kaufman?s wife, Caroline, spoke about her late husband?s devotion, philanthropy, and kindness, and a video followed, featuring an array of close friends and clients paying tribute to their loyal and beloved friend and advisor. The night concl uded wit h a stellar rendition of Aerosmith's Dream On by Haley Reinhart, another tribute to Kaufman, who managed the band. Ext raordinary Famil ies woul d l ike t o thank everyone who joined us in celebrating the honorees of the evening, to the donors for supporting our vision and mission, and to all who helped make this night a night to remember.

Caroline Kaufman with Brooke Kaufman Halsband and Elle Kaufman


In Focus

Many thanks to this year's Gala sponsors PRESENTING SPONSOR The Kaufman Family HERO SPONSORS Diane & Bruce Halle Foundation Stephanie Nicks ALLY SPONSORS Creative Artists Agency Fox Television Group HBO Bryan Kopp Jimmy Buffet & Margaritaville Holdings Pia & Steve Vai Rosanne Ziering BENEFACTOR SPONSORS Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman, LLP Trudy Green NBC Universal Carl Stubner, Suretone Entertainment

PARTNER SPONSORS Sarah Boone & Sophia Perez Carrington Mortgage Services Kym & Dell Furano Epic Rights, Inc. HK Management, Inc. Imperative Entertainment Lisa & Tim Kring MiNDS i CiNEMA Fenton Bailey & Randy Barbato, World of Wonder Prod, Inc.

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, LLP Jill & Dennis Roach Skyyler Tyyler Charitable Foundation Wells Fargo

FRIEND SPONSORS Anonymous Boston Private Bank & Trust Dawn Bridges Emily Brown Century Housing Corporation Brooke & Ken Halsband Catherine Kaufman Leslie & Jack Kavanaugh Glenda & Norman Kravetz Singer/songwriter, Haley Reinhart

A special thanks to....


Bank of America for hosting our parents at the LA Sparks game on Pride night!

Hil t on LAX for holding a personalized job fair for our UP4Youth participants! Ext raordinar yFamilies | Sum m er 20 17



Earl ier t his year,

the participants in our UP4Youth

program visited Wolf Connection, a youth empowerment program and a ?wolfdog? sanctuary just 45 minutes north of Los Angeles. Founded in 2009, Wolf Connection is an innovative program and the only one in the nation that rescues and trains wolves and wolfdogs to become program animals for at-risk populations, including children and youth in foster care. By tapping into the ancient bond between wolves and humans, Wolf Connection is able to readily reach and engage participants and help them embark on a journey of healing and growth through the eyes and experience of their wolves. Just l ike our yout h in care, every member of the pack has a story to tell, and many have suffered years of abuse, neglect, and abandonment. Beau, pictured right with UP4Youth young adult, Barbee, was rescued from a family who failed to provide for his needs. When he arrived, he was emaciated and with a neck wound as a result of having been tied to a tree with a wire. After hearing this and other stories, and spending time

UP4Youth program participant, Barbee, with Beau "the gentle giant" at Wolf Connection

W elc om e N ew B oar d M em b er s Leonardo Bol anos is the Vice President, Wealth Advisor at Wells Fargo Private Bank. He came to Extraordinary Families as a volunteer with our youth programs, and then as a member of the Gala Committee. Leo holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from DePaul University and is a Personal Financial Planning Certificate Candidate from the University of Southern California.

Angel a Bromst ad is a consultant on scripted content for Discovery Communications. Formerly the President of Primetime Entertainment, NBC, Universal, and NBCUniversal Television Studio, she was the first woman to run a major TV studio as sole President and led the network to its most financially successful and award-wining years in its history; and for 6 consecutive years, the Hollywood Reporter placed Angela on its Women in Entertainnment Power 100 list.

