Rachael DeaneRachael 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

Allison GilbreathAllison 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

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



Emily Moore headshotEmily Moore, Senior Policy Analyst

Emily Moore is the Senior 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

Chiereme Fortune, Director of Communications

Chiereme is the Director of Communications at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She is a visionary and creative leader with primary responsibility for strategic communications leadership, brand management, stakeholder engagement, and data-driven decision-making.

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

Sophia Booker, Advocacy and Engagement Manager

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

Cat AtkinsonPolicy Analyst

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  

Joy RushDirector of Development

Joy Rush is the Director of Development at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She oversees all aspects of development strategy and execution, guiding the team in achieving ambitious goals while upholding the organization’s mission and values.  

Joy comes to Voices with an accomplished career of over 18 years in education, including a wealth of experience in recruitment, marketing, development and community partnerships. She has led teams by increasing organizational visibility and donor engagement through successful events, innovative marketing campaigns, and the implementation of CRM processes, paving the way for data-driven strategies.  Most recently, she secured 30K in major donor and local business gifts while supporting 100K in corporation support for a local underserved school community. Joy is known for her ability to build strong relationships and forge corporate connections to support the mission and growth of her organization. 

She earned her BA Degree in Political Science & International Relations from Saint Paul’s College and continued her graduate studies at the University of Phoenix in Business and Management. Joy has completed Non-profit and Fundraising certificate programs through NonProfitReady and received her Certification in Equity Advocacy through the National Institute of Minority Economic Development. 

Joy has been a supporter of Voices since 2020 as a participant and speaker for the Racial Truth & Reconciliation Week events. As a certified children’s yoga instructor, Joy utilizes her expertise to volunteer in various capacities with local non-profits, such as childhood cancer organizations, where she offers yoga classes featuring her award-winning play-based program and children’s book. She is a passionate advocate for youth mental health and is dedicated to driving sustainable growth and impact through philanthropy for Voices of Virginia’s Children.  

Joy can be reached at 

Mikayla Havison, Policy and Programs Intern 

Mikayla is a Master of Public Policy student at the University of Virginia and recently graduated with a Bachelor of English. Her policy areas of interest are child advocacy and juvenile justice, so she is beyond excited to be a policy intern for Voices this summer. Previously, Mikayla interned for the juvenile probation office in Charlottesville, where she developed her passion for improving the lives of young people. Outside of class and work, she is the president of the Culture of Respect Educators at UVA, a sexual harm prevention organization that gives workshops to new college students and every fraternity. Additionally, Mikayla teaches young people at the Fralin Museum of Art and has written numerous articles about health and wellbeing for her school’s newspaper, the Cavalier Daily. She looks forward to exploring the intersection of her policy knowledge, writing abilities, and passion for advocacy. 

Mikayla can be reached at 

Amirah Ahmed, Communications Intern 

Amirah Ahmed is the Summer 2024 Communications Intern at Voices for Virginia’s Children. She supports the curation, development, and management of various aspects of the communications process at Voices. Working side-by-side with the team, she is developing her own voice while growing her knowledge and skill in the field and policy. 

Amirah is a member of the Virginia Youth in Action 2023-2024 cohort, where she sharpened her storytelling skills and provided feedback to policymakers on policies that affected her and fellow youth across Virginia. Outside of Voices, she is a seasoned community organizer in the Central and Northern Virginia regions, working primarily to build new structures and create and healing in Muslim and Arab communities. 

Amirah is a rising senior at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. She is majoring in Political Science with a minor in Social Justice; her eyes are set on furthering her education with a graduate program in Social Work and Community Development. 

Amirah can be reached at