Steve Kempster, MSW, has advocated with and on behalf of under-served youth for over 15 years. After completing a Child Welfare Fellowship at University of Michigan’s School of Social Work, he returned to Sacramento and co-founded The True North Project, a not-for-profit agency that paired transition-aged foster youth with community allies.
Prior to joining Families NOW, Steve worked as a counselor with Destination Family, a specialized youth permanency program, where he supported teenagers who had spent most of their lives in foster care. Steve successfully guided half of his youth to guardianship or adoption through a mix of direct advocacy with CPS, relational therapy, and trauma-informed training for caregivers. In addition, Steve has also served as the executive director for a community development agency, as a program manager for a statewide children’s nutrition education program, and as a graduate student liaison and instructor at the Sacramento State Division of Social Work.
In 2015, the Sacramento Business Journal named Steve as one of the region’s top 40-Under-40. In his free time, Steve loves playing catch with his two kids, spending time outdoors, learning tai chi, and exploring new cities.
Families NOW founder and director emerita Gail Johnson Vaughan, M.A. has been cutting new ground for children in foster care that wait for permanent families since 1985. She is recognized as an indefatigable leader in the child welfare field, leading practice changes, developing and driving legislative reforms, and inspiring her peers and policy makers to make permanency in a family the first priority for children and youth.
Keeping children and youth in foster care is costly both in human and fiscal terms. Her Youth Permanence Funding Methodology shows counties and states how to provide effective specialized youth permanence services at no net cost. The methodology reinvests and leverages savings achieved through successful specialized youth permanency and family finding services. Her focus on sustaining permanent families led to the passage of the first state legislation to increase the number of adoption/permanency competent clinicians available to meet the needs of those families. Prior to founding Families NOW Gail served as the executive director of Sierra Forever Families (formerly Sierra Adoption Services) for twenty-two years. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards for her permanency practice and advocacy expertise including US DHHS Adoption Excellence Award, California “Change a Lifetime Award, Sacramento Business Journal “Women Who Mean Business”, NACAC Adoption Advocate, Purpose Prize Fellow, and more.
Dru Bagwell is a Program Manager for the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, a national non profit agency working towards reducing the prevalence of childhood obesity. As a Program Manager for the Healthy Schools Program Dru has provided training, technical assistance and resources to more than 250 in more than 30 K-12 school districts through out CA. Dru’s responsibilities also include representing the Alliance as an active member of several state level school and childrens health collaborations in Sacramento. Her past experience includes creating, developing and managing employee development systems, workforce planning in the healthcare arena, and facilitating business planning processes. Dru’s family includes two adult children and Marley the Golden Retriever.
Christopher Brown is a real estate development industry veteran with more than 22 years’ experience. He currently is partner in 3 three real estate related companies and one apparel company all based in the Sacramento region. NEXT Real Estate Group is a boutique resale real estate company, NEXT New Homes Group is an innovative sales operation and ad agency for the home building industry, NEXT Crafted is a niche home building company and Premier Graph-X is a custom apparel company.
Christopher speaks on a variety of topics related to home building, sales, marketing and business practices at the local and national level. He has been selected to speak at the International Builders Show in Las Vegas for the past 3 shows to a packed house, at the past two Pacific Coast Builder’s conferences and many local events.
He is a husband to his wife of 18-years, Julie and a father to their adopted son Marcus, who is 12 going on 25. Marcus loves playing the guitar and is an active lacrosse and soccer player. Christopher has coached Marcus’ soccer team for the past 6 years. As a family they love to travel, most recently taking a 26-day adventure through the South Pacific.
Assemblymember Roger Dickinson was elected to the Sacramento Board of Supervisors in 1994 and also served in the 7th Assembly District from 2010 to 2014. Dickinson received his undergraduate degree from the University of California at Berkeley where he lettered in varsity basketball and afterward earned a law degree at UCLA in 1976. Roger has been a dedicated public servant for over four decades, representing California as a consumer protection advocate, educator and Supervisor.
Roger Dickinson spent eight years as a member of the Regional Transit Board of Directors and was chairman of the board twice. He also served on the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Commission, the Sacramento County Air Pollution Control Advisory Board, and the North Sacramento Community Plan Citizens Advisory Committee. In addition, Dickinson served on the board and as President of the American Lung Association of Sacramento, and chaired the Sacramento Transportation Coalition. He is the former President of the Friends of Light Rail and board member of the Sacramento Tree Foundation.
Roger lives with his wife, Marj, in the Woodlake neighborhood where they have owned a home for more than 30 years.
