April 11, 2022

Friends of the Children opening Phoenix chapter, executive director announced

Longtime education professional Joy Klein tapped to lead the organization


April 11, 2022


Eric Gabrielson


APRIL 11, 2022 (PHOENIX, AZ.) – The Arizona chapter of the national organization Friends of the Children announced today that longtime education professional Joy Klein has been named its executive director. Friends of the Children–Phoenix launched this past January as a local, independent 501(c)3 that pairs children facing the greatest obstacles with paid, professional mentors—or Friends—who stay by each child’s side from as early as age 4 through high school graduation.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to help serve the youth and families of Phoenix,” said Klein, executive director of Friends– Phoenix. “In Maricopa County alone, approximately 24 new children enter the foster care system every day. It’s crucial that these youth are empowered to reach their dreams and having a Friend for 12+ years no matter what can make a dramatic impact in their lives.”

Friends of the Children empowers youth through its unique and proven program designed to support youth who are at risk of entering foster care – or are already part of the foster care system. This is critical in Arizona where there are currently 13,400 youth in Foster Care – 8,000 of them are in Maricopa County. Most of these youth (84%) come to the attention of the child welfare system due to neglect. Equally challenging are the education outcomes for youth in foster care in Arizona – only 33% graduate from high school.

Prior to being selected as Friends—Phoenix’s executive director, Klein served as Senior Director of Education and Scholarships for the Arizona Community Foundation and was responsible for the educational grant making and scholarship program including partnerships with nonprofits, corporations, and donors throughout the state.

“Joy brings enthusiasm and expertise that are sure to make a difference in the lives of youth and families in Maricopa County,” said Julie Wechsler, local champion and board chair of the new Friends of the Children–Phoenix chapter. “Her dedication to the education of our youth and her understanding of the Phoenix landscape will help Friends—Phoenix make a positive impact in our community.”

Klein’s professional career has included working for Arizona State University, Kent State University, and private postsecondary colleges. In addition, she was the Scholarship Administrator for the Maricopa Community Colleges Foundation where she directed the scholarship program for the ten-campus community college district. Klein completed her undergraduate work at Cleveland State University in Political Science and minor in Women’s Studies. While at Cleveland State, Joy was involved in student government, campus activities, and was appointed the student representative to the Cleveland State Board of Trustees for two years. In 1998, Joy began her studies at Arizona State University and received a Master of Public Administration in 2001.

Klein’s volunteer work has included the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Hospice of the Valley, and becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA). These professional and personal engagements have provided Joy with many opportunities to be of service to others through compassionate listening, care, and support. Joy has been married to her husband, Chris, for 24 years and is mother to Kale and Bayley.

The Friends of the Children professional mentoring model is a proven success:

  • 92% of youth go on to enroll in post-secondary education, serve our country, or enter the workforce
  • 83% of youth earn a high school diploma or GED
  • 93% of youth remain free from juvenile justice system involvement
  • 98% of youth wait to parent until after their teen years

A return-on-investment study by the Harvard Business School Association of Oregon showed that every $1 invested in Friends of the Children returns more than $7 in benefit to the community. Over the last eight years, Friends of the Children has grown from five to 24 locations across the United States.


About Friends of the Children

Friends of the Children is a national nonprofit with the mission of impacting generational change by empowering youth who are facing the greatest obstacles through relationships with professional mentors – 12+ years, no matter what. Our successful model is now in 25 locations around the country and in Cornwall U.K. Our work has been featured in The New York Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review and CBS News. Visit to learn more.