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Lisa Cl ark has worked for various Fortune 500 companies in the field of information technology project management. Most recently, she has focused on talent and workforce management. Lisa has served as an advisor to the University of South Florida, Polytechnic, and Polk Community College, which resulted in the development of curriculum to specifically meet the needs of future information technology employers. 7

Voices How powerful it can be to get away from the world and just spend your day with animals that only know peace. It brings you back at ease.

with the wolves, the youth began to trust them. They identified with them and felt a sense of peace and calmness in their presence. The youth were also able to share their experiences with one another and their desires to improve their lives. They left the sanctuary with gratitude and will forever carry with them the magic and hope they learned is possible through the eyes of the wolves. Thank you to our Board member Rosanne Ziering for making this field trip possible for our youth!

- Elisa, pictured right

UP4 Youth program participant, Elisa, with Maya, an original pack member, at Wolf Connection

W elc om e N ew B oar d M em b er s Lucas Grindl ey is the Managing Director of Here Media's Publishing Division, and Editor in Chief of The Advocate. He has received a number of awards, including LGBT Journalist of the Year, and he led The Advocate to a win in Folio magazine?s 2016 Eddie Digital Awards as the nation?s top consumer news magazine website. Lucas is also a proud fost/ adopt father at Extraordinary Families.

Francesca Orsi is Executive Vice President and Co-head of HBO Drama Series. Previously, she served as the network's Sr. Vice President of Programming, Vice President of Entertainment, Director of Development, and Creative Associate & Manager of Entertainment. Prior to HBO, she worked as an agent trainee at Paradigm and WME. She holds an MFA in Film and Teleplay Writing from USC.

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St eve Vai is a widely renowned guitarist, composer, singer, songwriter, and producer who has sold over 15 million records, is a three-time Grammy Award winner and 12-time nominee, and was voted the 10th greatest guitarist by Guitar World. He started his music career at the age of 18, playing for a wide variety of bands, and then as a solo artist, releasing 21 successful albums to date.


Act ion Alert Ext raordinary

Famil ies woul d

l ike


recognize and give thanks to all of those who have devoted their time and energy to serve as mentors. The importance of this work cannot be stressed enough. Supported by a wealth of research, we know that mentoring helps young people, especially at-risk youth, succeed in school, work, and life. In a 2011 meta-analysis of 73 independent evaluations of mentoring programs for children and youth published between 1999 and 2010, findings demonstrated improved outcomes across social, emotional, behavioral, and academic areas of development. A 2013 study of more than 1,300 youth found a reduction in depressive symptoms and gains in academic attitudes and grades. In 2014, a key study informed by the first national representative survey of young people on the topic of mentoring found that mentored youth set higher educational goals, are more likely to attend college, are more likely to hold a leadership position, such as in a club, sports team, or school council, and are more likely to volunteer regularly in their communities. These positive

outcomes are especially true for at-risk youth between the ages of 16 to 26. For instance, this population was 55% more likely to enroll in some type of postsecondary education and 81% more likely to participate regularly in sports or extracurricular activities than those without a mentor. Research al so shows that young adults between the ages of 16 and 26 who fail to connect to school or a career suffer diminished lifetime earnings, costing society $93 billion annually in lost wages, taxes, and social services. But for every dollar invested in quality youth mentoring programs, there is a $3 return in benefits to society. The current research on the mentoring effect is a powerful call to action to join the effort to meet the needs of our youth through mentoring, especially our most vulnerable youth in foster care. The impact of mentoring is great, but the need for more mentors greater. We urge you to contact us, learn more, and consider becoming a mentor with our Unlimited Possibilities for Youth (UP4Youth) program.

Bold New In it iat ive As California seeks to improve conditions for all children and youth in the child welfare system, the state passed Continuum of Care Reform (AB 403), requiring a shift from group care settings to family-based care. With the already significant shortage of available families in Los Angeles County to care for the thousands of children in its foster care system, the need for safe and stable homes for them could not be greater.

recruitment specialist and a family support specialist, as well as a foster parent ambassador program, a family support model, and targeted recruitment and marketing campaigns.