Kathleen Hamilton brings decades of public interest and government service to Families Now. The former Director of the California State Department of Consumer Affairs has also served at the helm of the California Health Facilities Financing Authority, the Commission on the Status of Women, and the CA Senate Democratic Caucus staff. Hamilton began her government career as a consumer advocate and senior committee consultant to the CA legislature, and later went on to join the non-profit The Children’s Partnership as its Government Affairs Director. She has proudly served on a Food and Drug Administration’s advisory panel, as the CA chair of the 1984 Gender Gap project, and on the Board of Directors of the Sacramento Theatre Company. In 2004 Hamilton became a foster parent to two young teenaged boys. The experience of foster-parenting and exposure to the foster youth system shaped Hamilton’s commitment to help address the needs of foster youth.
Jim Keddy is the executive director of Youth Forward (www.youth-forward.org) and a consultant to social change organizations (ww.jimkeddyconsulting.com). For thirty years Jim has served as a leader in social change efforts in California. He is the former director of PICO California, a statewide association of community organizing efforts, and served as a vice president at The California Endowment, one of the state’s largest charitable foundations. He began his work in promoting racial and social justice as a high school and college activist and entered the community organizing field in his early 20’s. He has been a member of several non-profit boards including the boards of The California Endowment, Public Health Advocates and the California Budget and Policy Center. He currently serves on the board of Families Now, a child welfare advocacy organization.
Laurie Chavez Powers is a committed community leader, has a belief in servant leadership and giving back to the community she takes pride in. She has been an active member of the Junior League of Sacramento, in which she has served in numerous leadership roles for the past 12 years. In 2010, Laurie was awarded the President’s Award – Volunteer Excellence for her outstanding and committed service to the League. She was honored to be named the 2014-2015 President of the Junior League of Sacramento. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for The Sacramento Children’s Chorus and Families Now.
Laurie has worked in Talent Acquisition for over twenty years providing a high level of talent to her current company, CGI. She lives in Carmichael, CA with her husband and daughter. In her spare time Laurie enjoys watching her daughter play soccer and sing. She takes time out of her busy schedule to catch up on TV, spend time with friends and travel.
Barbara is the adoptive mother of two former foster children, a role that delights and challenges her every day. Currently, she is the Director of Grants Development and Fiscal Sponsorships for the Foundation for California Community Colleges. Barbara secures grants for the official nonprofit auxiliary to the California Community College Chancellor’s Office and Board of Governors, plus steward’s fiscal sponsorship services for mission-aligned public benefit projects and initiatives. Previously, for the California Health Facilities Financing Authority, Barbara managed three grant programs, the Children’s Hospital Program, a $1.73 billion grant program for capital projects for children’s hospitals, and two new grant programs, the $142.5 million Investment in Mental Health Wellness Grant Program for capital projects and personnel to expand crisis care, and the California Health Access Model Program (CHAMP), a $6.5 million healthcare innovation program. As a Senior Program Officer at The California Endowment, Barbara served as regional manager for 28 Northern California counties for the state’s largest private health philanthropy, overseeing community-based grant making in the region to improve access to quality, affordable, culturally and linguistically accessible health care and to improve the health of California’s under-served communities. Barbara is a past Chair of the Community Advisory Board for the U.C. Davis Health System and a Senior Fellow in the Mountain Valley Chapter of the American Leadership Program. She was previously the founding executive director of the Sacramento Court Appointed Special Advocate Program that matches trained volunteers to advocate for children who are dependents of the juvenile court.
Amy Wister is currently the Founder and CEO of The Stylist Online, LLC as well as a Foster-to-Adopt mom. Amy, her husband, Jason, their daughter and son finalized their Forever Family commitment in December of 2015. She is all too familiar with the untapped opportunities that exist for children at risk and is passionate about influencing dynamic sustainable change in this underserved population. Wister strongly believes in investing in her community, having held leadership positions in many philanthropic organizations including Past President of the Junior League of Sacramento, Metro Chamber Inspired Giving Board, Active 20/30, Tri Delta Alumni and the Junior League’s Endowment Advisory Board. Following a career as Intel Corporation’s IT Strategic Procurement Relationship Manager, IT Risk Manager and Sarbanes Oxley Technical Writing Team Manager, Wister became a Territory Sales Manager for the nation’s third largest window manufacturer overseeing a large component of retailers. Having earned her MBA from University of South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business, Wister’s career experiences and leadership training became foundational components of the success that led her to launch The Stylist Online. “My goal was to build a unique methodology to turn shopping and style into a science.” Her trademarked system, The Style Dial®, has since become the guiding principal for helping individuals of any shape select clothes off the rack. Her team of certified stylists across the country is dedicated to combining style and science to provide lasting knowledge and what Wister refers to as “heroic” service levels to its clients. Wister is a nominated member of the Founders Network, a group of serial entrepreneurs who have collectively raised over $250M in capital.
Families NOW is currently interviewing candidates for future Board of Directors and Committee Members. Please contact us if you would like more information