Youth Engagement

IYAB Leadership Team

The IYAB Leadership Team helps set the board’s priorities for the year and make suggestions that will lead to changes in the foster care system.

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:

Alayna Leonard

Alayna Leonard (She/Her/Hers)

Youth Voice Representative

5 years in Indiana’s Foster Care System
20 years old

Alayna is a junior at Indiana University Bloomington, majoring in Finance and Marketing. Collectively, she has 5 years of experience in the Indiana foster care system, and has lived in almost every region of the state before becoming an executive member of the Indiana Youth Advisory Boards Leadership team. Her involvement locally on Indiana University campus as an Education Ambassador motivated her to get involved with more social welfare reform opportunities after helping students that faced disparities based on their history with the state foster care system.

Alayna was nominated and awarded the elite opportunity to attend the Youth Leadership Institute, supported by the Jim Casey Youth Opportunities Initiative in the summer of 2021. Upon completion, Alyana elected to join the Jim Casey Young Fellows program. The Jim Casey Young Fellows partner with key stakeholders to advance national strategies to ensure young people transitioning out of care are better off. Alayna has attended and presented at numerous statewide and national conferences including the Chaffee Alliance in Washington, DC., Normalcy Conference in Indiana, as well as the Annie Casey Foundation Youth Engagement Summit. As a result of her attendance, she has started grass roots efforts in Indiana to start a peer mentorship program that will partner alongside our Independent Living Specialists to help better retain youth within older youth services and support more positive outcomes when exiting care.
 

Kayla Brewer

Kayla Brewer (She/ Her/ Hers)

Adult Partnership Liaison

6 years in Indiana’s Foster Care System
21 years old

Kayla has been advocating for the foster care system for over 5 years and has traveled around the United States collaborating with child welfare agencies to catalyst a positive change. She has specifically participated with the Indiana Youth Advisory Board as a statewide leader and currently holds the Youth Partnership Liaison position. She also has been selected to act as a Delegate for the National Foster Youth Institute for the state of Indiana in 2021.

Kayla’s advocacy work also includes engaging with students within secondary and post-secondary schooling, working as an Education Ambassador, public speaker, and mentor with the Foster Success Catalyst Program.

Kaylais currently attending Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis and is majoring in Social Work and is minoring in Psychology and Philosophy.
 

Justin Hayden

Justin Hayden (He/Him/His)

Normalcy and Outreach Coordinator

5 years lived experience
21 years old

Justin experienced 5 years in the Indiana foster care system. He is from Northwest Indiana and is currently a student at Purdue University, Northwest. He is a communications major with a focus in public relations and a minor in behavioral psychology. Justin is also an entrepreneur and the co-founder of Raising Resilience, a business where he provides training, advocacy, and leadership development to youth experiencing or have experienced poverty or have been placed in the foster care system. Justin is a member of the Indiana Youth Advisory Board Leadership Team and is on the Executive Committee for the IYAB’s annual conference. Justin is also the Co-Lead for the Indiana Department of Child Services Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion Youth Workgroup. Justin also serves on the Youth Policy Review Team, Emerging Adulthood, Judicial Officer Training, and LGBTQ+ Youth Workgroups. Justin has presented on topics such as trauma informed care, authentic youth engagement, and healthy risk taking on a local and national level. Justin recently traveled to Orlando, FL to present at the National IL Conference on Authentic Youth Engagement and how this is implemented in Indiana. Justin also worked closely with the Department of Child Services during the COIVD-19 pandemic and advocated tirelessly for his peers. Once the COVID-19 Relief Package was approved, Justin continued to partner with DCS and provided youth voice on the roll out and process of getting funds to youth in need. Justin was awarded the New Normal: Defining Our Future award at the 2021 IYAB Annual Conference.

Justin also works as a Constituent Consultant with Casey Family Programs and is a Foster
Club All Star.

“As an advocate of foster youth, the LGBTQ+ community, people of color and people who are underprivileged, I believe that it is my duty to ensure that everyone feels they have a safe space to exist and live happily.”
 

Stephaney Knight

Stephaney Knight (She/Her/Hers)

Marketing and Recruitment Strategist

8 years lived experience
22 years old

Stephaney has spent nearly 8 years in the Indiana Foster Care System moving to and from various residential treatment facilities, group homes, and foster homes. Stephaney never knew stability or love until she met her forever parents at the age of 16. Stephaney legally became a part of her family on May 14, 2021, when her adult adoption was finalized.

Helping change the system has always been a passion of Stephaney’s, because she believes every child deserves to feel wanted and loved unconditionally. Stephaney is particularly passionate about Families First legislation and the potential positive impact it will have on the residential system in Indiana. Stephaney is always thinking of youth placed in residential treatment centers and how she can help them to have a sense of normalcy, while feeling safe and secure.

