Catalyzing agents of change one family, one community, one system at a time through the power of professional mentorship and the truth of asset-framed stories.
Friends of the Children believes in the game-changing power of relationships to drive transformational change. Committed to families who experience compounding trauma caused by the oppressive and racist practices of systems, Friends of the Children empowers families to change narratives, break cycles and disrupt the hierarchical power dynamics perpetuating systemic inequities.
Led by Caregivers and narrative change experts from the BMe Community, Caregiver Leadership Teams at Friends of the Children chapters across the country will drive systems change work within their local communities, while informing our broader national strategies. Concurrently, the Friends of the Children 2Gen model and partnership with BMe will be scaled; increasing both depth and breadth of our impact as 2Gen expands to new communities that have invited us to join their systems change efforts.
Together, we will disrupt the oppressive and punitive child welfare system and build an anti-racist system that centers on the well-being of Black and Brown families.
We envision a world where:
With lived – and learned – experience leading the way, we are excited about the opportunity to create a blueprint for change that is replicable in communities across the country.
Benjamin Carlton, BMe Community, Friends of the Children
Carlton is Co-Founder and National Fellowship Director of BMe and serves as Chief Officer of Equity at Friends of the Children. Carlton has over 10 years’ experience in social innovation, public relations, and as an executive director. His pioneering work with BMe earned him a Miami Fellows Fellowship with the Miami Foundation in 2015 and he was a finalist for Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30. As Chief Officer of Equity, Carlton ensures that Friends of the Children, its Board, and chapters across the network are implementing policies and procedures through an equity lens and that anti-racism trainings are put into action.
Trabian Shorters, CEO/Founder of BMe Community
Shorters is a New York Times bestselling author, and former Vice President of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation where he was responsible for $300M in active grants and endowments. Shorters is the international authority on an award-winning cognitive framework called “Asset-Framing for Equity,” that engenders understanding, confidence, and inspired constructive action and is in high demand from heads of influential philanthropic and social impact networks. The Asset-Framing workshop offers breakthrough insights on achieving impact, diversity, equity and inclusion, equipping practitioners to have greater social impact, engage broader populations, and make fundamentally stronger cases for equity and systems-change.
Terri Sorensen, Friends of the Children
Over her 17-year tenure, CEO Sorensen has led record-breaking fundraising efforts, bringing in more than $100 million to the organization. She has led our ambitious systems change and national expansion campaigns, successfully scaling the organization from five to 22 locations in just eight years, quadrupling the number of children served and growing the network-wide operating budget from $7.5M in 2012 to $36M in 2021. Sorensen was selected for Results for America’s Moneyball for Government Nonprofit All-Star Team, the Leap of Reason Ambassadors Community, and was one of the first leaders for the Business Journal’s Leadership Trust.
Sugeily Fonesca, Lead Caregiver Advocate
“Don’t look back, look forward.” That is Sugeily Fonesca’s life mantra. She is a woman of power and a fierce advocate for her six children. She works hard to provide a stable, loving home for her family. She understands the unique needs of each of her children, advocating for them in school and with the health care system. The oldest of seven children, she was raised by a single mom who taught her to never give up. Her perseverance, problem-solving and truth-telling have gotten her through many challenges. Friends of the Children has been lucky to learn from and walk alongside Fonesca and two of her sons for the past 10 years.