Rachael Deane, Chief Executive Officer
Rachael Deane is the Chief Executive Officer at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She provides overall strategic and operational leadership for Voices’ staff, programs, and execution of its mission.
Rachael’s career has been dedicated to legal and policy advocacy for racial equity and economic justice at the local, state, and national levels. She joined Voices after many years as a legal aid attorney and as Legal Director of the Youth Justice Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center, where she led policy campaigns to end Virginia’s school-to-prison pipeline and to fund student mental health supports in public education. Prior to her career in children’s law and policy, Rachael led statewide and national investigations into housing and lending discrimination as an advocate with Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia, Inc., and the National Fair Housing Alliance.
Rachael was named a 2021 “Leader in the Law” by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. She is a graduate of the University of Mary Washington and earned her J.D. from the University of Richmond School of Law.
Rachael can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Allison Gilbreath, Senior Director of Policy and Programs
Allison Gilbreath is the Senior Director of Policy and Programs at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She leads the organization’s child welfare policy work as well as the implementation of advocacy programs, elevating policy conversations across all policy areas.
Allison created Voices’ foster care policy network, a group comprised of partners, direct service providers, families, and youth who create a foster care unified agenda each year. She also helped to create the first-ever bi-partisan foster care caucus with the Virginia General Assembly. Together, with the network and foster care caucus, she successfully led the charge in creating the kinship financial assistance program during the 2020 General Assembly session.
Allison came to Voices after several years of working on behalf of children and families, most recently at Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. She was included on Style Weekly’s 40 under 40 in 2019 and has presented at several national and state conferences.
She earned her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University, and completed the Sorenson Institute for Political Leadership in 2016. She is the board president of Collective 365, an organization founded to support Black and Brown communities through philanthropic giving and capacity building.
Alison can be reached at email@example.com.
Megan Mbagwu, Director of Operations
Megan Mbagwu is the Director of Operations at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is responsible for assisting in all administrative functions and providing leadership in organizational culture development and implementation.
Megan spent 10 years working in South Africa as both a direct service provider and a nonprofit leader with an organization focused on providing care to children affected by the HIV pandemic. Most recently, she worked at Family Lifeline as an Administrative Coordinator where she established organizational processes and procedures to ensure smooth operations throughout the organization and focused on creating a more inclusive, equitable and trauma-informed culture internally.
Megan earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Megan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kristin Lennox, Director of Engagement
Kristin Lennox is the Director of Engagement at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is responsible for identifying advocacy opportunities, developing traditional, digital, and grassroots engagement and advocacy strategies, and mobilizing advocates to support policy priorities.
Kristin’s most recent experiences are as a direct practitioner with children, youth, and families while serving as a Program Supervisor at ChildSavers. Kristin has 5+ years experience providing community-based mental health services, predominantly responding to crises or traumatic events. Kristin also managed efforts in community engagement and outreach through public speaking and interview opportunities. She has delivered global workshops and trainings on themes of trauma-informed care, healing centered engagement, and de-escalation. Kristin is passionate about increasing parity in community resources and mental health access for youth and families in Virginia. She believes in a transformative, healing-centered approach to community engagement.
Kristin earned her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is a practicing Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a certified SoulCollage® facilitator, and a Certified Healing Centered Engagement Practitioner through Flourish Agenda. Kristin is also an alum of Virginia Progressive Leadership Project through Virginia Civic Engagement Table, and has recently supported the program as a mentor and Contributing Facilitator.
Kristin can be reached at email@example.com.
Emily Moore, Policy Analyst
Emily Moore is the Policy Analyst at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She leads policy and advocacy work in domains related to Social Determinants of Health, with a focus on health equity and family economic security.
Emily has 7+ years of experience serving Virginia’s children, youth, and families in a variety of social change work roles. She began her career as a domestic and sexual violence advocate, and then transitioned into providing direct service and support to young people and families navigating the child welfare system. Prior to Voices, Emily’s most recent role was with DePaul Community Resources, where she was responsible for building coalitions and community partnerships to advocate for policies that better support the needs of children, families, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Emily is passionate about disrupting the status quo and transforming systems and policies so that young people and their families can experience a life of thriving.
Emily graduated magna cum laude from the University of Lynchburg with her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She holds an Executive Certificate in Leadership from the Batten Leadership Institute at Hollins University and is a proud Divine Pod 9 alum of the Virginia Progressive Leadership Program through Virginia Civic Engagement Table.
