Spotlight on the Foster System Webinar Series

November 13, 2020 at 11:00 am - 12:30 pm CST


Creating the conditions in which families and communities can thrive means keeping families together and reimagining what support looks like, how harm and accountability are understood and addressed, and who should be leading the way forward.  

Black communities, communities of color, and those living in poverty are overrepresented in many systems, including the foster system, that claim to support and protect.

Join the Shriver Center for the Spotlight on the Foster System webinar series that will explore the history and current state of the system, how the system interacts with other systems, where the system fits into the intersectional movement for racial justice, and the path forward in advocacy for parents and families impacted by this system.

Webinar #1 — Moving from Why to How: Parent Leaders’ Perspectives on the Movement for Child Welfare Justice

Watch a recording of the first webinar in our series. 

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst

Panelists will include:

  • Suzanne Sellers,  Families Organizing for Child Welfare Justice  Suzanne Sellers is a longtime child welfare reform advocate, public policy expert and sought-after speaker and presenter. She serves as executive director of Families Organizing for Child Welfare Justice, a not for profit organization based in Chicago whose mission is to advocate for family unification and systemic change. Ms. Sellers believes when it is safely possible, families should remain together. 
  • Joyce McMillan, JMacForFamilies & Sinergia Inc.Joyce McMillan is a thought leader, advocate, activist, community organizer, and educator. Her mission is to remove systemic barriers in communities of color by bringing awareness to the racial disparities in systems where people of color are disproportionately affected. Joyce believes before change occurs the conversation about systemic oppression that creates poverty, and feeds people of color into systems must happen on all levels consistently. She completed a restorative certificate program at the New School and says change will not happen independently of healing. Her ultimate goal is to abolish systems of harm while creating concrete community resources.  
  • Tony Lawlor, Family Justice Resource Center & International Parent Advocacy NetworkActivist, Mentor, Entrepreneur, Overcomer. These are just a few words to describe Tony Lawlor, the visionary and CEO of Lawlor Consulting. The oldest of five children, Tony was raised by a single mother. At the age of 13, Tony and his siblings were placed into foster care. Despite having an unstable childhood, Tony exceled in school, earning a full-ride DCFS scholarship to The University of Illinois. After graduating in 2001 with his bachelor’s degree, he decided to commit the rest of his life to help young people overcome barriers that prevent them from reaching their full potential.  

Moderated by:

  • Elena Nina-X Thompson, Nina’s Arc Foundation & 7DlightsElena Nina-X Thompson is a strong force of many shades. Her inspiration, determination, and her passion for empowering and transforming lives within her community has been a strong focus in her life. Being a single mother of seven and witnessing firsthand  the trauma and struggles caused by barriers placed on her and other families by multiple systems have given her the courage, drive, education, and strength she needed to become the best version of herself today. Elena has a sincere devotion in assisting families with support and education needed to protect them from child welfare barriers and family separation, focusing particularly on keeping children with their parents. She also has a deep commitment to supporting victims of domestic violence, those unjustly penalized by the child support system, those whose lives have been impeded by incarceration.  

Webinar #2 — Policing by Another Name: Mandated Reporting as State Surveillance 

Date: Friday, November 13, 2020

Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst

Panelists will include:

  • Charity Tolliver, Founder and Project Director of Black on Both Sides – A seasoned and nationally recognized youth development specialist, Tolliver grew up in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. She is a foster mother, writer, and spoken word artist, and former director of one of the largest and oldest organizing groups in Chicago, Southwest Youth Collaborative. In over thirteen years in the field of Youth Development, she has worked on campaigns on a broad range of issues, including fair housing, labor rights, school reform, prison reform, and LGBT youth rights.
  • Fallon Speaker, Director Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Professor Fallon Speaker is a Feminist, Reproductive Justice Transformer, Social Justice Leader and Movement Lawyer. She currently serves as an Assistant Clinical Professor of Law and the Director of The Jeanette Lipman Family Law Clinic at The University of Richmond School of Law where she teaches students in a holistic legal clinic dedicated to working with communities affected by child welfare and dependency proceedings in Richmond, Virginia. Prior to joining the law school faculty, Professor Speaker served as a Staff Attorney and Team Leader in the Family Defense Practice at The Bronx Defenders where she represented parents in child protective proceedings who were accused of abuse or neglect. She also served as an Adjunct Professor at Cardozo School of Law and the Director of the Mainzer Family Defense Clinic, where she taught and supervised students in child protective hearings. During her time at The Bronx Defenders, Professor Speaker became very active in policy, lobbying, community organizing, and movement lawyering. She played in integral role in coalition building and creating legislation to reform the child welfare system and state central registry. Professor Speaker received her undergraduate and Juris Doctorate degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Webinar #3 — Intersection: Criminal Legal System and the Foster System

Date: Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst

Webinar #4 — Intersection: Health and the Foster System

Date: January 2021

Time: 11am cst – 12:30pm cst

To receive the latest news and information from the Shriver Center