We want to recognize and thank our partners W.M. Keck Foundat ion and S. Mark Taper Foundat ion for their deep investments in supporting this initiative, and for their commitment to improving the lives of our community's Extraordinary Families is responding to this need by most vulnerable. launching an innovative plan to expand our efforts to Thanks also to the John Gogian Famil y Foundat ion and recruit, train, and support resource parents in 2017, and Green Foundat ion for their continued support. We could beyond. The plan includes two specialized new staff, a not do this important work without our valued partners.

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Act ion Alert Every year in t he Unit ed St at es, over 20,000 youth transition or ?age out? of the foster care system; 1,000 age out in Los Angeles County alone. Many are only 18 years old and still in need of support and services. As pointed out in the research on mentors, without a lifelong connection to a caring adult, these youth are vulnerable to a host of adverse outcomes, such as unemployment, homelessness, and incarceration. Our UP4Yout h program supports these youth (ages 16-26) during this vulnerable time to help counter such negative effects, teaching them basic life skills and connecting them to the resources they need to reach their fullest potential. The ultimate goal of the program is to help youth build the personal life skills necessary for a successful transition to adulthood, employment, and a lifelong network of peers and mentors to help them along the way. We provide our ment ors training, resources, and support to prepare them for their role and help ensure the success of the mentoring relationship. Mentors are matched with youth based on the mentor's skill set, experience, and knowledge, and

the youth's interests, strengths, and needs. Mentors work alongside youth, meeting with them at least six hours per month, helping them to accomplish their desired employment, education, and life goals. As a ment or, you can be the difference between a youth succeeding in school or dropping out, engaging in their communities or disconnecting from school, work, and life and thus becoming vulnerable to any number of unfortunate outcomes. Get involved. Make a difference.

Hel p impact t he l if e of a yout h and become a ment or t oday!

UP4Youth Program Director, Isaac Casas, with UP4Youth program participant, Da'janae

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Contact Unlimited Possibilities for Youth program manager, Isaac Casas, at (213) 365-2900 or i.casas@extraordinaryfamilies.org to learn more and get started. 10

Making A Dif f erence

Ber yl Var n er Ext r aor din ar y em ployee, 2000-2017

A warm and heart f el t

congratulations to

Beryl Varner on her upcoming and well-deserved retirement! Beryl has been an invaluable and integral part of the team at Extraordinary Families for the past 17 years, and she will be dearly missed. Beryl 's passion has al ways been to help our older youth and teens in foster care, and she is highly skilled at building rapport with them. Many teens who come into care have experienced numerous social workers over many years, and are often reluctant to trust or accept help by yet another agency worker. Beryl, however, routinely proved her trust worthiness to them, in part by always being available to them in times of crisis, often visiting them in the wee hours of the night if needed and providing after hour on-call services for them. Foster Care and Adoption Program Director Kim Sutton said, ?I often called Beryl on the weekend and after hours to consult. I greatly appreciate her willingness to help all of the agency's children in any way that she can.? Many of t he t eens Beryl has supported have remained in touch with her over the years. ?They reach out to me at times just to say hello and other times when in crisis, in need of advice, or to share

with me the milestones they've achieved, like college graduation or a new job.? There is no doubt Beryl cares deeply about each youth whom she has had the pleasure of working with, and we suspect she always will. Ext raordinary Famil ies CEO, Sarah Boone, said, ?Beryl is a gem. The depth of her compassion and dedication to kids and families is evident in her work. Service to others is her passion, and she will be missed by those of us who are fortunate to call her a colleague and friend, and certainly by the hundreds of children and families she cared for over many years. I sure hope she comes back to visit often!? Pl ease join us in t hanking Beryl for her dedication to not only the agency but to the children and youth she served these past 17 years. While she will be missed by all of us at Extraordinary Families, she certainly deserves her retirement. Beryl, we wish you the very best in your future endeavors in the next chapter of your life. May all the years ahead bring you great joy and relaxation.

