Powerful Voices: FYA’s Inaugural Leadership Awards

Noah Nash/ December 27, 2017/ FYA

At this year’s Leaders for Change Conference, FYA kicked off its inaugural awards program to honor some exceptional folks in our network. This will be an annual event, which includes generous cash prizes for the award recipients.  I wanted to introduce you to the incredible awardees, and tell you more about the special people for whom the awards are named.  

Nancy Cannon O’Connell Award for Outstanding Youth Leadership

This award is named in honor of Nancy Cannon O-Connell, a longtime champion for FYA. Nancy served on FYA’s Board of Directors, including stints as our Chair, for eight critical years, where she generously gave advice, support, and leadership that has absolutely been essential to where FYA is today.

DAN SCOTT – FLORIDA YOUTH SHINE.  Dan has been organizing and advocating with Florida youth Shine since 2014.  Now the fundraising chair for FYS, Dan has been at the forefront of their legislative advocacy, playing leading roles in their successful campaigns to pass drivers license, tuition waver, and normalcy legislation.Now that’s impressive!   He’s spoken to countless legislators and uses his positivity, smile and genuine care and charisma to motivate new FYS members into advocacy.  Dan was in the system for 14 years, aging out at 18 without a forever family, but has found his people with the incredible youth network of Florida Youth Shine.  He gives back as a pre-school teacher and as an educator of new child welfare workers.

SHIMAINE QUIMBLEY – GEORGIA EMPOWERMENT.  Shimaine, or “Maine” as her FYA family calls her, is a leading youth advocate for FYA partner Georgia EmpowerMEnt.  Shimaine uses her big personality and facilitation skills to organize her peers across the state, and is known as a super-inclusive planner and leader.  Go here for more about Shimaine in her own words.  

Dan (left) and Shimaine with their awards following the Ceremony at Leaders for Change

Janet Knipe Exceptional Adult Ally Award

This award is named in honor of Janet Knipe.  Janet has been at the forefront of foster youth-led organizing and advocacy for more than 25 years. For 14 years, Janet was the Executive Director of California Youth Connection (CYC), helping young leaders build this group into one of the nation’s largest and most powerful foster youth-driven organizations. Along with young foster youth leaders at CYC, Janet founded Foster Youth in Action, and was its first Executive Director before retiring in 2014.

GEORI BERMAN – FLORIDA YOUTH SHINE. As the coordinator for this highly influential and powerful youth-led group for the last five years, Geori has been the kind of ally we at FYA envision when with think about this award.  One young member of FYS told us that “she had never met someone who wasn’t a foster child but was so passionate about the cause.”

When describing how she gets things done another youth remarked that, “Geori strives to make sure that everyone feels included, respected, and valuable by providing advocating opportunities. A third youth fan shared that “she is more than talk she is action.  She fights alongside us not for noticeability or recognition but because it is right.”


A special thank-you to the many generous donors who contributed the Nancy Cannon-O’Connell Youth Leadership Award Fund:  Agnes Weber, Alan Sorkin, Beth Steinberg, Carolyn McInnes, Charles Raskin, Eileen Byrnes Perry, Gan Wang, Janet Molsberry, Janet Spitz, Karen Brailean, Kathy Koop, Kevin Bowen, Linda Morrow, Marc Jacobson, Mary Donnellan, McGreal Family, Meenakshi Chakraverti, Nancy Cannon-O’Connell, Paula Ray, Rick and Joyce Ross, Robert Hickey and Heidi Schultz, Robert Marra, Travis Culwell, Valerie Ulstad, and William White.