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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Alex McFarland named 2010 FosterClub Outstanding Young Leader

Alexander McFarland has served as President of Ohio's statewide foster care youth advocacy board (Ohio YAB) for two years. When the Ohio YAB lost its funding and supportive staff, Alex immediately began advocating for alternative funds, and succeeded in attaining a grant for 25K that will support the continued existence of not only the statewide board, but county and regional foster youth advisory boards as well. He has traveled throughout the state of Ohio to help create and develop youth advisory boards.

Alex has served as the Legislative Liaison for the Ohio chapter of Foster Care Alumni of America for two years. He participated in the 2008 Alumni , the 2009 anniversary of Chafee funding, and presented a workshop at the 2009 NILA Conference. Alex was chosen by Ohio's First Lady to represent the needs of Ohio's foster care youth on Governor Strickland's 2010 .

Alex is known throughout the state for his vision and determination. He testified before Ohio legislators to advocate for the restoration of the state Independent Living Allocation. He arranged for Ohio foster care youth, alumni and allies to visit 24 legislator’s offices in order to promote Ready to Launch, a reminder to Ohio legislators of a front-end investment in transitional youth.

Alex is committed to supporting the national foster care youth/alumni community. During the 2009 NILA conference, he arranged a meeting of representatives from the Colorado, Tennessee and Ohio chapter in order to network and share ideas. He continues to keep in touch with FCAA members in Colorado, in order to be a support to them as they build their chapter.

Finally, Alex is a strong advocate of education reform. He is an active participant in Ohio Reach, a statewide initiative to increase the number of foster care youth who enroll in and graduate from college. In 2009, he participated in the statewide Ohio Reach Summit, including serving on the panel of youth voices. Alex’s words and passion resonated with participants, which included 100 social workers and 100 higher education representatives.

Alex uses his experiences from his entire life, when he was officially in foster care and even before that, as well as all the experiences from the youth he interacts with on a daily basis, to help shape solutions for Ohio’s foster youth. Whether he is on the field in a legislator’s office, at school studying Biology, or working as a Assistant Manager for Jack’s Aquarium and Pets, Alex strives to help the Children, Foster Youth, Former Foster Youth and pets of his community.

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