Dominique Marsalek is currently Federal and State Government Affairs Specialist for the American Counseling Association (ACA) and Gubernatorial Appointee to the Board of Trustee’s for the Family and Children’s Trust Fund of Virginia. Previously, Dominique served as Federal and State Policy Deputy for Prevent Child Abuse America (PCAA). During this time, she focused on the intersections of public health and child welfare law, including landmark legislation such as the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and the Families First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA). In this role, Dominique advised 50 state chapters on the implementation of evidence-based violence prevention policy including the federal Maternal Infant Early Childhood Home Visiting Program (MIECHV). Prior to these positions, Dominique had the honor of serving as the Legislative and Community Affairs Advisor for the Government of the District of Columbia's Commission on the Arts and Humanities (CAH), and as Chief of Staff for The Honorable Senator Ronald Young (MD-3). During her time as Chief of Staff, Dominique helped write, testify on, and advocate for several public health bills that became law, including expanding the statute of limitations for child sex abuse survivors and student loan repayment for foster youth in Maryland. Dominique has a Bachelor’s degree in History and Sociology and a Master’s Degree in Literary Theory and Religion from Hood College. As a second-generation foster care alumna and a first-generation college graduate with over 15 years of experience in public policy and leadership, Dominique aims to cultivate positive social policy that betters communities, empowers families, and strengthens social welfare systems.

Dr. Manning is a licensed psychologist and earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology.  Dr. Manning has provided training nationwide to a wide range of audiences on topics related to child welfare and mental health.  He has extensive experience working in multiple capacities within government, non-profit community and mental health agencies.  

Dr. Manning wrote a chapter in the recently published book: Darla Henry: The 3-5-7 Model: A Practice Approach to Permanency and co-wrote: Integrating Child Welfare and Mental Health Practices: Actualizing Youth Permanency Using the 3-5-7 Model – American Humane Association: Protecting Children Journal - June 2011.  He is a faculty member at the University of Redlands in the Graduate School of Education and Brandman University: Department of Psychology.  Dr. Manning has also served as an Adult Supporter for the California Youth Connection – Orange County, CA.

Dr. Jamie Schwandt (Ed.D.) is an author and former foster child. He is a TV show host, motivational speaker, lean six sigma master black belt, statistics professor, and a major in the U.S. Army. Dr. Schwandt is the author of the books Succeeding as a Foster Child a Workbook (2017), Finding Your Hero (2015), and Succeeding as a Foster Child (2014). He is the host of the inspiring TV show Dreaming Big and is a fitness expert with a unique mindset for positive growth. Find about more about him by visiting

Dr. John DeGarmo has been a foster parent for 11 years, now, and he and his wife have had over 40 children come through their home. He is a speaker and trainer on many topics about the foster care system, and travels around the nation delivering passionate, dynamic, energetic, and informative presentations. Dr. DeGarmo is the author of several books, including The Foster Parenting Manual: A Practical Guide to Creating a Loving, Safe and Stable Home, and the foster care children’s book A Different Home: A New Foster Child’s Story. Dr. DeGarmo is the host of the weekly radio program Foster Talk with Dr. John, heard each Monday at 8 PM Eastern. He also writes for a number of publications and newsletters, both here in the United States, and overseas. He can be contacted at, through his Facebook page, Dr. John DeGarmo, or at his website,

Author of "The Supportive Parent" and "Foster Parenting Step-By-Step", a renowned speaker and Clinical Director at Mid America Psychological and Counseling Services Dr. Kalyani Gopal answers questions from Foster Focus readers

Dr. Michael W. Corrigan, a former problem child who somehow became a psychologist, is a tenured Associate Professor at Marshall University and a Senior Lecturer in the Ohio State University’s College of Education and Human Ecology. His teaching expertise focuses on child development, educational psychology, research methods and advanced statistical analysis. He has served as the evaluator or primary investigator for more than $19.5 million in federally funded research studies awarded through the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Juvenile Justice. His academic work has been published in dozens of peer-reviewed journals and publications, and he has presented at more than 60 conferences worldwide. His books on improving education and helping kids develop into more rounded citizens have been published by Sage, Corwin Press, and Rowman and Littlefield. Corrigan has taught within the Juvenile Detention System, and is one of the lead architects who designed the MDYA360 in partnership with Helix and Oracle. For more information please visit http://VitalChild.Solutions.

Dr. Sue Cornbluth received the award of Who’s Who Among Teachers and Educators in 2007 and 2009. Dr. Sue is an expert in foster care and child abuse. She is the National Foster Care/ Adoption
Expert on where she writes weekly articles on child abuse and parenting. She is also the author of the training manual "The Ambiguous Foster Child: Attachment, Separation, Loss and Loyalty." The manual is based on Dr. Sue's years of research and clinical work with foster children.  Dr. Sue believes that every child and foster child deserves to have a life filled with the happiness and success they deserve!