Emily can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chiereme Fortune, Communications Manager
Chiereme is the Communications Manager at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She leads communications development and implementation across the organization in support of stakeholder engagement, fund development, data and research, and policy and advocacy.
Chiereme comes to Voices after spending over a decade supporting national non-profits, small businesses, higher education institutions, government agencies, and startups in the development and implementation of successful internal and external communications, event management, marketing and public relations campaigns, and executive support. She has previously supported executive leaders and their teams in a variety of industries to include higher education as a speechwriter and consultant for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s) and Ivy League institutions. Her work has also included supporting at-risk youth and adult populations through speaking engagements, creative writing events, workshops, and programs grounded in poetry and journal therapy techniques to increase awareness, advocacy, and accessibility of mental health and wellness topics and resources.
Chiereme earned her bachelor’s degree from Virginia Wesleyan University and earned her M.B.A. from Bowie State University.
Chiereme can be reached at email@example.com.
Sophia is responsible for identifying advocacy opportunities, developing traditional, digital, grassroots community engagement and advocacy strategies, and mobilizing youth advocates to support policy priorities. Sophia is a former Voices intern and longtime foster care advocate who has been a close partner to the Voices team in youth advocacy for many years. Sophia comes to Voices with over 12 years of experience working in the foster care community. Her expertise spans many areas, including youth engagement, advocacy training and facilitation, leadership development, independent-living workshops, youth-adult partnerships, and implementing the Youth Welfare Approach Framework in training environments. Sophia is passionate about youth voice, fostering authentic engagement, and strengthening youth-adult partnerships throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Prior to Voices, Sophia served as the Youth Development Coordinator for Project LIFE at United Methodist Family Services (UMFS) for over nine years. Sophia served on Virginia’s State Executive Council for Children Services for two terms and is currently serving on the Court Improvement Program Advisory Committee for the Supreme Court of Virginia.
Sophia is also an alum of the Virginia Progressive Leadership Project through the Virginia Civic Engagement Table. Sophia earned her Bachelor of Social Work and Master of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Sophia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cat Atkinson is the Policy Analyst at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She leads policy and advocacy work in the mental health domain for young people aged 0-24, with a cross-system focus that supports young people in their homes, schools, and communities.
Cat comes to Voices with two years of experience training and working in Child Welfare as a recent Master of Social Work graduate from Virginia Commonwealth University and a two-year Child Welfare Stipend recipient. During her graduate studies, Cat had the pleasure of interning with Voices for Virginia’s Children; she was integral in the development and success of Voices’ inaugural youth advocacy cohort, Virginia’s Youth in Action.
Cat’s most recent role was with Chesterfield County Department of Social Services, as a Senior Family Services Specialist in the Family Preservation department. Cat saw the direct impact of state and local policy on access to quality, culturally-responsive, and healing-centered services. Whether through supporting families to meet their basic needs or providing them with mental health resources, Cat worked tirelessly to preserve families at all costs. Cat is passionate about agitating, advocating, and building bridges for accessibility so that young people and their families are centered in transforming the systems that impact them most. Cat’s focus is always on partnering with those with lived experiences to develop equitable solutions rooted in community leadership and care.
Cat graduated magna cum laude from Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) with her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Dance & Choreography and Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She doubled down and has recently graduated from VCU with her Master of Social Work, concentrated in Administration, Planning and Policy Practice. Cat is the proud recipient of the David N. Saunders Legislative Internship Fund for her work with Virginia’s Youth in Action. Cat is also a Certified Historical Trauma Specialist through PACEs Connection.
Cat can be reached at email@example.com.
Florence Martinez, Master of Social Work Intern
Florence is the Master of Social Work intern with Voices for Virginia’s Children.
Florence has joined Voices with a focus on developing and sustaining opportunities, programs, and advocacy efforts for all of Virginia’s youth. Previously, Florence has assisted with the creation of Richmond’s first Latinx bereavement support group, RVA Duelo Latino. Most recently, Florence developed creative advocacy trainings for transgender and gender-expansive youth at Equality Virginia. Florence takes an active role in various campus organizations, including founding the Gender Expansive Network Demanding Equitable Rights (GENDER) and serving as a fellow in the Radical Alliance for Anti-Racism, Change and Equity (RAACE). Florence is passionate about minimizing and eliminating systemic barriers that prevent the thriving of youth, parents, and communities, and hopes to engage in this work through a community-informed approach.
Florence holds a Bachelor of Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and will be graduating with a Master of Social Work in the spring of 2024.
Florence can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.