Stephaney is a full time college student at Indiana University Southeast and is majoring in Psychology with a minor in Communications. Stephaney is also a member of the Commission for Improving the Status of Children and works alongside state legislators and policy makers to help advocate for Indiana’s children. After earning a Bachelor’s degree, Stephaney plans to pursue Law School in hopes of becoming a lawyer who advocates and represents minors involved in the child welfare system.
 

Dejuna Rodriguez

Dejuna Rodriguez

Community Connections Builder

4 years in Indiana’s Foster Care System
22 years old

Dejuna has been a member of the Indiana Youth Advisory Leadership Team since July 2021, but has been active in IYAB and advocacy for approximately one year. Dejuna is a student at Ivy Tech Indianapolis and is majoring in Teaching and Political Science. Dejuna has worked as Youth Facilitator at Voices, Inc and as an intern in Child Advocates’ Interrupting Racism for Children Program. Dejuna advocated for the use of the Foster Youth Initiative (FYI) Housing Voucher program in Indiana and works with local housing organizations such as HUD, Youth Action Society, and CHIP. In 2020, Dejuna was awarded CHIP’s Diamond Service Award for her work advocating for homeless youth.

During Dejuna’s foster care journey, she was placed in residential treatment facilities and uses her lived experience to affect change and support youth placed in these centers. Dejuna found her voice after re-entering services in 2019 and has since participated in multiple speaking engagements supporting foster care reforms and works with State senators on policy and legislative actions to improve the foster care system. Dejuna is also the co-lead for the Youth with Lived Experience Racial Justice, Equity, and Inclusion workgroup and helps to shine a light on those youth in foster care who have historically been marginalized and forgotten. Dejuna has been grateful for the advocacy opportunities presented to her in such a short amount of time. She hopes to continue this work in the future and will always work to serve those who need a voice.
 

Amber Zitani

Amber Zitani

Marketing and Recruitment Strategist

19 years old

Amber has been a member of the Indiana Youth Advisory Board Leadership Team since July 2021 and serves as the Marketing and Recruitment Strategist. Amber is a sophomore at Anderson University, pursuing a B.A. in Criminal Justice as well as a B.A. in Psychology. Once she completes her degree, she plans to continue her education to become a criminal psychologist

Amber has been in and out of the foster care system since she was a child. She entered the system as a newborn and is currently in the Collaborative Care program. Amber has spent time in residential facilities and is using her experience in IYAB’s Residential Services Workgroup to provide support for youth who are now in similar placements.. She hopes to use her lived experience to advocate and inspire youth with similar backgrounds.
 

Rimy Morris

Rimy Morris (She/Her/Hers)

IYAB Leadership Team Alumni and Advisor

9 years in Indiana’s Foster Care System
23 years old

Rimy entered foster care in October 2010. She lived in 5 different foster homes, 2 group homes and 2 residential treatment facilities. Rimy aged out of care in January 2019.

Rimy is an active alumni leader in Indiana’s Youth Advisory Board. She grew her advocacy as a FosterClub All-Star in 2019 where she focused on finding resources to take back to her home state to better things for the many youth that she’s put in contact with through her leadership roles. Rimy is also an entrepreneur; she co-founded Raising Resilience, an organization that provides training, advocacy, and leadership development to youth experiencing poverty or foster care. In 2020, Rimy participated as a panelist in a virtual Congressional Briefing, informing Congressional members and staff on the impact of COVID-19 on current and former foster youth. Rimy is also a LEx Leader and All Star through Foster Club, a Constituent Consultant at Casey Family Programs, a Consultant for the Policy Improvement Center, and has recently started working as a Youth-Adult Consultant at Center for the States.

She is a student at Purdue University Northwest where she majors in Communication. Rimy also helps connect and support current/former foster youth on campus to each other and resources. She understands the importance of community and helped her youth feel connected and supported. Rimy hopes to finish her degree and continue public speaking and hopes to one day publish books.

She spends her free time painting or partaking in as many forms of art and expression as possible. She also spends just as much time with her 10 siblings. She hopes to be an amazing role model to them.

Rimy is an outspoken individual who prides herself in her ability to help other youth find their voices just as she found hers.
 

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“I have learned not only to advocate for others, but for myself as well. I have learned patience and independence. I have gained a community of people (who) are there to support me.”

– Stephaney K.
Megan Trible

Questions? Contact Megan Trible, Director of Youth Engagement

Call or text 317-504-4196   •   [email protected]

All Youth Engagement Programs

Indiana Youth Advisory Board

The first way to get involved is through the Indiana Youth Advisory Board (IYAB). IYAB is a group led by (you and) your peers  with lived experience in foster care and is facilitated by a Foster Success staff member. Learn more...

Annual Conference & Events

Each year, Foster Success coordinates an annual youth engagement conference hosted by the Indiana Youth Advisory Board (IYAB) to bring together teens and young adults with lived experience in foster care. Learn more...
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