Happy ret irement , Beryl ! You wil l be missed! Ext raordinar yFamilies | Sum m er 20 17


M ak ing A DifOur f erence Ext raordinar y Yout h ?UP4Youth has definitely given me so much, especially confidence that I could actually find a job and keep it,? - Lontho

photo credit: Eric Criswell

Meet one of our ext raordinary

UP4Youth Program Participant


adults, Lontho. With charisma and unwavering optimism, Lontho, 19, is the epitome of just how resilient our children and youth in care can be; with the right resources and support, they are unstoppable. As an inf ant , Lont ho lived with his grandmother in Sierra Leone but was later returned to family in Philadelphia as a young boy, where he suffered both physical and emotional abuse. He entered the foster care system at age seven, and spent the next nine years bouncing around from foster home to foster home without ever feeling a sense of belonging. Wit h t he hel p of a child advocate, however, Lontho soon found his forever family with his two dads and adopted younger brother. After learning about Lontho, his dads felt an urgency to get involved ? to offer a stable home with unconditional love and constant support and encouragement, one in which Lontho may finally belong and thrive. They have been fully committed to helping him develop to his fullest potential since. When Lont ho enrol l ed in our UP4Yoth Program this past July, he expressed a need for assistance with both employment and education services, but his primary goal was to secure a job. He had never worked before and was concerned about his lack of experience. But with our support, Lontho has learned valuable lifelong skills that will prepare him for success in the workforce, including identifying jobs that interest him, conducting job searches, rĂŠsumĂŠ

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writing, interview preparation, dressing appropriately for work, and time management skills. As a result of this support, Lontho successfully secured an unsubsidized, part-time job at an ice cream shop. He is also now a student at a local community college and is acclimating to balancing both work and school. Lont ho is passionat e about life and has many aspirations. He is currently writing a book and aims to complete it soon. He hopes to continue following this path in the arts, but he also aspires to one day become a psychologist because, he said, ?the human mind is incredible.? We are so proud of Lontho and honored to be a part of his life journey. If you are a current or f ormer foster youth between the ages of 16 and 26, or know someone who is and would like to learn more about how UP4Youth can help you, contact Isaac Casas, the program manager. If you're interested in adopting an older youth, contact us here for more information.

photo credit: Eric Criswell

Lontho, UP4Youth program participant


BOARD OF DIRECTORS Rick Bieber Principal, MiNDS i CiNEMA Int erim Chair

Sean Reese District Manager, Time Warner Cable Secret ary

Dawn Bridges Director of Information Technology, KTGY Treasurer

Sarah Boone, MSW Chief Execut ive Of f icer

Leonardo Bolanos

Lisa Kring, LCSW

Vice President, Wealth Advisor Wells Fargo

Instructor Insight LA

Angela Bromstad

Juliet Musso

Consultant Discovery Communications

Emily Brown

Flournoy Professor of State Government USC Sol Price School of Public Policy

Associate Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP

Francesca Orsi

Lisa Clark

Co-Head of Drama HBO

Business and Information Technology Expert

Roy Firestone Vice President of Product MGID

Lucas Grindley

Thank you for your support!

Shauna Shalom Vice President, Relationship Manager Boston Private Bank & Trust

Jocelyn Tetel

Managing Director, Here Media Editor in Chief, The Advocate

Vice President, Advancement Skirball Cultural Center

Brooke Halsband

Steve Vai

Associate Hilton & Hyland

Musician, Philanthropist

Lisa Jordan

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.

Rosanne Ziering

Entrepreneur, Activist, and President Philanthropist Human Solutions yFamilies | Sum m er 20 17 Ext raordinar

Don at e Now 155 N. Occidental Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90026 info@extraordinaryfamilies.org www.extraordinaryfamilies.org 13

Profile for ExtraordinaryFamilies

Starting Now, Summer 2017  

Starting Now, Summer 2017