Tomorrow, I will be stepping down as president of Fostering Media Connections (FMC).
I am happy to announce that John Kelly and Christie Renick have been unanimously named by our Board of Directors as co-executive directors. And this is not the end of me and FMC; I will be stepping up as board chair.
When I called John to tell him of my plans not so long ago, he immediately asked why now, and said something to the effect of “we finally made it.”
Indeed, John was and is right. Way back when I first thought up this whole endeavor, the dream was to build a journalism and media organization that would make the issues facing children, youth and families involved with the child welfare and juvenile justice systems front and center for the mainstream. And through the hard years of winning grants and finding support for our work we have done just that.
Today I can say, without reservation, that The Imprint is the nation’s leading news outlet covering child welfare and youth justice. We have grown adept at drawing together the field’s brightest minds through our Op-Ed pages, now a weekly podcast and both in-person and online civic dialogues. In 2017, we acquired Fostering Families Today magazine – expanding our reach into the homes of many thousands of foster and adoptive parents and kin caregivers nationwide.
Throughout, the voices of those involved in these systems – the foster youth, parents, frontline workers and so many more – became part of FMC’s DNA. The most clear expression of this our Youth Voice program, which through the darkest days of the pandemic and the grim murder of George Floyd brought us the voices of young people from across the country.
That work has not gone unnoticed. Our stories have been cited by The Washington Post, The New York Times, USA Today, Fox News, NPR and more mainstream news outlets than I can even count. We have co-produced or co-published highly impactful stories with CNN, The Washington Monthly and The San Francisco Chronicle, to name a few.
Some years ago, a longtime funder of ours sent me to Stanford to attend a week-long management seminar at that institution’s Graduate School of Business. Of the catchy catch phrases being dropped throughout, one stuck with me: “You can’t get to there the way you got to here.”
And so it is with my dear Fostering Media Connections. FMC is on its way up, and I as its leader simply am no longer the best person to get to the “there” that I know is on the horizon.
John has spent 15 years covering the issues we care about most, first at Youth Today and then as our most senior editor at The Chronicle of Social Change and now The Imprint. Christie, as FMC’s long-serving vice president, has learned to run all of our operations, always thinking two or more steps ahead of me. The two together, alongside the incredible staff working in lockstep with them, are the team FMC needs to realize its next, exciting phase.
To all of you who I have met along the way, who have supported our work, lent your voices to our stories, were critical when we needed it, and who are united by the goal of doing better for America’s children and families, I will miss this phase of our shared purpose deeply.
Now I start on a new chapter and another challenging struggle. In the new role I have taken, I am on a mission to change philanthropy for the better. It’s not going to be easy. But what we set out to do and have done with Fostering Media Connections wasn’t either.
To those 15 souls honorably laboring toward FMC’s mission, I just can’t wait to see what you accomplish. And to this field and universe of people I have come to know, I bid you adieu, but not fare thee well.
To a new Fostering Media Connections.
Founder and Board Chair, Fostering Media Connections