IYAB Leadership Team
These leaders make a big impact on their peers and the foster care system in Indiana.
Leaders serve one-year terms from July 1 thru June 30. Interested in joining the Leadership Team? Reach out to one of the current team members to learn more!
Current Leadership Team:
Oliver Baker (He/They)
1 year in foster care
Oliver entered foster care in September 2018. He was fortunate to only be in one foster home before aging out in March 2019.
Oliver is on the Indiana Youth Advisory Board Leadership Team. They have been involved in IYAB and local foster care system based meetings since they entered care and met other youth who had less fortunate experiences with the system then they did.
Oliver is a creative person who loves to help youth who don’t have a voice or know how to make their voice heard. They especially want to focus on the needs of LGBTQ+ youth and youth with mental health issues. They want to help youth learn to advocate for themselves and know how to get help when they need it.
Ari Corthen (She/Her/Hers)
Ari works with Foster Success and Pink Leaf. She is a Jim Casey Young Fellow and also served on a DCS workgroup that is revising the older youth training that foster parents receive. She is studying pre-law and psychology with a minor in business at Ball State University. She plans to graduate a year early just like she did in high school.
Ari’s function with these partnerships is to better advocate, represent, and work with youth to change the priority of foster care. Writing policies and legislation to promote a happy, healthy, and loving system for youth. The roles she takes such as IYAB Leader and Jim Casey Young Fellows are as a youth with lived experience. She wants to expand to politics and hopefully be on the Supreme Court or run for Congress. Her goals are to better the nation’s children and perspective to promote equality.
Ari is a plant and yoga enthusiast who promotes herbal medicine and spiritual enlightenment.
Praise Ferguson (She/Her/Hers)
Praise joined the Indiana Youth Advisory Board (IYAB) Leadership Team in July 2022 as the Partnerships Manager. In her role, she leads graphic design efforts and focuses on coaching other young people on advocacy skills. She is studying graphic design at Ivy Tech and plans to transfer and pursue her bachelor’s degree as well.
Praise’s goal in her work with IYAB is to change the outcomes for other young people who had negative foster care experiences like her. She never wants any young person in foster care to feel like they want to give up. She works hard to make sure young people feel cared for and supported. She even gives her number out freely and is always available to be a listening ear to young people in the foster care system.
Rosie Ferguson (She/Her/Hers)
Rosie joined the Indiana Youth Advisory Board (IYAB) Leadership Team in July 2022. She is passionate about helping other young people in the system and has a special interest in mental well-being.
In June 2022, Rosie was recognized as the Indiana Youth Advisory Board’s New Member of the Year, a title she takes seriously. Her goal is to help other young people in similar situations realize they’re not alone either.
Shelly Gann-Gatt (She/Her/Hers)
Shelly is working with Foster Success as an Indiana Youth Advisory Board (IYAB) leader. Her top three accomplishments are that in 2019, she was an intern at the Noble County United Way. In 2020, she got her high-school diploma from East Noble High School. And recently, she got the IYAB leadership position.
Since Shelly entered the Foster Care system, she’s seen many flaws, including how many minorities aren’t given a voice. She had that privelage, so she wanted to stand up for those who don’t. In 2019, she interned at United Way to help those who don’t have the same privileges find help and resources.
Shelly’s north star is to help those who don’t know themselves and weren’t given the chance find out who they are. When she’s not working, she’s usually spending time with my friends and those close to her.
Paul Okoli (He/Him/His)
3 years in foster care
Paul has devoted much of his life to advocating for youth in foster care. Paul is involved with the Indiana Youth Advisory Board and various DCS workgroups. He is also a founding member of the Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup, and is the most senior member of the group. He participated in Foster Success’s Opportunity Passport program, and has worked closely with the organization to provide feedback on its financial empowerment programs.
Paul was a member of the Emerging Adult Workgroup, which resulted in recommendations to DCS on the services young people are provided to assist them in their transition to adulthood. He was also a member of the Direct Payment Workgroup, and worked with Sixto Cancel and Think of Us on advocating for this to be implemented in Indiana. His work on the Foster Care Bill of Rights helped create a version of the Bill of Rights that is youth centered and youth friendly. He recently completed The Journey Explores, an elite program for students exploring youth-serving careers.
The Indiana University junior is majoring in Human Development at IU. He graduated high school in the top 10 of his class, and won several academic awards as well as music awards for tenor saxophone and cello. In his spare time, Paul enjoys biking along the trails in beautiful Bloomington.