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Friday, February 3, 2012

Spotlight on FCAA Ohio Members: Vanessa Jackson

Vanessa Jackson is a former foster youth with firsthand expertise of being a teen mother.

Vanessa had her first child at age 12, at which time she entered foster care. Thanks to the support of Montgomery County Children Services, Vanessa and her son were able to share the same foster care placements, and maintain their parent-child relationship.

Vanessa never allowed the challenge of her situation to keep her from pressing forward to build a bright future for herself and her son. After "aging out" of foster care, Vanessa completed her LPN, and continues to pursue her Bachelor's degree in nursing.

Vanessa's leadership experience in the state of Ohio includes serving on the Montgomery County VISION Board, being a founding member of the Ohio Youth Advisory Board, and the first Ohio YAB Secretary. In the past, she has served as President of the Southwest Regional Youth Advisory Board, and the seeds of her efforts are now coming to fruition as Greene County works to create a county Youth Advisory Board.

Vanessa is very organized -- a skill that as a teen parent, she found to be critical. She is a good listener and a great note-taker. Vanessa has demonstrated through her advisory board leadership experience her ability to keep a group on task.

If you are looking for a workshop or keynote address regarding how to address the unique needs of teen mothers in the foster care system, Vanessa would be an excellent presenter.

Vanessa is comfortable speaking in front of others, and has done so on numerous occasions. The diversity of experiences and activities she has been involved with continue to improve her skills as a presenter and speaker.

Vanessa's prior training experiences include co-facilitating pre-conference youth activities at the National Independent Living Association (NILA) Conference, as well as presenting trainings for foster parents. She has been a guest lecturer on topics related to foster care, such as sharing her insights in a judicial teleconference, hosted by the Ohio Supreme Court, and presenting as part of a Youth Panel during Ohio's first Ohio Reach Summit and a prior OCWTP Trainer Event.

In Montgomery County, Vanessa has assisted in presenting Independent Living trainings for foster care youth. She currently serves a Peer Mentor to three teen moms who are currently still in the foster care system.

Vanessa's experiences have made her an excellent role model -- her firsthand experience has challenged her to seek out resources -- her expertise regarding the details of these resources (i.e. supports for single parents on college campuses) are incredibly valuable.

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