Dr. Sue is a trainer for foster parents and child welfare professionals at the Pennsylvania Council of Children, Youth and Family Services, which provides training to the Southeast Region of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Sue strives to make positive changes within the foster care system one child at a time. She has counseled numerous abused and neglected foster children and has trained youth professionals on how to work effectively with foster children. Dr. Sue is dedicated to giving child welfare professionals, teachers, parents, and foster parents the tools they need to empower themselves and their children.  She has appeared on numerous television and radio shows in the Philadelphia area and across the country. 

Dr. Black earned her PhD from the University of Georgia where she completed three graduate certificates: American Indian studies, qualitative research and women’s studies. She earned her MSN from Georgia State and her BSN from Brenau University. Her last position was at Northern Arizona University where she was the director of an American Indian nursing program on the Navajo reservation.

Her research interests include educational disparities and health disparities of underserved communities, medically complex children and the foster care system. Dr. Black is a member of several professional organizations, sits on advisory boards and has several publications.

Personally, she and her wife were foster parents for four years and adopted four special needs children.

Echo Garrett is the co-founder/Board Chair of Orange Duffel Bag Initiative (ODBI), a nonprofit that does certified executive life plan coaching with homeless youth, high poverty youth and teens aging out of foster care. ODBI won the 2014 Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Award from Emory University and was featured in the Dec. 15, 2013, issue of "Parade." The coaching is based on her multi-award winning book My Orange Duffel Bag: A Journey to Radical Change, winner of 8 national awards and 2 international awards. She frequently speaks on how we can help our nation’s most vulnerable teens become self-sufficient. She has written or contributed to 12 other books, including Why Don’t They Just Get a Job?: One Couple’s Mission to End Poverty in Their Community, and has been published in more than 75 national outlets including Parade, Delta Sky, and Business Week. Echo has been interviewed on Good Morning America, CNBC, CNN, NY-1 and served as editor-in-chief of Atlanta Woman magazine.

Eden Klinedinst is a Utah-based writer and an advocate for children in foster care. She has worked as a Guardian ad Litem and currently volunteers for Royal Family Kids, a summer camp which gives foster kids age 6-12 a week of positive memories and royal treatment in a Christian camp environment. Eden is working to help create a new camp in Northern Utah and Elevation Church is collecting funds.

Please go to and include Royal Family Kids in the comment section if you wish to contribute. 

Eivin Ruch is an expert in education coaching who focuses on helping students entering undergraduate programs. He is an enthusiastic contributor eager to promote personal growth through sharing their expertise with others. Eivin has extensive expertise in advising students on their route to making big academic and life decisions and those who are preparing for undergraduate studies, by integrating numerous methodologies and tips that bring the best results.

Elizabeth Eowyn Steffel is a survivor of childhood abuse and foster care. Elizabeth emancipated from foster care in the spring of 2003.  She graduated from began working with Title I at risk youth through an AmeriCorps program and through University of Wisconsin Green Bay’s Phuture Phoenix program.  

Elizabeth graduated from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay in 2009, with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Human Development and a minor in Philosophy.  Today Elizabeth is studying for her Masters in Social Work at the University of Southern California.  When Elizabeth finishes her graduate program she hopes to work within the mental health field.  Elizabeth is interested in becoming a motivational speaker for youth in the foster system. She would also like to become an informational speaker for educators and professionals on issues pertaining to foster care.

Connect with Elizabeth on LinkedIn, or Facebook.

Elliott Orrin Hinkle (they/them or he/him) is an alumni of the Wyoming Foster Care System. He is an advocate for child welfare, mental health, and the LGBTQ population. He has contributed to work around the National Youth in Transition Database (NYTD) and the Young Adult Training and Technical Assistance Network (YATTA) since 2011 and continues this work with JBS International. In the summer of 2014 he was an intern at the National Resource Center for Youth Development and before that was a consultant for NRCYD working on NYTD.

Elliott, a Daniels Fund Scholar and Ambassador, graduated from Casper College in Casper, Wyoming, in May of 2014 with two Associate of Science degrees. They graduated from Portland State University in June of 2016 with bachelor’s degree in Women's Studies, minoring in Sexuality, Gender, and Queer Studies. While completing his degree he worked locally at the Regional Research Institute at Portland State University as a coach on the Better Futures Project. Nationally he works as a consultant to the National Capacity Building Center for the States at ICF International and as a consultant at JBS International working on NYTD. Currently they are an Independent Living Program Life Skills and My Life coach for PDX-Connect at New Avenues for Youth in Portland Oregon. Recently he became the LGBTQ specialist on his team and looks forward to supporting his team and the community in their work with queer and trans youth.

