Advisory Board

The QIC Advisory Board has been created to implement the QIC and represent the interests of a diverse group of stakeholders. This group will inform the QIC of national work affecting the lives of youth with diverse SOGIE and their families across systems of care; meet quarterly and help steer the vision for the QIC by making policy and programmatic recommendations, and ensure the work of the QIC is grounded in the actual day-to-day experiences of all stakeholders involved. It is also likely that the interventions implemented at the QIC LIS will inform the national work. This feedback loop will provide valuable opportunities for all parties to hear and learn from one another.

Advisory Board Members:

Ellen Kahn: Since 2005, Ellen Kahn has served as Director of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Children, Youth & Families Program. In her role, Ellen provides national leadership and expertise in public education and advocacy efforts to achieve full equality for LGBTQ families. Under Ellen’s leadership, HRCF launched three highly successful, innovative programs that promote fair and inclusive policies and practices; All Children—All Families; Welcoming Schools; and the Youth Well-Being Project, which features the annual Time to Thrive conference to support LGBTQ youth. Ellen is sought out as an expert on LGBTQ adoption, speaking at numerous national and regional conferences, and providing training for hundreds of child welfare and adoption professionals.

Currey Cook: Currey Cook is the Director of the Youth in Out-of-Home Care Project and Counsel in the National Headquarters Office of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest national legal organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and people with HIV.

Shannan Wilber: Youth Policy Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Early in her career, Shannan helped launch Legal Advocates for Children and Youth, a California-based agency that now serves hundreds of children a year in state court proceedings. Between 2001 and 2012, Shannan served as the Executive Director of Legal Services for Children, a nonprofit law office in San Francisco that represents children in foster care, guardianship, education and immigration proceedings. She served for many years as a member of NCLR’s Board of Directors and as co-counsel on cases protecting LGBT youth against forced institutionalization and cases asserting the rights of children. She also worked with NCLR and others to create professional standards governing the care of LGBT youth in state custody, and to launch the Equity Project, dedicated to ensuring equal and respectful treatment of LGBT youth in the juvenile justice system.

Robin McHaelen, MSW: Founder and current Executive Director of True Colors, Inc. She is co-author of several books and articles on LGBT youth concerns. Robin has a national reputation as a thought leader in LGBT youth concerns, programs and interventions. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2014 Human Rights Campaign’s Upstander Award for Leadership in LGBT youth issues, the 2011 UConn, Provost’s Award for Excellence in Public Engagement; the 2008 National Education Association’s Virginia Uribe Award for Creative Leadership in Human Rights and the 2008 Social Worker of the Year (National Association of Social Workers, CT Chapter).

Lenny Hayes, MA: Lenny is involved with several local LGBTQ organizations and is former Chairman of the Board of the MN Two-Spirit Society. As Chairman of the Board of the MN Two-Spirit Society he helped and assisted Native organizations in developing policies in the protection, safety, and non-discrimination of Two-Spirit/Native LGBTQ people in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. Lenny is a Board member to the First Nations Repatriation Institute. Lenny is also an Advisory Committee Member with the Capacity Building Center for Tribes, Two-Spirit/Native LGBTQ Advisory Committee Member for the Center for Native American Youth, Washington, D.C., Native LGBTQ Advisory Co-Chair Council Member for the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Resource Center, and a member of the MN HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care Council.

Stump Olsen: Stump is a recently certified foster parent and has worked with LGBTQQIA youth for over 20 years. She was the Program Director at Youth Pride, Inc. for 8 years where she developed a provider targeted curriculum on how to work with queer individuals and families and the impacts that affect them on a daily basis. Stump also created a train-the-trainer curriculum for queer identified youth and young adults to become trainers, advocates and a positive voice for their community to create change. As the Manager of Youth Services at Community Care Alliance for over 7 years, Stump works with local and statewide leaders to ensure that the queer youth and young adult voice is heard on all levels of decision making. Stump also consults for organizations, government agencies and committees on issues that impact queer youth, as well as providing comprehensive training for staff when needed.

Mary Keane: Mary is the Executive Director of You Gotta Believe, an agency based in New York City that focuses on finding unconditionally committed parents for older youth before they age out of care. She has worked with them in various capacities, starting as a board member, for over 13 years. During that time her focus has been on bringing more adults to this amazing work as parents and matching them with the youth needing families. She has always pushed especially hard to find families for LGBTQ youth and to get LGBT families in the door to get licensed. She continues to conduct a MAPP Class, the NYS required training to become a NYS foster parent, at The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Community Center in NYC to draw in more participants from the community.
However, she considers her most important role in life is now and will always be, that of a parent to the most amazing array of young people whose lives were turned upside down by forces completely out of their control. She has stated that she is honored that they have allowed her to be a part of their lives and wants others to have that same experience.

Danno Mannino: Danno Mannino is a 23-yr-old white, low-income, gender fluid, bisexual, and polyamorous-identified social justice advocate with a mental illness. Danno uses the gender-neutral pronouns they/them/theirs and resides in Southern Oregon. As a child they experienced foster care, temporary legal guardianship, and two unsuccessful attempts at reunification with a birth parent, all while separated from their older sibling. They moved out at 17 years old, without legal emancipation or help from a transitional living program. Danno was an intern this summer at FosterClub, the national network for youth in foster care, as part of the All-Star program. They are currently a member of Oregon Foster Youth Connection (OFYC), elected by peer-alumni to the 2017 Legislative Action Committee that helped pass HB 2216 the Sibling Bill of Rights for Foster Youth in Oregon. Danno spent time with the youth this bill affects as a camp counselor at Camp To Belong Oregon, which reunites siblings separated in care for a week of activities with their siblings. They hope to continue in nonprofit work and volunteering to help improve outcomes for youth and families.

Amanda Williams: Amanda Williams and her wife Deena Ruth are foster and adoptive parents in the state of Florida. They have made it a priority to foster teens, including those who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, or Questioning (LGBTQ). Amanda and Deena have had the joy of helping over 20 youth in Florida’s foster care system in the last 7 years. In additional to being a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Amanda is the president of her local Foster and Adoptive Parent Association and is the Independent Living Advocate for the Florida State Foster and Adoptive Parent Association. She has worked nationally on LGBTQ issues and PL 113-183.

Dr. Melinda Feola-Mahar: Dr. Melinda Feola-Mahar is a foster and adoptive parent living in Keene, NH with her wife and four children. Melinda is a psychotherapist by training. She has worked for community non-profits throughout her career. She is employed by Granite State College, Education & Training Partnership as a curriculum specialist and adjunct professor. In this capacity Melinda develops curricula for foster, adoptive, relative and residential caregivers for children in out of home care. Relevant trainings developed and delivered include Beyond Acceptance: Helping LGBTQ Youth Thrive; and Transgender Youth in Residential Care. As a consultant with the Capacity Building Center for States she worked with a team to develop a webinar, tip sheet and tool box for Helping LGBTQ Families Navigate the Child Welfare System.
She is a member of the NH state steering committee for Better Together with Birth Parents. Melinda is an advocate for birth parents and a voice in the foster parent community for building strong relationships between foster parents and birth parents with reunification as the ultimate goal.