2014 California Youth Ambassadors

The 2014 California Youth Ambassadors are a group of 12 foster care alumni, ages 18‐26, who have displayed superb strengths in areas such as: leadership, public speaking, business, academics and advocacy. Working alongside county leaders, and also closely with the Education Equals Partnership and California College Pathways, the Ambassadors give an authentic and powerful youth perspective. Throughout their year-­long term, the Ambassadors will use their ideas, energy and voices to improve educational outcomes for California’s foster children, youth and alumni.

Briana Osbourne

Briana Osbourne

Sacramento County
23‐year old, Alumni of Howard University

Briana spent 4 years in care and successfully graduated from Howard, a 4-­year university in Washington, DC. Briana is now a Youth Peer Mentor at Visions Unlimited and recently completed work as an AmeriCorps Member for City Year Sacramento, where she mentored and tutored youth in a middle school setting for 55 hours a week for 10 months. While in school, Briana served as a Student Ambassador for her University and was a tutor for high school youth in Southeast DC. She is looking forward to continuing her studies and then becoming a licensed Social Worker specializing in families and children. Briana also hopes to own and manage her own non­-profit organization that specializes in working with youth providing mentoring and after school activities.

On Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, the White House will honor Briana as a “Champion of Change”. This program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. In addition to honoring Briana for her courage, resilience, and contributions, the event will also highlight her commitment to furthering her education.


George White

Los Angeles County
21-year old, attending Southern New Hampshire University

George spent 16 years in foster care. Currently, George works in sales and retail management while attending a 4-year university. As a founding member of “Fostering Change” and a volunteer with “Peace4Kids”, George enjoys public speaking and giving back to the very system that raised him. In 2009, George was selected as a FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader earning him national recognition. George is very passionate about assisting and educating others about those youth who are of the system that are homeless. In addition, George is studying to be an IRS Enrolled Agent with the goal of operating his own tax franchise.

On Tuesday, May 19th, 2015, the White House will honor George as a “Champion of Change”. This program was created as an opportunity for the White House to feature individuals doing extraordinary things to empower and inspire members of their communities. In addition to honoring George for his courage, resilience, and contributions, the event will also highlight his commitment to furthering his education.


Jacqueline Knowles

Orange County
20 year-old, attending Fullerton College

Jacqueline spent 4 years as a dependent in foster care before continuing care under AB12 as a non-minor dependent, enrolling in community college directly out of high school, where she currently continues studies with the intent to major in communications with an emphasis in public relations and a minor in sociology. Jacqueline has volunteered as a tutor for homeless children via “Schools on Wheels” and also has interests in writing, digital photography, music, and advocacy. When speaking of motivating and contributing to those youth in care in California, Jacqueline states, “I believe in the power of words …they owe it to themselves to do well and pursue a higher education.”


Jazmin Favela

Santa Cruz county
17 years-old, attending Cabrillo Community College

Jazmin earned her high school diploma early and has nearly completed her first year of college. She attends Cabrillo Community College and is majoring in childhood development. She plans to earn a certificate to become a pre-school teacher. Jazmin enjoys sports – she played soccer and track in high school – and also knits as a hobby. In line with her career aspirations, Jazmin regularly volunteers at a day care center. Currently, Jazmin is a participant in YAP (Youth Advocacy Project) within the Independent Living Program, practicing her debating, leadership, research, and writing skills.


Jennifer Martinez

Orange County
22-years old, transferring to CSU Fullerton

Jennifer is pursuing higher education and seeking a career in politics. In addition to receiving national recognition as a FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader, Jennifer has been active with her local chapter of the California Youth Connection. Jennifer considers her area of specialty, as it relates to foster care, to be public speaking. After spending a year and a half in foster care in Los Angeles County, Jennifer enjoys advocating for youth in care by conveying information and promoting the youth’s self-confidence, all things that have helped her pursue higher education. In addition to Jennifer attending university with a GPA of 3.9, she also works for Sam’s Club as a Membership Champion.


Kenyon Whitman

San Diego
26-year old, attending University of San Diego

Kenyon spent 12 years in foster care. With a master’s degree in Education Administration and Leadership from Fresno State, Kenyon is pursuing his Doctorate degree where he then hopes to go on to be a faculty member at one of the California public universities, and continue advocacy for foster youth at the state and national level. Kenyon has extensive public speaking skills, specifically in encouraging foster youth to pursue college success, fining their voice in the move for social justice, and using empathy as a tool to build community. Kenyon is also a researcher in the experiences of college-going foster youth. Kenyon is also an alumni of the Renaissance Scholar’s Program at Fresno State University and is assisting in the development of the Torero Renaissance Scholars Program at the University of San Diego.