Emily Crisman became a staff writer for the Chattanooga Times Free Press Community News division in 2009 and became assistant editor of the Signal Mountain and North Hamilton Weekly editions in 2013. She also writes for other Times Free Press publications including Chatter and 4Paws, of which she became the editor in 2014. Emily graduated with a degree in humanities from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2006.

Emily Wonnell is a 2018 graduate of the University of Southern Indiana with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene. She is from southern Indiana and plans to continue her dental hygiene career in the area of Evansville, Indiana. Her passion for dentistry and improving the oral health of others began in her teen years as a dental assistant and is continuing as she grows as a dental hygienist.

Eric David Benari, PMP, is the President of Techie Youth, a charity providing free technology-career training to foster youth. Eric is also the organizer of a data-technology community of over 15,000+ people in New York City. He holds an array of professional certifications in technology, engineering and project management and has formerly held chief-executive and senior roles at various innovative organizations, including Yahoo!

Ernesto Olivares entered the Texas Foster Care system at 12 years old with his three siblings, then lost his father months before high school graduation. Ernesto is a 2013 Outstanding Young Leader and 2014 All-Star with FosterClub. He currently works with FCAA and Youth in Action Boards within the State of Texas. Ernesto inspires to do two things in life: writing a book about his life including his experiences in foster care and to travel the country as an inspiration speaker… and a foster kid.

Evelyn Polk, LMFT is a Foster/Adoptive parent, former Social Worker, and California Licensed Marriage, Family & Child Therapist, who is the founder of For A Child's H.E.A.R.T., Inc. and Author of "It's Heart Work: Being The Village That Raises A Child" and "Meeting Les Brown: Ms. Mamie Brown's Baby Boy" 

Florence Edwards, also known as 'Coach Flo,' is a Certified Holistic Life Coach, author, ghostwriter and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping people transform their fears into success. A former foster youth who survived abuse, bullying, and abandonment, Florence is committed to helping at-risk youth and adults thrive and live their lives out loud. Florence obtained her Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from California State University. To contact Coach Flo, visit, or send an e-mail to

Franklin Black, is a writer and software engineer who lives in Dunbarton, New Hampshire. He has published two short stories: “A Bike Trip on the C&O Canal,” in Fresh! Literary Magazine, and “The Bangled Watch,” in Ancient Paths. SOL printed “The Big Prize,” a personal essay. His screenplay, Sage Green, won Honorable Mention at the 2014 Bare Bones Film Festival and reached the semi-finals of the 2013 New Hampshire Film Festival. He wrote Petey Porcupine Rocks the Sox, a children’s book about a porcupine who dreams of going to Fenway Park.

Gary Shulman, MS. Ed. was the Program Director of Social Services, Training Coordinator and Special Camp Fair Coordinator for Resources for Children with Special Needs, Inc. for over 24 years. He transitioned from that position to the role of consultant/trainer on a private basis. Prior to RCSN, Mr. Shulman was the Special Needs Coordinator for the Brooklyn Children’s Museum for 10 years, a multi-sensory interactive learning environment.

Gisheera Jones is a 22 year old African American female. She is a student at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She plans to graduate with a social work degree in May 2017. She hopes to pursue a career working with hospice patients. To support herself she through school she is currently a cashier at an Arkansas own grocery store. She enjoys meditating, playing board games, writing, and going to the movies. After raising her son for six months she decided to place him for adoption to better both of their lives. 

Hank Marotske is Director of Development and Public Relations for PATH Inc, the largest private non-profit treatment foster care agency in North Dakota, Minnesota and Idaho. Marotske started his career as a licensed social worker with PATH, residential treatment counselor at St. Joseph’s Home for Children and WRAP coordinator for Family Improvement Network of Dakota County in Minnesota. He’s served on CWLA foster care advisory committee, PATH executive board, Safe-Passages board, and currently works with the Minnesota Department of Human Services on Youth At Risk of Homelessness (YAHR), and both the policy and editorial committees of the Foster Family-based Treatment Association (FFTA). Marotske spent the better part of more than 9 years in foster care and aged out at age 18. He’s specifically passionate about access and affordable college education and supports, and changing the negative perception foster care has that limits funding, quality foster parent recruitment and philanthropic community engagement.

Helen Levin is an artist who spent almost her entire childhood in a foster home,  and the equivalent number of years receiving help to undo the personal damage wrought by that experience.  She is not only a successful painter, with Museum exhibition credits, she was an educational innovator, a published art reviewer, and is the parent of a successful new media artist. She is hoping the memoir she is now writing, and of which A SPECIAL SUMMER  is a part,  will be helpful to the public. This includes parents, teachers, and especially, the young people who may be going through those trying experiences entirely due to family circumstances beyond their control.