Organizer's Fellowship

The Organizer's Fellowship is a year-long, paid youth organizing and leadership development opportunity designed for young adults leaders representing local groups in our FYA Network.  

Built on a foster youth-led organizing framework, the Fellowship is a unique opportunity for local groups to build organizational power by equipping the next generation of leaders with youth organizing skills to create change locally and across the FYA Network. Upon completion of the Fellowship, these young organizers get a chance to join our FYA training team, and partner with us to build the power of even more young people to change the system. 


Ashley Crossan * Fostering Change

Ashley joined Vancouver BC Canada’s Fostering Change in 2013. Ashley brings extensive experience and collaborative contributions with a number of efforts organized on behalf of young people in care in Canada. Ashley co-organized a Policy Slam and Jam event where youth in and from care and service providers came together to talk about their policy solutions and decide on policy priorities. Ashley also sat on the former Fostering Change Advisory circle at Vancouver Foundation where she supported the decisions concerning the allocation of $5 million in grants dedicated to community organizations that serve youth in and from care. Ashley is passionate about making sure that youth in and from care have the same opportunities as their peers with no experience in care and opportunities to succeed, with their own definition of success. Ashley is looking forward to her time as an Organizer’s Fellow and hopes to gain an international network of like minded organizers, have fun, exchange ideas, and build community.

Shania Mitchell * Indiana Youth Advisory Board

Shania is a current member of the Indiana Youth Advisory Board in northwest Indiana. Through her involvement with IYAB, Shania has been afforded many opportunities to advocate for and bring spotlight to a number of young lives impacted by the foster care system. Shania is currently pursuing her bachelor's degree in Psychology and is a current student at Purdue University Northwest.  Shania represents the northwest region of Indiana and is passionate about sharing her own positive experiences with the Advisory board and assisting others in getting connected and involved. Helping to create a better look for the Northwest community, and building a community where students belong and feel connected. Shania's goal is to get her PhD in Therapy to help foster kids overcome adverse experiences and continue on to a supported and successful future. Shania is looking forward to increased leadership development opportunities that the Fellowship will provide and for the opportunity to bring back and share her knowledge with those she is currently connected to through IYAB.

Ke-ana DurhamFlorida Youth Shine

Ke-ana joined Florida Youth S.H.I.N.E in 2015 and is currently the President of her local chapter. She is currently a senior at Florida International University pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and a certificate in Public Policy, with an intended graduation date of the Spring of 2020. Ke-ana plans to immediately pursue a Master of Science in Social Work and obtain a Juris Doctorate. Within this area of study, Ke-ana aspires to specialize in family, youth & children’s services concentrating on policy practice. This path will afford Ke-ana to work toward improving the government and private systems that serve at-risk children and youth.Ke-ana utilizes her experiences in care and the experiences of youth in my community to spark change in Florida’s child welfare system at a state and local level. Ke-ana is extremely passionate about policy and working with at-risk youth or oppressed communities. Ke-ana is eager to receive from her time as an Organizer Fellow additional and unique perspectives and understanding of how other child welfare systems work in other states, also learn skills that other organizational groups use to spark/implement change in their states in the interest of bringing those skills and efforts back to Florida and her communities.

Elsana Pettit * Oregon Foster Youth Connection

Elsana joined Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC) in 2017 as an attendee of their annual Advocacy Convening. They have experience as a former youth in care with experiences ranging from multiple placements to complete houselessness. Since then, Elsana has participated in a number of OFYC events and projects, including being a member of our Advisory Committee. Elsana also helped to pass the Sibling Bill of Rights in the state of Oregon, attended regular meetings with Oregon’s Child Welfare director Marilyn Jones in the interest of educating future caseworkers about supporting youth voice and participation. Elsana is passionate about and has been a feverous advocate for young people in care and having their mental health needs met. Elsana says that OFYC has helped them discover a passion for speaking and taught them how to give others the strength to share their stories. In addition to Elsana’s advocacy role with OFYC, they are a member of a number of active efforts to address and raise awareness around houselessness, such as Roadies SPEAK, through Sisters of the Road Cafe, a group of houseless and housing-insecure persons who advocate for houseless rights, change, and spreading awareness. They are very passionate about using their voice and story to make change and bring awareness to homelessness and foster care.  Elsana hopes to grow expand OFYC’s members’ organizing skills and bring more people together to make change, not just locally but also nationally. They are also excited to expand their own network of advocates and community.

Hasan Williams * Fostering Advocacy Change and Empowerment (FACE)

Hasan Williams, co-founder for Fostering Advocacy Change Empowerment (FACE), is a talented and avid youth advocate, student , father and leader. He is also a Foster Care Alumni spending age 10 -21 in congregate care settings staying in over 7 placements. Haas, as he likes to be called, says he began advocating for better futures for youth ten years ago during his placement on the JCCA Westchester Campus. “ One of my older peers offered me an opportunity to impact policy at our agency by joining the Youth Advisory Board… I knew this would be where compassion and justice could be worked towards.” He says he began here and many other opportunities ensued as he became more experienced in advocacy, serving as a youth-panelist at the New York Bar Association on bettering the futures of at-risk-youth to being president of ACSs’ Youth Speakers Bureau. However, it is the fact that advocating helped Haas tap into other skills and talents that have helped him to continue to grow, both as a professional and a person that has been his driving commitment. “Being an advocate is to be a champion for justice and that’s what I’m all about.” Haas is currently a junior at John Jay and a father to a 5-year-old boy and 4-year-old girl. He is currently working to bring an independent, youth-led advocacy group to New York City.


Organizing Institute is an intensive in-person retreat built on our new Foster Power Curriculum.  Fellows deepen their understanding of organizing, reflect on the social and political conditions that directly impact their lives, and begin to work together to identify ways to create meaningful change locally and across the Network.

Local Organizing. Fellowship activities are explicitly designed to ensure that organizing skills gained by fellows are brought back home and directly applied with their local group, including activities such as facilitating a local youth organizing training and/or organizing campaign activities. 

Movement Building. Fellows will also work throughout the year to identify priority issues and movement building strategies across the FYA Network. This includes participating on the Leaders for Change 2019 Leadership Team and attending the Leaders for Change conference in the Fall of 2019 as part of your group’s delegation.


The Organizer's Fellowship is an opportunity for local groups in the FYA Network ONLY. Given the Fellowship's strong commitment to applied learning and local organizing, individual applicants are only eligible if their local group has also agreed to completed a Group Application, ensuring their commitment to supporting a Fellow.  Fellows must be young people 18-26 who are actively involved with their local group as a current member or alumni. 


Fellows receive $1,800 for completion of 120 hours over a year-long commitment.


The Fellowship requires both group and individual applications to ensure organizational capacity and commitment to supporting local Fellowship activities throughout the year. FYA will reach out to groups also reach out directly to groups as individual members apply.  Only (1) group application is required, but ALL interested individuals from local groups are encouraged to apply. Foster Youth in Action is committed to having a diverse range of experiences and identities represented among Fellows.  The application for the 2019 Cohort is now closed. Application for the 2020 Fellows will open sometime in winter 2020. 

For more information, please contact Eddye Vanderkwaak at