Laura Zavala

Santa Cruz County
19 years-old, attending Cabrillo Community College

Laura entered foster care in Monterey County at age 16, and has continued on to extended foster care. Laura is currently enrolled in Cabrillo Community College, and strives to transfer to a four-year university to pursue her major in psychology. Her career goal is to become a social worker. She is currently a proud volunteer at the Santa Cruz county SPCA and has a full time job. Recently, Laura became involved in California Youth Connections and is participating in the Youth Advocacy Project. Laura is really excited to be learning about youth leadership opportunities and optimistic about youth-led efforts to improve the foster care system.


Paige Moore Drew

Sacramento County
20 years old, attending Sacramento State University

Paige is employed as a Conference Office Assistant for the Sacramento State Conference Services. She has been speaking in public since high school, where she was active with her high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance. Paige is pursuing a minor in Spanish and a major in Social Work at Sacramento State University. She is actively involved with California Youth Connection, Renaissance Scholars, Guardian Scholars, Independent Living Program of Fresno County, and the Boys and Girls Club. In addition, she enjoys volunteering at the African American Museum, Tartan Theatre Company, and various blood drives. Paige shares her story of spending over 16 years in care and her journey into adulthood, including being homeless when emancipating from care, to help others in their journeys.


Sarah Pauter

San Diego County
25-year old, San Diego State & Northwestern Alumnus, applying to law school

Sarah Pauter is a seasoned youth advocate with progressive experience in nonprofit leadership. After spending 17 years in the foster care system before ultimately emancipating, Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from San Diego State University and a Master of Arts in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. Currently, Sarah is the Executive Youth Partner of Family & Youth Roundtable of San Diego County where she works to improve public child-serving systems through advocacy and awareness. Sarah has co-chaired the County of San Diego’s Children System of Care Council and continues to serve as a representative of youth involved with juvenile justice and residential treatment. Her educational and professional achievements paired with nearly two decades of experience within the foster care system grants her a unique perspective shared by few in her field.


Tommy Johnathan Diaz

Los Angeles County
22-year old, attending: Cerritos College

Tommy spent 8 years in foster care and since has been very involved in advocacy, including the Leaders in Creating Change program, the Foster Kinship Care and Education Department and Youth on the Move Project. Tommy plans to pursue architectural technology where he will modify and promote new methods of the construction process by articulating eco-friendly living procedures, such utilizing solar power, natural lighting, as well as structural interaction with the natural environment. Tommy worked for the Department of Foster Kinship Care and Education within the Cerritos College Campus and volunteers for the Regional Occupation Program (R.O.P.). He was awarded the Edison Green Technology Scholarship, Leaders In Creating Change scholarship, and the winner of the John Burton Foundation Laptop Competition. Tommy speaks French and enjoys Ju Jitsu and boxing.


Yoselin “Yossy” Cabral

Fresno County
21-year old, attending CSU Fresno

Yossy spent 12 years in the foster care system. She currently attends a 4-year university where she is pursuing her social work degree and then hopes to continue onto graduate studies in social work. Yossy currently interns with Upward Bound (TRIO) and has also interns with the California Youth Connection. She has been part of California Youth Connection since 2010. In addition to being involved as interns with these programs, she has also been attending programs under the Independent Living Program, such as Explores Post 300. Yossy is part of the Renaissance Scholar Program at Fresno State.


Manpreet “Monica” Singh

Fresno County
19-year old, attending Diablo Valley College

Monica spent 2 years in the foster care system. Currently, she is enrolled in a community college and also works for the Youth Training Project, an organization committed to revitalizing by training child welfare professionals throughout California. In addition to speaking Hindi and Punjabi, Monica considers communications as her area of specialty and considers her skills to be a strength evolved from her time in care. She has received multiple awards for her academics and choir involvement. Monica aspires to become a lawyer who works to change the foster care system. She also plans to open multiple private foster care agencies recruiting foster parents and professionals that are also passionate about foster youth.

The California Youth Ambassadors is a project managed by FosterClub, the national network for young people in foster care, with support from the Stuart Foundation and in collaboration with the Education Equals Partnership and California College Pathways. For more information, please contact Rusty Johnson at rusty@fosterclub.com or call 503-­717-­1552.